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Change generation

Flying the nest: What to pack and how to settle in

New job, new third-level world, or even just finally getting enough cash to move from your parents’ house to your own space: our guide to getting settled. / YouTube

This article is part of our Change Generation project, supported by KBC. To read more, click here.

THERE ARE FEW bigger landmarks on the road to independence than the physical move from parents’ gaff to your own first home.

What’s the big challenge? Make that plural – challenges. You have to balance your budget, fit in the basic household tasks of cleaning and cooking for yourself (we did say ‘basic’!), adjust to housemates who don’t know how you like your tea, and discover why extension cables are actually the life essential you didn’t know you needed.

On top of that is the mental transition from ‘home’ home to your new home.

It’s worth knowing that homesickness is classified in medical terms as an ‘adjustment disorder’ – it’s a real thing and is surmountable.

Even if that doesn’t make you feel better straight off, it should give a sense of perspective to the emotional turbulence of finding this new independence tinged with both excitement and anxiety. It will get better. It really is a matter of time.

Researchers Chris Thurber and Edward Walton produced a paper on the symptoms of homesickness in the medical journal Pediatrics.

The scientific definition? It’s classed “as distress and functional impairment caused by an actual or anticipated separation from home and attachment objects such as parents”. So it’s not just about missing the comforts of home cooking, but the feelings of being loved and cared for.

They have some key recommendations for looking after yourself if you are getting a case of the blues with your first flight from the nest.

First off, know that it is not unusual and will diminish with time (time brings with it a familiarity with your new situation, which in turn decreases your sense of a new ‘normal’.

Get to that new ‘normal’ more quickly by:

  • Bringing some of your old routine/home associations into your new set-up. If you watched Bake-off on Thursday nights, watch Bake-Off in your new gaff with your new housemates.
  • Have a physical comfort blanket (er, which could be a blanket you love) to use as a touchstone of security.
  • Check in with family or friends from home regularly – apparently, the sense that the world you knew might be moving on without you can dampen your enthusiasm for getting comfortable in your new place in the world. Once you know the reality of what they are up to, your ability to make new connections becomes easier.
  • On that note, start making new friends. Make a point of a night in with your housemates, join some activity local to your new home as soon as possible (even if it’s only for a short while), and watch your network of new support grow.

The reality for most people though is that home is still there when you need it, and getting used to the new gaff is mostly a practical consideration.

That’s where our video (above) comes in handy as a basic checklist of what you should, er, borrow from home for your first week out on your own:

satisfying If you find this gif deeply satisfying, read on.

One good kitchen knife. We have never come across a rental – and let’s face it, your first place is likely to be a rental – that had a knife that could cut anything more than a very ripe banana. And if you plan on cooking for yourself at least some of the time, you’ll need it.

A corkscrew and scissors. Packaging and duct tape are about to come a big part of your life now that you’re in charge of grocery shopping, flat packs and no-nails DIY. The scissors will open absolutely everything. The corkscrew is for the odd bottle of wine.

Tupperware. Food waste and food misappropriation is the number one cause of shared fridge strife*. Be a grown-up. Make your own lunch. Keep that leftover bit of takeaway for breakfast. Pretend to save stuff for later so at least you can tell yourself that you tried. (*Exclusive HQ research)

Cheese grater. You like cheese, don’t you? What further explanation can you need?

Toilet paper. There are probably a few essentials to make you feel at home on your first night – teabags, drop of milk. None is as essential as the humble loo roll.

Extension cable. Wall sockets are never where you need them. No-one wants to race across the room to turn off the alarm on their phone. Hairdryers are best used in front of the mirror, which happens to be fixed to the only wall without a socket. Get thyself to the nearest hardware shop and get yourself one of these, preferably with an on-off switch for extra safety.

shutterstock_308489978 Lighting can change a room (and hide the bits you don't like). Shutterstock / Africa Studio Shutterstock / Africa Studio / Africa Studio

At least one lamp. Central overhead light pendants are the death of romance, atmosphere and flattering selfie opportunities.

Coat hangers. Why do rentals never have enough hangers? You might end up with most of your clothes on the floor at some stage but surely that should be your choice.

Crisp new sheets. Because they help you get the good sleep you might find elusive in a strange new place, and because we’re not animals.

A good blanket. As with lighting, it’s an instant cosy-maker for your new home.

This is by no means the definitive list – it’s what comfortably fits into a carry-on. So what would you recommend as essentials to those setting up their own place for the first time? Contribute in the comments below.

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