Moving out for the first time can be a struggle. Being without parental supervision and free to do anything you want is great, but also pretty daunting at times. (Did you know that adulting involved so many bills?) Here are some tips to get you through those first weeks in the real world.

1. Packing is hard.

shutterstock_141916180You’ll need boxes. Lots of boxes. And packing tape and styrofoam and paper to wrap the delicate things in. Fortunately, there are a lot of places that will give you their used boxes for free (Lowe’s, Sam’s Club, etc.), and they often have small boxes that are perfect for moving all your little knick knacks.

2. You won’t have everything you need.

Where’s the nail polish remover when you need it? Toenail clippers? Can opener? It’s easy to forget to move things that you just use every once in awhile, but the horror of having a hangnail with no clippers in sight is something no one should have to experience. And we all know the feeling of having to fish a wrinkly shirt out of a pile of clothes when last week’s laundry got neglected. Don’t find yourself without an iron on those days.

3. You have plenty of things you don’t need.

shutterstock_332856020It’s important to bring all the necessities for your place, but be sure not to bring things that you’ll never actually use or will just take up space. (No one requires a fondue set.) You may want to shop for decor after you’ve moved in so that you can see what will actually fit in your apartment. Big sculptures and huge wall art are probably not the way to go. Also, make sure that the pretty things you buy are functional — those $20 gold scissors with swans on them may be beautiful, but wouldn’t the ones from Target work just as well?

4. Budgets matter.

Especially if you have a roommate, the two (or three or four) of you will need to make sure that there’s a plan in place for rent, utilities, groceries, repairs and the list goes on. Doing this as early as possible means that you won’t have an awkward encounter with your roommate about paying for the shower head that he broke. It’s also important to keep a personal budget. Be careful with where you regularly eat and shop. Anthropologie is fine for a splurge, but there’s no reason to blow all your money on expensive things that you don’t need (remember those scissors?) and then be that roommate that can’t pay rent on time.

5. Home maintenance also matters.

What happens if the washing machine quits? Unless you’re a renowned handyman, it’s better to call someone rather than flood the whole floor. However, there are some things that are safe and necessary to do on your own, like changing the filter on the A/C or replacing light bulbs. Check out the Good Tenant Guide for more tips.

6. You must clean.

shutterstock_137164625The chores that you hated the most will have to become second nature. Things like mopping, dusting, changing the sheets (please, please do this) and cleaning the bathroom are necessary to your health and well-being. The things you don’t wash will grow mold after a while, so don’t let it get so bad that you have to sleep in a Hazmat suit. Your home is supposed to be a safe haven at the end of the day. Don’t further stress yourself out with weeks of dirty laundry and something weird growing in the tub.

7. Groceries don’t magically appear in the fridge.

shutterstock_117362950Unfortunately, it turns out that if you don’t buy groceries, you don’t have groceries. (This includes toilet paper. Never go without toilet paper). Grocery shopping can be a pain, but it’s an even bigger pain to come home to an empty fridge, or experience the panic of discovering that there’s no toilet paper when it’s already too late.

8. You’ll miss your mom.

birmingham-apartment-grocery-shoppingTrust me on this one. Even if she once drove you crazy, after weeks of ramen and PB&Js, that weird noodle thing your mom used to make will sound like heaven. And somehow, your mom’s frozen chicken nuggets are just better than the ones you make.

She’ll miss you, too. Plus, visits from Mom sometimes mean a free grocery shopping trip which is well worth the (constructive) criticism of the piles of laundry on your floor.

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