College can be an eye-opening experience when it comes to the reality of covering expenses once out from under your parents’ roof. However, the possibility of financial assistance from parents and student loans during college can often temper the true reality of the costs of life on your own.


Paying lump sums for food, room & board, and tuition while away at school, may tend to mask the multitude of costs involved in life on your own after college.

What Kinds of Costs to Expect

The type of person you are and your particular situation after graduation will help to determine many of the associated costs that come with living on your own after college. There are however, certain costs that arise more frequently with newer graduates. Since most new grads won’t have the ability to purchase a home right away, they will likely be moving into an apartment or rental property.

Before you ever move in, expect in many cases to have to put down the first and last month’s rent as well as a security deposit for possible damages to the property.

While some rental properties will include certain utilities within the price of your rent, you might have to pay for electricity, natural gas, water/sewer, trash pickup, phone, internet, and cable television expenses. You may also have to purchase a washer and dryer, or set aside a little extra cash each month if there are on-site laundry facilities. Depending on your location, you might also have to pay a fee for a garage in which to house your vehicle or store extra belongings.

If you are starting off in a professional job setting, you might also have to purchase business attire that can run hundreds, maybe even thousands of dollars depending on your job setting. You will probably also have to have to pay for transportation too and from your work. Therefore you might have public transportation costs or expenses associated with a passenger vehicle such as insurance, license plate fees, upkeep, and gas.

Finally, you might have all those little extra costs as well. Renter’s insurance, student loan payments, food costs, health insurance, entertainment expenses like movies, dinners out, travel, sporting events or concerts, dishes, bedding, furniture, accessories, and similar miscellaneous items may all factor into your regular expenses.

Building a Budget

It is often difficult for a recent graduate to know exactly where to begin with a budget since many of the costs and cost categories are relatively new to them. It will probably take several months to settle in and get a feel for how much items like utility costs will run each month or from season to season, how much gas you will use getting too and from work, and how much you’ll eat in food each week.

By carefully tracking these types of expenses for several months however, you will likely begin to get a feel for how much you spend in various expense categories. In doing so, you can create a budget that will allow you to gauge your progress, keep yourself from overspending, and maybe even save a little bit for a rainy day.


Venturing out on your own can be a truly exciting time in your independent life. Getting your first place can give you a sense of pride and accomplishment. There are certain aspects and/or pitfalls that may be involved in this new life however, of which you should be aware.

While it might be tempting to splurge on furnishings for your first place, you may want to temper your spending when it comes to buying new things like furniture, appliances, electronics, and accessories. Going overboard on such items before you are financially prepared to accept the responsibility of paying for them can leave you under the weight of crushing debt and ruin what can be one of the most exciting times in your young life.

It is also important to consider the responsibility you owe to making payments on student loans as well as credit card debt, and attempt to avoid taking on further debt. A new car, a larger apartment than you need, and other large purchases piled onto credit cards, can sink your newly launched life and leave you foundering on the sandbar of debt.

Instead, bear in mind that with patience and hard work, you can work toward these goals, and that in many such cases, delayed gratification can often be much more rewarding and satisfying than getting everything you want all at once.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is at the reader’s discretion.