Ways to Cut Your Apartment Utility Costs

Row Of Utility MetersEven living in an apartment can be costly when it comes to utilities. But, there are things you can do to avoid breaking your budget on your lighting. Just because you are renting doesn’t mean you can’t save money on utilities, but you will have to get a little more creative.

Take Care of the Energy Consumers

Look at your apartment and see what you have plugged in. Are you using it right now? How often do you use it? Even when items are turned off, if they are plugged in they are going to draw power and raise your electricity bills. It is estimated that $10 billion dollars is wasted every year on appliances and items that are plugged in but not being used.

You can also use smart power strips, which cost around $40 to buy, but can save you up to $100 per year. These keep your appliances and powered items from drawing excess power while they’re plugged in.

Work on the Thermostat

You can’t control the air conditioning unit or furnace that is installed on your property, but you can control what you set your thermostat to. In the winter, throw on a sweatshirt or wear a few extra blankets in bed instead of turning up the thermostat to a higher temperature. By lowering your thermostat, you can actually save up to three percent each year on your heating costs — or up to $189 per year. The same goes for the summer. Instead of turning on the air conditioner, open the windows, wear lighter layers, or use a fan. Try to avoid a top-level apartment if you can, because these stay toasty in the winter, but get extremely hot in the summer. And, because most of California enjoys 60 degrees Fahrenheit or higher year-round, that top-level apartment could run hot all year.

Change Your Shower Head

You will need to check with your manager before swapping out showerheads. But once you get the green light, use a water-saving showerhead. If you hate waiting for the shower to heat up, try a ShowerStart adapter. This fits over your current showerhead and can help conserve the hot water. With a family of three in an apartment that could save thousands of gallons in water and decrease your water bill significantly.

Change the Bulbs

Energy-efficient bulbs can be used in your lamps and light fixtures throughout the apartment. These will cut your power costs each year. While they don’t save you hundreds of dollars, you will notice your power bill is a little cheaper.

These methods are easy to implement and when used in combination, could save you hundreds each year on your utility costs. Even though you’re not in control of everything while renting, there are things you can do to help lower your utility costs and stay in control of your monthly expenses.

Feb 2014

Moving Out? Apartment Cleaning Checklist

bucket with cleaning supplies isolated on white backgroundMoving out of an apartment means endless to-do’s, but one you should never forget is cleaning. Even if you were clean while living there, leaving an apartment dirty could reduce the amount you get back from your security deposit. To ensure you get as much back as possible, you should clean the unit thoroughly.

A Quick Rundown

Before you pull out the mop and bucket, make sure to:

  • Remove any remaining nails that are in the walls and cover them with spackle.
  • Dust light fixtures, nooks, ledges, and areas where dust bunnies can hide.
  • Remove any scratches from the walls.
  • Vacuum all floors.
  • If there are carpet stains, try to remove them or have someone come in and remove them.
  • Wipe down wall-to-wall and ceiling to floor.
  • Clean the windows.

Sanitize the Bathroom

Use an all-purpose cleaner that is safe for all surfaces. Scour the bathtub, removing any residue or hard water spots. Then clean the toilet thoroughly, including under the rim. If you notice a stain on the grout, try to remove it with a grout pen. Wipe everything off as you remove items from the bathroom and then finish off the room by mopping the floor.

Deep Clean the Kitchen

Remove everything from the kitchen, including in the pantry and cupboards. Wipe out the inside of the drawers, cabinets, and storage areas in the kitchen with a clean rag or paper towel. Use the all-purpose cleaner to get any food spills and to sanitize. Wipe out the refrigerator and freezer, cleaning up any spills.

Bedrooms Need Cleaning Too

The bedrooms often just get a quick vacuuming and you’re out, but does your lease require a deep cleaning? If so, clean up spots and spills on the carpet. Then clean windows, scrub, and vacuum out closets and wash the walls. If you painted the bedroom, you might be required to paint it back to a neutral color or the original color before moving out.

Main Living Areas

Your living room needs a good cleaning too. Follow the same process at the bedroom, and vacuum to finish. The same goes for the living areas — if you were allowed to paint, see if you’re required to repaint the walls back to a neutral color in order to get your deposit back. If your furniture left dents in the carpet, place ice cubes in the dent and let them thaw. Use just a single layer so that you don’t oversaturate the carpet. This should help remove the dents. Once the carpet is dry, vacuum to finish.

Feb 2014

Tips for a Successful Property Website

House-Buying On The InternetConsumers rely heavily on the internet. Before they visit a property or even consider renting from it, they review it online. The first impression you give to a potential renter is important. You can do this by having an excellent website for your property. Before you just put something haphazardly together, you need to implement some good practices to take your website a step above the “average” site.

Always Keep Your Site Up to Date

No one wants to read outdated information. If you are running a special in December and it’s still posted in February, it tells visitors you don’t monitor your site that much. Also, update rental information as soon as it changes. If rental rates have gone up, update that right away. Include updated photographs, floor plans and other info about your open units as well.

Use Professional Language

A website should never be unprofessional or have inappropriate language. Don’t use slang and keep your sentences well-written. Proofread your work before you publish it onto your site to catch any spelling errors, typos or awkward phrases as well.

Get Reliable Hosting

There is nothing more detrimental to your reputation than a website that is always down. Use a reliable hosting company that ensures maximum up time. The longer a website is down, the less likely you are to pull in more leads from your site.

