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How to Set-up Your New Apartment at Any Stage of Life

By: Susan Finch
October 16, 2020

When it comes to setting up your new apartment, getting organized and getting everything set up can feel overwhelming. There are utilities to coordinate and flat-screen TVs to mount before you feel settled in and truly at home.

Although some parts of your new apartment checklist will look the same regardless of your stage in life, you’ll likely need a strategy for your unique living arrangement.

Apartment Set Up as a Solo Renter

When you are living on your own, everything is in your hands. Although this can be stressful at first, you’ll enjoy the freedom and not being reliant on a roommate. Here’s how to get started when setting up an apartment on your own.

1. Set Up Utilities

Typical apartment setup processes don't take long for a single person. However, they require some focus and organization. Approach the basics with some flexibility if you run into any snags or a unique situation. Tackle your apartment utilities first.

  • Cable and internet package robust enough for live streaming video, working from home, or your other personal preference
  • Gas for your hot water and stove top, if applicable
  • Electricity
  • Water: Some landlords will require tenants to pay for water, especially if you're renting a single-family home or townhouse and will require a longer setup process with the city

Depending on your location, it can sometimes take several days to a week to get an appointment for a utility setup. Other areas may be able to adjust ownership of the utilities to you, depending on the apartment building you live in.

Plan out your appointments in advance. Make sure your utilities are in working order before you move, and add your utilities costs to your budget.

2. Decide on Furnishings

The next phase is all about furnishing your apartment and choosing your decor. It helps to make a rough sketch of your apartment layout by using simple boxes and labeling what goes where.

Remember to measure your rooms to get an idea of what size furniture you need and how it’ll all fit into your space. It’s usually wise to start with the basics and add pieces as you go.

Once you know how much furniture you need, it's time to consider your budget. The idea is to invest in pieces you'll use the most. For example, you shouldn’t invest in an expensive dining room table if you prefer eating on the couch while watching a movie. However, don't skimp if you love entertaining and having friends over.

Keep in mind that your door frame or apartment complex stairs may not accommodate specialty furniture and unique sizing. Some buildings also offer service elevators for furniture delivery or moving. However, they may require advance notice before delivery.

3. Get Help with Furniture Assembly

Furniture assembly should also be part of your apartment move-in strategy. Even if you're handy with tools, it can be challenging to put everything together yourself. Making a mistake can be costly!

Using a service like TaskRabbit to assemble furniture will save you time, stress, and potentially money, instead of doing it all on your own.

Apartment Set Up for Couples and Roommates

Living with a partner/spouse or roommate to split the rent is often ideal for apartment dwellers. You enjoy the benefit of always having someone nearby while splitting the costs with you.

1. Divide Up Utilities and Rent Payments

Setting up your apartment utilities works differently with roommates than other setups. Some services will only allow utilities to be in one person's name. That puts the responsibility on one person to make sure everything is paid up. Other services may allow you to split up the costs in advance.

Rent payments are generally the tenant's responsibility. However, a landlord may allow you to sublease and directly collect half of the rent.

Whatever your situation, your lease should clearly spell out who pays for the rent, when it's due, and how to collect it.

Some large, corporate apartment buildings may allow an online payment portal with a credit card option. However, most landlords will require a check or money order.

To avoid late fees, set up automatic payments through your bank to go directly to your landlord at the same time every month.

2. Decide on Decor

One the logistics of utilities and rent are worked out, it's time to figure out who pays for the decor and furniture and what happens to it. For example, if you purchase a couch together, who will keep it if someone moves out?

Everyone in the apartment should come up with a budget to buy major pieces of furniture. Then, agree on a strategy.

Each piece ultimately belongs to one person in the apartment. However, it’ll be available for all to use. Use this essential checklist for furnishing your first apartment to stay organized and help shape your budget.

3. Create Apartment Ground Rules

It's important to come up with some written ground rules. That way, everyone knows who’s paying for what and which type of decor to buy. There should also be some ground rules for things like artwork and accents for common spaces. Your tastes may vary from your partner’s or roommate's preferences. That’ll require a strategy to come up with a compromise.

Will someone be able to veto the decision of what to hang on the wall? Or will it be more of a flexible arrangement where everyone can sprinkle in the decor of their choosing?

Regardless of how you decorate your apartment and furnish it, keep a list of who purchased what. You could end up living with a roommate for years and not remember who bought the couch once it's finally time to get a place on your own.

The more you can settle on the terms, the more clarity you'll have over your living situation.

Apartment Set Up for Families

Settling into a new apartment with a family is a whole different ball game, from decor to design. Once the lease is signed and utilities are set up, the next step is to babyproof your apartment, from electrical outlets to balconies and staircases.

Using babyproofers through a platform like TaskRabbit can also help properly install baby gates and cabinet locks to keep cleaning items and dangerous products away from small hands.

You can even hire a Tasker to track down the baby-proofing items and buy the things you need to simplify the process from start to finish.

1. Get Help Unpacking

Despite your best efforts, unpacking is difficult when kids are underfoot. Consider recruiting a friend or a Tasker to get the process done quickly so your family can settle in quickly and start enjoying your new home. Time is valuable and of the essence when moving a family, especially if children need to get settled into a new school and activities.

2. Start Decorating

Landlords may have specific rules and guidelines for what color you can paint your walls. So, don't promise your kids hot pink before you find that out. If paint is a no-go, you can try paint-friendly, peel-off decals instead.

Beyond decorating the walls, make sure your kids have a sense of ownership over their rooms and feel at home in their space. Add photos of their favorite vacations, let them pick out a new throw rug for their hardwood floors, and get excited about keeping organized with colorful bins and containers.

3. Get Toys Organized

Parents already know toy organizers are a lifeline, especially in a small space. Get kids involved in the process by letting them pick out fun varieties of storage while making sure it's practical for your entire space.

You can also add storage options in common spaces that give your space a more mature look than your kids’ rooms. Soft baskets are great for toys and books, regardless of your age. They can also keep your apartment from looking like a toy store explosion.

Final Thoughts

Setting up your new apartment is an exciting venture, whether you're single, part of a couple, or a family. Come up with a winning strategy, from utilities to decor and hired help, that makes your move as seamless as possible.

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Susan Finch is a freelance writer and content manager focusing on local experiences, travel, and anything relating to really good food and craft brews. Her work has appeared in travel guidebooks and national magazines and newspapers. Read More
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