Congratulations, graduate: you’ve done it! You’ve reached the end of your college journey and, with a little luck, you may even have found your first job. You’ve walked across the stage, grabbed your diploma, hugged your friends, posed for countless pictures in that hot robe, and have opened all your graduation presents. And, at long last, you’ve packed up all the things in your dorm room, loaded them in your parents’ car, and… what now?
Here’s what now: it’s time to get a place of your own. It’s a scary moment, but an exciting one, so try to enjoy the process as you make your first big move!
Finding your new space
The bad news is that finding a place to live – particularly in a big city – is tougher than ever these days. Real estate prices are up, and young people are crowding into cities like New York and Los Angeles, driving rents higher and forcing renters on a budget to live further and further from downtown. But the good news is that finding these apartments doesn’t require as much physical legwork as it once did: these days, you can look for an apartment online. There are countless apartment search websites out there, including sites that feature posts from real estate agents as well as sites featuring posts from renters looking for roommates and subletters.
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Do you need a roommate?
If you’re moving to an expensive place – or a big city where space is tight – there’s a good chance that you’re going to end up living with a roommate. There’s parts of this that are no fun (you’d rather not share a bathroom or a kitchen, I’m sure), but there are also key savings to be had through the arrangement. It will save you on rent, obviously – splitting rent on a two-bedroom apartment is almost always cheaper than renting a one-bedroom apartment on your own. But it will also save you money in other ways that you may not be considering – particularly in utility costs. Cable TV, internet, running water, and other basic services aren’t any more expensive with roommates than they are alone, and with roommates you can divide up these costs. You can also purchase some items communally – from furniture to basic groceries – that you and your roommates may not yet be in a place, financially, to buy for yourselves.
What you need to buy
Of course, there are a few things that you’ll absolutely need to invest in when you move out. First, and most obviously, you’ll need a place to sleep. Look for an online or brick-and-mortar mattress seller, or consider saving money by opting for a futon and futon mattress.
You’ll also need some basic furniture – a dresser and perhaps a nightstand, bookshelf, and desk. Be careful as you shop for furniture. Remember that you have a lifetime to accumulate the right belongings, and be sure not to compare yourself to the adults you knew growing up. You know the nice furniture at your parent’s house? That’s the furniture they have now, at the age of fifty or sixty or seventy. That’s not the furniture they had when they were twenty-two or twenty-three, so don’t run out to the furniture store and take out unnecessary loans in order to outfit your first apartment with the furniture you’ll want to have when you retire. Live within your means, and remember that the first place that you live after school won’t be the last – you’re going to have to move all of this stuff, someday, and you may end up selling, donating, or disposing of some of it!