Getting your first off-campus place is exciting and nerve-racking. Most of us have only lived in residence and with our family. Millions of questions hounded me before I moved into my first new place. How am I going to feed myself? How am I going to keep the place clean? As a 19-year-old, I did not feel ready to take on the daunting responsibilities of adulthood. I won’t lie to you; it wasn’t all smooth sailing and there were many things I learned the hard way. However, some facets of adulthood turned out to be not nearly as intimidating as I thought. Here are some of the problems I faced and how I eventually overcame them.

Groceries

Not having a car, procrastinating getting groceries, and being a young person who eats 24/7 is not a good combo. I would end up doing extremely large groceries runs, spending about $150 per run and trying to last off that as long as possible. Getting groceries on and off the bus would be a full work out and a usual 5-minute walk would take me twice the amount of time. I have not stopped these large grocery runs as smaller, more frequent purchases just don’t work for me. However, I have developed some strategies to make things more manageable. I bring a big backpack and reusable bags to lessen the load, and more importantly, eliminate the nightmare of plastic bags breaking en route. If it’s in your budget or the weather is especially bad, splurge on the occasional Uber ride home.

Freezing food is an important skill all university students need to know. All of us will experience the shock of short expiration dates of meat and produce. Buying frozen vegetables and individually portioning and freezing your meat will stretch out the time between grocery runs.

Cooking

It may be enticing to just eat out for all your meals, but this habit is costly. Cooking for yourself is a much more affordable option. Like many students moving off campus for the first time, I had no idea how to cook. I found that rather than trying to learn many recipes, it made more sense to learn a few simple and fast recipes. Here are some really easy recipes I learned to cook that don’t take much time or ingredients:

  • Chicken and pasta
  • Chicken/beef stir fry
  • Perogies
  • Dumplings
  • Fish filets and rice
  • Potatoes and sausage

Cleaning

I will be honest with you, my first place looked and smelled like a terrible within a couple of weeks. My roommates and I were not exactly the cleanly type. However, this can be avoided if you are diligent at doing a few key things. First, take out the garbage regularly. Procrastinating on this can cause an awful smell and attract bugs. Second, clean your bathroom regularly. If there is any room to clean this is it! A bathroom gets dirty very quickly especially with multiple people using it. Don’t delay— cleaning it before it gets too disgusting will save you a gross ordeal. Lastly, get rid of expired or unwanted food in your fridge or freezer. Sharing a fridge between multiple students can be a struggle. When food goes bad it causes a mess and wastes valuable fridge space. A clean and organized fridge makes it easier to find things and lessens arguments between roommates over fridge space.

Moving into your first place is a learning experience and you are bound to make a few mistakes. However, if you follow my tips you will be able to avoid some common stumbling blocks and have a cleaner transition into off-campus living and adult responsibilities.

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