You've Moved…Now What? The 7-Step Guide to Life Outside the Nest

It’s been about a month since I first started calling my new apartment ‘home’, and guess what? The world didn’t come tumbling down over the overflowing basket of laundry in the corner of my bedroom and my stove has managed to survive my cooking skills…or lack thereof.

But I’m quickly learning that living on my own requires adapting to numerous changes – ones I wish someone had told me before I skipped through the door on move-in day like a wide eyed five-year-old on a sugar rush.

So, for all of you out there who have just made the big move, here’s what  life will soon be like broken down into a seven step guide! 

1.      Your newest gal pal: the chick who also just got her first apartment.

If you’ve had the same BFF since you were ten and regularly stormed the aisles in Toys R Us for Sailor Moon dolls together (I never did this. Okay, maybe once…or twice), it’s time to meet new people, girl! I’m not telling you to ditch your old bestie, but if she’s still living the high life at home, it’s time to find a buddy who knows what it’s like to eat pasta three nights a week and have the Laundromat on speed dial.

Wondering where to meet new peeps? Your office, for starters! Be friendly, show them pictures of your new pad –chances are, they’ll be saving their pennies to pay rent or at least know what it’s like to be a newbie in the apartment department.

2.      Layering has been ruling the runways and will soon be found in your closet.

When you’re responsible for feeding yourself and keeping house, designer clothes are a luxury (and H&M is a treat). So, instead of dropping your hard earned cash on a neon sweater you’ll wear once, focus on accessories like patterned scarves, tights, statement earrings and trendy totes. Not only will you save some serious green, you’ll update last year’s dresses and skirts and give those pieces you forgot about the attention they deserve.

And if you’re going to splurge, pull out your credit card for a coat (yes, only one!) you’ll live in this season. I promise, you’ll still feel like a rock star and have cash to line those pockets!

3.      You’ll (almost) never pay full price.

Browsing sale racks and thrift shops can actually be really fun! But don’t be afraid to treat yourself every once in a while –after all, you totally deserve it. I, for one, have an eye shadow palette at Sephora with my name on it.

And if your ladies are into clothing swaps, exchange those old duds and change up your look –no cash required.

4.      You’ll get used to visiting your relatives.

Even if you moved out to get as far away from those crazies lovely people as possible, when you stop by to assure them you haven’t dropped off the face of the earth/been eaten by zombies, you’ll most likely receive a batch of fresh food that’ll last you the week (freeze leftovers, guys –I’d rather not be blamed for bellyaches). Despite numerous protests, my grandmother always somehow manages to send me off with several days’ worth of dinners. I haven’t been grocery shopping in weeks.

5.      But when you do go grocery shopping, it can get ridiculously expensive!

Confession: I love grocery shopping. Strolling down aisles looking at all the prettily packaged foods I want but will never eat is somewhat of an addiction for me. But I can’t afford to throw a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and an entire shelf of chocolate into my cart anymore. Now, I spend more time waiting in line for sliced cheese than going through each aisle scoping out the goodies. Words of advice: pick up the store’s circular and clip those coupons! Believe me, everyone does it.

6.      Happy hours and house parties are your Friday night plans.

Let’s face it: who can afford anything else?

7.      You’ll be cleaning and cooking up a storm (on occasion) and maybe you’ll have a toilet plunging fiasco or twelve, but at the end of the day, you’ll curl up in bed with a brain cell destroying romance novel and think, ‘This is the life.’

Because nothing is nicer than knowing that your brother’s screamo band won’t be holding a practice sesh in the room next door.

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  • Audrey Leihser

    Just moved out 2 months ago, and this morning realized that I am the only person to blame when I run out of toilet paper and there isn’t any under the sink because I’ve been grocery shopping at Mom and Dad’s every other week. Some grocery stores (like Publix) have BOGO deals, so snap those up! You really DO need 2 jars of spaghetti sauce, I promise.

    • Diana Marie Denza

      Audrey, I have the same problem! My toilet paper situation is about to become desperate.

  • Corinne Paige Rampton

    I moved out 3 days ago and holy cannoli has it been an adjustment. But definitely a good one and I can TOTALLY relate to the “eating pasta 3 times a week” comment. So great!

