My First Apartment http://www.myfirstapartment.com Mon, 02 May 2016 14:23:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 7 Ways to Stay Friends with Your Roommate http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/05/7-ways-stay-friends-roommate/ http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/05/7-ways-stay-friends-roommate/#respond Mon, 02 May 2016 14:23:15 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=19960 Living with a roommate can be fun and exciting, but it can also be hard. You and your roommate may have different schedules where you don’t see each other often. You may like a clean apartment while your roommate doesn’t mind a messy floor. You may not like your roommate’s significant other crashing every night,…

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Living with a roommate can be fun and exciting, but it can also be hard. You and your roommate may have different schedules where you don’t see each other often. You may like a clean apartment while your roommate doesn’t mind a messy floor. You may not like your roommate’s significant other crashing every night, and your roommate may not like your loud music. Even though differences and tough situations may arise, it’s always worth it to be honest and open with one another and to do things together so you will stay friends. So, here are  7 activities even brand-new roommates can do, to get to know each other better and start building a friendship.

  1. Eat dinner together at least once a week.

Whether you’re eating out at a nice restaurant or sitting on the couch eating pizza, sit down, share a meal together, and catch up on each other’s lives.

  1. roommates cookingCook dinner together.

Take dining together a step further by cooking together. Even if you burn toast and set the fire alarm off, have fun cooking a new recipe together.

  1. Go for a walk.

One of the biggest perks of the outdoors is that we get to enjoy its natural beauty for free. Lace up and hit a hiking trail, or simply walk around town and window shop. A quick walk means relaxation, exercise, and quality time together.

  1. Support your roommate’s interests.

If your roommate is an art enthusiast, attend an art exhibit together. Or if your roommate loves to run 5ks, sign up together or at least cheer on at the finishing line. It may not be your favorite way to spend a Friday night or a Saturday morning, but your roommate will appreciate your support. In turn, your roommate will feel encouraged to support your interests.

  1. Spend time with your roommate’s family and friends.

Some of the most important people in your roommate’s life are their family and friends. Getting to know them and having them in your life can help build a stronger friendship between you and your roommate.

  1. Hang out together.

Watch a movie, hit the beach, or go to a concert. Just do something fun and spontaneous that you can enjoy together.

  1. Talk.

Whether it’s about school, work, family, or the new shoes you bought, talk. Even if it’s something awkward like money or the pile of dirty dishes in the sink, talk. It can be easy to let petty differences or pride strain any friendship, but don’t let this happen to you. Talk with one another, always be honest, and find a solution because it’s always better be friends rather than two people who just live in the same apartment.

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2 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Begin the Apartment Search http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/04/questions-to-ask-yourself-before-you-begin-the-apartment-search/ http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/04/questions-to-ask-yourself-before-you-begin-the-apartment-search/#respond Sat, 30 Apr 2016 13:00:00 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=19938 In a few short months, I will be relocating for graduate school and begin the apartment hunt once again. It’s a new chapter in my life, and for those of you graduating college or relocating for new jobs or professional schools, you too may be feeling excited for the next phase of your lives. Before…

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In a few short months, I will be relocating for graduate school and begin the apartment hunt once again. It’s a new chapter in my life, and for those of you graduating college or relocating for new jobs or professional schools, you too may be feeling excited for the next phase of your lives. Before fantasizing about your new place, you need to ask yourself two important questions so that your new apartment will be right for you. I asked myself these questions when I was looking for my first apartment, and they helped me to prioritize my search.

Question 1. “Do I want roommates or do I want to live alone?”

Maybe you always dreamed of having your own studio or one bedroom so that you could decorate it to your own taste. Perhaps you’ve dreamed of a larger space with roommates where you host parties and movie nights together. Either way, it’s important to figure out what sort of living situation will make you the happiest and what you are willing to sacrifice for it. Here are some pros and cons about living with roommates or living alone:

With roommates

Pros: Cheaper rent, people to keep you company, splitting utilities (cheaper), generally more space (2+ bedroom apartments, backyards/patios).

