First Apartment/Place Advice

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VšnTillBruden Posts : 353 Registered: 1/16/10
First Apartment/Place Advice
Posted: Apr 6, 2010 12:13 PM

Hey everyone!

I'm getting ready to move into my first place soon (rented apartment), and I was wondering what advice you ladies had for me. What do you wish someone had told you when you first moved out on your own? I'm starting all over with furniture, kitchen things, the works. So any advice about various kinds of furniture, where to scrimp vs. where it's important to spend more money, anything would be useful!

Note: I'm not living with my parents. I've been staying with my older brother until my apartment is ready. I'm recieving no financial assistance from my parents, I'm living off my own earnings.

Love me when I least deserve it, because that is when I need it the most. (Swedish proverb)

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: First Apartment/Place Advice
Posted: Apr 6, 2010 1:41 PM Go to message in response to: VšnTillBruden

Dear Van,

Here's what I wish someone would have told me.

Get really organized with bill paying right off the bat. You are probably already doing this, but that's the first thing that came to mind when I read your message.

Have a place for incoming bills and outgoing bill payments, so nothing gets lost in the shuffle of ordinary life. Track your payments using something like Quicken or any other money management software. Set up alerts so you don't forget to pay something.

When you first get your key, and before you've moved in so much as a coffeepot, go around with the landlord/landlady and take pictures of everything. It's so much easier, now, with digital photography. Make notes of any existing damage or worn out areas, and photograph them. Get the landlord to sign off on your notes.

Then, print out all your photos and send them to the landlord and request a note acknowledging receipt. Put copies in your "apartment" file folder, with the rental agreement and any other apartment-related paperwork such as utility turn-ons, etc.

Keep that file in a safe place.

Here's another tip for anyone at any stage of life: Store copies of your important documents in secure online storage. Think about it. If you are organized and prepared for disaster, you would have your birth certificate, passport, etc, in a fire-proof box in your house.

Great, if there's a fire or anything, you just grab that one box.

What if you are not home? What if there is a flood, instead, or earthquake or other disaster?

If you have copies of all your documents in secure online storage, you can get to them no matter what. Lose your passport while overseas? Download the pdf file of your passport, print it out and go in to the embassy or consulate with that copy. Need to enroll your child in school if you are displaced by Hurricane Katrina's evil identical twin? A scanned photocopy of your kid's birth certificate will be sufficient proof of age and citizenship until you can get certified copies from the state.

Take all your important documents, drivers license, passport, car titles, rental agreement, and scan them into PDF files. Then upload to secure online storage. I have done the same with my own wedding photos. You ladies have digital photos, so you can upload them to secure storage without the scanning hassle.

Consider doing this as a nice present for your parents or grandparents. They might now have the equipment nor computer expertise that you have. Talk to Mom, Dad, Grandma and Grandpa and make the offer. Then spend a half day or so scanning and uploading. That's a great present for people who don't need another knick-knack, and it costs you only your own time.

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VšnTillBruden Posts : 353 Registered: 1/16/10
Re: First Apartment/Place Advice
Posted: Apr 6, 2010 2:28 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

Thank you, AOTB, I hadn't even thought to photograph the place for pre-existing conditions/damage! I will definitely be taking some pictures before I move in, so I have everything on record, and I don't wind up with repair fees.

Love me when I least deserve it, because that is when I need it the most. (Swedish proverb)

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BrighterThanSun... Posts : 853 Registered: 10/17/08
Re: First Apartment/Place Advice
Posted: Apr 6, 2010 2:41 PM Go to message in response to: VšnTillBruden

Hey Van!

I am living in a rental house with a few friends and I definitely have a few words of advice--some of which is just seconding what Aunt said.

Firstly--check for any damage that is done to the house. I moved into a place with friends and the carpet was ripping up. At first it wasn't a big deal but a week later I stepped on the patch without thinking and I stepped on a nail from underneath! I sent an email to my landlord and he claimed that there was no proof that we hadn't ripped it up ourselves and that he won't be fixing it. Same with the the broken stove element and the broken oven which we hadn't considered turning on as a 'test' before we rented the place. So now we are struggling with him to fix those problems as well as a few others (broken lock on a bedroom door, lack of smoke alarms, etc.)

