What your teen needs to know before moving out of home
Published 10 Dec, 2021 · 6-minute read
So your teen has decided to take the leap and move out of home. From practical tips to helpful advice, we’ve got the moving out of home checklist covered.
Preparing your teen to leave the nest is about more than knowing the essential things to buy when moving out of home – though this is undoubtably important too. Nobody wants to get stuck their first night flying solo without a bath towel.
Teaching your child important skills, such as good communication, cooking and budgeting, will help them thrive in a new home with new people and will boost their independence. Moreover, it'll give you better peace of mind knowing that despite everything else that could go wrong, they know how to feed themselves and save cash for emergencies.
Here are some of the essential things to know before moving out home. Share them with your teen to ensure their first out-of-home experience is a positive one.
It may be a while since you had to consider what you need when moving out of home, but we’re sure one of the first things you’ll think of is a good stock of recipes up your sleeve. If you’re the one preparing most of the meals at home, it’s time to get your teen in the kitchen for some ‘cooking 101’ lessons.
Your child might be happy to live on instant noodles, but it isn't good for their health and wellbeing in the long run. A balanced diet is essential for physical and mental health. Pick out a few simple recipes that you know your teen likes and walk them through the steps to prepare the meals. Having at least four recipes on rotation will ensure they aren’t opening a food delivery app every night of the week (and will avoid an unnecessary expense).
Clear communication is essential
It’s likely your teen will be moving into a share house situation or be living somewhere with communal spaces such as halls of residence at university. It's therefore essential for them to know how to communicate clearly and transparently with the people they’ll be living with.
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Establishing clear lines of communication early will help mitigate disagreements in the future. Setting expectations about cleaning, privacy and the use of communal spaces is a good idea. Help your teen develop the confidence needed to broach these topics, share their views and reach compromises with their housemates.
Remind your teen that they may not get along with every housemate, but making an effort to communicate clearly will create a more positive living environment.
How to budget
Is the phrase ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’ thrown around a lot in your house? How to budget is probably one of the most important things to know before moving out of home.
For the first time, your teen may need to consider utilities bills, the cost of food, transport, internet and general house maintenance. This, on top of costs associated with their studies and social life, can all add up quickly. It’s vital your child is prepared for these expenses and can budget for them according to their income streams – whether this is a casual job, government allowance, scholarship/s, financial assistance from you, or a combination of several.
Everyone in the house should clean up after themselves. It’s not fair for one person to get lumped with all the cleaning time and again. Encourage your teen to speak to their housemates about a cleaning roster or establish a ‘clean as you go’ mentality from the beginning.
Your teen may have a lacklustre approach to cleaning compared to you, but they’ll learn pretty quickly how gross things can get if they let it slide for too long. Vermin are much harder to eradicate than dirty dishes. Furthermore, they could jeopardise their rental bond or tenancy agreement if they don’t keep the property reasonably clean.
Make sure your teen knows how long household chores take and that they need to factor this into their study and work schedules. They may even realise how many hours you’ve spent doing their laundry over the years (we can only hope).
Be trusting, but not naïve
You may have your concerns about releasing your child into a world that contains some less-than-friendly characters, especially when you aren’t around to protect them.
It's a good idea to have a candid chat with your teen about the adult version of ‘stranger danger’. By this, we mean:
being aware of their surroundings
questioning people’s motives
ensuring they always feel safe and knowing who to contact in an emergency.
It can be a tricky balancing act, because you don’t want your teen to be suspicious of everyone they come across, but you also want them to have the sense to question anything that seems a little fishy. Remind them to trust their gut instinct.
Aiming to see the best in people is a great outlook, but a good dose of scepticism can also save a person from getting into a pickle. Encourage your teen to be trusting, but not naïve.
Respect is a two-way street
Your teen will no doubt know a thing or two about mutual respect already – from home, school, sports teams and clubs.
Realistically, not everyone is going to like you, and you aren’t going to like everyone. Your child will have much more exposure to this fact when they move out of home. They’ll have housemates they get along with, and ones that they don’t. They don’t need to like these housemates, but they do need to respect their privacy, possessions and right to live in a safe and comfortable home environment.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ll feed him for a lifetime. The same applies to your teen (male, female or non-binary) and household repairs. Teaching them how to repair simple things around the home will help them save time and money (and make them a highly sought-after housemate). Here’s a quick checklist of things to go through with them:
changing a light bulb (you’d be surprised at how many people don’t know their bayonet from their screw)
unblocking a drain with a plunger
changing a car tyre
fixing a toilet that keeps running after flushing
tightening the screws in a ticking fan
stopping the hinges on a door from creaking.
Don’t forget about preventative maintenance – some bonus knowledge for your teen. This might include:
cleaning the lint filter in the dryer
changing/emptying the vacuum bag
testing the smoke alarms
storing food to prevent ants, pantry moths and other critters from getting into it.
How to fold a fitted sheet (and other laundry-related matters)
Don’t laugh – there are countless YouTube videos dedicated to learning how to successfully fold a fitted sheet. If your teen is unsure where the laundry is located in your house, however, it may be best to start with something a little easier, like separating coloured clothing from the whites. Here are a couple of other laundry essentials to cover:
how much detergent is needed according to the size of the load
what to do when a load of washing unbalances
how to check what a garment is made of, and when it shouldn’t go in the dryer
how to iron a shirt
to wash new coloured clothes separately on a cold cycle to prevent running
how to remove a basic stain.
Moving out of home and going to uni for the first time can be a big period of change for your teen. Make sure they have all the right tools to take care of their mental health during this time.