on first apartments

July 8, 2013 – First of all, folks, I want to say that moving is possibly one of the most disheveling things that could happen. And it is also one of the best things that has happened to me recently. I was staying in a temporary apartment for a while before moving into my lovely three-bedroom, two-bathroom place only two blocks away from my school. It is perfect – just spacious enough, airy, open and rehabbed (which is not as evident as one might think when you live in Chicago). On the first day I saw it with my roommates, we practically signed the lease. And now, even with most of my belongings still in boxes, I enjoy dancing around my beautiful kitchen/living room and belting out tunes in the shower. Judge me. I am in love, and I don’t care who knows it!

However, the road to this place has been ANYTHING but simple. I wanted to share a few tips with you guys about finding, leasing, and moving into a new apartment, because, especially for those of us who have never dealt with bills – aside from the kind you get at the theatre for a show – it can be a shockingly difficult transition.

  1. Look online. There are all sorts of apartment sites out there (Zillow, Hotpads, etc), but the best apartments can be found on the very unsuspecting Craigslist. Most postings are made by management companies, so they’re legitimate. People looking on here mean business though, so you won’t want to wait a few days before calling to set up a walk-through – it’s not uncommon for it to be off the market within 24 hours!
  2. Don’t rush the process. If you don’t find a place the first time you look, then congratulations, because you’re normal. Don’t give up when that dream apartment doesn’t have your lease starting date, ends up being too expensive, or just isn’t a feasible option. And don’t settle for much less than you want, either. Good things come to those who wait.
  3. Read the lease. Once you’ve found the place, there are going to be a million papers you need to comb through. Bring them on the train, to the doctor’s office, or while you’re taking a study break. Read that thing like it is the latest Harry Potter/Twilight/Hunger Games/whatever people are reading these days. You will thank yourself later when you don’t get fined because you know you have to double-bag your kitty’s litter.
  4. Honesty is the best policy. Ask your landlord questions early and often. It’s much better that you ask and the answer is obvious than not asking and being blind-sided later on.
  5. Over-plan your move. Wait, that’s not possible. If you have movers, give them a reasonable time frame (and bring them snacks to show your appreciation). If you’re doing it yourself, you will most likely need a couple of days to move in and adjust, even if you are the Hulk and can lift eight boxes at once. You will be tired, hungry, and sore in places you never imagined had muscles. So take off of work or minimize your hours for those days. Take breaks when necessary and eat snacks to show yourself some appreciation – hey, lifting that many boxes isn’t easy, you rock!
  6. Slowly but surely wins the race. Unpacking will seem like an insurmountable task – and perhaps you’ll never truly be done – but try, try, try! Three boxes a day, a room a day, one bag a day; make it work for your schedule, and give yourself milestones. It makes you feel that much more accomplished when you sit back with your celebratory “I unpacked the [insert what you unpacked here]” drink.
  7. Relax. They call moving a process for a reason – it’s not going to happen overnight. And honestly, would you want it to? Relish in the thousandth trip to Target, dance around the kitchen to that cheesy, new pop song, and love your new place. It is yours, all yours, and it loves you back as long as you live there.


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