What to Know About Your First Apartment

Author: Alecia Pirulis

The mature woman moving cardboard boxes with stuff into the new apartment in Brooklyn, New York, USA.

August is a month of big changes – especially for college students on their own for the first time and recent graduates renting their first apartment. As you get ready for this major step, keep the following things in mind:

  • It always costs more than you think. Perhaps you’ve planned for first and last month’s rent, but don’t forget the security deposit, the application fee, the pet fees (if you have a pet), the connection fees for the utilities, and the odd expenses that come along with moving. Always have more money than you think you’ll need.
  • Write up a monthly budget. Include your rent, utilities, other payments (car payment, credit cards, student loans, etc.), food expenses, insurance, and other (which includes the fun stuff, such as the occasional dinner out and that new pair of shoes). Deduct each of these from your salary. You should have a little left over for emergencies – if it is too tight, perhaps you need to re-think your budget, consider getting a roommate to share expenses, or find a less expensive place.
  • Don’t forget your cleaning supplies! Here are the basics: A vacuum cleaner, a broom and a mop, baking soda and vinegar (they are cheap and clean everything), dish rags and towels, dish soap and dishwasher detergent (if you have a dishwasher), toilet bowl cleaner and a brush, a plunger, laundry detergent, and a dust cloth.
  • For the kitchen, you need dishware. Consider at least four sets. A set of dishware usually includes a dinner plate, bowl, salad plate, and coffee mug. You’ll also want water glasses, pots and pans, silverware, a can opener, a pair of kitchen scissors, and a set of knives.
  • If you don’t have furniture, thrift stores and garage sales are great places to find what you need for very little cash.
  • You’ll also need towels, washcloths, linens, blankets, and a bedspread or comforter. These things can add up, so don’t be afraid to ask family and friends for any hand-me-downs. You can always get new as your budget allows, so take whatever they will give you for now.
  • Set up a toolbox – you will want to hang pictures, put together that new bookcase, and do minor repairs. You want to have a hammer, screwdrivers (flat and Phillips head), wrenches (an adjustable wrench and a set of Allen wrenches), and a flashlight. You may also want to add some nails and screws, duct tape, and wood glue.
  • Don’t forget the waste baskets! You’ll need one for the kitchen and a small one in the bathroom. You’ll also need a laundry hamper.
  • Storage containers – both for the kitchen and the closet – are very handy. You’ll also want plastic wrap, freezer bags, and aluminum foil. A couple of trays and platters may also come in handy, especially if you plan to have company and will want to serve snacks or drinks.
  • You will probably need extension cords to plug in lamps or electronics. Speaking of lamps, don’t forget the light bulbs!