Renewing Your Lease

June 19, 2009 at 1:07 am (Apartment Living) (, , , , , )

I had planned on moving out of my apartment when the lease was up. I found a place that was cheaper and even had a gym! (Which is something my current apartment complex does not have but that I desperately wanted.) The one I had picked out was 20 dollars cheaper a month and boasted the same ammenities plus more.

Two days ago I received a piece of mail from my apartment complex informing me that if I was going to renew my lease, I should do so soon. As a bonus to me as a loyal apartment customer, they were going to offer me 10 dollars off a month! Now granted, this isn’t cheaper than the place I wanted to move, but it was a nice incentive to stay. The more I did the calculations for the cost of a new pet deposit, moving costs, the pain of moving in the first place, etc., it seemed far more logical now to stay.

But the point of this post is not to enchant you with my money saving tales, but to let you know that you should try to bargain with your apartment complex in the rent department if they try to keep it status quo or up it. More often than not they are willing to try to cut some deals to get you to stay. Afterall, a tenant who pays a bit less is better than no tenant at all!

So hey, pop your bad self in that rent office of theirs and tell them what is UP. What’s the worst that can happen? You actually end up moving to the place you originally planned to move into?

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Packing to Move Out

April 16, 2009 at 11:20 pm (General Moving Advice) (, , , , , , )

I’m going to make a wild assumption in that you probably are going to be moving out with some things. And I’m guessing that you don’t have boxes laying around here and there conveniently ready for you to use, so here are some tips:

1. Head to party stores and grocery stores for boxes.
Party stores have them because that’s what all the booze and other products come in. They usually break them down and take them to the trash. Grocery stores restock on certain nights, and those nights have bagillions of boxes. Ask your friendly neighborhood employee if you can have some NOW PLEASE. And thanks.

2. When packing, be logical.
Packing is a process and will take quite a while to do. Unless you’re moving out, say, tomorrow, then it wouldn’t be wise to pack shampoos, conditioners, bedspreads, etc. Pack the junk you honestly don’t use.

3. Don’t be stupid and pack all heavy items into one box.
If you have a lot of books, sprinkle them throughout all the boxes as you pack so weight is more evenly distributed. You’ll thank me later when you back hasn’t collapsed as you haul boxes out to a moving truck, and then back in to your apartment.

4. Enlist friends and bribe them with food.
No one can say no to beer and pizza during and after the move. No one. Be prepared to return the favor when they move as well.

5. Label boxes with items you need right away.
If there’s bathroom stuff in a box, write it on there for god’s sake. Unless you plan on unpacking everything in one day, it’s more helpful to know exactly where your most essential items are and unpack those first. If you’re too tired, at least you’ll have a toothbrush, shampoo, undies, and razor.

6. When stacking boxes, don’t crush the “fragiles”.
Obviously you’re not going to stack your box full of anvils, pianos, and safes on top of your delicate china.

Follow these tips and you’ll be aces.

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Plan for the Unexpected Financial Burdens

April 7, 2009 at 8:49 pm (Apartment Living) (, , , , , , , )

When I made my list of things that needed to be covered each month, I didn’t exactly jot down everything. I don’t buy birthday presents every month, nor Christmas presents. I don’t get an oil change all of the time nor get my car fixed. But these are all financial traps that can quickly bring you into debt if you’re a credit card happy fiend. I started a list that will probably have to be edited in the future of things that you WILL need extra cash for and will need to plan for when you run into extra money. Sometimes it’s not there to spend on yourself, but to plan for things down the road.

1. Birthdays: I’ve got a bit of a system with birthdays. I try to shop online on places like amazon to buy cheaper things that are the same as what they want. I also have a chase debit card that gives me points when I spend money so I can redeem them for gift cards. These make great gifts!

2. Christmas: Definitely watch out for this. Don’t spend beyond your means because one happy day may mean misery for years to come if you’re not careful.

3. Car maintainance: Oil changes, unexpected repairs, breakdowns…Cars aren’t MADE to last. Keep this in mine the next time you decide to eat out twice a week because “it’s only 5 bucks each time”. That’s 40 bucks a month! On just lunch twice a week!

4. Overspending on Groceries: It’s way easy to do. One friend get together here, 5 extra items beyond the norm there…the point is, EVERYTHING you do adds up. Holidays are a wicked time when it comes to groceries because most people plan on doing SOMETHING for them.

5. Pets: Vet care, food, shelter, water, anti-flea and worm medications, illness, litter, leashes, etc. Pets are EXPENSIVE. Do not think of them like plants that need some water and they are good. It’s not how the bargain between pet and owner works.

