First apartment advice for millennials on a budget

Moving into your first apartment
Getting your first place is exciting and terrifying, and you'll have some surprises along the way. This will help you plan ahead for the big move!

Moving out of your parents’ house into your first place on your own is thrilling. It can also be a scary, uncertain time. The freedom you’ll have comes with all kinds of new responsibilities. You’ll run into situations and expenses that you’ve never planned for or even considered.

We’ve compiled a few tips that may prove to be invaluable, or at least good to be aware of, as you embark on your new solo adventure.

Honestly consider your monthly budget

Probably the least fun part about getting a new place is taking a long, hard look at your finances. Before you even start browsing Craigslist to see what’s out there, know your limit. Don’t bother even looking at anything out of your price range. That’s the first step toward bad and impulsive decision-making.

Before you go signing on the dotted line, make sure that monthly payment is going to be in your comfort zone. The prevailing wisdom has always been that your rent shouldn’t exceed 30% of your income. If you’re moving to a big city, you may find this limit to be completely out of the question. In instances like this, a more reasonable limit might be less than 50% of your income.

Stash some money and repair your credit

Life out in the world can be unpredictable so it’s a very good idea to have enough cash in the bank to cover several months just in case. And make sure you’re not maxed out on your credit cards! This is important not just when emergencies arise, but your high balances may be a barrier to getting approved for an apartment. Being financially overextended can be a red flag to potential landlord.

It’s not going to look like the cover of a magazine right away

You may as well get comfortable with the idea that your first place may start out looking more like the “before” than the “after” on an HGTV home remodeling show. New furniture might even be out of your price range. Scour second hand stores and online classifieds for gently-used items at a bargain price. Don’t hold out for the high-end designer furnishings. Think comfortable, clean and livable.

Don’t feel you need to rush out and fill the whole place, either. Worry about covering the basic essentials first: somewhere to sit, eat and sleep. Your other needs will make themselves apparent as you go about living your daily life. A garbage can. A coffee maker. A shower curtain. Shower curtain rings. You get the idea.

Don’t forget about what a great resource dollar stores can be! You can really stretch your money at one of these gems. Cleaning supplies, kitchen gadgets, paper products, even food. Eating out is perhaps one of the biggest budget black holes for millennials. Save some money by getting a few pots and pans and learning to cook something other than ramen noodles.

Before you know it, you’ll be fully stocked and furnished, and will find yourself looking for a bigger place. You might need some professional moving & storage help by then, but that’s a blog for another day.

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