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Phoenix 101: Surviving Your First Apartment

Alanna Demetrius | The PhoenixThe Phoenix has outlined some tips for students living off-campus for the first time.

With most on-campus housing contracts canceled for Loyola students, many may be living in their first apartment earlier than anticipated. 

Typically, first-years and sophomores are required to live in residence halls, but the COVID-19 pandemic has driven some students out of high-density living into off-campus apartments. 

The Phoenix has compiled a list of pointers to make the transition from living in the comfort of your parents’ house — or a residence hall — to your first apartment easier. 

Establish boundaries with your roommate(s)

Getting along with the other people you live with is easily the most important hurdle to tackle in your new apartment. Whether it’s only one other person or four other people, it’s vital to decide what the apartment rules are going to be right when you move in. 

First, figure out what time everybody would like noise to wind down at night. Noisy roommates keeping you up at night will only lead to built-up frustration, so make sure everyone can decide on a time when guests should head home and the TV volume lowered. Maybe if there’s one roommate who goes to bed much earlier than the others, have their bedroom be the one farthest away from the living room.

Cleanliness is probably the issue roommates fight about the most. So, while it may sound lame, make a chore chart. It doesn’t have to be a physical piece of paper that hangs on your fridge, but at least make some kind of schedule that keeps each person accountable for cleaning their assigned part of the apartment. 

A tip: make it a rotating schedule, that way one person doesn’t get stuck cleaning the bathroom for the whole year. 

Lastly, get on the same page about how you’re going to split bills — either evenly or staggered. If the bedrooms are drastically different sizes, consider splitting the rent cost to match the sizes of the rooms. As far as utilities, make sure it’s clear whose name is going to be on each account and how quickly you should be paying people for your share of the bill. 

Get to know your landlord, building manager and neighbors

Living in a residence hall meant needing to know your Resident Assistant (RA), Resident Director (RD) and the people who lived next door. Knowing your neighbors in an apartment is still important, but now replace RA and RD with your landlord and your building manager. 

It might feel awkward introducing yourself to your neighbors — especially if they aren’t college students like yourself — but in the long run it’s nice to have a relationship with the people next door. Connections like that come in handy if you ever lock yourself out of the building or need someone to watch your pet. 

Similarly, it’s always good to get in good with your landlord and building manager. The building manager is probably the person you would call if your toilet was broken or electricity went out, so it’s beneficial to have their name and number on deck.

Stock up on quarters as if your life depends on it

Leaving campus life means leaving behind the comfort and convenience of swiping your Loyola ID to use the laundry machines.

Instead, welcome to the world of diving for quarters on streets and internally cheering when a cashier gives you a quarter with your change. 

Next time you visit home, raid your childhood bedroom for dishes and piggy banks full of coins and reclaim your quarters. 

Alternatively, hit up your local bank and cash in a $10 bill for a roll of quarters. Either way, stock up now and save yourself the headache in a couple months when you realize you have a hamper full of dirty clothes but no quarters.

Embrace the character

Unless you’re able to shell out the funds for an updated place at The Arcade, The Morgan or The Concord, chances are your first apartment isn’t going to be all that glamorous.

Most of the row houses around campus are decades old with out-of-date appliances, janky door-knobs, creaky floorboards and dungeon-like laundry rooms. Some advice for you — embrace the character. 

College students are meant to live in mildly beat-up apartments. They are meant to have second-hand furniture, dents in the walls and unpredictable radiators because it teaches them to be humble and to appreciate what they have.

Those renovated, modern apartments will be there for you when you graduate. Take the apartment with the temperamental oven and carpeted bathroom while you have the humor to laugh about it — you might actually miss the quirks one day.

A COVID-19 special tip: Don’t throw house parties

I know it’s tempting to want to host gatherings at your new place and show off your amazing interior design skills but, for the sake of the neighborhood, please don’t. 

COVID-19 is still kicking around in Chicago and it’s still advised to not gather in groups larger than 10 people, according to the city’s guidelines

It only takes one person with the illness to spread it to a whole group of people packed inside an enclosed room, so don’t be the person who invites all those people in your home. It just isn’t worth it.

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