The day you get to move out of your parents’ house is a day of celebration. It means you’re finally able to take care of yourself without their assistance, or so you think at the time. Sometimes, in being so quick to sign a lease on a great apartment, people forget that there are other expenses to pay for besides the first of the month. There’s the groceries, the electricity, the data plan; all good things come at a price. Before signing on for an apartment, you might want to take a long hard look at your finances and figure out how to set up a budget, how to cook some decent meals and [how to get renters insurance](https://coverhound.com/renters-insurance), you know, stuff all responsible adults know how to do, or pretend to know, wink, wink.
**Establishing the Monthly Budget**
Before you even begin your search for an apartment on Craigslist or whatever resource you use, you need to know how much you’ll be able to afford come the end of the month. The average cost of rent in the U.S. is [$934](http://www.deptofnumbers.com/rent/us/) a month. As of 2014, the average American family earned just over [$50,000](http://money.cnn.com/2015/09/16/news/economy/census-poverty-income/) a year. If you earn $50,000 a year after taxes, and rent costs you $934 a month, you will need to have a savings of $11,208 to be able to afford a year’s worth of rent. This leaves you with $38,792 for the rest of the year. You still have other bills to pay, not forgetting that your car could break down or you could experience a medical emergency. This is where setting up a budget proves useful.
Using a template like the one below, you can measure your costs against your salary and learn what you can and cannot afford. [Corey Fick](http://www.bankrate.com/finance/real-estate/first-apartment-tips-for-millennials-1.aspx), founder of the personal finance blog 20’s Finances says that “a general rule of thumb is that rent should amount to no more than 30 percent of your income, but in some cases it’s likely that you’ll need to pay more—especially if you live in a big city.” With this in mind, make sure that you’re able to pay your bills without being stretched thin.
**The Electric Set Up**
You’re going to want electricity and internet access your first night in your new apartment. Call your local utility company a week to a few days before you move and give them your new address with explicit instructions detailing at what address and on which day you want the electricity to be turned on. For internet access, set up an installation appointment with your local provider. Some may need to enter your home for installation, you can set it for the same day as move-in.
**The Deep Clean**
When you get the keys to your new place, you’re immediately going to want to begin the move-in process. The very first thing you should do however is give the apartment a thorough cleaning. Yes, most apartment complexes hire cleaning services to sweep through the apartment before you move in, but to make sure it’s been really cleaned, you’ll need to do it yourself too.
**Buying the Essentials**
You’re going to need a place to sit, eat and sleep. The first pieces of furniture you buy should be a couch, chair and bed. Pay attention to your budget when you’re buying dishware, toiletries and lighting fixtures, it can be easy to go over budget in all the excitement of decorating your new space. Sometime later, after you’ve filled your apartment with pretty little things (again, this should be done in the first year, not the first month) you should purchase a renters insurance policy. Renters insurance covers your furniture, clothes and appliances in instances of damage, loss or theft.
**Changing the Locks**
Chances are the apartment you move into has also been home to previous tenants, some of whom might still have a key. Ask your landlord if you can change the locks upon move in and offer to have a key made for them.
There’s a lot that goes into being a responsible tenant. To learn more about renters insurance and other necessities, [visit CoverHound](https://coverhound.com/renters-insurance).