Wondering about where you will live after school? Not sure what financial support you are entitled to? Can’t work out what you will need to organise? Find the right information to help you make good decisions.

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When I finish school where should I live?

Often one of the big decisions when planning to leave school is deciding where to live. You will need to think about a few things, including your family situation, what your plans are for when you leave school, finances, and what support you might need to live on your own.

Things to consider when we are thinking about leaving home

Sometimes it is difficult to work out what decisions you need to make first when leaving school. You may want to start with confirming your next steps for education or employment.

The options you choose can affect whether you might have to leave home, or whether you can continue living where you currently do. Choosing to study in another city means finding new accommodation. However, if you choose to study or work locally it may mean you can continue living at home. If you need specialist accommodation or support to live independently then finding out what options are available for you might be the first step.

It is a good idea to talk through all your options with parents and whānau, or another trusted adult such as a school counsellor, career advisor, or teacher. They may help you talk through the most important factors to consider in your decision making, including location, finances, support, or how to follow your dreams.

Living at home

If you remain living at home, it is important to work out with parents, carers, or whānau what this might look like. Just as you are adjusting to a new stage in your life, they will also need to recognise there will be changes in their parenting role. Clear expectations can help to avoid unnecessary conflict.

You might talk with them about:

  • Finances – how can you contribute to the family costs? Should you pay rent, contribute to household bills, pay for your own Wi-Fi or data usage, contribute to petrol if using a shared car?
  • Household tasks – discuss the jobs that you will be expected to do. This could include doing your own washing, cooking meals, housework, looking after your own space, and caring for siblings or other whānau members.
  • Behavioural expectations – discuss how you should be living together as you become more independent. This could include things like curfew times, socialising at home, having friends/partners to stay, privacy for both yourself and other family members, alcohol and drug use, or having study time.

Independent living options

Wherever you decide to live once you have left school, there may be an expectation that you will start providing for yourself financially and taking more responsibility for your self-care. This might mean different things for you depending on your accommodation choice. Whatever your choices, you should always know what support you are able to access, as well as your accommodation rights.

More information about financial support once you turn 18 can be found here. This support may include the supported living payment, which you can access if you have, or are caring for someone with, a health condition, injury, or disability. You may also qualify for a youth benefit to help out in the early stages of living independently for the first time.

It can also be helpful to do budgeting exercises, or use a budgeting tool to see how far your money can go.


There are many different flatting options available which can vary enormously.

In moving into a flatting situation you should be clear about:

  • Finances – the amount of bond required, what the weekly rent is, when it needs to be paid and how, any additional costs that you might have to pay, and how much notice you need to give if you want to move out. You also need to be clear about your tenancy status i.e. whose name the tenancy agreement is in.
  • What is included in the lease – is the property furnished or unfurnished, are the lawns mowed/garden done, type of heating provided, is internet access available, is there parking if you have a vehicle?
  • Behavioural expectations – what are the rules of the landlord regarding pets, the number of people staying in the property, and having parties. If you are moving into an existing flat you also need to consider any expectations that the flatmates might have. These can relate to things like doing the housework, shared or individual cooking, having partners to stay overnight and using alcohol and drugs.

To find out more about flatting in Aotearoa New Zealand, including your rights and responsibilities, and advice about tenancy agreements, see the relevant section of this website and the links on this page.

Tertiary education accommodation (halls of residence)

All universities and some of the polytechnics and other education providers have accommodation options available for their students. Contact your course provider directly to find out more information about your options. For some courses it is expected that you stay on-site at least for the beginning of your study programme.

See the University page for more information on halls of residence.

Private board/Homestay accommodation

Private boarding can be a good option if you have to leave home but do not feel ready to be totally independent. If you are moving to a different area you may have family or friends who are able to offer you a room, sleep-out or granny flat to rent. Some training providers and tertiary institutions have people who regularly offer this sort of accommodation to students.

Private hostel accommodation

Some areas have privately run hostels that may offer longer-term accommodation which can be a cheap option or give you somewhere to stay while you make more permanent arrangements if you are moving to a new area. You may also consider this if we are doing a short contact course, or perhaps travelling for an interview.

Most hostels have shared cooking and recreation areas, shared bedrooms and/or communal bathrooms.

Residential living facilities

If you require extra support to live independently or have special requirements for accommodation, like needing wheelchair access, you may have to access a specially designed facility. It is best to make contact with the local District Health Board (DHB) and providers of this type of accommodation as early as possible, as applications and assessment of needs can take months to process. You may also be eligible for financial support to help with any changes to your living situation.