All of the Tips for Moving Into Your First Apartment
Hellooo my sweet friends and family! This is such an exciting post to finally be publishing. As of September 1st, Austin and I officially moved into our first apartment. Woohoo! It has been quite the summer preparing for this move. Between going financially independent for the first time to signing my first lease, there were so many ducks to have in a row for this day to finally come.
Once those things were out of the way, I felt like I still had so many questions about how to prepare for moving into my first apartment. I thought it would be helpful to document the entire moving process for those of you who are hoping to move into your first place soon or for anyone who just wants to see what Austin and I have been up to :).
Welcome to “Moving Series Part One”, this post is going to be all about preparing for move-in.
Embedded below is the video format of my best tips for moving into your first apartment. It gives you a more personal look at our life leading up to move-in. The rest of this post summarizes my message in a bulleted, written format. How you follow our journey is entirely up to you! I cannot wait to hear what you all think.
I broke the moving preparation down into three phases (plus one bonus pre-phase) with distinct focuses, challenges, and tips. Let’s get into it….
Pre-Phase: Financial Logistics
Obviously you need to search for an apartment, tour apartments, and sign a lease. But before that can happen you need to lock down your finances.
This topic deserves its own post in the near future because being financially savvy is like trying to learn a completely foreign language. To keep the focus on preparing to move, I will just give you a brief overview of some financial considerations in preparing for your first apartment.
In the spring of 2019, Austin and I decided on moving into an apartment together in whatever state he got into medical school. In the summer before my senior year, I took a Nursing Assistant course and worked as a CNA for the duration of my senior year. I picked up as many shifts as I could to maximize my savings for moving into my first apartment. After graduation, I got a job, I wrote out a budget, I got a credit card (something everyone should do ASAP), and opened a few other accounts for organizing my money.
Here is a quick summary of some of the steps I recommend before you even sign your apartment lease:
Save the Money
I want to quickly acknowledge the privilege that goes with this statement. My parents and grandparents supported me heavily through college. I was lucky to have a family that is willing and able to pay for my education. I made some financial contribution to my education, but for the most part I had few personal expenses during my college years. This allowed me to put a majority of my paychecks into savings, given that I only paid for cheap college rent, utilities, and any of my "fun" expenses of choice. While I give myself credit for working hard and spending my personal money frugally during my senior year, I wanted to make sure it was known that I certainly had an advantage when it came to saving money.
It is recommended to have a minimum of three months of living expenses in your savings account when you are going financially independent for the first time. Depending on your personal finances, this generally comes out to somewhere in the $5,000 - $10,000 range. Life happens and financial security during emergency times is incredibly important.
Plus, don't forget to factor in extra money for moving costs and purchasing apartment essentials (furniture, home supplies, etc.).
When it comes down to it, saving money is never a bad idea! Financial security and comfort can give peace of mind like no "fun new purchase" ever could. On the topic of financial security... I always knew that if all else failed post-grad I could work as a CNA, a job that is always in high demand, and meet my basic needs until I secured a higher paying job post-grad. Always have a plan A, B, C... life is unpredictable, especially now.
Organize your Finances
- Create a budget that tracks where every dollar in and out of your bank account goes. Use this to improve your spending habits and understand your fixed monthly expenses.
- Build credit!! I wish I had done this sooner. I just got my first credit card this summer from Capital One. If you are still a student, talk to your bank about building credit.
- Establish a system for your accounts. I have a specific account I shuffle money into each month for paying rent and utilities. It is really helpful to separate your money into accounts for specific uses.
Search for an Apartment that Suits your Financial Needs
Luxury apartments are cool and cute and instagrammable. Community ammenities like a pool and bar and giant rooftop lounge seem really awesome. But you know what else these things are? Extremely expensive.
Don't overextend your financials on monthly rent. Don't fall into a trap of living out of your means to look a certain way to your friends and family. Click here to enter your income and calculate a comfortable monthly rent price for your personal financial means. This choice is totally up to you! Just understand the necessary sacrifices of paying for rent that is disproportionate to your paycheck. It is your life my friend. Splitting rent with a roommate is a super solid option. It just so happens my roomie is my boyfriend, but wow is splitting rent nice!
If you are fortunate and have a free place to live with your family, it is SO okay if you are not ready to pay for rent yet. Save that money. It is an awesomely financially responsible and economic option.
Do you have a dog? A very large dog? To all my dog owners (or wannabe dog owners) out there, this does slightly complicate your search. Minneapolis is incredibly dog friendly, but be warned that many apartments do have a 50 lb dog limit. Given that Remi is now 6 months old and 55 lbs, many apartments were easily taken off of our list. Additional costs to consider are monthly pet rent payments and dog deposits on move in.
