Moving into your first apartment is exciting, albeit a bit scary. There’s a lot of responsibility you’re taking on by renting your first apartment but also a ton of opportunity for a great experience.

No one ever gets it “right” the first time when they get their own space. You will learn as you go!

There are lots of moving parts when coordinating your first apartment rental. Heck, there are a ton of things to do each and every time you move. There are definitely things you’ll forget when moving in. You’ll have a few hard lessons and there’s a need to adjust and shift your lifestyle, especially with that first rental. That’s all part of growing up into a mature adult!

Here to help prevent making these “rookie” mistakes is a pretty thorough guide below. By the time you finish reading the guide, you’ll know what to do before, during, and after the move. Plus, helpful tips to adjust and fun things you should do to make your first apartment experience a great one!

Do These Things Before Moving In

The anticipation of Move-In Day is exciting but there’s more to do besides unpacking. You’ll have a few things to accomplish before moving in your items into your new place.

Here are a few of the essentials you’ll need to do before moving into your new place:

Check for Problems

Your excitement of moving in may blind your judgment. Breathe, slow down, and take time to check for any issues in the apartment. The apartment’s owner will have probably done a decent cleanup. But it doesn’t hurt to give it the once over to ensure it’s in tip-top shape.

Issues could include:

  • Maintenance (i.e., door sticks to door jam and hard to open,)
  • Pre-existing damage (i.e., a small dent on the stovetop, or electrical outlet cover cracked.)
  • Cleaning (i.e., wipe down the shower door, oven not clean.)

Be sure to bring these issues up with the landlord or property management. They can either note it on the walkthrough as pre-existing damage or have maintenance/cleaning crew do a quick fix before you move everything in.

Get a Recording of the Place

Boost your chances of getting the security deposit back by documenting everything. The easiest way to do this is by doing a walk through and recording a video, capturing every little detail.

You’ll have video evidence of the place. This clarifies any issues the landlord may have when it is time to get your security deposit back.

Set a Few Rules

You’ll want to set a few ground rules whether you’re moving in with a roommate or a significant other. This sets expectations but also keeps the place (and relationship) from falling apart.

You’ll want to set rules about:

  • Daily and weekly chores
  • Having people over
  • When bills get paid

Are you not moving in with anyone? Set these rules for yourself. Get a calendar or spreadsheet to track your daily, weekly, and monthly to-dos.

Inventory and Organize

Your place always looks bigger when you do the tour. It gets cramped once you get stuff in it — so you’ll want to analyze your stuff beforehand. Inventory what you’ve got and toss what you don’t need. Plus it’s good to not keep things you do not use! An open and organized apartment beats a cluttered mess every time.

Setup the Basic Services

The apartment owner or company will probably handle most things like water, sewer, and garbage as part of your monthly rental fee. But you’ll need to establish a few basic services.

  • Gas & Electric – You will need gas and/or electricity for heating/cooling, cooking, operating appliances and electronics. Check with your local provider to obtain these services. In Davis, CA, You’ll likely default to PG&E
  • For Internet and/or cable – Internet service is a must. Comcast and AT&T are the go-to options here in town.

It shouldn’t take longer than an afternoon to get these services set up.

Update Your Address

Stop into a post office or go online to update your mailing address. This takes but a few moments and a small fee. Then, update your contact details with work, billing departments, and subscriptions.

Look into Renters Insurance

Renters insurance covers things like theft, fire, and other damages. You may have an option to get it while signing the lease or obtain coverage through a third party for peace of mind in your first apartment.

What to Bring into Your First Apartment

So, we’ve made it this far and got everything started with the move-in. Next up is getting your apartment situated.

Here are the things you’ll want to bring along:

A Good Mattress and Bedding

You spend a good 1/3rd of your life sleeping so you might as well do it comfortably! Get the best mattress you can afford if upgrading. Or you could buy a mattress topper to upgrade your old bedding when dragging it along.

Now’s a good time to upgrade your bedding, too. Buy a nice, matching comforter, sheets, and pillowcases to feel like a proper adult.


You’ll probably spend a lot of time in class or going out. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have a great night in — set up some of these items:

  • TV or projector
  • Video game console(s)
  • DVD/Blu-ray player
  • Stereo system
  • Computer

These are things likely coming with you. If not, you can bet there are graduates wanting to sell off some of these items instead of moving with them. That makes for a few, awesome deals!


The larger items will be up to your discretion and aesthetics. A couch, table, chairs and bookshelves are the basics you’ll likely want to furnish the place.

Here are the “rules” about furnishing:

  • Secondhand is fine for “hard” items like wood tables, dressers, and chairs
  • Buy new “soft” items like bedding, couches, and carpets

Bed bugs and other pests are most common with soft items. Avoid getting them through yard sales or picking them up on the side of the road. Be sure to do a thorough inspection of any secondhand furniture before purchasing to ensure there aren’t any bed bugs or other pests.

Check out cheap furniture dealers in the area. Or, order online when there are great deals. And remember, spending extra for quality goes a long way.

Lamps and Other Lighting

Most apartments have basic lighting fixtures. These are nice but you can add more ambiance and style with your own. It will most likely be helpful to have a lamp near your desk when you study late at night.

Cleaning Supplies

You don’t want the place looking like a mess — bring:

  • Scrub brush and dish soap
  • Laundry detergent and dryer sheets
  • Hand soap and a soap dish
  • Washcloths
  • Small garbage bins
  • Bleach or ammonia
  • Cleaning vinegar
  • Stain remover
  • Wipes

These will cover most cleaning needs. Make a routine where you’re cleaning a bit every day, so it doesn’t become overwhelming.

