First College Flat – Checklist This!
If you’ve finally convinced your folks that you can cook for yourself and know the difference between the sink and dishwasher, congrats! You’ve achieved what many fail to do – an early start to independence and self-reliance. You may discover along the way that socks don’t wash and fold themselves, but that’s a problem for another day.
When picking your first flat, you should take several things into account:
- Where the flat is. Do some research on the area to make sure you’re safe. Every city has its own shady quarter, and if you can avoid living in one, you should. The best way to find this out is to check out Facebook and Reddit groups about that city – people on social media tend to be straightforward on this matter.
- Whether it comes with any furnishings. In Germany, flats are often rented without a kitchen (?). Unless you want to cough up several thousand pounds for a kitchen in a flat where you’ll only live temporarily, make sure to read the fine print. The same goes for the rest of the flat; ask what’s staying and whether you need to pay extra for it.
- What amenities are covered by your monthly rent. Some flats advertise the ‘cold’ price, and you need to pay additional bills like electricity and internet on your own. When looking for a flat, ask how many extra expenses you need to count on every month.
- Accessibility. It really sucks when you live far from anything and have bad public transport connections. Flats on the outskirts are often cheaper, but consider how important to you it is to reach the inner city.
- Potential flatmates. Flat-sharing is very common among students: I mean, it cuts your expenses significantly! Still, you might want to see what kind of people you’d be living with. Important things to take stock of are whether they smoke and what their general attitude to smoking is, how the chores are divided, and even how many flatmates there are. Ideally, you should have some privacy in your room, and there may be a shared area like the kitchen or living room to hang out if you feel like.
- What the notice period is. Or the general procedure for quitting your flat. Additionally, see whether the landlord maintains the right to kick you out without notice on any grounds. For instance, some landlords might decide they need the flat for themselves and get rid of tenants just like that – and let’s face it, you really don’t need that.
Additional details to pay attention to are: what kind of heating the flat has (gas, electricity, boilers, central, etc. – they all come with different benefits and drawbacks), whether you’ll be able to get all your furniture in, pet policy, and general house rules.
Furnishing Your First Flat – Checklist of Items You Need to Have
Now, onto the more exciting part. A house is not a home without big investments and small comforts. You should always bring a few personal items to instantly make your place feel like home (pictures, posters, books, and games).
Depending on your budget, you may opt for luxurious setups or more minimalist approaches. A word of warning: You’ll have to move out of your flat at some point, so I suggest taking it easy on the furnishings. There’s a great deal of second-hand furniture on eBay and IKEA, too, which is quite affordable. Maybe your flatmates also have some extra dishes or items to share or give away. Don’t bring a truckload of things right off the bat – it might be that you don’t need half of them.
However, when you move into your first flat, you’ll need a set of items that we’ll, for the sake of a true university experience, call a survival kit. Once you get a job or a scholarship, you can throw money around and get more cluttery items, but in the meantime, let’s cover the basics.
The Ultimate First Flat Bedroom Checklist
You’ll probably be spending a lot of time in your own room. For it, you’ll most definitely need:
- Bed. Sleeping on the floor can get a bit annoying after a while. Don’t forget pillows, mattresses, and at least two sets of sheets you can change.
- Work area. One of the most effective ways to study is to have a designated space for it. Plan a desk and a comfy chair where you’ll do the majority of your work. Avoid studying (and eating) on your bed.
- Some nice shelves. Your books and other items need a home too.
- Dresser/clothes cupboard or closet. I was lucky in my old flat as it had a tiny walk-in closet. Tiny it was, but such a blessing!
- Plants. If you’ve got some proclivity towards taking care of others but can’t have pets in your flat, some potted plants are a great replacement. You can even grow some of your own produce like tomatoes or spices.
You’ll Also Need a First Flat Kitchen Checklist
After your room, the kitchen might just be the second most visited place in the house. I mean, this is where you prepare your meals, store secret stashes of ice cream, and have an occasional fight with your flatmates about who, AGAIN, has eaten the last slice of cake you had clearly labelled as yours. Such is life sometimes.
- Basic appliances. Fridge, stove, oven (although I can guarantee you can live without the oven). If you’re inclined to them, you can throw in a microwave and a toaster. Remember, if you can, pick the flat that comes with these items by default and save yourself a lot of time and money.
- Pots and pans. You’ll need at least one medium pot and skillet. When you start settling in, you can add several more pots (I find that if you’re cooking for yourself, you never have enough pots!) and pans, just to be able to prepare multiple meals at the same time, or, alternatively, meal pieces (e.g. pasta in one pot, sauce in another, some extra protein in the pan, etc.). Throw in an oven-proof dish too!
- Cutlery. Spoons, forks, knives, ladles, etc.
- Plates and bowls. Bowls are some of the most versatile dishes. But hey, it’s good to have some plates around, too 😊.
- A water boiler/kettle. Sure, you can boil water in a pot on the stove, but this magical contraption will serve you coffee and tea in two minutes. We, students, are always rushing, so you might as well get that caffeine kick in the morning quickly!
- Tupperware. Your life will be busy, so when you cook, you might as well make food for several days and store it in proper Tupperware. Collapsible meal prep pieces are great for this! Make sure you have sets with lids that actually close properly to avoid anything leaking from them if you’re taking food in your backpack.
- Drying rack. Spare yourself the drama and invest in one nice drying rack!
- Dish towels and oven mittens. Both are great when handling hot dishes.
For those of you who love experimenting and cooking delicious meals, a spice rack is a must in any kitchen.
Reign in Your Spending with Our Special First Flat on a Budget Checklist
When people find their first flat, they have no idea about how many hidden costs there are – it’s not just rent and basic amenities (though you might find out just how many of those there are, too!); it’s also furniture, painting the walls, parking spots, and transport tickets. If you’re still a student, you may wish to save up a bit beforehand. In the meantime, here are some budgeting tips to stop you from burning through your cash.
- Moving expenses. I won’t lie; hiring a moving company to do everything for you is the most convenient option out there. Downside? It will probably cost you as much as your monthly rent. In order to avoid this, call the cavalry! Friends, parents, cousins – everyone gets one or two boxes, and there you are! If no one has a car, you can rent out a van for a day relatively cheaply and let many hands make easy work.
- Save up on bills. It doesn’t take much to switch off the lights or not let the water run for a long time while doing something else. Go green in your first flat and save some cash along the way.
- Internet and cable. First, cancel your cable; you can watch everything online either way. As for your internet bills, you should comb through student deals from various providers. Don’t be fooled by mega speeds some may offer at steeper prices; chances are you don’t really need them.
- Streaming services. I am personally offended by how little Amazon Prime has to offer. Think about how often you stream and select one or two of the more promising platforms. Otherwise, you’ll be coughing up lots of money and still have nothing to watch.
- Groceries. Cooking for yourself is much more money-efficient than getting regular takeouts (not to mention healthier). Go shopping for prices and bargain-hunting. Additionally, there are usually various coupons available to regulars in different shops – learn to be careful with your money now, and you’ll have a great time later.
To Wrap Up on Your First Flat Essential Checklist
Getting a new place is exciting both for you and your wallet. The latter only feels that negative sort of excitement where it gets sick and has to throw lots of money up and out. Still, with some judicious saving schemes, you can furnish your flat with everything you need.
Pay attention to what you need in your bedroom and kitchen above all. In the meantime, look for a flatmate to share expenses, reduce your electricity bills, and stream less. Happy shopping!