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Leaving Home

leaving homeThere are many reasons why young people choose to leave home. Some move out because they want more independence or they have work or study that makes moving necessary. Others choose to leave home because they don't get on with their parents, or they are forced to leave because of ongoing abuse or violence.

Whatever your circumstances, leaving home is a big transition and there are some important things you may need to consider in deciding whether or not to move out.

When is the right time to leave home?

When it comes to making a choice about when to leave home, it's good to remember that everyone is different. Some people choose to stay in their family home until they are well into their 30's or older, and others decide to leave as soon as they are able. In Australia, most people stay with their parents until they are at least 18 years-old and your parents will remain your legal guardians until then. If you want more information about when you can legally leave home you can go to: http://www.lawstuff.org.au/.

How do I make such a big decision?

Getting advice from someone you trust before you make a big decision is generally a good idea. Before you can make a choice about moving, you really need to be clear about what is involved and what the consequences will be. Talking things through with another person might help you gain a realistic picture of what to expect and to also think about the bigger picture. What will leaving home mean for your hopes and goals for your future? For example, some people choose to stay at home longer, in order to save money, do further study or because it suits their particular circumstances or needs.

In making a decision about leaving home, you might consider these questions:

  • What are some of the advantages and the disadvantages in terms of your emotional, physical, mental and financial wellbeing?
  • What impact will this have on my life both now and in the future?
  • Do I have a realistic idea of what to expect?
  • Do I have a safe place to go?
  • Am I ready to look after myself?

Chatting with a Kids Helpline counsellor is one way to get help in considering these questions and making a decision that is right for you.

How will this decision affect my relationships with others?

Leaving home and establishing your own life is a normal part of growing up, but it can be a very challenging time for parents who are used to being involved in their children's lives and daily decisions. Sometimes, parents can feel a sense of rejection or sadness when a young person leaves the family home. It's good to remember that this is not only a big transition for you, but is also a big change for you parents.

Some young people leave home because of conflict with their parents. It can seem like the best or easiest option, however, it doesn't always mean that it's your only choice. Relationship issues can sometimes be resolved and improved with better communication and understanding. Getting help from a counsellor or trusted family member/friend to help you with this is a great idea.

Do I have a safe place to go?

Many young people face the challenge of finding safe and supportive accommodation when they are forced to leave home because of abuse or family conflict. Moving under these circumstances can be very tough, especially if you have to leave in a hurry. Remember, your safety is very important!

If this applies to you, think about using the following supports:

  • Get help from friends, other family members or an adult that you trust
  • Contact your local Police service (particularly if you are younger than 18 years old)
  • If you think that you might be in immediate danger of harm, you should call emergency services on 000
  • Call or visit your local community health centre - they can provide you with information about safe and supportive accommodation
  • Call Kids Helpline to get immediate support and assistance as well as referral to crisis accommodation services that are close to you

Regardless of the circumstances under which you are moving, it is important to try and be as prepared as possible. If you leaving because you are unsafe it is really important to let a trusted adult know what is happening for you!

How do I choose a place to live?

There are many factors to consider in choosing where to live and who to live with. For example, you may need to choose a location that not only suits your rental budget, but also provides access to public transport and facilities.

Many young people share accommodation with others in order to split the cost of rent and utilities, such as electricity and gas. However, for those who have a steady income, there is also the choice to live alone. There are positives and negatives with both arrangements.

Some of the positives of shared accommodation are:

  • Sharing the financial burden of rent/utilities
  • The opportunity to make new friends
  • Safety - living with others can provide extra security

Some of the negatives of shared accommodation can include:

  • Issues with keeping the house/flat clean - whose turn is it to wash the dishes?
  • Flatmates who don't pay bills/rent on time
  • Differences in lifestyle or values that may cause conflict

Some young people deal with these issues by establishing clear ground rules with their fellow housemates at the start of the tenancy. This could mean making decisions about:

  • Sharing the cost of rent and utilities
  • Whether food is to be shared or everyone is to buy their own
  • Sharing responsibility for household chores
  • Rules about noise, visitors and parties
  • Withdrawal from the rental lease, when someone is moving out

Once you have decided on a location and whether or not to share or live on your own, there are a number of ways that you can search for a place to rent. You can:

  • Look online: there are a number of websites that provide descriptions and photos of rental properties, and you can search by suburb, price and type of accommodation (e.g. unit, townhouse or house)
  • Visit real estate agencies in your chosen area to get a current rental list
  • Check out rental lists in newspapers

When you find a place that you are happy with, you will need to complete an application form and pay a bond (this is usually equal to about four weeks of rent). The bond is held by the real estate as a deposit to make sure that you keep the property in good condition.

Before you sign a lease agreement you will need to consider the following:

  • Make sure you understand the conditions of the lease and your responsibilities. If you are unsure, then it's best to seek help. You can contact your local tenancy authority for advice
  • Inspect the property! Take careful note of anything that is damaged and tell the agent or landlord. It's a good idea to take photos of anything that is broken or needs repair and keep these for your own records
  • How secure is the property? Sometimes you can request extra security for windows and doors, before you move in

How much money will I need?

If you have a job, you will need to work out how much it will cost to cover your rent, bond, food, utilities and transport needs. If you are not working or you are a student then you can contact Centrelink to find out if you are eligible to receive any social security benefits.

Moving can be expensive - but if you plan ahead, and enlist some help from others, there are lots of ways to save money. Here are some practical ideas on how you can move without blowing your budget:

  • See if you can get your friends, parents, or other family members to give you a hand, as removalists can be expensive
  • Shop for furniture at second-hand stores - you will not only save yourself money, but you will be helping the environment by recycling!
  • Make a list of what you will need and what you can do without and only purchase the essential items to begin with. For instance, consider using a laundromat rather than buying a washing machine

Coping with leaving home - how will I feel?

So far we have focussed mostly on practical concerns, but it is also important to remember that leaving home is an emotional transition for most people. You might experience a range of emotions that are sometimes contradictory. Depending on your situation, leaving home might be exciting, or scary, and with any big life change, there is loss involved.

Moving home might mean that you feel sadness about the changes in the relationship with your parents, or you might feel lonely and disoriented if you have moved into a new area or neighbourhood. Even though these are normal responses, it's important to take care of yourself and your feelings by reaching out to others. Staying in touch with friends and trustworthy family members is important and can help with managing these feelings. Contacting your local community centre, or engaging with services like Kids Helpline, are great ways to make sure that you are connected to others and taking care of yourself.

Who else can help?

If you have concerns about any of the above issues or any other issues, Kids Helpline counsellors are here to help you. You can call us on 1800 55 1800 any time, any day, or go online to see how you can talk to us via web or email.

Remember Kids Helpline is here to answer your calls 24/7 during the public holidays as well. Sometimes talking to someone who is objective and outside of the situation can be really helpful. Kids Helpline can also help you to explore options or get the right referrals if needed.

References

Women's and Children's Health Network: Young Adult Health Ages 18 - 25
Tune in Not Out Website
Family and Community Services - NSW Government
Money Smart - Australian Government
Better Health Channel - Victorian Government
Bursting the bubble - DVIRC Victoria

Published: 7 March 2012