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For many people, living in an apartment for the first time is truly a breath of fresh air. Away from family, possible drama, and perhaps in a new town as your start a new chapter. Having such independence can be fun as you navigate each day and your life how you want to. But there are also other things that can dampen the experience, whether from the start or along the way. This post will help you take some things under consideration when you’re thinking of moving into an apartment, living in one, or thinking of leaving an apartment for the first time. Those who have been through this before can also comment to the good times and hardships one might face. So let’s get started!

Moving into a Compact House

In a future post, I will discuss the process of leaving family but here we’ll assume everything is good to go. So when deciding on a place to live, you first must think about who you are as a person. What is your living style like? Are you a messy person or tidy? Do you take care of groceries early or wait till the fridge is bare? Do you pay your cell phone bill days in advance or wait till the day of or later? If you’re on auto-pay then you’re good, though that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check in every so often to make sure things are going smoothly.

Finances are another thing to consider as part of this thought, because it leads into the option of either going solo or bunking with roommates. If finances dictate things right now, then living with others is pretty much your first option. If it’s with friends, do not rush in excited! You might think your friends are awesome, which they are, but not all of them are compatible with you 24/7. There are some you get along with in short spurts of time, but any longer and they could get annoying to you. Take your time and consider which of your friends you can see yourself living with. Who’s the responsible one and who’s the social one? It’s better to sort this out now before you find yourself in court suing over damages and money owed. . . It happens.

If you don’t plan on moving in with friends, but still need roommates, then it gets trickier. Whether staying in town or moving off to someplace else, moving in with someone new can be nervous. You only know a little about them: their name, their appearance, a few interests and maybe some other things. But you don’t know if they’re noisy at night or if they eat the food you bought for yourself. With your friends, you have a better understanding when you’re out eating or crashing at their place for a night. Here it’s like going in blindfolded and hoping the other person will be nice. Definitely do your research when looking for roommates. Sites like Roomster and Roommates can be helpful sites for searching other people to live with, and even tenants hosting. Again, when communicating with them, ask questions! Get a vibe for how they answer and how they come off. If possible, maybe even meet up for coffee first just to see if they appear like someone you’d feel comfortable living with.

Consider if you’ll bring things with you or starting fresh.

However, if money isn’t a concern at the moment then you have the luxury of deciding if you want to have others around and pay less rent, or if you rather live on your own and have true independence. Living alone does mean normal rent price, but you truly don’t have to worry about others. From the food being all yours, to wearing nothing around the rooms, to staying up late there are numerous things you can do without having to take into account others living with you. It’s a matter of who you are, and if you’re comfortable or not having others around you for long periods of time and trust they’ll hold their end of the living agreement.

The final thing to consider is how you’ll move. Whether it’s near or far, deciding if you can move things yourself or need help is important to think about. Cost, time, and availability all play part in this, as well as what floor you live on. Having helped friends move their furniture (including washer and dryer), I’m totally against living on anything higher than the second floor. Unless you live in the heart of a city with all those high-rise buildings surrounding you, consider living closer to the ground. Of course, there’s the fear that robberies can occur. While true, that’s where researching where you live comes in and if you still feel hesitant make sure nothing of major value lies out on the deck.

If you’re friends are helping, then be sure to treat them to dinner and more depending on how much they’re hauling and how far. However, if you’re going to another city, state or country then professional movers are the better way to go. Going through your possessions and figuring out what to take can be tough, but also consider if you can ship or come back for the rest of the stuff you decide not to initially take. Most of the talking points have been if you’re moving within the same general area.

For those going to another state or country, sometimes it means starting completely new and buying everything from scratch. Definitely look for those deals, if you can, when looking for furniture. Befriend locals of that area and see if they can help you with locations and offers that would help you. If possible, befriend people before traveling that way you expedite getting what you need. Apps like Meetup and Tandem are amazing for meeting locals of specific areas, and learning many things and making incredible friends. Highly recommend checking those out!

Before I forget, you’ll also need to put a deposit down before moving in. Price will vary, and more than likely you won’t ever see that money again. You’ll also need renter’s insurance in case of any accidents or theft. Choose whichever you feel comfortable with and paying for. Okay, so now that the move has finished, let’s talk about life in an apartment.

Living in a Small Cube

The boxes are put away, the furniture and clothes are sorted out, and the overall feng shui is just right for you. Life in an apartment has officially begun, and it’s quite fun at first. You’re quickly figuring out how to plot out your days. When to do laundry, when to buy groceries, and what to cook for yourself throughout the week. That and other little discoveries tack on to your life. Figuring out which gym you’re going to go to, what movie theatre is closest to you, the quickest route to work or school, and more. There will be so many things you will learn, some quicker than others, but it depends on your interests as well. Survival tends to be first: work, home, food and gas. Then comes the interests: gym, movies, shopping, etc.. Finally whatever else is left: airport, restaurants, special attractions and others. It varies from person to person, but it’s generally like that.

Knowing people there, including roommates, can be useful as they provide tips on where to go; maybe even offer to go with you. Take this early phase to get to know your neighbors! It could go very easily or very tricky. In my case, it was the latter. I was able to meet my upstairs neighbor (who became infamous for always making noise late at night), however the ones on my floor were odd creatures. I rarely saw them as I came and left my apartment. Did I ever bump into them? Twice. Literally twice. Once as I was moving into my apartment, and the other one day coming home from work. The rest of the time, they came and went at random times that I could never figure out. Could I have bought tacos, or something, and knocked on their door to introduce myself? Maybe, but I never felt comfortable with that. As if I’m trying to hard to get them to like me when I may not see them much. It’s totally up to you if you want to mingle with the neighbors, as it could be useful should you have a package coming or need someone to watch your pet.

