1. Realize that you hate where you are now.
There is going to come a point, as there comes in most living situations, where you just sort of look around, throw your hands up in vague disgust/exasperation, and say “fuck this place.” That leaky faucet? It’s killing you. The messed up floorboards? They’re sapping your will to live. Your bitchy neighbors who constantly complain about your noise level but refuse to even crack a window whilst frying fish and what appears to be sprinkling curry in the ventilation systems? You are considering having them taken out via mob hit. It’s time to leave, and you know it.
2. Begin looking (within your means).
While it would be wonderful to spend your time fantasizing about all of the amazing things you could do in that apartment that is both centrally located and perfectly outfitted, let’s just be real and say you can’t afford it. Don’t look at things outside of your price range — don’t even glance at things that are outside of your price range. It is only going to lead to crushing defeat. Yes, we’d all love to live in the Beast’s library and host dinner parties with his dancing furniture, but we’re probably going to end up in a fifth floor walk up with no AC.
3. Visit as many places as possible.
Keep in mind that for every place you really love online, there are going to be at least two that end up looking nothing like what you pictured when you actually show up. Essentially the people trying to rent apartments out get some Myspace-angle pictures of the place to put up, conveniently omitting the sides of the rooms where the walls are falling down and there are more cat pee stains than actual carpet. It is essential to up your odds by going to see as many places in person as you possibly can.
4. Get to know your potential roommates.
An extremely important component of your new living situation — should you not have the luxury/desire to live alone — is knowing with whom you are going to be spending all of this precious time. Your roommates will largely define your stay in your new home, and have the potential to ruin even the most ideal setup. If you already know the people you’re going to coexist with, cool. It’s always good to end up living with friends, or at least acquaintances who you are sure do the dishes from time to time. If you are left sifting through the rando pile on Craiglist or some similar cess pool of people who are going to steal your things while you’re on vacation, good luck.
5. Select your prey.
Once you find your ideal apartment, you pounce. You pounce because, in any decent-sized city, the real estate and rental markets are essentially Gladiator domes. You either get your paperwork in and snatch it up, or you get eaten by the lion that is “having to live in the suburbs.”
6. Spend ungodly amounts of money.
Whatever amount of money you consider appropriate to spend to move into a new place, double that. Between rent, deposit, agent fees, utilities, furniture, moving vans, paying people to help you, decorating, and gas money — you’re looking at about a squillion dollars, give or take. Basically, the more you enjoy the apartment you’re living in, the more you’re going to break dow into heaving sobs when you look at your checking account after moving in. Just brace yourself for it now.
7. Take account of who your real friends are.
We all have real friends in life, people who will be with us through thick and thin, ready to help in our darker moments. These are the people we must hold close to us, the people who will really count when we are wheezing away on our death bed and looking back fondly upon the parts of our lives which really mattered. These people can be identified most effectively through the time-honored test of “Which one of you is helping me move?” The person who steps up to the plate and, though no one likes having to box up flatware and lug it up and down three flights of stairs, does it with a smile — that is a friend for life.
8. Decide what you do and don’t need to take with you.
There is going to come a point at which, surrounded by boxes and crates and bags full of things you don’t remember purchasing or ever using, you decide you need to be living a more simple lifestyle. We are too tied up in worldly possessions, and frankly, all of your bullshit knick knacks and ugly winter sweaters are not worth the trek over to the new place. This is the time in your life to take a ruthless eye to everything that can be gotten rid of and make the move into the new place with a clean, streamlined little pile of belongings.
9. Arrange things with a bit of logic.
Now that you are in your new place, it’s time to organize in a way that finally makes sense. No more desk that also functions as a dining room table. No more bookshelves full of magazines, shoe boxes, and food. No more bed whose under-space isn’t being fully utilized for its vast storage potential. Now is the time to turn yourself into the “shit-together” Type-A that you always knew you could be. At least for the first few weeks, your place is going to be a little slice of organizational heaven. This time, you’ll think, everything is going to stay nice.
10. Enjoy (for now).
Make sure to fully enjoy the 2.34 weeks in which you are living in perfect arrangement and cleanliness, for, as we all know, the descent back into your old habits is inevitable. You can take the girl out of the apartment, but you can’t take the “eating nachos in your bed and sleeping on a pile of crumbs” out of the girl.