How I Transitioned From a Dorm to an Apartment

Moving into an apartment from a small dorm with zero personal space and minimal closet space is surely a tremendous change, almost a rite of passage in one’s college journey, a step into adulthood. As exciting as it sounds to have a personal bathroom (it’s a lifechanging experience after using communal bathrooms for two years), moving into an apartment comes with its own set of challenges. My transition to the glamorous apartment life was not as smooth as expected, owing to a lack of cooking skills, budgeting struggles, and an almost unhealthy addiction to buying décor.

During my freshman and sophomore year of college, I lived in the dorms on campus. I loved my dorm (shout-out to Windsor!), having a roommate, and the ability to simply put on my shoes and coat, and walking – through the tunnel (perk of living at Windsor, which I’m definitely going to miss a lot more once it gets colder) – to the dining court three times a day, every day, and eating anything and everything without worrying about the cost of one meal. The only kind of ‘budgeting’ involved was stocking up on food before the weekend in order to use each and every meal swipe (which I failed at).  Now, a junior, I find myself helplessly wandering in grocery store aisles, reminiscing my dorm days and borderline panicking when I see the price of nine toilet paper rolls. Yes, the main perk of living in the dorms is an endless supply of both food and toilet rolls.


Nearly a year ago, I remember sitting on my top bunk (and regretting picking the top bunk; climbing up and back down was an absolute workout that I somehow didn’t anticipate) and thinking that I’m done with the dorm life. My #1 incentive was having a bigger bed and #2, living with my best friend and (now) roommate. If you’re currently living in the dorms and looking to move into an apartment, I hope this article helps you instead of scaring you from ever moving out of the dorms.

I’d recommend taking cooking lessons (the $10 cooking lessons at the Corec definitely help) or learn how to cook at least basic survival meals (no, ramen isn’t a meal) if you aren’t well-versed with the art of cooking. Grocery shopping, for me, is a very fun activity and I enjoy walking down aisles and making severely bad decisions. Ever since I moved into an apartment, grocery shopping is more stress-inducing than ever because not only do you have a fixed budget, but you also have to visually plan the meals you’re about to make for the next week or so and buy the ingredients required. I recommend planning at least three meals before the shopping trip and making a list of groceries – note to self and whoever else needs to hear this: don’t stray so far from the list that you end up not only exceeding your budget but buying items that you know will be irrelevant. Speaking of unnecessary purchases, one of the best and most fulfilling parts of living in an apartment is owning décor!

For the first time in college, you have your own space, your own bathroom, and you want every inch of your room to look like a masterpiece. If you’re anything like me, you spend a lot of your free time loitering in the décor section of your nearest Target and then doing the same virtually on Amazon. Apart from Amazon and Target, I also recommend Romwe for cheap and cute décor. Exhibit A: this small decorative light for $4 and which I own and love to death –

Living in an apartment – despite the constant cycle of grocery shopping and paying bills – is one of the most rewarding and liberating experiences in college, especially after having lived at the dorms. It is incredibly stressful at first because of the moving out, moving in, and the endless process of organizing and making your apartment look decent, but it teaches you how to maintain a routine, take time out to clean/cook/organize, and the most important of all, budgeting. It teaches you that no matter how hard it might seem when you’re alone amidst a room full of boxes, you’re perfectly capable of living on your own. Living in an apartment, even with roommates, also gives you plenty of alone time, something that was unheard of in the dorms, and something I deeply cherish. After the initial apartment-shock and sudden appreciation for dining courts, it wasn’t long until my apartment became home to me and I truly recommend it to anyone who is on the fence currently.