update: my boss is my new next-door neighbor

It’s “where are you now?” month at Ask a Manager, and all December I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer whose department head was moving in next door? Here’s the update.

My update is (thankfully!) pretty boring. My firm’s partner and I hardly interact outside of the office and have had very few issues. I consider myself a thoughtful neighbor, but have been especially vigilant living next to him. He has been respectful as well and we have had no issues.

There have even been some professional advantages to living next to him. He frequently hosts his favorite managers and directors, and will now invite me as part of his “in-crowd.” I have gotten on all of the committees and projects that I have requested, and when I raised a concern at work it was taken extremely seriously and did not impact our neighborly relationship at all. When he has come over to visit, or invited me over dinner he speaks candidly and I learn valuable information about clients, employees, projects etc. that should probably not be shared with me. The boundaries have been blurred a bit, but honestly they have been blurred to my favor.

We will wave to one another when we see each other, but hardly stop for more than that. We pretend not to see each other’s bad behavior – I don’t share about his “secret” poker nights with select favorite employees, and he doesn’t say anything the next day if he sees me returning from a happy hour that got a little too happy (we live near bars so I will walk). I still run shirtless and it has been incredibly Not Weird – in fact, I have stopped and had a full conversation with him without a shirt and the dynamic was not uncomfortable at all. He posts his vacation days well in advance, and if we are having a larger gathering it is easy to plan around his PTO.

The largest negative has been that I can’t get out of team events that I’m not interested in. He will often host my department at his house, and I feel uncomfortable saying no now. During our busy season I grew honestly a little resentful when I was staying in the office later than him, since thinking of him at home next door to me was a little jarring, but that has passed now that I’m working standard hours again as opposed to 12 hour days. I occasionally get roped into a conversation with him that is a little too long and a little too work related, but these instances are infrequent enough that I’m not bothered. Due to the amount of roommates I have I do not think he is aware of any romantic partners that I bring home – one large concern I had was that he would learn of my sexuality, but he hasn’t met all my roommates and so he is none the wiser. I keep my windows closed much more often than I would otherwise – my roommates have been understanding and accommodating of this.

I was surprised by the reaction of most of the readers to me knocking on my neighbor’s doors to introduce myself. My relationship with my neighbors is very amicable – we are a house full of young people, but I’ve found that open communication can ease a lot of the burdens and concerns that come with that. It’s still cool to be neighborly!

Thanks for your advice Alison – you’re response helped me act Not Weird around the whole situation. I am glad I didn’t sit and have an explicit conversation with him about being neighbors, since in the end there was no need. While it’s been fun, next year I will not be renewing my lease – for me it’s time to start moving a little slower, a little less “live fast”, and maybe even living by myself (I would love advice on what people wish they knew before getting their own apartment, if your readers don’t mind sharing some!).

{ 209 comments… read them below }

  1. Janet, Sower of Chaos*

    I’m glad this is working out for you, I guess, but your firm sounds like a mess.

    1. yikes*

      Yeah, I thought the same. Secret poker nights and being privy to information you wouldn’t otherwise know about? This boss sounds like a nightmare.

      1. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

        Seriously. My eyebrows were heading straight through the ceiling while reading this update.

      1. The OP*

        It is undoubtedly a little dysfunctional. You’re right about the good ol’ boys – thus my hesitation for anyone to find out about my sexuality. When all is said and done though I am treated well and paid well, so for the time being I am content. You all are right that it’s not ideal though.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          It’s more than a little dysfunctional. Especially when you have to worry about hiding your sexuality.

          However I don’t fault you for going with the flow and playing the game. I’ve seen it, I’ve done it. I still block my former boss from any posts that out me as a liberal. So guilty as charged.

          Just get the experience you need and can thrive anywhere in the end. That’s crucial. This dysfunction aside, take care of yourself in the long run and not the short term.

          1. anonandon*

            Dude, can we not pretend worrying about being “outed as a liberal” is anywhere NEAR on the same level as having to hide your sexuality at work? That’s extremely not cool.

            1. Zona the Great*

              I don’t think The Man, Becky Lynch was implying they were on the same level. And where I live, btw, I hide my liberalism to ensure I don’t have property damaged or my name disparaged at the water cooler as both have happened.

            2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

              I also don’t disclose my sexuality but I don’t do that in general. But thanks for assuming I was equating the two!

        2. Quill*

          Yeah, be on guard for the possible escalation of dysfunction, and start socking away that retirement money.

        3. AnnaBananna*

          Seriously, my worst nightmare. You’ve been very patient! Just make sure not to internalize how he rolls, as most larger firms aren’t like this (thankfully). Sounds like great experience otherwise!

    2. IDK My BFF Jill*

      Yeah…boss invites his favorites over and now you’re in the fold, learning work-related info that isn’t shared with others? Yikes. That’s a positive until you somehow get on his bad side, or the favoritism pisses off someone else high-up, and then it becomes a negative.

      1. anonymouslee*

        Couldn’t agree more. I’m not a higher-up, but I can attest to feeling pissed off about favoritism in the workplace even when it’s not at my expense. e.g., I don’t work at the same place as my sister, but I’m resentful of the leg up she gets from dating someone in HR and knowing things she wouldn’t otherwise. Knowing there’s an in-group and not being part of it does not put people in a good mood.

    3. IT Guy*

      Sounds like my place of work and I concur that their are positives to having mentors that “let you in” on how things work.

      1. The OP*

        Yes – my workplace has a lot of politics and, to be honest, my quality of life at work would decrease substantially if I wasn’t “in”. It’s not right but it is the reality – I have benefitted from my living arrangement and some of my identities.

      1. AnnaBananna*

        Ha! I would hate to be HIM. That is a balancing act that is just waiting for me to FUBAR it.

        1. Quill*

          I was a boss’ favorite for a while because I was new and shiny and could make the printer behave. That didn’t last…

  2. Elenna*

    Not a response per se, but I, too, am a recent graduate looking for an apartment (whyyyyy is rent in this area so expensive), and I would also like advice! OP, I asked for things to look for when touring an apartment in the weekend thread a few weeks ago, there were some super helpful answers there if you want to take a look. (Sorry I don’t remember exactly which week that was, but you can try searching for my username and see where you get?)

    1. Elenna*

      I went and found the link, which I don’t think I can post, but it was the week of November 23-24, 2019

      1. Janet, Sower of Chaos*

        You can post links; they just go to moderation so release time depends on how busy Alison is.

      2. Sparrow*

        I think all links go to moderation – if so, it should post once Alison has a chance to clear it!

    2. Happy Pineapple*

      Congrats on the solo apartment search! It’s a big step and can be a great one. Some of my advice/things I wish I’d known:

      -Be incredibly detailed when estimating the cost of a new place, which is so much more than just rent. You’re no longer splitting utilities, sharing kitchen gadgets, and taking turns buying toilet paper. Ask what the typical cost for water and electricity is per unit. Is trash removal included? What’s the typical annual rent increase? Who is the cable/internet provider in that area, and how much does that cost? Are you going to need to get your own couch/bed/microwave/dishes, etc.?
      -Shop secondhand for home goods, especially things that can be fully sanitized like wooden furniture and cutlery.
      -Learn how to cook for one and/or invest in good food storage for meal prepping. It’s much cheaper and takes less time to make big batches of food and portion it out, and will prevent you from giving into easy options like takeout. Like many young people I was broke when I first started living alone, and crockpot meals helped me live on a $20/week grocery budget.
      -Speaking of food, [trigger warning] if you have a history of disordered eating it can get worse when you have no one watching. Take necessary precautions for self care and hold yourself accountable.
      -Schedule time to socialize and clean, and then stick to it. It’s so easy to become complacent with being a hermit who doesn’t vacuum.
      -Expand your DIY knowledge to include simple things like stopping a running toilet. You don’t want to have to wait for maintenance to finally help you for every little project.

  3. Hell in a Teacup*

    Have an emergency contact neighbor!

    I lost my phone in somebody’s car once and I had to go to a neighbor’s place to get the phone back. They’re also useful for packages, mail, dog walking, etc.

  4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Getting your own apartment? The only tip I can give you is to take mental note of everything that you “share” with your roommates and know you’re going to have to piece that together. Unless you go with a furnished apartment of course, which is usually too far out of people’s budgets.

    The annoying part was really just over the course of a few months being all “Oh no, I do need to get that whatever gadget” or “oh right, I need guest towels and to be the only one who’s in charge of buying toilet paper, etc” You suddenly realize you never had your own plates and that’s not your coffee maker, kind of thing.

    Have someone else you can trust with a key perhaps. So if you lock yourself out or lose your key, you have somewhere to call instead of paying out the butt for calling the maintenance team.

    1. 867-5309*

      I was just going to type this! It can be a big surprise to realize how much the little things add up – shower curtains, shower curtain hooks, silverware, toilet plunger, etc. Many things you can buy second hand (I would not suggest this for the toilet plunger) but there are somethings you’ll want new.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        For things you don’t want to get second hand. Go to discount stores for these things!!!!!!!!!!! I have gotten most of my stuff from dollar stores/bargain places.

        Don’t go to a department store or one of those “house stuff” places unless it’s a bargain store or you’re really invested in a nice place. Things break. You’ll probably move. This is your first house, you’re renting, so just stuff to keep in mind as well.