Promote Your Site More Efficiently

While apartment listings help drive traffic to your website, you need to promote it through other outlets as well. Use social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Pinterest to promote awareness about your site. You’ll not only boost your traffic, but your brand recognition as well.

Have an Easy Contact Method

Your website is the place people go to learn more information, but it can also be the place they go to connect with your or a manger. Consider adding a live chat feature to your site or have a contact form that visitors can complete. Your phone number and applicable email addresses should also be listed on your homepage and every sub-page so that visitors know how to get in touch.

Use a Friendly Design

Not everyone is used to browsing on the internet. Have a user-friendly design that keeps navigation simple and a template that isn’t busy. When your site is too complicated or you have multiple flash banners distracting the user from the text, you will have a higher bounce rate.

Add Testimonials

People like to know what others think about your property. Leave customer testimonials on your home page and have a separate page where you can encourage others to leave feedback or you can list all of your best testimonials.

The more time you take to build your website the more likely it will provide you with reliable leads. You will have to spend some money developing your site, but the return on that investment is priceless.

Feb 2014

Reasons Why More People Move to San Diego

I Love San DiegoEveryone knows southern California is a great place to be, but when you ask a person why they would recommend San Diego over the other southern regions, you’ll get a long list. That is because San Diego is a booming metropolis with so much to offer.

The Weather Is Always Consistent

San Diego has pretty consistent weather. When the sun is shining bright you can expect a 70 degree average on the coast — including in the winter. The inland areas often go from 80 to 100 degrees year-round. Even at its coldest, you’ll never have to worry about a heavy-duty winter coat.

Rental Rates Are Affordable

Unlike the Bay area or Los Angeles, rental rates in San Diego are remarkably affordable. You’ll get a big city experience — complete with the attractions and things to do — but you won’t have to worry about paying over $2,000 per month for your apartment.

The Beaches Are Great

The beaches are full in San Diego on the weekends, but for good reason. The sand is cleaner, the water is warmer and you can enjoy the waves without worrying about a vicious tide. Because the city empties to the beaches on the weekends, you can also enjoy a fairly vacant downtown area — catch up on shopping or head to a restaurant and you’re likely to avoid any lines.

Family Friendly Activities Are Plentiful

You won’t find yourself bored on the weekends with the kids. There are plenty of family friendly activities in San Diego for the whole family. The world renowned San Diego zoo will let you see all of the elephants, exotic animals and even catch special presentations.

If you want to skip Sea World and all of the crowds, you can go on a whale watching cruise in San Diego instead. You’ll see some blue whales on their way from Alaska into Mexico, get close and personal with dolphins and get to spend a day on the water.

Between all of the museums, parks, attractions and beaches, you’ll be hard pressed to find something not to do with your whole family.

You Don’t Have to Dress Up

San Diego is all about keeping the wardrobe casual. You’ll find people in flip flops, skirts, big sunglasses and jeans. No one likes to dress up around here, especially with the weather.

Amazing Cuisine on Every Corner

San Diego is the home to some of the best burger joints in the state. You can visit the Ocean Beach institution, Hodad’s, and enjoy one of the best burgers in Southern California. East Village offers gourmet restaurants and burger joints too. If you want something a little more upscale, the down town area features some of the best restaurants in the country.

Feb 2014

8 Free Things to Do in LA This Weekend

Los Angeles At NightLos Angeles is notorious for its expensive living and even more expensive night life, but there are weekend activities you can do in LA without breaking the bank. In fact, Los Angeles is home to hundreds of free activities that work for singles, couples and even families.

Take a Drive Down Mulholland

This is a world famous scenic drive. It’s on television shows, mentioned in the news and listed on travel guides. It goes from the Hollywood Hills throughout the Santa Monica Mountains and stops at the PCH Highway on the ocean. Take a drive with the family down to the beach through Mulholland.

Go Down the PCH

The Pacific Coast Highway or PCH takes you along the coast from Los Angeles up to Camarillo. It is a signature driving route with plenty of stops, beaches and sights along the way.

Be in the Audience of Your Favorite Shows

Did you know you can go watch a live taping of Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune for free? You’ll need to purchase tickets in advance, but you can enjoy a live taping for free when you go.

Head Over to Rodeo

You can look for Hollywood’s finest and just browse the lifestyle of the rich and famous on Rodeo Drive. Window shop and feel like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. It’s free to walk down the street and even enter the stores.

Take Photos with the Wax People

Get pictures with your favorite stars at Madame Tussauds in Hollywood. These wax figures look so real people can’t tell the difference. It costs money to get in, but there is always a wax figure on display at the box office that you can snap a photo with real quick for free.

Walk Downtown

Downtown Los Angeles offers restaurants, unique stores and sights. Take a stroll in downtown and explore the sights. Find new eateries to try out, check out the cultural attractions that happen almost weekly, and take it all in for free.

Hit a Dance Club

Most of Los Angeles clubs are free to enter. You can get your groove on and dance the night away (well until 2:00am) at most clubs downtown. If you’re not sure what clubs offer free cover, ask locals or just follow groups of people that look like they’re ready to go out dancing for the night.

Head Over to LA Fashion District

If you’re a fashionista or you just like to keep up to date on the trends, hit up LA’s fashion district. This premier shopping destination is one of the most popular fashion spots in the state. During LA Fashion Week you can see top designers on display, visit trunk shows, and even get great deals on runway fashions.

Feb 2014