It is Bitches Get Riches canon that Kitty and I met when we were randomly assigned roommates freshman year of college. We bonded through the adversity of cohabiting in a forced triple with an infuriating third party who shall forever remain nameless. The two of us shared a bunkbed and ceded one entire half of the room to that creature’s baffling habits and excessive belongings. I won’t go into it except to quote General William Tecumseh Sherman: “War is hell.”
Yet BGR lore rarely tells the end of the story! For after that fateful freshman year, we went on to rent our first apartment together, taking our roommateship to the next level. Nothing tests a friendship like shopping for a shower curtain together.
We survived our fourth-floor walkup with its busted dollhouse dishwasher and coffin-like shower. But more importantly, our friendship survived.
And thus, we feel uniquely qualified to dispense advice on Baby’s First Apartment!
This week’s question
Today’s question comes to us from Patreon supporter Aidan. Aidan asks:
Hello. I have been a longtime follower of your blog, but now I’m in need of financial advice so here I am. I have been researching throughout the internet and all, but there isn’t enough information about getting a first apartment. Like, what type of hidden costs or whatever are important to know about in regards to getting an apartment? How much money will I end up spending in the initial months of moving into an apartment? What type of things do you wish you knew before moving into your first apartment? Advice is much appreciated, thank you for taking time to answer this question.– Patron Aidan
It’s like someone sent up our Bat Signal.
For more of our very knowledgeable thoughts and opinions on the matter of apartments and moving out for the first time:
- Leaving Home before 18: A Practical Guide for Cast-Offs, Runaways, and Everybody in Between
- Ask the Bitches: “I Just Turned 18 and My Parents Are Kicking Me Out. How Do I Brace Myself?”
- Ask the Bitches: I Want to Move Out, but I Can’t Afford It. How Bad Would It Be to Take out Student Loans to Cover It?
- Ask the Bitches: Why Are Painted Mason Jars the Internet’s Only Solution to My Tiny Apartment Woes?
- 9 Essential Tools for Apartment-Dwellers (and 6 That Are Kinda Useless)
- Ask the Bitches: How Can I Survive in an Apartment with No Heat?
We heckin adore our patrons. They’re the special sauce that brings this whole blog-cum-podcast together.* So thanks to our Patreon donors for supporting us. We know it’s but a pittance in exchange, but we reward all our patrons with exclusive goodies like 24/7 Q&A support, exclusive merch, and voting on article topics every month. If you want to join the ranks of Bitches Get Riches supporters, head on over to our Patreon page!
Episode transcript (click to reveal)
We want to say thank you to our Patreon donors. Thanks, this time to Silvia, Tory, BMouse(?), Joy, and Meditating Mother. An extra special thanks this time to Miranda and Maria, who are like alien women, but the kind from 1950s movies where they’re super leggy and gorgeous and the only difference is that they’re green.
You want to know what I’m watching on mute while we record the podcast?
What is it?
I want you to take three guesses.
Is it tonsil stone removals?
No, but close.
Is it blackhead extraction?
It is blackhead extraction. Got it in two!
Got it in two! That feeling of like, “Ahhh, now it’s better.” That’s what I want out of a disgusting medical video. So I don’t like the stuff that is gross stuff with no relief.
You can’t just have grossness for the sake of grossness. It’s got to be that satisfaction.
If I want grossness for the sake of grossness, I’m going to watch The Thing, which is fantastic.
Yes, absolutely. We have not referenced The Thing enough at bitchesgetriches.com, which is our internet blog.
I think we have a couple of times, but you’re right, the quota is low.
That’s enough of that. I’m Piggy.
We’re the bitches in Bitches Get Riches.
We are two adult human women up for adoption in search of our forever homes.
And we’re here to answer the bumper sticker question: Who rescued who?
Our time on this planet is limited.
So let’s get started.
Today’s letter comes to us from Patreon supporter Aiden.
I had a roommate, a really mediocre roommate who had a cat named Aiden. And every time she came home from work, she would go, “(in an annoying, baby-like voice) AIDEN, PUPP-Y! Come here, puppy. AIDEN.”
I just got a cavity listening to you say that.
Any time I see this name written down, in my head, I hear a grown woman, screaming in baby voice.
Piggy & Kitty 2:39
(mimicking the baby voice with Aiden’s name)
All right. Let’s get to the question. Aiden asks, “Hello. I’ve been a longtime follower of your blog, but I’m now in need of financial advice, so here I am. I’ve been researching throughout the internet and all, but there isn’t enough information about getting a first apartment.”
“Like, what kind of hidden costs or whatever are important to know about in regards to getting an apartment? How much money will I end up spending in the initial months of moving into an apartment? What type of things do you wish you knew before moving into your first apartment? Advice is much appreciated. Thank you for taking the time to answer this question.”
