As I shared in a previous post I got a job in my field in the city and that required me to pack up my life and move. This also meant that I was crashing with family until I find a place of my own. Which miraculously I have! It’s this cute little one bedroom in a nice neighbourhood, close to all the people I want to be around and closer to my work than where I am now which is AWESOME. And now that I have gone through this experience I thought I would share my advice for those who are also looking for their first apartments! Yaaaaaayyyy adulting!
First a little background. When I say first apartment, I mean the first one where I will be paying for all my bills and that I will be living in full-time. While I was at university for my undergrad I had an apartment with 5 other roommates (FYI 5 IS WAY TOO MANY PEOPLE. IT DID NOT END WELL) but my mother was graciously supporting me for most of the expenses, she is a saint. And also that I would not be living there in the summer because I would be back home working.
The first thing that you should do is set a realistic budget. This is based on how much you will be making in a month and should take in to account your food costs and other monthly expenses like gas, entertainment, clothes, etc. You should also set aside money each month for emergencies and for savings and debt repayment. Unless you want to be on Money Moron, and have Gail shaming you on TV, DO IT. From searching Pinterest (seriously, it’s my life) there are a lot of great budget sheet printables or you can make your own. This is a great idea just so that you can write everything out and see it all on paper. It doesn’t have to be perfect but it should give you an idea of what your spending would be like month to month.
From there the next step is to look up what apartments are available within your budget and in the areas that you want to live in. Websites like View It are super easy to use and really helpful. Try not to be too closed-minded. First time apartments tend to not be these huge gorgeous things, but rather dated and small. I was looking at bachelor/studio and one bedroom apartments, as this was within my budget. Lucky for me, the area that I wanted to live in is fairly inexpensive compared to the rest of the city. Once you find ones that you like and meet your criteria call and sent up viewings.
When you go to a viewing, take photos and ask lots of questions! Make sure that the there is clear understanding on how much rent is, parking is, and utilities are. I avoided apartments with carpets so I wouldn’t have to deal with gross stains or smells or even bugs that will hide in there but that is a personal preference. Don’t be afraid to open drawers and cupboards to see if any little beasties are hiding out or leaving surprises behind. If you are looking for bedbugs check along baseboards as that’s where they like to hide out in the day. Also just stand in the unit and just get a feeling of the building and how you really feel being there. If something doesn’t feel right or you don’t feel safe, you are under no obligation to submit an application.
When you settle on a unit that you like submit an application! From there all you can do is hope that you made a good impression and that your credit score is good enough. They do credit checks to see how good you are at repayment and if you are carrying outrageous amounts of debt. They basically want to make sure that you will pay rent when rent is due. And if that is approved, then you just got yourself an apartment! This is when the fun part begins, DECORATING! Obviously, Pinterest has some ideas on how to do that and not break that bank.
For me, I had no furniture what so ever. I either sold or got rid of everything after I moved back home. This means I get a fresh start, but it also means that I will need to be very budget conscious. I have been asking a lot of family and friends of they have any furniture that they want to get rid of, and lucky for me there have been quite a few people more than willing to give me stuff! Do not be afraid to ask if anyone has anything they want to get rid of. Most people will be happy to help you and get this stuff out of their houses. Also kijiji, and the dollar store or Wal-Mart are also good places to get reasonably good stuff for cheap prices.
The most important piece of advice I have learned from this experience is; BE REALISTIC. Do not expect to go out and find an apartment that’s brand new and then decorate it like an Ikea magazine. You are going to have to suck it up and use the hand me downs or cheap stuff for now, but over time you can replace these items for ones that you truly love, but for now you just need them to work. Good luck to all those out there, apartment hunting, I hope this helps!