This brings me to my second point--fire safety! Make sure that you map out some potential fire routes. I know it seems silly and when my mom kept badgering me that my friends room wasn't fire-friendly incase there was a fire-- I thought she was just being paranoid. Then one of my other friend's houses had a fire! Make sure that you have fire routes mapped out from different locations in your house, adequate working fire alarms and a fire extinguisher.

Thirdly, shop for bargains! I just listed in another thread that I got all of my furniture at an auction house! I love auction houses. Pick up furniture on the side of the road, at garage sales, thrift stores, auction houses, etc. We all bought our own bedroom pieces of furniture (I got a bookshelf, a desk, a chair, a photoframe, a lamp and a queen bed from the auction house.) We then purchased mutual furniture together (dining room table, chairs, coffee table) which we got at an auction house. We had brought two couches and chairs from thrift stores--I believe one couch my friend got on the side of the road. Two pieces of furniture that we had not thought of was a table for our television set to sit on as well as some additional shelving in our living room.

Fourthly, make sure you know the rules of the apartment. Are pets allowed? What are the noise rules? Are parties okay? Be prepared for some possible long nights where there is a party raging upstairs. I know so many friends who live in apartments who complain about the essence of weed drafting into their apartment or the loud bass of music pounding their walls. Just be prepared for different possibilities when in an apartment. Also be aware of what you can and can't do. Think about respecting your neighbours. I'm happy to say that I have never lived in an apartment but one time this year I was watching a movie in my room late at night and all of a sudden my drunken neighbour (who I had never talked to before) stuck his head through my open window and was like "ooo movie!" and it scared the hell out of me. Not everybody respects boundaries! It made a funny story for later...You can completely ignore your new neighbours or be friendly--but remember that respect is key in close living quarters.

Fifthly--bargain shop for bills. I have a plan with Rogers that covers local calls, internet use and fairly basic cable TV. Definitely not the best deal out there. Our bill for 5 people comes up to almost $200 a month. No thanks. I don't even use the phone--I stick to my cellphone where I have a decent deal. We are on contract though but this upcoming year we are going to bargain shop for a better bundle--we know there are many more out there. My rent includes my utilities (water and electricity) so I don't really know what to say there because my landlord covers it and to tell you the truth I have never had to deal with that.

Lastly--remember to personalize the place and make it you! That's the best part of having a place to call your own. I remember before when I was living on campus at my University and I did nothing to make my residence room my own. People used to come and be like 'Wow...it doesn't even look like a bedroom..." because I just really didn't care for my time there at all and spent most of my time away from there because I disliked it so much. Now I have quirkified my bedroom and my house. When people come over and I serve food on my quirky plates from Anthropologie and sit on my couch with cushions that I have made covers for myself--I am much more proud of the space. I love my collection of polaroids that I have displayed proudly. It makes it 'home.'

I'm sure I will think of more later.

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VšnTillBruden Posts : 353 Registered: 1/16/10
Re: First Apartment/Place Advice
Posted: Apr 6, 2010 2:56 PM Go to message in response to: BrighterThanSun...

Brighter, your notes about the fire hazards and neighbor relations definitely got me thinking, thanks! I have to remember to check (when I go to take those pics AOTB told me about) if they have fire alarms & what not. I can't imagine why they wouldn't, but hey, you yourself had an issue with that, so it's not entirely impossible.

I've already met a few of the neighbors. The majority of them are older people (well, older than me, I'm talking like late forties to early sixties), and they seemed very friendly. I'm not a crazy partier; well, I don't bring the parties home. If I'm going out, I'm out for the night. I have no pets, and have no intention to bring any into the apartment after I move in. I grew up with dogs & cats, which also means I grew up with dog & cat hair being all over my clothes and furniture. Time for a change! *;)

As far as shopping for furniture, I'm with you there! I love thrift stores, antique shops, flea markets, all that jazz, and I'm a DIY girl to my core. So personalizing things will not be an issue. Any DIY tips you'd like to share would be MORE than welcome! The place isn't very big. It's a kitchen, a bathroom, and a living space that functions as both a bedroom & a sitting room (gotta love Europe and their space conservation).