So I chose this question because I got my first apartment with you.
That’s right. We did.
And I knew that we have (a) learned shit ton since then, and (b) probably made a couple mistakes along the way that I hope Aiden and other readers can learn from.
Now seems like a great time to plug your new apartment, which is a fellow advice dispensing Tumblrite, that we very much stan.
Yep, yep, yep, good shit.
So, a lot of places will require you to have first month’s rent, last month’s rent, and a security deposit. People who haven’t had their first apartment might not know what a security deposit is.
Yeah, the security deposit is typically equal to one month’s rent or like a half a month’s rent. So a security deposit is basically money you pay to the landlord that they can use when you move out to repair or clean the apartment.
Yeah, because you as a renter have the potential to cause massive damage to the entire building. Let’s say, the building is renting to you, and it turns out you are a wet bandit, made famous in the film Home Alone, the documentary. A gripping documentary.
And your MO is that you stuff up the drains full of rags and then you leave all of the water in the sink, in the bathtub, and everything on full blast. For no reason other than spite.
First of all, I wish you the inner peace that you need. I hope you get right with God.
Second of all, what a fucking monster.
You fucking wet bandit. You devil. But, like, how does your apartment building know that you are someone who’s not going to just arbitrarily trash things, or immediately move 15 other people in and sublet out to them? Or throw some super loud destructive party like you’re a 1970s rock star, just like peeing on the ceiling, why not?
And, also like, good job, if you manage to figure that out.
Do you know that that’s a real anecdote that I know about Courtney Love?
What? She peed on the ceiling?
I know someone who worked at a hotel that she stayed at, and they kept her security deposit because there was pee on the ceiling.
Courtney Love. Goddamn.
Well, and it couldn’t have been her because like — I don’t want to sell my gender short…
But she doesn’t have the mechanics.
We can’t aim this. No, our urethra’s runway is as long as a driveway.
I know we don’t do affiliates and marketing…yet. But I do want to make a plug for one of my favorite products. It’s called the Tinkle Bell, marketed to outdoorsy women for when you’re camping. It is a funnel made out of squeegee material, so it both allows you to pee standing up without taking yours pants down and wipe.
It is the most amazing thing I have ever done in my life, and when I’m camping or rock climbing or doing anything outdoors, I bring it with me and drink gallons of water just so I can use it.
I wish you could see my face.
No, my eyes are like misted over. I’m just so happy.
Anyway, without a Tinkle Bell, yes, it would be hard to pee on the ceiling.
Which does answer Aiden’s question really well of … how do I pee on the ceiling of my new apartment?
Question answered, roll credits, that’s the episode.
Ideally, if you’ve taken care of the apartment, and you’ve cleaned it after you move out, you get that money back. If you are a serial apartment dweller, you could pay one security deposit the first time you get an apartment and then just keep rolling it over into a new apartment every time you move. Which is great.
The other thing I wanted to address is that we’re making a big deal about having first month’s rent, last month’s rent, a security deposit. How do you actually know what those numbers are? And I think the answer is deceptively simple. You need to get on fucking Craigslist and start looking at apartment listings in the area where you want to live.
Before you’re looking for apartments.
Before. So that you get a sense of how much the going rate is for an apartment in your area. Because otherwise it’s all just up in the air. Like we’re just talking about fake numbers. We’re not talking about reality. But if you go on Craigslist or Zillow or like whatever other apartment finding app or site is in your area, you’ll get a sense of the average of what you need to pay it off.
I would even say — on Craigslist, just go ahead and always throw away outliers. Craigslist has a lot of scams, where it’s listing a studio that should be $2,000 in your city a month. It’s listing it for $1,100, and the photos are gorgeous. And you’re like, “Oh my gosh, what’s the catch?”
And then you reach out to them, and they say, “Oh well, because we’re not in the country, if you write us a check for this…”, and I was like, “Ah, all right. That was the catch. You’re a Nigerian prince”.
Yes, you’re a Nigerian prince. Spoiler alert, Nigeria is a fucking democracy. They don’t have princes. Like if it looks too good to be true, it’s probably too good to be true. Most apartments look a little bit shitty, and that’s fine. That’s why you buy curtains and whatever to dress them up a little bit.
You should be looking for: Do the utilities work? Does the heat work?
You should try flushing the toilet.
Do the windows close and open?
You should try running the tub on hot water for five minutes and then go feel underneath to make sure that there’s still hot water coming out.
Turn on the stove. Make sure all four burners actually work.
If they have like a pan there, put a drop of water in it, and just see if it slides to one side or the other. That’s how you know that the floors slope. Cooking on a stove in an apartment that has sloping floors can be done, but it’s a pain in my damn ass.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever put a stack of quarters under the foot of a stove.
Oh, I do wooden shims now.
