Don’t Make These 7 Rookie Mistakes in Your First Apartment

Getting your first apartment is so exciting! It feels like you’ve opened up a new chapter in the story of your life. But, with new opportunities comes a whole new set of responsibilities.

We’ve made a list of some common first apartment mistakes for you to avoid in your new place.

1. Forgetting that you don’t own the place


Moving into your first apartment creates a new-found sense of independence. But, you have to remember that you still don’t own this place. Even though your apartment is a place where you can come and go freely, you’ll still need to be mindful of your landlord’s rules.

There are likely a set of guidelines to follow set out in your lease. That’s why you should have a copy of your lease easily accessible in your apartment. Generally, you shouldn’t throw noisy parties, have long-term guests that aren’t on the lease or make any major cosmetic changes like painting or upgrades without prior approval.

If you’re ever in doubt about whether you can or can’t do something in your rented apartment, just contact your landlord to confirm. The old adage, “better to ask for an apology than permission,” does not apply to a tenant-landlord relationship.

Something as simple as putting a hole in the wall or violating quiet hours regulations could end up getting you kicked out or cause you to lose some of your deposit. Landlords have the legal right to kick renters out for breaking even the smallest rule.

2. Rushing the move and unpacking process


Unless you forego sleep, your new place won’t feel complete in one week’s time. It may even take several months before your home feels finished. In fact,, says unpacking will likely take a week to a month to complete.

If you try to rush the moving and unpacking process, you’ll likely end up forgetting or damaging something. We know that moving into your first place is exciting but take your time. In the end, it will be worth it.

It’s a good idea to make a moving schedule based around obligations like school, work or something else. If you set reasonable deadlines for yourself, unpacking should be a breeze.

3. Involving your parents

parents helping to move

If you’re a first-time renter, chances are, you’re on the younger side of life. Maybe you’re even just leaving your parents’ home for the first time. If this is you, you may be tempted to take your parents along on your renting journey. After all, they’ve been in your shoes before.

But, to a landlord or property manager, involving your parents displays a sense of immaturity and dependence. You might not get the same respect during and after the leasing process if your landlord knows you rely on your parents to be an adult.

However, you should definitely involve your family and friends — parents included — in the moving process. Moving is very difficult, especially if you think you’ll do it alone, so any extra help should be appreciated.

4. Spending too much on aesthetics

decorating an apartment

One of the most common first apartment mistakes is an over-focus on cosmetics. You might be tempted to max out your credit card to have the Pinterest-ready apartment of your dreams, but you need to be real with yourself. Only spend within your means at first and understand you can make incremental improvements as you spend more time there.

That doesn’t mean you can’t have a beautiful space to call home, you’ll just need to do it on a budget. You can do things like:

  • Go to garage sales
  • Upcycle your existing pieces
  • Hunt for thrift store bargains
  • Check often for online sales at your favorite stores

5. Incorrect design choices

old chairs

While we’re on the subject of aesthetics, another common first apartment mistake has to do with following some basic rules of design. Things like decorating around natural lighting, hanging pictures at the proper height and working with design scale are not things we all inherently know to do, especially in our first place.

Read up on design to make sure you don’t make any glaring mistakes when decorating your first apartment.

6. Moving in without the essentials

air mattress

It’s pretty amazing to think about how much stuff you need at the base level just to survive. You’ll have to buy all sorts of new things just to cook a meal in your apartment — bowls, seasonings, aluminum foil, cookware, silverware and much more.

When you factor in the rest of our essentials like toiletries, bedding, clothes hangers and other storage options, you truly do need a ton of basic essentials to make an apartment into a home.

Before you commit to a place, be prepared to either gather these essentials or live without them for a little bit of time. This is especially hard if you’re just moving out of your parents’ or family home where you’ll likely leave behind most of your stuff.

7. Foregoing renters insurance

broken pipe

Renters insurance is very important, but not everyone thinks to pay for a plan. Fortunately, it’s typically pretty cheap, with most plans falling at or below $20 monthly.

USAA estimates that renters in a two-bedroom apartment have about $20,000 worth of possessions. You can easily find out an estimate of the worth of items in your apartment using a super-simple graphic tool provided by Allstate.

Renters insurance can protect you from damage to your personal belongings and can even pay for the medical costs of anyone hurt while in your unit. Plans vary so you should always do research but at the very least you should at least have some sort of renters insurance plan. For a small monthly fee, you can protect yourself from serious financial loss.

If you stay prepared, you can avoid making any first apartment mistakes

Everyone will be a first-time renter at some point, and so many people have been in your shoes before you. The best thing you can do is follow our advice and learn from their mistakes.

First apartment mistakes can be avoided. Rather than winging it, you’ll be much happier with your move if you take steps to prepare yourself ahead of time. Moving is never easy, but you owe it to yourself to be educated on first apartment mistakes and how to avoid them.

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Timothy HarrisTimothy Harris is a freelance writer based in Albuquerque. He brings a professional background in event marketing, residential real estate and journalism to the table to provide useful and relevant content for the modern renter. Timothy has previously written content for Karsten & Associates in New Mexico and Up 'til Dawn, a philanthropic fundraiser that benefits St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

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