So, you’ve signed the lease on your very first apartment. Now what? If this is your first foray into the real world outside of your family home, there are a few things outside of what furniture you’ll need and how you’ll decorate you may not have thought about. This is a big, exciting step that comes with new responsibilities – and we’re here to help navigate some of what’s ahead.
Before you book the movers (or enlist your family and friends to do the job), you’ll want to set up appointments to have necessary utilities hooked up and ready for when you arrive. We’re talking cable, phone (if you’re planning on having a landline), Internet, gas, water and electricity. Some providers require a few weeks’ notice – and trust us, it’s no fun being without lights, Wi-Fi or your favourite shows when you’re in a strange new place! Some apartment buildings include these in your rent, so you’ll want to double check that before you make any calls. Keep in mind that setting up new utilities can be a bit expensive, but here are a few ways you can save:
Once you have keys in hand, it’s a good idea to give your new apartment a thorough cleaning before you move furniture – or yourself – in. The previous tenants may (or may not) have given it a once over, but if they were pet owners or weren’t particularly tidy, a top-to-bottom cleaning will make it feel more like your own (and less icky). Check out Trulia’s list of new apartment deep clean tips to get you started, including:
• Start with a good vacuuming and mopping
• Dust baseboards, window ledges and any trim
• Give bathrooms a good scrub
• Wipe down walls and wash windows
• Wipe inside cupboards and the fridge
• Give the oven a good wipe inside and out
This is the time to pick up your basic cleaning supplies that you’ll want to keep on hand. All of these can be found at stores like Canadian Tire, Staples, Loblaws and your local hardware stores. Apartment Therapy has a great list, and here are just a few you’ll need:
• Paper towel and sponges
• All-purpose cleaner – great for everything from countertops to windowsills
• Disinfectant wipes and spray
• Bathroom cleansers
• Window cleaner – Method is a great “green” option
• Garbage bags
• Dish soap
Where you can, try to choose products that are less toxic and more natural. It’s easier than you think and so much better for you – and the environment!
Again, before furniture finds its place in your space, now’s the time to add your personal flair. Ask your landlord what’s permitted before you paint or add anything permanent, but no matter what the limitations are there are lots of fun and easy ways to add your stamp. Check out this post for great temporary wall treatment ideas like peel-and-stick wallpaper, decals, weavings and 3D artwork. All of these things can easily be removed (or updated when you’re tired of them) without creating a huge mess. And more than likely, you’ll also be allowed to paint, although you may be required to paint it back to the original colour when you move out.
Whether you’re lucky enough to have hand-me-down furniture or you’re planning to start fresh, be sure to take measurements of each room. That credenza from your great aunt may not work in the space the way you imagined, and it’s better to figure that out now before you move it in (and out again). Most people moving into their first apartment will need to purchase at least a few basics, so if you’re on a budget consider Kijiji listings, garage sales and consignment stores – and keep an eye on end-of-season sales and promotional discounts.
Want to avoid breaking the bank? Check out The Balance’s article on decorating your first apartment on a budget.
Let’s face it, moving is a ton of work. And if you’re moving to a new city or your friends and family are not able to help you, you’ll want to find a reputable mover who can give you an honest estimate. It’s always a good idea to get a few quotes to compare prices. We’ve rounded up a few local movers nationwide to help narrow down your choices:
• And check out BlogTO
Planning to DIY? UHaul has lots of trucks sizes to choose from or you can check out independent cube van rental companies in your area.
Here’s an important must-do: change your address and set up mail forwarding from your current address so nothing gets left behind (and people know where to find you). Here’s a checklist of things to think of:
• Financial institutions (bank accounts, credit cards)
• Gym and other memberships
• Driver’s license, health card and passport
• Doctor, dentist and employer or school
Each room in your new apartment will have its own specific needs, which will become more apparent the longer you live in the space. For now, here’s a basic checklist from Updater that will help you get set up and more than ready to be on your own:
• Mattress, mattress cover, pillows, bedding. Don’t forget an extra set of linens for guests!
• A toolbox. Fill it with a hammer, wrenches, a set of screwdrivers, nails, a measuring tape, level, wall hooks and a picture hanging kit. You’ll need these things to hang wall décor, put together furniture and fix little mishaps.
• Step stool. Find one that folds so it’s easy to store.
• Shower curtain. You might want to hop in the shower after your big moving day.
• Toilet paper. Necessary, and often forgotten.
• First aid kit. Bandages, Advil, cold medicine and muscle relief will all come in handy at some point.
• A few kitchen essentials. Be sure you have:
o water glasses and mugs
o plates, bowls and utensils
o toaster, microwave and blender
o food storage containers
o spatula and wooden spoons
• Batteries and extension cords.
• Light bulbs.
• Dish towels.
Phew! There are lots of things to think about – but it’ll all be worth it. Once you’ve settled into your new place and you’ve got the lay of the land, there are a few other things to consider now that you’re on your own.
• Read your lease! Make sure you know what your rights are.
• Meet your neighbours. There are likely events in your building like barbeques and summer parties, which are great opportunities to meet like-minded dwellers and build a sense of community (and a new network of friends!). There are even health benefits to making connections.
• Replace smoke detector batteries. New place, new batteries. Even if the current ones look relatively new, replacing them is a safe and smart thing to do.
• Explore your neighbourhood. If you’re new to an area, you’ll need to find your “places” – the coffee shop, grocery store, parks, pharmacy and all the best places to grab a bite.
Now take a deep breath. This is a really exciting time for you, and while some of it might seem a bit overwhelming there are so many good things to look forward to - starting with a little thing called independence.
Still in search of your first apartment? Minto Apartments offers fully-managed rental apartments and shorter-term furnished suites in key Canadian cities including Ottawa, Toronto & GTA, London, Calgary and Edmonton. Check it out, it might be a helpful place to start your search!