Moving Into Your First Apartment

by Kelly · 5 comments

in Living Frugally

I remember moving into my first apartment. I was eighteen years old, leaving my father’s house and moving in with my best friend and her boyfriend. They already had an apartment, modestly furnished with Goodwill finds, so all I had to do was bring me and my stuff.

It was a long distance move, from the Los Angeles area to the Bay Area, and I was able to fit all my worldly possessions (and my two cats) into the back of my four door Ford Escort hatchback. Of course my worldly possessions didn’t amount to much: clothes, books, CDs, my twin sized futon. I did have to leave my bike with my father; I picked it up on another trip.

Because my best friend and her boyfriend were already living in the apartment, and had been for several months, I didn’t have to pay a deposit. I was only responsible for my share of the rent ($225) a month, and one third of utilities. (Interestingly enough, it is very rare to live with roommates in France. Most people move immediately into a studio apartment.)

By the time my new husband and I moved out three years later, to an apartment closer to his work, we had accumulated a mid-size U-Haul’s worth of stuff, and needed five or six navy guys to move it all. Quite the difference! And although I pared down my possessions again for my move to France eight years ago, somehow I have managed to fill a house again with… stuff.

But your possessions and having enough pots and a dresser for your socks are only the tip of the iceberg when you fly out of the nest for the first time. It’s easy to forget about recurring costs when you are dreaming about moving out of your parents’ house and into your own home.

When I moved in with my best friend, I only thought about how the rent and utilities would fit into my budget. I didn’t really think about the other financial implications of living away from my parents (I was eighteen, after all). Food is a biggie; even splitting groceries three ways means having to spend money on them. Not to mention the little things like wanting to go out more often or having to pay to do laundry.

When my first husband and I found our first apartment together, there were a myriad of one time fees to consider: agency fee, first and last security deposit, carpet cleaning, key deposit to name a few. There were also numerous long term costs related to the move: increased gas consumption, as we were moving further from my work, road tolls for my commute, utilities being divided by two people and not three or four. The list goes on and on, not only for bills, but also for things.

PS: For a great checklist of the things you might need when setting up house, make sure to check out Squawkfox’s printable checklist of first apartment essentials.

What do you feel are important financial considerations to consider when moving out on your own for the first time? What was it like for you to move into your first apartment or house? Was it a financial shock? And how much was your first rent?


1 Michelle September 15, 2008

It makes me sad to think about how much money I've spent on rent in the past ten years. But then again, I didn't have to pay land tax or water and sewage or maintenance fees.

I've always had at least one roomate (except for a stint in a cheap bachelor apt during college). But in a few months I'll be living on my own for the first time.

Michelle's last blog post..Move Over June Cleaver!

2 Amber Jones September 15, 2008

I was living with my parents up until I got married (I was 18). I was scared to death when I moved in with my new husband, not because I was now married, but because now we had to pay for an apartment(!) that was MORE than the rent my parents ever paid on their house(!). (We were now living in a big city verses a little town) Our first rent was $700 a month, and when we found out a month later we were pregnant, we started thinking about the need to move into a bigger apartment. After all, the first one was only a one bedroom. So about 2-3 months later, we transferred to a bigger apartment in the same community, and it went up to $850 a month I believe. Things went south there because our neighbors were horrible, and we ended up getting out of our lease with no strings attached and moved about 3 months later back to my home town where we rented a two bedroom house(!) for $550 a month. Considerably less than the apartment, and much more space considering the fact we now had a yard!

Now we live in a big town again, and we rent an apartment again for $1022 a month for a 3 bedroom. It’s a nice size with enough amenities – but now we have to take into consideration the fact that my husband has to drive farther to work (and pay tolls too!!! ugh!) It’s worth it tho I suppose to be somewhere you are finally “content and happy”.

Amber Jones’s last blog post..Lehman Brothers and the Dangers of an Irrational Brain

3 Shevy September 15, 2008

My first place was a studio apartment in an older building in Vancouver. I moved about a half hour into town from a quiet subdivision in Surrey (big house on 1/3 of an acre) because my new job for the telephone company was right downtown. I could take one bus directly to work in about 10 or 15 minutes. The cost? $175/mo. I was 17, just about to turn 18 and the ink on my high school diploma was barely dry.

The building is still there; I drive past it every time I give Eldest Daughter a ride to work.

Nowadays an older studio is probably in the $600 to $800 range.

4 Squawkfox September 15, 2008

Hi Kelly! Thank you so much for the mention! Moving into my first apartment was a mess. I'll never forget the confusion, the cost, and that hideous futon! LOL Wish I knew then what I know now. 🙂

Squawkfox's last blog post..Recipes: 4 Cheap and Healthy Rapini (Broccoli Raab) Dinners

5 Raymond Chandler April 30, 2009

My new apartment was across town and friends help me to move a lot of my items. If you’ve got to move later plan far ahead of time if you can. I saved on the move since I wanted to cut cost I used a nice moving company a friend suggested because they stood me up and felt guilty. I appreciated the help because all of my friends who wanted to help had weird schedules. I still had a party to thank them for helping once I was set up so it was all a good experience.

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