Going on Vacation? Prepare Your Apartment Before You Pack

Couple packing for holiday, trying to close suitcase full with cSummer is here which means more people are going to be out of their apartments and enjoying some long, well-deserved vacations. You’re looking forward to your own, but before you start packing, you need to take care of your apartment. You shouldn’t have to worry about how things are back home while you’re sitting on the beach or exploring a new city. So take care of these things early so that you can enjoy the most of your vacation.

Notify the Property Manager

Never go away for an extended period of time without telling your property manager. They need to know if you’re not there in case of an emergency or if they need to enter your apartment while you’re away. Give them a number to where you will be staying too — that way they can contact you in an emergency.

What Will You Do With Your Car?

If you’re flying and leaving your car at the apartment, where will it be parked? Not all apartments have assigned parking, which means your car might have to sit on the street during your vacation. If you can, park it at a friend’s house or family member’s house with a driveway so you don’t have to worry about your vehicle.

Schedule Your Rent Payment

If rent is due while you’re away, schedule a bill pay so that it goes out. If you can, try paying it early that way you don’t have to worry about a late payment or missing a payment because you were too busy on your vacation.

Put a Hold on Your Mail

If you go on vacation, you can put a hold on your mail with the post office. This will prevent your mailbox from filling up with mail while you’re gone. Also, while you’re putting a hold, schedule the rest of your bills to be paid while you’re away too.

Turn Down the Thermostat

You won’t be there, so there’s no need to keep your apartment comfortable. Turn down the thermostat while you’re away so you can save some money. If it is going to be hot, keep the thermostat around 80 to 85 — that way you don’t come home to a stifling hot apartment.

Get Someone to Check On Things

While you’re away, have a friend or neighbor check on your apartment. They don’t have to go in, but just taking a look to make sure the door isn’t open or even checking on your car in its assigned stall can give you a little peace of mind.

May 2014

You Lost Your Roommate, Now What?

Shared ApartmentRoommate situations are almost always temporary. Someone gets a better job, finds a significant other, or there is a falling out. But, once a roommate does move out, you have a few decisions to make. This could be looked at as a good thing — a new opportunity. But, before you make any decisions, consider these questions.

Can You Handle the Rent Solo?

You had a roommate, but was the reason to pay the rent? If you can’t afford the rent on your own, you could downsize to a one-bedroom apartment or find another roommate. But, you’ll need to act fast, because that rent has to be paid. If your income situation has changed and you can afford it, use the opportunity to turn that spare room into an office, library or just a guest room for family and friends.

Where Will You Find a Replacement Roommate?

Finding a roommate isn’t easy. There are websites that bring roommates together, but you’ll be living with a stranger. Ask around work or even friends to see if anyone wants to fill the vacancy. Just remember they will have to not only pass your inspection, but the inspection from your property manager — that includes income and credit checks.

Is Your Lease Up?

If your lease is up, then you could just move to a smaller apartment and save yourself the hassle of a roommate. These days more people are opting to live alone that try the roommate situation — can you blame them? With the lease up, you have the opportunity to find something even better that suits your budget and needs. Sit down and decide what you’re looking for in a new place — including amenities in the community. You might even luck out and find a two-bedroom for cheaper that you can still afford on your own.

What’s the Contract Situation?

If your roommate is leaving, what is the contract between you two? Moving out before the lease is up means your roommate is still responsible for their share of the rent — regardless if they move. Check your property contract or the contract between the two of you and make sure your roommate is fulfilling their obligations. While they have their reasons for moving out, it isn’t fair to leave you with the rent and the task of finding a new roommate mid-lease either. See what you can work out with your soon-to-be ex roommate regarding rent. Maybe they will be willing to forfeit their half of the security deposit or pay the rent until you can at least replace them.

May 2014

7 Great Places to Get Moving Boxes

Moving Cardboard Box Hand TruckYou’ve found that perfect apartment, but now it’s time to move. Sure, you could buy boxes, but who wants to pay for a box? Luckily there are plenty of ways to get free moving boxes – and you’d be surprised how easy they are to come by. If you’re lucky, just one stop at one of these locations will load you up for the full move – if not, you still have seven other places to choose from.

Ask on Craigslist

People give away moving boxes on Craigslist all the time – especially in southern California where recycling is important. See what there is on Craigslist. Even the people that charge for their boxes only ask a few cents per box.

Check Out Work

Your work is likely to have plenty of boxes, and if you start the hunt early, you could get all of the boxes you need to move. From paper boxes to supplies, look around the dumpsters and recycling bins to see what you can find.

Visit Retailers

Local retailers get shipments and they have plenty of boxes to spare. Ask your local shops if they have any boxes they don’t need and they will happily unload them onto you.

