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where to 
from here? 
the recent grad's guide to post-college housing
by Justin Stempeck
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Like warm rains and flowers, it happens every spring. In a flurry of thrown caps and whipping tassels, college students enter the real world -- and discover that life fast-forwards post-graduation. One minute you're being congratulated on your four years of academic accolades and the next, you're confronted with the distinctly real problems of finding a place to live, cooking your own meals, and making sure you get to work on time. Having somehow already made it through my first year of "real" life, I've gleaned a few tidbits out of my wayward experience, and offer some useful points of consideration for those about to delve into the housing and roommate market.

First off, to live at home or to find your own space? While it has no doubt been comforting returning to your old room for summers and holidays, will your high school personal retreat be enough, or will those faded Pearl Jam posters and cut-out magazine ads that were so cool a few years ago begin to close in on you? If you get along with your family and don't mind slipping back into the habit of emptying the dishwasher and doing yard work on the weekends, then returning home offers up a good platform to figure out your next move. There are certainly very legitimate reasons to move back in with your family. I like to call those reasons money. Not sure what you want to do with your life? Neither are all your friends headed to grad school. Don't let them fool you. At least your indecision isn't costing you $35Gs a year. If you need time to figure things out, suck it up and live at home for awhile. There's no shame in a little free room and board. Okay, there's a little shame. But young adults in other countries live at home much longer than Americans do. In Italy it's not uncommon for young men to live at home until they're 30. So live the dolce vita for six months on the home front, and come up with a game plan on somebody else's dime.

If you find yourself forced home while you search for that first entry-level job that'll pay just enough to cover rent and Ramen, don't be discouraged: appreciate that time instead. As someone who lived home for six months after graduation before claiming my own space, I now realize how many things you take for granted both in college and in a house you aren't responsible for running. Take groceries for example: the fridge at home is always full due to the constant presence of brothers and their teenage friends all feeding their massive growth spurts. In direct contrast, my current fridge contains five bottles of open ketchup (don't ask), some ginger ale, a few onions and some half & half. Little things like groceries, a laundry machine, and clean dishes are what you'll miss almost as much as a loving family when you do brave that first apartment.

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