When you go to college, you’ll find freedom that you didn’t have before, such as living on your own. With that freedom comes the need to balance studying, class, extracurricular activities, work, finances, housework, and more. Here’s how to make the transition to apartment living as smooth as possible:

1. Choose roommates carefully.

Constant parties can make for a distracting and unhealthy living environment, along with the potential for property damage or expensive tickets. If you live with roommates, be upfront in discussing schedules, chores, party habits, bills, and house rules to set an open tone for the living situation and avoid potential conflict.

2. Find affordable rent.

Search sites like Rent.comApartments.com, and ForRent.com, and check campus housing resources for recommended apartments or realty companies.

3. Review the lease carefully before signing.

To avoid a lease that isn’t forgiving, or getting hit with hidden fees, read it carefully and in its entirety. Pay attention to parking and pet policies, lease termination policy, trash removal, maintenance services, and monthly fees.

4. Follow a move-in inspection checklist.

If anything is damaged or missing upon move-in, write it down and photograph so you do not get charged for damages when you move out.

5. Furnish for free.

Acquire furniture from the previous tenants or take advantage of curbside finds. The best time to scavenge is right after finals, particularly spring, or right before fall move-in. Using Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are also great ways to find free or very cheap furniture. Use your best judgment when it comes to safety. If possible, take a parent or friend with you when visiting a seller’s home, and for the sale of smaller items, meet in a public place.

6. Pay rent and bills on time.

Late bills accumulate fees, ding your credit, and damage your relationship with your landlord. Set up auto-payments if possible or enter due dates on the calendar. If you are collecting money from roommates to pay bills, start doing so at least a week before the due date to ensure the bill is paid on time.

7. Get renters insurance.

It’s a nominal cost and could save you thousands in the event of a fire, flood, theft, or other unexpected event.

8. Learn to grocery shop and cook.

The average college student spends more than $800 a year eating out. Keep a well-stocked pantry and freezer to stretch your grocery budget, and a solid base to incorporate fresh produce as often as possible. Meal planning and meal prep is a good way to get the most out of ingredients, money and time.

9. Maintain a cleaning schedule.

Your workload will be busy, but you should make sure you find time to maintain tidiness. You are responsible for keeping your place clean, and it can seem daunting since there is more to clean in an apartment or rental house than a dorm. Make a list of what needs to be cleaned regularly over what could be cleaned on a weekly or monthly basis. Make sure you include things like wiping down countertops, taking out garbage, and cleaning out the fridge. Whether you live alone or have a roommate, create a cleaning routine, and stick to it!

10. Have fun!

Make friends, have fun, and enjoy your new place. By establishing a budget, practicing good spending habits, and avoiding debt, your transition to off-campus living can be smooth and worry free.