Congratulations graduates!

Recent surveys show that there are nearly 4 million people leaving college or grad school in the U.S. alone this year. So, if you’re a little stressed over how to make this transition go a little more smoothly, take comfort – you’re not alone!

Here are a few tips that will help take some of the stress out of your upcoming move to your first place after college.

1. Welcome to Your New REAL Adult Life.

I say “real” because for many being a student has not meant having full life responsibilities yet. Now that’s over – and it’s time. Adopt the mantra that this is the beginning of your new adult life.

With that in mind, take a look around the space you’re currently living in and decide what should and should not continue with you into this next phase. Do you really need to hold onto the posters that you’ve had up in your dorm this entire time? What items of clothing or beat up furniture or maybe old tech don’t need to move with you? Start a big purge. This is a good time to start thinking more like the adult part of your life as opposed to the teenage part of your life. And, future inhabitants of your dorm or apartment will probably be happy to have an extra beanbag chair or the beat-up bookshelf that has seen better days.

2. Remember: Checklists Are Your Friend.

Start a task list on your phone (old fashioned paper works too, of course). Your mind will race with loads of things you want to remember to do. Get them written down and you won’t worry about forgetting them. And, nothing’s too small .… this isn’t a list anyone but you needs to see so put everything down. Studies show that stress comes directly with trying to remember too many things. Having tasks written down relieves you of the burden of having to remember each of them and creates lists that are easy to refer to and quick to check.

3. Consider Getting a PO Box Instead of a Home Address.

You’re in a period of transition. It’s hard to know whether the place you’re moving into is going to work out in the long run or not. Post office boxes can be rented pretty inexpensively these days at either the local post office or at lots of postal stores. Get one in a neighborhood that you’re intending to move into. Once you have an address, you can start signing up for loads of things (like utilities). And, you can now start the tedious list of letting each of your credit card companies (and personal contacts) know of your new address. Oh, and don’t forget that with a PO Box, you can now start getting things delivered that you don’t need to be home to receive. Finally, lucky you, as a full-fledged no-longer-student status, you’ll now be on the jury service lists!

4. Plan and Prepare For How You Will Move.

Are you moving yourself? If so, when was the last time you had your car checked out? Oil change, brakes, wipers, etc. all should be given a good once over. Better to do that now before your car is loaded to the hilt and you need to then change a tire. If you’re hiring a moving company, do your research and compare prices – but be sure you’re checking what services are included and what are additional. It’s sometimes tricky to compare apples with apples from different moving companies but do your best. Also, personal word of mouth is really better than online reviews. If you have a friend that you trust who recently moved asked how his/her experience went with the moving company they used.

5. Have Your Winter Gear Cleaned Now.

Assuming it’s warm weather when you’re moving, consider taking your winter gear to the dry cleaners to be cleaned, folded, and packed up neatly. Move all of those sweaters, scarves, and the like in their dry-cleaning bags and you’ll be more likely to keep them neat and clean when you arrive.

6. Give Away Your Plants.

Unless you’re going a short distance, or they’re incredibly meaningful to you, donate them to a friend, a school, a library, etc. Plants are generally not very expensive and generally don’t thrive during a move (especially a long one).

7. Start a Box of ‘Important Items’

These are things that will be with you in the car or on the plane when you do finally move. Valuables (jewelry, money, etc.), contracts, passports, and original documents are things to consider putting in this box to ensure they’re all safe and in one place. Think of this box as the one that you really really don’t want to lose. This should be something that you don’t leave in your locked car overnight – take it inside with you while you’re traveling.

8. Know What’s Around You.

On that same safety front, you should have an idea of where the closest hospital, fire department, police station, maybe even pharmacy are in your new neighborhood. A few minutes of planning now could be really helpful when you’re in a very stressful situation later. Also, ask around now for any recommendations for a doctor, dentist, even hair cutter in your new neighborhood. Thanks to social media, someone knows someone in your social group who can give you some advice.

9. Read the Fine Print.

Are you leaving a rental situation? If so, have a look at your rental agreement at least a month before you’re planning on vacating. What’s required for the return of your security deposit? Check these conditions out now and you hopefully won’t forego some serious money just because you didn’t take the time to do some minor repairs or serious clean-up.

10. Buy an Iron.

If you’ve somehow made it to graduation without one, now’s the time. Irons are the ultimate symbol of adulthood. Get one now. You’ll need it. And if you think you don’t need it, you’re wrong. It might sound silly but you’ll thank me later.

A little planning and organization will make your move less stressful and this transition to your post-college life easier.  Good luck with this exciting new phase in your personal and professional life.

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Peter Walsh