Home Sweet Home: Here’s How To Survive In Your First Apartment
We spend the first eighteen to twenty years of our lives living under our parent’s roof so it can be a bit of a shock to the system when you pack up, move out and start living on your own for the first time. In our heads, we’ve held on to the childish fantasy that living sans adults will be fantastic, and just like in movies and TV shows full of non-stop parties, sleepovers that never end and the chance to eat all the junk food you want without someone saying ‘it’s not good for you’.
While there’s technically nothing stopping you doing all these things, in fact, many young adults do you’ll soon realise that living by yourself is a little less ‘life in the dreamhouse’ and more ‘can’t be bothered to cook, but there’s no one else to feed me!’ That’s right, all the lovely, nutritious and home cooked meals that you’ve eaten over the years don’t just appear by magic. Chances are you’ll gain a newfound respect and admiration for your mother now you’re forced to make more than just a snack when you’re hungry.
We’re sure you’ll have an incredible housewarming party, make sure you invite the neighbours, but beyond that, your landlord will probably have a stern word with you about ‘excessive noise after eleven pm’. You could have a week long sleepover but would you want to? The chances are if you’ve gotten enough money together to move out of leafy suburbia and into the bright, beautiful city you’re in paid employment and will need to work hard.
So what about the junk food binges? Well, it’s entirely possible to live off take out, but it’s going to cost you. The average McDonalds meal can now set you back around ten dollars, so imagine just how high regular delivery costs could get. Over time not only will a diet low in nutrients, vitamins and minerals lead to all sorts of health problems, but you’ll also see the pounds start to pile on which is why so many young adults put on at a stone if not more in their first year at college.
Stick To A Budget
Overspending is the most common reason that 20-somethings get into debt or have to borrow money off their parent’s because they can’t afford to pay rent. As soon as your paycheck comes in each month, one of your first priorities should be making sure that your rent is paid, on time, in full and to the right person. Just because someone is the landlord of your building doesn’t mean they deal with finances, the chances are they may employ a property management company to take care of tenant related issues so do check first. Be aware most landlords are fairly decent people. If a payroll issue means your rent is late once that’s ok just let them know when they can expect the money to be transferred.
However, don’t get cocky and assume that it’ll be okay if the rent’s late every month, as it’s written into the terms and conditions of most housing contracts that rent needs to be paid on time or the tenant can risk eviction. Once, your rent’s been paid then it’s time to take care of other bills like utilities, tax, cable, cell contract, and gym membership then whatever’s left is yours to what you please with although we recommend getting groceries in! You could even use the envelope system, where you draw out as much cash as possible, write down all your expenses on different envelopes and put the corresponding amounts in them, so you know that you’ve got the money to pay bills well in advance.
Get Into The Kitchen
We’ve already mentioned briefly about the importance of cooking and now’s the time to learn how. Cooking is relatively easy, fun and incredibly rewarding as well as helps you save money so you can afford to go out for drinks, watch a movie, or go away for the weekend. If you’ve not had much cooking experience that’s ok as many 20-somethings are lacking culinary skills – some can’t even boil an egg! Start slowly with easy meals like tomato and basil pasta, sausages, eggs and beans on toast and tuna bake. Then, once you’ve built up confidence try your hand at more complicated dishes like lasagna, roast chicken and beef casserole.
Ask to borrow recipe books from friends and family, or go online where you’ll find plenty of tutorials on how to make quick, easy and convenient meals from scratch. Why not take a cooking class at your local community college? That way you’ll also learn about food safety, proper hygiene and basic cooking methods such as proving, making a roux and creaming ingredients together.
For a fun alternative to a movie night take your friends with you! It’s always better to learn together and this way you’ll have some yummy homemade cupcakes or delicious pasta carbonara to take home too!
Cooking doesn’t just give you the satisfaction of knowing you’ve made something, but it’s also a lifelong skill that can open many doors such as hosting a successful dinner party for close work colleagues or impressing your boyfriend’s parents by cooking a three-course meal from scratch.
It may not be the ‘look’ you were going for but you don’t want to spend all your wages on furnishing somewhere that classes the bathroom as a ‘room’. Don’t turn your nose up at second-hand furniture, chairs, wardrobes and bookcases especially if you’ve moved into an unfurnished apartment. Pretend you were going for the vintage, or shabby chic look all along and when you’ve got some spare cash buy yourself some pretty throws, down comforters, cute cushions and a jute rug to make the place feel more homely.
Free furniture is always better than no furniture so if your mom offers you her spare table then take it! Accept your aunt’s old sofa or your newly married cousin’s ancient desk it won’t be forever we promise but right now it’s as good as you’re going to get! You can also look on sites like Ebay, Etsy and Craigslist in order to search for what you need and you never know you may find a bargain. However, make sure that delivery is included in the price or that you have access to a van in order to go collect that lovely set of four dining chairs.
If You Don’t Know – Ask!
No one’s expecting you to get it right straight away so if you have any questions about your appliances, building maintenance or what to do if you get locked out ask your landlord. If you want to know why electricity is so expensive call up your provider and ask them. Think you could get a better deal on your cable package? Go ahead and question why your apartment has some channels pre-installed.
The only way you’ll ever feel comfortable challenging someone who may know more than you is by asking and as an adult yourself it’s ok to do so! Don’t forget your parents because they’ll want to help you as much as they can. Your mom will be more than happy to explain to you how to do a hot wash load of laundry, or your dad to show you what to do when the fuse box conks out. Even if everything’s fine, you’ve got all your ducks in a row and know how to work your boiler give them a call anyway. It’ll be just as strange for them knowing that you won’t run downstairs at any moment because you’ve moved out and are living elsewhere.