Cons: Potential drama if you don’t get along, losing privacy, making sacrifices for how things are organized in the apartment.

Living alone

Pros: Privacy, making all of the decisions for the apartment (i.e. cable or no cable, style, having a pet), setting your own schedule (no unexpected parties on a work night or 6AM alarm clocks on Saturdays), having guests over as often as you’d like!

Cons: More expensive since you are paying for the place and utilities/amenities entirely yourself, less overall space, potential to feel lonely in a new city.

Question 2. “What do I value most in an apartment?”

One realization I had while living in my first apartment was that I valued parking more than I previously thought. I lived in a three bedroom with three roommates and three cars, but there were only two parking spaces. In addition, those parking places were not adjacent but instead tandem to each other, so we needed to coordinate parking spaces and cars every day. For me, it was inconvenient to ask my roommate to move his car at 11:00pm so that I could have a place to park for the night, or to park a few blocks away and walk to the complex if both of out parking spots were taken. For others, this may not be as big a deal but regardless, it’s critical to determine what you value most in an apartment.

A good way to start is to make a list of what your dream apartment would be like. Then go through each feature and amenity and give it a value, 1 to 10, or whatever scale you want to use. Do you care about location? Price? New appliances? Wood floors? Having a washer and dryer in the apartment? Parking? Pet friendly? Gym? Close to public transportation or the freeway? Close to work? After you finish, you have a list that prioritizes all your wants and you are ready to start your search. You also know — especially if you move to an expensive and high demand city — that you’ll need to make compromises in the end, but your list of must-haves will help you in the process.

Even after being in a few different apartments now on my own, I still ask myself these questions before I begin each search since my priorities and lifestyle have changed over time. For those of you moving to your first apartment or for those finding their next place, I wish you all the best in finding a perfect match!

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Furnishing Basics: Where to Skimp and Where to Splurge http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/04/where-to-skimp-and-where-to-splurge/ http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/04/where-to-skimp-and-where-to-splurge/#respond Thu, 28 Apr 2016 14:00:33 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=19946 Moving into a first apartment is exciting, and it should be! But it also often comes at a time in our lives when we aren’t rolling in money. Many of us are college students or recent grads…so how can we make sure that our money is well spent? Accepting that we don’t need the most…

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Moving into a first apartment is exciting, and it should be! But it also often comes at a time in our lives when we aren’t rolling in money. Many of us are college students or recent grads…so how can we make sure that our money is well spent? Accepting that we don’t need the most high-end furnishings, but still want our home to be comfortable, there are items that should eat large parts of our budgets and there are items that definitely should not.

Splurge

Mattress

Friends sitting on mattress in furniture storeSo obviously you don’t want a mattress that is going to cause you back problems or give you trouble sleeping, and that is why it is important to spend a bit more money to get quality. With that being said, you DO NOT need to spend thousands of dollars on a mattress. It is your first apartment not the home you’ll be living in forever. I purchased a queen mattress that retails for over $800 for $400. Don’t fall for the sales pitches that will try to get you to spend more. The sales-lady tried giving me four other prices before I got her to come down to my budget. You can stretch your budget further than the labels want you to know. (It helps to make it known that you are a poor college student, if that is the case.)

For advice on how to get the best mattress deal at the store, also check out Alissa’s Tips for Buying a Mattress.  And for even more detailed information about mattress styles, sizes and online and chain stores, read our How To Buy A Mattress: A Complete Guide.

Couch/Sofa

Again, this is your first apartment, so I am not suggesting you spend thousands on a sofa, but if your budget has some room you might want to spend a bit extra to get the quality that will reading-1142801_1920last. There isn’t much worse than a sofa that sags when you’ve only had it for two months. Consider what uses you will have for your sofa, how often you will use it, what materials you want or need (especially if you have pets), and decide on what price range works for you. Would you rather spend $300 on a cheap sofa and have to replace it in a year and spend even more money, or spend a little more money once and have a sofa that lasts?

