Off to College: Planning a Successful Move
May 13, 2019
High school’s end is near and your teenager now has to choose which post-secondary program to pursue for the next few years of their life. It’s already a tough choice to make, and can become even harder when your hometown doesn’t have a college or university! This is a reality for young people from rural areas, and moving to study becomes the only option.
Given most are quite young at the start of their post-secondary education, moving to a new city far from family and friends can be quite daunting. Not only is there the stress of undertaking new studies in a new school, there’s also the strain of getting used to a completely different and unfamiliar environment. No matter the type of accommodation―apartment, collocation or student housing― living elsewhere than the family home implies your teenager will have a fair share of learning to do. Here are some tips to pass on for a successful transition.
If your daughter or son is going to move into a student housing, suggest they explore the establishment’s website to discover the options available: single or double rooms, apartments for 3 or 4 persons, etc. The procedure to apply for a room will vary from one establishment to another. The request might have to be sent by mail with the required documents attached, or it might be possible to complete a reservation form directly online. It’s ideal to visit the housing first; pictures alone don’t suffice to get a good sense of the living space or general environment. Your teenager can also seize this opportunity to take a tour of the school. Open house days are specifically intended for new students to become familiar with their new setting and gain confidence to feel more secure once school starts!
When it comes to apartment hunting, January is a good time to start since tenants receive their lease renewal notice, meaning apartments slowly pop up on the market. Nowadays, the easiest way to look for an apartment is on the Internet. There are countless useful websites, such as Kijiji or LogisQuébec. Ideally, take a couple of days to travel to your teen’s future city to visit apartments. Remember to book appointments with landlords the week before. Visit as many places as possible, and then encourage your teenager to think it through before making a decision; there are many elements to factor in and it’s best to weigh pros and cons. First, does the rent fall within budget? If your teenager has an RESP, it’s good to know educational assistance payments can be used to pay for housing.
The second important factor is location! It’s always convenient to live near services such as a supermarket or drugstore. Moreover, your teen should check if the area is well served by public transport if they need to commute daily. Finally, the following aspects can also make a big difference: does the building have laundry facilities; does the building offer a quiet, calm environment to favour studying; are utilities included in the rent; does the apartment have appliances or furniture, and so forth.
Your teenager will have to make a budget for the move to plan for expected and unforeseen expenses and thus avoid unpleasant surprises on the big day. If they don’t have a good idea of what a move can cost, they can find relevant information on several websites, such as the Government of Canada’s website. For instance, moving costs could include rental fees for a truck, fees for movers, as well as expenses for meals or for setting up the Internet or cable.
Moreover, it’s interesting to know that you can claim moving expenses on your tax return if these result from moving to pursue post-secondary education, under certain conditions. For more information, visit the Government of Canada’s website.
After the Move
If your daughter or son registers for the Loans and Bursaries Program offered by the Ministère de l’Éducation et de l’Enseignement supérieur (Quebec), they must not forget to notify the Aide financière aux études of their new address within 30 days following the move. Otherwise, their financial assistance payments may be suspended. For further information, click here.
When moving to a new place, a whole new world of possibilities opens! Your teenager shouldn’t hesitate to go and explore this new city. They can spot nearby services, find out how to get to school, learn the different bus routes… The more familiar they’ll be with their new environment, the more at home they will feel. The best piece of advice for a teenager about to move: don’t isolate yourself. They should force themselves to meet new people, have the courage to sit in a coffee shop on their own and start a conversation! They can also use the first few days to gather information on the services and special rates for students.
We sometimes feel disoriented the first days after a move. We shouldn’t be too hard on ourselves and take some time to adapt. The adjustment period can be very short for some, and much longer for others. The important thing is that your daughter or son makes this new place their home. Of course, the city in which they grew up will always hold a special place in their heart, but it’s important to feel comfortable where we live. Even if your teen’s move is not permanent, they will still spend a fair number of years their new city, and those will be precious years because it’s in college and university that we create the best memories!