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move out with 15k

Is $15,000 Enough To Move Out?

So you’re thinking about moving out? That’s great, and you should! When I moved out, I only had $1,000 saved up, which was far from enough. Now that I’ve got more experience and knowledge about personal finance, I’m trying to help people avoid my mistakes. So, is $15K enough to move out?

Yes, $15K is enough to move out. It will cover the security deposit and several months of rent and expenses. It will provide enough time to land a decent job covering your monthly bills.

Of course, the answer depends on a bunch of factors, but generally speaking $15K will be enough to move out. For some people, moving out with as little as $2,000 works. In the rest of the article, I’ll have a more nuanced discussion about it and tell you some of the lessons I learned by moving out with too little money. Let’s do this:

Yes, $15K is Enough To Move Out:

Having a large savings account when moving out is important. $15,000 is a great cushion, and will keep you alive and well in the initial stages of moving out. You’ll have more than enough to survive while looking for a job, or establishing other sources of income.

As I mentioned, I only had $1,000 when I moved out. This was far from enough. My diet consisted of nuts, ramen and hotdogs for longer than I wish to admit. Nevertheless, I managed to land a job quickly enough not to go totally broke.

Finding a decent job is essential when moving out. What you have saved to keep your head above the water in the initial stages, or in case of unexpected large expenses.

You see, the most important thing to get in place when you move out is to have a positive cashflow – your income needs to be higher than your expenses.

As soon as you make more money than you spend, how much you have in savings is more or less irrelevant to your monthly budget.

Don’t get me wrong, you should always have a filled-up savings account just in case, especially in times like these when inflation is driving up prices and the macro-economic view is dim. 

However, what you make is more important than what you have, at least in the initial stages of life.

If your savings account is filled up with $15K, and you find work that makes more than you spend each month, you’re golden! You would, at that moment, be better off than most Americans. The median savings account is only $4,500. (source)

Before moving out, you should create a budget. This proves that $15,000 is more than enough to move out.

Suggested reading: Is $5 000 Enough To Move Out?

Make a rough budget before moving out:

You shouldn’t spend several weeks on this to make it totally perfect. It just needs to be roughly correct, and overshoot your expenses a bit just to be sure. I generally like to add 20% to the expenses when budgeting, just in case.

The following is what I personally did when I moved out. First, figure out what you’re likely to spend on the following:

  • Transportation – Are you able to ride a bike or walk? Or will you need/choose to drive a car? In that case, how much will the gas and insurance etc. cost?
  • Food – Will you be eating out? Are you going to host parties or barbeques or something? How much are groceries in the area you’re moving into?
  • Insurance – Are you going to buy stuff like life insurance? What about insurance on your belongings?
  • Clothes – How much do you spend on new clothes? Try to figure out the average monthly spending, even though you probably spend more some months and less others months.
  • Personal Care – Are you going to sign up for a gym? Do spend money on expensive products for your skin, hair, makeup, or exercise supplements?
  • Subscriptions – Do you have your own Netflix, Spotify or Disney subscription? If so, write it down!
  • Hobbies – Do you have hobbies you spend money on? For example, I play the guitar and spend money on new strings and other equipment, and should therefore include this in my budget.

The items/categories above are the most significant, but there are several others. You’re the only person knowing how you spend your money, so feel free to add additional items. Write them all down, and organize them in a table similar to the one below:

ItemsExpense
Transportation$400
Food$150
Insurance$200
Clothes$150
Personal care$80
Subscriptions$100
Hobbies$40
Other Stuff$280
Total$1,400
Example of a simple budget

I just put some random numbers into the right column. You should calculate/estimate what YOU will spend on each item.

Write down all the items you can think of, estimate the expense on a monthly basis for each item, add it all up at the end.

Notice how “housing” (rent, utilities, and such) are NOT included in the budget?

Here’s why:

You should figure out how much your “living” expenses are FIRST, and then figure out how much you are able to spend on housing.

This way, you can get a more realistic estimate of your “rent budget”. You also guarantee you don’t “over-rent” and end up with a negative monthly cashflow (spend more than you earn every month).

Additionally, if you know that you’ll spend $1,400 on “living” every month, and decide to rent an apartment for $500 (including utilities) a month with a deposit of $1,000 (usually twice the rent), you know that your $15,000 will last you ($15,000-$1,000) / $1,900 = Seven months.

The above equation reads as “Savings minus security deposit, divided by monthly expenses including rent”.

Now you know that you need to find a job within six months and get that first paycheck within month seven. Also, you know that the salary from that job needs to cover living expenses plus housing (rent and utilities). In the example above, this equates to $1,400 + $500 = $1,900 per month.

Suggested reading: Is $7,000 Enough To Move Out?

If you’ve never thought about where your money goes, creating a budget might be difficult.

