So you want to live in an apartment next semester. Now what?

Alexandra Golden Reporter

When looking for an apartment, especially your first one, there are some key factors to consider when making such a crucial decision.

Figuring out where to live and who to live with is the first step. Then there are the logistics of living together and deciding if you want a pet. Is proximity to school a priority or is saving money more important? 

From one first time apartment renter to another, here is what I wish I did before I moved into my apartment. 

Choosing a Complex

While apartment hunting, it may seem like going for the cheapest apartment is the easiest and best idea, but in the long run it may not be the greatest decision. Apartments can be cheaper if they are farther from campus and if they are unfurnished, and if utilities aren’t factored into the rent, but that may not be the case for every situation.

Kent has a lot of off-campus options for students with a range of prices, sizes and included amenities. One thing you may want to decide on early in the search is whether you’re looking for a place that comes furnished or unfurnished. Both options have their own pros and cons.

I live close to campus in a cheaper complex, but it came unfurnished so I invested money into supplying my own furniture, on top of appliances, decorations and other essentials. 

I personally chose unfurnished because I wanted to make the place feel like my own by bringing furniture from my own house and items my family gave to me. Having my own furniture made me feel more comfortable and more like a home.

I also decorated my apartment with posters of my favorite movie series, Star Wars, and pictures of my family and friends. I wanted my own touch on it and personally felt that furnished would not help me accomplish the feelings I wanted.  

I know when I was looking for apartments, the furnished apartments in the Kent area were more expensive every month than unfurnished. For me it was not worth it, but for someone else it could be more worth it in the long run.

By having it furnished you are saving money by not having to buy a bed and other furniture to fill the apartment, and might be an easier option for students moving out of fully furnished dorms. If you decide to go with an unfurnished option, you may have to buy a U-Haul to bring your items and that is expensive as well, which you’ll have to factor into the overall cost.

The Roommate Situation

Finding a roommate may not be easy for everyone. I personally roomed with my friend that I met at work a couple years ago. If you don’t have a set friend you want to room with or need more roommates than you already have, use social media.

I can’t tell you the amount of posts I have seen on Facebook pages looking for roommates or even people to sublease units in the Kent area.

If you do not want to go the social media route, find someone you have class with or work with or know and ask if they want to room together or know anyone who is looking.

However, being roommates doesn’t always mean there will only be two of you. There are many rental spaces in the area that give tenants the option to have multiple roommates. It all depends on what your preference is.

Someone who is more social might thrive in the bustling environment of multiple roommates, where as someone who values their alone time might prefer to have only one, like I did. 

One thing to do early on in your roomie-relationship is establishing house rules and boundaries before you move in together. You may think that there is common sense there or even scoffing thinking about the mandatory roommate agreements in the residence halls, but it does not hurt to have agreements in writing. This will help avoid misunderstandings and conflicts in the future.

It should be established who will do what chores around the apartment and make sure the place is clean. The last thing you need with this newly found freedom is to come back to a dirty living space.

You should also establish who purchases what for the apartment. I personally know my roommate and I planned who bought for each room. One of us purchased supplies for the bathroom and the other purchased for the kitchen. We split the supplies for the living room since that was the most shared room we had.

Other things to consider include how often you can have visitors, how late you can have friends over, who’s responsible for paying which utilities and so on. Setting these ground rules early will make it easier to resolve potential conflicts in the future.

The one problem we still have is overbuying food because we buy our own things and do not communicate about it.

That has to be my number one tip for anyone: COMMUNICATION IS KEY! If you don’t communicate with your roommate from the beginning, it will not be a good environment to live in. 

Pet Friendly

Before you move in anywhere, find out what the property’s pet policy is. Certain places are not pet friendly and those that are pet friendly may charge additional fees for your pet to live there.

In my complex, I paid $300 for a deposit for my kitten and it is an additional $25 per month on top of rent. Several apartment options in the Kent area have similar policies, along with restrictions on pet breeds, so be sure to consider that before you sign the lease, bring a pet into the rental or adopt a new pet entirely.. 

Not to mention the cost for food, toys and other supplies and any potential medical issues that could arise. These things can add up quickly, so budget wisely before you commit to a pet. 

As cute as a pet can be, you really need to consider if an animal is worth it in the long run. Yes they are adorable, but being a new apartment renter is stressful enough and having an animal may just add to that stress.

Budget, Budget, Budget!  

Budgeting for an apartment rental can be very financially stressful. I personally have been saving up money since my first job for the day that I would be making big life decisions, one of which was getting my first apartment.

I put a portion of each paycheck into a savings account for the moment I’d be able to sign a lease for my first apartment. This allowed me to take time off of work for a couple months when I got my apartment so I could settle in before life hit again. 

Not everyone is as lucky as I was, so my biggest suggestion is budgeting. Sit down and set solid budget out. This could range from daily to weekly or monthly, depending on what works best for you and aligns with your paycheck schedule.

I write down what day my money comes out for the streaming services I have and I make sure I have enough money and then some for my rent. 

Something that works for others is putting rent money in a separate savings account, or paying off rent in full for the semester or the entire lease term. This way, they have more flexibility with their budget outside of rent payments. Other students might use their student refunds to help pay their rent or utilities. 

You could save money for your apartment by picking up a side hustle. I know people who have picked up being a door DoorDash driver or have picked up opening an Etsy account to have extra money.

I recently got a new job to get some of that financial stress off of my shoulders. 

No matter where you decide to live, who you decide to live with and what you decide to purchase while you’re there, just make sure it is the best fit for you.

If it turns out your first apartment is not what you expected, you now know what to look for in the future. But if there are major issues with your rental, reach out to your leasing office or resources like Student Legal Services if you need outside help. 

Alexandra Golden is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]