Since my freshman year at UCLA I've been practically dying to move into an apartment. Craving independence and a little personal space, which were being afforded to me at neither the dorms nor the sorority house, I welcomed an apartment my junior year with open arms.
I won't lie, moving into an apartment has genuinely been so much better (at least for me) than living in the dorms or in the sorority house.
That is not to say it hasn't come with its share of ups and downs. In the first month of living in my first apartment in Westwood, Los Angeles, I've learned the following:
Communicate with your roommates about supplies
This could go one of two ways. On one hand, no one buys anything expecting the others to buy pots, pans, trash cans, etc… and all six of you end up sharing one saucepan and a single spatula. On the other hand, every member buys one (or more) of everything and you end with seven pots, 25 plates, 16 spatulas, 300 forks, four toasters… you get the picture.
Gather your rent EARLY
The first of the month comes sooner than you'd expect. You feel like you just paid August rent and *BAM* your due for another payment for the month of September. I'd suggest getting your funds in order a week before it's due so you're not scrambling last second for the last hundred dollars.
Rules need to be established early on
The luxuries afforded in a dorm and a sorority house (food at the ready, trash taken out, bathrooms cleaned, etc…) really do make a difference in roommate relations. When you move into an apartment there are so many little things you may not have thought were important previously. Everyone grew up in different households and thus had different expectations placed on them regarding cleanliness, noise, taking out the trash, etc… I suggest sitting down with your roommates before moving in and compiling a solid list of rules. It may seem excessive at the time, but you'll be grateful when there's an argument about turning the tv by 3 am.
Compromise is key
Again, everyone grew up in a different household, and so everyone has different expectations. All eight, five, even two of you, are not going to see eye to eye on everything. It's important to keep this in mind as you come up with house rules and come into any conflicts. Keep an open mind to each others' perspectives.
Communication is an even bigger key
You can't compromise without communication. Communicate generally about apartment related topics. Even more importantly, if something is getting on your nerves you need to communicate this to your roommates before it becomes a bigger issue, continuous animosity create a heavy vibe in such a small space. Likewise, your roommates have the right to tell you if something you're doing is bothering them. It is so crucial not to get defensive in those situations. Everyone's ultimate goal should be to create a comfortable, safe environment for all members.
You have two relationships with your roommates: friends and business partners
This one of the harder realizations to come to terms with. Yes, your roommates should be your friends to a certain extent, whether you moved in with your absolute besties or random strangers. Having some sort of friendship or another makes living together much more pleasant. That said, when it comes to the finances, etc of your apartment, you are business partners and everyone should be holding up their end of the deal. Most likely, you've entered into a contractual relationship with your roommates, and such matters should be treated with a certain level of professionalism and respect.
You’re going to pay more than you’d like in rent
I'm living in a six girl apartment in a loft room with no door and a bunk bed and I'm still paying nearly a thousand dollars a month in rent (not to mention parking, utilities, and groceries adds another few hundred to that). Westwood was ranked one the most expensive college areas to live in nationwide, and one of the most expensive areas to live in LA. Renters know students practically have to live on/near campus so they jack up the rent even more so than the rent is already jacked up in Los Angeles. You have to go in knowing you're going to be paying excessive amounts for something that is absolutely not going to be worth what it's priced. It's just how it is unless you want to live a few miles off campus
You’ll need more storage than you think
Many apartments that are marketed to six people (or however many) people, really should only house 2 or 3. Storage gets filled up fast, invest in more drawers, shelves, a mini fridge, etc...
Clean up after yourself, otherwise it gets dirty in the blink of an eye
When your living with multiple people, filth adds up rapidly. If you want the place to be clean everyone has to clean up after themselves ASAP.
Cooking for yourself is a pain in the ass, but-oh-so worth it.
It's time consuming and takes thought. It's so much easier to order from postmates. When you cook though, you save money and it's better for your health. You'll be shocked about how much healthier you feel once you start truly cooking for yourself.
Your first apartment living experience has a huge learning curve, but it's totally worth it in the end.