So you just moved into your first apartment and you’re a little overwhelmed. Or maybe really overwhelmed. It’s understandable. Living off-campus is a big deal. Here are some tips to make living on your own a little less scary.
1. Get to know a neighbor
This one completely saved my ass, and I did it without even knowing it. My dog goes everywhere with me, so when she and I rode in an uber and I lost my phone, my uber driver came back to my apartment and tried to find me. The only problem- she didn’t know what number I was. Luckily, Pauline in apartment 114 knew exactly where “the girl with the chihuahua” lived, and was able to help the uber driver deliver my phone to me. Now I make a point to say hi to Pauline every time I see her, and I’m grateful for knowing someone in my apartment complex knows who I am. This is especially a big deal if you live in a huge apartment complex in the city like I do. It’s easy to get lost in the sea of faces, but knowing that you have at least one person you can rely on in your building is a relief.
2. Make your bed every morning
I’ll be honest, I don’t do this every day. But I wish I did! Making my bed in the morning makes me feel like a real classy grown-up. If you do a lot of your schoolwork in your bedroom as I do, it will completely change the atmosphere of the room. You’ll feel more studious and uplifted with a freshly made bed!
3. Clean at least once every two weeks
Okay, okay, I don’t do this one either. But I should. Nothing makes me feel worse than an apartment overflowing with trash bags and dirty clothes. If you’re proactive about how often you clean your apartment, it’s easier to avoid these catastrophes. You know, when your apartment is in shambles and you can’t bring yourself to do anything about it? That catastrophe. Don’t let your mess get out of hand. Clean even when you don’t need to.
4. Decorate your walls
The worst thing about apartments is the walls. They’re usually some bland, unoffensive shade of off-white. Which is fine. But it’s not very homey. Most apartment complexes won’t let you repaint the walls (or if they do they charge you for it), so the way around this is to decorate the heck out of your walls! I’m a painter so I like to have my paintings scattered all throughout the house, but you could totally do this with some art from Target too. Fairy lights around the edges of the room really help make your place feel magical too.
5. Add a rug (or two)
Another downside to apartment living is the floors. They’re either a terrible shag carpet or an ugly wood floor. The best way to distract from this is with a rug. Or even multiple rugs. I have three rugs in my apartment- one by my bed, one in the hallway, and another in the dining area. I even plan on getting one for my living room, but I’m broke so I’ll make do with what I have. You can find rugs for pretty cheap at places like Home Goods and Target, but don’t forget about hand-me-downs! My hallway rug is a relic from my Grandmother and the colorful 70s pattern is a bright pop of color for my apartment.
6. Make a designated happy place
Love to read? Make a reading nook. Love to paint? Make a designated “studio” area. Love to play video games? Make sure your TV area is as comfortable as possible. Whatever your thing is- make sure you give yourself space to fully indulge. You deserve it.
7. Make a sign with your wifi password
I stole this idea from my friend who has a brilliant sign in her apartment- it’s her wifi network name and password! When you move into a new place you’ll notice all of your guests want to know your wifi password. If you’re like me and you’re not as smart as my friend, you have to go to your router and read some impossibly long string of random letters and numbers to each guest. Thankfully, you can avoid this. This is definitely right up a crafty person’s alley, but you don’t have to be a master craftsman to make one. It can be anything from an etched wooden sign to a simple whiteboard, and anything in-between. Get creative with it! Your guests will thank you.
8. Order from all the fast food places near your apartment
Get. To. Know. Your. Neighborhood. If you’re moving to a new part of town, I find that the best way to get to know your neighborhood is through food. And what better way to try new food than to have it delivered to your front door? Delivery is definitely my preferred method of “making” dinner. You’ll probably receive all sorts of flyers in the mail when you first move in for different pizza places and Chinese restaurants- take advantage of them! Who knows? You might have a new favorite restaurant that delivers right to your front door.
9. Pet-proof it
If your apartment allows pets, odds are you’re going to see a lot of dogs walking around. Depending on whether you’re a cat person or a dog person, you’re going to want to get a pet pretty quickly. Apartments can get lonely and pets are the perfect companions. It only took me one month after I moved into my new apartment to get a pet. The most important thing you can do when you have an animal is to pet-proof your home. Make sure there’s nothing your little buddy could get into that would cause trouble, and make sure everything is nice and safe for them too!
10. Set a reminder on your phone to pay your rent
Nothing, and I mean nothing, is worse than forgetting to pay your rent on time and being hit with a late fee. Apartments are expensive enough without having to pay an extra $100+ because you forgot you have to pay rent every month. I know it sounds silly, but it’s easier to forget than you’d think, especially if this is the first time you’re paying rent. My solution? Set a reminder on your phone. Mark your calendar. Don’t let yourself forget!
I know if you’re like my friend with her clever wifi sign, you’ve all got some great tips for living in your first apartment. Share them below and help out other apartment newbies.
Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash
Sophomore at Southern New Hampshire University and a native-born Philly girl.