You’ve done it! You have finished all the hard work of scouting for a new apartment and found the place that has everything you’re looking for. You’ve signed your lease and there is only one last step to complete. Unfortunately, it is one of the toughest, because moving is never easy.

Moving is never much fun. While you weren’t looking it seems as if all of your possessions have multiplied. It also probably won’t fit in your car in just a couple of trips. Many people look into renting a moving truck for this, but sometimes you can get by without renting a truck. Here are some things to consider if you want to try going without a moving truck.

Can it be Done?

If your new apartment is your first home and you only have a few possessions you might be able to pull off moving without a truck. It also depends on how far you’re going, too. Moving across town can be done fairly easily if you can get friends and family to help. They can also be bought off with the promise of food and beer when the job is done. Moving across the state without a truck is trickier.

The amount of time you have to move is also important. If you have a few weeks you can make several small trips over time with maybe a day or two for some of the bigger items. If your time is limited, however, a truck will save on time since you can carry more in one trip as opposed to several smaller trips.

Do You Have the Equipment?

This also ties in to what you’re moving. Packing blankets, dollies, and other such things are often included in the truck, but if you don’t have access to these yourself it can be harder to move large, bulky items.

Most people also prefer moving trucks for large items such as mattresses and furniture. These are really hard to move in a standard car, but if you have friends or family with a pickup this is the best way around the bulky item question.

Can You Even Drive a Moving Truck?

Driving a large, bulky moving truck is vastly different from a regular car. It takes some getting used to and you’ll have to watch turns, overpasses, and much more. If you do choose to rent a truck you might have to pay separately for insurance, too. Your regular car insurance often will not provide coverage for moving trucks.

If these are questions you have satisfactory answers to, then have at it. A move can be done without a large moving truck and you can probably save money in the long run if you choose this option. The downside is that it can be a lot of hard work that you may not be ready to tackle. If you do choose to rent a truck after all make sure to read if the mileage is covered in the rental and how much fuel you have to leave in it as well.

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Lease Extension

There are a lot of concerns if you’re moving, especially if you’re moving out of an apartment. You often have a set date in which you need to vacate the apartment due to the lease terms. Sometimes though, things do not work out as well as we would like. Because of circumstances, there are times where you may have to ask for an extension on your lease. The good news is that this is a common practice that can easily be handled.

Asking for an Extension

The best way to get an extension is to be a model tenant. Landlords are often much more flexible with tenants that have taken good care of their units and have paid their rent on time. If you can give them enough lead time and if they haven’t already lined up a new tenant they are more likely to give you an extension. You might have to pay a little extra on top of your regular monthly payment, but at least you are not scrambling for a place to stay. Just remember to be polite and ready to negotiate.

Write it Down

It is a very good idea to write a formal lease extension letter. Be sure that it includes the following:

It is a good idea to submit your letter at least two weeks before the date you need a decision. As always, the earlier, the better. By putting the request in writing it also keeps a formal record.

It is always a good idea to submit an extension request at least 30 days before the end of your lease. Some landlords may have a policy in place where they will want as many as 60 days’ warning. This allows them to set a better move-in date for their next tenant.

Relax, You’re Not the First Person To Do This

The good news is that this is a pretty common situation. Life happens. Many landlords are aware of this and they can even work in potential lease extension terms into the initial lease when it is signed. Most commonly, you’ll have to pay a pro-rated rate during the time of the extension. The important thing to remember is to be polite, submit your request as early as possible, and take good care of your place. This will greatly increase your chances of getting a lease extension.

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first apartment

What You Need in Your First Apartment

Getting your first apartment is exciting. It is like being handed a blank canvas because you now have a space you can make your own. There are certain essentials that you need to make your new apartment truly a home. Some of these are no-brainers, but others are things you may have not thought of. Here are some helpful tips for when you’re getting set up in your first apartment.

Your Mail Situation

Is there a community mailroom or do you have a front door slot? If you have large packages is there a main office area where they are stored if you’re away when they arrive? Many apartment owners who don’t want packages left outside their doors elect to set up a P.O. Box at their local post office. You can contact the local post office about setting one of these up, and many offices allow access to them 24 hours a day.