6. Personal maintainance: Medications, hair cuts, new clothes, makeup, cologne, perfume. I guarantee you aren’t figuring these bits into your grocery budget. On the occassion you need makeup, spend 10 bucks less on groceries so it makes up for purchasing it. It’s allllll about financial balance.

7. Fun time: Do you have a “fun” budget? Want to go to the movies? Go to a museum? Go out to the bar with friends? Take your lady or man friend on a date? And don’t forget to generously tip your server! Nothing looks worse on a date than appearing like a cheapass.

Watch your bad selves ladies and gents! Even if apartments can be cheaper than housing, don’t fool yourself into thinking it means you have more to spend!

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Apartment Freshening Tips

February 23, 2009 at 12:03 am (Apartment Living) (, , , , , , , )

Now from personal experience I can assure you that apartments can get some fairly strange smells about them. It’s not only your stuff that’s going to cause a weird smell combo, but also apartments upstairs, downstairs, the hallway, etc. My friends rented an apartment where the man upstairs smoked weed and the smell drifted through the air vent into their apartment. Charming.

So in my short time in this apartment, I’ve developed what I like to think are smell coping mechanisms.

Let’s start with the basics:

1. I own cats. Cats can smell. So can dogs! For dogs, bath them often enough so that they don’t stink up your place. You may be so used to it that when you walk in, there’s no noticeable difference. But for the rest of us? Trust me, we CAN smell the difference. For cats, the trick is changing the litter often and washing things they commonly lay on. You could invest in a litter box that has a lid with a filter. Or you can dust in baking soda over the litter to absorb odors. Plug in air fresheners can help if the litter box is confined to a certain room.

2. Air purifiers can help pick up things like mold, dust, dirt, fur, etc. I have one that helps immensely with odors and the like. I just set it up in a room and turn in on. *Sniff* Ah beautiful.

3. Vacuums with bags tend to get what I call ‘Smelly Bag’. For the faint of mind, translation: your vacuum bag smells like a butthole. This is the advantage of having a bagless vacuum. If you love your baggies though, perhaps consider buying some  scented carpet dust to throw over the floor and then vacuum up for a nice smell that lingers.

4. I light a few candles before company comes over to burn out any noxious fumes floating about when I’m preparing for their company.

5. For an all-over fresh apartment scent, place a medium sized pan on the stove. Throw in some cinnamon sticks, orange peels, etc. (Get creative!) After adding a lot of water to it, allow it to boil for an hour or two. Keep refilling the water as it evaporates. The smell of cinnamon fills your living space and it smells QUITE lovely.

6. If you’re simply to cheap to buy cinnamon sticks, buy a lemon or lemon juice and place it with some water in a bowl to pop in the microwave. (Obviously you’re going to be cutting this lemon). Lemon is a natural ‘smell good’ fruit. It’s why they always make lemon scented hand wipes at places like Red Lobster.

This I may add to later. It’s simply too rich of a subject to ignore!

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The Hidden 3rd Floor Apartment Problem

February 16, 2009 at 5:06 pm (Uncategorized) (, , , , , )

Now to me, aside from hauling stuff up and down stairs relentlessly while moving in or while buying groceries, it’s hard to go wrong with a 3rd floor apartment. But I had a situation that’s now been stretching for several weeks that’s such a pain in the rump, I felt the need to write about it.

My apartment is pretty nice. It’s been kept well since when I moved in and have only had very minor issues. That was before I discovered their “ice situation”. We had been experiencing ice, then melting, then freezing, then more melting, then freezing again. Consequently, because I had a 3rd floor apartment with a bay window that sticks out, ice found it’s way under the shingles on the roof and into my apartment above the bay window. It wasn’t a problem until we experienced another melting period. Suddenly my wall was developing huge cracks and water was coming out of the walls in three different places! My ceiling was staining a strange brownish, yellowish color. I called maintenance right away. They offered these reassuring words, “Oh, damn, this has been happening at all of our 3rd floor apartments.”

So there you have it. Though I doubt this is solely a 3rd floor problem, it definitely seems to swing to the majority of the ones in my complex having it. Never in a million years would I have stopped to think about that as a possibility. They are now in the process of putting mud back on my walls. Then they will have to sand it down and repaint. And sanding with all the dust that comes with it is never pretty.

So heads up!

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Living Expenses

January 27, 2009 at 2:43 am (Apartment Living) (, , , , )

Living in an apartment isn’t peachy keen when you actually consider the bulk of what you have to pay for. So consider this:

1. Car Insurance: If you’re under 25, you pay more. Not a careful driver and have tickets? You pay more. You told the DMV you moved out and removed yourself from your parents policy? You DEFINITELY pay more.

2. Internet: The cost depends on how fancy of a connection you get. It also depends on who you go through and what’s available in your area.

