Deciding where to live is a big decision for any adult and involves a lot of careful thought and discussion with people that support and care about you. Most young adults continue to live at home with their families for a number of years until they are ready to live more independently. Even if you do continue to live at home you may have new responsibilities and your parents may have different expectations about how you behave and contribute to the household. This topic will tell you about the different living options available and how you can prepare for living independently.

Living at Home

Most young people who leave secondary school continue to live at home for a number of years.  There may be many advantages to this.  You parents may continue to make your meals, do your washing and ironing, tidy up your room and even make sure you get up in the morning!!  As a young adult you will want to take on more responsibility to show your parents that you are growing up and becoming more independent.

This can include:

Offering to cook some meals during the week. If you’re not very confident about cooking start with simple meals like making a sandwich, beans on toast or even just putting cereal out for breakfast.

Help out around the house, for example wash dishes, tidy up the kitchen, do some housework like vacuuming, put the bins out and recycle.

Contribute to the family income if you can.  If you are a student, you might not have a lot of money, but you may be getting a training allowance or some benefits or entitlements. If you can’t contribute yet to the family budget, you can help by budgeting your allowance, so it lasts all week or month.

Set your alarm each morning and get up and ready for college or work independently.

Treat everyone in the house with respect and get along with your parents and other family members.

At some point in the future you may want to live more independently.  There are some different options available depending on your circumstances and where in Europe you live.

Supported Living: This is when you live more independently in a house or apartment in the community.  You are supported by staff who can help you with shopping, cooking, laundry and other household tasks.  You can live on your own, but it is more typical to live with other people who also need some support. 

The process of applying for supported living is quite complicated and will depend on what country you live in. It usually involves making an application through a social worker or housing association.  You will need to qualify for the support, and you may need to contribute to the cost of the support you receive through your benefits. It can also take a long time to arrange this as there are usually waiting lists.

Renting Independently: If you feel you can cope on your own with all your household tasks and responsibilities you might want to consider renting a house, apartment or room.  How much you pay to rent will depend on where you live in Europe and your circumstances. For example, in the UK if you are on social security benefits or on a low income you might be entitled to housing benefit which can pay towards your rental costs.

Residential Living

Some adults live in group accommodation usually called residential living.  Even though you are living away from home it is not considered as living independently. Staff are usually there to support you with your needs 24 hours per day and usually take care of all the household tasks, although you can always offer to help out.

This option tends to be more suitable for adults who have high support needs because of their health or behaviour challenges. If you would like to find out more about this option speak to your support agency or social worker.

Preparing for Independent Living

Even though it may be some time before you decide to live more independently here are some ideas to help you prepare:

Find out about what it costs to live independently. For example, how much will rent, heating, electricity, taxes and food cost you each month?

What else do you need to pay for? This may include your mobile phone, Satellite TV, entertainment costs, transport etc.

Learn how to cook healthy and inexpensive meals.

Learn to travel as independently as possible using buses, trains and trams. If this isn’t possible become confident booking taxis or community transport if this is available in your area.

Learn how to do your laundry – separating colours, using the washing machine, drying and ironing your clothes.

Make good choices and decisions – show those around you that you are responsible. This includes who you socialise with, what you do in your spare time and living a healthy lifestyle for example not eating takeaway every night or drinking too much alcohol.

Being a Good House Mate

You may find that you end up living with other people, you may or may not already know them. This can be a difficult situation but below are some ways in which you can be a good house mate.

Respect other people’s privacy at all times, we all need our own space.

Respect your house mates’ belongings including food, DVDs, cloths and electronic equipment.

If there is only one communal area in the house like a living room negotiate how this is used. For example, if you have friends coming over you may want to use it for a set time.

Keep your room and communal areas tidy by clearing up after yourself e.g. kitchen, bathroom and living room. It usually helps to make a cleaning rota as there are household jobs that always need done on a regular basis e.g. vacuuming, dusting, taking out the bins, cutting the grass.

When other people are home don’t play your music or TV  too loud.

Try and become friends with your housemates eg listen to them, go the cinema together or offer to take turns cooking. If you find it hard to get along with your housemates or they are not being very considerate talk to someone about this before things get worse.

It is usually a good idea to agree house rules and then everyone knows what’s expected of them.