6 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Moving Into My First Apartment

updated Jul 17, 2020
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(Image credit: Marie-Lyne Quirion)

The sweet taste of freedom after leaving your parents’ house or the dorms for the first time for an apartment of your very own is intoxicating. You can go get sugary cereal in the middle of the night if you want! You’re grown-up! It isn’t all junk food binges and co-ed sleepovers, though. Once the novelty wears off, living in a first apartment can mean learning hard life lessons. Here are six things I wish I had known before I moved into my first apartment.

1. Don’t get a bunch of stuff you “think you’ll need” before you actually figure out what you need

There can be this overwhelming desire to have everything ready before you move into your first apartment. Perhaps fueled by well-meaning parents and relatives, your packing list for a new apartment could be filled with equal parts helpful items and things ridiculously useless for your needs. Take what you know you’ll need, but don’t be afraid to let a little self-discovery fill up the rest of your space in due time.

2. Quality over quantity

How many really crappy cheap vacuums did I go through before I finally realized that it made more sense to splurge a bit on a decent one (the very same one that I’ve had for years now)? First apartments don’t always mean first big paychecks or first big budgets. Sometimes you do just have to spend less than you might want. But being mindful of the quality of things you’re purchasing will pay off in the future as you save money from having to constantly replace items that weren’t made as well.

3. You might not know what your style is right away

And that’s okay. Maybe it was the fact that I was still getting my interior design degree when I moved into my first apartment but oh my gosh the PRESSURE. I felt like I needed my space to look good. The moment I moved in. For me to know exactly what I wanted. To feel like my place was a “grown-up” home. The problem with that kind of thinking — of trying to skip over the growing pains of a naturally evolving apartment — is that you might skip over your own style in the process. You never know what you might learn about yourself and your own tastes by getting silly and being young. By not forcing yourself to figure it all out at once.

4. Get into the entertaining habit early

I’ve written before about the differences between coming from parents who entertained and not. I’m not a natural entertainer and the concept is more than a little foreign and uncomfortable for me. Years into apartment living and it still is a little. And I think it’s because I avoided it for a really long time. While I’m better now, I can’t help but feel like if I had started earlier I’d be a down right effortless host and bon vivant (not a sometimes still-nervous party thrower).

5. Always check your curtain visibility at night

Go outside your house at night with the lights on and see how see-through your curtains are. (A lesson learned the hard way, and somewhat related to #2).

6. Life would have been a lot easier if I had adopted a cleaning routine earlier

I can honestly say that my home stays pretty decently clean on the regular these days. But boy has it been a long, cluttered, messy road to this point. I’m not even sure if the idea of a cleaning routine was even in my vocabulary when I was in my early 20s. But with so many lifestyle and cleaning guides available today (our own great posts included) try to tackle this important home life skill earlier rather than later.

What would you add to this list?