Phase 1: The Clear Out
Do NOT move things you don’t need anymore. When it comes time to pack and unpack, you're going to wish you had less things.
Graduating from college is a big milestone and a great opportunity for clearing out your things. For example, I was able to get rid of excessive amounts of school supplies, old textbooks, going out clothes that don't fit my lifestyle anymore, etc.
Putting in the effort to purge your personal belongings before move-in is doing a good deed for your future self. I am so happy I got rid of stuff and organized my belongings before I moved.
- Sort through all of your things. Linked here is my blog post about the Marie Kondo method of pairing down your belongings.
- Sell items to make money. Poshmark and Plato's closet are great options for getting cash for your clothes.
- Donate all remaining items. If it's not sold by move in, it has gotta go! I took a ton of stuff to my local Goodwill before move in and it felt so good to finally get rid of things.
- Organize everything. This might seem counter-productive to the packing process, but trust me it helps. For example, I reorganized my bathroom bins before moving into my new apartment. It was so easy to just transfer the organized bins from my old bathroom to my new bathroom.
Phase 2: The Collection of Home Items
This part of preparing for moving is so much fun. It is also very expensive. These are my tips for balling on a budget while you collect items for your new place:
Tip #1: Space out purchases
It is EXPENSIVE to furnish a new home! Don't buy everything at once. If you are still in college, this is the perfect time to begin investing in home items you love and will use in the future (decor, bedding, rugs). Austin and I slowly bought things this past summer. It was really nice to have that time to prepare after graduation.
Tip #2: Prioritize what you spend more money on
What do you care about the most? In case you haven't noticed by now, money does not grow on trees and there is only so much to go around. Pick the items you care most about and put your money there. Save money anywhere else you can. For example, Austin and I invested in a nice mattress because this is important to us. Other items, like a dresser, we bought at Goodwill and gave a fresh coat of paint. It is all about priorities.
Tip #3: Buy used furniture and decor
Secondhand stores are a great place to get furniture and decor for a low price. Goodwill and Facebook Marketplace have been our favorite places to shop for used things. Also, don't hesitate to ask friends and family if they are getting rid of things.
Tip #4: You can't have it all
This relates back so well to my earlier point about rent. It is so easy to get caught up in having the nicest things. However, if you are a new college graduate like me, the reality is you cannot have everything you want! Choose what you prioritize in life and recognize that it's important to be financially responsible and live within your means.
Tip #5: Buy essentials in advance & check inside boxes
Slightly off topic from the previous tips, but sooo relevant to buying things for your apartment. Order the essentials many weeks in advance to make sure you have what you need when you move in (for example, a bed is nice to have on your first night). When online orders arrive, check inside the boxes for missing parts or hardware. Austin and I had so many run-ins with missing pieces that it actually caught me off guard how frequently shipping mistakes occur. Think ahead and make your life easier on move-in day.
Phase 3: The Packing Part
Oof.. this part sure was something. Austin and I really did try to pack things ahead of time. Some boxes were perfectly packed, labeled, and organized. And then others? Well let's just say unpacking has been challenging.
As a result of our less than perfect planning, the night before move-in was a stressful and tearful one (any other stress-criers out there??). We moved in the middle of a work week, which I really do not recommend to anyone. That made packing/moving extra hectic! But hey, our stuff got there in one piece and that's really all that matters.
Here are some tips to do things a little better than us:
- Stock up on boxes and newspaper leading up to move in. This is so helpful for more organized packing. Newspaper is great for dishes, frames, etc.
- Pack ahead of time. Duh (one would think). Pack little by little for about a week before move in. Procrastination of a big task like this is NOT awesome... speaking from personal experience.
- Label your boxes. This helps your friends, family, and other move in helpers know where to put boxes when you move in!
- Pack your things up into boxes based on room. It is so much easier to unpack boxes filled with things that belong in one area. It is also nice to easily locate essential things for the first night in your new place. It is so chaotic if you pack living room, bathroom, and bedroom things in one box. It complicates unpacking more than you would think.
Those are all of the tips I can think of for now! I hope this post was helpful to you 🙂 I know many of you are working towards moving out or graduating from college soon. If you have more questions about anything I mentioned in this post, feel free to reach out!
I am excited to share more content on the move soon. It has been fun recording and putting together video footage. If you are interested in seeing more videos of my post-grad life, subscribe to my YouTube channel here!
If you are looking forward to more post-grad content on this blog, please enter your name and email address down below to get notified when new blog posts are published on It's Mich.
As always, I am so thankful for each and every one of you!! Talk soon.