New grads: Moving out for the first time? Here’s how to do it

Thursday, June 25th 2020

Moving is consistently ranked as one of the most stressful events in life, with research from the US, the UK, and Australia all pointing to its potential toll on our wellbeing.

When it is your first move, and your first move combined with transitioning from being a college student to a full-time worker in your first job, another layer of complication and stress is added. 

Not only are you going through two major life changes at the same time - leaving college to start your career, and moving to a new city - this might be the first time you have lived alone.

To help out with the anxiety you might be feeling right now, we have put together a bunch of advice and tips for moving out for the first time, and how to settle down into your new life as smoothly as possible. 

But first, let’s look at some of the main reasons moving can be so stressful, from a psychological point of view.

Why is moving stressful?

Attachment to the home

It is normal to develop bonds, sometimes extremely strong, to our homes. Attachment to the home is a widely established and accepted concept in psychology, and you have probably felt it deeply at various points in your life, even if you haven’t had a name for it. 

Our homes provide us with continuity in routines and social relationships and are vital to our overall sense of security, not to mention our sense of self.

Naturally, the longer we have lived in our home the stronger the bonds are likely to be, even more so if we have only known the same home since birth. 

Moving out for the first time disrupts or breaks your attachment to the home. Even if you moved away to study at college, these years were likely punctuated by long summers and term breaks back at the nest, reducing the impact of moving. 

Finishing college, finding your first job, and moving to a new city can bring a sense of finality to breaking that attachment to the home, and it can be disorienting.

There are a huge amount of decisions to be made in a short space of time

What stuff do I take with me and what do I buy there? How do I adapt to a new city? How do I find movers who will look after my stuff and not overcharge me? Do I even need movers or shall I do it myself? How do I find an apartment in a city I don’t know? How much money do I need for my move out budget?

Any of these decisions alone could prompt stress, but when you have to take all of them within a short space of time, you could be forgiven for finding it all a bit overwhelming.  

You’re moving into the unknown

Your move will bring a lot of unknowns. You will have to adjust to working full-time in your first job, living in a new apartment and city, and building a social circle, possibly from scratch.

Uncertainty and change of this magnitude can cause you to become anxious, especially if your tolerance for the unknown is at the lower end of the scale.

In fact, major change of any kind can provoke in us a range of negative emotions. You may feel vulnerable and fearful, or have what seems like an unshakeable sense of loss or grief. 

Anthropologists would say this is a completely natural reaction in the context of human history and development. 

This is because, up until around 10,000 BCE, we lived in small, nomadic tribes, probably of between 60 and 300 people. After this point the first agricultural revolution gradually allowed humans to live in larger settlements and move away from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle we had relied upon to that point.

However, many of our tribal instincts and fears are still with us from those hunter-gatherer days, one of which is the fear of change. When you think about the potentially disastrous consequences major change could have brought upon us in our nomadic days, it totally makes sense. 

Change when we lived in small tribes might have meant walking hundreds of miles to find new resources, a journey probably fraught with mortal danger. Which is to say that the fear of change would have been perfectly rational in that context.

Today, the fear can remain with us, although the journey is far safer, with the worst-case scenario in 2020 most likely being returning to our family home with our tail between our legs. 

This fear can make you forget the far more likely scenario. The far more likely scenario is that you open an exciting new chapter in your life.

With that said, here are some tips for getting out the fear and anxiety, settling into your new city, and making that transition as smooth as possible

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Tips for settling into your new city

Making a new circle of friends, finding your new favorite coffee shop, joining a book club with like-minded souls. These things might seem a long way off, or a long way down your to-do list when you have to think about unpacking, starting a new job, and setting up your utilities.

You shouldn’t overload yourself with pressure to settle into your new city on a strict schedule and you should realize that everyone goes at their own pace. But you should be aware that every time you take a small step to become part of your new community, or to find those awesome spots (that will eventually become your awesome spots), you are helping yourself out in the long-run. 

And, while it’s important to make time for calls with (and visits from) your support network of family and close friends, getting yourself out there will benefit you in a very different way.

Here are a few simples steps you can take that will make your transition easier:

  1. Join a local meetup or activity group: whether it’s yoga, cycling, hiking, whatever floats your boat, getting yourself out there will pay off, even if it feels like an effort.

  2. Take yourself out of the house: if you don’t have the energy for socializing straightaway, go it alone. Start with walking a mile or two to get some food, and gradually go further and further. Walking is an amazing way to get to know your new city and discover spots you may not otherwise have found. It’s also a great stress buster.

  3. Accept invitations, and offer them too: it might be your new teammates inviting you for a post-work beer or your neighbor inviting you to their Sunday BBQ, but when you start getting invitations, accept them. It might take you some time to meet people you can connect with well enough to become close friends, but it’ll be 100% worth it in the long-run.

  4. Remember what made you happy before you moved and keep doing it: maybe you were a budding futsal star? Or a fixture at your college improv group? Whatever made you happy before your move, do it. Not only will this make sure you don’t lose those things that were precious to you before your move, but it’s also a great way to make like-minded friends.

  5. Connect with people before your move: even if you don’t know anyone in the city you’re moving to, it’s almost certain one of your friends or family does. Reach out to them to ask, because having even one contact in the city to show you the ropes can be a big boost.

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Here’s how Shyft can help: Tips for moving out for the first time

But what about the actual process of moving? Putting together your move out plan. Getting you and your belongings from point A to point B. Finding honest, great value movers. Knowing to take with you and what to buy when you get there.

That’s where we come in. At Shyft we offer a range of services to help you move safely, smoothly, and with a great-value, vetted provider.

On top of making your move as stress-free as possible, we also offer a bunch of exclusively discounted lifestyle services through our partners.

With Shyft you can benefit from the following:

  • Move Coach: a 24/7 personal concierge to guide you through every step of your move, your Move Coach is here to advise and support you while connecting you with the best services for your move 

  • Virtual Video Survey: as well as not having to have a stranger in your house for 2 or 3 hours, Shyft’s video surveys can be performed at a time you choose and produce 95% accurate inventories

  •  The Best Quotes: we listen to your needs and take time to understand exactly what you need. Then we offer you the best quotes from our supply chain, tailored just for your move

  • Lifestyle Services to get you settled in: on top of connecting you to real estate experts who can help you find your perfect new home (whether it’s a rental or purchase), we can help you settle in with a huge range of discounted lifestyle services from our partners, from dog-walking to yoga studios, to meal kits and grocery deliveries, we’ve got you covered.

So, if you have started thinking about your move out plan, or you’re getting ready to move to a new city and start your first job, we’re here to help.

We have helped over 200,000 folks like you move globally, so it’s fair to say we know what we’re doing. 

And we’ll make sure you have absolutely everything you need for your big move, both practically, logistically, and with support and guidance on hand 24/7.

Wherever you’re going to write your next chapter, you can count on us.