I have successfully made it through my first apartment lease and am anxiously awaiting my next. Living in my first apartment proved to be one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I loved the feeling of finding a home, taking care of a place and feeling like it was my own.
Last year around this same time, I wrote Moving into Your First College Apartment for the OCM Blog. Since then I have only gained more helpful hints and tricks, so I’m editing and adding onto my first apartment guide here today!
Choosing Your Apartment
Lease lengths are not always 12 months, so it’s important to know when each apartment lease would hypothetically end. If you’re in school, sometimes campus apartments offer 10 month leases, and that would be the ideal situation if you’re not planning on staying the summer. Maybe you have a temporary job and would like to find a month-to-month lease. Maybe you know you will be in the area for exactly a year and need the traditional 12 month lease to avoid having to find other temporary housing. Either way, your lease length could prevent you from having to struggle to find and coordinate a sublease later on.
Utilities and fees – ask about them. Ask what is included in the rent and if there are any other monthly charges. Sometimes utilities are included. Sometimes utilities aren’t included. Parking also varies. Sometimes it is free; other times it isn’t. If you have a tight budget, it is important to know the “real” price of choosing a particular apartment over the other. If there are a lot of hidden fees, it probably isn’t your best bet- unless your budget allows for it.
Bring a camera to photograph the apartments you really like and are considering as your own. When I was shopping for my first apartment, I realized too late that I couldn’t remember what came with the apartment and what didn’t. Did the shower have a sliding glass door or do I need to buy a shower curtain? I couldn’t remember. Bringing a camera to shoot some photos of the apartment can save you trouble later when you begin shopping.
Prepping to Move
Pack lightly and remember you have to carry the boxes you pack. It can be tempting to pick up one large cardboard box from Walmart and stuff it full, but when moving day comes around the corner and you’re trying to haul this awkwardly large, heavy box, you (and your generous, kind friends helping you) will be wishing you had just packed multiple averagely-sized boxes and made several trips.
Pack wisely by grouping your belongings into boxes based on room. Packing for an apartment is definitely different than packing for a dorm. When you’re in a dorm, things go in one room. My freshman year, I had socks shoved in my trash can to cushion my desk lamp and not take up space. It looked like a hot mess, but all I had to worry about was getting everything there- so it was fine. With an apartment, you’re going to have kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and living room items. Organizing and labeling by room will help you keep your things in order as you move in, and it will help your family and friends help you.
Leave time to clean your new space. By the time you get into your first apartment, you’ll probably be so excited you’ll just want to start unloading your boxes and setting up your new space. The trouble is that although your apartment has already been “cleaned” before you get there, it’s often necessary to do an extra round yourself (if you’re particular like me, anyway).
When I got to my first apartment, we had to clean the bathroom, the trim that was lined in dust, the window shades that hadn’t been cleaned due to the cost (which we had been warned about) and the floor. Needless to say, we went through a lot of disinfectant wipes.
PRO TIP: For a deep clean on the floors, try a steam mop. Unfortunately, when I moved into my first apartment, I didn’t have a steam mop. I recently received an O-Cedar Microfiber Steam Mop (curtsey of O-Cedar), though, that will be put to good use when I move into my next place- no matter what flooring I have. The O-Cedar Microfiber Steam Mop works on tile, wood and laminate floor- and even comes with an attachment for carpet. It’s super light weight and kills 99.9% of bacteria without any chemicals. It’s highly functional and safe to use.
When I tried it out at home on the carpet, my pad was dirtyyyy. You never really realize how dirty the floor is even when it looks perfectly clean. If you’re interested in the microfiber steam mop, be sure to make it to the end of the post for a giveaway!!
Space out your move in to avoid a traffic jam. This tip especially applies if you have more than one roommate. Having your friends and families piling your belongings through small doorways and into a shared space can be hectic and feel overwhelming. If you stagger when you all arrive, you will have less chaos and more time to truly get organized- and then help your roommates if they need it too!
Inform your helpers on your packing system and what you need from them. Ensuring your helpers know what to do ahead of time prevents them from standing around, confused, when moving day comes and they don’t know what you want from them.
Now for the exciting part; as I mentioned before, O-Cedar has been kind enough to offer the chance for one of my readers to receive their own O-Cedar Microfiber Steam Mop for free!! The giveaway will last for two weeks, ending on Wednesday, July 20, and the contest winner will be contacted by email. You must be 18 years of age or older and live in the US to enter. Without further ado, best of luck!
How was your first apartment experience? What is your best advice for apartment living? I want to know! Let me know in the comments below.