Gaining independence is the start of a new adventure which can be a great one at that if done properly. It is important to think through when is the best time to starting looking for flats to rent if you are looking to take the first step out of the home and secondly who you will be sharing with.
If you are going to sharing the flat then it is important that if it is a friend that you are going to be staying with that you get on well with them or at least know them well enough to have similar interests and values. Flatmates are just as important as the flat you are going to stay in. It is worth going out for a drink with this person/s to find out a bit more information before taking the plunge.
For example I'm not into football at all and therefore would prefer not to share a flat for rent with someone who is a football fanatic since the TV will be occupied many nights by the next premiership match for a couple of hours. Not the worst thing in the world but you should be happy in your flat so it's worth taking a bit more time to find a well suited flatmate. Cleaning is another issue, I'm not a clean freak but I like a flat that is kept clean so if you don't share the same values then disagreements are going to happen.
It is important to consider such matters when you are going to share one the selected flats for rent or move into a flat for rent with a long term friend. You may get on as friends but living together is a different ball game and the smallest of things can affect your relationship. My advice would be, when looking for flats to rent keep your friends and live with someone you know shares similar values as you.