(Now, if you already know that you’ll be heading to graduate school or for a job cross-country in a year, head to Ikea and get that $300 sofa. When it’s time to move you just sell it for $100 and save the moving costs.)

Skimp

Decor

This is one of those things that I need to take my own advice on, and I am working on that…But YOU DO NOT NEED TO BUY EXPENSIVE DECOR. As you probably know if you’ve read my author’s bio, or any of my other articles, I am obsessed with Anthropologie. Unfortunately, that store could empty my bank account in less than five minutes. So although I absolutely love the home products that they sell, and everything is beautifully unique, I take the cheap route and head to Homegoods. That store is also one of my obsessions, and everything it much more within budget. Homegoods carries anything you would want to decorate the apartment with your unique style, and you won’t break the bank doing so. I would highly recommend shopping there. (Although always check the clearance at Anthro! My sister and I find some awesome things in there.) Recently, H&M (that Swedish fast fashion chain) has added some cute decor and home goods at first apartment friendly prices, so it’s also worth a look.

Bedding/Sheets and Bathroom Linens

I am all about high quality sheets and bedding, don’t get me wrong. But I don’t think this is where the majority of your budget should go. You can get the quality without paying the original price, trust me. Sheets are on clearance in pretty much every store they are sold. You just have to look. Spending $80 on a set of queen sheets was definitely not in my budget when apartment shopping, but Bed Bath and Beyond had tons of clearance sheet sets. (Don’t forget to use their 20% off coupons — they usually even accept out-of-date ones!)

I am also going to refer you back to Homegoods. I was looking for all white bedding, and ended up finding a comforter set cat-1058095_1920(Originally retailed at $450) for $80. If you look for the bargains, you will find them. Skimping on the price does not have to mean compromising quality, just shop smart.

Nobody wants to have to use cheap, rough towels; I understand that. But towels are often on sale and with coupons you can get great deals on them! Go to Bed Bath and Beyond, Macy’s, Overstock.com, or wherever you usually find good deals! You will find some coupons and good sales, and that combination means a happy bank account!

 

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Finding Work-Life Balance in Your First Job http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/04/finding-work-life-balance/ http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/04/finding-work-life-balance/#respond Tue, 26 Apr 2016 14:00:09 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=19596 With college graduations right around the corner, I’m sure a lot of you are in the market for a new job as well as a new apartment! About a year ago, I was in the exact same place. After finding my job in Atlanta, I decided to move in with my boyfriend a short distance…

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ColleaguesWith college graduations right around the corner, I’m sure a lot of you are in the market for a new job as well as a new apartment! About a year ago, I was in the exact same place. After finding my job in Atlanta, I decided to move in with my boyfriend a short distance from the office. Something I didn’t expect, though, was struggling with that infamous “work-life balance.”

In your first job, it’s important to show up early and show your dedication by doing your absolute best. But, you can’t let your personal well-being suffer! Fortunately, many companies promote a healthy balance between time in the office and personal time outside of it. However, it’s important to make good use of your personal time as well! Here are a few tips to maintain your work-life balance and take full advantage of the benefits!

1. Arrive to work early

Arriving early sends a positive message to your manager and co-workers that you are committed and ready to take on the day! Plus, arriving early may give you a chance to leave a little early when you need to, as well.

2. Mini-clean your apartment every day

Instead of letting your place get messy throughout the week and spending a weekend cleaning, pick up a little after work each day! If it’s putting away dishes from lunch or folding laundry before bed, little tasks throughout the week will mean more free time during the weekend. I use this 5-minute daily cleaning routine to keep our place in shape throughout the week.

3. Don’t over-schedule yourself

This is true for both work and play. If you have a lot to get done one week, try to limit long meetings throughout the day. At the same time, if you’re feeling drained from a busy work week, take the weekend easy! Staying in a night or two isn’t the end of the world, and will make you feel more rested throughout the next week.

4. Pick up hobbies you love

Nothing is better than feeling fulfilled in the office and at home. Try to pick up a hobby to keep you busy and entertained during personal time. For me, I’ve picked up kickboxing at a gym right across the street from my office. I go to class straight from work (no excuse not to go!) and look forward to it all day.