Utilities

Some apartments include utilities as part of their rent, but most of the time your electricity, water, phone, cable, and more need to be set up in your name. You will have to make sure you contact the service providers before you move in, so everything is ready to go on move-in day. Your landlord can likely help you get in contact with the service providers, but some like cable and internet will likely need to schedule an installation time.

Get Furniture

You’ll need some essentials like a bed, a table, chairs, etc., but be sure to take measurements before going on a shopping spree. This goes beyond measuring each room, too. Be sure to measure the doorway and hallways so you can physically get your new furniture into the home. If you’re looking to save a bit of money be sure to check out consignment stores or donation shops.

Invest in a Set of Tools

Getting a good set of tools for your first home is definitely essential. You can always use a screwdriver, wrench or socket set for any number of things. Many stores offer tool sets with virtually everything you could ever need for $30-40 and they often come in a convenient carrying case as well. This keeps things organized and mobile at the same time.

Change Your Address

If you’re already at the post office to set up a P.O. Box you can also request a change of address form. This will make sure that your mail is forwarded when you’re ready. As a bonus, most of these packets come with coupons that will help you in your move. You’ll still need to contact your bank and anywhere else that needs a formal change of address notification, but changing your address with the post office will forward your mail in the meantime.

Finally, Explore the Area

Your new apartment brings you a whole new world. Be sure to take time and explore the area for shops, restaurants, parks, and more. Get to know what is around you so you can fully acclimate yourself to the area.

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What to Do with Apartment Mold

Property owners often do their best to keep their units clean for tenants and prospective renters. Unfortunately, they are not able to control everything. If something goes wrong or a leak is not found mold can develop. Apartment mold is a difficult problem to remediate and a hassle for everyone involved. If you do find mold in your unit there are a few things you can do in order to help take care of the problem.

Take Pictures and Call Your Landlord

When you’re the tenant, proper documentation of any issues in your apartment is critical. That is why writing down issues and taking pictures is important. If you spot mold, the first thing you should do is contact the landlord. Be sure to email them even after you call them because this helps provide a paper trail. It is their responsibility to repair their property, but your rights will be protected as long as you have documentation and evidence.

Wait for an Air Quality Test

Before apartment mold can be removed it is important to discover what type of mold there is. This will help professionals be able to get rid of it properly. It can also help your doctor if you’re having issues with the mold. Your doctor can help with the temporary health problems while the mold problem is being taken care of.

Document Everything

Most likely, your landlord will want to take care of the problem immediately. It is just good business practice to handle it as soon as possible. Some landlords may push back, however. This is why it is important to document everything on your end. If you need to speak with a lawyer in order to protect your rights things will go much easier if you have everything documented on your end. Legal action might even push the landlord into taking action against the problem.

Worst Case: Move Out

Moving out is a last resort option, but your health is the most important factor here. If you’re having severe negative health effects from the mold and your landlord refuses to do anything about it even after the legal process begins then moving out may be your only recourse. You must notify the landlord that you are breaking your lease early and recruit that you get your full security deposit back. There is no guarantee the landlord will agree to these terms, but if you have filed a lawsuit against them you will at least have done all you can do.

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Apartment Hunting

Apartment Hunting: What Do Renters Look For in a Property?

When prospective tenants are looking for while apartment hunting there are many things they look for. This goes beyond the usual square footage and amenities questions. They want a location that is convenient to their work. They want good schools nearby if they have children. It is a competitive environment for landlords, but even tenants want to know what renters are looking for.

Here are some examples of what renters want while apartment hunting.

Location is Key

As mentioned above, location is critical for tenants. It goes beyond just a location near work, however. They want to be located close to shopping, grocery stores, and more. If a property is close to everything a prospective wants they might be willing to pay a little more for rent. Of course, everyone’s tastes are different. What one person desires in a place another person may want something different.

Security

If you own a home you want to make sure it is safe and secure. If you’re renting, the landlord is responsible for maintaining a secure environment. Many landlords may look into having an alarm service or extra security on the property. Most tenants will look into nearby crime statistics too before signing a lease.

Condition of the Apartment

Moving is already a large hassle. If a tenant is looking to move into a unit that needs repairs they might look at another place that is more move-in ready. Appearance is everything. When a prospective tenant arrives, they want to make sure they have a property that looks like they could move in immediately. This is also where the age of the property factors in. An updated and renovated property definitely appeals to prospective tenants.

