The Freedoms and Challenges of Life After College
There comes a moment in (hopefully) every young person’s life where they get the glorious task of permanently moving out of their childhood home. Leaving home might be an exciting experience, as it should be, but it can also be frightening and eye opening. Naturally, whether you’re moving out at 18 or 25, the entire process of leaving the nest offers you an abundance of freedom.
What you do with that freedom matters. If you make the wrong mistakes you can seriously hamper your future. On the other hand, if you choose the right options then you’ll be paving the way toward smoother roads and a less stressful life.
Life lessons come from three sources: mistakes, circumstances or knowledge. Perhaps you learned the following lessons after leaving home for college. Maybe not — college is a familiar environment after all. And many of us still have our parent’s home as a safety net.
Here are a few tips to ensure knowledge is the tool you use to succeed after moving away from home and into a new city.
Do you live alone or with roommates?
This debate comes to down to two things: finances and personal space. If you’re in a financial tight spot, roommates can alleviate some of that by helping pay rent, utilities and necessities like groceries and cleaning supplies. Moving in alone also requires a security deposit and often a full month’s rent beforehand, which can be hard to do without a loan from “The Bank of Mom & Dad.” But if your roommates choose not to do pay rent or help out around the house, out of personal spite or financial troubles, then you’ll be stuck picking up their slack.
If you can afford it, having your own place is great. Sure, you’re stuck paying everything and cleaning everything, but you also have the truest sense of freedom. Nobody can screw with your stuff, make messes or keep you up at night. You can truly live however you want; within the confines of your lease, of course.
Manage your quality of life expectations
Unless you’re born with a silver spoon or somehow managed to earn an abundance of money prior to moving out of your parent’s place for the first time, your first apartment isn’t going to be a palace. Heck, you’ll be fortunate if it’s not down the street from some seedy strip club named The Palace. By in large, unless you have some form of financial backing or are living in student dorms, your first place isn’t going to be super nice.
You simply won’t have the credit and rent history necessary to convince a landlord that you’ll pay rent and not wreak havoc on the property. Now, if you’re moving out in your early 20’s, then you likely have some form of credit history and will likely fair off better. If you really want a decent place, have your parents co-sign the lease or find a reputable roommate.
Be smart with credit cards
Hands down, the easiest way to screw yourself fiscally for years to come is to go into unnecessary credit card debt. You’re likely plenty experienced with using a credit card in college, or at least a debit card. But most college students also have a very limited income and hopefully they’re not using the credit cards for more than they can afford. But when you graduate, get a “real job” and move to a new city, after the first couple of months you suddenly have money. For many of us, it’s the first time we have true discretionary income. And it’s at this moment when you either learn a lesson the very hard way, or remain diligent and set yourself up for success.
Building credit by using credit cards responsibly is important and putting a large amount of money on credit cards is only going to hurt. Sure, you get that shiny new toy and feel like a kid again with excitement, but the interest rates on credit cards are not friendly — nor are the credit collectors and fees companies will hound you with if you’re late on payment.
The best pieces of advice here are simple: unless it’s an automotive or medical emergency; don’t put any purchases on your credit card that you can’t pay off in full at the month’s end. Also, avoid using more than one credit card. To learn about what credit card options will best suit you, and how to manage a credit card responsibly with your newfound bank account, considering using a website like Nerdwallet or Credit Karma. Both sites will provide you with information on your credit score, offer helpful financial advice and show you the best credit cards available for your circumstances.
Point in case, that lavish couch or new TV you’re looking at to deck out your new home, it might need to stay in the store a little bit longer.
Discover How to Meet New People
It might take a few months, but you’ll be surprised about how hard it is to make new friends as an adult. It’s hard, really hard. You show up to work, see the same people day in and day out, and then go home, exhausted from being overworked. Maybe you have enough energy to visit the gym or go out to eat before sinking into the couch or bed for the night.
Life is very different after college. You don’t get opportunities to meet new, exciting people unless you make active choices to find new friends. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for this dilemma, but there are two tips that work well for most medium-to-large cities: Groupon and Meetup.
Groupon is a coupon business that has a ‘things to do’ section in more than 160 different cities in the U.S., with discounted deals on everything from art classes to martial arts, rock climbing and skydiving. If you can afford it, find something you’re passionate about or you want to try, and then go do it. It’s a simple way to meet new people in the same activity.
Meetup is in the same vein as Groupon, but it’s organized around specific activities rather than bargains. If you enjoy board games, hiking, mountain biking, visiting new restaurants, there are Meetup groups for that. Simply search for your interests, find a group that fits and attend a meeting or event. As an adult, it’s among the easiest ways to at least make acquaintances and keep your social life alive.