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Growing Pains: Lessons I Learned From Renting my First Apartment

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at VCU chapter.

The end of my sophomore year also means that the lease on my very first apartment is coming to a close. While I did not have an ideal experience with my first apartment, it made me realize that each stage of life inevitably brings new lessons to be learned. Here are some things I learned from my first renting experience, so you can avoid making the same mistakes I did.

Trust Your Gut

First impressions tell you a lot when you meet a person, and they are equally as important when touring your potential new home. In addition to carefully considering the details, trust your gut instincts because they rarely fake you out. 

Apartment Staff

The friendliness, professionalism and overall vibe of the staff and managers are super important to pay attention to. These are the same people that will end up caring for your building once you move in and how they treat you as a prospect will directly translate to how they treat you as a resident.

Time Over Money, Because Time Will End Up Saving You Money

I definitely underestimated the value of having an apartment in a central location, despite the higher rent. While my current apartment is cheap compared to others close to campus, it isn’t in an ideal location. For example, I feel like the money I spend on Ubers because of the far walk could have been made up for if I lived closer to a reliable bus stop, especially since I use the bus nearly every day. I glazed over the importance of having things like the library, restaurants, and a reliable bus stop all within a 5-minute walk. Some of this can be attributed to not knowing what I would end up using because a lot of campus resources were either closed or not heavily used my freshman year due to COVID.

Aesthetics Matter

Personally, surrounding myself with an aesthetically pleasing environment and feeling productive are greatly linked. While this isn’t always feasible in terms of choosing the best-looking building, I would do my best to decorate the interiors to make them feel as welcoming and homely as possible. Taking time at move-in to set up something you can call home will pay off on those days you don’t leave your bedroom all day.

Be Open To Change

If you don’t feel comfortable with something, take steps to change it right away. This is something I figured out early on and was able to plan accordingly for going into my junior year. I was more thorough with my apartment search this past Fall and feel that I was able to secure the best home for myself given the options I had.

Renting out my first college apartment has been an experience, to say the least. Although looking back I wish I could change some choices I’ve made, my first experience living on my own has taught me a great deal. I feel like I’m now way more prepared to rent out future apartments and eventually buy a house of my own.

Tanya Kurnootala is a junior at VCU majoring in biology. She enjoys writing about issues that enrich the female perspective, with a focus on politics and women's health.