        1. Harvey 6-3.5*

          Agree. We helped our son (starting graduate school) furnish his house. While we bought a new bed and sofa (because fabric is hard to be sure is clean), we bought the rest of the stuff at a mixture of Goodwill, Habitat for Humanity’s store, and cheap places like Walmart. Another possibility, depending on your area, is to get on neighborhood listservs or freecycle and ask for the things you need. Also, if you know anyone downsizing, they may be happy to give you stuff, if you will pick it up.

          1. Quill*

            My brother’s had great luck in an urban area with a lot of resale/recycle stores, and campus swap sites. (He’s currently in grad school.)

            Of course, he also turned a “formal” living room in the 3 bedroom house he shares with three other guys into his bedroom by creating a wall out of bookshelves. So having tools and a little bit of DIY knowledge is good in a first apartment!

          2. Seeking Second Childhood*

            I’ll add Buy Nothing and Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore. (Beyond the plunger–ReStore might even have a new toilet.)

          3. MaxiesMommy*

            And don’t forget the last day of college! I’ve seen mini-fridges, microwaves, toaster ovens, you name it, in the dumpster because there wasn’t room for it in the student’s car. You can go through the dorms with $100 and pick up a lot of what you need—and a trash can to put it all in.

        2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

          The other reason not to buy fancy new furniture is that your next place might have a totally different layout and that beautiful credenza just won’t fit anywhere in your new living room.

        3. PhyllisB*

          Don’t discount department stores!! (Sorry) If they’re having sales you can get some really nice things for close to the price of WM or other big-box. I just got a beautiful bed set that was originally $159.00 for $33.98. This included spread, shams, sheets, pillow cases and bedskirt. I couldn’t believe it.

        4. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I’ve found HomeGoods (which is like Ross/Marshalls/TJ Maxx but focused on house stuff rather than clothes) to be a decent place to get things like shower curtains, linens, wine glasses, and similar items if you want something better than the dollar store but cheaper than a department store. Limited selection, of course, but I’ve managed to get a lot of my “start up” stuff there over the past few years. Big Lots has also been a good place to get a few things but doesn’t have as large of a selection (at least at my local store). If there’s an Ikea in your area I’ve also had decent luck with the things I’ve bought there in terms of housewares.

          For kitchen stuff specifically, pay attention to what you personally use a lot before you move out and focus on buying those things first rather than trying to immediately get all of the tools and appliances that a “real adult” needs in your head. I own two double boilers but no blender, and that’s not an accident but rather based on my own cooking habits. (I love double boilers so much. They make it virtually impossible to burn sauces/soups/canned beans on the stove! However, I know plenty of adults who don’t own one or think of it as the “mystery double-decker pot” that they’re not sure why they own that gathers dust at the back of their cupboard.) I’ll probably get a blender eventually (particularly if I throw a summer party that would want blender-based drink options), but I know that I used one less than once a year when I lived in a shared housing situation with a blender available, so I haven’t made it a priority.

        5. AD*

          I got a lot of kitchen stuff at Goodwill: spatulas, big plastic spoon, big wooden spoon, bottle opener, whisk, grater, mixing bowls, a pie plate. Other stuff I had to seek out at a store. Try to focus on the things you use regularly, and don’t feel like you have to buy everything right away. The one thing I did invest in was a nice knife set. It’s only 4 knives, but it’s higher quality than what you’d find on the shelf in a big box store.

          I bought a few chairs right away but didn’t have a sofa for about 4 months after I moved in. It’s okay to add stuff gradually. It helps you think about what you need and use and choose things that work well for you. And it’s easier on the budget to space things out.

    2. Where’s the Orchestra?*

      So very much reinforcing the “what’s mine, what do I need to get.” I was fortunate when I got married and moved in with my hubby that the only duplicate furniture we had was a bed and dresser. That isn’t normal so make sure you budget for what you’ll need to get that you don’t have.

      And may I recommend estate or moving sales for bigger furniture pieces – they can really come in handy.

      1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

        If you hit the right estate sale at the right time, you can kit out an entire house or apartment for pennies on the dollar – and do a good dead for the environment in the process!

        1. JSPA*

          Moving right around MoveOut day at the local university will get you a lot of deals (and, if you roll the way I do, also free stuff sitting out by the street between MoveOut and trash day). There are some super-fancy items left out by students who suddenly realize that, no, they can’t fly home with [whatever it is] and it costs a couple hundred extra to ship it.

    3. 2 Cents*

      Was coming here to type this. It adds up quickly: the cable/internet bill, the boring stuff (yay, I need to buy trash cans, said no one ever). On the other hand, you get to choose what you like and aren’t left to the whimsy of your roommates. (Dog statue in the living room?)

      1. Smithy*

        Coming here to specifically call out cable/internet, utilities, etc. Personally things like having only 4 forks were easier for me to slowly add or notice no really need for (in my case – kitchen table/chairs – not been necessary in a solo place).

        However, what has always been frustrating is that the kind of space you pay for is challenging. I could easily live in a studio if it had more closet space or a storage unit – but in the city I live in, not really an easy find. So yeah – if your living expenses in a shared house are now X, living solo may increase them by far more than you’d initially think.

      2. PhyllisB*

        Actually 2 Cents, there was someone on here in the past talking about getting excited about a new trash can. This was a special trash can, but still… She even had a blog post about it. I can’t remember who it is, I know she still posts on here. If you are reading this, please share again.

        1. Zoe Karvoupsina*

          Personally, I find Joseph Joseph’s split waste and recycling bin *very* exciting, and spend many an hour whispering ‘Oooooh’ at it’s multi-level drawers, and ability to have everything in one bin…

          1. All monkeys are French*

            I have it, and it *is* very exciting. I think almost every visitor to my home has commented on it and asked where I got it, at which point I have to tell them that it’s kind of absurdly expensive, but worth it.

    4. Fae*

      +1 for making a list of stuff you “share”. Just make sure you prioritize the items on the list so you get the most needed/useful items first. I.E. if you drink coffee every day but only toast things once a month, maybe buy the coffee pot first and wait for the toaster until your finances recover from the other expenditures. Or vice verse.

      Also, When you move into an apartment, they will give you a form when you pick up your key. You are supposed to fill out this form with any blemishes or broken items that are pre-existing so you don’t get dinged for them when you move out and can get your security deposit back. Don’t just focus on the big things. Take pictures of EVERYTHING before you move your stuff in. And I mean everything, the stove hood and smoke detector that are both supposed to be white and are now yellow with age? Take a pic and mark it on the move in sheet the give you. If you have a great apartment manager who realizes things age -fantastic; but you could have a crappy one that could claim you “painted” the stove hood and smoke detector and they had to be “re-painted”. Been there done that, had no proof they weren’t right lost the whole security deposit ( a months rent) to the trumped up costs of “re-painting”. And don’t forget the exterior side of the entrances and exits.

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        LMAO at the toaster. I didn’t have a toaster until I asked my partner what they wanted for breakfast and they mentioned toast. I was like “OH…Oh….BRB………………….”

        Yeah you will absolutely forget stuff but just be ready for those moments.

        1. Jackalope*

          I put in my vote for a toaster oven instead of a toaster. It’s so much more useful for me, esp when I didn’t have a microwave. Ymmv.

            1. HBJ*

              Coming here to say this. If toast or a toasted bagel is a daily or multiple-times-a-weekly thing for you, it’s much nicer to buy a toaster. If it’s rarer than that? Don’t waste the money, counter space and energy to move it to your next rental. Just use the oven.

              1. Filosofickle*

                Yeah, when my toaster oven died I just started using the oven to toast bread and I rejoiced at the regained counter space. (While also mourning the loss of the toaster oven. I had one of those awesome big fancy italian ones that you can truly cook in. I just don’t have enough room or need to justify rebuying.) Then my bf moved in and he brought a toaster! I still end up using the oven a lot, because I favor sourdough and it’s too big for the toaster.

            2. Becca*

              I mean, I’ll cook sandwiches under it, if I’m making enough to justify it, since it does a wonderful job with cheese, but I’d sooner just use the skillet for toast… (Although we had a toaster, so I usually used that out of laziness. And also I don’t eat just toast all that often. Haven’t had any since I’ve moved, and I haven’t noticed whether my roommate has a toaster. There is a toaster oven, so maybe not.)

            3. Don’t get salty*

              You can use your range for toast, too, if you use a nonstick pan. You can make just about any type of toast in a nonstick pan and you don’t need a toaster oven or microwave for that.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            But toasters are easier to store.

            If OP is living alone, it’s probably a studio or one bedroom, so they have limited counter space. I don’t have enough space for a toaster oven. I wish. I like them better than microwaves but that’s built in.

            Though you can get carts to put them on but that requires space too.

            1. RC Rascal*

              All the more reason to ditch the toaster & use the microwave. I lived w a 1930s era kitchen for more than 10 years. Ditched the microwave too.

              1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

                Yeah a previous place was built in the 30s and had no built in microwave, I didn’t have one after the one a friend gave me died. I just didn’t care. The only reason I have one now is because it’s built in. I still heat everything in the oven, it tastes better and isn’t that soggy life like a microwave.

                1. TechWorker*

                  Lol – I am between kitchens at the moment (renovation) and I cannot wait to stop living that soggy life…

                2. JustaTech*

                  I used to think that microwaves are only for re-heating and defrosting stuff (still my primary use case) but then I discovered two frankly brilliant uses for the microwave: boiling down liquid (if it’s less than a cup) and softening but not browning vegetables to go in the slow cooker.

