From Dorms to Decor: How to Make Your First Apartment Feel Like Home

Living in a dorm was to say, an experience. You loved the floor parties, but hated the roomie’s hygiene. You loved living in a furnished space, but hated that everything was white tile and florescent lights.

You’re over and done with college now and looking for a place to call your own. Somehow, magically, you’re able to find a place you can afford. Thank goodness you don’t need to post a desperate roommate ad to Craigslist!

Living in a shared space has its challenges for sure, but so does living on your own. It’s not just rent you’re paying for anymore, it’s a bunch of different things that you never thought about. Who knew a trip to the grocery store could be so expensive when you’re not splitting the cost with a roommate?

You’re the Adult Now – You Need to Budget

When you’re in school, you have the excuse of being a student. Being a student means it’s okay to buy chocolate instead of vegetables, or to get show tickets instead of a much-needed rain jacket. You’re young, what’s the point in sweating the small stuff? Take each day as it comes.

That’s a little more challenging to do when you have rent, utilities, and bills to take care of every month. Living on your own without any financial assistance leaves you solely responsible for how you spend money.

Your first order of business is setting up a budget. Your budget should include your monthly income and the total cost of your expenses, including:

  • rent
  • utilities (heat, gas, internet, cell phone, etc.)
  • transportation (car payment, insurance, gas, parking, bus pass, etc.)
  • groceries
  • bills and debt (credit cards, student loan, etc.)
  • savings (emergency fund, retirement, etc.)
  • entertainment

Once you’ve figured out what you can afford every month, it’s time to make the place feel more like home.

Shop Slowly for Your New Space

Initially, you’re going to want to buy anything and everything to deck out your new apartment, but you need to hold off until we can really afford it. In our desperations to fill up our apartment with stuff, we buy things we think we need, but don’t.

The first items you should buy are a place for sitting, eating and sleeping. Once you have lived in your new space for a while and get a better sense of its flow, you can begin to fill your home with other things like accessories and small appliances.

Protect Your Home

Once your place starts to take shape, you’ll need to invest in a renters insurance plan. Even though renters insurance is an optional form of insurance, you should really look at it as a must-have.


Because what happens if someone breaks into your apartment, trashes it, and steals your stuff – the belongings you have spent months saving up for and arranging and rearranging to make your apartment feel like home? Renters insurance will save the day, covering your losses and helping you get back the things you worked so hard for.

Not only does renters insurance protect you, but it’s also super cheap too at about $20 per month. When you visit sites for renters insurance comparisons, you’ll find a variety of packages that’ll leave you feeling safe and secure no matter your budget.

Isn’t part of having your own space to feel good and relaxed? If it doesn’t feel that way, well, you’re doing it wrong.

Transitioning from Campus to Apartment Living

Don’t let the thought of “adulting” scare you. Sure, bills and responsibilities may seem daunting, but let me tell you, it’s not as hard as it seems.

With some simple strategies and a bit of determination, you’ll be adulting like a champ in no time. So, don’t sweat it! Just enjoy your new home.

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This article originally appeared on Life on a Discount and has been republished by My Life, I Guess with permission.

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Amanda Kay, the founder of My Life, I Guess, provides valuable career advice and support for anyone striving to make a living and, more importantly, make a life. Whether it's navigating job searches, learning new skills, overcoming unemployment, or dealing with debt, My Life, I Guess has been a go-to resource for career guidance and financial stability since 2013. Amanda's expertise and relatable approach have been featured in trusted publications such as MSN,, Yahoo! Finance, the Ladders and Fairygodboss.

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