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Moving from the Dorm to the Apartment

Updated on August 20, 2011
Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannie has been writing online for over eight years. She covers a wide variety of topics—anything from hamsters to office work.

Moving on up!

Whether you are still in college or a recent graduate, there comes a time when one must move from the dorm to an apartment (or if you're lucky, a house) for the first time. This can be a tricky situation since you've been living on your own in the dorm for a while, and naturally, you think you've got things under control. However, life is different in your first apartment. So whether you are living with roommates or taking this journey solo, there are some things you should know when moving from the dorm to your first place.

Where am I going to sit?

The first most important task is getting some furniture. You might ask, "What do I really need?" Your "must haves" are going to include something to sit on in your living room, some type of table with chairs for the dining area, and a bed. Depending on your budget and the size of the apartment, you might want to get a futon and kill two birds with one stone. I would not lead you in the wrong direction - futons are not nearly as uncomfortable as some people claim them to be. Just be a little picky when choosing the mattress.

A good idea is to start asking friends, relatives, and co-workers if they have any furniture they'd like to get rid of. Offer to pay them a little cash and you might just end up with a nice couch for dirt cheap. You can also scope things out on Craigslist, but be careful. Bed bugs and other bugs are out there and looking for new homes. There is no telling what could be in an old mattress or couch.

If you are broke and out of options, inflatable furniture sure beats sleeping or sitting on the floor. Stop laughing. My first apartment included a "beanless" bag chair and an inflatable armchair. It might not be that comfortable, but you can spill stuff on it and clean it easily. Even if you can't, when you pay $20 for your furniture you won't shed too many tears over a stain. Just make sure not to use any sharp objects near it!

Don't sweat the small stuff.

After buying, borrowing, or inflating your new furniture, you will need some small basics. Once again, kind relatives and friends can often help you. Many people have more plates, glasses, and pans that they really need anyway. Some other simple stuff you are going to need: salt & pepper shakers, a bucket, a mop, a vacuum, shower curtain, tool kit, etc. This stuff is usually dirt cheap at Target, Walmart, and Ikea.

Trust me - you are going to get to know Target and Walmart, and some of the associates working there might just get to know you. While you are at it, get your groceries there, too. It is way cheaper there than at the supermarket. While we are on the subject, start clipping coupons, too. Coupons might just be your new best friend.

Don't forget what you've already got.

Since you've been living in the dorms, surely you can use most of what you were already using. This includes: sheets, blankets, towels, plastic storage bins, hangers, TV, computer, and much more. You remember how great that stuff looked in the dorm? Well, it is going to be pretty nice at the apartment, too. Now you don't have to worry about starting from scratch.

Going to the mailbox is no longer fun!

Remember how much fun it used to be going to the mailbox when you were a kid? I am sure it was even fun sometimes at the dorm. Well, no longer will the mailbox bring you any joy. The mailbox is just an object waiting for you with bills. Yes, the college took care of your electric, cable, internet, and in some cases, the phone while living at the dorm. However, you are now out of luck.

When you are determining your budget, don't forget about those pesky utility bills. The heating bill is pure evil in the winter! In no time, you will be turning out all the lights and eating dinner by candlelight. It won't be for the romantic effect; it will be because your electric bill is too high and you need to save the money. Believe it or not, you will get used to it, but it can be difficult at first.

I hate to be a downer, but if you've just graduated from college, you may have an even more evil bill lurking in your future: the student loan invoice. Yes, I know! Stop crying. If you have more than one student loan, see what you can do about consolidating them. A student loan consolidation will often save you money and save you from getting more than one terrifying student loan bill a month.

Also, don't forget the groceries. If you relied on cafeteria food the entire time you were living in the dorm, you are in for a shock. Something I learned really early on is cheese is way more expensive that you could have imagined. What is going on with cheese? There are many other items with a crazy price. Once you've gone grocery shopping a few times, you will be able to anticipate the prices and it will be easier to determine a good deal from a not so good deal. Even on your best behavior, you will need to spend around $50 a week on food. So make sure to keep that in mind when deciding on a budget.

Let the adventure begin!

Don't forget it is supposed to be fun living on your own. Don't get too stressed. If your friends don't have their own apartment, they are not even going to care about sitting on the floor and eating food from a paper plate. You should just make the most of your new found freedom. At first, getting your new apartment might be a bumpy ride, but a fun one at the same time. So don't get too discouraged. Welcome to a new chapter in your life!


Submit a Comment
  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    9 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    This is so true. You can apparently even have the Salvation Army bring a chair to you at the dorms. I knew a girl that got the Salvation Army to do that. Seemed odd, but who knows? Thanks for reading and for the comment.

  • profile image

    Winchester Walk 

    9 years ago

    Going to flea markets, garage sales and the Salvation Army are just some of the other options. They can find decent furniture and home accessories and utensils there for half the price or less! You can even do a shopping spree here.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    9 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Thanks for reading and for the comment. I never dreamed of the day when coupon clipping would become a major hobby for me, but that is now the case. I am sure many people in new apartments will follow down the same path.

  • ladyhowto4u profile image

    Courtlney Davis 

    9 years ago

    Great information! With probably a limited budget, the coupon clipping advice is helpful too!

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    9 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Thank you for your comment. Walmart is a major help when it comes to saving money. I can't imagine what I did before Walmart or Target.

  • Cloverleaf profile image


    9 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

    Jeannie, you have shared some great information here that will help people a lot with the transition of moving to their first apartment. Walmart can be an absolute saviour for buying stuff on a tight budget!

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    9 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Moving can be a big pain during college and after. I've tried to simplify the process in this hub, but it can still be tough. The worst part of it is not budgeting for those unplanned bills. I guess maybe you know they are coming - it is the price that is the shock. Thanks for reading and for the votes!

  • profile image


    9 years ago

    I remember those days many years ago. Wish I had access to your hub back in the day. It is filled with good advice and suggestions. Back in my day, I think the move was much simpler. When my daughter did it (several times), it seemed much more difficult. Not sure if it was more difficult as a result of the times or the fact that my daughter has an affinity for making things difficult. Voted up and useful.

  • Jeannieinabottle profile imageAUTHOR

    Jeannie Marie 

    9 years ago from Baltimore, MD

    Thank you for your comment. I hope this hub is helpful to anyone moving into their first apartment. It can be exciting, but scary!

  • Deborah-Diane profile image


    9 years ago from Orange County, California

    This is great information for anyone moving into their first apartment ... an exciting time in any young person's life!


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