Below you’ll see a table from The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics that you take inspiration from. It shows the spending habits of the average American citizen:

ItemMonthly CostPercentage of Budget
Housing
(Rent or mortgage and utilities like electricity and water)
$178434.9%
Transportation
(Car payments, gas, bus tickets, vehicle insurance etc.)
$81916%
Food
(Groceries and restaurants)
$64012%
Insurance & Pensions
(Personal insurance like life insurance, pension savings etc.)
$60411.8%
Healthcare$4318.4%
Entertainment
(Subscriptions, TV, Speakers, a new Phone etc.)
$2434.7%
Apparel and Services$1202.3%
Education$1062.1%
Miscellaneous$761.5%
Personal care$541.1%

Read more about the different items over at The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics: https://www.bls.gov/cex/csxgloss.htm

With the budget done, prove to yourself that $15,000 is enough to move out:

With the budget in place, you can ultimately answer if $15,000 is enough to move out.

Ask yourself this:

With your current budget, can you find an apartment to rent and survive on the $15,000 for at least three months? Remember to factor in the deposit!

$15K is a lot of money, and I really doubt you’ll have trouble surviving for several months on it. If you’re unsure on the three months, you can increase it to six months, just to be sure. I’ve talked with others, who push it as high as eight months.

If you cannot find any potential places to live where you could survive for three months or more on $15,000, you need to save more money.

Suggested reading: Is 20k Enough To Move Out?

What To Do If $15,000 Isn’t Enough To Move Out:

You have a few options if $15,000 isn’t enough in your case. I’ll go through three of them, and explain why they solve the issue of a lack of savings:

Get a roomie – Share the rent!

This is a great way to cut down on expenses and make some new friends in the process.

You can check out websites like this one: https://roomiapp.com/ to find available places all over the United States to share the rent with people.

This way, you might be able to move out with $15,000 in savings without worrying about money at all.

Find a job BEFORE you move out:

The biggest hurdle between you and your new apartment is surviving the initial months when you don’t have an income. You will have to dig into your savings in order to have food on the table. If $15,000 isn’t enough to overcome the initial lack of income, you should find a job before moving out!

If you can find a job before moving out, the need for additional savings disappears!

If you find a job before moving out, $15,000 will be more than enough to move out. If you’ve already landed the job, you’ll receive your first paycheck within a month, making the need for three/six months worth of savings unnecessary, technically speaking.

In fact, you technically only need one month’s worth of savings. This is risky though and should only be done if you have no other option.

Tighten your budget and find a cheaper place:

If your savings of $15K isn’t enough to keep your head above water from the initial months, consider tightening your budget.

Most people go to the “extras” like subscriptions to stuff like Netflix and Spotify, or the occasional Starbucks coffee when cutting expenses, but I think that’s the wrong angle of attack.

The best way to cut down on expenses is to START WITH THE BIG THINGS.

You’ll not cut your expenses significantly by canceling your Spotify subscription…

Small things make a small difference. Big things make a big difference.

Protip For Out-Movers With $15,000 Saved Up:

When moving out, you become an independent adult. That’s when you have ultimate responsibility for yourself and your finances.

The fact that you’re reading this article is great. It tells me that you’re seriously thinking things through (unlike me when I moved out…). You’ll most likely be good if you keep up the thinking and research.

I moved out several years ago, and have learned a lot since. After moving a bunch of times, and trying all kinds of different lifestyles (in terms of monthly expenses and incomes), I’ve picked up a few things.

I’ve tried living like a rat, spending less than $1,000 a month sleeping on a couch. I’ve also lived off $3,000 a month for a little while, feeling like a king. The most important lesson I’ve learned is the following…

I already mentioned it above, but it’s so important that I’ll do it again… If I could only teach you one thing, this would be it:

Small things make a small difference. Big things make a big difference.

“What do I mean by that?”

The three biggest expenses you will have are housing, transportation and food. These are the items you need to be careful about budgeting.

At the end of the day, the little things like your Netflix subscription or the occasional Starbucks coffee don’t really matter.

I write more about this in my article about saving money despite having to pay expensive bills.

I personally went from living paycheck to paycheck to being able to save almost 80% of my initial income every month by focusing on the big stuff like housing and transportation.

Here’s what I did:

I sold my car, moved into a smaller apartment closer to work, and started this website to increase my income.

I could walk/bike to work in my new location, eliminating the transportation expense. The rent was also much cheaper. The website increased my income by roughly 40% in one year. Simple as that I turned my finances upside-down, and started saving 80% of my initial income (income before the website started earning money).

I went from “there’s too much month at the end of the money!” to securing my finances with a comfortable nest egg equivalent to 12 months of expenses.

You’re in a position to make this decision from the get-go. Skip all the financial struggle – move to a cheap apartment close to your job, or get a job close to a cheap apartment. Also, you might consider starting a side hustle, like a small online business. The additional income is awesome!

Understand, your monthly cashflow is just a product of your decisions.

YOU are in control of your personal finances.

If you take responsibility and make the hard choices, you’ll become a “financial mutant”, as one of my favorite youtube channels calls it.

Here’s a great video/podcast from them I can recommend all young people to listen to:

Suggested reading:

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