Preparing for Your First Apartment

  |     |   Helpful Tips

The end of summer traditionally marks a spike in apartment moves—whether you’re changing locations so that you (or your child!) can attend a new school, finally getting serious about cutting down your commute now that summer is over, or leaving home for the first (or second) time and striking out on your own. As you prepare to make the move to your first apartment…or first apartment in awhile…here are some handy tips to keep in mind!

1. Assemble all your paperwork early

Particularly in competitive rental markets, prospective tenants are required to produce a remarkable amount of paperwork to reassure landlords that they can meet their requirements regarding the lease and upkeep of the apartment or townhome. In most cases, you’ll need proof of employment, your three most recent pay stubs, a tax return, and bank statements. If you don’t have one or more of these documents, ask your prospective landlord immediately what your options are. You may need to have someone else co-sign on your rental agreement, or there may be other paperwork you can supply. But get the information you need away so you don’t miss out on your dream apartment!

2. Reduce your belongings BEFORE you move

Moving can be an exciting, exhausting day, but to cut down a little on the exhaustion part of the equation, take a hard look at your belongings. Do you really need to move that fifteen-year-old loveseat to your new digs? Do you actually wear all the clothes currently stuffed into your closet and drawers? By selectively paring down your belongings before you move to a new place, you not only will cut down on the time (and expense!) of your move, but you’ll start life in your new home with some space to breathe.

3. Measure first, buy once!

Speaking of moving day, before you go out and buy fantastic curtains that will be perfect for your new home—measure the windows. In fact, measure all the walls and create your own grid for where your furniture might go. Don’t just eyeball it and hope for the best. Many apartment homes provide you with schematics with accurate measurements of each unit’s dimensions, but before you buy anything new, it pays to double check!

4. Don’t forget the boring stuff

Nothing will make you appreciate living at home more than your first apartment—at least when it comes to everyday essentials like toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, laundry and dishwashing detergent, waste baskets, trash bags, and linens—not to mention a full set of cookware, kitchen knives, and serving utensils. Before you leave home, take a hard look at everything stored in your family’s linen closets, kitchen and bathroom cabinets, and pantries and create a list of “essentials” you never really noticed before. You might save yourself a late-night Target run!

5. Read ALL the fine print on your rental agreement (including any move-in instructions!)

This isn’t as fun as picking out curtains or rearranging your bedroom layout, but it’s perhaps the most important thing you can do. Every rental agreement has its own specific requirements, and some apartment homes have move-in instructions you might not be expecting—like how to use the freight elevator (What? There’s a freight elevator?) or whether or not you need to move in during a specific time period of, say, 2-4 hours, depending on the day. If you have any questions, make sure you ask your apartment’s front office or your landlord well before move-in day, to save yourself time and hassle.

Moving into your first (or first-in-a-long-time) apartment should be a fun, uplifting experience—and with these quick tips, you’ll make it a more relaxing experience, too!

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