Your 7-Point Dorm-to-Apartment Checklist

Looking forward to bidding your dorm roomie’s smelly shoes goodbye—forever? Can’t wait for a bathroom countertop free of someone else’s clutter? If you’re making the big move from a college dorm to an off-campus apartment, there’s plenty to look forward to.

However, it can still be daunting to find cheap off-campus housing and start adulting. Thankfully, ApartmentSearch has a first-apartment checklist to make your transition from dorm to apartment as seamless as possible.

1. Set Up Utilities and Services in Advance

In most cases, utilities are not included in rent, but you should double-check your lease to see if your property offers any free services such as WiFi or cable. Once you know what utilities you’ll need to set up, do your research on local providers. You might find student discounts and service bundles! Set up these services before you move in. Enroll in autopay or set payment reminders to avoid getting your electricity or water shut off because of a forgotten bill!

Pro Tip: Use these costs to start building a monthly budget.

2. Update Your Mailing Address

As soon as you move off-campus, go to the post office and set up mail forwarding from your dorm to your new address. Forwarding your mail is a temporary solution that lasts two to four weeks, depending on your local mailing service. Use that time to take note of who you’re receiving mail from, and make sure to update your address with frequent senders every time you move! Although not getting bills in the mail sounds great, you don’t want your information getting into the wrong hands due to an outdated address.

3. Make Sure Everything is in Good Shape

When touring a prospective apartment, check that all windows, drawers, cabinets, and appliances are working correctly. These are often overlooked spots that get missed when you have the “new apartment bug.” Ask if the door locks are new, too. If they aren’t, request that they are replaced. Don’t forget to check the carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, as well as the fire extinguisher. If you notice anything that needs fixing, ask your landlord to address it before you move in (do this by certified mail or email to help you keep records).

4. Get to Know Your New Home

Introduce yourself to the property staff and your neighbors. Take a walk or drive around the neighborhood. If you’re in a new area, check out the nearest grocery store, pharmacy, coffee shop, and other hot spots. Familiarize yourself with the apartment complex and its policies, like rent payment cycle, car and bicycle parking, trash and recycling days, pool and fitness room guidelines, and even guest restrictions.

5. Furnish and Decorate Your Apartment

Prioritize buying the pieces you need most, like a sofa, bed, and coffee table. Although you may be tempted to decorate ASAP, you don’t want to blow your budget on things like candles. Even a $3.99 Lavender Eucalyptus candle can get between you and toilet paper if you don’t watch your spending!

Plus, if you furnish first and decorate later, it’s easier to tell what kind of decor, lighting, and wall art you need!

Overwhelmed? Make life easier by renting furniture instead of buying it! CORT is a budget-friendly alternative to furniture ownership, and they have Move-In Ready Packages for students. You can handpick the furniture you want, and choose between a variety of artwork and bedding! It’s basically magic.

Pro Tip: Arrange for your mattress and box spring to arrive on moving day. Your body will appreciate a sweet night’s sleep after lugging heavy boxes for hours on end!

6. Organize Your Apartment

Organize your stuff as you unpack. Your new apartment is a clean slate, giving you a unique opportunity to be intentional about how and where you store things. Be strategic about where you put your stuff, from pots and pans to clothing and accessories.

Pro Tip: Kill two birds with one stone by using storage that doubles as decor, such as a cabinet mirror or hinged ottoman.

7. Stock Up

Time for the final step of this moving-off-campus checklist. Make your place feel like home! Jot down a list of the things you need to feel comfortable, including cleaning supplies, appliances, and first-apartment grocery essentials. Then, sort that list by degree of “need.” Buy the things at the top of your checklist, and budget to buy the less necessary things in the future.

Pro Tip: When it comes to groceries, buy highly-perishable goods in smaller packages, so you never have to throw out large amounts of expired food. Additionally, avoid ending up with three jars of peanut butter and no jelly by taking stock of what you already have before leaving for the supermarket.

Give yourself a fresh start—free from your roommate’s smelly socks and late-night parties. Believe it or not, you might find yourself missing certain parts of dorm life some day! Until that day comes, you can find the perfect studio or one-bedroom apartment with ApartmentSearch.