Tips For Grads Getting Their First Home

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housemates first time renters

Graduations abound, and so do first-time renters as they set out on a new life of responsibility. Here are tips to share with them for smart home-management.


With high school and college graduations unleashing optimistic young adults upon us all across the continent this month, it’s time to talk to them about everything they’ll need to know for living on their own as an adult.

They’ll need to hear all the truisms. Like, there is no fairy-cleaning mother. The longer you put off housework, the worse it is. If you have a dust allergy, you could be risking actual illness by ignoring your housework.

Listen to your mom. Put your things back when you’re through. Wipe the counter when you’re done. Clean the floors weekly, do your laundry, and treat your home nicely.

Be money smart all the time

Being money smart is like driving, you always need to know what’s three, four, five weeks ahead. Most folks are a couple weeks away from an eviction notice, so never drop the ball. Budgeting is the way you make it through. Always know what money you’ve got coming in, so you control what’s going out.

When you’re making household purchases, web surf for an idea what you can get it for online. Can you wait for it to arrive? You could save big money through an internet retailer.

cutting out coupons

When you’re shopping locally for food and other basic necessities, make sure you know what day all the flyers come out. Sign up for them and get them in your email, and make a weekly menu and food-buying plan according to what’s on sale each week. Never shop without knowing what’s on sale. Why would you pay 10-30% more for something unnecessarily?

Pay your bills timely, especially your credit card. If you have a credit card, make sure it’s a fast-accruing points card that you can turn into cash or financial payments, and use it for paying your utilities and other basic living expenses so you get something out of it.

Laundry tips

  • To save time and effort, look for wrinkle-free clothing that’ll get you out of the door quickly.
  • Front-loading machines use less soap than top-loaders, so be careful.
  • Lots of nice bedsheets will be wrecked if you wash them on hot water, so always know what the manufacturer says, or use cold water to be safe.
  • If you dry your clothes on low or permanent press, you can avoid some ironing by folding ‘em or hanging them up as soon as they’re dry.
  • If your clothes look a little stiff, hang them in the bathroom while you have a hot shower, and steam should loosen some wrinkles.
  • Dish soap is a great way to pre-treat many grease or other kinds of stains on clothes. A little dab’ll do ya.

Complacency is a budget-killer

If you have leftover food in the fridge, don’t let it go to waste. Invest in all kinds of containers so you can save any size meal in the freezer when you don’t think you can eat it in time. Always make a note what you’re freezing, because you’ll forget. When your pennies are tight, you’ll thank yourself for saving convenience leftovers.

freezed meals in bags

Always keep an eye on internet service prices or other utilities you have the option of a new provider for. If you see a deal you’re not currently getting, don’t haggle with the first customer service person you get, but instead ask for the “loyalty-and-retention department” and see what being unhappy about your rate might do for you.

Don’t keep things just because. You may not think you have a lot of stuff, so who cares, but before long, all those just-becauses become actual clutter and things can get away from you.

“Constant vigilance” is the watch-phrase

When things go wrong with your apartment or home — whether it’s a stove not working right, lights on the blink — those are things your landlord is supposed to repair. Let them know what’s going wrong so they can fix it. Do it in email so you always have a record of dates and correspondence, in case things ever get weird. In most regions, you have a right to expect repairs, but know your local tenancy rights so you have realistic expectations.

There are simple fixes a screwdriver can repair, so make sure you get a starter kit of tools and have WD40 and duct tape handy, since these can fix much of what might go wrong and is easy to mend.

Be mindful of suspicious activity, because it’s your neighborhood too, but treat your neighbors with respect and show them consideration with how you behave. The worst thing you can do is to make enemies of anyone you live near.

Rites of passage

Having your own home is a glorious first-time experience for anyone, but the stresses of running your own home soon becomes a reality. By knowing how to get into a rhythm of cleaning, accountability, and awareness, there’s no need that the novelty and fun of having your own home should wear off any time soon.

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Steffani Cameron

Steffani Cameron is a Victoria BC-based writer on a variety of topics. Here on the BuildDirect blog, she specializes in writing about smaller, urban spaces. How do you make the most of your smaller space? How do you decorate it to suit you? And how do you wage the war against clutter and win? This is Steff’s specialty.