Setting up your first apartment is an awesome, fun and, yes, sometimes even terrifying time. After all, you’re going from an environment where a lot of things were provided for you into an environment that forces you to do everything for yourself. It’s a difficult transition for a lot of people, especially for people who are on a limited budget.
Here are some tips and tricks for making that transition easier.
1. Basics First
You know how, in school, you have to learn the basic steps of a task or skill before you can move on to the advanced stuff or convince a teacher to let you try something new? This is true with an apartment, too. Before you start plotting out the wicked mural you’re going to paint on your bedroom wall (and blow your monthly budget on painting supplies), you need to make sure you have your basic living needs covered. (Source: http://www.inreads.com/tips-for-decorating-your-first-home/)
Making sure that you have that aforementioned shower curtain as well as toilet paper, food, plates, cups, a basic set of cookware, etc., before you go wild with decorating and having parties. There are some great checklists that you can use if you’re not sure what you need. Get those things taken care of first, then have the awesome housewarming. (Source: http://youngadults.about.com/od/quarterlife/qt/outfitapt.htm)
2. Bundling/Sharing Saves Money
Your house is going to need internet and cable if you and your roommates want to continue having your Game of Thrones/Scandal/anything on CBS viewing parties. If you live in an expensive city like San Francisco or Los Angeles, this expense can seem daunting. The best way to save money on these utilities is to bundle them together under a single provider. For example, AT&T UVerse will let you pair up your TV and internet packages for less than you’d ever pay to set them up through separate services. (Source: http://fiberinternetproviders.com/uverse-availability/California/San-Francisco/)
While we’re on the subject of bundling and entertaining guests (and yourselves), now that Netflix allows separate profiles within a single account, why does everybody still have separate accounts? Isn’t it better to split the $8 monthly payment between you than to pay $8 individually? You can do the same thing with Hulu and your other streaming services now too. Most of them have been upgraded enough to allow for streaming different shows on different devices at the same time. (Source: http://www.techlicious.com/blog/streaming-video-service-sharing-netflix-password/)
Another major source of budget contention is food. Who pays for what? An easy solution to this is to either have a collective pot into which everybody tosses some money and setting up a sharing situation or, go to the other extreme and designate space in the fridge and cabinets for each person’s food and have a strict “hands off” policy.
3. Make a Schedule
We’re talking about a household “getting stuff done” schedule. In your parents’ house, this might have been called a “chore wheel.”
There is nothing more annoying or more divisive in a roommate situation than feeling like you are the only one who cleans or shops or whatever. To keep this from happening to you, and to keep the living situation harmonious, sit down with your roommates and figure out how often things need to be done and who should do what.
For example, you might decide that Sunday mornings are “house cleaning time” when everybody pitches in for a couple of hours to really scrub the house down and get it ready for the next week. You could make it a house rule that everybody needs to do their own dishes immediately, or designate each person one night of the week to do the dishes collectively.
Sit down when you first move in, as awkward as it may be, and figure all of this stuff out. You’ll be so glad you did later when you hear your friends groan about how one roommate sponges off of everybody else in the house or how everybody’s fighting because nobody can agree whose turn it is to clean the bathroom.
Quiet hours are also important. There are few things more annoying than needing to sleep because you have an early shift and your roommate deciding that a Tuesday night is the perfect night to have all of his buddies over to play beer pong until three in the morning.
Taking time to figure out how you want to live together, stocking your home with basic supplies, and figuring out how to entertain on a budget–these are all things that grownups do. And now that you’re on your own, you get to do them too!