3. Food/ Grocery: I do hope you planned on eating. It’s a good thing!

4. Cable: I don’t have it specifically for cutting costs, but I’m going to assume you want it. Some apartment complexes have deals though. Just ask them.

5. Rent: You’re not living there for free, let me tell you.

6. Utility Bills: If you want say…water, electricity, heat, etc…you kind of need to pay for that.

7. Gas: It’s my lifeline for work. And no work? No pay. No pay? No apartment.

8. Your problems: An odd title, but true. Do you have to repay debt? Student loans? A therapist? Medical bills? A bill for all your new furniture you ordered for the apartment? These are your own little idiosyncrasies and extras. Not everyone will share ‘your problems’ so this number is tailored to you.

9. Pets: Got’em? They need food too. And their vet checks. And their toys. And their litter…collars…bedding…leashes…cages (birds people, birds), etc. You don’t just bring animals in. You need to (well, SHOULD) tell your complex about them. It costs extra a month. Plus extra that is non-refundable.

Before you consider that you’re wearing big kids britches and are striking out on your own, you need to do the big kid thing and write an honest list of expenses to get an idea of what it’s going to cost you. I broke down my car insurance to a monthly pay, same with rent, food, bills, etc. The end total will tell you how much you need for each month. And don’t live right to the last cent if you don’t have to. Put some in a savings or checking account for emergencies. And believe me…they happen.

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Apartment Car Accidents

December 1, 2008 at 3:20 am (Apartment Accidents/ Disasters) (, , , , , )

In the case of most apartment complexes (and based on the fact that I’ve had to do it), if someone strikes your car and drives off, you should let your apartment complex know the situation. They are not liable for what others do to your car as it’s not their fault. But they will allow you into their office to fill out a report letting them know what transpired. (Also it’s a good idea to call the police.) Other people in the complex may have had a similar situation and they may have more information than you did. If the alleged person struck another car but the person they hit got that persons plate, it may help in getting you money to repair your own damages.

Also? Get a copy of the report they fill out. And not only that, but take pictures of the accident the MOMENT you see damages. Record the time you noticed and a possible time you deduce it could have happened. If there’s ANY pertinent information about it whatsoever, write it down. This will help you later in any reporting situation.

This will be the same procedure for any other sort of accident as well. Just keep an eye out for any details, you Sherlock Holmes, you.

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Pros and Cons of a First Floor Apartment

October 29, 2008 at 9:55 pm (Apartment Living) (, , , , , , , , )

Is the first floor actually a good idea? There are some obvious things some people think of right away, but I’m going to do the thinking for you and list pros and cons.

Let’s start off on the wrong side of the bed:

1. If people pull into the parking lot at night, their lights will shine RIGHT into your apartment. You’ll always have to remember to keep blinds closed at night, or invest in some hefty blankets to pin on the windows to keep the lights out.

2. People who live on any of the other floors will always go tromping in and out of the complex and you’ll get to hear every bit of it. The first floor is the central area where people will always come walking through the front door that’s near yours to go wherever they need to.

3. First floor apartments make great locations for people to break into.

4. You can’t keep your blinds open because anyone who parks can see right into your apartment and see what you’re doing and every possession you own.

5. Bugs seem to be more prevalent. This can depend on how far the apartment goes into the ground through. My friends have a ground level 1st floor apartment, which means it’s partially underground. They get MANY bugs.

6. You can hear the neighbor’s footsteps above you every now and again.

7. Heat rises, so in the winter higher heating bills could be a concern unless you have an insulated-by-the-gods apartment.

On the bright side of the street:

1. You won’t have to worry about disturbing any neighbors below you.

2. They stay cooler during the summer.

3. If you’ve ever had to haul heavy bags or groceries upstairs, you’ll understand the luxury of living in a first floor apartment. And if you have kids good luck hauling the stroller up.

4. You will feel like you’re living more in a house than an apartment because you’ll have immediate access to outside and your car.

5. Moving in and out won’t be such a pain in the butt.

Truly the decision relies on what you maintain as top on your priority list. Safety is huge on mine because I live by myself. I did look for first floor apartments, but I also loved the light shining through my windows too much to want to keep them closed with blinds all day. I live on the third floor because of the great view I have. The 2nd floor was out for me because I would end up hearing people below me AND above me. Not a fan. My drawback is hauling up groceries. It’s heinous getting heavy bags up the stairs and moving in was pretty bad. It made me want to sell a lot of my possessions.

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What apartment best suits my needs?

October 8, 2008 at 1:08 am (Apartment Living) (, , , , , , , , , , , )

Looking at fancy dancy apartments and their layouts is pretty fun while skimming through renting websites. Some come equipped with a work-out center, others a pool, some even have a balcony. All of this sounds pretty snazzy, but in all inner reflection and truthfulness, will you actually use any of it?

