One of the highlights of being an adult is that you can establish your own life and own home. Of course one of the toughest parts about growing up, is being able to find that perfect first apartment and make it feel like home.
When I was in college, I relied on campus dorms, living in a sorority house, and then off-campus apartments, which were facilitated by our university. As a result, I really didn’t have to put much thought into where I would live, the cost of utilities, etc. Basically life was pretty darn nice. However, when I decided to move to New York, I had to face the reality of moving across the country to a city I had barely visited, plus the whole concept of apartment living, utilities, water, and more.
For those of you who have lived in the city or dealt with the lovely process of finding an apartment, you will understand the chaos that could potentially ensue. There’s the question of broker fees, the false advertisements on Craigslist, the question of which little part of the city you want to live in. I thought I was just moving to Manhattan. But like every other city, it’s made up of different zones, regions, or sections. We’ll just call it my blonde moment, ok? I didn’t know any different. Oh, and there was one last part – coming to terms with the absurd prices associated with minuscule apartments. You want to live in New York? Well, better be ready to cough up the big bucks.
^^ I’m sure we’d all love an apartment that picturesque
I was adamant about avoiding a broker and instead locked myself to our family computer and began to browse website after website. There was craigslist, too many random roommate websites to list, StreetEasy, and more. After a couple weeks of searching and a couple connections and misses, I finally landed myself with two roommates and my first real apartment.
For the first 9-12 months, we lived with a hodge-podge of furniture. It didn’t look grown-up but it did the trick. We inherited a couch here and picked up an Ikea table there and things came together. I don’t think any of us pictured the end result of the apartment, but with some Pinterest projects and last minute candles, it became an entirely different atmosphere.
^^ Ok, it’s not the put together room, but hey, it’s the first go-around
Some of our tips for making your first apartment a success:
- Look for the nearest Ikea – Sure, you may associate Ikea with cheap but believe me, there are some gems in that store that will help you re-create your style in your new abode.
- Other gems include: Amazon Prime, HomeGoods, TJMaxx, and Marshalls
- Look for roommates or flatmates to bring down the cost of living. You probably have had 2-4 years of experience with college roommates and now know what it takes to have a viable relationship with your roommates/flatmates.
- Make sure to ask the big and small questions – are they in a relationship (significant others are fun to have over, but are you paying for them to stay there essentially? hey, it’s a valid question), how do they feel about friends coming over, what’s their work/study schedule, etc.
~ Think about what makes you comfortable ~
- At first I thought I didn’t need a TV. Then I realized that I find comfort in listening to the background noise of football on the weekends or weeknight news (and reality news) programs. So, we purchased a TV.
- Candles – They can be festive and smell oh so nice. (Yes, I use fire safety and make sure they are extinguished before we leave the room.)
- Posters and pictures – Sure I’m an adult but that doesn’t mean I can’t have my photo-collages. I may just have to make it look a little more mature and organized 🙂
- I love to bake cook and it turns out so do my roommates. As a result, finding a place with a full kitchen was extremely important for us.
- Nature – Ok, big request when one is living in a city, but you’ll come to find that there are hidden gems across the concrete jungle. Even having some trees outside your apartment will make things 10x better.
Now, a year or so later, I’d like to think of myself a little bit wiser. I am fully versed in the small sections of the city and understand what I would like to spend on an apartment and what I can actually afford. I’ve learned that some areas of the city are fun to be in for an hour, and that I do not want to live in an area that only tourists are familiar with. Times Square? You’ve got to be crazy.
I recently found out about Compass, a real estate program or platform that facilitates apartment rentals and sales for the city. It even has a feature that connects people with the neighborhoods and NYC apartments that match their interests. We are already thinking about where we need to move next (cheaper! ha! if only…) so this is perfect. I absolutely love the feature that allows you to “visit” the neighborhoods and adjust the listings by price, location, and bedrooms.
They even have agents who will help you schedule visits and find additional apartments. I have a few months before I really need to start searching, but am already using this site to learn the different price points across the city! Seriously, this site is a gold mine and I only share with you my favorites 🙂
How do you decorate to make your apartment feel like home?