Warning: Answer These 5 Questions Before You Move To College!

Congratulations! You’ve (hopefully) been accepted to the school of your dreams!

While this is an exciting and wonderful opportunity for you, you may also experience some turbulence in your life.

Specifically, if you’re like the 90 percent of UC Davis freshmen or 94 percent of UCLA freshmen who live on campus, you will have to move out of your parents’ house.

Last year I moved out to attend UC Davis, so trust me on this one: moving out is a life changing experience. You’re in a different place with different people. Depending on how far your school is from home, your existing social networks may be irrelevant. Your parents won’t be around to make you breakfast in the morning or kiss you goodnight.

It can be scary – one of my friends is about to transfer and she’s really nervous – but you’ll survive. In fact, if you consider these four aspects of life after moving out now, you’ll have considerably less to worry about when you move out.

  • How am I going to get food?

This is important, although I should note that the answer to this ties into the answer for the second item on my list. Food is a necessity, so figuring out how you’ll get it is paramount. Luckily, if you live in the dorms, this has most likely been figured out for you. For instance, at UC Davis, dining plans are part of the residence hall contract and the dining commons are located next to the residence halls.

However, if you’re like me and you initially moved out of your family’s house into off-campus housing, things aren’t as cut and dry. You should find out where the nearest grocery stores and restaurants are located. My first apartment in Davis was located right next to two strip malls, so I could walk to the grocery store whenever I wanted to do so. However, my next apartment is about a mile away from the nearest grocery store, so I’ll need to stockpile groceries or go when my roommate chooses to go.

  • How am I going to pay for all of this?

Groceries don’t pay for themselves. You should have some sort of arrangement with your family or with yourself so that you can pay for essential things as they come up, such as tuition, rent, groceries or books. Unlike the other items on this, it’s very important than you come up with a plan BEFORE you move out, because it is difficult to do something like this when you’re in a different place from your parents.

I’ll share two ideas if you’re stumped. I use a debit card tied to a bank account accessible by my parents. My mom deposits money for groceries and my father deposits money for the rent, and that works well for me. One of my roommates received an allowance from one of his family members, and that works well for him. This is the point: you should make an arrangement that works well for you because college is not cheap.

  • How am I going to do the laundry?

This might be overlooked, but trust me, it’s important. Your clothes get dirty fast and unless you have 40 sets of clothes, you will have to do the laundry at some point and this will cost money.

If you live in the dormitories, you should research the laundry policy beforehand, just to be safe. I checked out a few universities while writing this article and they all had different ways of paying for laundry.

However, if you live in an apartment complex (although this payment method came up for a few dorms), you’ll most likely use a laundry card, which acts like a debit card, to pay. You should also figure out how the actual washing machine works, because my apartment complex has at least two different machines that take different types of detergent.

  • How am I going to bring all of my stuff with me?

You probably won’t. Dorm rooms are really small, at least in my experience. You’ll be lucky if you can get a TV in there.

Even if you’re moving into an apartment, you probably don’t need everything you own. I learned this the hard way, because I brought as much of my stuff as I could with me. This is a pain because it won’t fit, and you’ll possibly have to move multiple times while you’re in college.

  •  What if I need to see a doctor?

This is something you should work out with your family before you move, because the answer to this question depends on your health insurance. You should figure out where your health insurance would be accepted if you needed to visit a doctor or a dentist. Obviously you shouldn’t replace your primary doctor or dentist, but if an emergency arises, it’s better to be safe than confused.

These aren’t the only five questions you should be asking yourself when you move out, but these cover most of the big concerns in the process. At any rate, you shouldn’t be experiencing distress over this. It may be a huge shift in your life, but (to paraphrase Drake) it isn’t the end of the world, just the end of a world. You’ll survive this and have the time of your life.

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John Kesler

John Kesler

John Kesler is a senior studying communication at the University of California, Davis. If he is on campus, he can be found in the basement offices of the newspaper or the radio station. At home, he enjoys listening to whatever music he can, reading whatever books he can, and taking walks wherever he can.
John Kesler

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