Yeah, like, those are the things that matter. More than, is it this quaint, adorable little place?
There’s something that I wish I had known before I moved into my first apartment is that the proximity of your landlord has a big impact. I have lived in the same building as a landlord. Where, say, they were living on first floor, and I was living in the apartment above them on the second floor. Too close!
That’s too close, that’s entirely too close. Meanwhile, we have a mutual friend who had a terrible bedbug infestation. And when they brought it to their landlord’s attention, their landlord was a piece of shit. Their landlord lived three states away, and could only be reached by failing to mail a rent check, when they materialized and be like, “How dare you not send me my money? Otherwise I’m not going to answer any emails from you or requests to do any kind of regular maintenance.”
The best apartment I ever lived in was where the landlord didn’t live there now, but had lived there. That meant that if there were minor things that were wrong with the unit, he would have fixed them by then. Because he was living there, and so he understood the apartment deeply.
If you can avoid having an absentee landlord, you want that, if you can avoid having a busybody landlord.
Yeah, you can just strike like a happy medium there. I also wanna say on the note of landlords. let’s talk about neighbors and neighbor noise. So, I would say if you go to visit an apartment, do so while the neighbors are home. So generally that’s in the evening, when everyone’s home from work. I rented a house once, where the neighbors owned 14 Chihuahuas and one German Shepherd, so it constantly sounded like this: (a mix of high-pitched and low-pitched dog sounds).
I respect that diversity hire.
It was fucking awful, and we had to sneak into our backyard if we wanted to spend time out there and be as quiet as possible because if the Chihuahuas sensed that we were out there, they’d be off to the races.
Living in close proximity to other people costs you less money because it’s less expensive usually to rent an apartment than it is to rent a freestanding home on an acre of land or whatever. The trade off is that you’re kind of throwing the dice and just hoping to God that you don’t have weird neighbors.
Yes, please, Jesus, don’t have weird neighbors. I’d say the initial month of moving into an apartment are probably the most expensive.
I think your first apartment expenses depend a lot on if you’ve lived semi independently before or not. Have you been living in a dorm room where you have to own things like your own power strips? Or have you lived at home, where maybe you had access to a communal pool of that through your family? So I think that has a big impact on what you will need and what costs you will incur.
I would say, put aside at least one month’s rent for buying stuff that you never plan on having to buy.
Oh, totally. A fucking dish rack.
Buying a dish rack. When you sign up for internet, you’ll have to get a modem, and if you rent it, it’s more expensive over time. Ideally, having that saved up just to get things that you know that you need like a mattress, a bookcase, but also lots of stuff that you won’t know that you need like a trash can. It’s not very glamorous, and they’re surprisingly pricey.
We’re huge proponents of buying things secondhand. I think that’s both a cost saving measure as well as a waste reduction measure because we’re hashtag try-not-to-murder-this-planet-with-our-own-hands. We’ll leave that to other, more capable hands.
That’s a long hashtag, but we stand by it.
You need the luxury of time with some of those things. For example, so you do need a bookcase. You can wait for the right one to come. In the meantime, there’s nothing wrong with stacking your books on the floor and leaving them in boxes in a closet somewhere, but there’s other things that are like, “Oh no, I do need forks immediately.
That is the problem with getting a place, and I think this gets to the heart of Aiden’s question: until you are living in a new home, you have no idea what you need. What random bullshit, stupid thing, where you didn’t know you needed this, but now you do.
And so I think your advice of having at least a month’s rent worth of money saved up to buy those random little incidentals is worthwhile, especially if you’ve never lived alone before.
I think a lot of that a little aspirational. It would be ideal. I divide things into four categories: whether it’s urgent or not urgent, and whether it’s cheap or expensive. Separating things out into those four quadrants is really helpful to me because I can say, “Oh, the urgent, cheap stuff. I’ll just do that right away.” Spend 200 bucks going to Target and just get those things.
And then you can prioritize. The expensive, not urgent stuff? What if I just didn’t ever get that because I’m not living in this apartment for the rest of my damn life. This is my first apartment. I don’t need to do things like get furniture that’s perfectly tailored to the space or whatever. I can make do.
And then you can kind of negotiate back and forth with the other two categories.
You can take your time with a lot of things as long as you have the space. When I say have the space, I mean once you’ve actually secured an apartment.
There’s a cliche about real estate, which is what are the three most important things? (in a advertiser’s voice) Location, location, location.
And it’s a cliche, but it is fairly true. I think, no matter how perfect your space, if you have a two hour commute, it’s going to suck ass.
It’s gonna suck ass.
Really just doing your research and focusing first on quality of life. If your dream apartment has like two bedrooms, one that’s a music room or whatever the hell, or having a wonderful kitchen because you love to cook with blah blah blah. Listen, you’re going to become a better musician if you don’t have a music room for a while. You’re going to become a better chef if you have a teeny, tiny kitchen for a while.
