There are certain lessons you can only learn by living on your own. Confession: I lived at home for two years after I graduated college. It's officially been a year since I moved out on my own. Here's what I've learned this year.

  1. "When you're ready to move out, you're ready to move out." My confidence was a little shot when I moved back home after graduation. I felt like a failure even though I had a job lined up. My dad always told me I'd know when I was ready to move out, and until I was ready, I didn't understand what he meant. If you live at home after college, never let anyone pressure you into living alone if you're not ready. 

  2. When you are ready to move out, look for roommates. When I knew I was ready to move out, I knew roommates would help make the move more affordable. As long as you can trust your roommates, it's a great way to save money and make sure you're not lonely living alone! 

  3. Don't just move to move. Halfway through my lease, I was tempted to move out because of issues with one roommate. But I realized quickly that the issues I was having weren't anything major; read: nothing worth moving out for. When I looked at other places to rent, it was going to cost at least $500 just for a deposit - plus whatever I would inevitably lose with my current place. It was worth sucking it up for another year to save the cash. 

  4. Invest in renter's insurance. When you hear about renter nightmares, don't underestimate the stories. A tree fell on my rental property, and without insurance, I would have been out about a thousand dollars worth of property. Luckily, no sentimental items were broken, but things I needed were damaged. Don't think renter's insurance is optional; it's so much more than a suggestion in your lease! 

  5. Talk to your landlord before it's too late. If something is wrong with your home, make your landlord aware of it before you move out. That way, it's well documented and you can't be blamed for it at move out. Also - it's a great way to make sure you're maximizing your property.

  6. Don't try to sneak your way around your lease's pet policy. My roommate tried it. It didn't go well. Just...don't.

If you've never lived along before, heed my advice. Just be smart about the property you're renting to avoid headaches!