Graduating from college is one of the greatest achievements in anyone’s life. All the late nights writing term papers and weekends spent confined to the library have finally paid off, and now it’s time to join the real world and put your new skills to use. Depending on what your plan is after graduation, you’ll either be moving back in with your parents or looking for your very first apartment. If you’re getting ready to hit the ground running by moving out for good, trying to find the perfect apartment can be intimidating – but it doesn’t have to be. If you plan ahead and use proper strategizing, you’ll be unlocking the door to adulthood in no time. At Meehan’s Family Moving, we know how difficult this process can seem, which is why we put together a guide on how to find your first apartment after college.
Know Your Budget
The first thing you need to do before you even start looking is to know your budget. Do you already have a job lined up, or are you still going to be working part-time until you find something better? Are your parents going to help you out financially until you get on your feet? If you already have a job lined up, try to work out how much you’ll be making each month. If your salary can vary from month to month, base your calculations on the lowest possible salary you may earn one month so you can be prepared for the worst – that way, you’ll know that you always have enough money to cover all of your expenses, and on the months you make more, you can use the extra money to do something fun for yourself, add cash to your savings, or pay off some of your student loans. If budgeting was never one of your strong suits, try downloading a budgeting app on your phone to help you stay on top of your finances – it’s like having your own personal financial adviser in your pocket!
Account for Every Expense
Remember that rent isn’t going to be your only expense. You’ll need money for utility bills, groceries, and household items like toilet paper, paper towels, cleaning supplies, internet connection, and more. Depending on where you end up settling down, you may even need to account for HOA or other neighborhood maintenance fees. On top of living expenses, consider everything else you’ll need… including phone service, medical insurance, car insurance and gas, bus fares, and more.
Start an Emergency Fund
No matter how well we plan, sometimes things happen that are out of our control. Whether it’s an unexpected medical expense or a flat tire, you want to have the funds to be able to cover these unexpected costs that may occur.
Additionally, set up a “rainy day” fund. Maybe you had a stressful day at work and need some comfort pizza when you get home, or you want to be able to go out with your best friend for your birthday – either way, accounting for our mental health is just as important as any other expense. Now, don’t go crazy and irresponsibly spend all your money, but there is nothing wrong with the occasional splurge on something that will make you happy – in fact, it’s highly recommended to set up a fund for this purpose, so you don’t feel guilty dipping into your rent money or savings.
Set Your Parameters
Now that you know your budget, set up parameters for yourself. What amenities do you absolutely need? How far are you willing to commute to work each day? Will you have a car with you, or will you need to rely on nearby public transportation? Make a list of must-haves, of wants, and of deal breakers for your future home. Keep in mind that it’s OK to adjust this list as you go, but make sure not to settle out of desperation and end up sitting frozen in your apartment all winter because when you signed in the summer, you figured you could get by without heating.
Start Your Search
Even if you’re not ready to sign your lease immediately, start browsing apartment listings to get an idea of what’s out there. Check out local Facebook apartment search groups, Craigslist, or online apartment search services like Apartment Guide, Apartments.com, Apartments List, ForRent.com, Hotpads, Lovely, PadMapper, rent.com, or Zumper. These sites will allow you to refine your search by area, amenities, price, and more. However, they may not account for things like the city’s plans to change the bus routes or other important factors that could influence your life in your new home, so make sure to ask all the right questions to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.
Ask for Help
While you may be inclined to do everything by yourself, there is nothing wrong with asking for help – and you’ll probably need it. In fact, many first-time apartment renters are required to get someone with better credit to cosign the lease. Ask your parents, grandparents, or other relatives if they would be willing to cosign for you, just in case. You also may want to have someone with more rental experience come with you to view the apartment – you may not know what red flags to look out for or which questions to ask. An experienced relative or friend can also help you read through the lease agreement and fully understand the fine print, as well as help you negotiate certain terms. If your budget allows it, you may even want to consider hiring a real estate agent to help you.
Call Meehan’s Family Moving Service
Once you’ve found an apartment, give us a call! We have been in the moving industry for generations, and our excellent standard of work means that we’ll treat your possessions with the utmost respect and care. Contact us online or give us a call at (561) 904-6000 for a free quote, then sit back, relax, and get ready to start your new life!