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An Empty Tiny Apartment With White Walls

What it means to move out: a 2 month review

Last Updated on November 18, 2019 by Mr. FightToFIRE

2 months, that’s how long it’s been since I moved out of the comfort of my parents’ home and started living with my girlfriend. What a time it has been. The moment we decided to move in together and get a place of our own -more like rent- was the moment I started a new chapter of my life; moving out has thought me quite a few things.

As I was already 28 by the time I started the search for an apartment I had a good grasp in what I wanted. I didn’t want to spend over 800 EUR in total (incl. shared cost and utilities) as it would be temporary. Right before the decision fell to move together, I signed a sales agreement for the Brussels’ apartment. This meant that I had to take some restrictions into account; my girlfriend also faced certain limitations.

The restrictions

There were quite a few things I and my girlfriend had to think about when looking for a place to live.
For starters, It had to be in the city she studies and it’s much easier for me to commute to work than it is for her to school.

This was straightforward and wasn’t anything to think about. The second was the apartment itself, what did it need to have at least for two people to live indecently and at a reasonable price, especially given my recently purchased apartment and her limited finances. While this was the leading limitation we had a few personal wishes as well, I’ve put them in a list a bit further.

University student carying books

Proof of solvency

The main obstacle when it came to money, was what was doable for my girlfriend who is trying to get a Master and thus has to limit her rental budget to what she was paying at the dorm she stayed, so ~400 EUR. This for the simple fact that she has no income. Because of the excessive workload, there isn’t much time for a job. There is also the limitation of finding a student job where the Dutch language is not required.

To top it all off, as an international student they also require her to have a certain minimum of money (aka solvency) which she had to deposit on an account of the university before coming here and had to do again for her Master year. For her Master year, the university set it at ~8500 EUR for the 2019-2020 year. This will be transferred back to her at the beginning of each month in ~700 EUR parts.

Balancing two responsibilities

While my girlfriend had her limited finances I had to find a way to manage not only the rent but at the same time the upcoming mortgage payment. I brought this upon myself so I had to find a way to be able to balance both responsibilities that were coming my way.

As I wanted to limit the rent to prevent financial troubles later down the road, I decided to abide by a strict budget on the amount I wanted to pay for rent. The rental amount I limited myself to was roughly the same as my girlfriend, i.e., ~400 EUR. This wasn’t strict as I had a bit more leeway.

Our tiny home

Putting our key requirements together we arrived to the following list:

  • Her city of studies
  • 400 EUR / person
  • ≥ 40 m²
  • Washing machine (connection)
  • No mezzanine bedroom

We could find 4 apartments or studios that fit the above checklist completely. This was quite a feat since the new school year was about to start so most rental properties were already rented out to students and new arrivals.

The first one we found was a hit aside of one big downside: a 2m² “bathroom”, so we wrote this off in the beginning (this is important for in a bit) and continued our search.
The three other places we found attracted a lot of other people as these were exceptional places and by the time we found them online others tool them. Interestingly, I learned to even rental properties can have an option though it seems this is more of a grey area and not bound by law.

In the end, funny enough, we went for the first one we found that had the tiny bathroom. Not only the bathroom was tiny. For a total living space of 40m², it fit the description of a tiny home. The nice thing about it was that it was recently renovated and was very clean and open. The bedroom was separated by a thin wall so it was more a “tiny apartment”.

Ladder to "bedroom"
A tiny home usual means putting the bedroom against the ceiling. This was not something we wanted as taking the stairs is difficult for my girlfriend.

© Olito, F. (November 6, 2019). 23 photos that show the ugly truth of living in a tiny house. Retrieved from

What moving out costs ...

What we found was our tiny place: A 40m² apartment for 595 EUR + 50 EUR shared costs and excl. internet. Recently renovated in a calmer side street of the main shopping street on the second floor.

645 EUR is reasonable given the location and the timing. This isn’t the end of the costs of course. There is at least one thing I don’t have to pay: the internet. It’s reimbursed by my employer and as neither me nor my girlfriend watch tv, we only got the internet.

While the apartment costs are not too high, it did come unfurnished. What do you when you move out for the first time? You make a list of what you need to buy and you go to IKEA! So, that is what we did: 949.89 EUR worth of furniture (I elaborated in an older post). As the apartment had a connection for a washing machine we bought over one of the previous tenants for 179 EUR.

As the weeks passed, we kept getting smaller stuff that you only think about once you need it:

  • Drying rack (tower model): 73.24 EUR
  • Microwave (800W): 50 EUR
  • Dripping rack (=> no dishwasher): 19.80 EUR
  • Can opener, potato masher, and other smaller kitchen utensils: 59.57 EUR
  • Garbage bin for green waste: 11.05 EUR
  • stand-alone oven and rubber underlayer: 95 EUR
  • Thermostatic tap to replace outdated one (to be taken with us when we move out): 245  EUR (!)

For a total of 553.66 EUR. Including IKEA and the washing machine, I spend a grand total of 1,682.55 EUR in our new apartment.

Feel free to use this as your checklist when you move out on your own as well 😉

... and what it gave me

I can assure you, it’s been an eye-opener this move out into the big bad world of adulthood…

OK, that’s overkill, but still, it has definitely lowered my (average) Savings Rate. I’m not complaining though, cause as stated previously, I wouldn’t want to exchange living with my girlfriend for any money in the world. It’s a cliche but moving out definitely changed me.


I'm a developer for a major financial institution in Belgium that is present in over 40 countries. I have over 8 years of working experience in the development of customer applications focussing on all aspects of banking. This helped me gain a deep understanding of the inner workings of a commercial bank. All of this experience in both banking and life culminates in this blog about personal finance and my fight towards FIRE.

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