You’re finally free! You have your diploma, some new wisdom, and maybe even a new job. It’s basically the ideal time to search for the perfect apartment too! You might have shared a place with a few roomies in college, but your first YoPro apartment will be exclusively your own – a testament to everything you’ve accomplished so far and everything you’re sure to accomplish in the future. Of course, there are a few important questions you can ask yourself throughout the process to keep your head on straight and help you get the ultimate place!
Can I Afford It?
Affordability is one of the most important things to keep in mind when searching for a place, especially now that you’re out on your own. After all, this is one of the largest expenses that you’ll have to bear, so it’s key to get the number right. The traditional rule-of-thumb when it comes to apartment affordability: Your rent should be roughly 30% of your monthly income. Of course, this is a blanket statement that doesn’t apply to everyone. Your monthly expenses and bills should be factored into this calculation, but it’s a great place to start when determining your ideal price range.
Many landlords will financially screen their tenants to ensure that you’re getting an apartment you can afford. Typically, they like to see a solid credit score, along with proof of income. Most landlords tend to enjoy seeing an income that’s roughly 3 times the rent price, though this varies from place to place. You may have to get a co-signer if your credit history is non-existent.
Trying to cut down on price without throwing away your standards (and dignity)? No prob! There are a few tips and tricks you can use to knock the price down. Firstly, take location into consideration. Any apartments that are close to grocery stores, popular restaurants, hot bars, and other luxuries will cost more than an equally lovely apartment only a few blocks away. Secondly, find a building you love and look at units on the top floors. These are sometimes cheaper than other areas of the building, since people don’t exactly love the idea of hauling themselves up a few flights of stairs every day. Willingness to travel or walk a few extra steps every day may end up saving you a few hundred dollars a month.
Still finding rent prices in your area a pinch distressing? Consider seeking out a trusted friend (or two) and get some roommates to split the rent with. After all, the more the merrier, right?
Where Should I Go?
“Oh, the places you’ll go!” once wrote the famous Dr. Seuss. The location of your apartment is almost as important as affordability. It’ll determine where you spend most of your off time, what kind of neighbors you’ll have, and the sort of community you’ll be a part of.
Assuming you already have a job offer in place or a city in mind, start researching which neighborhoods would be ideal for you. Instead of searching for places near campus or within walking distance of all the college dives, you should be looking for a place that’s close to work and/or known for catering to people in their mid-20’s. Of course, identifying which neighborhoods are geared towards college-aged people and which are more directed towards young professionals can be a bit of a challenge. Typically more upscale areas close to a city’s bustling business centers – like a city’s downtown or financial district – are heaven for young professionals. If you’re more of an artsy professional, you can look in some of the art or entertainment districts for your perfect place. This will put you close to local culture and some of the most hip hot spots in the city.
Not sure where you’re headed? Don’t start worrying yet. Find out which cities are ideal for young professionals. These areas typically boast a bunch of potential employers, low unemployment rates, and awesome social scenes for 20-somethings. While big cities like New York City, San Francisco, and Los Angeles can be great options, many smaller cities offer a lower cost of living that’ll make it significantly easier to be independent (without burring a giant hole in your wallet).
What Amenities Should I Look For?
As a young professional, you should be looking for different amenities than a college student. Depending on what job you’ve snagged, you also might be able to afford more lavish features, so take advantage!
This may be the first time that you’ll be living alone, so an apartment with secure access or other security system might be ideal. Gated parking can also help you feel safer when you’re walking out to your car or coming home late from a gathering with friends.
Since you’ll likely be busier than ever, you should look for amenities that will make the daily grind a little easier for you. Find an apartment with fancier appliances that’ll cut down on cleaning time, like dishwashers and garbage disposals. EnergyStar appliances will suck up less power and keep your monthly electric costs reasonable. In college you might not have taken all of your stuff with you, but once you clean out your parent’s house and take ownership of your things, walk-in closets and ample amount of storage space can also come in handy when choosing an apartment. These features will allow you to spend less time maintaining your space and more time enjoying life outside of work!
On the recreational end of things, finding an apartment with access to on-site fitness centers, swimming pools, and different sport courts (basketball, tennis, racquetball, etc.) will allow you to be physically fit. This is more important than ever if you spend most of your day sitting at a desk! After all, why join a gym that you’ll have to drive or walk to when you could have one right at home?
How Should I Decorate?
Now that you’re out of college, the days of pizza box coffee tables and lawn chair lounging in the living room are long gone. But how do you even begin to furnish and decorate your apartment like an adult when your budget isn’t infinite? Lucky for you, it’s actually easier to get a Pinterest-worthy place than you might think.
Keep in mind that you should purchase only the essentials at first, including a bed, sofa, side chair, coffee table, and desk. You can grab something affordable at Ikea or pick through antique shops to snag a deal if you’re the thrifty, DIY type. Feel free to splurge a little on classic pieces that will stand the test of time (not the designer fox-shaped pillow you’ll want to toss in the trash 6 months from now).
Though decorative accents are what truly injects personality into an apartment, some pieces will take you further than others. It’s a good idea to focus on pieces that bridge the practical and the decorative. For example, a beautiful mirror can not only expand a smaller studio apartment, but can also provide a unique decorative touch depending on its shape, frame, size, etc. Quirky lamps can also be a great multi-purpose investment, as they can lend the apartment some character while still providing light. Always select items that reflect your personal sense of style and swagger. After all, it’s the first place that’s all yours!
Don’t panic if things don’t look right for the first few months after you move in. Part of the fun of decorating an apartment is that it slowly comes together piece by piece, so there’s no need to buy everything at once!
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