Moving can be one of the most financially, emotionally and physically draining times in a person’s life. And I would argue that the move to college, out of a parent or family’s household for the first time, is one of the most stressful moves of a person’s life. The first year of college away from home is an immensely lonely and disheartening time, and that begins with the initial move.
When I moved into my first dorm, I was a an emotional mess. I feigned excitement for my mom, and nervous laughed with my best friend who came along to help settle my nerves, but I was a wreck. They left after we made my bed and hung up my clothes and in an instant, I was alone with a half-empty room that eerily resembled a jail cell — as many public university dorms do — and no idea what to do next.
Now, after moving again every year since, I’ve been thinking recently about how emotionally stressful that move was, and how worried I am for all the newly high school graduated who will be moving out of home in the next month.
For this reason, I’ve tailored these tips to be especially helpful for college students, although I think they should be kept in mind for any move.
I hope they are helpful!
1. There is nothing more intimidating and scary-looking than an empty dorm, apartment, or house. Having your stuff around you will make any living arrangement feel homey.
Having moved both myself and my sister into the cheapest dorm rooms available on two separate public university residence halls, I know that the worst part is often walking into an empty room or apartment, and trying to imagine yourself living there. Do not let this initial fear get to you. Even the smallest, darkest apartment can be made comfortable and homey when you fill it with all your favorite things, and lots of soft pillows and blankets.
2. Always pack an overnight bag, that has everything you need to get dressed and shower in one place.
Moving can take a long time, and there’s nothing more frustrating and disorienting than not being able to find your own stuff in a new place when all you want is to put your PJs on or shower off after a sweaty day of moving furniture. My strategy is to always have a backpack with extra clothes, PJs, and bathroom stuff at the ready, so I can be comfortable even if I haven’t finished unpacking before it’s time to go to bed.
3. Before the actual move, packing can be slow and tedious. Start as early as possible.
You’ll find that whether or not you intended to, packing up your belongings causes you to experience a lot of nostalgia. You find yourself reminiscing about all your possessions, and wanting to preserve the memories that you hadn’t thought about while the thing was sitting on a shelf or in a drawer. This emotional experience is normal and totally OK, but you just want to make sure you have enough time to do that. Moving quickly is the best way to stress yourself out, so avoid being rushed if you can.
4. Pack or order food for yourself and the people that help you move. A pizza can make any exhaustive and stressful experience feel like a party.
Plus, the people helping you move will love you forever for feeding them.
For those who have successfully moved homes recently, what are your favorite moving hacks, tips and advice you’d offer?