The good, the bad and the adult-y.
By Sofia Rivera, Simmons College
Once, someone shat in the shower of my dorm’s shared bathrooms.
It was one of four stalls shared between 30 girls. Having been left to ferment for several hours, the smell punched you in the face as soon as you opened the door at the end of the hall. Thirty girls gathered in the hallway, and everyone was a suspect.
“Maybe it was an animal?” suggested my new number one suspect.
Probably not,” I replied through squinted eyes. “But whoever did this is an animal.” Marta, the poor soul tasked with coming in the middle of the night to clean up someone else’s mess, removed the source, but like a ghost who hasn’t made peace, the miasma lingered for days. Three weeks later it happened again.
For this fiasco and related reasons, I decided to move off campus and into the dinner-party adulthood of an apartment. I assumed the apartment would be a penthouse in a building with a rooftop terrace, sparkling views and so much extra space that I’d be forced to convert one of the superfluous rooms into a yoga studio.
Well you know what they say about assuming.
It turns out renting an apartment is a lot like “The Bachelorette”: You’ve gotta kiss a lot of frogs before you settle on your former athlete with a bad personality—or penthouse, in keeping with the analogy. There are a lot of unanticipated perks and hurdles when it comes to apartment hunting, so for anyone looking to start the process I’m here to lay them out for you.
1. The World Is Not an Apartment-Granting Factory
Much like this headline being rip-off of that John Green quote, apartments geared toward college students are Bernie Madoff level rip-offs.
My roommate and I had a mental list of must-haves, but those quickly went out the window when we saw what Boston real estate has to offer. I was studying abroad, so my lovely roommate endured all of the apartment tours and texted over the horror stories.
A rat ran across the floor during one showing, and my roommate Melisa, startled, asked the current tenant if that was a regular occurrence.
“Yeah,” the girl replied. “But I don’t mind. Free food.”
Was she joking? I don’t know. Melisa high-tailed it out of there before the girl had time to explain the punchline.
Another apartment building reeked of weed—I live in a city packed with colleges, so that’s not a foreign scent, but reportedly this was next level pungency. Melisa politely asked the broker if the building always smelled like that. “For a student budget, they’re pretty much all gonna smell like that,” he said charmingly.
So we settled for a third floor apartment with no elevator but also no weed plantation and no rats, and we kind of love it.
2. The Living Is Easy in More than One Room
Living in a dorm room drove me crazy. It’s a misnomer, really, because your dorm room isn’t just your bedroom, but your living room, kitchen, dining room and whatever else you’re into. It’s gross that whatever you microwave is your room’s incense for the day; it drove my roommate crazy when I’d make popcorn because the scent was so potent.
Sure, most dorms have floor kitchens and common rooms, but I don’t want to have to put pants on and risk socializing just to go make a bag of popcorn. A joy of having an apartment is that you can still have your own space away from home and close to campus, and your space consists of more than one small room. Also you never have to wear pants.
3. Everything Costs Money
Plates. Toilet paper. Wifi. Shower curtain. Normal curtains. Renter’s insurance. The list of things you need to purchase for a new apartment goes on and on and it largely overlaps with my “yet to buy” list.
There are so many expenses that are taken care of in a dorm situation that you don’t think of until you’re the one shopping for them. It feels startlingly adult to realize that if I don’t buy chairs, I just won’t have anywhere to sit. It’s a little panic-inducing that I’m so responsible for my own comfort (shout out to my parents for taking care of literally everything for the past two decades), but also weirdly invigorating. Like, maybe chairs are overrated? Freed from the shackles of dorm room furniture and the luxuries of home, anything is possible.
4. “Don’t Label Me”
That’s your food talking!
Since you’ll no longer have to label your groceries before putting them into the communal fridge, where you know they’ll be eaten regardless, there’s no need to freak about defending your feast.
I actually just stuffed the mini fridge in my room, so I can’t personally relate to the tragedy of missing food, but many a friend has posted in the hall’s Facebook group with heartbroken pleas of “Please put back my Ben&Jerry’s.”
And not only no more labeling your food, but no more dining hall food. If your college provides delicious cuisine, I’m so happy for you. Also, where do you go because I’m transferring.
Mine and most dining halls that I know of are sub-par, which was a difficult adjustment because I follow a lot of foodie accounts on Instagram. I love to cook so I’m ridiculously excited to have my own kitchen—not to mention the space to have friends over for dinner parties as I *assume* all adults do.
5. Commuting Is a Chore
Many college campuses house themselves on prime real estate. How do they afford it?? It might have something to do with the new car-sized payments students give to them every year, not sure though. My college is located next to Fenway Park and nestled in with four other colleges so it’s expensive in the same way that Bostonians love the Red Sox: ridiculously.
The Fenway neighborhood is pretty much primetime real estate, so my roommate and I had to widen our radius a little bit to find a price that we could swallow. That radius ended up stretching 45 minutes away from campus walking, so gone are the days of rolling out of bed into my classroom. But honestly, I think getting up more than ten minutes before class begins will be good for me; maybe I’ll eat an actual breakfast and put together an outfit rather than pants with whatever shirt I wore to bed.
6. That’s Your Shit
Literally. Having your own apartment means having your own bathroom, which means any mess in your bathroom is yours. Good news and bad news, really. You’ll re-realize how gross you are, but also find comfort in the fact that you’re not actually touching someone else’s hair when you peel off the abstract art hair sculptures from the shower tiles.
Personally, I’m a pretty messy person. I change my outfit three times every time I get dressed and leave the discarded articles strewn around my room or in a heap on my bed.
But I hate a dirty bathroom or kitchen— nastiness in the rooms where I’m preparing food or putting in my contacts and getting clean feels not only counterintuitive, but unsanitary. I don’t love to clean, but oddly enough I’m looking forward to cleaning my own kitchen and bathroom, and knowing that spill is my spill.
Plus, I’ll sleep a little sounder at night knowing there’ll never again be a shit in the shower incident.