The extremely short version of this post is that I am no longer in the first apartment I moved into. I’ve vaguely talked about it on Instagram but I’m finally going into detail about what actually prompted me to move.
This is probably the longest post I’ve written but I hope someone can be helped. Let’s get started shall we?
First thing’s first. I was too hasty and placed all of my eggs into one basket. My desire to prove I could be independent outweighed the fact I should have taken a little more time deciding on my first place to live. When I saved my first $5,000, I decided it marked my ability to prove I was financially responsible and I moved out while simultaneously scheduling a surgery. I thought I was taking adulthood by and it was all good until it absolutely wasn’t.
The apartment I moved into was not “move-in ready.” What does this mean? Well, the carpet was stained, dusty and dirty not to mention there were dark grease stains in between the kitchen cabinets. There was also a stale smell in the apartment every single day, no matter how much I cleaned or sprayed. A downstairs neighbor later confirmed it was likely due to mold or mildew because she once dealt with the same thing in her kitchen. It was so bad that she was constantly sick and it eventually began to affect her son.
Besides that, I also found numerous cracks in the dry wall that were connected to the straw that broke the camel’s back. I had a palmetto bug problem.
If you’re wondering what a palmetto bug is, it is a “glorified” name for water bugs. If you’re from Florida then you already know what water bugs are. If you’re unfamiliar, I will give you this tip early because apartment complexes will try to play mind games with you. Water bugs are not different from smaller cockroaches. It’s just a name they have been given…think lizards and geckos. Still in the same family. The only difference is that water bugs are from a different location compared to their smaller counterparts. Get it? No matter how you slice and dice it, water bugs are roaches.
While I only dealt with roaches, there are some unfortunate people that have dealt with mice in their apartments. Allison Day shared that a landlord told her that it wasn’t his problem to deal with when the entire apartment building she once lived in developed a mice problem. In a case like this, you can hire an outside exterminator but it can be pricey, especially if an entire apartment building develops the same problem. Apartment complexes and landlords are sometimes too lazy to do anything about the actual problem and know that for every complaint they receive, someone else is accepting of whatever they have.
After a few months of placing work order after work order, I decided to let the property manager of my old apartment complex know I was leaving. Just a heads up, this did not come without a fee (just a little under $1000). There is usually a termination penalty fee (base rent price) that comes with ending your lease early and you forfeit your security deposit. Depending on how severe a situation is, you may be able to avoid it but be prepared for a complex/management company to seek compensation for you terminating your lease. Luckily I did have enough money saved to remove myself from a less than stellar situation but that’s not always the case for everyone.
Jumping back to the present, I am now in a living situation that involves roommates and I live in a better area. As someone who didn’t want to deal with having roommates again after my freshmen year of college experiences, I know it’s a necessity for the time being. I’ve been able to sleep peacefully at night as a result of putting my pride aside and researching before making another financial decision.
I have cried, felt sorry for myself, vented and more throughout this process BUT I am coming out on the other side as a relieved woman. I’m also a little wiser and patient because hastiness can bring a heap of trouble your way. Since I am learning the art of taking my mistakes and doing something useful with them, I decided to share some tips with you. I’m giving some “no tea, no shade” tips about moving into your first apartment if you haven’t taken that step yet. Trust me, you want to pay attention.
DO NOT PASS GO SALLY. READ THIS PART CAREFULLY.
- If you have time, research apartment and leasing laws in your state. This should be one of the first things you do before you start looking at apartment complexes. You need to be aware of your rights as a renter and what apartment complexes/landlords are legally able to do. You also want to make sure you are aware of what apartment complexes/landlords are actually responsible for (usually outlined in the lease).
- Save. Your. Money. FOMO (fear of missing out) is a figment of your imagination. If emergency situations arise or you’re having issues with your apartment + the leasing office, you need to make sure you have extra funds available. I had surgery days after I moved and was out of work for three weeks (personal days and sick leave were used up). SAVE THE COINS!
- Look at apartment complexes that are within your budget. If you do not keep track of all of your expenses, it would be wise to start. Sometimes utilities are not included in rent so you would have to factor that in. This includes internet and cable. Sometimes you can get a package deal that includes both but, again, factor in extra utility costs.
- Find at least three – four apartment complexes to compare and research the actual management company of the complexes. Look up online reviews and take note of what people are saying, good AND bad. Also check to see when the complexes were built. If most of the negative reviews have anything to do with slow maintenance, an unkempt trash area, bug or rodent infestations, or mold/mildew complaints, maybe continue your search…I’m lying about the maybe. Keep it moving.
- Don’t ignore your instincts. If something feels strange during an apartment tour, you’re not overreacting. You have to feel comfortable when visiting a potential place you may call home. Anyone can sell you the best parts of a complex or model unit. Listen to your instincts.
- Don’t rule out the idea of a roommate, even if you do not want one (trust me, I get it). Independence is great but so is living within your budget, paying off debt and saving money. Choose the option you can truly afford.
- If you find a place that you like, fill out an application and get approved, CONGRATULATIONS! Make sure you read the lease THOROUGHLY! Do not sign anything until you understand your rights as a tenant and do not let anyone rush you during the process. If you feel rushed during the lease signing process OR if you sign the lease, get shown your apartment but things are not up to par (i.e. the apartment isn’t move in ready or what was promised isn’t anywhere to be found), you have the option to walk away. This is harder when you’re moving from one state to another so please plan accordingly.
- LAST BUT NOT LEAST: take your time and be patient. Don’t base your decision to move into your first place on the opinions of others. The cost of living is nothing to be taken lightly and the opinions of others will not pay your bills. They also will not be there should you run into an issue with a place you’re spending your hard earned money on.
If you have anymore apartment tips to add, let me know in the comments.