A Desk and Comfortable Chair

You’ll be spending quite a few late nights studying. Do this at a nice, wide desk fit for all your things. But, more importantly, get a good office chair since you’ll be there for many hours at a time.

Kitchen and Cooking Essentials

Cooking is one of the easiest ways to save money when one your own. It’s also a great skill for entertaining people.

Here are just a few things you’ll want/need:

  • Plates and cups
  • Silverware
  • Utensils
  • Pots and pans
  • Baking sheets
  • Knife set
  • Cutting board

Then there are things like:

  • Aluminum foil
  • Parchment paper
  • Plastic bags
  • Trash bags
  • Paper towels

…you get the idea.

For the Bathroom

Here, you’ve got essentials like:

  • Toilet paper
  • Toilet bowl cleaner
  • Washcloths
  • Towels
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Plunger
  • Hamper
  • Bathmat
  • Shower curtain
  • Shower cleaner
  • Sponges
  • Toilet brush

Bring items for personal grooming, too. This is one of the messiest areas (give it time), a few organizers would be a good investment, too.

And Everything Else

Not everything you bring in will stick around.

  1. Sort through every box as you’re opening it
  2. Keep, donate, or junk what you want or don’t need
  3. Make a list of what you’re missing
  4. Check thrift stores or get extras from family/friends
  5. Go out and pick up (new) what you can’t get

You’ll feel it out after things start falling into place. You may not want nearly as much as you thought once settling in, too. See how it goes after you’ve begun adjusting to the apartment.

Adjusting to an Apartment Lifestyle

The first couple of days after moving in will stay busy because of unpacking. You’ll also play catch up with a lot of things. Take a bit of time for yourself.

Here’s what to do to make yourself feel more at home with the new place:

Get to Know Your Neighbors

You don’t have to become best friends with them but knowing who your neighbors are is a good thing. There are a lot of little benefits of knowing them:

  • Someone to watch out for packages
  • Another pair of eyes to watch out for suspicious activity
  • If you’re out of town and need someone to water your plants

And those are just a few of the many reasons to know them. Being in college, those connections could prove beneficial to studies and career, too!


Knowing the neighbors means you can call and tell them to quiet down versus getting into a shouting match.

Venture Out and Explore

Part of the fun of having your own place is having control over where you want to go and explore. This is all-too-obvious when you start to explore the community and UC Davis campus, finding new shops, places to eat, and things to do.

Try new things:

  • Stop by ethnic food stores or farmer’s markets for groceries
  • Get away from the normal chain businesses, go local
  • Attend meetups and gatherings around what interests you

You’re the boss now so have fun with your time.

Attend Events Held at your Apartment Complex

What better way to meet new people with something in common, living at the same apartment complex and probably goes to UC Davis also!

Often, Apartment Complexes will put together events to promote socialization amongst their tenants. During these events, food, drink, and sometime even prizes are offered during these social events. It’s a great opportunity to meet your fellow neighbors and get to know your Management staff better. This is another way to make your apartment feel like home.

Hacks for an Even Better Experience

Do you want to know a few ways to really enjoy the new apartment? Settle in and then start exploring some of these suggestions:

Join Local Discussions

There’s so much to experience around UCD that you won’t figure out on your own. You should join a few communities to get awesome suggestions. Look into great resources to better learn the area and have fun, too.

Try groups like:

Ask around and check the community bulletin boards, too. You’ll soon discover there’s more to discover when you’ve got the freedom of your own place!

Do a Couple Upgrades

There are a lot of cool, and easy, ways to upgrade an apartment without having to grant permission from your landlord first.

Check these out:

  • Buy and use a mattress topper
  • Add a couple of plants
  • Hang photos and art
  • Add a rug to the common area
  • Get a better Internet router

It’s your space so make it unique and do something cool with it. Afterall, you’re living in the apartment and have to see your decorations every day!

Make a Better Budget

You’re going to realize apartment living costs a lot more than it did on paper. There always seems to be something that can pop up and send you in a financial toil. Having a budget ensures you’re prepared for these incidents.

  • Give yourself about 10% extra to cover utilities for those hot/cold months
  • Start setting aside money for the next move (if already planning it)
  • Write down and plan out some of the one-time expenses you’ll have
  • Build an emergency fund for things like car repairs and doctor visits

A spreadsheet listing income and expenses will do the trick. Or you can use budgeting apps and software. You really should do this so paying the bills never becomes a major issue.

Sort the Rest Out

These didn’t fit in the other sections but are worth mentioning:

  • Check to make sure the smoke detectors are working
  • Know when trash goes out (and what you can throw out)
  • Update your license, registration, and medical records
  • Get to learn the traffic patterns and busy areas
  • Find out the contact and locations of emergency services

A lot of these things will pop up over time. If you’re ever lost, ask your neighbor, friends, family, or hop online and read up helpful apartment guides!

Welcome Home to Your Own Space

Your first apartment is both liberating and humbling.

You get to create your own space and call it home! But then, there’s a real sense of responsibility and maturity. You’re truly growing up as silly as that sounds.

If you’re doing great in school, having fun, and being responsible, then you’ll have a great time being off campus. We hope you can experience that joy and life-changing experience during your time at UC Davis.

We have three amazing properties to explore, perfect for the Aggie lifestyle.

Check us out and talk with our awesome staff at:

Aggie Square Apartments, 644 Alvarado Avenue, Davis, CA 95616 – (530) 758-4752

Almondwood Apartments, 1212 Alvarado Avenue, Davis, CA 95616 – (530) 753-2115

Fountain Circle Townhomes, 1213 Alvarado Avenue, Davis, CA 95616 – (530) 753-0408

Or, click and explore our UC Davis housing, today.