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The College Apartment
This is only meant for those of you who are moving out on your own. Residence doesn't count.
What do you want?
For me, what I wanted consisted of a few very important factors.
- How close is the apartment to the school
- How much does it cost
- It the building safe
- Can I even afford it
That seems like a short list, but it is where you have to start. When I started looking, I literally went to Google Maps, found my school, and typed "rent" into the search bar, so that Google would find all of the places nearby that could be up for rent (Bless Google for this). I started my search by looking close to the school and working my way further away. Toronto has a lovely transit system, but I was not up for paying the $113 /month that it would cost me to get myself a card. Instead, I looked for places that I could walk to. (If you are planning on going to a city that gives students free transit - you can look further away, but Toronto isn't THAT nice). I'd suggest looking up the transit routes from the places you want to live. If it is under 30 minutes, that is ideal. No one likes waking up at 5:30am to get to an 8am class. Don't be one of those people.
The place I ended up applying to (Yes - you have to apply. If you don't know how, go to the building and ask for an application form. They can explain it to you) was about a 5 minute walk from my campus (or a 1 minute drive).
You'll want to tour the apartment place in order to see if it actually looks safe and it is worth you living there. Don't forget to ask how much it costs! In Toronto, I pay $850 CAD/month. That is a LOT for a student, but I pay that much because I have a job that pays me pretty well, I'm very close to the campus, and I even have a balcony with a view of the notorious Lake Ontario. Typically, if you want a one bedroom, you're going to be paying anything above $750/month. Then you'll have to think about your other costs (aka Internet).
Check out the neighbourhood while you have a chance! Are kids walking around freely? Do they look happy? Do the people look like they have money or live off of welfare? Are the houses neat or are their lawns filled with clutter? Are the shops safe? Do they have sketchy people standing outside of them?
Honestly, look. In first year I didn't move into a certain apartment building because there was this (maybe) 10 year old kid outside of the building wearing a gold chain necklace and looking like a thug. There was also graffiti tags on some nearby city boxes and a random beer bottle sitting on someone's lawn. Touring that area helped me out a lot. When I started college, I found out from older students who do live in that area that the apartments are horrid. They have bug problems, the landlord is horrible, and it's just an awful place to live.
Trust your intuition!
What do you need?
The easiest way to do this is in a list.
Note: You clearly don't need all of this, but here's some ideas:
- Dining table
- End tables
- Shelves (everywhere I swear)
- TV stand
- and sometimes more.
- Crock Pot
- George Foreman Grill
- Rice Cooker
- Sandwich maker (Makes grilled cheese SO easy)
- Waffle maker (why not?)
- Coffee maker
Things you will just plain need:
- Blankets for when your friends sleepover
- Pillows for your friends
- Bins/Baskets/Shelves to keep yourself organized
- Something to hold all of your school supplies (pens, pencils, erasers, crayons...)
- A book shelf (if you read or just want to store your textbooks somewhere easy)
- Stock up on shampoo, conditioner, and toiletries (unless you really want to make that awkward trip to the grocery store for just toilet paper and carry it home while everyone stares at you)
- Toothbrush (please!)
- Make sure you have a winter coat, and different types of footwear. In Toronto, the weather in September is okay for shorts, and you can get away with a good hoodie for November/ December.. but come January, you'll really be wishing you had more than just a hoodie and flip flops.
- A good attitude! (Just kidding. Live your life however you want)
- Don't forget your charger (and maybe a spare one in case it breaks)
- A backpack honestly gets so helpful. Yeah, you want to not use a backpack cause you're cool now.. but you'll regret ditching that backpack at Mom& Dads.
- A flashlight in case the hydro goes out and you are left in the dark (and you need to conserve your phone's battery)
Yes, you will now have bills. (Unless your parents pay for everything.. and in that case.. hook me up).
You'll want to create a budget. I know it sounds tedious, but it will help. I hear that Mint.com is a good way to budget, and I'd recommend it. You can also just download a budget app to your phone or make a paper copy. Ask your parents about how much you will be spending and ALWAYS try to keep under the cap so you have a bit of spending money for your shenanigans.
Some things you'll want to keep in mind that you have to pay are:
- Internet (so your Netflix works)
- Cable/Satellite (if you still have that)
- Utilities (Water/ Hydro/ Heat - if not included in your rent)
- "Monthly account fees" from your bank because they love you so much. (Sometimes you can get accounts that don't have this or it is at a reduced level)
- Credit card debt (DON'T get a credit card unless you NEED to - Hot Topic will take all of your money and make you happy.. until you see the bill)