The ABRACADABRA of flying the nest guide for students
Updated: Sep 11
There is no magic wand that can be waved to make flying the nest easy, as life would not be so exciting if there was, however I hope this article is helpful as a supportive guide to smooth the process over. I write this as I watch my son start on his modern apprenticeship journey and draw on my experience of helping others with life skills and change management. I write in is as candid way as possible and each paragraph forms part of the acronym that is abracadabra for fun. If you are reading this as a new student leaving home for the first time then I wish you all the magic that is to come as you start your new life.
When looking at your new potential accommodation have a think about whether you want to share with others, what you are willing to share ie, bathroom, kitchen, and if you are looking for a short term or longer term let. It can feel like there are so many questions that you could ask when making your decision, and it is a good idea to have a checklist of what you want to ask so you don't go away and think, 'hey I wished I had asked that!'
What is included in the rent, for example bills, wifi, is it furnished or unfurnished? Is the deposit refundable, how much is the deposit and how many months up front needs to be paid? Are there any exclusions in the contract such as pets, people staying over and what are the neighbours/flatmates like in terms of noise/cleanliness/compatability! Another really good question to consider is whether it is in a safe location and the agent/owner is reputable as nowadays we have to be super careful.
So it can feel like there are so many bills to think of and doing a good check of what is included in the accommodation can help with this. Some people just want the easier option of knowing everything is included but others prefer to keep things seperate so you have more control and can switch providers to get the best deal. What utilities need paying? Is it an electric meter? Is it centrally heated? Is it gas or electric in the kitchen? Does it have a shower or bath in the bathroom? All this will make a difference to how much you spend. I remember the days when we used to demonstrate against council tax, but it is here to stay so worth checking that out. Consider water, phone, food, lighting, heating, wifi costs, any service charges for cleaning communal areas, clothing, toiletries, cleaning products, stationery, books, leisure activities and travel.
Nowadays the costs of car insurance if you are under 25 can be exorbitant and there are many ways to take advantage of discounted travel as a student. Do some research into where you are going to live and how that helps you to get to your lectures, place of work, placements. Is it better for you to cycle, bus it, train it or walk!??
When you get to each place how are you going to get around, especially if you are asked out last minute by friends and end up at an unexpected party. Doing a little forwarding planning of your routes keeps you safe and reduces stress when you are probably already learning so many new things. It is always a good idea to let people know where you are going to be extra safe, carry taxi numbers and consider transport sharing.
So you are off to your new place, it's in a totally different area of the country, the culture is unknown, it's a totally new adventure. Having knowledge of the area in which you are going to live and develop your new skills is really helpful. What is the night life like? Is it an area where you can lock up your bike and expect it to still be there? How close is it to amenities like shops when you run out of toilet paper in the middle of the night (if you have 'Action planning' covered - see lower down the article then of course this won't apply!) Where will your local drs, dentists, A & E - sorry don't mean to worry you - libraries, supermarkets be in relation to you?
Do you fancy living in a really eclectic area which never sleeps and you can hear car horns from morning to night or are you more at home in a quieter setting. 'Routes' above will have some say in this but on the whole there is usually some choice. Do you have green areas near by which can help with wellbeing?
We all have moments when our confidence levels drop and true confidence means that you have a sustainable belief in yourself which comes from within. Recognising your more vulnerable areas whilst also drawing on your strengths means that you don't have to put on a pretense but can be who you are confidently. However we can also learn to act like we are confident to get by too.
This is one of the most challenging moments in your life and as such anxiety levels might increase and having to try new experiences out everyday means we won't always be confident all of the time. Acceptance plays a big part in this and being kind to yourself. The first step to managing on your own is going to bring up a range of emotions and it is helpful to be aware of these emotions, name them and say to yourself I will get through this.
The key is to keep on giving yourself positive thoughts, say supportive words to yourself, imagine yourself doing the new tasks, put forward planning in place and hang out with people who increase your confidence levels.
