Planning For Independent Living
Part of growing up for most young people in Australia involves moving out of their parents' or carers' home. This move is generally seen as an important milestone in the transition from childhood to adulthood. Young people move out of home at different times in their lives - some reasons are listed later.
Australian data shows that young people today are generally moving out of home at a later age than previous generations and this is linked to the increasingly common social trend towards later ages of partnering.
This hot topic has been prepared to assist parents and carers support young people in their transition to independent living.
Your child and leaving home
Young people may want to move out of home for a range of reasons - some of which, as a parent, you may or may not support. Reasons young people choose to leave home can include:
- increasing their independence
- being closer to work or study
- living with a partner (de facto or married)
- avoiding conflict with parents or other family members
Whatever the situation, it is important that when the time is right, parents talk with their young person about independent living. Open and calm discussions that allow each family member to voice their needs and expectations are key to avoiding unnecessary confusion, conflict and/or communication breakdowns.
It is also important to create an emotionally safe place for your child to tell you what their thoughts are about moving out. With this information you will be in a better position to help them through the transition from dependent childhood to independent adulthood.
Problems associated with moving out
The reasons a young person moves out of home, and the amount of planning they do prior to moving out, can influence how well the experience goes for them.
Young people who move out of home without sufficient planning can experience a number of negative outcomes. This often happens because a young person does not have someone with sufficient knowledge and experience to offer advice and support through the process.
Some of the problems that young people may encounter after moving out of home include:
- Financial problems - Not having enough income or spending too much
- Conflict with flatmates - From not respecting others' needs or not finding the right flatmates to having incompatible lifestyles
- Violating lease agreements - Not paying rent or damaging property
- Poor study/work performance - Not managing time properly or being distracted by household worries
- Unsafe/unsuitable accommodation - Poor planning when finding accommodation
- Evictions and homelessness - Violating the lease or not paying rent
- Mental health issues - Due to a number of factors such as insufficient support, low resilience, communication skills or coping abilities
It is important for young people, and parents, to be aware of these potential problems even if they have carefully planned their move.
Helping a young person plan to move out
To assist with planning, it can be helpful to make decisions on important issues that may affect a young person when they move out. By discussing the kinds of issues listed below and coming up with realistic options as a family, young people can avoid the risks and disappointments associated with moving out.
Issues that are important to discuss include:
- The purpose - Is their goal realistic? Are they moving out for the right reasons?
- Income - Where will they get enough money to pay for things? How will they organise their budget?
- Expenses - What will they need to pay each week/fortnight/month etc?
- Location - Where will they be living? What facilities are near by?
- Accommodation - What type of accommodation will they be living in? How realistic are their expectations within their chosen location?
- Transport - Will they use public transport or will they need to have their own car?
- Flatmates - Who will they be living with, if anyone? Would those people make good flatmates?
- Chores - What chores will need to be done by each person and when?
- Time management - How will time be divided between work/study, socialising and doing housework?
- Healthy living - Do they know how to shop for the ingredients for cooking healthy meals?
- Support - Who can provide assistance and support if problems arise?
- Readiness - Are they mature enough to handle the various responsibilities of living independently?
Tips for supporting young people moving out
To help alleviate the risks of young people experiencing problems when moving into independent living, the following can help:
- Assist in the planning - This might include helping them work out how much they can afford to spend on accommodation or suggesting some suburbs that would be suitable for them to live in
- Financial assistance - If you choose to assist your young person financially, be clear about what you are prepared to offer and for how long. This might be anything from a gift of cash towards the bond on a rented premises, to an interest free loan or offering to go guarantor on a bank loan
- Discuss their reasons for wanting to move out - Make sure they want to move out of home for the right reasons. They may have an idealised view of what moving out will be like
- Let them know that you will be okay after they have become more independent from you - Children can carry feelings of responsibility for their parents from childhood that they are frequently uncomfortable sharing and therefore may need reassurance from you
- Talk about others' experiences - This can give them some ideas about how to handle a situation
- Go with them to appointments - If they need to visit a real estate agent's office to fill out forms or inspect a place, offer to go along with them so that you can discuss any questions they might have
- Give them practice doing housework - It's important that they know how to keep a place clean, use a washing machine and other important household tasks
- Discuss what to look for in a potential place to live - While price needs to be taken into consideration, a place needs to also be functional, clean and have access to transport and facilities
- Encourage them to stay in contact and make regular visits - Quality time together is still important for maintaining good relationships even if people live in different places. This also offers an opportunity to discuss issues concerning them and work out possible solutions
- Teach them how to cook - It's important for young people to know how to make nutritious meals within their means in order to maintain overall health and wellbeing. Teach them the importance of a well-balanced diet and show them how to cook some cheap and easy recipes that they will enjoy eating
- Provide information on your state or territory's statutory tenancy body and also tenant advocacy organisations - Every state is different and situations may arise in which they need specialist help in dealing with landlords and real estate agents. Young tenants need to understand their rights and responsibilities to avoid being taken advantage of or violating their lease agreement
- Become familiar with the process of renting a place and how the rental system works in your state or territory - Typically, this involves providing your details to a real estate agent, signing a lease and paying a bond. Different leases have different conditions and it is important that young people understand how these may affect what they can do in a place. Also, when they want to move out, they need to understand the process so they can do so without incurring any penalties
- Remind them about Kids Helpline - It is a great source of support for young people who need information, support and advice for any issue including moving out of home. Kids Helpline is available at any time for on the spot assistance
Looking after yourself
Parents/carers go through a range of emotions when their young person moves out and it's important to attend to your own feelings. Common feelings include:
- concern that their child is wanting to move out of the family home before they are emotionally or functionally ready
- loneliness or emptiness when their child moves out
- relief as they are finding conflict in the home intolerable, and are considering asking their child to leave
When your child moves out of home, it may help to find some new hobbies or build up your circle of friends. It's also ok to worry - many parents/carers worry about the welfare of their young person when they move out for the first time. While it's good to check on how they are coping in their new place, try not to be too intrusive.
Who can I contact for more information?
You may wish to contact your local parenting help service/s for further information.
Resources that may be of use
- Transitioning - Transitioning
Other online resources
- ReachOut Australia - Leaving Home
- Better Health Channel - Moving out of home - Tips for Parents
- Young Adult Health : SA Government Child and Youth Health - Moving
- Australian Bureau of Statistics: Home and Away: The Living Arrangements of Young People; Australian Social Trends 4102.0 June 2009
- Better Health Channel. Retrieved from: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Moving_out_of_home_tips_for_parents on 12 February 2012.
- ReachOut Australia, Retrieved from: http://au.reachout.com/find/articles/leaving-home on 12 February 2012.
- Child & Youth Health. Retrieved from: http://www.cyh.com/HealthTopics/HealthTopicDetails.aspx?p=240&np=298&id=2009 on 12 February 2012
Published: 13 April 2012