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After touring several potential apartments, you’ve found what will become your first ‘real’ home on your own and you’re on your way to sign your first lease when all of a sudden…BAM! You are struck by a few thoughts: My new apartment is going to be a completely blank canvas for me to decorate. It’s going to be totally empty, how exciting. Oh wait, it’s going to be totally empty. Okay so maybe it didn’t happen exactly like that, but you get the picture. Renting your first apartment is both an exhilarating and terrifying experience for reasons I won’t go into today. However, you can ensure that you first get all of the necessities, outside of food and water, to make sure you have a successful transition to independent living.
Before I share my first apartment must-haves, I want to let you know that this post does not include big-ticket furniture like a couch or a bed largely because, until a month ago, I only had experience with pre-furnished apartments. Today, I’m sharing the smaller items that may often get overlooked in the moving process, but help simplify and organize your first apartment.
A Wall Calendar
Planners, Google Calendar and iCalendar all serve their unique purpose in organizing our lives. However, it is much more difficult to forget or ignore a meeting, task or errand if it’s staring at you in the face. Whether you live with roommates or by yourself, a wall calendar is the easiest way to get a good feel for how your week is looking. Another bonus of a wall calendar is that they can serve as a wall decor piece and/or a control center in your apartment. You can get a small console table and put a tray to holds keys on it or mail. Regardless of what else is near the calendar, you want to position it in a place that you walk by or look at frequently. For us, that’s in the kitchen.
We found these 8.5 x 11 chalkboard paper wall decals in packs of 4 at the At Home near us, but you can also find them on Amazon. They are easily customizable and come clean off the wall. In the past, we have also used paper wall calendars that show an entire month at a time.
(More on the blog: College Tips From a Recent Graduate)
A Hand Vacuum
I haven’t owned a proper vacuum in years. We’ve found that using a Swiffer on the hard surfaces and a hand vac on fuzzier surfaces has more than sufficed in the last 3 years. I am constantly professing my love for my hand vac because (a) it’s light, (b) it doesn’t take up a lot of room and (c) it cleans up messes big and small. I use it in the kitchen, living, bathroom, bedroom and car – it’s my second favorite small appliance, second to my portable steamer. I bought this one a little over a year ago on Amazon for around twenty bucks. Twenty bucks is a small price to pay for a clean apartment.
Plastic Shoe Mat
I’m not exactly sure what these things are actually called, but I’m referring to the item under the shoes in the above photo. Whether you live where it snows or rains a lot or it’s tropical wherever you all year round, dirt and gunk will get into your apartment, onto your floor at an alarming rate. It just happens, accept it. I’ve found that having one of these shoe mats near the door in the entry way keeps the dirt, dry leaves and water contained to one area. This makes cleaning (using your hand vac and Swiffer) significantly easier because majority of the mess is contained to one area. Cleaning becomes as simply as cleaning around the mat and rinsing off the actual mat in the shower/tub.
These mats are also useful for containing any shoe mess. Growing up, we kept our shoes in a little alcove at the end of our counter near the back door. With four of us tossing many pairs of shoes in that general direction a few times a day, we felt like it gave us the grounds to angrily mumble, “We have a shoe problem” as we kicked the shoes into a taller pile. Don’t be like us, be like you. With a plastic shoe mat.
(More on the Blog: Shoes You Need for College)
This is not glamorous by any stretch of the imagination. However, it is practical and necessary for every home you live in not just your first apartment. Rags make dusting less of a hassle because it’s as easy as wiping a surface with a rag and moving on. Of course, you can use a cleaning spray along with them, but in a pinch they’re just as good dry. They are also useful for cleaning up big spills, rather than using an entire roll of paper towels, which by the way are stupid-expensive. I bought a pack of twelve, plain white wash cloths from Meijer for $3 – we use those as rags. You can also use old kitchen towels, hand towels or t-shirts as rags. Make it easy on yourself.
This is by no means an extensive list of the things you need for your first apartment, but these are the four that I rank among the most important in simplifying and organizing yourself in your new apartment.
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What do you think is a must-have for your first apartment?