Venturing out into the world alone is very exciting. You have spent your whole life with your parents, living under “their house their rules”. But now, you’re out on your own, and you get to make the rules. Even if you have lived in a dorm before, apartment life is very different. There are no more dining halls, no more communal bathroom that is cleaned for you, and no more tiny rooms that you have to share with someone else! With all this freedom, though, comes a lot of responsibility. You are going to have to start being tight with your money, budgeting for things like food, electric bills, internet, even toilet paper! And you’re also no longer going to be living on campus, so your gas bill is going to go up, as well.
This is the single most important part of getting an apartment. If you don’t budget properly, you could find yourself with no electricity or not enough food! You are going to have to figure absolutely everything into your budget. Things like haircuts, car problems, cleaning products, lightbulbs… all stuff that people don’t typically think about until it comes up. You need to be taking care of your rent first, and then electricity, food, etc. If you find yourself in a tight spot, be ready to give up the things that aren’t essential. Spending money would be the first to go, and then internet, followed by gas (you don’t need to drive if your city has public transportation).
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
The first thing you have to do when you want to get an apartment is actually find the apartment you want to live in. Unlike buying a house, you don’t actually need a real estate agent or anything like that. Just grab a friend and take a day to drive around the area and check out all the local apartment complexes. You want to find one that is close to good shopping areas (so you don’t have to waste gas when you go to the grocery store), as well as close to your school or job (or both).
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU GET THERE
When you find an apartment in a good location, just walk into the leasing office and ask if they have any apartments available. They will ask you two questions- how many bedrooms, and when are you looking to move in? You should be trying to move in within the next one to two months- any further down the line, and pricing & availability will change. The landlord will then take you to an open apartment to look at and get the layout. They will tell you the prices and ask if you have a floor preference (think ground, 2nd, and 3rd; not carpet or tile). Ask how much the deposit is and if there is any pet rent.
THE ROOMMATE DILEMMA
If you aren’t able to find any affordable one bedroom apartments in your area, you may have to move in with a roommate. This has its pros and cons. For the pros- most of your costs get cut completely in half, and if you move in with someone that you like, you will always have a friend close by. The cons of having a roommate are unfortunately numerous. You are going to be sharing a small living space with someone, which is a totally different relationship than you have with friends, SOs, or family. If they like to party but you are more the quiet-type, animosity could start to form, and you won’t feel comfortable in your own home.