How to Help College Grads Feel at Home in Their First Space

mother and daughter moving in

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If you have a recent college graduate in your life, you know that when they cross the stage to accept their hard-earned diploma, they also enter a new stage of life. Your graduate will be trading a dorm room or parent’s house for a place of their own.  Settling into a new space can be overwhelming, but with a little help from friends and family, the new grad will feel at home in no time. 

Research to the Rescue

Ensuring the move is a good one starts long before the first box has been packed. Chances are the graduate is taking their first real job in an unfamiliar city. Help them break down what part of their new location fits their lifestyle and commuting needs. Talk about how they plan to get to and from work and whether they prefer living close to coffee shops, restaurants and nightlife or a quieter locale. 

With a budget in hand, split up the searching tasks. Having a list of viable options takes some stress off the plate of the person who is moving and increases the likelihood that their new place will fit perfectly into their new life. 

Make a Workable Plan

Julia Buerger, senior merchant at The Home Depot, suggests starting the process with a moving checklist. Every part of the relocation process will take longer than the new grad probably thinks it will. Having a solid framework that shows which tasks should be crossed off a list at what time will go a long way toward turning a stressful event into a success.

That feeling of overwhelm from a poorly planned move will follow the person moving right into their new space, and that isn’t a good start. Buerger offers solid tips on moving prep and execution that you can share with your new graduate to help them get in the right headspace:

  • Do some packing, even if only one box, every day. Pace yourself and start packing things you won’t need right away.
  • Pack an overnight bag with enough essentials for a week in case the moving truck is late or unpacking boxes takes longer than you estimated.
  • Try an apartment moving kit to take the guesswork out of shopping for supplies. The Home Depot offers an Apartment Moving Kit equipped with everything you’ll need.
  • Buy moving essentials like packing tape and dispensers, bubble wrap, stretch plastic wrap, packing paper, moving blankets, moving bags, mattress bags, cartons, foam pouches and cushions are the key to protecting your fragile items in transit.
  • Gather boxes in a variety of shapes and sizes to house different household items. Get sizes from extra small, for books and collectibles, up through extra large, for bulkier items like large pillows, towels and blankets.
  • Consider box materials when you buy. Pick thicker, heavy-duty boxes if you will be stacking several boxes, moving a long distance, or storing for a long period of time. 

Shopping on a Budget

Though some young adults on the move have more stuff than space, some grads—especially if they have been living in a dorm—will be missing some must-haves

If you have a new graduate in the family, consider letting go of some of your excess items and helping them build a household. Let them “shop” through your extra dishes, flatware or cookware for things they like and would use in their new kitchen. Ask them to take a look at furniture you aren’t using and see if anything strikes their fancy. You free up some breathing room in your home, and your loved one creates a familiar, cozy space of their own. Double win!


As much as you would like to free up some more space in your home ASAP, this is not the time to deliver a truckload of someone’s childhood books, games and stuffed animals to their new doorstep. Save the trip down memory lane for another visit and let your adult child decide what they do or don’t want in their own home. It doesn't mean you have to keep it in yours, but don't spring it on them when they are getting settled in their space.

Make It Homey

They aren't with all their friends anymore who made their on- or off-campus space feel like home, so a little extra effort is necessary to make their new space feel like home.

You can bring a housewarming gift of essential cleaning supplies. There’s nothing better than starting a new life with a clean house! Or you could help them personalize the space with wall hangings or stick-on wallpaper — whatever makes them happy and follows the rental agreement rules. Just be sure the space is working to look like their vision and not yours!

One thing you can do together is make their favorite meal (or let them cook it!) in the new kitchen. You’ll build memories and help the new adult associate their new space with “home.”