Outdoor Spaces and Amenities

One of the downsides to renting an apartment is that you don’t have your own yard, but outdoor community spaces are an important draw for many renters. Does a property have a playground on site? Are there areas for cookouts? Is there a basketball court? These are all things that can help attract renters. Having a wide variety of community amenities is important in this day and age. It makes a property have a sense of community and residents are encouraged to interact with their neighbors.

A Good Tenant-Landlord Relationship

A good tenant-landlord relationship is not something that is established in a day. It is built over time through trust and respect. If a landlord makes promises like renovations or upgrades the tenant should expect them to be fulfilled. As long as the landlord fulfills his or her promises, the tenant is usually happy. Happy tenants become tenants that renew leases and stay longer.

Finding a new apartment is a process. When tenants and landlords have a good relationship and a tenant finds what they are looking for in a place that process can go much more smoothly.

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heating bill

How to Lower Your Heating Bill in Winter

Apartment living comes with many perks, but utilities are often still part of the cost of living. In the summer that can mean higher electric bills when it comes to cooling, and in the winter that often means a higher heating bill. When winter’s chill sets in it can start to get expensive. It seems like the heater is always running, and that means costs are rising. There are ways you can save on your heating bill, however, even in the middle of winter.

Keep the Thermostat Low

This is one easy way to lower your heating bill. While you may not be able to install a power saving programmable thermostat like a NEST, keeping the heat lower helps save a few coins. Most experts recommend keeping the thermostat between 62 and 68 degrees in winter. That maintains a comfortable temperature and you can often make up the difference with blankets and sweatshirts.

Monitor Your Hot Water Usage

The hot water heater in your apartment is also a major user of electricity, and when it is cold out few things feel better than a long, hot shower. If you have a dishwasher in your apartment this also is a major user of electricity. Try to run it only when it is full and not for just a handful of dishes. This conserves both electricity and hot water.

Install LED Light Bulbs

Energy efficient bulbs may cost a little more up front, but they save money in the long run with how much energy they save. LED bulbs use a fraction of the energy that conventional bulbs use, and even when you put up your Christmas lights most newer light strands are energy saving LED lights.

Plastic Window Sheeting

This one may seem simple, but most hardware stores and even regular retailers sell window sheeting plastic that can got over windows and be easily removed. This type of sheeting helps to seal out drafts and helps your heater work more efficiently. Since they go up with a special dual-sided tape they are also easy to remove when spring comes.

Saving money on your electric bill is not hard. It only takes a little bit of work. With some simple tips like are outlined above you can make sure that your apartment stays warms and you have some extra money in your apartment.

 

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First apartment kitchen

Things to Stock in Your First Apartment Kitchen

You’ve done it! You’ve moved out on your own for the first time and you have your first apartment. It can be a daunting experience because of any number of reasons, especially after you move in. Now that you have all of your things in the apartment it is time to start making it a home. A great place to start is the kitchen.

The thing is, you may not know what you need in your new kitchen. Here are a few ideas for what you need in your first kitchen to make many great meals.

Boning Knife

Every kitchen needs a good knife that is also versatile. A mid-sized boning knife can serve many purposes. It can slice and dice fruits and vegetables as well as meat. Boning knives can serve a variety of purposes across many food groups. They are a great prep tool for any meal. If you want to save space by having just one knife this is the choice to go with.

Saucepan

The saucepan is the do-everything utensil in every kitchen. The common size is three-quarts, but going with a five-quart saucepan can also work. These pans can be used soups, sauces, hot cocoa, or even a frying pan if needed. As long as they have oven-safe handles you can even use them for roasts and more.

Measuring Cups

These are essential devices for almost any time of cooking, but especially for baking. Stainless steel measuring cups are the best choice. If you select plastic cups they can break easily, while stainless steel cups are durable and can even last in the dishwasher.

Mixing Bowl

When it comes to mixing bowls, the larger, the better. It is easier to use a large mixing bowl for small tasks than a small mixing bowl for large tasks. If cost or space is an issue a large mixing bowl is the way to go because it is one tool for many purposes. If you can get a tempered glass bowl it will be even more durable.

Spatula

Rubber spatulas are hygienic and they last longer than a traditional wooden spoon. They also work well with hot saucepans. Their flexibility allows you to scrape ingredients out of bowls so nothing goes to waste.

These are just five tools, but they are great for stocking your kitchen and getting life in your new apartment off to a great start.

