We know it’s still summer and you’re probably not worrying about how everything will fall into place come September when you need to head off to college or university. But trust us when we say that looking for a place to live should be on top of your to-do list, despite the fact that it’s still July. In particular, students who are moving into their own apartment for the very first time probably have a lot of questions: What amenities should you look for? What makes a good landlord? Exactly how much money is required for a damage deposit – and is it even legal for a landlord to ask for one? There’s a lot of planning that goes into moving into an apartment for the first time. Don’t leave it to the last minute when you should instead be focusing on preparing for school. Here, we help you to navigate the biggest questions that come along with moving into an apartment for the first time when you’re a student.
Keep It Simple
Ah, the stress of finding your first apartment. While it may seem overwhelming, there is an easy way to ensure that you can tame that strange sense of dread. Take a moment to sit down and think about what you really, really want, then put those wants into writing. If you’re not even sure where to start, enlist the help of your parents or friends that have lived in an apartment before – they’ll be able to tell you what kind of things should be on your list. It’s here that we should remind you that there is a difference between wants and needs. Of course, we all want to have a personal maid that will help us clean the bathroom but we don’t need it. Again, ask for the input of others to help you keep those apartment dreams a little more realistic.
One of the biggest shocks to the system when you move into your first apartment as a student is that you quickly realize how fast your money can disappear if you’re not being careful. Before settling on a place to live, look at exactly how much money you’ll have coming in to your banking account each month. Student loans, scholarships, bursaries, a part-time job – any source of financial assistance should be accounted for so you can determine exactly how much you can afford. We strongly suggest living with a roommate to help cut down on costs (and to commiserate with you about that long essay you have to write for one of your classes).
It’s not just the monthly costs you’ll have to look at, either. The initial expense of moving in to your first apartment can often catch you by surprise. You have to consider the cost of renting a moving truck (mobilize friends and family to help you do the loading/unloading yourself to save money), purchasing furniture and house wares, and paying either first and last month’s rent upfront or paying a damage deposit. This is a very common concern and point of contention for many first-time apartment renters as they often are not aware of exactly what the rules are in their province. The laws are different across Canada, so it’s important to check with your provincial Landlord & Tenants Board to ensure that everything is above board. If you pay last month’s rent, for example, you should not have to pay a damage deposit, too.
Make the Most of It
Once you’re in your brand new abode, you’ll have new responsibilities that perhaps you didn’t have before. You’ll need to do your own cleaning, your own cooking and your own laundry. Living in your first apartment comes with many duties, some which you might not enjoy. But it also affords you freedom and independence that will help you to grow as a person. To keep things running smoothly, particularly if you’re living with roommates, create a short and sweet chore schedule to make sure that things never get unruly, with dishes piling up and laundry all over the bathroom floor. Taking a few minutes each day (or each week, if you’re particularly averse to housework) will make a huge difference to how your apartment functions. You will be surprised at how much better you feel when your apartment is tidy. And who knows? Maybe you’ll find out that you really love a particular chore. Vacuuming is oddly satisfying.
Above all, enjoy your first apartment experience. You’ll not only be learning from your college courses, but you’ll be learning about yourself.