Be Social

There’s nothing wrong with hitting up social media to ask friends, family and acquaintances about boxes. You would be surprised how many people have them in their garage and need to unload them. Put the word out early though – that way you can catch everyone before they make it to trash day.

Visit Recent Movers

Know someone who moved recently? Most likely they have a box or two lying around that they don’t mind giving away to your move.

Go to the Grocery Store

Grocery stores get shipment daily. If you ask the customer service desk for some spare boxes they are likely to have more than enough to help you move. Check the back of your grocery store in the recycling bin too – you’re likely to find a stack all neat and broken down for you.

Ask Your Leasing Office

Your leasing office (current or new) may have boxes from their own supplies or ones that movers have left behind. There’s no harm in asking.

Visit the Post Office

Post offices offer free boxes and you can even ask your mail carrier to leave them at the door. Go for new boxes instead of the used ones behind the post office though – because used boxes aren’t as sturdy.

May 2014

Apartment Hunting With Your Sweetie? Tips for a Stress-Free Search

Smiling couple sitting on the floor with laptop in the new apartYou’re moving in with your significant other, which is a big step. Unfortunately, apartment hunting with a second person can be highly stressful, especially if you both have different needs or ideas of what you want in an apartment. It is all about compromise and pre-planning. If you do, you can find an apartment that satisfies you both.

Pick a Location First

You both have jobs, family and maybe even school. So, you need to decide what city you will live in and how far each of you will have to drive. Do you want to live downtown? Or do you want a quiet neighborhood? These are all questions you need hashed out before you even look at apartment listings.

Decide How Much You Can Afford

Just because you’re combining incomes for rent doesn’t mean you need to rent something extravagant. Sit down and see how much you can comfortably split and who is paying what. Will you split the rent 50/50 or will one person pay more than the other? A budget should also include the utilities you’ll have to pay for. Also, decide your preferred rent and the maximum rent you’ll pay for — just in case you find an apartment you agree on, but it is out of your budget.

Think About Size

Most couples get a one bedroom only to realize they should have upgraded to a two bedroom. If you have friends or family from out of town that like to visit, adding that second bedroom could be beneficial. Also, if your main living space is small, a second bedroom could serve for an office or study room.

What Amenities Matter to You Both?

You both will have different ideas of the amenities you want, but create a list of amenities you both label as priorities — such as parking spaces, pool, laundry, etc. Also, if you are only assigned one parking space per unit, how will you share that space?

Hash Out the Differences in Private

Don’t start negotiations or arguments about your apartments during the hunt. Instead, sit down at home and discuss everything before you ever start searching. By having your budget established, amenities edited and needs listed you can find an apartment that works for both of you. Moving in is a big decision for most couples, and moving in general is stressful. Therefore, you can save a lot of headaches and prevent your moving-in experience from having a rocky start by refining the details ahead of time.

May 2014

Five Things Every Renter Should Know How to Do

453535353453543You might not own a home, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have some home skills. As an apartment renter, you still have responsibilities for your apartment unit — and there are things you can do to not only repair your new place, but keep it up so you get that security deposit back.

Changing Out a Showerhead

Do you know how to change out a showerhead? If not, head to your local home improvement store and flag someone down to show you how. They’re fairly simple to replace and could save you a lot of hassle from having to ask your manager for a new one. Plus if you want a nicer showerhead, you can always replace the garden variety one your manager gave you and then put it back when you’re ready to move out.

Plunge a Toilet

You can’t call your apartment manager every time you have a stopped up toilet. You should at least know how to plunge a toilet. That also means you need to buy a plunger for your apartment. If you don’t know how to use one, there are plenty of tutorials online that will show you how.

The same goes for the drains. If you don’t know how to unclog a drain, go to the store, buy some drain cleaner and read the label — you might want to have a bottle on hand just in case.


Cooking is part of the apartment lifestyle. Unless you plan to eat out for every single meal, you need to have some basic cooking skills. There are plenty of online tutorials these days for easy cooking. If you are helpless there are crockpot meals out there that literally require you to dump the ingredients in, walk away and it will do the work.

Use a Fire Extinguisher

Your apartment should have a fire extinguisher — if not, that might be a safety code violation. But, if you don’t know how to use it, what is the point of getting on your manager’s case about having one on the property. Also, if you are just learning how to cook, it might be a good idea to know how to operate one just in case your food gets away from you — it does happen.

Using Basic Tools

There are three basic tools everyone should know how to use: a hammer, screwdriver and pair of pliers. Not only should you know how to use them, but you should have one of each in your apartment — whether to put together furniture, hang a picture or fix that leaky faucet your manager has yet to get to.

May 2014