I’m about seven months away from finally making the big move off campus. That’s right. I still live on campus. It’s been eight wonderful years, but it’s definitely time to move on from dorm living.
My job has always provided me with a place to live. I have never had a say in where that place is, how many square feet it is, or what amenities come with it. I lived in 160 square feet for three years (sharing that space with another human for one of those years). I had a 720 square-foot, two-bedroom apartment for a year. It had a dishwasher, an island in the kitchen, and a pantry large enough to have a party in. That was a real treat. Then I moved to a 550 square-foot apartment with crazy blue carpet and a tiny bathroom. But I had an overwhelmingly large and comfy bed, a giant living room, and a lot of natural light. Then I moved to the place I’ve lived in for the last three years, a 600 square-foot little cutie in the middle of campus and only a mile from all my favorite parts of town. It has a giant kitchen, a lot of storage, a spacious walk-in closet, and great furniture.
I have always had free maintenance, free utilities, furnished living spaces, and a roof with four walls (at the very least). I’ve had free cable, security, and hundreds of neighbors. In short, I have lived a very charmed life through college and grad school.
But now it’s time to leave this fantasy world behind and pick out my own place to live, filled with my own things and decorated without the use of poster mounts.
The apartment search has been really fun and a little bit terrifying. I have no doubt that I will find a great place to call home next year. Living in a college town is nice because I have a lot of options in a lot of different price ranges. Luckily, I’m pretty easygoing about what type of place I live in. But I do have some particulars.
In my first off-campus apartment, I need:
- No roommates. I just don’t wanna. And that’s reason enough for me to pay a little more for rent.
- A dishwasher. Come to Momma.
- A place walking distance from downtown, campus, and most of my friends. This area exists and it’s been the focus of my apartment search.
- A small space. I have been paring down for more than a year and trying not to accumulate too much more. I don’t want a large space and I don’t have enough stuff to fill it anyway. So, I’ve been looking at spaces around 500 square-feet, which is way more than enough.
- Rent below $600 (not including utilities). This is actually possible in my city, and that’s one of a million reasons I love living here.
- A safe place. I’m about to live alone and off-campus for the first time. A girl’s gotta feel safe. So do guys, for the record.
- A little charm. I don’t want a brand new apartment that comes with all the bells and whistles. In fact, the place I fell most in love with comes with 1950s style decor and a puke-colored toilet. If that’s not charming, I don’t know what is.
I’m not the pickiest person in the world, but I definitely have some needs for my new home. My hope is that by choosing a place with all those prerequisites, I can take full advantage of my city and finally start living the way I couldn’t choose to live all these years on campus. I have a lot to look forward to, so as I get closer and closer to the big move, I am keeping a mental list of some of the aspects of sustainable living that I’m excited to explore. Here’s what I have so far.
Sustainable Living Goals for My New, Off-campus Life
- Cook healthy, cook often. Let me start by saying that I LOVE my free meal plan. I am so lucky to have access to food that is not only free, but also incredibly delicious and healthy. But for me, part of living a sustainable lifestyle is being able to cook for myself and really get to know the food I am consuming.
- Keep food waste to a minimum. Are you surprised that my first two items are about food? You shouldn’t be. Food waste is currently my biggest environmental concern. I see it all day everyday–in trash cans around campus, on full plates people put on the tray return in the dining halls, at restaurants. It’s really challenging for me to watch and, as much as I hate to admit it, I’m still contributing to the problem. I am excited to live in an environment where I can control my food waste a little more through purchasing only the amount of food I need and composting what I can’t use.
- Spend $0 on decorating and furnishing my new home. Even as I was typing that out, I got a little tense. This is something I really want to do, but I’m definitely approaching this goal with caution. Luckily, I have a lot of friends with furniture to loan me and I have more decorations than I know what to do with thanks to crafting, art festivals, and gifts.
- Continue to commute by foot, bicycle, or public transportation. This one should be quite simple if I stick to my guns, but nothing says I can’t take an Uber or taxi if I’m feeling a little too lazy to walk home from downtown 🙂
I’m sure I’ll have more to come on this one. Does anyone else remember their first move off campus? What was the most exciting aspect of that independence? Share your own experiences in the comments section below!