When I moved into my first apartment, I had no idea what to expect. I was excited to live on my own, but soon found out that I was less prepared than I thought.

Although nothing could have prepared me for the roommate that spent all day trying to rap or the fire that started in the storage room, I wish I would have done some research before moving in.

Here are some useful tips I’ve learned and some things I recommend you figure out before you move into your first apartment.

Learn to cook

Can you cook? If not, you might be in trouble once you start living on your own.

My first year of living on my own, my go-to meal was microwaved rice mixed with canned tuna or chicken. If it sounds bad, that’s because it is. Don’t try it.  

So what’s the solution for those of us who can’t cook and don’t want to eat McDonald’s every day? Let’s be reasonable, you aren’t going to be able to cook one of those fancy meals you see on Pinterest quite yet. Buy a cookbook for beginners that will teach you how to cook meals you’ll actually enjoy.

Figure out the parking situation

If you are moving to a suburban apartment, you shouldn’t have any issues with parking. However, if you are moving to a college town or big city, chances are there are more cars and people than available parking spots. You’ll want to do some research to find out the parking situation at the place where you’ll be living.

I made the mistake once of waiting too long to get a parking pass, and the complex ran out of passes. My options were to park 30 minutes away in the nearest free lot, or park illegally and hope the parking police wouldn’t notice. Let’s just say I got a lot of parking tickets that year.

Contact your landlord about parking before you move in to avoid missing out on your opportunity for easier parking.

Think about paying rent

Paying rent is my least favorite activity each month. It’s not fun to see my bank account take a big hit each time a new month rolls around. If you are moving into your first apartment, paying rent is something you’ve never had to think about before. It’s easy to forget to pay rent on time, and most landlords will charge a fee for a late or missed payment.

If you’re lucky enough to have a landlord that uses Rentler, you’ll receive an email reminder each month and be able to pay online.

If not, I would recommend setting a reminder on your phone like I have done to make sure you don’t miss any payments. I even try to pay a few days early now. My landlord seems to be happy about this, and he has gone the extra mile in helping me when I’ve had issues with my apartment.

Make sure to budget for this each month before you pay for anything else.

Embrace the roommate situation

Having roommates can be one of the best or worst experiences of renting your first apartment. Roommates that you get along with can instantly become your new best friends. Bad roommates, on the other hand, will drive you insane.

Either way, you’ll need to establish some ground rules.

  • Will each person need to bring their own kitchen supplies, or will you split the cost and share?
  • Who is going to take care of the dishes or the trash?
  • What happens when your roommate starts dating someone?

Making sure that everyone is on the same page will help you avoid bad or awkward situations.

Don’t forget utilities

You’ll want to find out which utilities and amenities your apartment has. Will have you access to WiFi and cable? How about a washer and dryer? Lastly, don’t forget to figure out how utility payments work at your apartment. Does the landlord pay for all, half, or none of them? Do you know how much money you will have to pay in addition to your rent payment?

Don’t let your first utility bill catch you by surprise.

Still looking for that perfect first apartment? Check out the best available apartments for rent at rentler.com, or find tips on improving your first apartment right here on our blog.

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