Do You Know Your First Apartment Must-Haves?

Happy young woman unpacking boxes in new homeSearching for your first apartment is exciting. You’re about to move out on your own (or with roommates) and get out of the parent’s house. You know you want space, perhaps even an extra room, built-in laundry and parking. But, you’re not rich, so how do you decide what amenities really matter and which can wait for a future apartment?

Decide the Roommate Situation

You can’t look at apartments without deciding who you will be living with. If you are living alone, you will be spending a lot more each month on all of those flashy amenities you want. If, however, you are looking to have a roommate or two, you can probably afford a nicer apartment with all of the bells and whistles — because rent is being shared. But, you still need to find out what amenities everyone you will live with want too, which means coming to an agreement that makes it all work out.

Where Do You Want to Live?

For some renters, it is all about the neighborhood. But, some neighborhoods come with a larger price tag than others. Therefore, consider the area, what it has to offer and if it’s worth the price or not. The neighborhood you live in is just as much of an amenity as the swimming pool, dishwasher or extra storage you’re looking for in your apartment.

Think of the Layout

How private of a space do you really want? This is especially important if you’re living with roommates. Are the bedrooms enough space from the common areas so that roommates won’t bother each other? How open is the living space? While an open floor plan might be fun, it leaves little privacy — especially if you aren’t living alone.  At the same time, a closed off, private floor plan means less space and a cramped feel.

What Amenities Can You Not Live Without

There are a lot of amenities you can get with your apartment, but what amenities can you really not live without? Will you go crazy without a dishwasher? Would you feel unsafe without a doorman? Make a list of the things that wouldn’t damper your stay in that apartment — or even make you feel uncomfortable. Then, use the other amenities as “possible or would be nice” instead of “must haves”.

Take a Look at Some Apartments

You know how much you can afford. Start browsing some apartments in your price range to see what type of stuff is offered. You might find dishwashers in one, but larger bedrooms in another. You can see what you may have to trade off to get the right neighborhood, floor plan and living space you need.

May 2014

Ready to Move to a Smaller Apartment? A Few Tips for Making the Transition

Happy couple carrying boxes moving into new home apartment houseDownsizing an apartment can prove to be very beneficial — not only will you save on rent, but you’ll save on utilities and reduce the clutter. But, making the transition from a larger apartment to a smaller one still takes a little work. You have a lot of decisions to make, like whether or not to put your excess in storage for a bigger home down the road, sell it or donate it. The challenge will be downsizing your life in general; that way everything fits into your new, more affordable space.

Keep What You Really Love, Get Rid of the Rest

When you’re downsizing, you want to maximize the savings benefits. If you have to pay a monthly storage fee for a storage unit, you’re really not saving that much money. So, downsize everything and only keep what you really love and cannot live without. These times can be stored in a smaller unit or might even fit in the new place — that way you don’t have to spend extra money just to save money.

Declutter Your Closet

Many people have a closet full of clothes that they rarely wear. Use the time for downsizing as an opportunity to get rid of all of those clothes you don’t use. If you haven’t worn it in a year, it is likely you won’t wear it again — so donate it, give it to a friend or sell it online if you can.

Get Furniture That Has Multiple Functions

When you have a smaller unit, you need furniture that doesn’t take up space without offering some sort of function. Find furniture that has multiple uses, such as a small table that can extend into something bigger; a couch that folds out into a bed; an ottoman that has secret storage. The more double-duty your furniture is, the easier it will be to squeeze into less square footage.

Declutter Before You Pack

There’s no point in moving everything to the new place before you downsize it. Instead, go through everything before you pack and decide what will go, what will be donated and what can be thrown away. This not only means less boxes to carry on moving day, but less hassle when it comes time to pack.

Decide How Much Space You Really Want

You have a smaller unit, so how much of that space do you want your personal items to take up? The more cluttered your rooms are, the less space you will feel like you have. So, if you can, try to maximize the space by not cluttering the new apartment — that might mean getting rid of more furniture and personal items that you initially thought.