My sister rented an apartment with her boyfriend that came with a balcony. He’s a smoker and they live on the 3rd floor. In this instance it’s handy for them because smoking isn’t allowed inside their apartments. Even if it was, she wouldn’t allow him to because she has asthma and is allergic to smoke. I thought I wanted a balcony because I had plants I wanted outside. But truth be told plants only live outside for the summer months before they are done for. So my thinking wasn’t logical because I wouldn’t use it in the winter months and I’d be paying for a pointless extra. Rather than all that, I opted for an apartment with a big bay window. It gave me a little more space in the apartment because the window is pushed out, and I have gorgeous sunlight that streams into my living room. Bonus for this too because I won’t need to have lights on as much. Then I can set my pots and plants on the sill of the window and have them all year round!

If you are sold on a cable company such as Comcast, you may also want to watch the area you move to. Some apartment complexes sign deals with cable companies that restrict you from going to anyone but them. My apartment complex only allows some form of AT&T dish network or DirectTV. They don’t allow Comcast. So I really can’t get any fabulous deals in that area.

If working out is important to you, maybe you should opt for an apartment that has a workout center. As a caution, don’t count on it being fabulous. It’s not like a gym where there are machines as far as the eye can see. Usually there are a handful for all to use.  Though I once found an apartment complex that had a full gym for residents to use and a free tanning bed to boot. Sort of oddly unhygenic if no one is monitoring it’s wipedown, but that’s another matter.

My apartment complex has a pool, but I never used it. They don’t allow you to bring guests in, so unless you have a spouse, family, or best friend/ roomies living with you, single people like me seem to get the shorter end of the stick.

In all genericness, just ask lots of questions and take notes if necessary. Some places have gas stoves while others have electric. Most places come with major appliances, but again, some do not. I guess the beautiful people are those who have microwaves that come with their apartment. If you want your own washer and dryer, either rent an apartment with one, or rent one with hookups and bring in your own. My apartment has rules that you can’t fashion or install your own blinds, but if you want theirs, you must pay 60 dollars and they will install them for you.

Think!

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The Courtesy Candle

September 23, 2008 at 11:29 pm (Apartment Living) (, , , , , , )

I grew up with a shameless brother and father so I was already prepared for the onslaught any future bathroom of mine would sustain. And you should prepare your bathroom for the same. Think of it as a war zone, a war zone in which you will be occupying often. And everyone appreciates clean trenches.

My sister stays with me a few nights a week to make her drive to class shorter for her. She has an interesting ritual that involves drinking lots of water and using the bathroom for both numbers…A LOT. The situation that occurred today reminded me that I should warn the rest of you to BE PREPARED.

My brother-in-law isn’t the most courteous in regards to his bowels, so when he stopped by today I was weary. The first place he stopped after arriving at my place was, of course, the bathroom. Now I was ready for what was about to happen because it’s happened so often. On the counter top next to the toilet sat a nice cranberry candle. It’s referred to as the ‘courtesy candle’. If you are a wonderful person who is about to expel not-so-wonderful things, you light the candle to help clear the air. Well after about 5 minutes of him in there, my sister urged him to hurry because now SHE had to go. He flew out and she flew in. Cursing also came out of her along with insults towards his “sphincter” (in only a way my sister can accomplish). After she was completed, he went right back in. Now keep in mind, when she went in, the candle was lit. At this point though, I think it probably had it. The amusing part of this was that my walls have strange yellow drippings on them going from about the ceiling to midway on the walls. We questioned where they came from but couldn’t really figure out why they were there. I joked when he was in the bathroom that now I knew, the walls were melting from the evil he was letting out. My sister said the walls must be crying. I’ll admit I like her version better. After they were both done playing tag-team-bathroom, I’m fairly certain my entire apartment smelled like a beagle’s butt. We decorated the bathroom with candles everywhere and it looked like we were trying to perform a seance in the bathroom to exercise demons (really, we were).

I guess the point of this is I haven’t found an air freshener yet that I am completely comfortable with. Most have these strange, fruity smells that just keep whatever bad smell is around and adds a dash of fruity with it too so the air smells like fruity-farts. My advice is to either invest in LOTS of candles, air freshener, and any other aroma-soothing items for your bathroom. I’m lucky enough to be on terms with my sister that dictate that we can speak to each other however we want. But you’re not going to get to tell grama how much the bathroom smells after she’s used it when she’s over.

I don’t say this for their sake even necessarily. If you have to use the bathroom soon after they are done, how great is it going to be to walk into a cloud of doom? Save everyone, including yourself.

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