College Living: Cheap Apartments, Chic Style

Moving out on your own for the first time is a whole new kind of freedom. It’s your world now, and part of the fun is creating a space that reflects who you are. The thing is, college budgets are real, and most students don’t have a ton of money lying around. If you have personal finance questions about affording your dream apartment, don’t worry! Here are some seriously creative ways to make your apartment stylish without breaking the bank.

Hunt Down the Perfect Pad

A lot of students go for dorm life, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you want your own place, step one is finding it. The closer you are to campus, the more expensive things will get. Be willing to look a bit further out if you wish to land a sweeter deal.

  • Tip #1: Sometimes, landlords or older homeowners in college towns will rent a room or even a basement apartment for much less than an entire apartment. Keep an eye out for these!
  • Tip #2: Want roommates? Many sites and apps help connect students looking to share housing and cut down on costs.

Design on a Dime

Now for the fun part – turning your apartment into your haven! You don’t have to be an interior design expert to pull off a chic vibe on a shoestring budget. Here’s how:

  • Thrifting is Your Friend: Secondhand stores are treasure troves of affordable furniture, décor, and unique finds that’ll give your space a whole lot of personality.
  • DIY, Baby: Get those creative juices flowing! There are tons of online tutorials for upcycling old furniture, making simple wall art, and transforming basic items into stylish pieces.
  • Master the Art of Illusion: Mirrors are magical for making small spaces feel larger and brighter. Hang a few strategically placed ones to create the illusion of more square footage.
  • Embrace the Power of Plants: Bringing a touch of nature indoors instantly elevates any room. Opt for low-maintenance varieties you won’t accidentally murder.

DIY Your Decor

If you’re even a little bit crafty, your options open right up. You don’t have to be a master painter to breathe new life into old furniture, create awesome wall art, or stitch up some new throw pillow covers.

  • Utilize Pinterest and YouTube for inspiration and tutorials. There’s help for everything!
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment. In the worst-case scenario, you paint over it.
  • Rope your friends in for a DIY afternoon – it’s cheaper than going out and more fun, too.

Focus on Function

In small spaces, particularly, make sure every piece earns its place. Opt for furniture that has multiple uses. A futon can be your couch by day and bed by night. A storage ottoman gives you extra seating and hides all those random extra things. Thinking about needs will help you cut down on unnecessary purchases and avoid clutter – a major space saver in itself!

Make it You Without Spending a Fortune

The best part about college is figuring out what makes you tick. Your apartment is your lab. Here’s how to add those personal touches without going broke:

  • Visit the Dollar Store:  They have everything from holiday decorations to picture frames. Get creative and personalize it!
  • Nature is Free:  A few leaves in a cool vase, a fallen branch with twinkle lights; you just can’t beat the price.
  • Your OWN Art: Put whatever feels true to you on display, including your doodles, poems, and photos from your phone.

When Unexpected Expenses Happen

Who says everything always runs smoothly? Redecorating can go sideways sometimes, and you may need a little extra help to pull through. For instance, you may run out of DIY materials to upholster your furniture, break a few things here and there, or change your mind during your creative process. This is expected, and when you get there, there are several financial options to consider, including:

  • Getting a job and saving up.
  • Online lenders can be a good option. However, do your research and understand the repayment terms.
  • Ask friends and family for help.
  • Live frugally until you save up enough money.


Your apartment doesn’t have to look like a magazine spread to feel fabulous. Focus on what makes it functional, fun, and totally you. Remember, this is just one stop on your adventure, and half the thrill is figuring things out as you go.

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