Living on your own is a fun way to learn new skills like making cookies.

Five steps to living on your own


Ready to Launch: Transitioning to Independence

So you want to live on your own and are ready to make your first move toward independence. Where do you start? How can you set yourself up for success?

The best way to fight against the anxiety that comes with setting out on your own is to be prepared. Below find five key components to consider before launching yourself into the real world.

Step 1: Get a job

To live on your own, you’ll need a steady income. Look for a job that aligns with your skills and strengths as an individual. Free online career interest inventory resources like help identify careers that match your interests. Once you have narrowed your search to a career field, you are ready to look for available jobs. Online sites like are great resources to search for employers who are looking to hire. Many of the ads even directly connect you to companies’ websites and applications. It’s up to you to “wow” the potential employer with your skills and abilities during the interview.

Step 2: Set a budget

Once you know your monthly income, you can set a realistic budget on how much you have to spend on necessities (rent, bills, groceries, etc.). When you have realistic financial guidelines, you can make smart choices on where to live and what to responsibly spend money on when on your own. Look for financial guides to help you budget your money, such as Davey Ramsey’s book, The Total Money Makeover. It’ll help you create and maintain a stable budget to sustain your independence.

Step 3: Find a home 

Congratulations on your new job and setting a responsible budget. Now you’re ready for your own place! Searching for a place to live can be difficult, but thanks to many new websites and apps, the process is much easier than it used to be. You can create an account through Zillow to look for rental properties that fit your budget based on your search criteria (location, rent, pets and amenities). Be sure to check regularly. If you see a property you like, call to set up a viewing. The best places go fast! You’ll also need to make a deposit and the first month’s rent. Be sure to have money ready to make the commitment to your new landlord. Your budget should ensure you can always pay your rent. Be sure to pay on time, or better yet, early!

Step 4: Furnish a home

Now it’s time to fill your new place with the things that make it a home. You may be surprised by what you need. Make a list for each room. Remember to check your budget to ensure you can afford these purchases. If your budget is tight, shop your local thrift store while saving up for department store upgrades. You may find the pre-owned items become cherished possessions that have extra personality!

Step 5: Find community resources

When you aren’t working and spending time in your new fully furnished home what will you do with your time? Check out local community resources! Libraries, churches, civic and recreation centers often have lots of opportunities to have fun, meet new friends and give back to the community. Get involved with intermural sports, book clubs, volunteer organizations and social outings – many for low cost or even free. Make the most of your independence, and get out there and have fun!

Jennifer Eakley is the Instructor for Trained for Life at Shepherds College in Union Grove, Wisc. For more information about Shepherds College, an accredited, faith-based post secondary school for young adults with intellectual disabilities, visit



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