                  My personal love of the toaster oven over the oven-oven for broiling and toasting is that it turns itself off. Put my cheese sandwich on to broil and if I get distracted and don’t get it out when the timer goes off it won’t catch fire. The toaster oven is also excellent for toasting nuts for the same reason: it stops so you’re less likely to burn the nuts.

            2. Jackalope*

              Ah, see, in my area built-in microwaves are rare, so I got the toaster oven and then didn’t get the microwave OR the toaster and had more counter space. And my toaster oven is less work than heating up the oven or reheating on the stove top. Obviously, YMMV. I’ve also grown very attached to a toasted pbj where I make it and then put it in the toaster oven; the inside is all soft and warm and the outside is like regular toast.

            1. Triumphant Fox*

              YES. Also when you don’t want to heat up the whole kitchen. We use our toaster oven more than any other appliance.

              1. Jackalope*

                Me too! I think the toaster oven is the only appliance used every day at my place (unless you count passive appliances like the fridge that is in constant use….)

              2. Beezus*

                Yeah my gas oven heats up fast but it also heats my whole kitchen and living room. Living by myself, using the toaster oven especially on hot days has saved me on additional cooling costs. Just throw my leftovers/small casserole/sweet potato/pizza/etc in there and let it do its thing like the big guy.

              3. Alexandra Lynch*

                Last house I lived in had no insulation. In the summer, we used the toaster oven instead of the regular oven for most everything. (And if I wanted to make something that absolutely needed the large oven, I’d stay up til one am when things cooled down a bit and do it then.)

          2. corporate engineering layoff woo*

            Small apartment kitchen here: we’ve doubled up and have both a toaster oven and microwave. Definitely handy appliances. Depending on space, you might be able to put the toaster oven on top of the microwave; just don’t use both at the same time.

        2. Goya de la Mancha*

          I still don’t have one and curse myself every time I start craving cinnamon sugar toast….

            1. Clisby*

              Yes! This is why the oven has a broiler (or a broiler setting, where the heat comes from the top instead of the bottom).

            2. Goya de la Mancha*

              Now see, my non-culinary ass would never have thought of that! I will have to attempt that, but expect the first few to come out more then a wee bit on the “done” side. ;)

              1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

                I only realized it after I went out and bought a toaster. I got rid of the toaster after I moved again and have just used the oven for everything.

                I had that same weird feeling when I decided to not replace my microwave. Yes, I can still eat Hot Pockets, self. They just take longer to heat up LOL

                1. Róisín*

                  Yeah, but frozen pot pies are a nightmare.

                  My new apartment (okay, I SAY this; I’ve lived here for 6 months) did not come with a microwave. Therefore I do not have a microwave. Most of the time this is no trouble; I reheat things in the oven / toaster oven or on the stove. However… the delicious frozen pot pies I bought in June to celebrate moving in + backing off the vegetarian diet are almost all still in the freezer. Cook time in the microwave is 6 minutes. Cook time in the oven is AN HOUR.

                2. Llellayena*

                  @Roisin – if you do give in and get a microwave, make sure you get one powerful enough. Those pot pies tend to say use a minimum 1100 watt microwave…mine is 700 watt. No pot pie for me :(

            3. Seeking Second Childhood*

              And if you don’t have an oven you can really cook in the toaster oven. I recommend foil on top of messy things to reduce spattering inside.

      2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

        YES to taking pictures of everything. And when there’s an issue, let the landlord or property manager know right away. If they choose not to fix it, that’s on them – but have a *written* record of that. I told an old landlord in person multiple times about the shower leaking, and he kind of blew me off – then he claimed when I moved out that I hadn’t ever told him and that I was responsible for the water damage that had resulted.

        1. TechWorker*

          +1 – we had a landlord who tried to charge us for the bathroom light not working even though we’d told them multiple times the LED bulb had gone and asked where to get another (it was a non-standard fitting). They backed down once we pointed out we’d tried…

      3. kitryan*

        I second taking pics of EVERYTHING and filling out the sheet completely. And you can write your own damages/condition sheet if they don’t have one and give it to them (if you do it via email then there’s some record of the time and so forth that could help too).
        I lived in one place where there was a huge bleached out stain on the carpet when I moved in. I wrote it on the move in condition sheet and didn’t think anything more of it. A year or so later there was a burst pipe two floors up and all the carpet was replaced. COMPLETELY REPLACED. A year or so after that I moved out (and took pictures of everything). I then got a notice from the management that they were keeping my deposit due to the stain on the carpet. Yes, the stain that was there when I moved in and that wasn’t there when I moved out.
        I sent them copies of the move in report, the photos of the move out and a scathing note. This was a while back and I know I got at least most of the deposit back, I think they made up some baloney about cleaning the blinds to justify keeping some of it. They were terrible for this and many other reasons and I still hate them with the fire of a thousand suns.
        But anyway, take pictures of everything!

        1. Not a Morning Person*

          We had a landlord hold our deposit because she found a few crumbs in a kitchen drawer. I agree with the fire of a thousand suns!

      4. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        Also, you may not get a form and you may be expected to draw something up on your own.

        Also, some landlords will appreciate it if you are thorough and others will call and scream at you.

        Also, no matter how thorough you are, and how clean you leave the place, you should expect to get $50-$200 docked from your security deposit. The only way to dispute it is to go to Small Claims’ Court and they all know you’re not going to waste your time and effort doing that.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          Depending on where you’re at, the tenant laws may allow them to deduct that kind of amount as well.

          Ours gives an outline of how much they can charge for specific things that have to be cleaned, regardless of it being regular wear and tear or not.

          I’d also brush on some tenant laws in general if possible just to give yourself a clear idea of what to expect and what really is egregious. Reading reviews because that’s what I do, you can see some people really think their landlords/management company is supposed to be totally chill with a lot of totally unchill things, doh.

        2. Director of Alpaca Exams*

          If you can afford it, mentally write off your damage deposit altogether. I don’t mean that you should go around knocking random holes in the wall, but assume your landlord is going to charge you $50 to patch every tiny pinprick from hanging up a calendar, and budget for your next move accordingly. I think of my damage deposit as money I pay to my landlord in exchange for not having to put “get apartment back into brand-new condition after years and years of living there” on the to-do list along with all the rest of the things I have to do while moving house (which, please God, I won’t have to do again for a long long time). I was genuinely astonished when we did get money back from our last landlord; it was like that “bank error in your favor” card in Monopoly.

    5. Sparrow*

      Good advice! And definitely think about what your deal breakers are (adjusted for whatever is reasonable for your budget/location, of course). Like I can take or leave a dishwasher, but there has to be laundry in the building, if not in unit (I live in a city. It will never be in unit unless I’m willing to go way higher on rent…) Also be sure you know what’s included in the rent – water, heat, trash collection? – so you can have an accurate sense of your budget.

    6. Antilles*

      Other apartment advice:
      1.) Mentally include the cost of renter’s insurance in your rent. The cost is fairly low (like $20 a month or something), but it’s worth every penny if something goes wrong. Some complexes require renter’s insurance, but even if they don’t, you should get it.
      2.) Moving always always always always costs more than you expect because there’s all sorts of hidden costs. Some pizza/beer for the friends that helped you move. Replacing all your food because no, you’re probably not going to pack up half a box of pasta or whatever. The fact that at least some minor-but-crucial item like a phone charger or a remote or a mouse will vanish for the exact amount of time it takes you to get frustrated and desperately purchase another one. It also tends to take longer than you expect because of the cost of cleaning your old room, boxing/unboxing, etc.
      3.) Take photos documenting every single thing you find in the apartment when you move in, no matter how small or ticky-tack. Landlords usually give a form indicating “pre-existing damages” and you want to fill that baby up, because otherwise, it’s going to be assumed that you caused the issue.
      4.) Always check the reviews online. Pay particular attention to anything regarding maintenance delays or difficulty getting repairs done.
      5.) When you get prices, make sure to check what’s included so you’re getting a true cost. Do they charge you for trash removal? Pet fee? Utility connection fees? A fee for paying via credit card rather than hard copy check? Etc. All of these things are usually not included in the $1299/month or whatever gets quoted.
      6.) Parking, parking, parking. Both for you in your daily commute and for guests.

      1. RC Rascal*

        Here’s a move out tip: Home Depot color matches paint. When you are ready to leave unscrew one of your heat vent covers or scrape a paint chip off the back of the radiator. Take to Home Depot & but a quart of color matched paint & spackle. Fix all your picture holes, wall scrapes, etc. then make an appointment with your landlord or property manager to do a check out walk through when you leave. I have gotten many deposits returned using this method. I’ve also had apartment complexes run up bills for alleged damages if there is no final walk through.

        1. Seeking Second Childhood*

          I’ve been told you can do this with a phone photo too. Haven’t yet, but I have an off color wall to patch…

          1. JustaTech*

            There’s also a device you can buy, it’s about $60, called the Color Muse, that you hold up to the paint you want to match and it will give you the top 5-10 color matches from several brands. It’s pricey, but it was so much better than trying to rip off a baseboard to get a paint match when I moved out and the movers really gouged the wall. (I owned the house, so it wasn’t about getting a deposit back but about making it look good for the rental market.)