A ction planning
It is fun and amazing to be spontaneous but having a plan for eventualities and then a back up plan for that back up plan can be a total life saver. This might be to plan how you are getting home after a night out, maybe having a bus timetable or a taxi number in your pocket. It could be having contraception packed - this so does not mean you are going to use it but it is better to be prepared! Your action plan could involve having savings for a rainy day or some rent saved. Financial intelligence, is all about decision making - is it better to buy that new jumper or to have some money saved for next terms books? I remember as a student I always carried an emergency £1 for a telephone call..it's funny to remember times before mobile phones and it will probably be more like an emergency tenner now! Do you have a medical emergency kit or know how to use a fire extinguisher? We are all different and knowing you have a plan to cover eventualities especially when going into new territory will boost your confidence no end.
Are you needing to change your details for your online purchases as your address changes? Do you need a photo for you student card? You might want to think about what you need to amend with your driving licence, bank accounts, online subscriptions, netflix, re-directing your post and signing up for a doctor, optician and dentist.
Who can you turn to that will give you solid advice when you need it? Are there student unions that can help, student support, local community groups, sexual health clinics, clubs where you can meet likeminded people or maybe even a mentor. Having a support network is so helpful when you are facing a great deal of new changes especially if they are in a similar position to you. Have you set up how much support you want from your guardian/parents so that you feel cared for but not overwhelmed. Do you want a daily phone call or prefer a weekly zoom call to keep in touch? Remember advice can be well meaning and you don't have to take it all on but filter what works for you.
What are your budgeting skills like? A good tip for budgeting is to map out all the costs that you might face in categories such as accommodation, food shopping, clothing, transport, stationery, books, and whatever you estimate add an extra 20% on to what you think things will cost. So if you think you can live on £50 food a week add an extra tenner. It is a good idea to work out your general everyday costs especially before you make any large purchases.
It is helpful to be boundaried and assertive about your financial needs so you can say no to buying rounds or chipping in for communal restaurant food bills or pressure from others to go clubbing when you can't afford it. If you creep into overdraft you can end up with bank charges and that can then make things worse further down the line. It is worth seeking out financial advice and talking it through if you don't feel you are coping as there are often other ways to manage money of which you may not have thought.
Have a think about what are the risks, what is the likelihood of the risk happening and put your planning in place to reduce them. What do you have to be aware of getting home, keeping your equipment or bike safe and looking after your health. It is all a balance and you want to have fun but work out how you can reduce any risks and look after all of your health needs including mental, sexual and physical. It is a good plan to have insurance to cover your PC or apple mac, your phone and always be careful getting home at night.
A lcohol and drugs
The main tip from the many years I have worked helping people with substance misuse would be to know your limits. If you choose to drink alcohol start off slowing with alcohol, know what is in your drink, use your own measurements not other peoples and slow it down with soft drinks or water in between. The worst thing is to find yourself out of your depth in an unknown environment with people you don't know. Know who is around you and practice harm minimisation to keep yourself safe. It is better to try a small amount of something you have not experienced before and talk with people you trust if you are feeling out of your depth. If you are in an environment where you are not feeling safe be extra cautious and always feel that you don't have to join in with anything that makes you feel uncomfortable or puts you at risk.
I hope that this article provides a helpful tool for your new life. Let the magic commence!
I offer 1;1 coaching sessions, workshops and in house training which includes strategies to improve your relationships, performance, leadership style, diversity, health goals, wellbeing and lifestyle.
My background is 20 years in working for the National Probation Service, including rehabilitation for substance use, anger management, domestic abuse, hate crime and developing emotional management, life, relationship and thinking skills. I train consultants in the NHS in coaching and mentoring and run my own coaching practice which operates using a person centred approach drawing on coaching psychology approaches.
If there is any coaching or training in which you would be interested please get in touch for a free chat or to access support for any of the areas covered in this article.
Thank you for reading!