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Bonnie Smith (Lavone Smith)

Brookhaven at County Line is a 55+ community with wonderful things to offer the residents.  Bonnie is a long time resident who has lived at Brookhaven since 2010.  She has since become a widow in 2016 and has a daughter that lives in Pennsylvania.  Bonnie enjoys to read, dance, and she sings in the church choir.

Bonnie’s favorite thing about Brookhaven is that it is like a big family type feeling living here.  She feels very much at home and enjoys all the activities that are offered.  She said “friendliness is always available.”  Bonnie also mentioned that “the staff is great, always ready to help her.”

Apartment visit

What to Do During an Apartment Visit

You might have a great idea of what you’re looking for in a new apartment, but finding a great place can still be tricky. There are a lot of different factors to consider from pricing to amenities. It can be an overwhelming experience for sure. Here are some tips on what you should do during an apartment visit.

Take Notes

Taking notes is the most important thing you can do. Nothing is too small to miss as a note. Without notes, you can forget small details that might become major issues later on after you have already signed a lease. You can also take note of small things like the exterior grounds and how well the property is maintained. This will give you an idea of how well maintenance works around the property.

You should also take note of how friendly the staff is. These are the people you’ll be speaking with whenever you have an issue, so if they are friendly and accommodating that is a good start. If you can, try to talk to any current residents of the property. Their experience can say a lot about the property.

The Unit Itself

Visiting the apartment itself is a critical step in the process. If you notice broken items or a strange smell it can immediately turn you off to the space. Remember, the rental agent is making a first impression too. Be sure to ask to see an empty unit and not just the model. It gives you a better idea of how each unit is maintained by the staff.

Take Pictures

In this case a picture is definitely worth a thousand words. Taking pictures allows you to keep a visual record of the place and keeps it fresh in your mind. If you’re visiting multiple places take a picture of the sign first so you can keep each property’s pictures grouped together.

Stick With a Checklist

Always be sure to have a checklist of what you’re looking for in a new home. If a complex with a pool is important to you then keep it on your checklist. If you want a ground floor apartment don’t settle for a third floor walk-up. By sticking to your checklist you’ll have a much happier experience in the end.

Yes, apartment hunting takes time, but it can be easier by making sure you get what you want and by taking notes of where you visit. It can also help you nab the apartment you want quickly before anyone else gets it.

 

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8 Tips to Get Your Budget on Track

 

Ways to Save Money with a Roommate

When you get your first apartment you may find that you want to get a roommate in order to save on expenses. Living in big cities is becoming more expensive each day, so getting a roommate is a great way to cut your part of the rent in half. There are more ways to save money than just on rent with a roommate, however. Here are some other money saving tips you and your roommate can apply to cuts down on costs.

Buy in Bulk

And investment in a membership at Sam’s Club or Costco can save a lot of money in the long run. You and any roommates can split costs by buying things like toilet paper, paper towels, coffee, and more in bulk. This allows you to build up supplies that will last for months because toilet paper never goes bad.

Use Natural Light

If you apartment has ample windows that allow for natural light, embrace it! Open up the curtains and save on electricity by taking advantage of natural light as much as you can. Natural light also promotes a more cheerful household. It can keep the place a little warmer in the winter, too, if you can get direct sunlight.

Share Cooking Duties

Eating out for every meal gets expensive. An easy way to save is to eat at home, and if you can share cooking duties with your roommate, even better. It helps build a sense of community with your roommate as well. You can be creative and try new recipes for each other or keep it simple with a few tested recipes that are easy to make.

Make Plans

Making a plan with your roommate is a great way to save money. Rather than going out for drinks at the last minute because you’ve got nothing better to do, make a plan to stay in for a group activity. If you make plans at the beginning of the week you can save money at the end because you already have something to do.

Make Coffee at Home

Many people love coffee, but getting one a day at your local coffee shop can get expensive after a while. If a coffee costs $3 and you get one a day that’s $21 a week. By making coffee at home you can save money and even get creative with different flavors.

Cut the Cable Cord

Many people are cutting cable these days. A streaming service like Netflix or Hulu is a much cheaper way to watch the show you want to watch. If you can convince your roommate to split the cost, even better.

These are just a few handy tips for saving money with a roommate. Perhaps the best way is to brainstorm with said roommate and come up with your own.

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