House, home, or hovel

Staying in one place is, for better or worse, not the norm for me. I had lived in more than 17 different houses by the time I turned 17, and also spent most of that time switching a couple times a week between mom’s and dad’s. The first time I lived in just one house for a number of months, I didn’t know what to do.

Today, I live in a medium-sized apartment with roommates. I spent last weekend visiting family, and much of the week before that in another part of the state for a friend’s wedding. I’ve taken solo day trips just because I wanted to, and had plenty of opportunities to visit people I care about. I’ve never been made it a year and a half without switching houses and/or moving. I fly several times a year.

Life has brought around some cool opportunities. But even when you’re not physically stuck in the same place all the time doesn’t mean you never feel stir-crazy.

As emerging adults, a lot of us are trying to find our own space in the world. Maybe that means far from home, or maybe that means sticking close to it. Maybe it means trying to figure out what the word “home” even means. Sometimes it means figuring out what to do when the place you’re in isn’t quite doing it.

These are the ways I’ve learned to handle it:

  • Find new things in your city or area, or go visit old ones that you haven’t been to in forever
  • Make staying in fun. Build a fort, cook or bake something special, rearrange your furniture so it feels new
  • Plan for big trips. I’ve got a couple of larger trips coming up, and anytime I feel a little antsy about being in one spot, I remember that I have those new travels to look forward to
  • Have people over. I do a lot better with staying in one place if there are other people there too. Because as much as I enjoy time alone, it does make the minutes drag on
  • Switch up the routine. Take a new route to work, make small adjustments in your schedule. You don’t have to make those the new norm, but shaking things up a little can help
  • Join a group. This could be faith-based, community volunteering, or centered on a hobby you enjoy. But finding a way to connect with other people will make being in one place feel more like roots rather than static
  • Make the most of your space. Whether you live in a big house, a small apartment, or a tiny little excuse for one, find new ways to use and appreciate your space. It’s amazing what we can, with a little TLC, learn to call home

What are your best tips for battling stir-craziness? Let me know in a comment below, on Twitter @ohgrowup, or Instagram @oh.grow.up! Thanks for reading, and happy adulting!

(Photo is a free stock photo because it had the right essence.)

The big move

So there was no post on Wednesday because I moved! It’s been a long time coming and I’m (mostly) settled in now, which means a new chapter is starting that I’m very excited about. However, the process of moving is always, ahem, interesting.

Moving itself doesn’t scare me — I had moved more than 19 times before I graduated high school. All of that, plus moving most of my stuff twice a year during college, has made me kind of an expert. But this is the first time I have moved all of my stuff to a whole new region, several hours from where I’ve lived most of my life.

Luckily, I’ve been planning and prepping for a while. I started planning for moving out when I was 7 and put dibs on the plaid couch my parents wanted to get rid of (spot it in the picture above), and I haven’t really stopped. Of course, the last couple months have been the bulk of actually making it happen, as opposed to just daydreaming and reserving old furniture.

The good news is I know the area a little and I’ll be living with people who 1) I know, and 2) I like hanging out with. But it’s still real intimidating the first time you move out, or any time you move. To help me process it, and hopefully help someone else in the future, I’ve made a list of my favorite pieces of moving advice:

Plan, plan, and then have six backup plans. This is partly just my nature, but I want to know all my options, rank them in order of preference, and then have contingencies in case things go wrong. This could be in terms of where you live, who you live with, when you move, etc. For example, before this move, I had a list of housing options, rooming setups, and had at least three possible timelines for when all of that would go down.

Do the math. Aka know exactly how much you can afford, and how much you cost. This means household stuff, clothes, food, going out, saving, gas, insurance, phone, and the like need to be part of considering how much you have to spend; it’s not just rent and utilities. If you know how much you’ll be making, start subtracting. (I didn’t, so I did the math backward to figure out what my job needed to pay to make it work.)

On that note, rent isn’t the only thing you’re going to be paying. All places charge for rent and utilities, and no one lives without wifi these days. Make sure you know which utilities you’ll be responsible for (for example, my new place covers water, trash, and sewer, but my roommates and I are responsible for gas and electric). Many rentals — particularly apartment complexes — also charge for parking, pets, and laundry. Some places, mainly houses, have Homeowner’s Association fees, so be sure to be aware of that. And if you are renting, get renter’s insurance. Most places require it, but either way it’s usually an inexpensive way to cover yourself.

Weed out your crap as you pack. I have too much stuff, and I’m willing to bet most of you do too. It’s more to move, and more to unpack. Get rid of anything you don’t have a darn good use for or massive sentimental attachment to — your new living space will thank you. (Pro tip: You can do a second round of this as you unpack, but know that it’s usually less effective on this end.) As proof, I got rid of at least four trash bags full of stuff (some donated, some just trash) when packing, but so far in unpacking have only found four small items I want to ditch.

