The summer I became an “adult” was a complete whirlwind. I had just barely recovered from an intense four years in college and now, exactly two months after I had graduated, I was moving halfway across the country to start my first job. WOW, right? In three weeks, I needed to find an apartment, sign a lease, pack up my life, move, furnish said apartment, and start work, so it goes without saying that I was feeling just a bit overwhelmed. Whether you’re moving to a new city, new state, new country, or a few blocks away from everything you’ve ever known, moving can be stressful. I was all of a sudden terrified. I didn’t know anything about Indianapolis, other than the fact that it was not my small suburban Connecticut town, or New York, or London, but if I had made my home in these places before, surely I could do it again. Right? Before I divulge my secrets to a successful entrance into the real world, there’s one big thing to remember.
DO NOT OVERTHINK THIS. Just don’t. I’m pretty sure I’m the queen of overthinking milestones in my life. When I was a freshman in college, I managed to convince myself that now that I was in college, I was all on my own and now needed to figure out my entire life, when in actuality, it was only my second week of school and the amount of time that passes between then and graduation is like a lifetime. I started to go down this rabbit hole when I was apartment-hunting and tying up loose ends at home. I felt alone and like I would never see my family or sleep in my own bed ever again. My mom is amazing at talking me down and very gently reminded me that this is 2016 and there are these things called iPhones that magically connect us to everyone we can think of, and this thing called Skype/FaceTime, and that I was moving to Indiana, not India. She assured me I would survive. Think of this new venture like an adventure. For once, you aren’t bound by four years of high school, then four years of college, and midterms and finals, and grades, and homework. I had nothing stopping me from doing exactly what I want to do, and the thought of that began to thrill me. Yes, I was going to be living “on my own”, but I was going to be living on my own. I was going to have my own space and be on my time, making my own money to fund this life I was starting to imagine. And like any successful adventure, the most important thing is to plan ahead:
The first thing I did was crowdsource. I met one of the other new hires for my position at work over FaceTime and we chatted about Indianapolis and areas she would recommend/wouldn’t recommend, since she already lived in the area. My mom has a friend of a friend who lives in the Indy area, as well, who recommended a few other neighborhoods. This way, I wasn’t randomly searching for apartments in Indianapolis, because that’s wayyyy too big of a sample size to choose from. Then, my dad and I sat down at the kitchen table with legal pads and about 20 tabs open on our laptops so we could map out where each apartment we were finding was located in relation to my office, the recommended neighborhoods, and places like grocery stores/gyms/attractions, etc. Of course, you can’t really know what an area is going to be like until you get there, so we scheduled visits with our finalists and planned a roadtrip out to Indianapolis. If you’re able to do this, I strongly recommend viewing apartments in person before you commit to anything. I actually wasn’t expecting to like the apartment community I ended up choosing, and the one at the top of my list didn’t have any availability and didn’t fit my criteria.
The next thing I did was make a list of apartment must-haves. I knew that I wanted to live on my own (living with strangers just isn’t my thing, especially in a new city), and that I wanted to be on the second floor for extra privacy and security. As an added bonus, I wanted a washer and dryer in unit, but was somewhat willing to compromise if that wasn’t possible. It’s important to know that somewhere along the road to finding an apartment and eventually signing the lease, you’ll probably have to compromise in some way. For example, I actually ended up going with a 2-bedroom since it was the only one that was immediately available, in a good location, and met all of the criteria on my wishlist. The only downside is that I’m paying a bit more in rent than I would like, but it’s good practice in living frugally while I look to potentially downgrade. Like I said, it’s all about compromise, no matter where you live.
While my dad and I were in Indianapolis, we drove to my office from a few different locations, explored downtown a bit, checked out local grocery stores, and got a feel for the area. This was crucial because I began to see Indianapolis as a place I was actually going to live, rather than an abstract concept. So, when my brother and I drove back out there to move me in a few days later, the landmarks I had picked out seemed familiar and made it feel a bit more like home.
Before I knew it, I was signing my lease and dragging suitcases up the stairs to my very first apartment. I still had a long way to go before it felt like mine, but I had successfully packed up (more about that later!) and driven halfway across the country to start my new adventure as an adult. Like I’ve said, it’s so important not to overthink this whole process. Instead, think of it like an adventure. Make lists, talk to people, Google the area you’re moving to, and do as much research as you can, and I promise you’ll be prepared to take on your first venture into adulting.