5. Get to know your coworkers

If appropriate, try to spend some time after work with coworkers that you want to get to know better! Our team has an after-work dinner or happy hour every couple of months. Getting to know each other as people (rather than just as co-workers) can make the work week that much better.

You don’t even have to spend a lot of time outside the office with your co-workers to get to know them, if you have other commitments, such as school. Participate in any traditions the office has, chipping in for lottery tickets or football pool, or bringing in donuts on a rainy day.  Even a couple of minutes of idle chat by the coffee machine can start a good co-worker or mentor relationship.

6. Speak up

If you feel majorly over-scheduled or overwhelmed with your new job, speak up! Talk to your manager or find a mentor you can confide in. Feeling overwhelmed in your first “real” job is extremely common, and speaking up can get you the support you need to enjoy work again.

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Furnishing an Apartment That Will be Home to Pets http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/04/furnishing-an-apartment-that-will-be-home-to-pets/ http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/04/furnishing-an-apartment-that-will-be-home-to-pets/#respond Sun, 24 Apr 2016 14:00:51 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=19687 Growing up with pets of all kinds taught me that animals often destroy things…expensive things usually. If you are moving into a new apartment with your pet, or you are thinking of adopting a new pet once you are settled in, there are some important things that you need to consider when buying furnishings. Couches and pets…

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Growing up with pets of all kinds taught me that animals often destroy things…expensive things usually. If you are moving into a new apartment with your pet, or you are thinking of adopting a new pet once you are settled in, there are some important things that you need to consider when buying furnishings.

Couches and pets either become best friends or worst enemies.

Jessie's kittyLiving room seating is made out of all types of fabrics now, but not all types of fabrics are going to agree with your pet. Your cat is going to use the sides of the couch as a scratching post and ends up shredding the material. Your dog is going to jump up with his muddy paws, and leave stains everywhere. So yes, that couch with the woven fabric is beautiful and soft, but it won’t stay that way if you are bringing it into your apartment.

Microfiber is by far, the best material for pet owners. Cats generally do not bother trying to scratch it because their claws cannot grip, but don’t worry, they still love to cuddle up on it! Microfiber is also known to be stain resistant and it’s easy to clean. There are many couches sold in microfiber materials so you won’t have any trouble finding them in most big box and online stores, such as  Walmart, Overstock.com and IKEA.

As a bonus, microfiber is often cheaper than the other fabrics!

Area rugs love to hold onto fur!

Area rugs are the perfect way to add that contrast or pop of color to your room. Not to mention they keep your feet warm! But dark rugs (or really light rugs if your pet has dark fur) are almost always a bad idea. My dog, Charlie, is a yellow lab who is almost white. My parents recently bought this beautiful area rug that is navy blue. Guess who won? (Yesterday my mom bought a new rug..on the upside I now get that expensive rug for my apartment!)

dog on rugThe best solution for this problem is to buy an area rug that has lots of different colors, or one that is similar to the color of your pet’s fur. You are going to spend a good amount of money on a rug, and your dog is going to decide the rug is his new favorite place to lay, so consider how many times a day you feel like vacuuming. I am going to assume the answer is less than 1 time per day, so don’t forget to consider your pet when you buy anything his fur will stick to!

Buying a dark couch is usually also a bad idea.

 

Are you about to buy something that you don’t want your pet anywhere near? Reconsider!

I was furniture shopping yesterday, and came across this beautiful accent chair. I thought it would be the perfect piece to bring the living room together, but then I realized something. That chair is expensive, and it is covered in a fabric that my cat’s fur is going to stick to forever. My cat is also probably going to use it as a scratching post (the chair wasn’t microfiber). So, I walked away. Yes it is disappointing to walk away from something you really want, but how will that chair ever compare to the love you have for your pet?

It won’t! Lets be realistic, if you love that chair more than your pet, you probably shouldn’t even have a pet.

