Reflecting on Renting: 6 Things I Wish I Would Have Known Before Moving Out

Lauren’s living room

Moving out is one of the most exciting and nerve wracking experiences I’ve had as an undergraduate student.

When I moved into university residences in my first year, I still had the comfort of knowing that my CL (community leader) was nearby if there was an emergency or if I had a dispute with my roommate. Thankfully neither of which occurred while I was living in dorms. I had a meal plan to take care of all my food needs, and every class was just a 10 minute walk away.

Second year, housing was not quite so smooth. Without going into too much detail, the house was less than desirable (I’m still convinced that it was haunted on top of being dingy) and my roommates and I were all new to managing independence and personal space.

By third year, I was lucky to have found a really lovely basement suite that I still continue to share with two of my closest friends.

If this is your first time living on your own or you’re new to Victoria, I wanted to save you some trouble and share with you a few things I had to learn the hard way when I first moved out on my own.

1. Start looking for places early, but do not worry if it takes you a little while to find something.

Looking for a house stressed me out so much before second year, I still can’t look at a Kijiji posting without my stomach getting in knots.

Victoria does have a low vacancy rate so it never hurts to keep an eye on rental postings through Facebook housing pages, Craigslist, or other rental websites. But above all, make sure that the posting is from a legitimate source. 

If it is taking you some time to find a place, be persistent. It can sometimes take a bit longer than expected, but something will come up!

2. Know your rights as a renter.

Yes, student renters have rights too! Do not be afraid to contact your landlord if you have any issues with the property, or if something is broken or not working. Make sure you know what you and your landlord can and cannot do by reviewing the BC Tenancy Act.

3. Speak up if something is bothering you.

There is nothing worse than a passive aggressive roommate or house gossip. It makes for a toxic living environment and leads to unnecessary drama. If you do not like something your roommate is doing, talk to them about it in a calm and diplomatic fashion.

Maybe trying writing what’s bugging you down first, write a script if you have to. These situations are never easy, but that uncomfortable 5 minute conversation will be worth the relief you feel after and hopefully lead to a solution.

4. Share household responsibilities and keep common areas clean.

The kitchen is frequently the source of most roommate drama. Everyone’s definition of “clean” is different, but again, if you are bothered by the state of a common space, talk to your roommates about it honestly. And make sure you’re cleaning up after yourself as well.

I’m very guilty of scoffing at some dirty dishes that have been left in the sink, only to realize that they were mine from the day before. If things like sweeping or taking out the trash do become a problem, maybe consider creating a cleaning schedule with your roommates for everyone to follow. It sounds a little Pinterest-y, but it does hold people accountable.

5. Learn to cook and grocery shop.

homemade veggie burgerWhen I first moved out, I lived off of white rice and canned chickpeas for two weeks. I’m not exaggerating. And it wasn’t that I didn’t know how to cook, I love cooking! But, I didn’t know how to grocery shop.

Learning to budget your money to make sure you can buy the food you need takes some time to figure out. Look in fliers or check online if there are any sales on items at your local grocery store, compare prices between grocery store chains, and make coupons your best friend! 

If you’re new to cooking, come prepared with an arsenal of recipes you know you can make easily, like curries or stir fry. Maybe get a little creative this summer and try a few recipes out!

6. Breathe. It will be okay.

We’ve all heard the housing horror stories, we’re all nervous moving into a new place or living with new people. Just remember that you are entitled to feel comfortable and safe in your home. Yes, there will be obstacles and no living situation is perfect. However, I have made some of my best memories with my roommates and have learned and grown so much by living off campus! It can be a bit daunting and like any new skill it will take practice, but you will get the hang of it in no time!

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