What I Wish I Knew Before Getting My First Apartment?

There is a lot to consider when looking for an apartment to rent. Some, like location and price, are fairly obvious; however, first-time renters may not even think to consider other factors, such as credit ratings and negotiating rent. A wide variety of landlords, maintenance staff, issues, and regulations can all throw you for a loop.

The thrill and fear of transferring into your first apartment are equal parts. Here are some tips I wish someone had given me when I was looking for my first apartment. But first, let’s define what is an apartment first.

What Is An Apartment?

An apartment is a self-contained living space that is part of a larger building or complex of buildings. Apartments are typically rented by tenants for a specific period and are usually managed by a property management company or an individual landlord. Apartments can vary in size, style, and amenities, from small studios to spacious multi-bedroom units with full kitchens, bathrooms, and living areas.

They can also come furnished or unfurnished and may offer additional amenities such as parking, laundry facilities, fitness centres, and swimming pools.

What I Wish I Knew Before Getting My First Apartment?

Getting your first apartment can be an exciting experience, but it can also be overwhelming if you don’t know what to expect. Here are some things you might wish you knew before getting your first apartment:

1. Budgeting:

Budgeting is the process of creating a plan to manage your income and expenses. It is important to budget, especially when you are living on your own for the first time and have to manage rent, utilities, food, transportation, and other expenses. Here are some budgeting tips:

  • Determine your income: Calculate your total income from all sources, including your job, investments, and any other sources of income.
  • List your expenses: Make a list of all your expenses, including rent, utilities, food, transportation, and any other expenses you have.
  • Categorize your expenses: Categorize your expenses into fixed expenses, such as rent and utilities, and variable expenses, such as food and entertainment.
  • Set priorities: Decide which expenses are most important and prioritize them. For example, rent and utilities are essential expenses that should be paid first.
  • Create a budget plan: Use a budget planner or spreadsheet to create a budget plan. Allocate your income to cover your expenses and make sure you have some money left over for savings or unexpected expenses.
  • Track your expenses: Keep track of your expenses by recording them in a notebook, spreadsheet, or budgeting app. This will help you stay on track and avoid overspending.
  • Adjust your budget: Review your budget regularly and make adjustments as necessary. For example, if you are spending too much on entertainment, you may need to cut back to stay within your budget.

By budgeting effectively, you can take control of your finances and avoid financial stress.

2. Location: 

When looking for an apartment, location is an important factor to consider. Here are some tips to help you find the right location for your apartment:

  • Commute: Consider the location of your apartment concerning your work or school. Is it easy to commute? Are there public transportation options nearby?
  • Neighbourhood: Look for a neighbourhood that fits your lifestyle and preferences. Consider factors such as safety, walkability, proximity to restaurants and shops, and community activities.
  • Noise level: Determine the noise level in the area. Is it a busy street with traffic noise or is it a quiet residential area?
  • Accessibility: Consider the accessibility of the location. Are there grocery stores, banks, and other essential services nearby? Is it easy to get to major highways or public transportation hubs?
  • Cost of living: Research the cost of living in the area. Some neighbourhoods may be more expensive than others, so it’s important to factor in the cost of rent, utilities, and other expenses.
  • Parks and recreation: Check if there are any parks, gyms, or other recreational areas nearby that fit your interests.
  • Safety: Safety is an important consideration. Look up the crime rate in the area and talk to locals about their experiences.

By considering these factors, you can find an apartment in a location that suits your needs and preferences.

3. Lease Agreement: 

When renting an apartment, it is important to carefully review the lease agreement before signing it. Here are some important things to look for in a lease agreement:

  • Lease length: Check the length of the lease. Most leases are for one year, but some landlords offer shorter or longer leases. Make sure you are comfortable with the length of the lease.
  • Rent Amount: Verify the monthly rent amount and when it is due. Also, check for any late fees or penalties.
  • Security deposit: Find out the amount of the security deposit and the terms for refunding it when you move out.
  • Utilities and other fees: Check if utilities such as water, electricity, and gas are included in the rent or if you are responsible for paying them separately. Also, check for any other fees, such as parking or pet fees.
  • Renewal terms: Look for the renewal terms. Does the lease automatically renew? What are the options if you do not want to renew the lease?
  • Maintenance and repairs: Check the lease for the landlord’s responsibility for maintenance and repairs. Are there any conditions that require you to pay for repairs?
  • Subletting: Check if subletting is allowed and what the conditions are.
  • Termination: Find out what the conditions are for terminating the lease early. Are there any penalties or fees for doing so?
  • Pet Policy: If you have pets, check the pet policy. Are pets allowed? What are the restrictions?
  • Legal clauses: Look for any legal clauses, such as the landlord’s right to enter the apartment, noise restrictions, and any other terms that could impact your living situation.

It’s important to read the lease agreement carefully and ask questions if you don’t understand something. Don’t sign the lease until you are comfortable with the terms and conditions.

4. Roommates:

Having roommates can be a great way to save money on rent and living expenses, but it’s important to find the right roommates and set clear expectations to avoid conflicts. Here are some tips for living with roommates:

  • Communication: Communication is key when living with roommates. Establish clear lines of communication and make sure everyone is on the same page. Discuss any issues that arise calmly and respectfully.
  • Respect: Respect your roommates’ privacy, space, and belongings. Avoid borrowing or using things without permission.
  • Cleaning: Agree on a cleaning schedule and stick to it. Keep shared spaces clean and tidy.
  • Expenses: Discuss how expenses will be divided, such as rent, utilities, and groceries. Set up a system for paying bills and keeping track of expenses.
  • Guests: Establish rules for having guests over, including how many guests are allowed, when they can come, and if they are allowed to stay overnight.
  • Noise: Be considerate of your roommates’ need for quiet time. Avoid making excessive noise during late hours.
  • Conflict resolution: If conflicts arise, try to resolve them through open communication and compromise. If necessary, involve a neutral third party, such as a mediator or landlord.
  • Boundaries: Set clear boundaries and respect each other’s personal space and time.