      2. Taura*

        Seconding the parking! I was very lucky with my first apartment which had one garage for each unit, but I STILL ran into issues with neighbors blocking off my spot because they felt they needed to park their car OUTSIDE the garage. If you’re moving to a place with no designated parking at all, try to come by at different times or at least ask what traffic patterns are usually like – you don’t want to discover after you’ve moved in that you can never get a spot near your building and will need to walk across the lot in all weather carrying your groceries.

      3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        1. Get your renters insurance through your car insurance provider. It’s cheaper than what they’ll throw at you at your leasing! They quoted $20 a month but I paid one swoop for $110 flat for mine.

        5. YES YES YES YES YES, this this this this. It’s not all in one usually, get that line item breakdown. Mine has stacked up because it’s before the garbage/sewage and the damned parking fees. They will just about always cost you more to put it on a credit card, it’s to cover the awful processing fees by the credit card company.

        Look into those deposits as well. The big ones are a sock to your savings but it’s so much nicer to get a refund check than a bill when you move out. I’ve never had to pay extra because my deposits have always covered it and then I get my refund [granted I only rent from property management companies, I don’t trust independently owned/operated but I’m able to be that picky, many aren’t]

      4. alacrity*

        Depending on where you are located check to see what exactly is included. My apartment cost about $100/month more than nearby properties BUT I had water, heat, and a designated heated underground parking spot included. I live in the Frozen North and other places charged for heat and upwards of $50 for the privilege of a garage spot so there was actually significant cost and time savings there. That may not be as necessary for more temperate climates where the likelihood of waking up to an inch of ice under a foot of snow on your car is low, but for me it was awesome.

        1. alacrity*

          also: SCOPE OUT THE LAUNDRY SITUATION. Even though I now own a house I sometimes miss being able to walk down the hall to do all my laundry at once utilizing three machines vs having to lug my baskets to the basement to do one load at a time. I’ve thankfully never lived in an apartment where I had to leave the building or go to a laundromat to do my laundry but if that’s the norm in your area figure out where the nearest facilities are.

          1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

            It’s becoming more common [at least around here] to get in-suite washer/dryers and that’s been why I have accepted my somewhat higher rent. The time and effort to go to the laundry is worth more to me that just about anything else.

            Also the new way of paying with frigging pre-loaded cards is both a blessing and a curse, I was missing quarters after awhile. So yeah, keep that eye open for the in suite facilities option and weigh your options!

    7. Suzy Q*

      Get receipts for every deposit. Take photos of the place before you move in, including walls, floors, ceiling, window treatments. Make sure everything, including all appliances, works. Test every window, every door. Test the hot water in all faucets and the shower. Make sure the showerhead works! Ask what’s included with the rent – water, cable, etc.Read your lease carefully. Have sometime else you trust and has more experience read the lease. Don’t accept any verbal reassurances that anything you find broken before you move in will be fixed or that a lease clause won’t be enforced. Get all of that in writing.

      Start buying stuff you will need now. Check goodwill and other charity shops. Most importantly, GET A GOOD TOILET PLUNGER, and don’t get a cheap crappy (har!) one.

      Enjoy having your own space!

    8. It’s all good*

      Besides pictures I also do a video walkthrough. It worked for us. Our last rental we got back 100%. There were some issues I had pics/video of (small broken/worn things). The agent said it was the first time she gave a full refund!

  5. Taryn*

    Wow. A lot of the things listed here sound problematic…not at the fault of OP, but the manager. Secret poker nights with favorite subordinates? Cliquey invite-only dinner parties where confidential information is shared? OP pretty much getting what they want at work because of this now-familiar relationship? Yikes. Glad it worked out for you, OP, but yikes.

    1. The OP*

      Totally agree with you – but since it is playing to my advantage I am content for the time being.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          They cannot even be truthful about their sexual orientation, so putting the women on their back is just unfair at this age.

        2. The OP*

          I agree it’s especially unfair to the women at my firm, but I am not sure what power or influence I have over the “game”. There are roughly 100 people in my firm and I am one of the most junior (a first year staff).

          Occasionally when I am asked who I would like to work with I will try to praise/ask for female managers, but beyond that I don’t see any power or influence that I could have.

          On principle I agree with you (and all these comments), but in reality I am paying the bills for both myself and my disabled younger brother. The cost for me to take a stand would be too high, especially when that stand would have little power/influence regardless.

          1. Wannabe Disney Princess*

            Learn and grow from this place. When you have more power and influence at another job, then use it to help those with less influence. But for right now? Put your oxygen mask on first, OP.

          2. Minocho*

            I think the best thing you can do in a situation like this it keep reminding yourself of the problems they’re causing their people, keep remembering and noticing that certain behaviors are not okay – I have worked at toxic places and it has influenced my perceptions.

            I’m glad it’s working out for you!

          1. Nancy pelosi*

            Yeah, this is 0% OPs fault, he’s(?) making the most of a not great situation. But OP, I would really think about your long term success at a company like this. You may be in the in-crowd now, but what happens when you lose your bosses favor? What happens if your boss is hiring for a position that affects your work and they choose one of their poker buddies instead of the best person for the job? Food for thought.

      1. bdg*

        OP, I don’t think this is super out of the norm. People have friends at work, even high-up people. I work for a huge company and yeah, I expect that people who attend the same church or have sparkling personalities get along better with my Big Boss and probably do get opportunities or information I wouldn’t, but I can do my job and get promotions perfectly well without those opportunities or information so… that’s just life.

        You’re fine, I’m glad the housing situation is working out for you.

  6. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Like others have said, there is some shady stuff going on here, but none of it is your fault and it doesn’t seem to have a negative effect on you so… that’s good.

    As for your first apartment, it’s going to cost a lot more money than you think. Stocking an empty kitchen is kind of a nightmare. There are so many little things that you aren’t going to remember to buy and you’re going to have to make a lot of trips to the store.

    Best advice is to make a copy of your keys and give them to a trusted friend or coworker though.

    1. RecoveringSWO*

      Re: stocking an empty kitchen. Hit up the thrift stores before Ikea! I definitely regretted spending money on new kitchen items that I knew I would “grow out of”. I wish I had thought to go to the thrift store first!

      Random apartment tip: My first apartment was a complex of maybe 20-30 units and the building manager lived in a unit onsite. I found that this led to problems getting fixed pretty quickly and good building maintenance. Things move much slower when the owner/property manager doesn’t have to live with the issues…

    2. Quill*

      Most of my cookware is secondhand, but I did benefit from 1) having easy access to rummage sales in my area for a few years so I could pick through for the good pots and pans 2) inheriting a frankly large amount of assorted cookware from various relatives who upgraded. So if you know ahead of time, you can cut hundreds of dollars out of a brand new kitchen bill…

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Guess I’m showing my age there LOL. My first apartment was before you could get everything delivered to your door, sometimes in hours.

        But I was also thinking more of the food parts.

        1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

          LOL showing that you’re not a total hermit is more like it.

          Amazon has Amazon Pantry delivery now [in certain locations at least]

          Or Instacart or major grocery chains offer delivery as well…yes, I am a hermit.

    3. C*

      My short list for pans and pots, get 1 10 or 12 in skillet (cast iron wears like crazy and can be found used), a big pot for cooking pasta, and a small/medium saucepan for… Sauces, sides, heating up cocoa, etc.

      1. Quill*

        If you cook a lot, a secondhand wok is MUCH better than a new wok. Newer woks are made with less durable materials!

        (I may have accidentally stolen mine from my mom during moving… then again I left her the dutch oven that for nearly three years nobody but me would cook in because they burned whatever they put in it!)

      2. PhyllisB*

        That reminds me; if you can find (or have a grandmother bless you with one) a pre-used cast iron skillet is GOLD!!! They are already seasoned. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, google it. As an old Southern cook I cherished the one I inherited from my great-grandmother. I cried when it I dropped it (after using it for 30 years) and it split in half.
        I know you’re not asking for kitchen tips, but if you (or anyone reading this) gets a cast iron skillet DO NOT SOAK IT OR SCRUB WITH A BRILLO PAD!!! Then you will have to reseason.

        1. Quill*

          No brillo, but those loofahs for dishes are okay if you gotta get bits off. I always re-seal mine with a little bit of oil anyway.

  7. ConsultingIsFun*

    I’m not sure where you’re located (the descriptor of ‘town’ and knocking on neighbor’s doors is telling me southern US or a nice suburb up north) so this might not be applicable, but consider moving a little further out to get a nicer place. I live in a pretty expensive part of the large city I’m in while my boyfriend lives in an outer borough, and we pay the same amount of money for vastly different places. Of course, with the blessing of the NYC subway system someone ‘further out’ has a much easier time getting around than most other US cities (also, even though he is ‘far out’, he’s near where all the gay clubs/party spaces are which is very convenient. Maybe you’ll accidentally end up in an area just as fun as where you were thinking originally).

    Unless you move into an apartment building with a doorman/front desk, I would say start getting any packages you have shipped somewhere else (maybe your workplace or a close friend). With roommates, someone might be home to pick up one of your packages and bring it in. But the risk of something getting stolen when it’s just you is much higher.

