Welcome back to the Young Adults Perspective Series, where we offer tips to newly financially independent young adults. With the New Year comes a change in work for many young adults. You might have finished your education in December, or perhaps you found a better opportunity in a new city. There are millions of people moving to new places for work, and all of them, you included, will need to find a place to live. If you’re looking at finding your first apartment, this is a huge step towards financial independence. If this isn’t your first time, then maybe you’re looking for some ways to do this new apartment better than the last one. Previously, I spoke with Greg Smalls on selecting and buying your first home, so here I will offer tips on keeping your budget in control while finding your first apartment.
One inconvenience of the real adult world is that you don’t always have the time to do what you want. You might go into work planning to work 9-5, and then you don’t clock out until much later. You could also be away from your apartment for more enjoyable reasons, such as social obligations or traveling.
Regardless of the reasons, you will likely spend far less time in your apartment than you likely believe when you sign the lease. Consider how much time you are going to be spending in your apartment before you start shopping around. This does not mean you can’t opt for a nice apartment with more space, but you might want to avoid paying for luxury options, extra bedrooms or gyms in the building if you’re not going to be able to enjoy them as much as you think.
Now that you’ve determined how much time you’ll spend in your apartment, there are a few add-ons you might want to consider skipping if you are looking to save. A big one is cable TV. While nice when included in the apartment, cable is often very taxing on a budget.
Depending on where you live, you may be limited on the cable providers available to you, and that monopoly means they can charge high fees for service. In 2014, the FCC reported that the national average price for cable was over $64/month. Comparatively, streaming services, even those with limited live TV options, cost far less. Unless you can get a deal on cable, such as cheaper internet costs if you bundle it with cable, you should probably avoid buying it. The same holds true for a landline phone, though those are less commonly offered with a new apartment than cable.
Another amenity to consider avoiding is a pre-furnished option. If you have the furniture you feel is necessary to move in with, there’s no reason to pay extra for furniture you don’t need or want. Ask friends and family for their unwanted furniture, and compare what they’ll ask for with what the property manager will charge.
More than just chores, these two tasks are a central part of maintaining an apartment. Be prepared to cook more meals at home if you’re trying to maintain a realistic budget. Having all the basic tools is crucial to making the food you prepare more appealing, but you don’t need to spend a lot to furnish your kitchen. A few basics kitchen tools: pots, pans, a baking sheet, and some oven mitts should get you started.
In addition to cooking, you will also need to do some cleaning to upkeep your apartment. This is more than to keep the place looking nice. If the apartment is clean, it is easier to stay organized and keep track of important things, such as notices and bills in the mail. As reports show, keeping a clean apartment leads to improved physical and mental health, which means it’s easier to focus on the things that matter, including finances.
Have any other tips for buying or maintaining your first apartment? Share them in the comments below!
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