For the lucky few who plan on enjoying the Malt-o-Meal-scented air of Northfield, this article isn’t for you. The majority of you though will most likely move out from the town of cows, colleges and contentment. There are many issues to consider when planning a move as big as this one.
Spring term senior year is an exciting time. You’ll be rocking out at Spring Concert and staying up until 4 a.m. for Rotblatt for the last time. For those of you in relationships though, the last five weeks also mean having to address difficult questions – the predominate one being “Should we break up?” So does the end of college mean the end of your college relationship? Well, not necessarily. We say try until it doesn’t work. It’s also important for both of you to know what your limits are. Love in the real world will never be a Taylor Swift song, but that’s ok too. And if your relationship does turn out to be a “Love Story,” more power to you.
Cost of Living
At Carleton, room and board are included as part of tuition, so it’s easy to lose sight of what’s incorporated in these costs. It was easy to scrounge around for cleaning supplies, paper towels, and other random goodies around campus. After college though, your rent could potentially be more than half of your monthly income. The other half needs to cover everything from transportation to laundry to happy hour specials. So it’s important to keep in mind what’s coming into your bank account vs. what you’re spending – no fancy Excel speadsheet needed. When considering transportation, think about these questions: Are you going to buy a car? Can you bike or metro to work? Consider joining Zipcar or another car sharing service that allows you access to a car only when you need. You’ll save money on gas, insurance, and maintenance without limiting your ability to get around. Food can also be more expensive than you think. Find an affordable grocery store for the basics, splurge for fresh produce at the farmer’s market or a more upscale grocery store. Do your best to pack a lunch, but know that there will be certain days when Chipotle will be way too enticing.
Housing & Roommates
If you can imagine it, rooming in real life can be just as stressful as room draw. Only this time around, you can’t go to Res Life if you’re having major problems. Instead, you’ve signed a lease and have a financial obligation to each other. This isn’t a scary situation if you find people who you can live with. The hard part is figuring out whether or not you can actually live with someone. Unfortunately, the saying is true, you can never really know someone until you’ve lived with them. Living with friends may not be the best idea because a bad living situation can ruin a friendship. If you don’t want to “rock the boat” it may be a better idea to live with someone who is compatible with your living style but who may not be your best buddy.
At the onset, be sure to establish rules that everyone can agree to about cleaning, maintenance and guests. This way everyone knows what to expect from each other and there is a “social contract” to be keep all parties involved happy. Rules can obviously be amended but having a starting point is always a good idea.
Rules should also be established for sharing food and common household items. You should decide whether all groceries are up for grabs or only basics such as butter and bread. This should prevent conflicts about whose turn it is to buy laundry detergent and who ate the last pickle. If furniture and kitchen items need to be purchased for the apartment, consider buying different items individually rather than splitting the bill however many ways. In the end, there won’t be fights about how to split a couch three ways.
Living with a roommate or multiple ones should be a fun experience. It cuts the cost of living and it’s nice to come home to friendly company after a hard day at work. Finding compatible people and establishing ground rules will make the situation that much easier. The last thing you want is to find yourself in a situation where you’d rather live at work than go home.
If you’re a fan of amusement parks, you’ll love the rush of moving to a new place. The feelings you experience are similar to a roller-coaster ride. As soon as you arrive in your new place, you’ll want to explore everything immediately. You can’t believe how awesome everything is. Your apartment is sweet, your neighborhood rocks, grocery shopping has never been more fun, and the people are so attractive! After a month or so, everything looks a little less rosy and you might be a little bored with your new surroundings. Fortunately, just like any ride, things start to pick up again and you’re back in business.
In the beginning, try to accept every invitation thrown your way. This is a great chance to meet as many new people as possible. After a while, this will likely become exhausting and impossible to keep up. So listen to what your body tells you and slow down if you’re tired. There will always be more nights to go out.