Adulting as an Off-Campus Student

Living on your own for the first time can be both liberating and challenging. You may find yourself learning a lot by trial and error, and that’s okay! If you want to be proactive, here are some tips from those who have been #adulting for a little while longer.


Tip # 1 Crumbs on the ground and dirty dishes in the sink? That’s asking for ants and other critters to enter your space. Keep homes and apartments rodent free by sweeping the floors, wiping down counters, and doing dishes regularly.

Tip # 2 Handheld vacuums are great for pet hair, food in the couch cushions, or dust on baseboards. Add it to your wish list or find one on  (Pro tip: They’re frequently on sale on HSN or QVC!)

Tip # 3 Magic Erasers are nice to have for quick clean up. They work on shower curtain liners, bathtubs, sinks, toilets, shoes, and walls. “Looks like a sponge, cleans like magic.” - Mr. Clean


Tip # 1 Grocery shop sustainably by only buying the food necessary for the meals that you’ll make. Making a grocery list before shopping can save time and money.  Following grocery shopping, preparing meals in larger quantities and freezing the leftovers prepares you for the week and gives healthy frozen meals for those hectic days when cooking is not possible.

Tip # 2 Slimy lunch meat from Welcome Week should probably make its way to the trash (although it is recommended the trash be taken out promptly following this or ants and rodents may find their way to the meat). Interested in what else has likely outlived its shelf life? Read more about Storage Times for the Refrigerator and Freezer from FoodSafety.Gov.

Tip # 3 We’ve all opened our a fridge and had our noses assaulted by a particularly unpleasant odor.  To combat this, leave an open box of baking soda on a shelf in the fridge. Viola - no more odor!  (Tip: This technique also works for smelly shoes, gym bags, cars, etc)

Paying Bills

Tip # 1 Create a system for paying bills. Having a schedule for when to pay bills (first of the month, second friday of the month, etc) will help keep you on top of finances without having to think about it once classes ramp up.  Most companies will have an online automated bill pay option that can save stamps and time. Setting this up now can save time in the future. Warning: If there are insufficient funds in the account that is set up for automatic bill pay, some banks will decline the charge or will issue a overdraft fee.

Tip # 2 Are you in charge of collecting money from roommates to pay rent or bills? Add a recurring event to their calendars, post a whiteboard near the main entry and write reminders, or use a mobile payment app, like Venmo or Zelle, to make a direct financial request.


Tip # 1 Whether home or away, always lock the exterior doors. Investing in safety can protect you, your roommates, and all of your belongings. No deadbolts or peepholes? Ask your landlord about installing them. Talk to your roommates about your safety and fire escape plan so everyone can be on the same page.

Tip # 2 Consider purchasing Renters Insurance to cover personal property. Specific GradGuard™ coverage information is available here.

Tip # 3 Attend a Beyond the Diag neighborhood event or offer a helping hand to neighbors. Knowing neighbors increases the sense of community, creating a safer and more inclusive environment for everyone.


Do you have other tips for living on your own? Email [email protected] and we’ll share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

-Revised from September 2017