By Courtney Kayser
When I found out I was accepted to Southwestern College, I was ecstatic! I was also terrified. My whole life had been on the East Coast, and the idea of leaving my roots was scary. Here is my advice for a successful and stress-free (or should I say minimal stress) relocation:
1. Don’t panic! This is probably the most important part of moving. If the idea of packing up all your stuff (and for me, I had a lot of stuff) and hauling your whole life thousands of miles away produces some (or a lot) of anxiety, don’t forget to breathe. Right now, go ahead, breathe. Ah, that was nice. Anyway, what was very helpful for me, in the beginning, was to make a list. Like a physical list. Grab a pencil and paper. I’ll wait. Ready? Make three lists. The first list “Things I can do right now.” For me, that included things like applying for financial aid, looking into scholarship opportunities, start saving money, start collecting boxes and start investigating living situations. But for you, it may be different. The second list, “things to do a little later.” This included looking into new laptop options, looking into moving company/truck rental options and starting to thin out my herd of “stuffs.” Letting go of my “stuffs and things” was one of the hardest parts for me, so I had to start early! The third list is “things to do later-later.” This included actually purchasing a laptop, officially finding a place to live, and committing to a moving company. Having all of the many things that were bouncing around in my head organized into three lists really helped me stay focused and productive. Special note on this: I had about eight months to prepare. Adjust your lists accordingly!
2. Start saving money! Even if you are going to fill your car with whatever fits and head across the country that way, moving is expensive. Gas, tolls, places to stay along the way, food, it adds up quick! The more you save, the less stressful the move will be. If you are going to utilize a moving company or truck rental you definitely want to start saving. Also, many rentals require a pretty hefty deposit, so you want to be financially prepared.
3. Looking for a place to live. This is going to be different for everyone. As noted above, you will see this was on my “things to do a little later” list, but for you, it might be the last thing you do! Follow your gut. There are many apartment complexes and living options, and Southwestern has a valuable Relocation Guide that can offer some guidance! My recommendation is if you come to the area to visit the school, visit some apartments as well! This is more effective in viewing apartment complexes, as they may have apartments available later (versus visiting a private place to rent when you aren’t actually moving for months). I was able to get a tour of the place I wound up moving into months before I moved, and ultimately it was the fact that I had seen and felt the area and the apartment ahead of time that helped me decide to move there. You may be a bit more whimsical and don’t feel the need to see a space prior to moving and to that I say: more power to you!
4. Finding a way to move. In addition to the “where am I going to live?” question, the “how am I going to get there?” question can be quite intimidating! A simple Google search will provide many blog posts and articles by people who have gone before (moving) and survived. This was hopeful for me because I wasn’t sure if I was going to (survive). There are so many options! Don’t be afraid to call the companies directly. Sometimes online moving quote requests will get you bombarded with sales calls! Even weeks after I had already moved I was getting calls! If you think you found a great deal, read the reviews! I thought I found this great deal and after reading reviews realized there were some horror stories associated with this company. I decided it wasn’t that great of a deal. Beware of brokers (if you are hiring a moving company to move for you). Their job is to sell you on a quote, but a completely different company comes to move you. I read stories about the price being doubled or even tripled! After reading that I decided to rent a truck and move my stuff myself. I had to make sure the company allowed a different location drop-off (some require same-location drop-off and are more geared for local moves). Special note: if you are going to utilize a Pod-company, where they drop off a storage pod, you get a week to fill it, and they move it for you, make sure the area you are moving to allows pods to be dropped and stored there. Some places don’t allow them, and you don’t want to get stuck with all your stuff somewhere where you are not!
5. Some other things to consider. The hardest part of moving for me was the idea and the fact that I was leaving all my friends and family behind. But good news! So many of the students at Southwestern have relocated too! It was so comforting during orientation when I heard of all the different areas of the world from where students have moved. I wasn’t alone. We were all in the same boat. New state, new town, not knowing anyone. That gave us all some common ground and made adjusting to the area so much lighter.
So, when in doubt, breathe. Let’s do another one together.
Another thing that was helpful when I was feeling overwhelmed and doubtful about my decision were to recount all the synchronicities that lead me to this program and school. This reflection also allowed me to pause and regroup and settle in a place of gratitude which is a more conducive atmosphere for thinking and planning. With this, I say good luck to you and happy packing!