 

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I Want to Adopt a Pet, But Should I? http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/04/thinking-about-adopting-a-pet/ http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/04/thinking-about-adopting-a-pet/#respond Fri, 22 Apr 2016 14:00:32 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=19699 If you are an animal lover like me, you dread every day that you have to live without a pet. Moving away from home meant leaving my dog, my best friend, Charlie. But he is better off where he is, with a big house and his own yard (and our other best friend, dad). My…

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dog-624952_1920If you are an animal lover like me, you dread every day that you have to live without a pet. Moving away from home meant leaving my dog, my best friend, Charlie. But he is better off where he is, with a big house and his own yard (and our other best friend, dad). My average sized apartment with no yard is no place for him. But can I adopt another pet? There is a lot to consider about adopting a pet when you live in an apartment. For this article I am going to focus on cats and dogs because they are the extent of my knowledge…if you want a snake look elsewhere for advice please!

Is the place big enough for them to have a happy life?

Cat: Most cats are fine in an average sized apartment. Not a tiny studio, an average sized place. If there is space for them to run back and forth and to play, then they should be pretty happy. Just make sure they have access to windows to sit at!

man with big dogDog: Owning a dog and living in an apartment isn’t ideal. Thinking about adopting a Great Dane? NOT a good idea if you live in an 800 sq.ft. place. Smaller dogs are usually content in a large apartment. I know you think that lab puppy is adorable, and you would love to give him a home, but he is going to grow and gain another 60 pounds; so your apartment isn’t the best place for him. Be practical! There are breeds that will fit in your home and will be happy, and there are breeds that will not!

Do I have time to spend on the pet?

Cat: Cats are known to be low maintenance. You can leave them alone all day and they will be fine! But if you are going to do this, make sure to give them lots of love and attention when you get home. If you travel often and will be out of the apartment for days at a time, it is not fair to the animal so maybe adopting one isn’t a good idea right now.

Dog: Dogs on the other hand, require a lot of time! When you live in an apartment you most likely don’t have a doggy door that leads to a nice yard. Your dog is going to need to be walked multiple times a day. If you work full time and have nobody at home to take the dog out, then a dog is the wrong choice for you. If you are lazy and don’t want to leave your apartment more than once a day, don’t get a dog. If you love to be active and talk multiple walks a day, give a lonely dog in the shelter a loving home!

Can I afford it?

Pets are expensive. There are vet fees, food, toys, sometimes an added rent cost, and emergencies. But pets bring a lot of great things to the home, like love, companionship, and fun. They are worth the cost, but only if you have the funds. If you already can barely make rent and pay your car payment, you aren’t at a point in your life where you are ready to have a pet. Consider all of the costs that will add up when you bring your new fur baby home.

I am a college student who works three jobs. I do this so I can afford things that make me happy, like a pet. The majority of college students don’t work multiple jobs or have the money for a pet, but they see a cute dog and take it home. What happens to that dog? He ends up in my animal shelter months later, depressed and without a home. Now he’s too old to be a first choice for some families. Depressing right? I see this far too often.

If you aren’t sure you can afford a pet at this moment, but really want one, work hard and save up!

Do I have roommates that I need to ask first? Are they allergic?

Before you even go to the shelter to look, you need to be sure that your roommates are ok with you having a pet in the apartment. You can’t just come home with a puppy and expect them to be fine with it. A lot of times people will say no to a pet because of allergies. Pet allergies are very common now and you need to be considerate of your roommate’s health.

Does my lease allow me to have a pet?

Unfortunately, another reason that I often see animals come into the shelter is because their owners had them illegally and got caught. If your lease says no pets, then NO PETS. Please don’t adopt that precious kitten anyway. You will eventually get caught with him in the apartment and you will have to choose between getting evicted or giving up your cat. If your lease says no dogs over 50 lbs, make sure that puppy you are bringing home isn’t a large breed. He will grow, and you will end up in trouble with your landlord.

Am I getting this pet from a shelter?

