Before leaving home

Leaving home is a massive step to take, and the key to avoiding problems further down the line is preparation. This page looks at some of the things you should think about.

When can I leave home?

Once you are 16, you can leave home without your parents' or guardian's permission. However, don't feel you have to move before you're ready. You should also consider the down sides of having your own place (rent, bills, no-one to do your washing) as well as all the good things and if you know anyone that has recently left home, talk to them about their experiences.

If you're not getting on with your parents, try reading our page on living with your parents - this has advice on improving family relationships so you don't have to move out.

If you're under 16 and you're feeling unsafe or you are unhappy, there are people who will listen and help you. If you don't want to talk to anyone in your family, you could speak to a teacher, a friend's parent, a relative or a youth group leader. There are lots of organisations that can help you.

I've decided to leave home

Talk it over

  • Talk to your family and explain your reasons for wanting to leave. They may be able to help you find a new home and help you get together all the things you'll need to live on your own, or even lend you money for a deposit.

  • It's a good idea to get as much advice as you can, as the more you know about your housing rights and options, then the easier any decisions you have to make will be.

Sort out your money

  • There are lots of things you'll need to buy or spend money on when you move into your own place.

  • If you are moving to rented accommodation, you'll probably need to pay a deposit and a month's rent in advance and you may need to buy furniture or other household goods for your home.

  • Draw up budget. This will help you work out what kind of accommodation you can realistically afford.

  • Find out about benefits, grants and loans you may be entitled to.

Find somewhere to live

It may sound obvious but it is best to find your new home before you move out. You may think you can kip on a mate's sofa until you get sorted, but finding suitable accommodation could take longer than you think. It won't be long before you'll start to feel in the way and in need of your own space. The pages on short-term and long-term housing options will help you decide what kind of accommodation to look for.

Whilst you're looking for somewhere to live it's a good idea to think about who you want to live with.

What will I need to take with me?

Depending on the kind of place you are moving into, you may need a lot of new things for your home. You can download a checklist of things to take with you.

Finding cheap furniture and household goods

Ask your friends and family if they have any household items to spare, then check out:

  • second-hand shops

  • charity shops

  • furniture projects

  • car boot sales

  • jumble sales

  • ads in the local paper

  • ads in supermarkets and newsagents.

You may find some bargains, and it's likely to be much cheaper than buying everything new and don't forget websites such as eBay and Gumtree.

You may also be able to find free items available in your area online. For low cost flooring or carpeting, contact Spruce carpets.

What if I can't afford the things I need?

  • If you don't have any money to buy furniture or other essential items, you may be able to apply for a budgeting loan to help spread the cost.

  • If you are leaving care, disabled or have young children, you may be able to get a community care grant to help with the expenses of setting up home.

  • If you are on benefits or a low income, you can ask to be referred to a furniture project which can help you kit out your new home for free. Find out more at your nearest advice centre.

If you need housing advice, contact us for free.

Last updated: 29 December 2014

Housing laws differ between Scotland and England.

This content applies to Scotland only.

Get advice if you're in England