Love me when I least deserve it, because that is when I need it the most. (Swedish proverb)

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Jade1107 Posts : 205 Registered: 9/1/07
Re: First Apartment/Place Advice
Posted: Apr 6, 2010 4:39 PM Go to message in response to: VšnTillBruden

Apart from what the other ladies have suggested, I would suggest keeping a running list of "Items Needed".

Making a list of things you think you'll need is never as easy as it may seem. I remember I wanted to bake a cake but didn't own a spatula for scraping! Nor did I own a colander for the longest time. And who knows when you're going to need a garlic press, but you might!

If you have the list handy (ie. one of those magnetic notepads), you can make note of what you need right away, without forgetting what it was! Then, come birthday or Christmas, you have a nice list of things that you need! I did this and my family basically stocked my kitchen. They were so happy to be able to buy me something useful!

Also, not sure if someone mentioned it, but you may want to look into rental insurance. It's about 20$ a month but you just never know. I have this for my apartment and I went around and took pictures of each room, cupboard, closet, etc. Just in case.

Get a decent sized recycling bin! It's such a pain to bring down separate loads of recyclables because I don't have a big enough box!

Knowing just how small apartments can be, you may want to take a look at the Ikea website. I have a few pieces from Ikea because storage is such an issue and their pieces are relatively inexpensive and actually useful!

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VšnTillBruden Posts : 353 Registered: 1/16/10
Re: First Apartment/Place Advice
Posted: Apr 6, 2010 7:07 PM Go to message in response to: Jade1107

IKEA - HAHAHA!

I'm sorry, I had to laugh. I know all about IKEA. It's headquarters is here in Sweden, and all of my furniture thus far has come from there. But thank you for that heads up. *;)

I love your Christmas list idea. I'm one of those girls who never knows what she wants at the holidays, so that's perfect for me.

Love me when I least deserve it, because that is when I need it the most. (Swedish proverb)

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: First Apartment/Place Advice
Posted: Apr 6, 2010 8:15 PM Go to message in response to: VšnTillBruden

Dear Van,

" The place isn't very big. It's a kitchen, a bathroom, and a living space that functions as both a bedroom & a sitting room (gotta love Europe and their space conservation). "

I lived in a place just like that when I was in college, just before I got married. It was perfect for one person, and I loved it.

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BrighterThanSun... Posts : 853 Registered: 10/17/08
Re: First Apartment/Place Advice
Posted: Apr 6, 2010 8:53 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

Ooo I know exactly what you are going to talk about in terms of the layout.

I had a coworker who moved into her own place and invited me to come and hang out there one night--drink a few mojitos and watch movies kind of thing. I knew her boyfriend was coming and that wasn't a problem.

It was in a really sketchy area of town where you don't really want to be outside by your self late at night. A lot of junkies, prostitutes and homeless people live in the area.

Anyways, we were on the computer and then she was getting really tired and said that her and Brian were going to go to bed. I said that I was just going to finish checking my emails and then I would head to bed as well (the couch immediately beside the bed) and about 2 ft away from the desk with the computer. Anyways, it's quiet for a few minutes and then all of a sudden I hear some clothes coming off--okay--maybe they sleep in tee's and underwear. Fine. Wait--is that...kissing? Oh god. Lots of movement and rustling is happening and I am frozen in my spot about 2 feet away. I immediately go to my phone to send a text to get me out of here and my phone has died. Typical. Oh god...moaning has started. Log into my MSN messenger which is a rarity to see if anybody is on who has a car that could come and awkwardly pick me up. Anything would be better than being here right now--except maybe walking the hour trek home alongside junkies, hookers and homeless people--oh, I didn't have any money for a cab--just enough for a bus and the busses had stopped running. Anyways, nobody was online.

I was stuck. I had to awkardly plug my ears, shut my eyes and pretend nothing was happening. After I was sure they fell asleep I moved to the couch and fell asleep.

I left on the earliest bus that was at about 6:30 AM.

Advice for you Van: Don't do that.

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VšnTillBruden Posts : 353 Registered: 1/16/10
Re: First Apartment/Place Advice
Posted: Apr 6, 2010 9:20 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

I'm really happy with the size. I'm a student, and I don't need a lot of space, since I have no roommates or pets. Besides, the place is cozy. *:)

And, wow, Brighter, that is so gross! Some people have no decency...