902091Please, please, I beg you, do not buy a “designer breed” puppy that costs $900 from a pet store. Do you realize where these poor animals come from? They come from puppy mills. Don’t know what that means or why you should care? Google it. The more we buy these animals, the longer places like puppy mills will exist. There are plenty of loving animals at your local shelter to choose from. These animals are just as great, and just as beautiful. Plus, you’ll save a ton of money and you’ll be doing a great thing!

I hope that you all end up with the perfect furry friend!

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Spring Cleaning: A Clean Place and a Happy You! http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/04/spring-cleaning-clean-place-happy/ http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/04/spring-cleaning-clean-place-happy/#respond Wed, 20 Apr 2016 14:00:12 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=19774 Winter has finally made her way out. Like any storm passing through, the season has left a mess, and I’m not just talking about the salt covered roads. There’s that pile of papers that you just didn’t have time to put away or that chair in your room that has a stack of clothes. Your…

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Woman at the spring cleaningWinter has finally made her way out. Like any storm passing through, the season has left a mess, and I’m not just talking about the salt covered roads. There’s that pile of papers that you just didn’t have time to put away or that chair in your room that has a stack of clothes. Your apartment is in a different, more cluttered state and its time to restore your place to its mostly clean state! Winter is out and spring is definitely in. It’s time to create a fresher and more organized environment, it’s spring-cleaning time!

Your bedroom

The best way to start is with your bedroom. I trust you wash your sheets and pillowcases every week or two. Spring cleaning is time to also wash your mattress pad, your comforter and all your washable pillows. (Remember to use couple of clean tennis balls in your dryer to fluff up your comforter and pillows as they dry.)

Before you make your bed with your clean, freshly-laundered bedding, you have two other spots to clean. First, tidy up under your bed since you never know what accumulates under there plus you might find something that you have lost, like a pair to your work shoe or an important document that slid past you. Next, bring out the vacuum and vacuum your mattress, both sides.  Then, turn your mattress over so it wears more evenly. Finally, make your bed and give your pillows an extra fluffing.

Get rid of clutter

Another point to spring cleaning is to dispose of unwanted or, most importantly, unused items. Get rid of that stack of old magazines you are saving because of some great article you wanted to keep,  but have long forgotten what it was.  And your old make up or shaving lotions from your college years.  And whatever is your own secret clutter habit. (For more clutter reduction inspirations, click here.)

Your closet

After general de-cluttering,  you now have room to sort out  your over-flowing closet.

Close up on a big pile of clothes and accessories thrown on theIt’s perfectly normal to have an attachment to that skirt you bought your freshman year of college because you always got so many compliments whenever you wore it or the lucky shirt from your high school years that made you look so cool. The bigger question is, have you worn it in the past year? If not, get rid of it!

There are various ways to get rid of your clothing and even make some money while you are at it. You can make  donations to Goodwill or Salvation Army, or other local charity and get a tax deduction equal to the value of your donation. (See Goodwill’s Guide to valuing your donation.) You can sell items on Poshmark or Ebay to make a few extra bucks, or bring them to a local consignment shop. Another fun way to get rid of unwanted clothing is to make a social event out of it and host a clothing swap party at your newly cleaned apartment. Invite several friends and ask them bring a few new or lightly used clothing items to swap with. Make it a productive get together with friends, finger foods, and cocktails! After those clothing items you never use are gone, its closet reorganization time!

Kitchen

Kitchen CleanToss all the expired food from your fridge. You can even go a step further and also get rid of all unhealthy snacks, to jump-start your diet for a more fit lifestyle and the upcoming bathing suit season. After the fridge is wiped clean, put a box of baking soda in the far corner to trap odors. One of my greatest kitchen essentials while cleaning is lemon. Use it on cutting boards or even your sink for a fresh scent and a solid clean. Finally get to that pile of dishes and run the dishwasher.  After clean dishes are out, pull out the bottom rack, clean the drain and sprinkle a little baking soda in the bottom to give your dishwasher a fresh smell.

