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03/21/2012

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The article interested me, but I had the feeling that neither [Buchholz] nor anyone you know has relocated to another city or state by themselves as a young adult....
... a car is the first requirement. Teens working at Target (or an equivalent minimum wage generic job) would have to wait several years to afford one, especially if they aren’t living at home. Most parents are economically stressed themselves and can’t present the lucky teen with a paid-for car on the magical 16th birthday or high school graduation day.
Relocating on your own also requires a hefty amount of ready cash: At least about $2500, but probably more like $3,000 to be safe. You have to have first/last month’s rent for your new apartment (and your current landlord will delay at least a month, their billing cycle, to refund your old security deposit – if they are honest and intend to refund it fairly). You have to have enough money for food and gas while you get from here to there, and if you have the luxury of extra money for several nights in a hotel, you can expect to pay around $120/night across most of the country, even for a poor room in a small motel in the middle of nowhere.
Before you get to where you’re going, if you can’t fit what you have in a car, you have to kiss it goodbye forever or else rent a truck (more cost and more gas cost), and be prepared to get the stuff out again by yourself at your destination. That means no couch, armchair, table, bookcase, mattresses or bed and probably no vacuum cleaner. You don’t know how long it will be before you can afford to replace these things. Sleeping on the floor is painful after a few nights.
Once you get there, you may not be able to find and be approved for an apartment on the day you arrive. That means you have to park and sleep or pay for a motel for some more days. With luck you have a web-enabled device so you can access Craigslist from Starbuck’s.
With a low-paying job like Target, what are the real chances that you can get this kind of money together? Then when you get to a new place, what are the odds that you can do better than Target if you don’t have a college education or some kind of specialized experience?
Not very good odds at all. So relocation for today’s teens means they can optimistically hope that they will wind up in the same situation in a different place, maybe a place where rent is at least not as high, but separated from the family and friends who will get you to the repair shop when the car breaks down, or help you if you get sick. It’s not worth it. A teen with the resources would choose an X-box over this. I don’t think I blame them.

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