While dormitory life may be fun while it lasts, the campus can’t be your home forever. Whether you’ve graduated or simply need a change, sometimes the time is right to take the leap and move into an off-campus apartment. But moving can be tricky at best and if you’re not careful it can escalate into quite an ordeal…

Fortunately, you can make the process as quick and painless as possible. These few tips will smooth out the process considerably, cutting down on stress and mess alike.

Securing your apartment…

  • As soon as you know you want to move, begin looking for apartments! This may seem obvious, but many underestimate the necessity of it. Securing an apartment is rarely a two-week project. Depending on where your college is located, you may have to lock in an apartment months in advance!
  • Factor utilities into your budget when searching for apartments. Utilities are fees you’re never really required to pay when you live on campus, but this isn’t the case with the majority of apartments on the market. You’ll also need to keep in mind the cost of moving in, which is typically the first and last months’ rent plus a deposit.
  • Be sure to check out all of your options. Gone are the days when you can just scan the newspaper or walk in and inquire at any old apartment complex. Instead, consider a mix of Craigslist and Hotpads for your apartment-hunting needs. Hotpads allows you to customize precisely what you’re looking for and where, while Craigslist often offers hot one-time-only deals that can’t be found anywhere else.

Once you have an apartment lined up…

  • Consider the furniture and items that came with your dormitory and your building. These are now things you’ll have to buy for yourself. Some of them are obvious, like a new bed, dressers, desk, etc, while others aren’t quite so intuitive. For example, you’ll need to remember to supply your own toilet paper now that your bathroom isn’t communal. Same goes for a shower curtain, bathroom tools (toothbrush holder, soap dish, etc), kitchen utensils, and more. A more thorough list can be found on The Prospect!
  • Consider looking into finding some roommates. As tempting as it is to have an entire apartment to yourself, the ability to split the cost of rent, utilities, and oftentimes even groceries is definitely worth sharing your space. And look on the bright side: Unlike dormitory roommates, these you actually get to choose.
  • Toss or donate anything you can stand to lose. Everything you keep, you’ll have to pack up and move to your new apartment – and the little things absolutely add up.

After you’ve moved…

  • Keep track of your budget. You’re now juggling more financial responsibility than you’ve ever had in your life, so it’s absolutely worth the effort to keep tangible track of where your money is coming in and going out. If you’re a budgeting newbie, consider checking out Mint to guide you along.
  • Don’t forget to keep up with your social life. Moving off-campus means you’ll no longer be just a couple doors down from your friends and/or acquaintances. This makes it all too easy to let your social life fall by the wayside as you seclude yourself in your brand new home. So make an effort to get out and enjoy the company of other people.

All in all, remember to get each step of the moving process done as soon as possible and taking any available efforts to make the process easier for you – whether that be finding roommates or making a massive donation to Goodwill.