  8. Leslie Knope*

    On the apartment advice – my first year out of college I moved to a new city and got a job at a bar so I would have income while I looked for an “adult job.” I was living by myself in an apartment for the first time ever, but that didn’t really bug me at first. I was working a lot at the bar and it was a very social setting – regulars would come and were friends with the bartenders, employees hung out after their shift, that sort of thing. I felt like my quiet little apartment was an oasis away from the busy, loud, chatty bar scene.

    Then when I got a full-time job in an office I felt very different about that apartment. It was too quiet, too far away from everything else…and quite frankly, a very lonely place. It was wild to me how that perspective changed once my life was quieter. It made me really hate where I lived, even though it hadn’t been a problem until then.

    I think I would have felt different about that apartment if I had lived in a more walkable neighborhood. The old apartment was on the access road to a major highway, so it wasn’t easy to walk anywhere. Where I live now is in a neighborhood where many people walk their dogs on the sidewalk, people are out for runs often, and there are trails to bike that are close-ish. It’s not the newest, nicest place to live, but I like that the neighbors know each other and people see each other on the sidewalk often. It sounds like you would appreciate that, too, so try to look for apartments/condos that are embedded in neighborhoods. It makes living alone less lonely. Having a dog also helps (for me anyway). Good luck!

    1. The OP*

      This is a really thoughtful comment, thank you. I’m still not sure if living by myself will be healthiest for my extroverted self – I have time to go back and forth as I decide. I think it will be a good growing experience for me though, which is why I’m leaning towards living alone even though I think it will be difficult.

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        I did a year alone, and then went back to roommates. The year was useful in that:
        1) It’s nice to be able to do *anything* you want in your own space
        2) I prefer a roommate, but 1 – 2 at most, the company is worth the limits.
        3) Decent roommates are worth their weight in gold.

        Going into an apt for a year alone doesn’t mean you’re stuck there. I did keep my furnishings fairly minimal for that year (foldable kitchen table rather than Sturdy Formal Dining Room, Habitat for Humanity couch that I could ditch if I wanted, clothes purge) to keep it relatively easy to move.

      2. vlookup*

        There’s also the intermediate option of having just one roommate!

        I’ve never lived alone (don’t really want to, and can’t afford it anyway), but after spending most of my 20s living with 2-5 roommates at a time, it was a revelation to move into a 2-bedroom with just one roommate. I have much more control over the space, I can buy nice kitchen stuff without fear of it getting ruined, and my roommate and I are close friends so we get along well and do house stuff together, like have a Christmas tree. It feels much more grown-up than the large, chaotic apartments of my slightly younger years.

        That said, if you want to live alone and you can afford it, go for it! If you don’t like it you can do something else after your lease is up.

  9. Ann Furthermore*

    My 22 year old daughter was sharing a house with friends for about a year. It was great, until it suddenly really, really wasn’t, and it got to the point where she didn’t feel safe staying there. She crashed with us for a few weeks, and then signed a lease on her own apartment. She absolutely looooves living alone. I did too.

    Years ago, I shared a house with a friend before I bought my first place. For about 6 months before I started seriously looking for a place, I set aside the amount that I thought the mortgage payment would be, so I could get accustomed to a larger piece of my paycheck going towards my living expenses each month. I would advise doing that so you don’t end up getting in over your head rent-wise. Rents are so expensive anymore, I can see where it could be easy to convince yourself that you could afford something that might be beyond your means.

  10. Laurelma01*

    Take photos of everything damaged. I had photos from items they said they would repair after I moved in, than they tried to deduct them from my deposit. Cover your rump.

    I recommend not dating a neighbor, etc. My Mom did that years ago, it was unpleasant when she saw women’s cars in his driveway.

    If possible get a home with a 2nd or half bath so when having people over, they do not need to go into your personnel space. Maintain some of your privacy.

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      I recommend not dating a neighbor, etc. My Mom did that years ago, it was unpleasant when she saw women’s cars in his driveway.

      OMG my brother told me recently that his entire building is a gossip mill. And never have I been more happy to be in an “unfriendly” area before. We hold the door for each other and say “hi” if we pass each other but none of this nonsense. Keep things away from your home, it’s a sanctuary.

      1. She's One Crazy Diamond*

        I made the mistake of hooking up with a guy in the same campus housing complex the beginning of my freshman year of college. Then of course it didn’t work out, and since his apartment was by the entrance to the complex (mine was in the back), I had to walk by his place hoping we didn’t see each other every single day for the rest of the year. It was awful.

        1. Anon Here*

          I would extend this to not befriending neighbors. If you live in an apt building/complex and there is a social scene there, proceed with caution. Instead, make Neighbor Friends (like OP seems to be doing). Neighbor Friends maintain boundaries and get closer only at a slow pace. They help each other out instead of getting involved in each other’s business. Befriend one or two stable residents who you can swap plant watering duties with.

    2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

      In the same train of thought as getting an apartment with a separate half bath, which in my experience is very rare in a one-bedroom apartment, at least get a place where the only bathroom isn’t accessed through the bedroom. I’ve seen many apartments where the only bathroom is en suite, and at first that sounds so nice and convenient, but if you have any guests, they all have to go through your bedroom.

      For me, having an in-unit washer/dryer is a must-have. Even the smaller stacked “apartment sized” one is far preferable to an on-site laundry room.

      1. Oh So Anon*

        I don’t think I’ve ever seen a one-bedroom apartment with an ensuite bathroom that didn’t also have a door to somewhere else in the apartment (cheater ensuite). Why the heck would someone build something like that?

  11. HelloHello*

    For apartment advice, if you don’t have a 24/7 super or doorman, I recommend making several copies of your keys and giving them to trusted friends for when you inevitably lock yourself out.

    Also, depending on the rental market, you might be able to negotiate more than you think you can.This won’t work in places like San Francisco where apartments are snatched up seconds after they’re listed, but if you live in a location where you can find multiple available apartments you’d be happy living in, there may be room for you to negotiate the rent.

    I’d also recommend you make sure to ask up front what utilities are and aren’t included and what type of heating/cooling the place has. Heat/gas/electric can really add up, and there can be some sticker shock if, say, your heat or air conditioning runs off electricity and is counted as part of that bill.

    1. Grand Mouse*

      Another option is what I have, where you can only lock the door from the outside so locking yourself out isn’t possible. However! It is possible you’ll lose your keys or someone needs to be let into your place while you’re not there so yes leave a key with someone. But it should be less of a problem if you can’t lock yourself out in the first place.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      And if it’s an older building can you adjust the heat? Friends in NYC sublet in a 1940s rent-controlled apartment, and it was way too hot all winter.

      1. vlookup*

        At least in NYC, heat is typically either a) included in rent, but you can’t control it, or b) not included in rent, but you do control it. Matter of personal preference, but I like being able to adjust the temp, even though I pay for the privilege.

        Very important to know before you move in, though! I’ve known a couple of people who moved into their first grown-up apartment in NYC during the summer months and then realized their heat didn’t work come winter.

    3. lemon*

      Or, you could get a lock box for spare keys. My building’s management company doesn’t help with lockouts (they tell you to call a locksmith), so everyone has little lock boxes on the fence and back gates, and it works well. That way you don’t have to worry about your friend losing your key or having to make time to meet up with said friend if you lock yourself out and need to get back in quickly.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        This is a much better solution than giving a key to another person. My stepdaughter’s mom gave a neighbor she was friends with a key to her place, who she thought she could trust, and then the neighbor ended up coming into their place when no one was home and stealing her prescriptions.

        1. TechWorker*

          Gonna say this doesn’t sound ideal to me… 1) you still have to get into the lock box! 2) if someone actually wanted to break into your house a nice key in a box probably fairly easily removable from the fence would stress me out!

          1. lemon*

            The lock box uses a code, so even if you lose your keys, you’re good. They’re pretty secure– in my city, most apartment-building fences are wrought iron and not easily cut. And if you live in an apartment building where multiple people have them, it’s not life a potential robber is going to know which key goes with which apartment.

  12. Random Thought*

    I LOVED living by myself, loved loved loved it. However, since you sound like a social person, I will say that it can be quite lonely sometimes. The socializing inherent in sharing a kitchen or living room does not exist, you need to brave [insert weather applicable to your area] to meet up with friends, and I think many apartment dwellers consider “success” not really knowing your neighbors (maybe except for people living in condos or long-term apartments). YEMV!

    1. The OP*

      This is a really good point… I go back and forth if I want to live by myself or with just one or two roommates next time. I think it will be very difficult, but also very growing, to live on my own for a bit.

  13. 867-5309*

    OP, I’m curious: While you’re part of the “in” crowd, are others being treated unfairly?

    I would feel guilty if I saw others being treated badly or losing opportunities, while I benefited, in this kind of situation. Similarly, is the “in” crowd at all based on gender, race, etc.? The reason “old boys clubs” continue to exist is because those within them don’t say anything. I’m not suggesting it’s your place, but something to keep in mind.

    1. The OP*

      Yes, it’s extremely unfair and there are clear (I would even say overt?) disadvantages for minorities. There’s a discussion on this somewhere else in the thread – Ctrl F to find it if you have additional thoughts or comments, or if you want to see my comments/thoughts.

  14. Fiona*

    This kind of boundary-blurring will work to your advantage until suddenly one day it REALLY doesn’t. I know it’s hard to put that cat back in the back, but I would try to…

    1. Anon Here*

      I agree! The person who gives you unethical advantages may turn on you and do the opposite. I would see the networking and opportunities as a fast route to a new job – bolster your resume and find something better. The boss might be harmless, but you can’t really trust him.

