Survival Guide: Settling into a new place
Everyone talks about the importance of loving what you do, but it’s not only your work or course that impacts your mental equilibrium. Settling into a new place and learning to love where you live is essential to your mental health & happiness. When you come back from a long day of lectures, a hard day at work, or a long holiday, there should be part of you that’s looking forward to coming home.
Here are some tips to help you settle in to any new home, whether at uni or in a new city as a graduate. You will have to be proactive, but I guarantee you’ll start to feel better once you take the plunge…
What makes a great place to live?
When you first move to a new place, it may take a while to settle in – it can feel lonely, even when you’re surrounded by people, so don’t worry if you don’t feel great at first. If you’ve just started university, there will probably be plenty of others feeling the same!
- Walk to work / uni together – Ask your flatmates where they’re heading. Even if you can only walk some of the journey, it’s a good chance to have a chat, an easy form of exercise, and kind to the environment 😁
- Host a supper club or takeaway night – On a tight budget, entertaining can be a big ask, but there are plenty of cheaper ways to get people together. Try ‘bring a dish’ – everyone brings something to the supper club (just make sure you’re organised, so you don’t end up with 5 desserts… 👀) Alternatively, order in and split the cost – apps like Deliveroo or UberEats are pretty quick and convenient, so see if /what they deliver in your area.
- Cook together – An economical and sociable option is to do the supermarket shop with housemates. Split the cost and share the cooking, even just once in a while. We have some quick, cheap and tasty recipes to try – my favourite is the make your own pizzas– surprisingly easy and good fun. Or if you’re feeling healthy, try this Winter Warmer Ribolitta Soup– perfect for a freezing Autumn evening!
- Keep up sports or interests – By joining clubs, the gym or local activities, you will be surrounded by like-minded people. If you’re at university… start something new – write for the uni magazine, sign up to societies, join the running club, take up life drawing, volunteer – whatever ruffles your truffles! This can really help if you’re a shrinking violet, and it’s a good way of settling into a routine and making the place feel more permanent.
- Local social – If you find socialising difficult, take yourself off to sociable, shared spaces, e.g. your student union, or a popular café. Take a book, your laptop, or something to do. Shutting yourself away in your room will only make you feel worse, so go where the chatter is and you’ll start to feel better and more relaxed.
Location, location, location
Explore your local area and get to know the important places – it can really help you settle in and feel at home.
- Take an invigorating walk – OK, in a big city the air might not be quite so refreshing… however, by taking a stroll, I discovered I’m right near a lovely park on the River Thames, despite being in busy, polluted London. So now I walk there nearly every morning before work; it’s the greatest energising feeling and gets me ready for the day ahead. There are lots of great sites online with good deals and things to do in your area – check some out here.
- Find the essentials and the ‘nice-to-haves’ – Check out your nearest supermarket, shop, bar, post office, cash point, chemist etc. List the important things back home and see if you can find an equivalent in the new place, e.g. a ‘world food shop’ selling your favourite goodies, cycle routes, a local farm shop.
Comfy & confident
Home should be the place you feel safe, comfortable and relaxed.
- Note the necessities – When you move in, just make sure you’re aware of facilities like fire exits, smoke alarms, trip switches etc. Hopefully, you will never have to use them, but a small effort early on will give you peace of mind.
- Find your routes – Ask about local transport and the best, safest ways of getting around at night (a lot of cities & unis are served by all-night buses). If you’re fretting about finding your way to work, or your first lecture, do a dummy run while you have plenty of time to take away the stress.
- Make it yours – Feel at home by surrounding yourself with familiar comforts – photos, candles, cushions, Xbox, whatever cheers you up! Do check the rules about putting things up on walls, if it hasn’t been made clear to you when you move in.
- Right lights – A novel idea for getting you up bright and early… I recently bought a light/alarm clock from Amazon, which wakes you up slowly, with the light starting dim and mimicking a sunrise – it’s actually rather nice!
Invest in a decent bedside light for relaxing, and a good desk lamp, so you’re not straining your eyes when you’re doing intense revision.
- Chill – Watch films, read books and listen to music – there’s nothing better than a good playlist to chill out to. Music often sparks good conversation, so there’s another way of finding like-minded people.
We hope these tips will help you make the most of your new home. Whether you’re at uni, or living in a new place as a graduate, get to know your new city/town and make the most of it whilst you’re living there.
If you’ve graduated and are living in rented accommodation, or looking to move soon, be sure to check out our House section for hassle-free housing guidance.