These things, you will work through. What you will never be comfortable with in the long term is not being close to your work, not being close to school, not being close to any of your friends, and basically feeling like your home is just an expensive place that you come home to to sleep.
We can aim higher than that.
We can aim higher than that. I will say your very first apartment — you shouldn’t shoot to live there longer than one to two years. You might get really lucky that it ticks all the boxes, but again, if it’s your first time living alone or with roommates that aren’t blood relatives, give yourself permission to take a year or two to get used to that situation before making it better.
So, you know — I just want to reference one of our college apartments. Kitty has really low blood pressure. And I don’t know if this is true to this day, but she had to sit while taking showers because the hot water would be…
That’s still true.
Oh my goodness, look at that. So we had a shower that was like the prison shower on an aircraft carrier. It was the tiniest fucking shower. I, a normal human who showers standing up, did okay. It wasn’t luxurious, but I was just like whatever. I’m 21, I can endure anything for a year or so. But you had to sit and basically fold yourself into a like paperclip to shave your legs.
I had to sit crisscross applesauce on this like dirty vinyl. It was horrible. It was awful.
But we got through it.
And also in that apartment, our dishwasher didn’t work. And even if it did, it was the size of a fancy clutch. It was teeny.
It held a lip color and a tampon. Nary anything else.
Maybe like an iPhone 8.
Oh no, like an iPhone 4.
So we use it as a drying rack and wash our dishes by hand. It was a fourth floor walk up, so we walked half the city to get home because we didn’t have no money for transportation. But, you know, then we had to walk up four flights of stairs. We made it work, and we made some pretty goddamn good meals. We still kept up our personal hygiene while living there. You will be surprised at the things you can live with.
Yeah, having a shitty apartment is like a beautiful rite of passage. You will have a shitty apartment. You will have shitty roommates. You’ll have a shitty landlord at some point in your life. And you’ll get through it. In terms of the actual space that you live in, I would say the space itself is a little bit less important than the people that you share it with.
Go in understanding what you need, versus what you want. And for your very first apartment, you want to get your needs, and you want to have some of your wants, but just get used to the idea that you’re not going to get all of your wants.
Are you good with that?
I’m good with that.
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Hey, uh, is there anything else we should know?
Yes, to bring this to your attention, let me talk a little bit about our Patreon. So, our Patreon is a way for our readers to support the blog. With each tier of donation, you get a different patron reward. So for example, at one level, you get to ask us a personalized question, and we’ll answer it privately. At another level, you get a very fancy Bitches Get Riches tote bag,
And at the highest level, you get to adopt us as your legal children.
Yeah, this started as like a joke amongst you and I when we were planning out what are the different Patreon tiers going to be. And then we kind of got to this absurdly high number of $100 a month. And we’re like, “Who would give us $100 every month?”
It’s our moms.
It would just be our moms. You get to choose which one of us will become your daughter, and it will be canon, it will be writ in the law, in the lore of Bitches Get Riches.
In the Book of Bitches.
This person is our mother.
Yes. So we want to do a special shout out to Patreon donor Cormac who officially has achieved the right to adopt one of us as their daughter.
Cormac ultimately decided that their daughter will be Piggy.
(aggressively) In your face.
(broken up) I, um, I’m fine with it … I’m so … I’m so happy for you, and I’m not
No, I don’t feel sorry for you at all. I earned this honor. I have a new mom now, and their name is Cormac. And you can just cry in the shower for the rest of your day.
(crying) I think I will.
And you should.
You know what, I’m gonna find a new mom. I’m gonna find a better mom. I’m gonna find a mom who can beat up your mom, how’s that?
Don’t talk about my mom no way.
I’ll talk about your mom that way.
(high-pitched) Don’t talk about my mom that way.
Cause your mom a ho.
(broken up) Listen, I’m really happy for you. I’m so glad that you have a mom, I’m gonna just, like an orphan, press my face up against the glass as you share Christmas goose together with your new family.
I’m gonna eat that goose with the biggest shit-eating grin on my face, like grease smeared all around, oblivious to your pain, and just living the life of privilege and luxury that my new mom has decided to afford me.
Listeners. If you’re interested in joining me in living my realness, which is my Little Match Girl realness, head on over to patreon.com/bitchesgetriches. Become my mom. And you know what? You’re going to be a cool mom.
Whoa whoa whoa whoa. My mom is a cool mom. They picked me, so I am clearly.
Exactly. So how can Cormac be cool?
Oh shit. Uh, okay.
Piggy & Kitty 24:17
Save me, Mom.
No, Mom, save me.
*Forgive me, but I cannot promise I will never use the words “special sauce” and “cum” in the same sentence again on this blog.