How I Did It: Tackled the Costs of Moving Into My Own Place

Nineteen-year-old Ali Kvidt had big aspirations for moving out on her own.

How to tackle the cost of moving into your own place.

“I’ve always dreamt of living in my first apartment, all decorated cute, and something that when someone came to visit, I could be proud of,” says Kvidt, a freelance photographer and nanny who lives in Minneapolis.

But for Kvidt, who had previously lived in tuition-subsidized dorm-style student housing while at art school and with her parents before that, the reality of planning, preparing, and paying for the move to her first place in March was more complicated than she expected.

I’m excited to be on my own, but it’s nerve-racking,” says Kvidt.

One of the biggest things that took her by surprise was the extra costs she hadn’t thought about.

“Of course, I always knew that the deposit, application fee, and electricity would need to be paid,” says Kvidt. “But I guess I never took into account that my Internet, cable, water, heat, and trash, especially, would need to be paid. I guess I always figured that came with the rent.”

Kvidt could’ve let herself get tripped up by the extra expenses or ignore them completely—throwing them on a credit card like they were no big deal. Instead, she planned ahead, saved up, and successfully made the big move.

How Kvidt Made it Happen

Learn how to calculate the costs of living on your own.

Ali Kvidt calculated and saved up for the costs of living on her own before making the move.

She calculated the costs. Kvidt already knew she would be living with her friend from school, Katie, 19, whose parents offered to co-sign their lease. So, when the soon-to-be roommates found a suitable one-bedroom apartment, they calculated their respective shares of rent, plus utilities, water, and heat—$675 per month per roommate.

In addition to rent and utilities, Kvidt and her roommate discussed their plan to split expenses for cleaning products and food.

“We came up with a meal system and we will be cooking three meals a week and the cost is split between us,” Kvidt says. “Any extra food that we may want as individuals we will buy ourselves. We will also be sharing a bathroom, so toilet paper is another thing we will split the costs for.”

She made concessions. To save on costs, Kvidt is using the living room of her shared apartment as her bedroom. Also, rather than setting herself back with brand-new furniture, Kvidt accepted a couple of pieces of used furniture from her parents, including a couch.

She saved up money in advance—but wishes she had started sooner. Prior to her move, Kvidt earned money working 16 hours a week as part of a work-study program with her school and supplemented that income with extra hours via her own photography business.

Kvidt started saving money two months before the move, but she wishes she had begun sooner.

If I could go back to last year, I would have been saving a lot more, and looking at my pocketbook more carefully.

“Emergencies have come up that I have needed to take care of,” says Kvidt. “If I could go back to last year, I would have been saving a lot more, and looking at my pocketbook more carefully.”

How Kvidt Has Made Adjustments

Shortly after settling into her apartment, Kvidt decided to take off some time from school to evaluate her future plans. Leaving school also meant abandoning income from her work-study job—money the new renter would have to make up somewhere else.

“I personally think that some people are meant for school and others are not,” says Kvidt. “But if anyone wants to leave, it’s imperative that they take into consideration what I did. Are they ready for full-time jobs?”

For Kvidt, a full-time job means working as a nanny with photography on the weekends—a combination that fulfills her financial obligations.

“I’ve looked at expenses and my nanny job will cover my car payment, gas, food, rent, insurance for my car, and school payment, with a little extra for spending on the side and photography needs,” says Kvidt.

And for now, she’s enjoying her newfound freedom.

“I don't know where my life is going to take me now that I left school, but it's only going up,” says Kvidt. “I love having the responsibility of being on my own and taking care of my own life.”