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How to afford moving out for the first time

Three people chatting on a brown couch.

Moving out for the first time? It’s common to feel scared, sad or excited when you leave your parent’s home. There are so many things I wish I knew before getting my first apartment here in Calgary. To save you the stress that I felt, this checklist has the essentials of what you should know before moving out.

Research costs and make a budget

One of the biggest shocks for me when I moved out, was how much everything cost! According to the Alberta Learner’s Information System (ALIS), living expenses for a student could be over $11,000 for 8 months, and that’s before tuition, textbooks or school fees. Before you sign a rental agreement, make sure you know what it is you are paying for. Does rent include utilities? Do the utilities include internet? Do you have to pay for a parking stall or pass? Will the apartment be furnished? Do you pay the first/last month in advance?

Alberta’s Housing Review Panel defines spending more than 30% of your income on housing as unaffordable. Expenses can add up fast, so it’s important to record them in your monthly budget. It’s also good to budget for emergency savings. This helps with surprise expenses, like if you spill coffee on your computer, your landlord raises the rent, or you need to forfeit your damage deposit.

Read our blog on How to budget for post-secondary, for more tips!

Start saving now for your first move

Once I got my first real job, I set up direct deposit with my employer. Some companies let you deposit part of your pay into your chequing account, and some into your savings account to encourage saving. Another way to save is schedule transfers from your chequing to your savings as soon as you get money from work or from student loans. Here at Momentum, we use QUBER, which is an app that automatically saves money every month, so you don’t have to think about it.

Remember, saving means setting money aside, but it also means reducing expenses. If you live in Calgary, see if you qualify for Fair Entry programs and services for people living on low incomes. This can help to reduce transportation costs and make recreation more affordable too.

Check out free mental health and financial wellness resources

Some of us are moving out slowly and intentionally, and some of us need to move because our current living situation isn’t working. Either way, you may be feeling some anxiety. Here are some of our favorite resources to talk to someone about what we’re experiencing:

  • Calgary Distress centreFree phone counselling
  • Togetherall – Albertans age 16+ can access these mental health resources and online community
  • Financial coaching through Momentum –a financial coach can help you with savings goals, budgets, and debt management in a way that is unique to your situation

Want to make saving money easier? Join the Momentum Savings Challenge. Get cash rewards for saving money and tips on how to budget, every month. Learn more here.

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