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

Tips for Moving with Young Children

Happy Family With Cardboard Boxes Moving In A New HomeLet’s face it; moving adults is hard enough. When you add kids into the mix, you’re just asking for some trouble. If you’re moving to a new apartment with young ones, there is a way to make the transition without causing too many headaches.

Include the Kids in the Apartment Hunting Process

Instead of leaving the kids out, take them out while you’re apartment hunting. When they feel like they are part of the process, they may be more helpful come moving day. Change is really rough on kids too, so having them contribute to the apartment hunting process can make the change a little less difficult.

Get the Kids Excited for the Move

Your kids might be attached to the current apartment, but you can help break the attachment by getting them ready for the new one. Tell them about the amenities the new one has that your current apartment doesn’t have. For example, you might have a swimming pool at the new one or a better park nearby. Anything you can do to get them more excited the better.

Make a Party Out of It

The first night you are in the new apartment, throw a little housewarming party just for you and the family. Consider packing bags full of toys and fun activities for you to do as a family once you reach the new place.

Make a Scrapbook

To keep your kids from getting sad about leaving their old apartment, create a scrapbook of the old place. This way they can remember it long after you move and look back on it whenever they get homesick.

Assign Tasks and Make Them Help

While you might think making the kids help will make them resent the move, you would be surprised at how much of a difference it can make. Assign them tasks they can easily complete, such as packing up their toys, writing box labels or helping you track inventory. The more involved they are in the process, the less depressed about it they will be.

Do Some Packing at Night

While the kids are asleep, do some of the packing at night. This way they don’t feel like their entire day is spent packing or they feel they don’t get enough attention from you during the day.

Have Someone Watch the Kids

For the real little ones, hire a babysitter or have a friend or family member watch them for you. You need to focus while moving, and it’s hard on little ones to be in the middle of such a busy activity.

Unpack the Kids Stuff First

Instead of starting with the kitchen or living room, unpack the kids’ stuff first. This helps them adjust to the new place a little easier and gives them a sense of security too.

Mar 2014

Moving in the Rain? Check Out These Tips


It might be spring, but there is plenty of rain in California between April and May. If you haven’t heard the term “April Showers” before, you’ll see why soon enough. Unfortunately, the rain won’t care if it is your moving day either. So if it’s pouring rain or likely to rain in the forecast, there are things you can do to avoid rainy day headaches.

Take Steps to Protect Your Furniture

Any furniture that is exposed to the moisture could be left looking less than great once it reaches its destination. Wood furniture is prone to warping once went and cotton fabrics can soak up water and retain it – leaving you with a mold and mildew issue. Keep your furniture safe from the rain by wrapping it in plastic. You can buy it at your local moving supply store or some home improvement stores sell it by the roll just for covering furniture.

Wear Rain-Appropriate Clothing

Because it’s raining, the ground is wet. So wear shoes that are comfortable, but also have a good deal of traction. This is even more important if you will be going up and down stairs. The shoes should also be strong enough to withstand the elements, such as hiking boots.

Wear clothes that are water repellant and comfortable. You have to be able to lift and maneuver in whatever you wear, so be cautious about wearing thick raincoats. Try adding a pair of gloves to the mix so that your hands don’t get cold and wet during the move.

Use Plastic Moving Containers Instead of Cardboard Boxes

Cardboard boxes and rain don’t mix. You’re likely to have soaked boxes before you even get to your destination — especially if you’re moving your items in an open truck bed. If you can, use plastic moving containers versus traditional cardboard boxes. If not, at least wrap your paper boxes in the same plastic wrap you use for your furniture to keep them from soaking up the water.

Cover Truck Beds

Cover the truck bed with a plastic tarp after everything is loaded. This will prevent water from getting inside and pooling around your belongings. If you’re using a moving truck, you may still want to use a tarp — in case the truck has any leaks in the cargo roof.

Use Towels and Rugs at Both Locations

Put down towels and rugs that you don’t mind getting dirty. This will keep mud and water from getting all over your floors, but also help give those helping you move the traction they need and prevent slips and falls.

Moving in California rain isn’t fun, but it can be done. Just take your time and get the right supplies and moving in the rain will go just fine.

Mar 2014