The beginning of September means the new school year – and the hectic move-in season that comes along with it – is rapidly approaching. While some students prepare to move in to the dorms, many plan to settle in to cozy Westwood apartments.
Living in an apartment is an exciting new prospect. However, if you are an apartment amateur like myself, the move-in process can bring uncertainty and confusion. Thankfully, plenty of UCLA students have done it before and are willing to offer their valuable insight to ease the transition from dorm living to apartment living.
The most obvious difference between dorms and apartments is square footage. Those who have lived in the dorms will attest to the fact that it can be a tight squeeze. To put things in perspective, the typical UCLA residence hall unit is around 130 square feet. However, apartments tend to vary quite a bit – for example, the Westwood apartment complex at 433 Midvale Ave. offers apartments anywhere from 157 to 386 square feet. An apartment offers ample living space for its tenants. Renters can enjoy the freedom of having multiple rooms and bigger beds.
Rafi Ferrer, a 2018 business economics alumnus who lived in a Westwood apartment for one year, said having more personal space and a greater sense of privacy make apartment living a much easier option. Tiffany Mendez, a rising fourth-year sociology student who recently moved in to her first apartment, also celebrates this privacy as something to look forward to.
“My favorite part about living in an apartment is having my own bathroom and not having to wear sandals while showering,” Mendez said.
After sharing communal bathrooms, lugging toiletries around in a shower caddy and walking down the seemingly endless hallway for middle-of-the-night bathroom trips, it’s easy to see why students appreciate the perks of a personal bathroom. Rising third-year communication student, Elle Miraglia, said having a personal bathroom has dramatically improved her living experience. However, keeping her bathroom clean has become an individual responsibility since leaving the dorms.
Living in an apartment requires more diligence with cleaning and maintenance. Because you share the large space with several roommates, finding a way to divide the work is essential, Ferrer said.
“Set up a system of rotation so the work is evenly distributed,” Ferrer said. “This way, cleaning doesn’t fall on the same person over and over again.”
In addition to splitting chores, roommates must determine the best way to purchase the myriad of supplies and appliances they will be sharing. With access to a full kitchen, students are responsible for purchasing pots, pans, dishes and silverware, along with extra kitchen appliances like toasters and blenders. Ferrer and his rooming group decided to evenly split the cost of each item.
Necessities differ between apartment complexes. Some students enjoy the luxury of fully furnished apartments, while others need to fill the space. Nonetheless, you can alleviate the stress of finding furniture with the help of friends and family.
“Friends and family are willing to give or lend you things,” Mendez said. “I got most of my furniture from family members who didn’t want theirs anymore.”
Mendez also had the chance to visit her apartment before moving in. Understanding the dimensions of your apartment is crucial in furnishing it properly – the last thing you want on move-in day is to find out your bed frame doesn’t fit in your room.
For those overwhelmed with figuring out what they need, Mendez said Pinterest is a major life-saver. By simply searching “first apartment” or “college grocery list,” she said students will find a surplus of helpful ideas and advice. Resources like essential checklists for your first apartment, tips for saving money while renting and ideas for decorating your space are all just a click away. Developing a well-defined list will help make move-in day a breeze.
Miraglia’s time in the dorms made determining her list that much easier by teaching her to bring less. She focused on bringing more essentials and fewer accessories, which aided her transition into her apartment. However, that’s not to say you should get rid of all individual touches. Miraglia said simple adornments like having fresh flowers can make the atmosphere much more pleasant and relaxing. Similarly, Ferrer said adding a sense of personality and making the apartment feel like home is one of the greatest benefits of apartment living.
The ability to transform your space also extends to your kitchen. Students seem to universally love being able to cook their own food. Having access to a full kitchen makes it easy to control what you’re putting in your body. Still, students admit they miss the convenience of the dining halls when things get busy.
“You never had to worry about where your next meal was coming from,” Ferrer said.
As a whole, students will likely find their transition to the apartments a rewarding experience. While your walk to class may be a little longer and you have to become cognizant of things like your electricity bill, many students feel it’s a worthy trade for perks like air conditioning, parking spots and more space. Most importantly, they love the sense of freedom and independence that comes with living on their own.