When choosing roommates, look for people who have similar lifestyles and values as you. It’s also a good idea to set up a roommate agreement that outlines expectations and rules for living together. By communicating openly and respecting each other’s needs, you can have a successful and positive roommate experience.

5. Furnishing:

Furnishing your apartment is an important aspect of making it feel like home. Here are some tips to help you furnish your apartment:

  • Prioritize: Prioritize the essential pieces of furniture first, such as a bed, a couch, and a table. These pieces will make the biggest impact on your daily life.
  • Measure: Measure the space in your apartment before buying furniture. You want to make sure that the furniture you buy fits in the space and doesn’t overcrowd the room.
  • Multi-functional: Look for furniture that serves multiple functions, such as a bed with storage drawers or a coffee table that can also be used as a desk.
  • Personalize: Add personal touches to your apartment by decorating it with art, photos, and plants. This will make the space feel more personalized and welcoming.
  • Shop around: Shop around to find the best deals on furniture. Check out thrift stores, garage sales, and online marketplaces for affordable options.
  • Quality: Invest in high-quality furniture for pieces that you will use for a long time. Cheap furniture may save you money in the short term, but it will likely need to be replaced more frequently.
  • Consider the layout: Think about the layout of the apartment and how you can arrange furniture to make the most of the space. Consider using furniture to create different zones, such as a seating area or a work area.
  • Don’t rush: Take your time when furnishing your apartment. It’s better to wait and save up for quality pieces than to rush and buy cheap furniture that won’t last.

By following these tips, you can furnish your apartment in a way that is functional, stylish, and comfortable.

6. Maintenance: 

Maintaining your apartment is important for your safety, health, and overall enjoyment of your living space. Here are some tips for apartment maintenance:

  • Keep it clean: Regularly clean your apartment to prevent the buildup of dust, dirt, and grime. This will help keep your apartment looking and smelling fresh.
  • Report issues promptly: If you notice any issues, such as leaks, pests, or broken appliances, report them to your landlord or property manager as soon as possible. This will help prevent the issue from getting worse and potentially causing damage.
  • Preventative measures: Take preventative measures to avoid problems, such as using drain strainers to prevent clogs or using door stoppers to prevent damage to walls.
  • Change filters: Regularly change air filters and clean vents to improve indoor air quality and prevent potential fire hazards.
  • Test smoke detectors: Test smoke detectors regularly and replace batteries as needed to ensure they are working properly.
  • Respect property: Respect the property and don’t damage anything intentionally. Report any accidental damages or issues promptly.
  • Follow rules: Follow apartment rules and regulations, such as noise restrictions, parking regulations, and pet policies.
  • Prepare for emergencies: Prepare for emergencies by having a first aid kit and emergency supplies on hand, and know how to shut off water, gas, and electricity in case of an emergency.

By following these tips, you can help maintain your apartment and ensure a safe and enjoyable living space.

7. Security: 

Security is an important aspect of apartment living to ensure your safety and protect your belongings. Here are some tips for apartment security:

  • Locks: Ensure that all locks on doors and windows are in good condition and use them every time you leave your apartment.
  • Peephole: Install a peephole or use a doorbell camera to see who is at the door before opening it.
  • Lighting: Ensure that all entryways and outdoor areas are well-lit, including hallways, parking areas, and building entrances.
  • Alarm system: Consider installing a security system or using a security service to monitor your apartment and deter potential burglars.
  • Neighbours: Get to know your neighbours and keep an eye out for any suspicious activity. Consider joining a neighbourhood watch program.
  • Packages: Avoid leaving packages outside your door for extended periods. Consider using a package locker or having packages delivered to a nearby location.
  • Be aware of your surroundings: Be aware of your surroundings when entering and leaving your apartment. Avoid walking alone at night and stay alert to your surroundings.
  • Renters insurance: Consider purchasing renters insurance to protect your belongings in case of theft or damage.

By following these tips, you can help ensure the security of your apartment and protect yourself and your belongings.

8. Moving: 

Moving to a new apartment can be exciting, but it can also be stressful. Here are some tips for a smooth and stress-free move:

  • Plan ahead: Start planning your move well in advance, ideally at least a month before your move-in date. This will give you enough time to organize and prepare.
  • Declutter: Take the time to declutter and get rid of items you no longer need or use. This will make packing and unpacking easier and can even save you money on moving expenses.
  • Packing: Use sturdy boxes and packing materials to ensure that your belongings are protected during the move. Label boxes clearly with the contents and the room they belong in.
  • Hire professional movers: Consider hiring professional movers if you have a lot of belongings or if you are moving long distances. Shop around for quotes and read reviews before choosing a company.
  • Change of address: Remember to change your address with the post office, your bank, and any other important organizations.
  • Utilities: Arrange for utilities to be set up at your new apartment, such as electricity, gas, water, and internet.
  • Cleaning: Before moving out of your old apartment, make sure to clean thoroughly to avoid any fees or charges from your landlord.
  • Unpacking: Start unpacking as soon as possible and prioritize setting up essential items, such as your bed and kitchen supplies.

By following these tips, you can make your move to a new apartment as stress-free and smooth as possible.


Overall, getting your first apartment can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it’s important to be prepared and informed to ensure a smooth transition. By considering factors such as budgeting, location, lease agreements, roommates, furnishing, maintenance, security, and moving, you can make the most of your new living space and avoid potential challenges.

With proper planning and organization, you can create a comfortable and safe home that suits your lifestyle and needs.

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