The First Apartment Experience: Do’s and Don’ts

This past March, I finally made the big jump to getting my own place. It was quite the journey and there were a lot of steps involved but I made it! Moving into your first apartment can be quite daunting, just thinking about the budgeting aspect, finding that perfect space, and starting from square one. Here are some do’s and don’ts I learned along the way.


  • Save as much as you can. It is always easier said than done but you will thank yourself in the long run when you encounter those first apartment surprise expenses. (MFA always advises you to save at least 3 times your monthly rent before your move.) For example, there is the deposit, utilities, obtaining furniture, buying all the little knick knacks you never realized you needed since they were always available in your parents’ household, things like plastic wrap, toilet paper, or a measuring cup.
  • Keep your options open. Never rush when you’re making your first move, unless it is urgent situation like moving to a brand new area for job. Look at all the available spaces and really think about what you can afford and what is out of reach. It may be ideal to get that brand new apartment but if there is a well maintained older one out there, you may get lucky and find a more reasonable priced one.
  • Buy only what you need. It is so easy to get caught in the whirlwind of new furniture and Target. Keep a level head. There is no rush to get what you need all at once. Stagger your purchases so you don’t break the bank either.
  • Welcome your parents’ opinion. It was essential for me to use my parents as a resource. For example, they accompanied me to my first apartment viewing. They can see things that I couldn’t. Or have them review your lease, simple things like that can make a big difference. They have gone through this before and their past experiences can help prevent mistakes of your own.
  • Simplify. This is a great time to purge items that you no longer need. It is the perfect opportunity since during the packing process, all your things are in the open. You can easily identify what you need and what can be tossed. Take advantage of that. Plus it will make for an easier move.
  • Budgeting is everything. Take the time to go through a detailed budget and really prioritize where you need to cut the excess spending. Know your weak spots, whether it’s eating out,  senseless purchases at TJ Maxx, or constantly falling for “bargains” online.
  • Enjoy the journey. Especially for a first move, you only get this opportunity once.
  • Read through your lease thoroughly. Know what is expected of you.
  • Consider getting a roommate. This is a great time to find someone to live with. Not only does it help with the expenses but living by yourself can get lonely, as well. I chose to live by myself and I stand by it, but you might feel differently.
  • Know your location. Get to know the area that you’re living in. Find the best take-out spots and restaurants. Is there a gym in your area? Is it safe? Where is the grocery store? The post office? The police station? Then you know what is convenient for you in the area. Its a win-win.


  • Don’t splurge on unnecessary items. Keep your spending in check.
  • Don’t start your utilities until your move-in date. You don’t want the extra expense and if they charge you for services before you were living there, give it to your landlord to settle.
  • Don’t be afraid of moving out. It is a big step into adulthood. This is the time to take responsibility for yourself.
  • Don’t be scared to live alone. Honestly, it is refreshing and it is probably the only time you will ever live alone especially if you want a family.
  • Don’t be a bad neighbor. There may come a time you need their help.
  • Don’t forget to inspect the apartment carefully. Make sure the water pressure works (toilets? showers?) and test all electric outlets. Check your cabinets, walls, ceilings, light switches.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for advice or help. It is better to ask than blindly try to work through your problem.

I am loving living on my own, and if you use these tips, so will you!

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Author My First Apartment

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Kristen Valera is a working girl in the CT area who enjoys finding new places to eat, and has officially made the big move to her first apartment. She hopes her experiences will help others to find their space.

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Comments (3)

  1. Avatar theresa laurence

    thank you so much for this! i’m planning on moving out of my aunt’s home (she was kind enough to let me stay with her after i lost my mom) i am so grateful for everything but i kinda need my own space and this article certainly helps! thank you again

  2. Avatar Meghan

    Thank you for writing this. I’m super nervous and anxious about moving for the first time, and I’m 21 years old. I’m moving in with one of my co-workers and possibly my significant other. I’m definitely counting my eggs here; I not only want to make sure everyone’s comfortable with the potential living situation, but that I also have something to contribute. So that way they’ll want to stay and like living with me. I can cook, and I always know how to keep things tidy. I’m looking forward to the new-found freedoms of being in my own nook, but terrified at the same time.