Next Adventure: From the Dorm to the Apartment
The semester is about to end for most college students, and it’s an exciting time. This is not just because there’s a break from classes, studying, and stressful tests, but because now the students have to figure out where to live next. Some students will move back in with their families for the summer, and then decide whether they want an apartment next year or go back to the dorm. Other students may be ready to leave the dorm behind and get an apartment now.
In either case, one’s first apartment will be as big a change as leaving home for the first time for school. There are a lot of details to keep track of that most students need to know about.
Is the Place Right for You?
It’s possible to check out a complex’s website and see floorplans and even some pictures of the apartment you want. Don’t trust a decision just to these pictures, though. Try to tour the complex, look around the area, and talk to people who live there already. An apartment manager wants to put their best foot forward, so they’re going to give you only the positive views of a place. Find out how noisy it is, or whether there are any issues in the buildings, or how much utilities generally cost. Also, walk around a unit that people live in and see how much space you’ll actually have.
Getting the Place
Most students will have the advantage of having parents to help them find and co-sign a lease, but it’s smart to establish a good credit score on your own. Most banks and major credit card companies will offer free credit score consultations. If you don’t have a credit card, you should establish one, even a secured card, and make sure to keep up with the payments for at least six months. (Don’t use the card too much, though, because you don’t want to establish bad credit.) Make sure all your sources of income, from your main job to whatever side jobs you might have, are listed. A good, or at least established, credit score makes you look more attractive to more apartment complexes. The more options you have, the better chance you’ll find a good place to live.
Roommates or Living Alone?
Are you going to have a roommate or three? Are you going it alone? It’s better to know who your potential roommates are. If you’re already friends with them, think carefully about how well you get along or do you squabble over trivial things? Establish ground rules for the apartment, like no television or games after a certain time, rules for guests, and most especially, cleaning schedules. Also, know what everyone plans to bring to the apartment, so you aren’t running into the issue of having three XBoxes but only one television, or plenty of futons but no couch.
Make sure you commit to keeping up with your side of the chores, so that your roommates will will be motivated to do the same. Also, have some hard-and-fast rules about the bills and rent, and who handles the money. Nothing can sink a friendship faster than leaving dishes in the sink or consistently failing to come up with the rent money on time.
If you’re on your own, remember that no one will be there to help you stay on schedule or on-task. Find ways to make sure you don’t slack on your work, stay up all night, or forget to pay bills or do chores.
Do You Have All the Stuff?
In the dorm, your possessions had to be tightly focused on what you most needed. Think about your parents’ house, or any of your friends’ apartments you’ve visited. Can you list what they kept in the bathroom or the kitchen? Do you know what everything is for? You probably understand you’ll need to buy toilet paper, but do you have a toilet brush, a plunger, and cleanser? Do you know what a colander is for, or have any spices beyond salt and pepper? Do you have dishes and utensils? A sauce pan? Tupperware? You probably don’t need everything right away, but you should come up with a list and prioritize it. This is a good time to ask your parents for help in figuring out what to buy first.
And remember, if you need help moving out of the dorm or into your new apartment, Gerber Moving & Storage is here for you.