How to transition from dorm to apartment living


Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz

Abbott Hall is seen Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017, on the university’s Carbondale campus. (Brian Muñoz | @BrianMMunoz)

By Reagan Gavin

If you thought moving into the dorms meant total freedom, just wait — an apartment is a whole new world.

Dorm living allows college students to take a baby step into adulthood, acting as a midway point between life at home and adulthood.

Transitioning out of the dorms and into your first place can be a pivotal moment, but three months down the road you might start to feel tired of adult-ing and dream of being a five year-old-again.  


It can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of your own room, cooking your own food and having a living space not connected to the university.

However, that also means you are the one who is responsible for maintaining your place.

Below is a compiled list to help you smoothly switch from dorm to apartment living

When touring potential apartments, consider the location along with the price.

If you won’t have a car available, make sure your apartment is within walking distance to a bus stop or campus. However, consider too the fact that a longer commute may also mean lower rent.

Figure out right off the bat if you want more of the party atmosphere that tends to come with mostly-student apartment complexes, or if you want the quieter setting that a mix of non-student residents will bring.

Talk with your roommates to decide what everyone will contribute.


You don’t want to show up on move-in day with three sets of silverware but no plates to eat off of. Some overlap is fine, but for the major items that you share, you’ll want to decide before you start to shop.

This also is applicable for when you have to buy items that everyone uses. Rotate so one person buys the dish soap the first time and another buys it the next.

Set up utilities before you move in

If you have to sign up for utilities, sort them out before you move in and set up a payment schedule with your roommates.

Long gone are the days of hour-long hot showers and leaving the lights on just because — you’ll soon realize after the first month that everything adds up.

Set up a monthly budget and actually stick to it.

Always set aside enough for rent and utilities so when you start to spend money on non-essentials you’ll have enough for the month. Which leads us into the next tip …

Eating out is expensive (and unhealthy).

I’m sure we all complained about the dining hall food at some point, but the reality is that it was convenient and now you have to make your own food.

Don’t fall into the all-too-easy habit of just eating out all the time or making microwave ramen and macaroni and cheese. Take some time on Sundays to meal prep for the week so you can still have a quick homemade meal during your busy days.

Be conscientious of how often you have guests over if you live with roommates.

While the apartment is now your space to do what you wish, you have to remember that it is also your roommates’ space. Communicate with them when you plan on having guests stay overnight.

Remember if you host the party, you have to clean it up the next morning.

It’s tempting to throw Friday night ragers at your place, but you also now get to deal with the drunken mess that will follow. Some people ­­— especially those who aren’t close friends — won’t have the same level of respect for your place as they do theirs.

If you still want to be the party host, consider looking into a recycling service for all the cans you will inevitably find littered around your place.

In short, apartment living is fun and exciting, but it can come as a shock for students accustomed to living in dorms. If you follow these tips, you’ll be fine — but also know there are lessons you just have to learn by living them.

Design chief Reagan Gavin can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @RGavin_DE. 

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