10 Skills Every First Apartment Renter Should Have

Woman with tools.I read an article in this month’s HGTV Magazine that listed some skills you should have as a home owner. While they had a few good ones everyone should know, the majority were skills we renters don’t have to worry about. So, I was inspired to make my own list of first time renter skills. You’ll need a set of some basic tools, but otherwise you should be able to handle these 10 tasks.

1. Switch out a showerhead: Sometimes the showerhead you get stuck with in your rental isn’t the best – you might want something with more or less power. Whatever the case may be, you’re looking at changing your showerhead. This upgrade is an easy fix that you can definitely get done on your own. All you’ll need is an adjustable wrench to loosen the nut at the base of your showerhead, plumber’s tape to place around the end of the shower arm, and a new showerhead to screw onto the arm.

2. Unclog a toilet/tub/sink: Another helpful skill is learning to unclog a drain. (Yes, we know your super /landlord should be available to do that, but they may take their sweet time, while your toilet is out of commission.) If you buy a plunger for the toilet, a flexible snake to drain the sinks and tub, and some Drano, you’ll be good to go! Of course, if these tools don’t get the job done, get your super/ landlord involved. But most of the time, a little elbow grease and the right tool will do the fix.

3. Cook quick meals: I know some people aren’t cookers. They either don’t like doing it, they don’t know how, or they just hate doing the dishes afterwards. But I’m not talking about elaborate three course meals. I’m thinking along the lines of sandwiches, pastas, and rice bowls. Sometimes when the cash flow is a bit tight, our nutrition takes the biggest hit when we’re trying to save money. However, if you buy cheap ingredients and cook them together, you’ll be able to eat good and healthy for days. If you can boil pasta, make rice, cook up chopped meat or vegetables and beans, and put your favorite fixings between 2 slices of bread, you’ll be able to feed yourself for half the cost of takeout or restaurant meals. Leftovers are your frugal friend.

4. Use a fire extinguisher:  Let’s say you took my advice and started trying to cook meals for yourself but you put the pot holder too close to the flame or you used too much grease frying something. This would be the perfect time to pull out your fire extinguisher and put out the fire before it gets out of your control. Your neighbors will thank you and your building owner will especially be grateful. If you have anything in your apartment that can create an open flame like candles, incense, or small appliances like an indoor grill, you should definitely own a fire extinguisher and learn how to use it before the flames erupt.

5. Perform Heimlich Maneuver/CPR: If you have a roommate and he starts to choke on something he’s eating, it would be imperative and life saving for you to be able to perform the Heimlich Maneuver and CPR.  To learn both, make a fun day out of it and go with your roommate(s) to training at a local hospital or fire department when they give free classes.

6. Use a screwdriver: Over time with frequent usage, things tend to get a bit wobbly, so it is very important to know how to use a screwdriver. Almost any piece of furniture or kitchen appliance has screws holding it together so you should definitely own and learn how to use both flat and Phillips head screwdrivers.  Also, some new furniture (hello Ikea!) comes with tools that help you to keep put them together and fix them if any mishap should happen. So don’t throw away those extra screws or Hex Keys; you might need them in the future.
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Author My First Apartment

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I am a first time renter who was born, raised, and still lives in New York. I had a few stints with campus apartment living in college so I know a thing or two about roommates, decorating, and $2 meals. I've learned a lot thanks to my past experiences and my healthy obsession with HGTV but I'm still learning as I go along. Come learn with me!

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Comments (3)

  1. Tina

    If you’re not so good at taking care of the place (I have a cat that scratches up everything) then a couple useful things to have are wood stain (to make scratches and scuffs look better) and dry wall filler (I forget what it’s called, but for accidental bumps or thumbtack holes if you had nothing else at the time). It’s not perfect but if you can’t keep up with the destruction you can use these if/when you move out for a chance at getting your security deposit back.

  2. Thomas

    I would like to point out what tools are good to have.

    Screwdrivers, both Philips and flat heads, of various sizes. A small hammer. A small level. And a bag to hold them all in. I also have wrenches and electronics screwdriver sets because I work on cars and electronics, but sometimes they’re good for in the house too!