If you're like many other South Africans, graduating and getting your first job has required you to move to a new suburb, city, or even province. This time in your life is one of the most exciting and terrifying you'll ever face. You may no longer be able to stay at home rent-free and you have to cover your own insurance, rent, petrol, food, car, and entertainment. On top of all that, you have to manage the stress of performing well in your first full-time job.
It's a lot to take on, but the freedom you'll feel will be exhilarating. Embrace it and use some of the following advice to find your own place in this big world.
1. Find a Suitable Home
Plenty of jobs in our major cities are in high-traffic areas. The closer you stay to these, the higher the rent, so you'll have to balance how far you're willing to commute with what you can afford. While it isn't ideal, it might be best to choose the commuter option for now. Be cautious –sign a six-month lease first and, after this time, assess if it's affordable for you to stay closer to work.
2. Stick to a Budget
Credit cards, store accounts, personal loans, and overdrafts – when you have your first job, suddenly the possibilities for upgrading your lifestyle seem endless! This could be good or bad depending on how you manage your finances. Credit is a necessary part of life and starting a good credit record early can help you in years to come. Just be sensible. Don't borrow money you can't pay back, don't max out multiple store cards, and don't take the highest amount of credit a bank is willing to give you. Start small and build up – your current and future self will be grateful.
3. Make Friends
Whether you've moved to a new city and don't know anyone, or you'd like to get to know your new colleagues better, making new friends will enrich your life. At work, ask people what their interests are and find out if anyone participates in the same activities you do. There might be an office soccer league in need of another player. Or maybe someone else loves amateur karaoke just as much as you do. You never know!
If you're in a new city, join a Facebook group for people who are in the same position you are – new in town and looking to make friends. Also try joining a local sports league or book club, depending on what you're interested in.
4. Balance Your Work/Life
As a young professional, you'll end up seeing your colleagues more than your family and friends. If you love what you do, that's amazing! For others, this can be a tough adjustment. With any big change in your life, it just takes time to get used to it. Once your first salary enters your bank account, the trade-off of work and personal life won't feel so unpleasant. If you're not exactly where you want to be, remember that few people your age are! Finding meaning in your work, no matter what it is, will help you grow personally and professionally, and soon you will be onto bigger and better things.
One day, you will look back on this time in your life, shake your head, and smile. You'll wonder why you were ever so nervous about it and at the same time, pat yourself on the back for handling your new-found freedom so well.
Prices quoted are correct at the time of publishing this article. The information in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal, or medical advice.