Posted March 24, 2015 by

Everything You Need to Know to Move Out After Graduating College

Sarah Landrum photo

Sarah Landrum

I’m sure we can all pretty much agree that the freedom and independence of college life is great. Your significant other can stay over whenever you please, you can blast the music as loud as you want, and ordering Chinese food in the middle of the night is totally acceptable. When you’re living with your best friends, there’s no one around to judge you. That’s why moving back in with your parents after graduating from college might seem like a bit of a culture shock, or even a nightmare.

There are ways to move out on your own after college. Whether you’re tired of your parents or are relocating for a new job, we’ll walk you through it.

Find the Right Apartment

To move out on your own, you need to have potential prospects. Don’t wait until after you’ve graduated to start the apartment hunt. Be proactive and do your research early on. Find possible openings and do some online research. We all want the dream, Carrie Bradshaw apartment, but it’s never going to happen. It’s time to be flexible about your living space.

Get to Know the Area

Remember, you’re used to living in a place that was probably within a one-mile radius of all your friends, the gym, local bars and the supermarket. When relocating, you must adjust to your new surroundings. Even if you’ve found a perfect place, scope out the local scene and figure out how close you are to the necessities.

Figure Out If You Can Afford It

Hopefully if you’re apartment shopping, you have a steady income. The rule of thumb is that you should put aside one third of your monthly paycheck to pay for rent. So if you make $35,000 per year, you could be spending between $950 and $1,000 each month.

This might come as a shock, but there are a lot of other expenses too. For instance, did you know garage doors need maintenance? If you’re considering a home, townhome, or other dwelling be sure to look into all of the expenses before making a decision. A $700 mortgage won’t sound like much until you consider everything else you have to pay for when you’re no longer living in the all-inclusive style apartments college has to offer.

Clean Up First

As previously stated, you’re probably not going to be moving in to the world’s greatest place, so it might need some fixing up. Force yourself to do all of the cleaning and fixing before you start moving your stuff in. It’ll be way easier this way. Set aside a Saturday to bring your gloves and bucket, and get scrubbing. Mom may want to come along for this trip, too.

Measure Everything

Measure everything, even the things you don’t think you need to measure. When shopping for the right decorations, you’ll probably want a list of the exact measurements of your new place. You won’t believe how many different sizes there are for windows, curtains and curtain rods.

Measuring ahead of time will save you a few trips to the store. Sadly, it is not one size fits all. It might also be wise to measure your hallways and the staircase. Trying to squeeze a large mattress through a hallway that’s too small could be a disaster.

Measuring the coordinates of your kitchen is equally important if you ever plan to do anything to it. And there’s more to measure in a kitchen than you’d think, like the centerline of the sink and the dimensions of your cabinets. That microwave slot is only going to hold certain microwaves!

Decorate Modestly

Once you’ve found the location, figured out your finances, cleaned it up, and taken the measurements, it’s time to make yourself at home. Decorating is another one of those unforeseen costs, so you’ll want to learn how to decorate on a college grad’s budget. Besides, you don’t know how long you’ll be staying at this new apartment. If you have a short lease, you shouldn’t go crazy with furnishings. And remember, if you pick out a giant couch, you might be the one lugging it up the stairs, so plan accordingly. You don’t want to end up like Ross on Friends, do you? Yelling at your friends to PIVOT is not necessarily the best way to keep them around.

Lock It Up

Now that you’re settled, it’s important to be safe. Unless your place is brand-spanking new, there was probably someone else who lived there first, and therefore had a key. Talk to your landlord and get permission to change the locks. Having your own place for the first time is scary, so you want to feel as safe and protected as possible.

Moving out on your own is an exciting time, but it’s also a big responsibility. On top of the previously noted tasks, you’re going to have to remember to buy food, paper towels, toilet paper and other boring adult things. Welcome to adulthood!

Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and the founder of Punched Clocks, a site dedicated to helping young professionals realize happiness and success in their careers and live life to the fullest. Follow her for more great tips @SarahLandrum

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