By Sarah Netter
Katherine Accettura’s first apartment was awash in crisp, clean white.
“White cabinets in the kitchen. White flooring in the kitchen. All the carpeting was white,” she said. Maybe not the most practical color scheme, but that didn’t matter to her. “In my mind,” said Accettura, “it was so cool.”
Accettura, now 31, is the blogger behind the popular lifestyle and food website Lily the Wandering Gypsy. She credits that first apartment with launching her into a new phase of her life—in which she learned what it really meant to be on her own.
At the time, Accettura was in college, studying graphic design and marketing, and her boyfriend was into photography and photojournalism. They combined their shared passion to take classes in studio photography, which planted the seed that would grow into her blog. And then they combined the places they called home into one Springfield, Illinois, apartment.
Accettura and her boyfriend have since moved to Carbondale, Illinois, where they live in a rented house with their two beloved dogs. While they love having a bigger space all to themselves, Accettura always thinks fondly of her first apartment.
Who were you when you rented your first apartment?
I was 19 years old. I met my current boyfriend. At the time we were almost done with our associate’s [degree] so I didn’t really know what I was doing, or what my future held.
Did moving into your first apartment make you feel like an adult?
Yes, actually it did. I finally got to streamline everything, have everything in one place. To always be heading off to school or work from the same place every day was just great. I loved it.
Having actual responsibilities, having to purchase your groceries on your own—no food being made for you. You’re coming home and having to figure that out.
You have to keep your space clean. Mom normally cleaned the bathroom and the kitchen for us. And then I’m starting to take on adult responsibilities. That’s one of the things I didn’t realize—how many things you have to do to keep up a household or an apartment, to keep it presentable.
What surprised you the most about living in an apartment?
I absolutely loved having the freedom to not to have to say, “Hey mom or dad I’m going to work now… I’m going to school now… I may be out a little later.”
I really enjoyed just being able to keep more of an adult schedule, being able to sleep in the same place every day. It really helped me normalize my schedule. It also gave me a place to be able entertain my friends. You get to spread out and entertain. That’s something I really didn’t realize was going to be so great.
What did you learn about yourself?
I’d say the roommate aspect of things. I was living with my boyfriend, but we had a couple different roommates at the time come through. Having a roommate was interesting. Having to be considerate of their time and their schedule, their stuff in the bathroom, their stuff in the fridge.
Describe your lowest point.
It was really scary at first because, before this, I didn’t have very many expenses. Now I have to feed myself. I had to pay for a lot more things.
One scary thing was thinking you had to spend more money on your first place than you actually did. Extra expenses went to random things. When you’re living at home everything is already there, provided for you.
The other thing, too, when you have a group of young people living together, tensions can kind of get high, jealousy can arise, that kind of stuff. Now you’re more or less living with people you don’t know quite as well as your family, so you just never know.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
You have to set boundaries. You never know if they are going to clean the communal spaces like your kitchen, bathroom, living room—and rarely do they ever clean. So that’s one thing that can cause unnecessary fights. Another thing would be to set rules right away about who does what tasks what day of the week.
I would recommend to get renters insurance. It is something I think would have been important. Nothing specifically happened to me, but I’ve had friends who have had break-ins, as well as items simply go missing from their homes or apartments, who have been absolutely devastated because they did not get renters insurance. The small cost of getting renters insurance makes up for the large amount of time and money that could be saved in case of anything happening.
Any time you are trusting another person to share your home or apartment, it’s extremely important to look out for yourself and make sure you’re covered in case of emergencies.
Moving into your first apartment is a milestone—and savvy renters understand the need for renters insurance. Amica Insurance can help protect you financial future. Visit AmicaQuote.com today for more information about renters insurance from Amica Insurance.
Sarah Netter is a Yahoo Storyteller. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and ABC News.