In September of 2019, I moved out for the first time for university. I know a lot of people say it, but moving out has taught me a lot, especially about myself. It’s safe to say that I’ve grown a lot in a very short space of time - the person I was when I first moved out and the person I am now is different. I’ve genuinely learnt things about myself that I otherwise wouldn’t have learnt. Moving out changed me by teaching me important life lessons. If you are moving out for the first time, it will most likely change you too.
What moving out for the first time taught me & how it changed me:
Embrace time alone
Moving out allowed me to learn to be okay being by myself. One of the things I have struggled with in the past is being happy when I’m by myself. Enjoying my own company and drawing a distinction between time alone and feeling lonely. Being lonely and being alone are two very different things- you can be alone and feel good about yourself. Knowing how to feel good when alone without others is an important life skill. Moving out from home, I had more time to myself. This helped me learn to be more at peace when alone and even feel happy being by myself whilst maintaining a healthy balance of seeing others. I now value time to be by myself in my own thoughts a lot more.
Don't isolate yourself
If you are living with flatmates - make sure you spend time with them. If you are living alone- make time to see friends and family. If I’m feeling down, I tend to want to isolate myself. This is very easy to do when you’ve moved out as you each have your own rooms and even if you live with flatmates like I did, everyone is in the flats at different points. But, isolating yourself, especially for prolonged periods of time isn’t healthy- setting out time to talk to your flatmates and catch up with them makes you feel better. Forcing myself to go into the kitchen when I didn’t really feel like it and having conversations with my flatmates made me feel so much better. If you’re not living alone, make the effort to socialise - I have some really happy and funny memories with my flat. You’re all in it together at the end of the day and chances are at points, you might even be worrying about the same things!
I am more independent and can adapt more than I have ever given myself credit for. To my surprise, I settled in a lot faster than I thought I would- I thought I would find it difficult because I have typically seen myself as someone who found changes not the easiest. I underestimated my ability to adapt to my surroundings. I didn’t realise just how much I already did beforehand and that I knew how to stand on my own two feet already in a lot of respects. I will say, I was very lucky with flatmates- we clicked as a flat and all got on well. Had I not been so lucky, it’s safe to say I would have found it a lot harder.
Look after yourself
Living independently when you’re not in the right headspace is very challenging. As much as I settled in really quickly, in difficult moments when you’re not having such a good day, living independently isn’t so much fun. You’re relying on yourself and you’re in charge of making sure you’re looking after yourself. This seems like an obvious point because mindset and mental health are really important, but when you’re home, living with parents, responsibilities are shared. That changes to being all on you when you move out. Make sure you are taking out the time for self-care.
Finding a routine
I underestimated the importance of having a routine before moving out. I didn’t realise how much the routines I had in place at home actually helped me build a sense of normality. Moving out led to a lot of changes and so I had to find a new routine. This was more challenging than I originally would have thought because it requires you to be strict with yourself to a certain extent. In the first few weeks, where I didn’t really have a routine, I felt a little all over the place - I did enjoy them but they felt hectic. Falling into simple habits such as setting out a day for cleaning, doing food shops and going to bed at roughly the same time each night had a huge impact. It allowed me to feel like I had built a life for myself and feel like I was getting done everything I needed to get done. It also allowed me to feel like I had properly settled in.
Tidy space, tidy mind is not a myth.
I feel like this is quite common advice, but I was surprised as to how much your surroundings can impact how you feel. One day when I was feeling stressed I simply tidied some things I had laying around and it immediately made me feel like I could think more clearly. Keeping on top of your cleaning when you move out is essential and I found setting a specific day out once a week really helped. I now understand why my parents nagged me so much to tidy my room as a kid.
Budgeting is really not as daunting as it sounds if you keep on top of it.
One of the things that worried me most about moving out was keeping on top of my finance. It is not something you are taught at school and I had never had to budget things like food shops. However, I found being really strict with myself making sure I was documenting everything I was spending and income on my spreadsheet really helpful. This kept me accountable to what I was spending and making sure my spending was more consistent and something I could afford. Also as a student, make use of student discounts and loyalty cards like Nectar- it does not feel like you are saving much in the moment, but trust me, it all adds up. I was not guilty of this personally, but watch what you spend on small things like drinks. I had course mates who spent so much with £3 coffees - it does not seem like much, but doing that everyday costs you £21 a week. Buy yourself a cafetière (affordable for students and amazing if you are a coffee lover like me) and making use of a travel mug during lectures is great - a lot cheaper and means you can still have good coffee.
Picking up new skills and experimenting
I let myself experiment more when moving out- for example with cooking, which I hadn’t done on such a regular basis when at home. I also played around with the way I structured my days to see what I preferred and generally approaching things differently than I used to. To find out if there were other methods of doing things that I preferred.
Moving out was one of the best life decisions - it really allowed me to grow and realise how I can rely on myself and trust myself. If you have the opportunity to do so, especially for university I would recommend. At university, everyone is in the same boat and there is a lot of support available so I think it is the perfect opportunity to learn about independent living. For me, although I still think I have a lot to learn, it has better prepared me for when I do live by myself and become financially independent in the future.