Hartley Brody

The Real World: A Four Month Retrospective

Just a quick collection of things I’ve learned as I’ve transitioned from college into “the real world” these past 4 months.

You’re a lot less active.

On campus, I was always walking or biking around. Not only cause I enjoyed it, but because I had to. Every class, every meal, and every study group or party meant walking at least a few hundred yards. And I’d rarely be in one place for more than two hours, so I’d end up walking or biking a pretty decent amount every day, without meaning to.

Now, on an average day, I only have to bike to work (about a mile) and then back home. I spend hours sitting at a desk during the day, and then again sitting on a couch when I come home. This is actually something I was warned about by a recent alum. It’s easy to get stuck in one spot for hours.

no standing desk for me

Some people try to compensate for their new found sluggishness by joining a gym. These are never cheap, and usually not as good as the world class facilities we had available to us as students, which makes them feel like an even worse deal. Personally, I do calisthenics in the morning and sometimes go for runs or bike rides on the weekend.

You have to really go out of your way to stay active, or else you feel like shit.


The housing process sucks.

No more complaining about getting stuck in Chambo or having your housing block break up so you couldn’t get that quad you wanted. Even if you end up with so called “shitty” housing on campus, you know it’s still halfway decent. The real world has no such guarantees.

First, you have to pick a neighborhood, which means getting to know a large area well. Is it safe? Is it noisy? Is it easy to commute? Are there grocery stores nearby? Where can I do laundry around here? How expensive is it compared to other areas? Do my friends live in the area?

Then the hard part – finding an actual apartment and roommates who also want to live there. People disagree over cost and location and a bunch of other things, so rather than optimizing for living with people I actually knew, I optimized for living in the best spot I could find, and then found roommates through Craigslist.

It was an extremely stressful process, even though I already knew where I wanted to live. My new found Craigslist roommates and I spent weeks going back and forth over who was paying what rent, and people threatened to pull out and not sign the lease, which would have left the rest of us stuck covering their rent.

The stars have to align just right for you to find a nice place, in a good area, at the right price, with great roommates. It’s very hard to get it right.

Your friends get married and have babies.

Until recently, I had never actually known another young adult as a peer who then went on and got married or pregnant.

It was very strange at first to watch a friend transform into a spouse or parent and be responsible for another person. But, in an office that has a lot of young adults, it seems like these transformations are happening every other week. I think I’ve gotten used to it by now, but it was weird to experience the first few times.

You’re totally responsible for your own livelihood.

I’ve always been someone who likes to save money and am generally responsible with it. But it’s a whole new ballgame when you are totally responsible for 100% of your own expenses. Everything from groceries and rent to vacations and unexpected bike maintenance – it’s totally up to you to cover those bills and save responsibly.

To grow your savings, you need to either earn more, or spend less.

This transition is harder for some people than others.

Getting drunk is expensive.

While bars might seem exciting at first, they get expensive really fast.

Last summer while living in Boston, there were months that I’d spend upwards of $200 at bars, and a few times where I’d drop that in a single weekend. Most people consider it a deal when you can get a single beer for $4. Fortunately, most places in Boston don’t charge for cover, but some do, and those little charges add up quick.

Plus, add on an additional $20 for the Uber fare you’ll need to get home after the T is closed (past 12:30). Drinking is a much more expensive habit than it was in college, and I’ve found myself doing a lot less of it as a result.

No anxiety in the month of August.

For as long as I can remember, the month of August meant the end of summer and back to school. This meant summer reading, back to school shopping, and saying bye to summer friends.

Now, the month of August just means – enjoy yourself! It’s almost time for fall. August no longer brings huge living shifts like it has for the past 17 years.

Groupons are a lifesaver.

Handgun lessons You want to do fun things, and have an interesting life, but you don’t have a ton of cash to burn. You absolutely need to subscribe to Groupon and any other daily deal sites. They’re a great way to explore a city and try new things without blowing through your entire paycheck.

So far I’ve gotten handgun lessons, a dinner cruise, salsa classes, and a few laps driving a Lamborghini – all for more than 50% off thanks to daily deal sites. It’s a great way to keep yourself busy for cheap.


There are all sorts of other things like learning the true meaning of “work-life balance” or finding out that the liberal arts degree you worked so hard for is essentially worthless in a Get Shit Done™ economy. :)

What are some things you didn’t know coming out of school?