School’s Out: Apartment-Hunting Tips for the Recent Graduate

You’ve done it. You’ve struggled through four-plus years of hopelessly long 8 a.m. classes, dining hall concoctions, heartbreaks by heartbreakers and one too many all-nighters fueled by an unhealthy amount of caffeine. You’ve graduated college.

And as you walked down the stairs after grabbing that precious piece of paper, you came to the terrifying realization that you’re now in the real world. Goodbye to meal plans, dorm rooms and waking up at noon everyday. Hello, responsibility.

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You’ve got your checklist covered: successfully passed all of your classes, scored the dream job, moved out of mom and dad’s house, but yikes … what about your first apartment?

First-time apartment hunting can be confusing and overwhelming, and it can have you wishing for that freshman-year dorm room. We know it’s crazy, so here are some tips to help you navigate the jungle. Take a deep breath; you’ve got this.

Metro (John Buie via Flickr)

The rail world: If you opt to live in the city, you might want to think about ditching your car and riding the train to work instead. (John Buie via Flickr)

    1. Use alumni associations to help you find a roommate: There are hundreds of kids that graduated from your school in the same boat as you. So why not split up the rent? Plus you already know they have great taste since they graduated from your alma mater.


[ Search: Find Apartments for Rent in Northwest ]

    1. Research the area: What’s going on in your potential neighborhood? Where are the good places to eat? What’s the general age of the neighborhood? Find your new favorite coffee shop that makes your nonfat, no whip, caramel macchiato just like the one at school.


    1. Consider your commute: The Metro is your best friend. If you know anything about D.C., you know the absurd amount of traffic this city attracts. If you aren’t familiar with D.C. traffic, you soon will be. As you sit on I-495 going a whopping five miles per hour, you’ll wish you took the 30-minute ride on the Metro. If driving is inevitable, make sure you’re asking the right questions when looking. “Where’s the parking garage, and is it included in the rent? Does this community have street parking? What about visitor parking?”


    1. Learn how to budget: No longer are you living at mom and dad’s, where groceries magically appear every week. You, yes you, have to buy your own groceries. Don’t forget car payments, potential utilities and everyone’s new favorite, student loans. You have to budget these new expenses and factor them into your price range for your apartment. Life was so much easier when you just had to swipe/punch for your lunch. Suddenly you’re wishing for the dining hall grub. Who knew that would happen?


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  1. Be realistic about your budget: Sure, everyone has that image of the penthouse suite with the infinity pool and the home theater, but pump the brakes a little. One day you’ll be as big as Kanye, and then you can have your penthouse castle. Until then, don’t break the bank. Stick to a more humble budget, a Kanye’s-first-album sort of budget.

So you’ve followed these tips, and you’re ready for the next step. Look no further than Apartment Showcase. Our search engine ticks all the major boxes: You can search for apartments based on location, desired amenities, price range, pet-friendliness and more.

Buckle up your seat belt, tiger. Get ready for the real world and your next adventure. You’re well on your way to becoming a fully functioning adult, and we’re here to help you. Soon you’ll love this adult life so much that you won’t be able to imagine yourself back at school. Except for homecoming, of course. That’s an exception.

Find your next apartment in the area with Apartment Showcase.

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