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What I’ve Learned From Living in My First Apartment

I’ve been in college since 2019, but I am now living in an off-campus apartment for the first time. Here are some key things I’ve learned in the past few months.


Living on your own brings on several new responsibilities. I have to shop and cook rather than come home to a prepared meal or go to a dining hall. The trash needs to be out every Sunday night for the Monday morning pickup, and the bathroom needs to be cleaned regularly. Now that I am living without a dishwasher for the first time, I have found that the dishes stack up quickly, so they need to be washed right after being used to not fill up the shared sink.

Healthy Habits

With meals not being prepared for me, I am responsible for my own nutritional health. Eating healthy isn’t always easy, especially on a budget. I have become quite the chef living independently, but unfortunately, knowing how to cook is only half of the battle. I am still trying to figure out how to buy groceries conservatively. When I have a meal in mind, it’s usually because of a one-time craving, and then the leftover ingredients spoil. I hate wasting food, but it’s tough to buy in bulk and eat it all before it expires. For example, a carton of twelve eggs is usually cheaper than a pack of six (don’t ask me why), but that leads me to buy twelve when I only make eggs twice a week! 


Living on your own is expensive. Not only do my roommates and I pay for rent and utilities monthly, but we also have to keep up our stock of cleaning supplies, laundry detergent, toilet paper, and food! It certainly has allowed me to become thankful for what I have and be more thoughtful about leaving lights or the TV on — that electricity bill isn’t going to pay itself!

Personal Preferences

There is nothing like living with people who aren’t your family members to show you how particular you can be. It is good roommate etiquette to only speak up if it is a severe problem, so you will learn to live with other people’s habits, which is not easy and not always fun. I have also learned how much I value alone time. After coming home from a long day, some people like to debrief with their friends, but I want to make dinner and then shut myself in my room. I used to feel rude when excluding myself in the evening, but I have learned that it’s okay to prefer to be on your own, even when you have roommates.

Time Management

I never thought I would miss my mom nagging at my bedroom door for me to get up and get ready for school. Without that disguised blessing, I snooze my alarm until the very last minute and then have to scramble to make it to class on time and not look like a complete train wreck. I have to keep myself on task, get myself off to work on time, and get all of my homework done without constant parental reminders.

How Thankful I Should Have Been Living at Home

You never really understand how much your parents do behind the scenes until you’re living independently. Cooking a large meal after a long day, managing time for not only themselves but also for me, keeping the house clean outside of me and my brother’s basic chores, paying the bills when I would take the longest showers and leave lights on constantly -— these are just some examples. Looking back, I feel like I was a nightmare roommate in my own family home for eighteen years. But hey, I suppose it’s also roommate etiquette to let me have my habits!

There are countless things that I have learned since living on my own, and it’s only been a few months. If I said I’m not nervous about more upcoming responsibilities, I would be lying, but it’s all just a part of growing up.

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Autumn Delorey

U Mass Amherst '23

Autumn is a content editor for UMass Amherst's chapter of Her Campus. She is a junior Journalism major with a concentration in Public Relations.
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