    2. Budgie Buddy*

      Yes, boundary blurring is still bad in nature even if OP is not seeing the negative side yet.

      Something about this letter makes me wonder if he is squicked out a bit by the whole situation but doesn’t feel like he can change it and is therefore leaning into the “whatevs I got mine for now” attitude. Other people have given some good advice so I hope OP can use it to be cautious and aware of the favoritism and any other unethical behavior going on.

  15. league*

    As far as apartment advice, my best suggestion is to think about how much time you will spend commuting and how much that matters to you. I’m somebody who hates to spend two hours out of my day driving or on public transit, so I live a ten-minute walk or five-minute drive from my office. But somebody else might easily prefer living in a different area and wouldn’t mind the commute at all.

    As to whether you should live alone, are you an introvert or an extrovert? And are you in an introvert’s job or an extrovert’s job? Me=introvert in an extrovert’s job, so it’s critical to my sanity that I’m alone when I get home!

    1. AGD*

      This. I am a definite introvert in a moderately extraverted workplace; I love my colleagues and enjoy work immensely, but those Friday nights alone in my tiny studio apartment always end up feeling like the best thing ever.

  16. ...*

    Dang, there is kind of a lot of negativity in responses here and on the OG letter. Introducing yourself to your neighbors is hardly the worst thing that can happen! Also, it seems like people really dont want to hang with ANYONE in their 20’s! Maybe this is just me, but I am 29 and my best friends are 36 and 42. So I guess there are some 30’s and 40’s who don’t mind being around horrifying 20 somethings. Also, this is all working out really well, he’s had no issues and he’s on the inside and in good with his boss. I say gooooo OP!!

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It drastically depends on the people in any given circle. My brother is older, so his friends quickly accepted me despite being [well previously] in my 20s or what have you. It also depends on how you present yourself. Sometimes by 42 you don’t want a thing to do with someone younger if they hint at the idea of still partying or late nights, sometimes at 42 you crave having someone to finally go out with as well!

      With my older brother, he’s always with the 20 somethings because he’s social AF into his 40’s whereas even little sister is like “Dude, no I don’t go out on a work night, I’ll be here when you get back though. Probably passed out because why you hefta be out so late?” ;)

      But also know your audience. People skew towards “I want to just do my job and go home.” and “professional professional professional” on this forum. So yeah, that’s where a lot of the negativity stems from, different outlooks on life and people who have been burned by the Good Ol Boy networking that is great for those who present male and straight.

    2. The OP*

      Thank you! I understand some of the concerns on principle, but in reality… What else am I supposed to be doing?

      1. Third or Nothing!*

        Hey if you lived next to me I’d be thrilled to get an introductory knock on the door. No one ever hangs out in their front yard around here except us. It’s sad. I’d love a sense of real community!

    3. Third or Nothing!*

      I am 30. I care nothing about how old a person is. It’s more about whether we have shared interests. I have no desire to be out partying at a club or drinking at a loud bar. It just never appealed to me even as a college kid. Give me a nice quiet brewery, tea shop, hiking or running trail, botanical garden, etc and I’ll gladly spend time with anyone.

    4. Quill*

      One of my best friends is 11 years older than me and we’ve known each other since I was 18… but hey, the internet is good for that sort of stuff! And I had plenty of practice hanging with my mom’s colleagues (teachers), because I was in college by the time I met most of them, and half of them were closer to my age than hers.

  17. Jackalope*

    Advice on moving into an apartment: first, think about what’s really important to you and would make your life miserable. For me, for example, I need a fully functioning kitchen with counter space. I have a non-cook friend who made it for awhile in a place with just a hot plate and about 2 square feet of counter space but I could never do that. Look at the online reviews and take them seriously; I dodged a bullet at least once by not going for a location I found that would have been a super poor match. And figure out what utilities are in your area and use that to adjust your rent expectations accordingly. When I was getting ready to move I made a list of 10 things I cared about (wanting in a specific area for commute purposes, kitchen counters, pet friendly, etc.), and then marked 3 or 4 that were absolute necessities (like accepting pets since I have some) and others that are very impt to me but I could live without them if I had to. That gave me things to look for; I could set my apt hunt to exclude non-pet places, for example, so I didn’t even look st those, and then take my list when I visited the place to make sure I didn’t forget something.

    I would also let people know that you’re moving. Not sure if this is the case with you, but when I moved I had friends shower me with used furniture and I didn’t have to buy any. That may or may not happen but is common in my area (and was good for them too since then they didn’t have to take it to the thrift store). I went to Target and just went up and down all of the houseware aisles and just grabbed everything I thought I’d need (I’d lived with housemates for years before then so I had a good idea). I think it was around $500, about 10 years ago, but some of the things I could have lived without for awhile had I needed to. Make sure you have at least a solid set of kitchenware: pots and pans of a few sizes, cutting boards and knives, cooking spoons (for stirring and such), and basic eating dishes (plates, silverware, and cups/mugs). Lots more can be useful but those are necessities. I would also say have enough dishes that you can host at least a few people; how many depends on your comfort with hosting, but it’s nice to have a few options in case people come over. And making sure that someone close by has a spare key is a good plan if you can swing it.

    1. vlookup*

      Great advice to think through your need-to-haves and nice-to-haves. I live in NYC, where unless you’re wealthy your apartment will probably have something wrong with it, but you have to be ready to decide right away to commit to a place you like (lest it get snapped up by someone else). It’s very helpful to have figured out in advance what you are and aren’t willing to compromise on.

      For example, my current apartment satisfies all of my roommate’s and my need-to-haves (has closets, located in our desired neighborhood with our desired transit options, etc.) but not all of our nice-to-haves (we have a dishwasher but not a lot of counter space). I’m really happy we didn’t settle on an otherwise acceptable apartment with no closets!

  18. NotAPirate*

    Random Things to Figure Out When Living Alone:

    -How to transfer wifi/internet, gas, electricity, water. Landlords often will keep some of them. “Utilities included” or “tenant only pays gas” is often the wording in the ads. Those costs can add up so do the math, cheaper rent but paying all of them costs way more sometimes. You often need mail with your name on it to do the transfer or your lease, look into that ahead of time. (Waiting without internet to get a bill to transfer the internet happened to me once).

    -If something bad happens in the middle of the night who/what to do. Mice, creepy noises, fire alarm, drunk people on the street, etc. When your used to waking up roommates and brainstorming it can be tough to realize you are all alone with the creepy noise, do your thinking ahead of time. It’s harder in the moment to think of who might be nearest you to call for aid. Road construction once clipped a gas line at 2am. Met a lot of my neighbors in PJs after the firemen woke us all up. I live in tornado land so I keep a “go bag”, middle of the night I just toss my phone, charger, wallet on top. It has proof of my address, handwritten phone numbers (in case phone dies), my insurance information, and basics like band aids, clean socks and shirt, flashlight, granola bar etc. During the stormy season I keep my boots by it as well, saves so much hassle when locking up apartment at 3am with sirens to go sit in the shared basement. That’s something to consider too, what weather hazards are in your area and does your apartment meet those needs?

    -get or make a spare pair of keys. Also just get really good at tracking your keys. With roommates its easy to handle forgetting them, when you live alone not so much.

    – figure out what things of your roommates you use and get some of your own ahead of time. Nothing like discovering your roommate owned all the lamps the first time it gets dark in your new place. Kitchen stuff tends to be overlooked too, coffee pots, pans etc.

    Security features for living alone:
    — They make all sorts of cool gadgets for securing doors and windows these days. If you are in a first floor or basement apartment in a large city definitely consider getting some. I tend to try and live 3rd or higher, saves the hassle and worry. Don’t advertise that you live alone. Maybe get some lights on timers for when you travel. Leave the TV on now and then. (If people think you live alone you’re more likely to get robbed, easier to track one person’s schedule for when is the apartment empty). Some people prefer to live places with a doormen, that’s another option for more security but way more expensive.
    –When viewing apartments look at the windows in the area, do they all have bars on the lower stories? That’s a good indicator of crime, insurance will sometimes offer incentives for homeowners to get them in higher risk areas.
    –Also look at the doors, do you have a peephole and a chain? What’s the exit to the building, is it in a blind spot? Is there more than one way to enter/exit so you can vary your routine? Are their sidewalks, streetlights, any shops open late? Is your parking on the street or secured?

    -Observe the building too. Do all the stairwells have railings? Does the apartment have smoke detectors and fire extinguishers? Are their exterior lights on the building? If a landlord doesn’t keep up to code with extinguishers it’s likely they are cutting corners on other things like pest control.

  19. CatCat*

    Wow. Glad it is working out for OP, but as others have noted, there is some serious dysfunction going on here with the manager.

    It’s all well and good when you’re a favorite with a manager who plays favorites, but when your day in the sun ends, yikes. Have seen how that goes, unfortunately. I hope OP can get the experience needed and find a less dysfunctional workplace in the future.

