There comes a time in every girl’s life when she decides that she needs to break free from her childhood self and assert her independence. After 20-plus years of living at home, I’m putting on my big-girl panties and moving into my own place. It’s not very far from where I grew up, but it’s a big step for me in the sense that I’m going it on my own for the first time. And as I embarked on a search for my perfect new place of residence, I learned a few things about moving to the great wide world of New York City…
Don’t move to NYC
This is my #1 piece of advice. New York is extremely pricey, no matter where you go. The sort of place that would go for $500 per month in the Midwest would set you back a couple thousand dollars monthly in the Big Apple. So what do you do if you want to reap all the benefits of the city without (literally) paying the price? Find an apartment on the other side of the river. Jersey might get a lot of flack for, well, for being Jersey, but don’t knock it ’til you try it. You’re probably not going to find something super cheap there either, but I can assure you that it’ll cost a lot less than anything in Manhattan.
Know when to save and when to splurge
In addition to paying a steep rent, you’re going to need to dish out some money for furniture. I suggest you buy your mattress and couches — basically anything that’s soft or fluffy — brand new, unless you want to risk bedbugs. As for the less-personal pieces like your dresser and dining table and chairs, you can feel safe buying them used. Don’t worry too much about whether or not the piece matches your décor or personal taste — there’s always Pinterest and paint to help you turn it into something completely different and awesome. And sometimes, thrifting is the way to go. I tried to find a very inexpensive bookcase for my apartment and ended up with cardboard-backed shelves that are pretty flimsy. Don’t make that mistake — you’ll want your furniture to last long and be sturdy.
Always consider your surroundings
If you’re going to be living somewhere for any amount of time, you’ll want to get to know the area. Is your place near a supermarket? Are you close to a gym or fitness center? Are you within walking distance of a laundromat or doctor’s office? Are you close to a train or a bus stop or any other form of public transportation, just in case your car ever breaks down? These are all things to consider when finding an apartment that suits your lifestyle. One of my good friends used to live right above a nightclub, and it was the worst (and most headache-filled) time of her life. So before you sign that lease, think about where your place is located and decide if that’s a dealbreaker or not.
Make it your own
I’ve turned into such a little decorating diva over the past month or so. This is my first apartment, so I’ve put a lot of pressure on myself to make it look as perfect and as personalized as possible. But I’m definitely not the one who has the final say on what I can do to my new place in terms of decorating and designing. Different landlords have different restrictions and rules for their apartments, so it’s best to ask before you settle on a design strategy. I was told that the walls in my place have to remain painted white, so I’m making the best of that in other ways. I bought wall stickers with inspiring and funny messages (my living room greets you with a big old “Hakuna Matata” when you first walk in) to put up on my otherwise bare walls. I also wanted to make the apartment seem very comfy and homey, so I bought some really neat throw pillows for my couch.
Stock up during sales
I can’t say I ever noticed or cared about the price of toilet paper before, but now it’s a huge deal. You don’t realize how expensive simple necessities are until you have to pay for everything yourself. So scour your local grocery stores’ pamphlets for sales and price drops. Your wallet will thank you later. And always keep a steady supply of canned beans, Ramen noodles and pre-made mashed potatoes in your pantry at all times because they’re easy to make and you never know if/when they’ll come in handy!
What advice would you add? What was your first place like? What’s your decorating style? Be sure to share your story in the comments! xoxo