After several years of dorm life, it’s time to move on to bigger and better things: your first real apartment! Whether you’re still in school or you just graduated, this is an exciting time as you create what can truly be called your first home.
Use these helpful tips to make the transition from college dorm to first apartment a smooth one.
A lot of decisions about your first apartment will be dictated by your current or first post-college job. You’ll want to know where you’re working (and how much you’ll be earning) before you start looking at apartments. Once you have your job secured, then you can begin considering other important factors like location. Location will affect a number of things including your rent, your commute times, and your safety. For example, if you pick a place that’s close to class or work you’ll be able to cut down on expenses such as gas and even parking passes.
Speaking of cutting expenses, the next big factor to consider is budget. Will you be able to afford to live in an apartment on your own or will you need a roommate? These are things you need to figure out before you start searching for your first apartment.
The sooner you can plot out all these factors, the better off you’ll be. You don’t want to put yourself in a situation where you need to find a place to live within a week because move out day is tomorrow. Giving yourself time means reducing stress and ensuring you find the perfect place.
Set a Budget
Your first apartment is going to mean paying bills. A lot of a bills. You’ll have to set up accounts in your name for utilities like gas and electricity as well as cable and internet. Some apartments also require renter’s insurance. Plus, you’ll need to pay the first month’s rent and security deposit (usually the equivalent of one month’s rent) up-front. You may also be required to pay a broker’s fee if you go through a realtor.
Additionally, you’ll want to factor in all of your other regular expenses including credit cards bills, groceries, car expenses, and the dreaded student loan. Along with your rent, all of these monthly expenses will be part of your new budget. Create a budget that determines the maximum amount you can spend on rent that still allows you to live comfortably. And don’t forget to leave some cushion to act as a safety net in the event additional expenses occur.
Stock Up Before You Move
Before you graduate and officially drop your “student” status, you might want to do some shopping for your apartment so you can take advantage of your student discounts. For instance, Amazon offers free two-day shipping for students and other discounts on their Prime shopping. You should also check out these other online sites for student shopping discounts:
- Sam’s Club
- PB Teen
- West Elm
Make a List of Apartment Essentials
You probably already have some things from your dorm that you can use in your apartment. However, there will be quite a few things you will need to buy. Some apartments — especially those close to college campuses — come furnished, but this is the exception rather than the rule. In most cases, you’ll be moving into an empty space.
Here are some apartment essentials you might need to add to your list:
- Furniture for bedroom, dining room, living room
- Bedding such as sheets, pillows, pillowcases, comforter
- Pots and pans
- Cooking utensils and flatware
- Cleaning supplies including a vacuum
- Coffee maker
- Coffee table
Before heading to the store and spending all of your graduation money, start asking family members if they might have any of these items lying around — you’d be surprised at some of the items you might score! The more of these items you can begin to gather, the less you’ll have to buy once you move in.
Another pro tip is to check garage sales and consignment shops before checking retail. As you begin to collect these items, ask neighbors, family, and friends if you can store them in basements or garages while you wait to move into your new place.
Prepare for Moving Day
When you sign a lease on an apartment, you’ll receive your move in date. This is also when you will need to book your movers. Keep in mind that everyone else in your dorm will also be booking movers for the same weekend.
If possible, see if you can move in a few days before moving weekend in order to avoid all the chaos of moving day and inflated prices. You should also be completely packed before moving day arrives (its not your movers responsibility to help you pack!). You can find packing boxes at local liquor stores or you can order a complete packing kit like this one from Allied Van Lines.
What to Do After You Move
After you move in, you want to take the time to make the place feel like home. This means putting up anything that is personal to you whether it’s family photos, artwork, or your sports trophies. You should also go out of your way to introduce yourself to the neighbors. These are the folks you could be living side-by-side with for a long time. It will be nice to know that they’re looking out for you and you’re looking out for them.
When everything is unpacked, it’s time to throw your first dinner party. Invite some of your classmates, coworkers, and your new neighbors. Keep it simple and have fun. You’re totally adulting now!
About AnnaBeth Rouse: AnnaBeth is a contributing writer and media specialist for Allied Van Lines. She regularly produces content for a variety of travel and lifestyle blogs based around relocating and moving homes.