When you move out from under your parents’ roof, you assume you’re headed toward endless nights of partying and hanging with friends. What we don’t anticipate are all of the struggles that come with figuring out how to live on our own.
Whether you’re roughing it in a dorm or sharing a house or an apartment with others, adjusting to life without constant parental guidance is hard to adjust to at first.
No matter how ready you think you are, you’re still going to be surprised by how much you didn’t plan on or account for.
Here is my guide to some of the biggest surprises.
1. Your room won’t clean itself
I know what you’re thinking … well, duh. But it is important to clean your space on at least a semi-regular basis unless you want to attract germs, mold or bugs (or all three at once). Also, if you don’t clean up messes as they happen, you’ll be dealing with a whole other mess down the road when you lose that apartment deposit because that wine stain wouldn’t come up after you let it sit for two weeks. Be proactive and clean now instead of later. If you don’t, nobody else will.
2. Groceries/supplies run out
When you lived at home, you never had to worry about running out of toilet paper or breakfast food because Mom and Dad were always on top of that. It’s hard to adjust to taking care of household responsibilities when you’re already trying to adjust to the college lifestyle, but you don’t want to get caught in a jam down the road. The best thing you can do to avoid running low on food or supplies is to make a note in your planner or on your phone when you notice something is low. The next time you go to the store, make sure you’ve got that list with you and stock up on what you need.
3. Bills suck
While “Bills, Bills, Bills” is an extremely catchy song, it’s also a reminder that paying bills is an inevitable reality — one that you’ll have to deal with for the rest of your life. If you don’t pay your rent, car, credit card or electric bills on time, companies aren’t so understanding. You could see a dip in your credit score or if it becomes a consistent problem, you could lose your electricity or even be evicted. Your parents aren’t going to be able to remind you to pay your bills every month, so make sure that you do everything you can to get your cash in on time. Set phone reminders or email alerts to run on a monthly basis so you’re less likely to forget!
4. Stuff breaks
If something is broken, it isn’t going to fix itself. Depending on your lease agreement, your landlord is most likely under obligation to fix it, but they won’t know it needs to be fixed unless you notify them first! Make sure you contact them ASAP and keep track of the date you contacted them. If it isn’t fixed in a timely fashion, make sure you know your rights as a tenant. Look up renter laws for your state or even reach out to your campus’ off-campus housing office for help if problems are not addressed.
5. Safety first!
Unlike when you lived at home with your Mom and Dad and a sibling or two, you’re going to be living with roommates who may or may not care about your general safety or well-being. If you do not feel safe in your living arrangement, you are the one who is going to have to do something about it. Mom or Dad will not be able to take care of this for you. Figure out your options and get out of there as soon as possible. It is much better to be safe than sorry.