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Two students packing and moving out of a dorm.

Tips for Moving from the Dorms to an Apartment

September 8, 2021 | Moving

For many college students, moving into a dorm as a freshman is an exciting milestone. While dorm life can feel like a fun, non-stop sleepover at first, the novelty of sleeping 5 feet apart from a stranger and using a community bathroom often wears off quickly. 

If you’re ready to make the transition from living in a dorm to your first apartment, we’ve got you covered with all the tips you need for an easy-breezy move. From choosing the right apartment to navigating your moving day, discover everything you need to know before you move into a college apartment below!

Go Over Your Finances

As romantic as it sounds to leave the dorm life of R.A. inspections, little-to-no privacy, and after-hours check-in stations, the sweet freedom of apartment living has its costs. In the dorm, your electricity, water, and sometimes even your food were paid for through the university. In an apartment, it’s all up to you—utilities, groceries, cleaning, and other responsibilities. 

If you’re lucky enough to have your parents’ financial support for renting an apartment, great! More likely than not, however, you may need to take a hard look at your bank account before you decide to leave the dorms. Research the cost of apartments near you, and plug your financial information into a rent calculator to give yourself a better idea of what you can afford.

Consider Roommates

Two students high fiving in an unpacked apartment.

If crunching the numbers for whether or not you can afford a college apartment leaves you glum, don’t despair quite yet! You’re probably not the only dorm resident interested in migrating to an apartment. 

Whether it’s your current roommate, your dorm neighbors, or even friends who live elsewhere on campus, poke around your social circles to find roommates for your new abode. You and your potential apartment roommates can then pool your resources to afford a unit you may not be able to rent on your own. 

Look for Apartments Early

As soon as you’ve figured out your finances and roommate situation, start hunting for an apartment! Finding and renting a college apartment can be a cutthroat competition. Once they sign a lease for an apartment, students often try to hold onto their units as long as possible.

If you’re struggling to find a rental, search around to see if any current apartment dwellers will need a new roommate soon. Students graduate or transfer to new schools all the time, which leaves their roommates scrambling to fill the gap in rent money. 

While moving into an already established apartment may not be as exciting, it can alleviate the stress of racing countless other people to the leasing office. In addition to your friends and classmates, check out Roomster or other roommate-matching services. 

When should I look for an apartment?

If you live in a smaller college town, your best bet is to start looking as early as 8 – 12 months before you plan to move. In a larger college town, you can begin searching as late as 2 – 6 months. 

Don’t Choose the First Affordable Apartment You Find

Apartment for rent sign.

That apartment with $600 rent may seem like a dream come true, but don’t sign the dotted line yet. Be sure to research the apartment complex’s reviews, and keep an eye out for red flags, such as:

  • The landlord doesn’t require a credit card
  • Rent is extremely cheap
  • You aren’t allowed to view the unit before signing the lease
  • Previous tenants complain about pests, mold, and damage
  • There’s no on-site management team or maintenance
  • Poor communication from the leasing office

When touring an apartment, be sure to ask your landlord certain questions to help you determine whether or not the space will be a good fit for you. 

Research Apartments’ Areas

In addition to the quality of the apartment itself, you should take a look at the area surrounding it, too. Is the apartment close to your part of campus? Is it a good walking or biking distance from your college? If your perfect apartment is more than 20 minutes away from school, it may not be as good of a fit as you thought.

You should also consider the quality of the apartment’s area. If the community surrounding your new home has a high crime rate, is located near a busy, noisy highway, or is generally unclean, you may want to keep looking. 

Have a Game Plan for Your Move

Once you’ve put down a deposit for your first apartment as a college student and danced your happy dance, it’s time to start planning your move! There are several steps you can take to make your transition from the dorm to an apartment easier, such as:

Build Out a Dorm Packing Checklist

Keeping track of your belongings during a move is crucial to keeping your cool! Whether you handwrite down a list or type it out on your phone or laptop, make an inventory of everything you need to pack, from most important to least important. 

You should also make a list of things you may need once you move to your new place, such as a mattress, kitchen appliances, cleaning supplies, and other first apartment essentials

Write Down a Moving Day Schedule

Stay on track with a moving day schedule. When do you need to be completely packed and out of the dorm? When will you pick up the keys for your apartment? Knowing what you need to do for your move and when to do those tasks can help keep you from getting frazzled. Create your own schedule, or take advantage of helpful templates and print-off options.

Take Care of Moving Logistics As Soon As Possible

As you prepare to move to your college apartment, be sure to pay for and schedule utilities—you don’t want to get in trouble with the landlord, or be WiFi-less for a few days! Services like trash removal and water are likely already folded into your rent. 

Always hang onto confirmation emails or receipts when you enroll for electricity or internet services. You should also know when to pick up your Wi-Fi equipment if it’s not already provided for you. 

Remember to leave a forwarding address with your dorm, too! You don’t want tuition bills or care packages from family to end up lost in a college mailroom. 

How to Handle Moving Day

Packed SUV in preparation for a move.

It’s finally time to move! All your planning, apartment hunting, and general preparation are paying off. Before moving day stress gets a hold on you, remember to do the following as you head out of the dorms:

Get the Help of Friends

Many hands make light work! Get your friends and family involved as you move out of the dorm and into an apartment, from loading up your siblings’ cars with boxes to getting your strongest friend to haul a couch or mattress up the stairs. Just remember to reward their hard work with snacks or a meal afterward!

Secure a Parking Spot

Using your own car or traffic cones, secure a spot near your apartment to ensure you don’t have to trek up and down the street to unload your moving truck. If your friends are helping you move, they can also save a parking spot or two.

Simplify Your Dorm-to-Apartment Transition with Self Storage

At the end of the day, moving from the dorms into your first apartment as a college student is an exciting experience. However, it can also be overwhelming, especially if you have more belongings than you know what to do with. Before you throw out or give away things you still need, give yourself time to plan with a self storage unit

By keeping your belongings in a storage unit as you transition to an apartment, you can move your things in waves, rather than all at once. Plus, if your new apartment is short on closet space, you can keep out-of-season clothes in your unit to save room. 

Find Your Metro Self Storage Unit Today

When you need student storage solutions, look no further than Metro Self Storage. Since 1973, we’ve helped countless first-time college apartment renters manage their transition from dorm life with a wide selection of unit sizes. We also have locations throughout the United States in Kansas, Texas, Wisconsin, and more.

No matter if you need your unit for a month or several, you can depend on our affordable rates and helpful team to make your storage experience easier. Discover our storage tips, or find a Metro Self Storage facility near you today