Moving into an Apartment for the First Time? Costs to Plan For:

Many freshmen will transition from dorm living to apartment living after school gets out for the year in May. If this is you, start to plan for the additional costs that you will have, including:

Increased Expenses

  • Food- maybe you buy snacks for yourself now, but you’re going to have to start making all of your meals now, which can be a big change if you had a meal plan for the dining halls. If you need tips on how to save money on food, check out our last blog post, Eating Healthy on a Budget.
  • Cleaning supplies- you probably have a few cleaning supplies (hopefully!) from your time in the dorms, but you’ll need some additional things as well, such as a vacuum, broom, cleaning rags or paper towels, cleaning spray, toilet bowl cleaner, etc.
  • Decorative items- even if you had decorated your dorm, you will have more than one room that you can decorate now. Start looking for sale items now so you aren’t tempted to binge spend at Target right after you move in.

New Expenses

  • Rent- Strongly consider finding a roommate/s to cut down on rent costs. Most places will make you sign a 12-month lease, so make sure you know how you’re going to pay for rent over winter and summer breaks, especially if you’re planning on going home or your work hours or job will change.
  • Utilities- you will have to pay for electricity, and maybe gas, water, and trash as well. In Lincoln, you can call Black Hills Energy and Lincoln Electric System to get the average costs over the past year for the apartments you’re looking at renting. Of course, your utility bills will vary based on your usage, but the estimates can be a good starting point.
  • Furniture- maybe you already have a futon, but you’ll need a bed, a dining room table, and maybe other things like coffee and end tables, couches, and chairs. Try hitting up some garage sales and asking family if they have anything they don’t need anymore.
  • Entertainment- you probably didn’t have to pay for internet or cable in the dorms. Don’t get a big package you can’t afford!
  • Set-up fees- some utilities will have one-time set-up fees that you’ll have to pay, especially if you have to open a new account or have someone come install equipment.
  • Kitchen items- it can cost quite a bit to stock a full kitchen, but you’ll definitely need the basics such as a microwave, kitchen trash can, toaster, pots and pans, silverware, dishes, knives and cutting boards, mixing bowls, and other kitchen gadgets. Look for sales or ask for them for gifts.
  • Bathroom items- shower curtains, rugs, soap dispensers, etc.
  • Renters insurance- this is a must have that averages around $10-$15/month. Your landlord’s insurance will only cover the building, so you need your own insurance to cover all of your stuff in case something happens!
  • Miscellaneous items- such as curtains, bookshelves, and rugs

*Pro tip: Make sure that you have an emergency fund so that if you need to work less during finals or holiday break, for example, you still have enough money to pay rent so that you don’t get kicked out!

If you need help making a budget or planning for your transition to apartment life, feel free to make an appointment with us at unl.edu/smmc

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