By this time next month, I will finally be living with two of my best friends in my very first apartment! The dorm life was great for a little while, but I’m excited to have the opportunity to test the waters of “real” adulthood. I’m so ready for all of the fun things like having wine (we are of legal age*) and movie nights, making dinner in a non-communal kitchen, and of course, decorating to make the coziest home-away-from-home/hangout spot possible on a college budget. These are the things I’ve been dreaming of. My roommates and I have been putting together a list of resources to get us through the planning process as well start gearing up for move-in day. I thought I would share them here to be of use to others also moving for the first time.
But before I move on, I want to emphasize how important it is to maintain a safe and logical budget! This seems like common sense, but from first-hand experience, it is easy to become distracted by the ideas of your dream home. Keep in mind that you’ll most likely only be spending a year, maybe two in this apartment and though you want the space to be comfortable and personal, you should absolutely not break your bank for it. That goes for the price of rent and utilities as well. You might be pulled toward the newly renovated apartment that would be perfect for hosting the rest of your friends and not the older slightly smaller one that you toured last week, but I promise that saving some money on rent and utilities will be better for you, and you can make just as many memories in that apartment as the newer one.
Ok, I’ll get off my soapbox now. Without further ado, here are some of the resources my roommates and I have been using to prepare for moving in:
- Friends and Family
Your friends and family are the absolute best resource you can find for gathering furniture and items for your apartment. Your mom has an old crockpot she doesn’t use anymore? Take it for your kitchen. A friend is conveniently moving out the same day as you’re moving in and she’s selling all her cute living room furniture? Jump on that! One of your professors wants to get rid of a free bookshelf in his office? Go for it. You get the idea.
- Dollar Stores
Like I mentioned before, this apartment will probably be your home for two years, tops. You won’t really need things that will last a lifetime, especially when you’ll probably want to either get rid of them or divide them between roommates when you go to graduate. You can buy kitchenwares, small decorative items, storage, and some cleaning supplies for cheap at dollar stores. Really, the dollar store has some really cute vase and good-smelling candles. I wouldn’t sleep on it.
- Thrift Shops, Yard Sales, and Big-Name Places
Thrift shopping for pieces of furniture of decor for your apartment can save you a little bit of money. However, I recommend waiting to do this step until you know the sizes of your rooms in your apartment. I also recommend bringing a tape measure with you while shopping just to make sure the things you’re buying will fit at home. Additionally, doing some shopping at local yard sales could mean that you could have less distance to travel to transport items, so keep that benefit in mind if you’re hunting for large furniture items.
And to state the obvious, you can shop at places like IKEA an Target if you don’t mind paying a bit more than you would thrifting. (If you chose to buy all new things I find Wayfair is good place to find quality items for less.)
- Facebook Marketplace and Ebay
These can be great resources for finding specific things you need for a potentially cheaper price. I think these resources can be valuable, but with anything, assess everything before you purchase because I know some people have been swindled before. Just be smart and do price comparisons. And for Facebook Marketplace, make sure that if you are meeting with someone, exercise caution and bring others with you.
- The Right Grocery Store
Feeding yourself might be a new challenge especially if you were fully relying on a full-time campus meal plan. Fortunately, many schools offer or require part-time meal plans where you can grab a quick bite if you really need to. But for the most part, buying your own groceries and making your own food can be liberating as long as it doesn’t hurt your wallet.
Research which grocery stores are nearby. Here in Millersville, I am surrounded by farmland and I, fortunately, have many options to choose including Amish markets, other farmers markets, family-owned grocery stores, and chains. In my area, ALDI and LIDL tend to be the best stores for cost in my experience, but many farmers markets have reasonable prices for fresh produce as well.
And if you and your roommates aren’t ones for figuring out what stuff to buy, you can always opt to try a meal delivery service such as Hello Fresh of Home Chef. These can get expensive quickly, though, so bare that in mind.
- Venmo or Paypal
This last resource is the most important and the one you should consider the most. By now you should know how you are going to be paying for rent. If your landlord or complex has an online portal that automatically divides rent equally between all tenants as mine does, that’s great! But if not, you’ll need one of these apps to either give or gather rent money. This also goes for paying utility bills. I personally like Venmo, and that’s what both of my roommates use as well. If a roommate has forgotten to send you their portion of the rent, you can request it from them, which can be a good reminder.
None of these things were mind-blowing, but I hope they were at least somewhat helpful. I’ll be back soon enough to write another article about my first few months living in my apartment! Until then, stay safe and healthy!
*Alcohol should only be consumed if you are over 21 or older.