Your First Apartment 101: Surviving and Thriving in Your College Digs

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You’ve officially made it! The deposit is paid, the contract is signed and you’re finally moving into your own apartment. A new space (and filling it with furniture) can feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be—there are a lot of ways you can prepare yourself for this adventure. To start, here are four tips we have for anyone who is moving into a new apartment this year:

1. Build a comprehensive budget (and stick to it).

It’s not always fun to talk about money first, but if you’re financially prepared for this new responsibility, you’ll have the peace of mind to enjoy your place. A good budget is structured into three parts:

  • Needs: This is where you’ll want to start. In this category, tally up all the essential expenses in your month. In a new apartment, this doesn’t always just include rent. You may also be required to pay for your WiFi or electricity in the home. Other essential costs include things like food, gas, school supplies or medications. Your “needs” may look different than the person next to you, so don’t base your budget off a roommate or friend.
  • Wants: Once you’ve subtracted the cost of your “needs” from your monthly income, you can move onto the “wants.” What are the things that you don’t necessarily need, but supplement your life? This could look like a streaming subscription or new furniture for your home. Set aside a specific amount of money for the “wants” in your life, and don’t feel guilty for doing it! Some of these things are the simple pleasures that make each day better.
  • Long-Term Goals: Finally, when you’ve designated income for your “wants,” you can look at long-term goals. For example, maybe you’re interested in purchasing a new TV for your apartment. If that’s not something you can afford now, plan to instead set aside a small amount of money each month to eventually pay for your purchase. If you realize you don’t have enough income to reach your long term goals, it might be time to reorganize your “wants” budget.
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A budget doesn’t have to be super complex, but it should help you maintain a good snapshot of your finances. If you’re not sure where to get started, there are a number of budgeting apps available to help you get organized.

2. Set healthy boundaries with roommates.

If you’re planning to have roommates in your new space, it’s important to set up healthy boundaries with each individual to maintain a positive environment. Instead of looking at boundaries like rules, focus on having conversations about what you’re comfortable with. Important boundaries when living with roommates can be about anything from cleaning responsibilities to visitor hours or designated study times. Roommates can make or break your apartment experience, and good communication is how you can avoid catastrophe!

3. Make your space work for you.

Remember, this new apartment is YOUR space! Everyone’s home or apartment is different because it suits their individual needs, and your space is no different. Think about what you want to do in your home on a day-to-day basis. Do you like to entertain guests? Do you value having a place to study? Do you prefer eating dinner on the couch over a table?

The answers to questions like these can help you determine the layout of your apartment. If you need a place to study, consider converting a portion of the living room into a desk space. If you like to entertain, widen the area and include additional seating options on the perimeter. Whatever you do, make the space your own—and make it useful!

4. Find ways to do “easy clean-up.”

Once you’ve completed your renter-friendly DIYs and moved in all your furniture, it’s all about maintenance! If you find yourself too busy to commit to weekly deep cleans, find ways to create easy clean-up stations in your home. For example, disinfectant wipes can be placed near kitchen counters and bathroom counters for a quick wipe at the end of the night. Keep a shower spray in your shower to spray down after use and prevent the grime from building up. If you’ve got some extra cash, you can even look into robotic vacuums, like Roomba or Braava, to tackle the hard stuff for you!

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This is your space to take care of now. Put in the time to maintain your budget, set good boundaries and design a space that fits your needs. Then, it’s all up to you to enjoy the space and keep it clean!

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