Toolkit: Preparing for life

Three young men in a hostel kitchen preparing a meal together

Your toolkit to help your young person prepare for life away from home.

Going out into the world to study or work is a big leap for most young people. As well as studying or working they can be living with new people and having to budget their money. The good news is you can help prepare them in advance with some well-timed living and budget information and guidance, as well as by sharing your experience of how to get along with other people.

1. Get them sorted before they leave home

Start teaching your young person life skills before they leave home.

You can:

  • teach them how to sew, cook, clean and do basic repairs
  • teach them how to use washing machines and heaters
  • make them responsible for chores around the house
  • encourage them to do part-time work, such as babysitting
  • encourage them to do team activities outside of school
  • teach them how to make a budget and stick to it
  • have them contact utility companies, such as internet companies to ask questions or get services
  • have them make their own doctor, dentist and hair appointments
  • help them learn their rights as a renter and how to deal with property managers and landlords
  • help them to use public transport
  • help them to plan their time.

2. Managing their money

The Sorted website offers specific money advice for studying and going flatting.

You can help, too. Help them brainstorm all the costs they need for study or starting work, such as transport, accommodation, clothing, food, equipment, and make a budget together.

Your young person will need:

  • a bank account (a student bank account for students or apprentices)
  • an IRD tax number
  • a budget
  • a Kiwisaver fund, if they are working.

Your young person may need to know about rental agreements for flatting and how to set up automatic payments set up for accommodation and costs such as electricity and internet. 

3. Making connections

Making connections with others will make the transition from school to the adult world easier – and fun. Young people who make friendships are more likely to complete their study.

You can help by encouraging them to:

  • go to orientation events, join student clubs and societies and cultural groups if they're studying
  • talk to people on work breaks, and join work social clubs or sports teams if they're working.

Flatting or living in a hostel may lead to conflict with other people. Share your own experiences of living with other people and how you overcame any issues. Brainstorm together about how you could talk to people about a problem, for example, if someone isn’t doing any cleaning.

4. Getting work ready

It’s important that your young person not only has the technical skills to do a job, but also the employability skills. They need to be work ready – that means having the skills employers want such as being resilient, able to think, able to work in a team, and be willing to learn.

The seven essential skills employers want your young person to have

Young people can show these employability skills by turning up to work on time every day, asking for help when they have a problem, accepting constructive criticism and offering to help.

You can help your young person develop these skills by giving them responsibilities around the house or in the community, or by helping them to get work experience.

Technical skills your young person should have

Before study or work, your young person should also:

  • hold a driver’s licence (essential for many jobs)
  • know how to use a computer to do research, complete online applications, apply for work, email and create documents
  • know how to care for a uniform, work clothes and work equipment.

5. Asking for help

Knowing what to do when things go wrong is an important self-management skill for young people. Before leaving home, they should know how to:

  • talk to a utilities company to set up an account or fix a problem
  • contact student welfare or a student adviser if they have a financial or emotional problem
  • contact Work and Income if they need emergency food (if you can’t help)
  • talk to their landlord or hostel manager if something needs to be fixed
  • talk to their employer, training adviser, dean or professor about their work
  • talk to the police if something goes wrong.

Youthline can be a good place to get advice if a young person has a problem.

Related article

Toolkit: Preparing for study

Mother and son looking at a laptop

Your toolkit to help your young person prepare for tertiary study.

Updated 20 Nov 2023