Love me when I least deserve it, because that is when I need it the most. (Swedish proverb)

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BrighterThanSun... Posts : 853 Registered: 10/17/08
Re: First Apartment/Place Advice
Posted: Apr 6, 2010 9:24 PM Go to message in response to: VšnTillBruden

Yep.

I remember when I first stepped in and I was like "Aw, perfect space for 1 newly independent person!"
Turns out it's not perfect for 3 people, especially when two want to have a 'good night.'

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VšnTillBruden Posts : 353 Registered: 1/16/10
Re: First Apartment/Place Advice
Posted: Apr 7, 2010 11:27 AM Go to message in response to: VšnTillBruden

What were some of the things you ladies didn't think to buy before you moved in, but soon realized was a complete necessity?

Love me when I least deserve it, because that is when I need it the most. (Swedish proverb)

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Marryingmytruel... Posts : 135 Registered: 2/11/10
Re: First Apartment/Place Advice
Posted: Apr 7, 2010 12:41 PM Go to message in response to: VšnTillBruden

Before I moved out of my parents' house I went around through all the rooms with a memo pad and thought about what I actually used in each room. For example I opened up the bathroom medicine cabinet and wrote down what items I used like nail clippers, aspirin, bandaids, etc. It helped me to get a list going.


Daisypath Wedding tickers

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: First Apartment/Place Advice
Posted: Apr 7, 2010 12:55 PM Go to message in response to: VšnTillBruden

Dear Van,

" What were some of the things you ladies didn't think to buy before you moved in, but soon realized was a complete necessity?"

Office supplies. Three-hole punch. Stapler. Supply of pens.

I was so used to raiding my parents' desks that I didn't think of those things when I first moved out. Now, that's the kind of thing I give graduating high school seniors.

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BrighterThanSun... Posts : 853 Registered: 10/17/08
Re: First Apartment/Place Advice
Posted: Apr 7, 2010 4:24 PM Go to message in response to: BrighterThanSun...

Aunt is right.

I still have to go to my housemate to grab a stapler on a biweekly basis. Other things such as tape, hole punch I had completely forgotten about.

Other things were kitchen supplies. A flipper. I had my fancy silicone spatula but I had forgotten a flipper for my pancakes, my grilled sandwiches, etc. Also--a whisk. I still haven't gotten that whisk--I use a fork.

Dishtowels! Wash cloths! I brought 2 dishtowels and a couple wash clothes. I definitely need more unless I want to do laundry all the freaking time. They disappear like socks and they get dirty fast!

A laundry hamper. I still don't have a laundry hamper and my room can get super disgusting by the piling of dirty clothes in the corner that all of a sudden spills and scatters itself all over my bedroom. That's going to go on the birthday wishlist! My Mom loves getting things that are useful and I am going away for the summer so it would be silly for me to by one for myself now.

Adequate clothes hangers. All of my housemates and I bought a set each of clothes hangers. I think 4/5 of us went back to get more. I ended up buying 2 sets of 10. I thought 10 would be more than enough--I have about 6 dresses and a few sweaters but then with things such as coats, nice shirts, my bathrobe and future clothing purchases there was no way that I could hang everything I wanted to.

You don't have many rooms but I would recommend having a small rubbish bin for each room. Just something small and plastic would suffice.

Lightbulbs. It's so frustrating when a light goes out and there is none left. We usually go a few days in the dark before one of us sucks it up and heads to get a new set of lightbulbs. I can see my lamp one dying right now and am already squirming at the thought of going to the hardware store in the next couple days. Ugh.

Batteries. Figure out what your electronics need and have an extra set of batteries. Like lightbulbs, it's frustrating having something that can't work until you buck it up and go get some batteries.

A toolkit. There has a been a few times where we have needed a wrench for a loose knut or needed a screwdriver for a loose screw. We were lucky that one of our housemates brought a toolkit. I never would have thought of that.

A water filter. I don't know how the water in your apartment is but the water in our house tastes like metal. I'm not big on buying those cases of plastic waterbottles for environmental purposes. I have a stainless steel waterbottle that I walk around with but I'm not a fan of the water in our house. I keep meaning to buy our house a Brita filter but it's another one of those things that will probably just head onto the birthday list.

Mmmm that's all I can think of for now. Hope I helped!

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