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Make Your New Apartment Less Lonely

If you've left home for the first time to attend college at USF or UCF, are a recent college graduate, or just relocated in Tampa Bay, Orlando, or Gainesville to pursue a different career path, chances are you're feeling a bit lonely. Moving is always stressful and requires a period of adjustment, but it can be especially difficult when you're on your own, far from family and friends. Use these helpful tips to make your new apartment - and your new town - feel like home.

Move In

Especially if you don't know anyone and aren't expecting company, it's sometimes tempting to unpack only the essentials and do the rest of your living out of boxes. Don't do it! Boxes stacked in the closets or corners will make your new place look like a storage unit and your apartment will always feel as though you're just passing through. Unpacking and arranging your favorite things is one of the best ways to make your new home feel cozy and familiar, and you won't have to worry about inviting new friends over when you meet them.

Get Organized

Moving is the perfect time to organize your home the way you've always wished it could be. Set aside dedicated places for bills and correspondence, use a recycling bin to get rid of junk mail immediately and sell or donate unwanted items. Once you've got the rooms arranged the way you like them, make a conscious effort to keep them that way. Clutter increases anxiety. Keep your space neat to reduce unnecessary stress and keep your mind clear.

Embrace Your New Habitat

Let go of the past and leap into the present. Display a pennant from a local sports team next to the one from your alma mater. Along with treasured pictures of friends and family, frame and hang a poster or a series of postcards of the city skyline or scenic views. Buy a potted palm or orange tree for the patio. If you've always wanted to walk or bicycle to work or school, take advantage of your new climate to make that dream a reality.

Go Exploring

Set aside a day to wander around your new neighborhood. Find the local bookstore, grocery store, movie theater and coffee shop. Stop to talk with the people you meet while you're out. Visit yard sales, craft fairs, antique shops and second-hand stores in search of unique local pieces to decorate your apartment. Meeting your neighbors and familiarizing yourself with the area and its landmarks will help you feel more comfortable and safe in your new home.

Let Your Home Be a Reflection of You

Use your newfound free time to resurrect old hobbies. Start painting again, begin the novel you've always wanted to write or train for a marathon. Artists might want to display museum prints, writers may have an assortment of beautifully bound books and sports fans a memorabilia collection. Surrounding yourself with objects that reflect your passions will give your home a welcoming vitality and a unique personality when you're alone or with friends.

Get Out of the House

It may be difficult to force yourself to try a new restaurant, visit a museum or take in a movie by yourself, but remember that in addition to bringing you out of your shell, the experience will also give you a conversation starter to use with your fellow students or coworkers the next day. Take a cooking class or join a book club to meet like-minded people and brush up on your entertaining skills. Even going out for a coffee or taking a stroll around the block, through the park or down to the beach can brighten your mood when you're feeling blue.