  • Trish Rollins

    When I first moved out 4 years ago I was in WAY over my head financially. I made an excel spreadsheet for all of my finances and it’s really been a lifesaver. My best advice, don’t dig yourself into more debt while you’re already paying rent. It’ll take forever to get out of it.

    Great article Diana!

  • Sepideh Zarrinkelk

    Eating pasta three times a week…yes that is my life.

  • Diana Marie Denza

    Thanks so much for the comments you guys! Just had pasta for lunch…again 😉 heh

  • Savannah Pendleton

    Haha oh god, i made pasta last night.

    Here’s something I’ve found EXTREMELY helpful: finding an “in” at Trader Joes. I live by one and I walk over for almost every two weeks and while I like to browse the aisles and wish on some of those fantastically delicious (insert all the delicious TJ items), I usually only pop in for yogurt, eggs, and milk (the cheapest I have found in LA, truly!) and, yes, wine. BUT, did you know that they donate on a store by store basis? All those lovely organic veggies and breads! I am able to scoop up some day old stuff for FREE thanks to a friend I made at my store. She tries to help out lots of people in the community that just need some fresh veggies and fruit. I will say I mostly get melons and tomatos and bell peppers… but through summer I enjoyed quite a few refreshing melon juice drinks and now that it’s fall, I’ve learned an amazing roasted red pepper and tomato recipe that freezes quite well!
    Living on your own can be difficult, but it’s easy to twerk things here and there to make sure you are still living it up and enjoying yourself. :)
    Great article!

    • Diana Marie Denza

      I had no idea -that’s amazing! Will definitely try and make a TJ buddy 😉

  • Kimberly Hawkins

    I miss living on my own…drinking OJ in my undies first thing in the morning, pasta like, every night (let’s be real ladies), PRIVACY…I just moved all the way back home. I envy all of you.

  • Trudy Holtz

    hey, remember that ramen packets are way way cheap. often cheaper than spaghetti! and instead of making them with the packets of ridiculously high sodium content powder, go with frozen veggies, and sauce you get from a jar. it’s cheap, and not too bad for you. and don’t neglect oatmeal. don’t use instant. look up a recipe for overnight oats. will fill you up for pennies. good luck!

  • Emily Theodore

    This made me feel a lot better. I’ve been really intimidated over finally moving out on my own next semester. Thanks for the reinforcement that yes- I can do this!

    • Diana Marie Denza

      If I can pull it off, emily, you can totally do it! good luck :) you’re going to love the freedom.

  • Jerusha Smith

    Sign up for a CVS Extra Care card and work it!! They give Extra Care Bucks (basically like cash) on things every week, and 5 for every 50 you spend on the Beauty Club (almost all cosmetics and toiletries). They count the full dollar amount of the item and if you use a coupon, that’s even more savings. Scan that card every time you walk in that store. For some reason they love to give me free panty liners and candy bars. I think they know too much about my PMS, but free is free!!

    Use the CVS coupons and manufacturer coupons together for the best savings. The other day they gave me a coupon for $2 off any Rimmel cosmetic. I also had a $1 off coupon from the Sunday paper. My $4.49 nail polish was only $1.49. I get deals like that all the time. The other day my total went from $28 to $4. And it was stuff I use and need.

  • Elizabeth Polit

    Grocery shopping things is so true! When I moved into my apartment I had that terrifying moment where I realized that ketchup, mustard, and other assorted condiments weren’t just waiting for me in my fridge. Pasta doesn’t magically sit in your cupboard. So many things that seem to just always be available at home I took for granted!

  • Brittany Marie

    I love this post! this is amazing. i’m moving into my first place in january! ahhh! i’m so excited (although i already eat a lot of pasta sooo, got that down, haha)

    • Diana Marie Denza

      Thanks, Brittany! Glad you liked it. Good luck with the move!

  • Jocelyn Dugan

    You have the laundromat on speed-dial?

  • Erin Freemantle-Couture

    love love love it!

  • Monica Wisehart

    I love love love the idea to freeze leftovers. I’m picky when it comes to eating the same thing over and over again but I always hate wasting the food I don’t eat. Perfect solution. And also, some of the girls on here have mentioned oatmeal being amazing and cheap. They’re right! I found this awesome recipe for oatmeal with vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon, and a little honey and I make about 5 days worth every Sunday. So yummy.

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