  20. Long Time Apartment Renter*

    Others have alluded and downright talked about what’s convenient for you. Since you’ve been in a house, near a walkable area to bars, and closer to college age than middle age, I have to assume you would be looking for an apartment that would still offer the conveniences that you like about your current living situation (minus the boss-accessibility).
    I lived on my own in an apartment from 22 until I was 33. I didn’t like the thought of roommates ever. What others have said is true:
    * Make sure you have enough money for three months’ rent before you move in. 1) this will help you furnish your place with necessities that your current roommates have supplied you and 2) this also allows you to save face/not scramble if you need to move out for some reason before a lease ends.
    * I have found things like a grocery store or gas station (if you have to drive to work) convenience to be important to me when I was in my 20s. I didn’t want to have to drive out of my way for things like food and fuel, but I WOULD drive 30-45 minutes to meet up with my friends at a new bar that we wanted to try. But choose what’s important to you, don’t just move in some place because you can afford it.
    * take pictures of the conditions when you move in and list EVERYTHING wrong on the move in check list. and I mean EVERYTHING.
    * When looking for a place to live check out the amenities (which you are also paying for). If you don’t use them, look for someplace that has less. LOTS of places pride themselves on their “wifi bar” or “workout room” and they aren’t anything better than what you find at a Holiday Inn Express.
    * When touring try to go at times when you would be getting home or leaving for the day (if possible), it can give you an idea of the traffic in that area, at the complex, and who your potential neighbors are.
    * Be ready to spend more money than you currently do. Don’t forget about things like the internet and water, and power, and anything else. Sometimes complexes/leasors put some of these as part of your rent and sometimes they don’t.
    * GET RENTERS INSURANCE. Many states require you to have this by law and besides its in your best interest.
    * Make a budget NOW before you look for a place to actually move in to. Decide what you want to spend on food, travel, rent, etc so you know what you need to save.
    * if you move into a complex, check to make sure the people who own it are in the better business bureau and are a decent company. don’t want to move in someplace and find out that the company doesn’t fix things in a timely manner or ever.
    * Someone suggested making lots of keys for people to help you out? I would make one or two extra sets. I know i’m not most people, but I never locked myself out (might be because I also live in the south and the only way to lock yourself out is to throw the deadbolt after you leave the house!).
    * make sure you read the lease and understand what they can charge you extra for and how much notice you need to give when you move out. Just because your lease is up doesn’t mean they don’t need notice.
    * Looks for deals! lots of places have move-in specials (if it’s a brand new complex they will have these) or look at what times there are lots of turnover for apartments. If you live near a university there’s probably good deals in May and June, but looking in august you might not find ANYTHING!

    Most importantly, find some place that makes you feel comfortable.

  21. Junior Assistant Peon*

    OP, don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. Enjoy this situation for as long as you can. I had a boundary-blurring boss at a company that was unprofessional AF, and it worked out very much in my favor. This situation is way more likely to cause problems for him than for you.

  22. Third or Nothing!*

    I cannot emphasize enough the importance of scouting out a neighborhood before you sign a lease. What stores and restaurants are nearby? Are people out and about or all huddled in their homes? Does it feel safe after dark?

    Some other factors that *I* find important that you may not: Are there green spaces nearby? Is it walkable with safe sidewalks? Would I feel safe running here? Is there a lot of traffic or noise?

    1. Donkey Hotey*

      Once upon a time, I would visit a potential neighborhood on a Friday night of either a holiday weekend or a regular payday weekend (first Friday of the month) and just listen. Music? Laughter? Gunshots? Sirens?

      1. Donkey Hotey*

        Don’t laugh. I made the mistake of skipping that step when we bought our house and a neighbor down the block fires off an actual scale-model cannon when (Local Sports Team) wins a game. Frustrating not only for the loud BOOM but also we’re technically a municipality that does not allow fireworks of any sort but everyone seems to turn a blind eye to it.

        1. Third or Nothing!*

          Wow. At least it’s just the one sports team and the season doesn’t last all year. But that would be a huge dealbreaker for me with my toddler daughter. SLEEPYTIME IS SACRED. Mama needs down time!

        2. LQ*

          My local sports team does fireworks for every friday night home game (so basically every other week) all summer long. Most of the time it’s like 9-10, but when they have a long game and it’s midnight I get real crabby about it.

          Which makes me want to point out on season and off season. Our on season is summer, there’s lots of activities, sports, live music, festivals, fun! Games! Ugh.

          And then there is off season. Winter. It’s cold and most folks curl up and stay inside. Part of this is there is a great farmers market that can be 95% of your grocery shopping during the summer, but you used to have to do a long haul for groceries in the winter. What is it that exists during the season you’re looking (winter!) but doesn’t during the rest of the year that might be a critical ammenity for you. And if you live in the land of winter, find out how/who takes care of shoveling.

  23. Jurassicgoddess*

    Make sure you scope out the unit they want to rent to you! Make sure you’re comfortable with the sight lines, and pay attention to what’s above you! My first apartment was overlooked by the unit across a pathway…which I didn’t think was a big deal, until I had that neighbor introduce himself when we found ourselves in the office at the same time… “Oh, I know you, I see you in your living room all the time!” Which caused an instant OMG panic…(Was I wearing enough clothes “all the time”??? Scratching inappropriately? Appropriately? Dancing awkwardly?!) So check for that!

    Thrifting, asking friends and family, and the like are completely legit and inexpensive ways to stock a kitchen!

    Apartment life is really different from renting with roomies. Not worse/better, just a little different!

  24. drpuma*

    Consider a pet, if you don’t already have one. In my first solo apartment I would still say “goodbye” and “hello” to my goldfish on my way to/from work every morning and night :D It was nice knowing I was not the only living thing in the apartment (that I wanted there). Conversely, if you currently have a pet you share with roommates, or your roommates are helping you out with pet care or $$, make sure you have a plan for that before you move and talk through un-sharing a pet with them!

    1. Third or Nothing!*

      Oh gosh yes getting a dog was the best decision I made while renting my solo apartment! Gave me a reason to get out and about the neighborhood, reduced the loneliness knowing there was another living thing in the house, and also made me feel safer knowing if that scary creak I heard in the middle of the night was really A Problem then the dog would have barked.

    2. Wannabe Disney Princess*

      Oh, definitely get a pet! My chinchilla is the BEST thing I’ve ever spent money on. She greets me in the morning and when I get home. It’s because I trained her by giving her treats…but it’s still a nice feeling to have something excited to see you when you live alone. And having something listen to you as you spill out your woes without offering unsolicited advice (all while giving furry cuddles) cannot be overvalued.

  25. Anon Here*

    No need for anyone to answer this question, but do we know what OP’s gender is? I’m not sure whether to imagine a man running shirtless or a woman in a sports bra. I can also see the sexuality concern playing out differently based on gender. Not necessarily, but possibly. I read the original letter too; maybe I missed this detail.

    1. The OP*

      I am male! Sorry I’m at work so I’m sporadically responding. I will do a deep dice of the comments when I get home.

  26. Jedi Squirrel*

    Just wondering if we ever got an update from the LW whose boss banged on their doors and windows.

  27. Erykah Badu*

    There’s already a lot of great advice here about getting your first apartment and living alone. I would add that now that you live alone, be more mindful about who you let into your space. Living by yourself tends to create more of a sanctuary; you come home and feel relaxed and safe knowing you can do what you please. It can feel like an extension of yourself in a way. Sometimes people can come over and disrupt that (being too negative, ignoring your privacy, pushing boundaries, staying too long, etc.). It feels a little more impactful when it’s your solo space, so don’t be afraid to have house rules even if you don’t have roommates anymore.

    1. Sleepy*

      Good luck getting your own place! I’d say find out how responsive your new building manager is to problems and what kinds of problems he/she responds to. If it turns out your neighbor likes to stand outside your window, on company property, drunkenly singing at 2:30am, will your building manager take action? This happened to me. In the same building, another tenant pooped in the lobby. That’s when I realized I needed to leave. In a building where the manager took these issues more seriously, I might have stayed.

  28. Degen from Upcountry*

    I think my definition of “hardly interact outside of the office” is very different than others’.

  29. TJ*

    I lived on my own post-college for 3 years and I. LOVED. IT. Loved it. I managed to find a small and affordable apartment in my college town that suited my needs. It was amazing – no random dirty dishes unless I left them out, my apartment was clean to my standard of cleanliness, no one ate my shit. It was such a GLORIOUS time in my life.

    Some things I wish I knew before moving on my own:

    1. Laundry – does your apartment come with laundry appliances? If not, how close are you to the shared laundry? Also, are you okay with the fact that less neighborly people will take your stuff out of the dryer and leave it? I was lucky to get an apt near the laundry room but still had to deal with the occasional laundry asshole.
    2. Utilities – still weirdly expensive even with a small 1 bedroom and 1 person – but I do like my A/C on the low side for comfort. I did not budget the best here so maybe over estimate what you think you need.
    3. Furniture – I moved with a sparse amount of stuff and it was tough for the first few weeks while I got furniture. Mix that with really being alone for the first time as an adult and the first few weeks were tougher than I thought being in an empty, lonely apartment. So maybe prepare yourself for a wave or two of loneliness until you get used to being alone. Once that first bout passed and I was able to get my place outfitted (thrift shops, giveaways, etc.) I effing loved living by myself.
    4. Windows – WHO CAN SEE IN?
    5. Security – so much the security. I was a single young woman and I knew I wanted some place with a front door into the building and then the door to my apartment for some added benefit. Do you notice parking lot lights? Is there a deadbolt or chain lock?
    6. Parking – Are there enough spaces for you to park relatively close to your door? Another perk of my college apartment, I was never too far from my door which was huge coming home late at night.