Ask people for empty boxes. I lucked out in that family and friends offered me a ton of boxes to pack, so I ended up not needing to buy any. But it’s an inexpensive way for a lot of people to pitch in, and then you can save money for bigger purchases.

Pack smart. In other words, organize it as you pack. Actually label things. Know where the most important things are (especially documents and electronics), and keep them safe throughout the process. Fun fact: During one move when I was little, I was instructed to put anything I really didn’t want to lose into one box, and then that box proceeded to be lost for more than 10 years. Don’t let that happen to you. If you have some stuff that is going to keep being stored when you get there, put it in a plastic tub instead of cardboard boxes. Wash all your bedding before so you can just make the bed when you arrive. Wrap breakable items in literally anything soft and then know which boxes to handle carefully. For this move I put the most delicate and important items in my car so they wouldn’t be at risk of damage or loss in the moving truck.

Coordinate supplies with roommates. If you’re moving in with people, talk ahead of time about who has what. Nobody needs three vacuums and two toaster ovens and four coffee tables. This can also be a good way to make sure you aren’t missing a couch for the first two months. My roommates and I had a Google spreadsheet to keep track of it, which was really helpful.

See if people you know are getting rid of furniture. Ikea is cheap, but friends are cheaper. Because my family is tolerant of my penchant for doing this, I moved out with a couch, dining room table and chairs, full dish set, armchair, bed, and a few small bookshelves. Roommates brought a coffee table, dvd player, more chairs, and some other things their families didn’t need anymore, and now we have almost everything we need.

Decorate slowly. Do not go out and blow your budget on decorating right after you move in. First, find a place for everything you have. If it really doesn’t go anywhere, consider getting rid of it. Then, buy anything you really need. For one of my roommates, this meant a bed. Since none of us brought a tv, we also made that an early purchase. But art and accessories should be added slowly, for the sake of your space and your budget. I will admit that I am bad at this, but it’s a reliable way to rein in the budget on what can be an expensive process.

I’m going to do my best to keep posting regular, and am very much looking forward to a new phase of emerging adulthood. If there are any topics that you want to see featured, let me know in a comment below, on Twitter @ohgrowup, or Instagram @oh.grow.up! Thanks for reading, and good luck adulting!

Lasts

As mentioned in my post last week, I’ve got some pretty big changes coming up. And as much as I am looking forward to all the new things, moving on is not something I’m great at. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a deeply sentimental person, and the last stretch of anything — but especially a significant phase in life — always sneaks up on me.

Despite getting me every time, it’s a familiar feeling. It was the same feeling when I moved out of the house I’d spend the first 10 years of my life in, when I graduated high school and college, at the end of stretches of time spent with loved ones or traveling in new places. There’s a pre-separation missing that sets in, along with a nostalgia-like film over every sight, sound, and action.

For better or worse, emerging adulthood is a stage that’s full of changes. Moving out, going to college, getting a job, becoming financially independent, developing a serious relationship or starting a family. I have several friends who are living, at least for a while, in other countries. Several friends will be getting married in the near future. And as exciting as all of those changes can be, they’re also weird and often intimidating. They’re things we can never be fully prepared for (although being at least slightly prepared is advisable).

So even though change is a constant, I never quite get used to it. Two weeks from now my whole setting and day-to-day routine will be different. Though I will still care for and talk with all the same people, some will be closer and some will be further. And I’m trying to take in the last bit of this life stage with not just open eyes, but open hands, so that I don’t hold too tightly.

I’m realizing that I just spent my last Christmas living at home, and this is the last week of my current job and soon it will be the last time for at least a while that I live less than 20 minutes from my best friend. A little over a week from now will be the last time I get to walk my brother to school for a while. I’m on the last few pages of a journal I’ve spent the last 5 years filling up. I’m busy trying to squeeze in last visits with friends and family and last trips to favorite local places.

On the flipside, there are a lot of firsts coming up that I remain excited for. And in the midst of all the bittersweetness, there are things to be done like packing up all my junk. Life really doesn’t stop for anybody. But I am hoping that as bummed as I am to be leaving some things behind, the path ahead feels like the right adventure. And I hope that, if you’re reading this, your path feels like the right adventure for you.

Leaving behind the lasts for a moment, I would love to hear what your favorite first has been in your journey so far. If you’re willing to share, let me know in a comment below, on Twitter @ohgrowup, or Instagram @oh.grow.up. As always, thanks for reading, and happy adventuring!