There are cases where apartment complexes allow you to choose from a color wheel of neutral hues before you move in. Some charge a fee for calling in a painter to do the walls, while others offer new paint as a benefit of moving in. If you're not a fan of neutral colors, consider looking for an apartment that allows you to paint the walls a more expressive tone. Otherwise you can invest in boldly colored furniture and posters.
Every painting job develops a unique choreography as ladders go up and come down and tarps are unrolled and folded up. But two basic principles remain: 1) Start at the top and work down. 2) Work in the shade, out of the sun's glare. As the dance proceeds, keep an eye on the weather. Rain can wash freshly applied latex right off the wall, and a temperature dip below 50 degrees F two days after application can interfere with adhesion and curing and dull the sheen of glossy paints. (Latexes like Sherwin-Williams's Duration and Benjamin Moore's MoorGard Low Lustre are formulated to tolerate temps as low as 35 and 40 degrees, respectively.)
The right paint stroke to use in interior painting is highly debatable. It's not a talent as much as a skill that is learned through practice. Many experts paint in a “W” pattern when using foam rollers, but others simply roll up and down then sideways with either brushes or rollers. The motion isn’t as important as making sure that the application is even and drip-free across the entire area. However, technique is important when you're covering over wall repairs.