Whether it’s the neighbors, roommates or even yourself there might be times where conversations will occur. It could be talks about what you’re going to be doing – going out to eat, traveling, visiting a friend nearby and so on. It could also be talks about acknowledgement. By that I mean sometimes you have to stay in and take care of chores, while the fun has to wait, or you keep the promise made to roommates or neighbors like taking care of their pet. And other talks might be more uncomfortable to have. Maybe your job is causing you to be unhappy. Perhaps your neighbors are making too much noise right before you go to sleep. Or could it be that your roommates keep inviting people over that you’re uncomfortable around?

Sometimes conversations need to happen.

Such talks are bound to come up one way or another, and being confident to talk face-to-face (even with yourself) about the reality of what’s happening is important. If a roommate keeps forgetting to pay their part of the bills, or a neighbor parks to close to your side of the lot, situations like these should be dealt with rather than letting it go on. Find time where a conversation can occur, and not one that will last only a minute. It doesn’t have to lead to a fight, nor should it ever come to a court battle. But it can happen, so to avoid it as best as possible talk early and often to ensure everyone understands. And if you see it’s not changing, consider talking to those working for the apartment complex.

Besides telling the apartment if there’s any issues in your place, you also have to pay the bills. The first time you see that, you see how adulting can sometimes be terrible. But pay them on time, and consider enrolling in auto-pay if you’d rather “set it & forget it”. Take advantage of the resources the apartment offers as well. Some may have gyms of their own, most have pools and hot tubs, and there may even be dog parks. Whatever your apartment offers, see if you can utilize it, or the area surrounding the complex. When I lived in my apartment there was a gas station, grocery store, and a Target store all in one location that was about 2 minutes from me. You have no idea how amazing that was.

Life is going okay for you it seems. Bills are being paid, you’re being responsible for yourself, you know your way around town quite a bit, and you even get along with your neighbors and/or roommates. You’re good at this adulting thing, you adult, you! But then one day, something changed. Maybe you were fired from work or decided to leave. Maybe the rent became too much to pay for. Or you hate the location you live in and need to move closer elsewhere. Whatever it may be, you realize. . . it’s time to get out.

Escaping the Upscale Ring

Sometimes change is necessary. You miss your real home, family emergency requires you, you quit your job or were fired, terrible neighbors, starting a family and more. There are many reasons that ultimately led you to decide it’s time to leave the apartment. You think it’d be kind of easy to leave, but unfortunately behind the smiling faces of those working at apartments is the ugly truth that it won’t be.

It depends on if you’re choosing to break your lease early or not. If yes, it gets uglier in terms of your money. Everyone signs a lease where you agree to pay a certain amount of money, for a certain amount of months, that allows you to stay living there. I strongly recommend signing a short-term lease, initially, when moving in. Yes, you’ll probably pay a little more for a 5-month lease than you would for an 11-month one but you cannot predict how life will go. That job you were excited to start could turn out to be a life of hell, or there was unexpected family loss back home that shifts dynamics. Whatever it may be, commit short-term first to see if it will work out for you. If you happen to commit to living in another country, however, it could be slightly different.

You spent so much effort to pack up your life, and go around the world to where you are now. Simply leaving your apartment and going home is not ideal. Unless you’re okay with throwing everything you have away, expect much time in the future dealing with bringing your stuff back with you. I cannot speak much else on it, but talk with any of your friends who are abroad or who came from abroad. They will be great resources for this topic!

Packing up is easy, moving out might not be.

So while packing and moving is similar to moving-in, self/friends or professional movers, getting out will be costly. If the lease runs out, then it’s a bit easier. Final bills must be paid for, cost of cleaning the apartment will be charged for the “new renters” taking your place, and other little charges. More than likely, your security deposits will be kept by them due to some terminology in the agreement signed by you. That’s the other thing: READ THE AGREEMENT. It sounds silly, but some people skim through it like it’s the Terms & Acknowledgment agreements we hate to read. But seriously, if there is one thing you must force yourself to read, it is definitely this one so you know what to expect living there.

Check the pet fees, if you have them. Look at what they’ll take care of like garbage disposal, pest problems and complaints. Probably most important is to read about terminating the lease early. Besides the things mentioned you’ll have to pay upon leaving the apartment, if you have to break the lease early it will cost you much more. Every agreement is different, so I will tell you my example. To break my lease from my first apartment, I had to let them know when I’d move out (which could be a max of 60 days in advance). Then I had to pay about $2000 on the spot once they’ve been notified which, in a sense, covers the next two months of rent. I thought that would be it, but nope it wasn’t. Somewhere tucked in the agreement was another part that states one last monthly bill is owed, so I also had to pay another $1100 or so to finally be done! Did I mention the other final bills?

Yes, you still have to close out the other accounts: gas, electric, internet, and renter’s insurance. Don’t delay on informing them you want to turn off your account! A day can make a difference between stopping payment now or owing a whole other month. The insurance is probably the easiest to end, especially if you went with those new “app” insurance companies. Electric and gas, could take a couple of days as they go and turn it off. Internet can be the trickiest as they want their equipment back, and can charge you for final service even if you didn’t use much. But if you take care of them quickly, then generally it should be hassle-free besides the final bills. Be sure to turn off auto-pay!

So you moved out, free from the lease and commitments, and are on your way to the next chapter of your life. You have a better understanding of what to expect, and can learn from your experiences. Just remember that communication can go a long way, explore what’s around you, prepare if it doesn’t work out long-term, and don’t be too sad to see the money go. It’s in the agreement you signed, which you should definitely consider reading. . .

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