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A Complete Beginners Guide For Apartment Hunting.

Mar 6

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Are you thinking of moving into your first apartment? When I moved into my first apartment I was 21. More than 10 years ago. And with a series of roommates, moving from one spot to the next 7 TIMES over the years, I’ve garnered a few tips that have helped me along the way that I’d love to share with you.

Whether you’re desiring to move into your first apartment solo or with a flatmate, this checklist will help ease the STRESS associated with branching out, especially as each country or state has its own rules and regulation. For this purpose, this post will eliminate all the legal technicalities as that is part of the process.


Step 1 of Moving into Your First Apartment – DECIDING what type of apartment you want.

Before searching, you need to decide what type of apartment you want, based on whether you want a roommate or not, your budget, as well as your lifestyle. There are many options such as a studio, single bedroom or more, or a townhouse style. If you’re lucky to live in the Caribbean, you may be lucky to snag an entire house for a reasonable price. Break that down in detail.

For example, when I first moved into my first apartment, it was a house, but I had roommates. I was fresh into the corporate world and my priority was not maintaining an apartment. Over the years, my preference has changed, my lifestyle has changed and my budget has allowed me to afford more space.

Step 2 – How much should you save for your first apartment?

Most countries and states have different rules for lease payments, but the general rule of thumb would be to have both the first and the last month’s rent available before searching. The last month’s rent acts as a security deposit if something needs to be fixed – because of your negligence.

After outlining your budget, ensure that you can comfortably afford to rent. The finance rule is that your rent should ONLY take up 1/4 of your monthly income.

During my mid-renting phase, I decided to move into my solo apartment but I did not consider the cost. Every month, though I could afford to pay my rent, I COULD NOT afford to pay for anything else but just my bills and bare minimum food.

You do not want the majority of your monthly income going into rent, which may mean that at first, you might have to get a roommate. I typically waive against renting with friends, as that can get a bit ticklish, BUT if you have a strong relationship with someone who is also desiring to move into an apartment, consider it. The cost of maintaining an apartment can increase very quickly. Check out this post on how I managed my debts and budget smartly.

Step 3 of Moving into Your First Apartment – Searching + Leasing.

This can be a bit tedious honestly and time-consuming if you’re a bit particular. I, for example, have certain characteristics of an apartment that I keep mindful of when searching. Proximity to bus or taxi, lots of windows for ventilation and natural light, hot and cold water options, dual voltage, and the list goes on.

When you’re searching, remember your lifestyle. Think about work, think about parking if you drive, and think about your environment. Do you enjoy the nightlife or do you prefer slowness? Do you want a furnished place or do you prefer your furniture? These factors will all play a part.

Don’t say yes to anything or the first option unless you truly like it. It’s TEDIOUS to move from one place to the next especially if you own your furniture. Getting a great realtor, to begin with, will help ease the burden.

Ensure that you do your research on the area you’re choosing to move to, on the realtor you’re going with, and speak to people. If you’re moving into a complex, speaking to fellow tenants if available will also help you make a solid decision. You do not want to have crappy management.

When you’ve decided on your place, ensure that you read your lease THOROUGHLY, ask questions if you don’t agree or understand something, get it revised by a notary if necessary, and get a witness to sign with you if possible.

PART TWO – MOVING into Your Apartment.

The fun and sometimes not-so-fun part.

Step 1 – Do A Walk Through Of The Apartment BEFORE Moving.

Before furnishing your apartment, Doing a walk-through includes checking that every appliance, switch, and window lock, functions properly. Does the water run properly, is there any safety and security issues? Are there any weird odors you should be mindful of? Take note of it all and report to your landlord or superintendent for rectification. I once moved into not one but TWO apartments with mold painted over. God knows the allergic reaction I suffered when it peeled off.

If required, you may have to get your utilities set up in your name, before moving in, change locks if allowed, do a COMPLETE WALKTHROUGH, AND TAKE PHOTOS of the apartment the day of moving in, and ALWAYS CLEAN BEFORE moving in.

Remember that security deposit, you want to ensure that you can always reference photos of the day you moved in in the event the landlord decides to retain it when you choose to move out. I’ve had that happen to me once fresh into renting, but now, I always take photos.

Bonus moving in tip – have you ever heard of blessing your place, yes – do that as well. Infuse the good vibes in before you move in. Superstitious I know, but hey, why not?

If everything is ok, you’re good to move in. Let your family and friends know that you will be moving “if you desire” and if you need help moving, make sure you ask well in advance.

Step 2 – Furnishing Your Apartment After Your Move.

This is my favorite part of moving. I’ve changed my furniture out twice over the last 10 years, and I believe in getting your furniture. Sometimes it can be cheaper to rent unfurnished, and you also get to be super creative and personalize your space the way you want.

Before going out to splurge, decide on what items you need. You DON’T have to buy everything at once but start with the essentials – bed, stove, fridge. As time progresses, can add other items such as a sofa, wall paintings, dining table, etc. Keep in mind your budget here, and to help with ensuring that you remain on the path, create a list.

For your decor style, create a moldboard. Do you like dark and moody, or bright and minimalistic? Do you like a little character like french chic of Spanish colors? I highly recommend starting with Pinterest to gather some inspiration. Check out my Interior board here with a few sections for bedroom, living room, kitchen, and more.

Putting together an inspiration board, helps you stay focused on your design and your purchases. For example, I love color in my living room, but when I was doing my bedroom makeover I wanted a neutral and toned down.

It was easy to get distracted by adding more color, but creating a mood board helped. Plus, since I enjoy color, I can add a pop with flowers or by playing with my curtains.

As a bonus – choose furniture pieces that you will enjoy for a while. You don’t want to spend money every year changing it out because it’s not your vibe. It might be expensive at first, but it will save you in the long run.

Now that you’ve gotten the basics covered when moving in ensure that you have these apartment necessities in order. These are everyday essentials that you will replenish over time, so it’s great to stock up on some before your big move. These include bathroom essentials like toilet paper, towels, toothpaste, and soap; Kitchen essentials like dishwashing liquid, towels, cups, plates, etc.

Create a list per room, and brainstorm what you would need for each room to make BEFORE going out to purchase. That way you save on time and cost.

In closing, on your moving day, moving into your first apartment is an experience on its own. It’s an “adulting” milestone that can be fun and also stressful. However, if you plan ahead, do the research, and pace yourself, you will be celebrating with an apartment warming brunch very soon.

Are you thinking of moving into your first apartment? Were these tips helpful?

Until next time.




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