It’s the second week of October of my daughter’s freshman year. My phone announces a text message from her. I open it up expecting to see a photo of her walking across campus or enjoying life at the sorority house. Instead, I see, “MOM!!!!! We have to put money down on an apartment next week or I won’t have a place to live next year!!” UGH!!! Seriously? She is two months in and barely knows anyone. I was not ready to start thinking about next year in October. But quickly, we adapted. Today I am going over tips to help you prepare for your college student’s first apartment.
So first things first. Furnished or unfurnished? if your student is moving into a furnished apartment, then you are golden.
· Get all the particulars from the complex about their process. Documents will need to be signed or cosigned, move in dates, how rent and utilities are paid, etc.
· Next semester, help your student figure out what they need to get rid of (sold, donated, or trashed), keep from their dorm, and either go in on a storage unit with others for the summer or pack it up and head home.
· Go enjoy your summer with your son or daughter.
If your son or daughter is going to need to furnish their apartment, this list is for you.
· If you do not live close to Oxford, consider renting a storage unit. Sometime after spring break, another mother and I rented a storage unit and began filling it. Our daughters began sorting through their things, boxing them up, and taking them to the unit when they could. A storage unit also made it easier when we were in town and would shop for furniture or were bringing something from home.
· Schedule a zoom or group call between the other roommates and their parents about what they want to be responsible for in the common areas. I do not recommend sharing the expense of single items. That only works well if all the roommates are living together the next year and that rarely occurs.
· Create a decorating plan. It can be super detailed, simple, or somewhere in between. What look do they want in their room? Have the roommates agreed about what they want the common areas to look like? Decide if you want to rent furniture, pull things from home, begin buying things, or a mix. We chose to go with purchasing resale items, pulling things from home, integrating some elements from her dorm room, and filling in with new items. When we were shopping, I chose to go a step further and helped her select pieces that we thought could be used beyond college or easily resold. Some may think this is too much, but I knew she would take care of what was purchased. I visited at least twice during the spring and took advantage of the opportunity to gather as much as possible in Oxford and leave it there instead of finding it all in Texas or online and having to move it back and forth. Don’t get me wrong, I still had a trailer FULL but I would have had to rent a truck to transport it had it ALL come from home. We were able to find good tables of varying sizes and shapes, upholstered chairs that we recovered inexpensively, mirrors, lamps, and a few decorative items.
· Online and comparison shop to fill in gaps; Amazon, Walmart, Target, Wayfair, Overstock, Home Goods, etc. I ordered rugs, outdoor seating, pillows, a bedframe, mattress, and linens all online. Almost everything I found was marked down with free shipping. Amazon Prime days helped whether we were buying through Amazon or not; other online sellers offered sales and free shipping too.
· Divide and conquer with the other parents setting up any utilities that need to be coordinated.
· When moving in, take a video of the unit before you start dropping boxes and unrolling rugs so that you know what it needs to look like when move out rolls around in July. This can help get the deposit back.
· Pack move-in supplies so that you do not have to waste time going to the hardware store or Walmart. The following items were helpful as we were unpacking and hanging things.
o Packing tape
o Electric Drill or Screwdriver
o Phillips and flathead screwdrivers
o Ruler and Tape Measure
o Picture hangers for 10lbs. and under as well as 20lb. +
o Command strips and hooks
o Ladder and step stool
o Drapery hardware
o Painters Tape
o Shower Rod and hardware to hang it
o Heavy duty/outdoor extension cord
· Know when you need help and plan for it. We hired movers for three hours to unload the storeroom, unpack the trailer and SUV driving it, unroll and place rugs, and place heavy furniture. It was well worth the expense.
I know this is a lot! But like almost anything else, it is more manageable when you have a plan that fits. Breaking it into small manageable pieces, spread out over a few months, will make it much easier. Rent a storage unit, gather what is needed and show up with the tools, supplies, and manpower to make that move in happen. I hope this helped you start to think through what is next. Please like this post and let us know down below if it helped.