We hate to break it to you, but college graduation indicates a very scary reality – living in the real world, on your own, in your first post-grad apartment. The hunt can be pretty stressful, between finding roommates, making sure you can afford it all, and making sure the place is a-freaking-dorable, but if you break it down into simple steps, you’ll be golden and living pretty in your first post-grad apartment.
Pick a location.
Start off general – like the city or region you want, and then get more specific with neighborhoods. This should kind of be the easy part. You should either A.) head to where your post-grad job is going to be, or B.) pick out the best place to make all of your career/friendship/family/everything dreams come true.
If you’re looking to move to a city, don’t forget to do your homework about smaller suburbs or neighborhoods that will be within your price range. Being a recent graduate, you’re probably not rolling in the Benjamins, and are going to be balling on a budget for your post-grad apartment. Consider moving to a place that has easy public transport into the city so that your monthly rent check doesn’t give you a pre-mature heart attack.
Figure out the roommate situation.
Living with roommates can be cheaper and a lot less lonely, but living on your own lets you do whatever you want with your space and can be so peaceful. Neither is right or wrong, but this is something you should do a little soul-searching on.
When picking out your roommates, you need to make sure you’re on the same page as everyone. Just like in college, you need to make sure everyone knows what’s up about splitting household items, having people over, and maintaining the place. You also really need to consider finances, which gets us into step three…
Make a budget.
Like we said, we’re not really expecting you to be able to spend thousands of dollars on rent monthly on your first post-grad apartment. The best way to make sure your rent doesn’t bankrupt you is to figure out how much you can spend monthly and to make a strict budget. A good rule of thumb is making sure you don’t spend more than 30 percent of your monthly take-home (meaning after taxes) on your rent. We know in big cities like New York or Boston that can be really hard, but try to stick to this rule. It’s very easy for money to slip away quickly through monthly rent checks, and you want to avoid getting in serious financial trouble.
Don’t forget expenses for just the moving in process. You’re going to need to buy furniture and maybe a moving truck at the very least (although it is also common etiquette to treat those helping you move in with lunch and a cold one, too). Most real estate agents have finder’s fees, and most apartments make you put down first and last month’s rent as well as a security deposit. We suggest making a separate fund for these kinds of expenses to make sure you have all of your bases covered.
Once you have the logistics figured out, get looking for that apartment. Websites like Zillow.com and Trulia.com are awesome places to see what’s available, but make sure you aren’t falling into a scam. You can also search super locally with a real estate agent or contacting the friends or family you might have in the region.