Planning for post-secondary education can be challenging. Adding a major relocation to those efforts can add an extra layer of stress to the process. Navigating a student relocation is a significant undertaking.
If you’re going through the process of a student relocation, keep these practical tips in mind for the planning process and getting settled.
Create a Master List
Never underestimate the value of a master list when planning a move. There are many free templates online that you can use to start outlining the moving process. This list should include everything from the paperwork you need to complete to what items you need to pack.
While there are plenty of online tools you can use to stay organized, it’s also beneficial to have a printed copy of your list. Consider getting a zipper binder to organize everything, including important paperwork and documentation. Having paper copies of everything can also prove useful if you’re navigating the immigration process when moving internationally or meeting with potential landlords.
Understand the Admin and Legalities
Planning your student relocation should start as soon as you know you’ve been accepted to a university or college— especially if you’re crossing international borders. Fortunately, many countries have visa options that allow students to live and work abroad during their enrolment period. Unfortunately, navigating the visa application process can be arduous, and mistakes result in costly delays.
It’s also important to understand the legalities and immigration requirements if a partner will be moving with you. For example, as a registered student in Portugal, you could remain in the country with a student visa. If your partner isn’t legally registered as common law or married, they might need to meet the Portuguese d7 visa requirements to stay and work. Depending on your destination, you may be required to open a bank account and transfer funds as a part of your entry requirements.
International travel isn’t the only potential challenge. If you’re moving to a different state, there could be different regulations surrounding your driver’s license, medical insurance, etc. Take your time to research the various administrative changes you’ll have to make and add them to your master list.
Consider Your Job Options
While the thought of going to post-secondary and focusing solely on the experience is nice, most students don’t have that privilege. If you’re paying your own way through school, you’ll need to explore job options in your new home.
Take the time to research potential jobs and consider applying before you relocate. Be sure to clarify any regulations around employment if you are living internationally on a student visa.
Clarify Your Budget
Student relocation is costly. In addition to paying for an education, a place to live, and the typical bills, you’ll also have moving costs to consider.
Take the time to research the moving process and outline the overall costs, creating a budget and planning accordingly. It’s also helpful to determine your living costs to know what kind of financial support you need.
Find Reasonable Accommodations
If you’re staying in residence at your school, you won’t have to worry about finding a place to live. If you’re not staying in residence, you need to find a place before you go.
Finding a rental can be incredibly challenging for students. Many college towns have rentals with lease agreements that benefit students, ranging from September to May. Generally, these are designed to appeal to larger groups of students who become roommates. Researching the local area and connecting with your fellow attendees beforehand can help you find a living situation.
If possible, travel to your destination well in advance to look around and determine what options are available. If you’re renting a room in a private residence, prioritize your safety. Your school should have resources for relocating students to help you find a place to stay.
Most students don’t have references from previous landlords. Collect character references from employers, coaches, educators, etc., to help improve your chances of securing a spot for your student relocation.
Identify What to Move
Once you have a better idea of where you’re staying, you can start to outline what you need to bring with you. Whether you’re renting a house with roommates, staying in residence, living in a studio apartment or one of these McKinney apartments, this exercise is a must.
Identify what belongings you’ll bring with you, what you’ll purchase when you arrive, and what to do with the rest. Minimizing how much you have to move during your relocation will help you keep costs low. Bring a few sentimental items and take a minimalist approach to furniture.
Depending on your living situation and family dynamic, you’ll need to determine what to do with leftover belongings that aren’t making the trip. Clarify whether you can store items with your parents or family members. Alternatively, you can look into paid storage facilities. Use this exercise as an opportunity to declutter and donate or sell belongings that no longer serve you.
Plan the Moving Process
Once you know where you’re going and what items you’re taking with you, you can start to plan the moving process. This process will look different depending on the nuances of your unique situation.
Start by determining whether you need professional movers or a moving truck rental. If you’re relocating abroad, research moving companies with experience in international relocations. However, in most cases, it’s better to travel light and look for furnished accommodations.
Invest in quality moving boxes and clearly label them. Consider taking an inventory of your items and creating a simple spreadsheet that identifies what items are in each box. This task will help you prioritize your unpacking and get you organized when you arrive.
Create a Go Bag
Consider the essential documents and belongings that shouldn’t be packed away or left out of reach. For example, any immigration paperwork, your passport or birth certificate, rental lease paperwork, etc. These items should be kept in your “go bag” that travels with you at all times.
Your go-bag should also include the essentials in case you experience any travel or moving delays— a change of clothes, basic toiletries, some cash, etc.
Research the Community
Take some time to research the community you’ll be calling home before you relocate. Identify where amenities are located, such as restaurants and grocery stores. You can add these to your master list for reference.
Many students who relocate are surprised to discover how homesick they feel, even for such an exciting experience. Look for community groups based on student relocation or other interests, so you can connect and get involved. Your school should have some of this information available. If your school has a student liaison or welcome wagon, schedule time to connect with them during your first few days after arriving.
Level Up Your Skills
Take some time to evaluate what life skills you currently lack, then set targeted goals to learn them. Many students are inexperienced with cooking. While there are always simple options for students on a budget with limited cooking skills, learning a few basic dishes before leaving goes a long way. You’d be surprised how quickly you’ll get sick of quick-cooking noodles or rice, and takeout is expensive.
Learning how to do laundry, creating a budget, using basic tools, tidying, and other basic life essentials will make the transition to self-reliance in a new area much easier.
Learn the Art of Time Management
Learning the art of time management is another must-have skill for students facing a relocation. In addition to juggling the moving process, balancing classes, study time, work, and chores can be a lot to handle. Learning how to prioritize and set boundaries is an integral skill with lifelong benefits.
Consider using a scheduling app to help outline your weeks and plan accordingly. If you struggle with motivation and distractions, create extrinsic rewards to get back on track— for example, treating yourself to a latte when you get your work done. Avoid mindless time wasters, like social media scrolling. Adding a daily screentime limit with an app blocker can help you avoid mindless scrolling so you get back on track.
Prioritize Self-Care and Stress Management
Self-care and stress management is equally as important as time management but less talked about when planning a relocation. The moving process is stressful, but so is going to school without access to friends, familiar places, and family support.
Schedule time each week to dedicate to your self-care. Set a bare minimum for yourself each day, and learn to practice self-compassion. Self-care doesn’t have to be costly or fancy. Taking time to unplug and walk through a local park or taking a break from studying when your mind is done is simple self-care.
Prioritize sleep and movement to help keep your body and mind fresh. Make time for social interactions, but protect your energy and set boundaries for yourself and others.
Know When to Ask for Help
Finally, when facing student relocation know when to ask for help. Reach out to your parents, partner, guidance counsellor, and local community groups to provide support and guidance when things get difficult.
A student relocation can be an amazing experience. Use these tips to plan and execute your relocation so you can get the most out of it.