The idea of starting out on your own can be really exciting, but running a home isn’t easy and can be very expensive, there’s a lot to think about before you take the plunge. If you’ve run your own home before then you’ll know all about the challenges you are likely to face, but if this is your first time living independently you might find there’s more to it than you expect.
Firstly you need to think about who you will be living with. Sharing a house or flat is usually cheaper than living alone but finding someone you can tolerate living with isn’t easy! Be aware that even if you normally get on really well with someone, living together can put a lot of extra pressure on your friendship or relationship and you may find things harder than you expect.
It may help to establish clear ground rules about how different things will work. For instance you might want to decide who is responsible for different areas of housework, or whether late night parties need to be limited to weekends only (this could be especially important if one of you has to be up for work every morning). If you and the person or people you’re going to live with have different expectations of how living together will work out you could find yourselves in trouble as this will inevitably lead to arguments.
You’ll also have to sort out how bills and money are divided up and how they will be paid. It is usually cheaper to pay by direct debt, so you may want to set up a bank account for paying bills that you and your housemate(s) can each put money into, or arrange to pay a bill each, if you can work this out fairly between you.
Considering how much you will have to spend on bills is key to working out whether you can afford to live independently. We have produced a rough budget (below) which should give you an idea of how much your bills are likely to be – please note this is only intended as a guide and may not be accurate for your individual situation. Costs such as ‘Food and Household Goods’ for instance, can vary considerably depending on where you shop and whether you regularly purchase more expensive items such as cigarettes or alcohol etc. Some costs, for instance owning a pet or having Sky TV are obviously optional – you can discount these from your budget if they will not apply to you.
|Yourself and partner||Family (2 adults, 2 children)|
|Rent||£4644.00 (year)||£6864.00 (year)|
|£387.00 (month)||£572.00 (month)|
|£89.30 (week)||£132.00 (week)|
|Gas||£406.39 (year)||£722.07 (year)|
|£33.87 (month)||£60.17 (month)|
|£7.82 (week)||£13.89 (week)|
|Electricity||£251.18 (year)||£423.48 (year)|
|£20.93 (month)||£35.29 (month)|
|£4.83 (week)||£8.14 (week)|
|Water||£337.59 (year)||£423.62 (year)|
|£28.13 (month)||£35.30 (month)|
|£6.49 (week)||£8.15 (week)|
|Council Tax||£1036.80 (year)||£1184.93 (year)|
|£86.40 (month)||£98.70 (month)|
|£19.94 (week)||£22.79 (week)|
|£4,200.00 (year)||£6,620.00 (year)|
|£350.00 (month)||£550.00 (month)|
|£80.77 (week)||£126.00 (week)|
|Clothes and Shoes||£520.00 (year)||£780.00 (year)|
|£43.00 (month)||£65.00 (month)|
|£10.00 (week)||£15.00 (week)|
|TV Licence||£145.50 (year)||£145.50 (year)|
|£12.13 (month)||£12.13 (month)|
|£2.80 (week)||£2.80 (week)|
|Running a Car||£5251.00 (year)||£6346.50 (year)|
|£437.58 (month)||£528.88 (month)|
|£100.98 (week)||£122.05 (week)|
|Travel Costs||£1033.76 (year)||£1550.64 (year)|
|£86.15 (month)||£129.22 (month)|
|£19.88 (week)||£29.82 (week)|
|Internet||£223.08 (year)||£223.08 (year)|
|£18.59 (month)||£18.59 (month)|
|£4.29 (week)||£4.29 (week)|
|Mobile Phones||£409.76 (year)||£409.76 (year)|
|£94.56 (month)||£94.56 (month)|
|£7.88 (week)||£7.88 (week)|
|Medical and Grooming
(Dentist, hairdessser, prescriptions)
|£36.57 (month)||£53.23 (month)|
|£8.44 (week)||£12.28 (week)|
|Sky TV||£240.76 (year)||£240.76 (year)|
|£20.06 (month)||£20.06 (month)|
|£4.63 (week)||£4.63 (week)|
|Home Contents Insurance||£150.72 (year)||£150.72 (year)|
|£12.56 (month)||£12.56 (month)|
|£2.90 (week)||£2.90 (week)|
|Building Insurance||£270.48 (year)||£270.48 (year)|
|£22.54 (month)||£22.54 (month)|
|£5.20 (week)||£5.20 (week)|
|Looking After a Dog||£850.00 (year)||£850.00 (year)|
|£70.83 (month)||£70.83 (month)|
|£16.35 (week)||£16.35 (week)|
|Looking After a Cat||£482.00 (year)||£482.00 (year)|
|£40.17 (month)||£40.17 (month)|
|£9.27 (week)||£9.27 (week)|
|Totals||£20,891.82 (year)||£27,860.34 (year)|
|£1,801.07 (month)||£2,419.23 (month)|
|£401.77 (week)||£544.36 (week)|
(Remember these totals include all costs, some of which may not apply to your situation)
You may be eligible for help with certain bills, for instance Housing Benefit can help with your rent if you’re on a low income, and you may also be able to get a reduction in your council tax. Our Welfare Benefits section can offer more advice on the different types of help that may be available to you and how to go about making a claim.
Setting up home
You will also need to remember that when you initially move into your new property there will be a lot of expense involved. The following are one-off costs which you do not need to budget for each week like you do with other bills, but you need to make sure you have the money to spend on them at the time when you initially move.
• Furniture – chairs, table, sofa, bed etc
• White goods – fridge, freezer, washing machine etc
• Bedclothes and towels
• Kitchenware – plates, bowls, glasses, mugs, cutlery, pots and pans etc
Some of these items may come with your new house or flat if it is already furnished, if not, you will have to buy them yourself, and you may struggle to cover the costs of paying out for everything you need. It can be tempting to borrow the money or use hire purchase to get the items you need. Purchasing items this way is extremely expensive, and you could end up paying far more than the item is actually worth, plus you will have to face the prospect of paying off this debt on top of all the other payments you will be facing in your new property.
There are much cheaper and better ways of furnishing your new home which are all worth looking in to as they will save you money – have a look at our suggestions below:
• Ask friends and relatives if they have any old furniture, kitchenware etc. they’re throwing out which you could make use of.
• Schemes such as Emmaus Mossley can help provide quality goods at a reasonable price. They offer second hand and reconditioned furniture, and may even be able to arrange free delivery if you are in receipt of certain benefits.
• A similar project is also run in Glossop & Tameside –Glossopdale Furniture Project and 2nd Generation Furnishings take unwanted furniture and up-cycle the pieces, selling them on at low-cost prices to members of the community.
• Another great website is Freecycle which brings together people from the local community and allows them to advertise unwanted goods which they give away for free to anyone who will come and collect them. As always, you should take care when going to anyone else’s home – meet in a public place if possible, and where this is not possible try to take someone with you or let someone know where you are going and when to expect you back.