By Stephanie Avery.
I moved out of the dorms at the end of last year and I learned a lot from the experience. I don’t regret my decision, but here are somethings I wish someone had said to me.
1.) Are you sure it’s the right move?
Consider why you’re moving out of the dorms. Is it one bad roommate? Is it the particular dorm you are in? Do you think you can find a cheaper spot somewhere else? Whatever it is, make sure it’s something that will be fixed by moving into your own place. Take into consideration the extra security of the dorms and the convenience of buses and dining halls that you may lose in moving out.
2.) Get a budget
If it is the right move, establishing a budget is crucial for living on your own. Once you have calculated your living expenses, you need to figure out a realistic way to pay them. Setting a budget is hard, but sticking to them is harder. Since not everyone is an economic mastermind with the discipline of a Tibetan monk, having to set your own limitations is a struggle the first time.
You will most likely go over budget occasionally, and definitely when you first move in. Pay attention to why you overspend. If it’s stress related, find a new way to cope. If it’s going out a lot, figure out cheap ways to meet up or flat out say you don’t have the money.
3.) Figure out where you want to live
Finding a place to live off campus can be super hard and incredibly stressful, but it doesn’t have to be. Research neighborhoods and find one that makes you feel the most comfortable. Maybe you want to stay close to a specific academic hall, or bus stop, but you can’t pay downtown prices alone.
Perhaps you want to be in midtown for a yard, but you’re only willing to travel so far. There are also housing facilities for students who are making the move from on-campus to off-campus. These student living apartments can be nice bridges between dorms and a solo-apartment, but they can be a bit pricey.
Make sure you have the time to get done what needs to be done. The resources you need to live on your own are critical. Paying rent is more important than buying a coffee every morning. Just because you can party till 3 a.m doesn’t mean you can skimp on school work. With greater freedom comes greater temptations, but remember to make learning at SCAD your biggest focus.
5.) The devil is in the details
You might be ready to move-in, but your apartment may not be. When you move into an apartment there will be a security deposit and you usually have to pay the first and last month’s rent.
You’ll have to turn on the water, contact your local electricity company to get your power on, and install cable (if you plan on having it, but there’s always Netflix). Some places may or may not come with washer and dryer units. Some have leaky pipes. Definitely ask about all the utilities and visit the facility before you settle on a place. A cheap rent might be riddled with extra bills.
Roommates are great to have when you first move out especially when you are looking to cut down on costs. It is essential to make sure your roommate is someone you feel comfortable living with and is reliable. There is a group on Facebook created explicitly for SCAD students looking for a roommate or somewhere to live once they’ve moved off campus. Remember, if you use a Facebook page, it’s still the internet. SCAD student or not, vet the person you might live with.
7.) Living essentials
Moving into an apartment can be expensive outside of rent. You’ll need things like kitchenware, toiletries, furniture, trash cans, cleaning supplies, and anything else you may need to live comfortably. Remember you don’t have to get everything all at once. Get what you need and pick up the rest as you go along.
8.) To work or not to work
Talk with your parents to figure out if you need to get a job or not, and if you do how much money you’ll need to supplement any gaps. Working while in school can get difficult, it may be necessary for some. If retail or serving jobs aren’t your strong suit, this might be the time to start up making contacts and doing freelance work. There are more things to do than the regular retail job. You can be creative with what you do, but be practical because rent doesn’t pay itself.
9.) Course load
Seriously evaluate how you want to arrange your schedule when you first move out. A planned graduation date isn’t as important as your well-being. If this is your first quarter living off-campus, you might want to hold off on a full course load. Once you are confident in your time management, reassess. All that matters is that you get your degree and stay sane while doing it.
10.) Don’t be too hard on yourself
Living independently for the first time is one of the hardest things you could do as a young adult. So, do not be hard on yourself, if you make a mistake don’t stop moving forward and know that if you feel a little lost, you are not alone. And you are doing fine.