Steele Library Teen Advisory Group member and Guest Blogger Aubrey is experiencing living on her own while she balances work and college. Aubrey has graciously agreed to share what she has learned with other teens and new adults. All information and opinions are Aubrey’s and not CCLD libraries’. – Doris Jean Metzger, MLIS; Teen Librarian at Steele Library
Moving out. It’s something that most people think of more and more as they get older. And, for people who want to move out, regardless of age, it can be incredibly overwhelming and intimidating. So, like any other big, intimidating task, it becomes much more manageable when it’s broken into smaller parts.
Moving out can be broken into three parts: Before, During, and After.
This is, shockingly, before you move out. This step begins before you’ve signed a lease, and even before you’ve viewed any apartments in person. The absolute first step when moving out is to first figure out what amenities you need. Do you have to have a parking spot? Or maybe a washer/dryer hookup? Do you need all utilities included in the rent? It is important to know what you need in an apartment, and what you want in an apartment.
The next step is to figure out what you can afford. This can vary depending on what job you have, if you’re a student, if you’ll have roommates, etc. The general rule when trying to figure out what you can afford is if you can’t pay rent (or your contribution to rent) in two weeks’ worth of pay, you cannot afford that apartment.
Now that you know what to look for, and your budget, you can start looking at apartment listings. There are a few different websites that make this easy, including Zillow, Apartments.com, and even Craigslist in certain situations. There are a few red flags to look for on any apartment listing:
• Only a few photos – This is a massive red flag. If there are only a few photos you have no way of knowing if the description is accurate, and it’s likely that the landlord is hiding an expensive issue.
• No description – This is arguably just as suspicious as having no photos. This likely means one of two things; either the landlord is uncaring about the property, (which is not good for your first apartment,) or it’s a fake listing.
• If the rent is very low – This is very suspicious. Either, again, it’s a fake listing, which can be incredibly dangerous, it’s haunted, or there are massive issues with the building or apartment. Never trust a super low rent.
Once you find a few listings, it’s time to contact the landlord. It’s very important to be kind and polite to them. Remember, this could be your potential landlord, it’s always better if they like you. When talking to the landlord, always ask if the property is still available, and if so what time you can view it. Once you secure the viewing, make sure to dress nicely, just a pair of nice non-ripped pants and a casual shirt that isn’t a t-shirt. When viewing the apartment, there are several things to look out for:
• Water damage – Be sure to look at the ceilings and keep an eye out for any discoloration that could indicate water damage, especially in the bathroom.
• Mold – Also in the bathroom, make sure to look for mold in the shower/bath, the curtain rod, fixtures, and ceiling.
• Rust – You’ll find this in the bathroom, (likely in the same places to look for mold) or the kitchen. Be sure to inspect the appliances for rust, and make sure that they’re clean.
• Other – Look out for any damaged walls or floors, and make sure all of the locks on the windows and doors work.
Keep in mind that, depending on where you live, it’s important to have access to enough money to cover the deposit and one to two months’ worth of rent. Good listings can go fast, so you want to be prepared.
Once you’re able to get past just viewing the apartment, and can sign the lease, there are a few things you’ll need. Firstly, anyone living at the apartment will likely be required to be on the lease. You, (and any roommates) will need: your social security number, your ID, a job reference, (usually just the manager’s name and phone number,) and in some cases a paystub.
Now that you’ve signed a lease, you can move on to the next part of moving out,
This part is more so about packing, and what you’ll need for the transitionary period between places. The biggest thing you can do to make moving easier is to declutter as you pack. You never know how much you own until you move, and it’s important to not take unnecessary things into your new space. Another tip is to organize what’s packed into boxes based on where they’re going in the new space. While you’re in the process of moving, there are certain items you need to have in your new apartment.
• Bathroom essentials – Make sure to have toilet paper, soap, and toothpaste in the bathroom of your new space.
• A bed/place to sleep – Mattresses and bed frames are expensive. If you can’t afford that, just get an air mattress and a memory foam topper. (Also, learn about mattress types, it is incredibly helpful.)
• Cleaning supplies – Unpacking and moving is messy, make sure to have a broom, dustpan, mop, and basic all-purpose and toilet cleaners.
Once all of the boxes are in the correct rooms, you are done with this step. You’re almost done! All you have left is the “After.”
There are a few things to keep in mind after you’ve moved out for the first time. One of the most important is to remember to eat. It sounds simple and obvious, but it can be incredibly easy to just forget to eat when your parents aren’t there to remind you.
Along that vein, learn to cook. Even if it’s just a few basic meals, it is much cheaper and easier to learn how to cook than it is to order food on a nightly basis. $50 worth of groceries will take you much farther than two nights of take-out.
It’s also important to keep in mind that, upon moving out, you’re now responsible for cleaning your new space. Having a clean space is so important when it comes to maintaining stress.
Also, learning to budget, and what takes importance financially is essential when living away from your parents. Bills and groceries are always the most important when budgeting, with few exceptions. After that, it’s however much you’d like to put into your savings, and then you can spend the rest on inessential things. Budgeting is a skill that takes time to learn, so just be patient with yourself.
And you’re done! You’ve finally and successfully moved out, and are reasonably independent. It’s undeniable that moving out for the first time is stressful, but at the end of the day, it’s worth it. As long as you remember to take a second to breathe, and know that you can do this, things will be great.