    Good luck OP! I hope you enjoy living alone as much as I did!

  30. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

    A few other things on the moving into an apartment front:

    1) If you haven’t done this before, you might want to try the drive you’ll be doing to and from work before deciding on the place. Sometimes traffic is very heavy in one direction depending on the time of day.

    2) Ask about Water/Sewer/Gas/Electric/Cable and what’s included vs. what you pay outright. Note it on whatever sheet they give you so you can refer to it later when you are making your final selections. It also helps to compare full costs of places. If they say “included” ask how they include it (might be a flat-fee).

    3) This is a slightly strange one, but for me I tried to get apartments that are middle-floor, if I could. Apartments never seem to be as insulated as I like and I saw a very noticeable difference between the cost of electric (heating/cooling) on the top floor vs. the middle floor.

    4) Like everyone said, take pictures. If you see something that’s weird it’s better to have it on the move in paper so you don’t get charged later. If they don’t offer you a copy of the move-in report, take a picture of that so you have it to refer to when you leave.

    I’m not as worried on the spare key front as some. Most of the places I’ve lived had a “pass-through” knob on the front door so you couldn’t lock the door unless you had the key for the deadbolt. Might want to look at that before you decide how many copies are needed.

    Oh, I forgot one thing! PET RENT. If you have a pet make sure you get the cost for this. Some places have an up front charge to have a pet ($200-300), a pet deposit (for cleaning, $150), and a monthly fee ($20-30). I think the prices have gotten a bit ridiculous, but you will definitely want to check this out because it can have a major budget impact.

    1. corporate engineering layoff woo*

      Commuting: definitely. You can use Google Maps to give your “arrive by” and “depart at” times for your workplace and it’ll give estimates if you ask it about, say, next week. It should also give you some potential alternate routes to keep in mind if traffic can be bad through certain places. Say, taking the long way around a lake.

      1. PDB*

        If by key for the deadbolt you mean on the inside that’s illegal in California. No inside keys allowed.

        1. ThisIsNotWhoYouThinkItIs*

          Sorry, one-sided deadbolt (key on one side, latch on the other). The knob is one without a key or a latch on either side (just a knob). So, if you leave the house you can’t lock yourself out on accident–you need a key to lock the door once you are on the outside.

  31. Lara*

    re: getting your own apartment…

    Budget! Start budgeting now, before you move out, so you know EXACTLY how much you actually, realistically spend in your daily life. That will enable you to know exactly how much you can afford to spend on rent, on utilities, on furniture, etc. – the things you would normally be splitting. Be wary of the credit card float – it can easily grow into a monster. Instead, use the time between now and then to focus on pricing out what you’ll need and saving to match, plus a little extra (because things are always more expensive than you think they’ll be).

    If you’re smart and REALISTIC about your money, you’ll be in good shape! :)

  32. Not So NewReader*

    So much good advice here.

    Something that helped me, OP, was to keep the expenses below what I could afford. This meant the rent, first and foremost. I chose places that were a bit cheaper than need be. But once I got into the place, I aimed for the utility bill. I got timers for lights, I had one come on nearest the door for when I came home. I used automatic nightlights in other parts of the house instead of keeping larger lamps turned on when I was not in the room. (Usually this was the kitchen and bathroom.) I also watched the regular light bulbs for energy conservation.

    I had a car to consider. So I went a couple different routes to work to find the cheapest and less stressful route. Sometimes the shortest route was also the most stressful so I had to balance that out. Try to find deals on phone and internet, ask friends for recommendations.
    Until you get into the swing of it, pick low cost or no cost fun, just until you see how the bills are running.
    I skipped getting pets until we had a house. But it can make a difference what you want. I wanted a dog. If you decide to get a pet, you might want to wait a few months to see where the bills are and see how your hours away are piling up. I do agree that having a pet in the house makes it easier to enter an empty home.
    If you do move this time of year, OP, remember the retail sale prices can be really great in January. If you can postpone some purchases until January you could probably get some steals.
    Make a full set of spare keys for yourself. Put them together and a ring and stash them where you know you will find them. I cannot tell you how many times I have grabbed the spares in order to avoid being late for work. (I got IN the house, so my main key ring was somewhere in the house but I just couldn’t find it in the morning.)
    Invest in a firesafe, if you have not already.

  33. Jdc*

    I’m also surprised people were against introducing himself to neighbors. I always do so with some sort of small token and appreciate having nice relationships with my neighbors. Makes solving issues much easier when they arise b

    1. MCMonkeyBean*

      I don’t do it myself but I’ve certainly always thought of it as a normal thing to do for people who are more social than I.

  34. willow19*

    Re: getting your own place – I made a conscious effort to buy furniture that I could move by myself. No big mahogany credenza, but maybe two smaller items. That means that not only can I change where I put my furniture now, but also when I move to a different place, my things will fit because they are smallish and can be put anywhere.

  35. Alex*

    Gosh, living on my own has been so glorious (after living with roommates for over a decade!!) I can’t even really think of a negative.

    The only time I wish I had a roommate is when I need to move something heavy. Otherwise, I’m gleefully roommate-free.

    I will say that when I was living with roommates, I was more of the leader/head of household type of roommate–I was the one who managed the utilities, made sure we had toilet paper, communicated with the landlord, etc. I also usually owned most of the things in the common areas. Even in several different living situations, somehow these things always fell to me. So, it was a great relief to only need to worry about *me* and no one else.

    If that doesn’t sound like you, maybe take stock of things your roommates may be taking care of for you in that regard. I know that when I moved out on my own, my budget for toilet paper and other common goods went WAY down, as I’d been paying more than my share. I’m sure my roommates experienced the opposite phenomenon!

  36. Sleepy*

    When you first move into a place, get low-cost versions of everything at Goodwill–chairs, plates, etc. Then take your time replacing them with more quality versions. Otherwise you’ll blow a ton of money up front. And you might realize that some of the cheap things you bought work just fine!

    1. Carlie*

      When we got our house, I hung up $2 white bedsheets as curtains in the living room to make do.

      17 years later, they’re still there. They work just fine.

  37. Tom*

    Pardon my ignorance. Is the next door neighbor Male and the writer is also Male? I was confused.
    Talking about going shirtless made it sound like it was a Male writing. It makes no difference to me. I just wanted a point of reference.

  38. MC*

    Here’s a list of things I can suggest from my time living alone at college:

    1) First Aid Kit: Get an assortment of medicines and other first-aid type things. It included pain medication (e.g. ibuprofen), bandages, cough drops and medicine, stuff for hurt muscles, antibiotic ointment, antacids, and lots of other things. In essence, get all of the medicines and things you use often and may need if you fall ill or have some sort of injury (e.g. wrist braces). This way, you won’t have to worry about getting these sort of things when you have less income or something happens in your area.

    2) It can also be useful to have some of the following items: A clock radio, a few tools (screwdrivers, tape, etc.), a weather radio if you live in a place where the weather changes constantly, batteries.

    3) Have some non-perishable food and bottled water ready before your move. It can be harrowing to move somewhere new without knowing what your next meal will be.

    4) Find the nearest store that sells things at cheap prices, such as a dollar store. These types of stores can help you stock up on food, toiletries, etc.

    Well, that’s all I can think of for now. I’m glad things worked out for you, OP, and I wish you the best in the future. :)

  39. giraffe*

    Living alone is fantastic and it’s so nice to be in charge of all your own stuff. My biggest piece of advice is, if your whole house is turning over and everyone is leaving, DON’T BE THE LAST ONE OUT. Let someone else do the horrible frenzied last few days and get all your stuff out early.

  40. Don’t get salty*

    1. Don’t feel rushed to buy things you don’t need just because you think you ought to have them. Do you really need a complete dining room table if you’re the only one living there? Do you really need that 30-piece cookware set? Oh, and if you do ultimately need it, you can buy it knowing that it will be put to use instead of becoming clutter.

    2. Have your rent payment going to a separate checking account. Having a new apartment is very exciting, and the thrill of spending money on yourself is overwhelming. You don’t want to spend away your rent.

    3. Buy a tool set if you don’t have one. Many landlords are not very ambitious when it comes to fixing their rental units. The big stuff (electrical, plumbing, etc.) can be left to the pros, but the little stuff that can be easily fixed with a screwdriver and/or a drill, etc., will save you while you’re waiting the months (or years!) for a fix by your landlord.

    4. Use your old, beat up, school backpack to create your emergency kit. I throw in a cheap can opener, some cans of tuna, a box of crackers, and a couple bottles of water. Depending on where you live, if you have an earthquake or need to evacuate, you can grab the bag and be guaranteed at least a day’s worth of food.

    5. If you can afford it, invest in a AAA membership. You get a one-time free locksmith every year, you get four tows a year; you even get a tank of gas for whatever cash you have in your pocket at the time ($5). You’re on your own now; you have to plan for the worst.

  41. Carlie*

    On renter’s insurance: years ago a college grad student was in the paper. His apartment had burned down (it was over a store). He did not have insurance. His answer to “why not” was that his previous apartment had ALSO burned down (and no insurance then either), but the lesson he had taken from that was “Who could possibly be so unlucky to have this happen twice?” so he played the odds.

    Yes, my friend. Get renter’s insurance.

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