How to Move On and Move Out of Your Dorm

As the fall semester comes to a close, you may be in the process of preparing to move off-campus for the spring semester. Or you may just be wanting to get a headstart on moving off-campus before the next school year. Either way, it’s so important to plan and know what to expect when it comes to renting a house or apartment. 

My off-campus living situations have been unique in that I lived in an apartment during my sophomore year, and currently live in a house during my first year of grad school. When I first moved off-campus, I was unprepared for what to expect and how to best go about doing it. I feel that I currently have a better understanding of what it requires to move off-campus, and what some important first steps to take would be. 

  1. 1. Conduct Research

    This step is for anyone who knows they want to move off-campus but has not decided on a place yet. Pay attention to all the details when searching for houses or apartments. This includes knowing how many bedrooms and bathrooms there are if there are a washer and dryer, or at least a hook up for them, provided, which utilities are included, and whether or not they allow pets (if you know you’re going to want one). Also, make sure to schedule an appointment to go view the house or apartment before deciding on anything! If you are searching online, there should be an option to contact the owners of the property to schedule a viewing. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! 

  2. 2. Get Your Financial Crap Together

    If you are planning to move into a house or apartment, you need to have a plan for how you’re going to afford it. Before you even move into the home, you need to be prepared to pay for the application fee and the deposit. You’ll also obviously need to know in advance if you’ll be able to pay for the rent and utilities each month, whether you get a paycheck from working or have assistance from your family. Deciding whether you’ll be living on your own or if you’ll have roommates is an important part of this step, as it certainly helps to have roommates to split the expenses with. Nobody wants to pay a fortune, of course, but it can be wise to shell out some extra money on a place that you know meets all of your requirements, is in good shape, and is in a safe and convenient location. 

  3. 3. The *Actual* Moving

    Once you’ve figured out all the details on where you are moving to and how much it will cost, you’ll sign your lease and it’ll be about time to move into your new home. Depending on where you’re moving from and if you’ll be living alone, you may have to furnish most of the rooms in your new home, especially your bedroom. Buying furniture is a completely new experience from moving into a dorm and already having your bed there for you. If you do need to purchase all-new furnishings, it’s a good idea to search around online for the best prices, or even check out Facebook Marketplace for items that are for sale. Again, pay attention to the item descriptions and other details so that you know you will be happy with whatever items you purchase. If you plan on bringing furniture from your old home, you’ll need to look into renting a U-Haul, depending on how much furniture you’re bringing and how big it is, or check if you have the car space to transport everything yourself. 

  4. 4. Settle Into Your New Home

    While the house or apartment you’re moving into may have been cleaned out by the previous owners and/or the property owners, you may want to give the home some TLC when you first get there. For instance, it’ll be easier to clean the floors before there is a bunch of furniture everywhere. Different types of flooring require different cleaning methods, so if you have carpet, tile, or wood floors, make sure you have an idea of how to most effectively care for them. Some important cleaning items to have on-hand that I would personally recommend include: vacuum, mop, Swiffer, broom, floor cleaner, sponges, scrub brushes, Magic Erasers, Clorox wipes, and bathroom cleaner. These are just some of the essentials, but there are a variety of products out there that will help in sprucing up your new place. You may have to get a bit down and dirty (I also recommend some cleaning gloves), but I promise the outcome will be worth it.

  5. 5. Make Your Spaces Yours

    In my opinion, this is one of the more fun parts of having your own living space. You can essentially decorate it however you want! (Just be mindful of the rules against changing up certain things established by your renters, of course.) Decorating my bedroom, while frustrating at times, has been one of the best parts of living off-campus because I have had so much freedom to make it look the way I want. I’ve gone for a monochromatic look in my bedroom, so I’ve incorporated lots of black, grey, and white pieces, with the occasional pops of color, usually in rose gold. And even though I have roommates, we’ve all gotten to make decisions on how we want the more shared living spaces look, such as the living room, bathroom, and kitchen. I would recommend checking out Pinterest for decorating ideas. (P.S. One of the absolute best parts of living off-campus? Getting to light candles!) 

There is a lot that goes into preparing to live off-campus, and even though you’re relatively independent when living on-campus, there are many more responsibilities that come with being on your own in a house or apartment. Paying rent on time, communicating with your roommates, and keeping a tidy living space are just a few things that I think are super important when it comes to living off-campus (but these can be further discussed in a separate article!). It can be hard, but there’s honestly no better feeling than being in your place that you put the work into purchasing and maintaining. If you’re someone who is struggling to find their own home, just keep searching and doing your best, and the right place will come along in no time!