Editor’s Note: Things I’ve learned as a novice renter that you should know about apartment living

By Mari Devereaux, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Once you step outside of staying with family at home and roommates in residence halls, city living is on a whole other level.

I have been living in an off-campus apartment for nearly two years now, and I have learned lots of things—mostly through trial by fire. The whole process of apartment searching, from finding available spaces in certain neighborhoods within your price range to figuring out roommates and keeping track of bills, is tedious.

That is why, as someone who has been there before, I’ve compiled some bits of advice I wish people had given me when I was first moving into an apartment.

First on the list is ensuring that right away you build a good relationship with your landlord or your building’s manager—or whomever you go to when you need help fixing things in your apartment. They are going to be your lifeline for as long as you are there.

Make sure you know their name and number and that you build a rapport with them so it is less awkward when you call on them for maintenance. Shout out to my building manager who once helped my roommate and me rid our apartment of an infestation of baby spiders.

Next, the thing that everyone hates: figuring out their bills. Between rent, Wi-Fi, gas and electricity, sorting all your expenses can be stressful. The number one thing I can recommend is setting up an autopay system online so your bills are paid automatically each month. Also, find someone you know who has rented before to help you decipher contracts and establish your payment plans.

You should always keep track of how much you are being charged each month through a Google Doc or a spreadsheet, and you should make sure your payment goes through, in case there is an issue with your card or your bank.

In terms of cleaning, there are a few essential items to purchase. You’re going to need more than one toilet brush—just trust me on this one. You will also want some sort of essential oil diffuser for when the smells are more rancid than the vibes.

For scratches on the wall, it might be worthwhile to invest in some plaster and paint that matches the current color. A tennis ball or a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser both work like a charm to get black scuff marks off a hardwood floor.

Whatever pet you get, expect something of a mess. If you have a cat, expect things to get scratched up—yes, even if you have a scratching post. If you have a cat or dog and you live in a small apartment, hold on to your breakables when they get bursts of energy and run around at high speeds. Also, annual or monthly pet fees are indeed a thing in many apartments, so check into that before purchasing a furry friend.

For plants, make sure you buy ones that can survive in your chosen apartment. Be aware that you may not get direct sunlight with the way your apartment is facing and that in the winter the plants might get cold by the windows. A large plant in a small space may also not be a smart idea.

The friendliness of your upstairs, downstairs and next-door neighbors can be a toss-up. The best you can do to keep the peace is to try and keep your noise levels to a minimum.

If you have wooden floors and thin walls, try not to blast the TV, jump around a lot or yell, because, trust me, your neighbors can hear EVERYTHING.

If they do get upset at you for one reason or another, respond calmly and respectfully. Do not, under any circumstances, escalate the situation. Once you address the behavior that upset them, if your neighbor’s anger persists, know that you don’t have to keep opening the door to their angry knocks.

Instead, you can tell them to direct their complaints to the landlord.

Remember with interior decorating that anything you bring into the apartment, you will eventually have to move out one day. I know it looks pretty now, but that record player, those hardcover books and those mirrors you found on Etsy are not your friends when it comes to putting everything in a U-Haul.

Most importantly, enjoy your freedom and your first taste of adult life on your own. Someday you’ll be looking upon this period of your life fondly—mistakes and all.