On this day, 10 years ago it was my first day at dental nurse school at Kings College, London. I was 19 years old and was experiencing living away from home for the first time, having upped sticks and left my family back in Devon.
When I look back, my twenties have been a decade of transition in many areas and in a few months when I celebrate my 30th birthday, I will feel proud for having allowed myself the opportunity, however sad and often lonely it has been, to learn who I really am. I will reflect formally on my twenties on the eve of leaving them behind in a couple of months but until then, my Graduate Experience post (here) will do a good job of covering what I have done/lived/worked etc.
Moving out can be a scary time, particularly if you are moving a fair distance away from your family and friends. For me I have spent much of my life moving around, both with my family and without them so I know exactly how difficult and nerve-wracking it can be. Looking back there are some things I wish I had not experienced, but then again, experiencing them was character building and helped shape future decisions; so I do not live in regret. In this post, I am going to share –
Ten lessons I have learnt in 10 years since moving out of home
1. Learn to do things yourself
This seems so obvious but you are on your own now and if you are old enough to do that, you are old enough to take full responsibility for everything. Feeling sick? I am afraid mummy is no longer around to make that call to your boss for you!
2. Everyone needs to experience a nightmare housemate
Yes they do. Before I was able to move out to my own place at university (which was the BEST decision I ever made), house shares are notorious for causing a bit of stress. Ideally, live with friends or at least people you know and trust, but even in the best intentioned arrangements, things can go wrong.
I was good friends with my first set of housemates in my nursing accommodation but within a few months they moved out and it was never quite the same since. It turned into a bit of a living hell to be honest because two friends moved in and they took over and I was trapped in my room every. single. night.
When I lived in Leeds, I first lived in a house share with strangers before a day of horrendous anxiety made me pack up my things and get out pronto (to live with my then boyfriend). The first lot of people were fine, but as the Landlord brought new people in trust went out the window and it was no longer fun. I am thankful I had a plan B, not everyone will be so fortunate so trust your gut in those situations. Also, always ALWAYS have a lock on your bedroom door.
3. Don’t spend every weekend going home
Of course, this depends on how far away you have moved, if you have just moved down the road then it does not matter but if you have moved out to a new area, you need to give yourself a chance at settling in. Devon was at least a three-hour train journey from London back when I lived there and it was not something I could afford to do more than once every couple of months. When I was not visiting my boyfriend I spent my weekends walking up and down Oxford Street, exploring new areas and from time to time, spending the day with one of my new friends. Mostly though, I was having a crash course in learning to be okay on my own and let me assure you, it takes time. Read my post on being your own best friend (here).
4. Never do your first food shop in one go
…Unless you have a car. I lived in nursing accommodation in London and we were fortunate that we had a large Sainsbury’s down the road –ideal walking distance but the longest walk of your life if you bought too much! I still remember a woman looking at me in sympathy when I exited the store after my first shop, with my arms and hands ladled with shopping bags; how I got it all back to the flat I do not know. So just be sensible and maybe split up the shop into two trips.
5. Seize opportunities to meet new people
Definitely easier said than done but when an opportunity presents itself, take it. When I first moved out, I assumed all my dental nursing friends would be living in the same accommodation as me, but in reality, they all lived a commutable distance away. London was very lonely for me but in places where I have lived since, I joined the local hockey team or found that my days were very people filled, leaving just the evenings to entertain myself. I am still to this day always seeking out opportunities to meet people but it really is hard.
6. Be practical about what you take with you
If you do not need to pack everything including the kitchen sink, do not. Box up your entire bedroom if necessary but leave behind the things that are not critical possessions unless you’re moving out to somewhere permanent from the off. I carried around with me far too much for years, which only grows with every move so be warned!
Pay your bills, put some aside for savings, a rainy day etc. and allow yourself some budget to have fun with. Your twenties particularly are about going out and having fun so allocate accordingly.
8. Pets are great, but they are a tie
My family home growing up was filled with pets so moving out to a flat with no pets was hard, and on so many occasions I nearly bought something out of desperation. But don’t. Enjoy the freedom a pet-free home allows and only when you have properly settled somewhere, and have the time to care for them, should you consider buying a pet. Do not be like some of the big bloggers and buy a small dog for Instagram, and then travel all the time it is completely not fair.
9. Living alone isn’t for everyone
I am very good at being on my own, loneliness aside I learnt to be great in my own company so when I found an affordable little annex, big enough for one person about halfway through university, it was honestly a dream come true. Living alone might appear to be the dream when you are living in a nightmare house share, it will not be for everyone so just bear that in mind before taking the leap.
10. Relish your Freedom
It would be wrong to not end on a high note, so all that is remaining to say is to relish the freedom moving out of the family nest brings. It does have its struggles, and there will be times you question why you left the home comforts of mum and dad’s place; and it might get to the end of the month whereby you have to choose between buying dinner or tampons (yes, true story!); but most of all, enjoy the experience independence brings!
Are you thinking about moving out of home?
Until next time x