After a year or two of college it’s easy to feel like you’ve finally got the hang of things. You know your way around campus, the best spots to eat, and you’ve picked up a few insider tricks such as getting to your classes in the BellSouth building early so you can take the elevator and avoid the long climb up the steps.

But what you may not know are the essentials for moving out of your campus residence hall and into your own house or apartment.

The College Today compiled the following crowd-sourced list to help students who are moving off campus for the first time.

1. Think ahead when looking for a new place

The freedom of having your own place may be thrilling enough for you to jump on the first house you see, but don’t be hasty when choosing where to live. Consider these tips to make an educated decision:

  • Look for housing about six to nine months before move in
  • Research landlord reviews
  • Check move-in dates
    • If there is a reason you need to be in Charleston or on campus before your move-in date – for example, sorority recruitment – plan ahead for where you’ll be staying during that time period
  • Join Facebook pages for your graduating class year and be on the lookout for posts about subleasing and people selling furniture
  • If you plan on bringing your car, look for a place that includes parking

2. Reassess your packing process

Using the same list you used to pack for freshman year is a good start, but with a bigger space and fewer items provided for you, you’ll need to bring more stuff. Don’t forget these items:

  • Lightbulbs
  • Cleaning supplies, mop, mop bucket, broom, dustpan, cleaning products, Swiffer, bleach, vacuum
  • Dishwasher detergent
  • Throw blankets
  • Damprid or similar products (good for managing moisture in old Charleston homes)
  • Pots, pans, and cooking utensils to cook for yourself (less expensive than eating out)
  • A Wi-Fi router
  • A cable package if you plan on watching regular TV (look into bundling Wi-Fi and cable services to save money)

3. Avoid these move-in mistakes

The idea of moving into your own place is overwhelming enough that you may overlook the actual process of moving in.

General questions to ask yourself before moving in: Will this fit? Will this help me get my security deposit back? Will I be able to set this up? Do I really need this?

Paying attention to these points will help you get those questions answered:

  • Measure doorways/rooms so things will fit
  • Hire movers for the big stuff
  • Take pictures of any existing damage so you’ll get all of your security deposit back
  • Take off any Command hooks or wall adhesives left behind by past tenants carefully to avoiding ruining paint
  • Bring a tool kit
  • Ask some friends or family to help you
  • Communicate with your roommates about what they’re bringing so you don’t have duplicate items

4. Be aware of the residence hall luxuries you no longer have

It’s easy to take for granted the products and services that were once provided for you in a residence hall.

Pay attention for these things, in particular, and establish some new habits:

  • Manually locking your doors
  • Being conscious of not having free utilities
  • Buying your own toilet paper
  • Going through the landlord when you have a maintenance problem
  • Accounting for more travel time when going to campus
  • Be on the lookout for cockroaches (also called Palmetto bugs) and termites, which are common in South Carolina, and contact your landlord ASAP if you see them

5. Use all the life hacks you can

With your own place comes new responsibilities that can be hard to juggle. Some students shared little things they do to make their households run smoothly and keep the peace between roommates:

  • Use index cards to indicate if the dishwasher is clean or dirty
  • Index cards are also great for planning laundry (for claiming the washer next or for leaving instructions for your roommates about how to dry/handle certain items in the washer when you aren’t home to switch loads)
  • Have labeled keys and a key rack so no one loses track of their keys
  • Utilize open windows instead of air conditioning to save on your electric bill
  • Have your landlord’s info on hand in case of emergencies
  • Exchange contact info with your neighbors in case you get locked out or need a favor

6. Be knowledgeable about parking in Charleston

You may have the opportunity to have your car now, which can be very exciting, if you know what you’re getting yourself into. But parking in Charleston can be tricky if you’re not well-informed, so take these tips seriously:

Maggie Vickrey is a rising junior from Chicago studying communication and sociology at the College of Charleston. (Photos by Heather Moran)