As most of you will know, Dan and I moved in to our first place together earlier this year, and for both of us it was the first time we moved out from our family homes. We didn't really have all that much guidance or advice, or time to swot up on tips or tricks as it all happened so fast, so I thought it would be good to put a little guide together as it's something I get asked about a lot! I know a lot of people, particularly around my age, are doing the same thing, so I figured I would give my two cents based on our own experiences!
#1. Buy In Advance
This tip probably won't be relevant for everyone, as some of you may already be on the move, but we knew we were ready to start looking for somewhere quite a while ago. We started to spend a little money each month on buying things like pots, pans, cutlery and crockery to spread the costs out. We also asked for vouchers for places like Homesense, Ikea and John Lewis for Christmas last year, so we could pick out some more items. It's amazing just how much you have to buy for your first place, so buying as much of it as you can in advance is a huge help!
#2. Pack In An Orderly Fashion
If I could do one thing over again it would be packing, not because I loved it (I absolutely despised every minute of it!) but because I didn't have any order to how I did it, and on moving day we were left with a mass of things that still weren't in boxes. When we found out we were moving, we literally had about 10 days to get ourselves sorted, so it was panic stations from there on in! Get some boxes for free from a local supermarket or even from your workplace, and organise them by room. We ended up unpacking boxes that had contents for 3 different rooms in there, so it took us twice as long as it would have if we'd thought it through. No matter what you do, you'll never be able to get it all sorted in time, but I think having a plan of action is a must!
#3. Take Measurements
Estate agents rarely list the room measurements for rented properties, so be sure to get as many as you can yourself. Once we had put our application forwards, we arranged to meet our estate agent at the property so that we could spend a few minutes measuring up the bedroom and living/dining area. These were crucial for us as we needed to order the majority of our furniture with it being our first time!
#4. Read The Small Print
That seven page document of ridiculously small print may look boring and pointless, but be sure to read the small print of the contract before you sign the dotted line. Make sure you understand the process of paying rent, renewing your contract, deposits, responsibilities and what you can and can't do, otherwise it may come as a surprise at a later date! Also make sure you take photos and write a list of any damage that you find when you move in, and send it over to your landlord as soon as possible to ensure you don't get blamed for anything that could effect your deposit when you leave!
#5. Set Time Aside For The Important Stuff
Dan and I took a day off together a couple of days after moving to go through all of the grown up stuff, making sure we had everything from council tax and TV licenses to water and electricity sorted. Getting it all done and dusted can be a bit of a long process at times, but sorting it out as early as you can will save so much stress in the long run.
#6. Make The Most Of The Space
This is a huge thing if you're space is fairly small like ours is. We have a huge bedroom and a generous spare room, but the rest of the flat is quite limited in space. We've had to plan where every last piece of furniture will go down to the centimetre to make sure we could fit in all the things we wanted. If you're place lacks storage like ours, then I'd recommend investing in tall storage units like bookshelves or the trusty Ikea Krallax that you can hide things away in without losing out on too much space. When it comes to clothing, we've stuck with some portable rails to save us from having a bulky wardrobe, but there are plenty of garment storage solutions available at Warehouse Storage Solutions that could house a larger collection.
We've also invested in a lot of under-bed storage boxes that we use for hiding away everything from DVDs and games to handbags and winter coats.
#7. Make It Your Own
You've settled in, you've got the majority of the furniture sorted, but it still doesn't quite feel like home. Staring at magnolia white walls of the apartment and sitting on a bare sofa? Get accessorising! I know far too well how annoying it is that you can't decorate your rented space how you would like to, but there are plenty of things you can do to make it cosy and give it a bit of personality. Think hanging pictures, scattering cushions (far too many in my case), making photo walls with cute polaroid prints and adding little trinkets that you love. My favourite place to get my home accessories from is Homesense, as they always have really individual, unusual things that you won't find anywhere else. It's the homeware chain of TKMaxx, so if you don't have a Homesense close to you, pop in to TKMaxx and you'll find similar bits in the home section! I can't wait to raid their Christmas section soon!
I hope some of you will find my tips useful! Have you moved out for the first time recently? What would you say are your top tips?