Tips for living away from home

Living away from home can be tricky. So here are some tips on things like cleaning, washing, cooking and talking about important house stuff. But don't be too hard on yourself if you're feeling a bit overwhelmed the first time you move out. These things also take time to learn.

This might help if:

  • You're living away from home for the first time
  • You're moving away to study
  • You've just moved into a share house
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We recommend cleaning once a week to avoid bugs and bad smells creeping up on you. This doesn't mean you have to become super neat, or that you have to clean every part of the house, just enough to get rid of the dust and mess build up.

If you're living in a share house you might have already organised a cleaning schedule so one person isn't stuck with cleaning up all the time. A cleaning schedule should include a list of all communal areas of the house (places like living rooms, bathrooms and the kitchen) followed by how regularly the area is going to be cleaned and who's going to do it.

Everyone has their own way they like to clean but if you're looking for some guidance, try the following out and see if it works for you:

  • Do a basic pick up and put away. Anything on the floor or that might get in the way of you cleaning properly should be put somewhere like a cupboard or drawer.
  • Start by wiping down all the surfaces. Depending on where you live and whose turn it is to clean, this might include kitchen benches, bathroom surfaces, desks and tables, window sills etc.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner to clean up all the stuff on the ground. This is particularly helpful anywhere people have been eating like the kitchen, dining room and living room.
  • Get out the mop and use it to clean the floor in the kitchen and bathroom where sticky things can latch onto the floor. 
For regular kitchen maintenance it's recommended that you wash dishes, pots and pans within 24 hours of using them. This will prevent food from becoming glued to the surface and impossible to get off. It also makes you less likely to get mice and cockroaches coming over for a midnight snack.


If you haven't done your own laundry before, it can be difficult to know the best way to clean your clothes without shrinking them or turning a white t-shirt pink. The best way to avoid washing disasters is to check the tags. They will tell you whether the piece of clothing can go in the washing machine first of all (some stuff can only be dry cleaned) and also what temperature to set the water to for best results. Stuff to remember:

  • Cold washes are the safest option if you can't find the tag. The warmer the water, the more likely it is to shrink your clothes.
  • Don't mix coloured clothing and white clothing if you can. Try to separate them into two separate wash loads. This will prevent the colours from turning your white things multi-colours.
  • Try and air dry your stuff if you can. Dryers are great in crap weather or if you don't have an outside space in your house, but clothes are likely to last longer and less likely to shrink if you air dry them.


When you first live away from home, frozen pizza, spaghetti hoops and 2 minute noodles can be a tempting alternative to a proper cooked meal, but we would recommend not incorporating these into your life as a staple diet.

Using fresh fruit and vegies and cooking food from scratch is actually a much cheaper, and ultimately tastier, option. If you don't know any recipes or are looking to branch out, it's worth checking out recipe sites online or buying a cook book.

Talking 'bout it

When it comes to financial business, you really need to have clear and open communication with all the other people living in your house or apartment. And yes, we have have a fact sheet all about managing money.

When things go wrong in the house, you need to notify either your landlord or the real estate agent looking after your place. If you don't let them know and stuff goes wrong, you might get in trouble for not telling them when the problem first started.

These things take time

Don't stress if you're not great at any of this stuff straight away. It takes a while to get used to, and no one feels confident with the day to day stuff when they first leave home. You're also allowed to make mistakes while you're learning. But if you really feel like you can't get a handle on things, it might be worth talking to someone you trust for some advice. 

What can I do now?

  • Don't let stuff build up. If you're not coping, let someone know.
  • Try to avoid putting off cleaning, it's better to just get it over with.
  • Keep money on `yo mind. Find out ways to deal with debt and live on a budget.
Last reviewed: 20 August, 2015
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