by Sam Bartlett
4 minutes read

Setting up your first home after leaving the nest is an exciting yet challenging milestone but there is a lot more to it than merely a change in location – successfully navigating the financial factors and practical aspects requires careful planning and thoughtful consideration.

So says Cobus Odendaal, CEO of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Johannesburg and Randburg, who adds that it’s important to be aware that although these are exciting times, this significant step into independence comes with a set of challenges and potentially costly pitfalls.

Odendaal says there are three common pitfalls, with the first being failure to budget properly: “Overspending on decor and non-essential items is very tempting but can quickly transform what should be an exhilarating experience into a financial burden which can take a long time to overcome, especially if one does so on credit.

“Another pitfall lies in overlooking the essentials because, amid all the fun of decorating, it’s easy to forget practical necessities like kitchen utensils, cleaning supplies and other basics which you’ve never had to purchase before.

“Finally, the allure of impulsiveness can lead to regrets, from signing a lease on a property you’ll struggle to afford to accumulating unnecessary clutter you’ll never use so discerning between what adds value to the space and what merely occupies it becomes imperative.”

Odendaal says that taking the following steps will help to ensure a smooth transition into this exciting new chapter, allowing you to build a home that reflects your personality and aspirations but does not cripple you financially from the get-go.

  1. Financial Assessment:

Before you start packing boxes, conduct a thorough financial assessment. Create a budget that encompasses rent, utilities, groceries, transportation, and other living expenses. Ensure your income comfortably covers these costs and leaves room for savings.

  1. Savings Fund:

Establish an emergency savings fund to cushion unexpected expenses which can and often do arise. Aim to save at least three months’ worth of living expenses. This safety net provides financial security and breathing space in case of unforeseen challenges or emergencies.

  1. Research and Compare:

Research potential neighbourhoods and housing options. Compare rental prices, amenities, and proximity to work or college. Consider the overall cost of living in different areas to find a location that aligns with your budget and lifestyle.

Always deal with a reputable estate agent or property management company to ensure that your rights are protected and you are safe from fraud.

  1. Furnishing Plan:

Plan your furnishings and decor wisely. Identify essential items you’ll need immediately, such as a bed, sofa, and kitchen essentials and consider buying quality second-hand or affordable options initially, and gradually invest in quality pieces as your budget allows.

  1. Checklist:

A well-thought-out checklist becomes a trusted ally in ensuring that no fundamental aspect is overlooked.

  1. Utilities and Services:

Contact utility providers in advance to set up essential services like electricity, water, and internet. Plan for any installation fees and factor these costs into your budget. Having utilities ready upon moving in ensures a seamless transition.

  1. Legalities and Agreements:

Review lease agreements carefully before signing and ask your parents or a friend for help if you aren’t sure because it’s important to understand the terms, conditions, and responsibilities outlined in the contract. Seek legal advice if needed to ensure you are aware of your rights and obligations as a tenant.

  1. Packing and Organisation:

Begin packing well in advance to avoid last-minute stress. Label boxes clearly and organise items by category. Consider decluttering as you pack, donating or selling items you no longer need. This not only makes the moving process smoother but also ensures a clutter-free start in your new home.

  1. Emotional Preparedness:

Acknowledge and prepare for the emotional aspects of leaving home. Moving out signifies a transition to greater independence, and it’s normal to experience a mix of excitement, trepidation and nostalgia. Embrace this emotional journey as part of your personal growth.

  1. Establish Support Systems:

Build a support network in your new location. Connect with local friends and get to know your new neighbours. Having a support system in your new community helps ease the transition and fosters a sense of belonging.

“By budgeting wisely, prioritising essentials and exploring cost-effective options, you can create an affordable home that reflects your style and meets your needs without draining your finances,” concludes Odendaal.

“Remember that the journey is just as important as the destination, and with thoughtful planning, creating your first home can be a memorable experience – for all the right reasons.”


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