Lastly, give your entire apartment place a good dusting and vacuuming, especially in the areas that you can never get to.

There is no better way to welcome a new, beautiful season than waking up to a clean apartment in your  cool, clean bed!

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5 Easy Tricks to Brighten Up Your Apartment http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/04/5-easy-ways-to-brighten-up-your-apartment/ http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/04/5-easy-ways-to-brighten-up-your-apartment/#respond Mon, 18 Apr 2016 14:00:48 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=19600 Spring is finally here! It’s been a long, cold winter and I know we are all ready for some warmer weather and sunshine! While we wait for the springtime showers to disappear, here are five easy things to do to brighten up your apartment and put a smile on your face! Pick up fresh flowers Nothing…

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Spring is finally here! It’s been a long, cold winter and I know we are all ready for some warmer weather and sunshine! While we wait for the springtime showers to disappear, here are five easy things to do to brighten up your apartment and put a smile on your face!

79d52ccfbd7e004bf1dfa0cc067fa605 Pick up fresh flowers

Nothing says spring more than a pretty bouquet on the kitchen table! Pick up a bunch from the local florist, or even a cheap bunch from the grocery store will do the trick. Sometimes, flowers may feel like a waste…but they can really brighten up your place!

curtain-curtains-girl-prett-summer-sun-Favim.com-90058

Buy lamps or open the blinds

As it’s gotten lighter out later, take advantage of the sunshine by opening your blinds and windows! It’s hard not to smile with sunshine pouring into your apartment. If you place is like mine (and lacks tons of windows), buy a few lamps and fill them with incandescent light bulbs or Edison bulbs to have some fun light in your space.

succulents

Plant succulents

My most recent obsession are succulents! Pretty cheap, fun to put together, and an absolutely adorable way to get some low-maintenance green indoors. To mimic these, buy a few different succulent plants from your local plant/hardware store and plant them (with potting soil) in little containers. I got mine from the dollar store!

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Rotate your apartment’s colors

Now’s a great time to switch out your accent  pillows, throw blankets, place-mats, dish towels, and more! Trade your fall tones for bright colors for summer or pastels for spring. Use this handy guide to help you choose the best colors for your apartment and check out the special Marimekko Collection at Target for adding great splashes of color at affordable prices.

fresh-produce

Find local produce

Changing seasons means a change in fresh produce! Check out your local farmers market (or even grocery store) for great deals on pretty, fresh food. Not only will fresh produce look great in a basket in your kitchen, it’ll make you feel great as well.

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Apartment Hunter’s Guide To Portland, Or. http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/04/apartment-hunters-guide-portland/ http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/04/apartment-hunters-guide-portland/#respond Sun, 17 Apr 2016 14:00:39 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=19548 Stumptown. The city of bridges. The city of roses. “Little Beirut”. “The dream of the ‘90s.” “Where people in their 20s go to retire.” This is just the shortlist of the many, many monikers of Portland, Or., which has also been referred to as “the West Coast capitol of urban cool,” and “The best food…

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Apartment Hunter's Guide To Portland Oregon

Stumptown. The city of bridges. The city of roses. “Little Beirut”. “The dream of the ‘90s.” “Where people in their 20s go to retire.”

This is just the shortlist of the many, many monikers of Portland, Or., which has also been referred to as “the West Coast capitol of urban cool,” and “The best food city in America,” according to such esteemable publications as The New York Times and The Washington Post, respectively.

The nicknames, although apt, serve to illustrate the contradictions inherent in this vibrant former logging and shipping hub. A level-headed analysis of the nicknames, the history, the weather and geography of this jewel of the West Coast should help you decide if you want to move here, as it’s not for everybody.

For those that can cut it, however, it’s a mecca for homegrown culture and community. It’s a city that appreciates the finer things in life, even if we can be a bit eclectic and dysfunctional at times. Which is part of the charm.

GEOGRAPHY

Located in the heart of the Willamette Valley, where the Columbia and Willamette Rivers come together to form a strange, whirlpool-like vortex beneath any of Portland’s numerous river-spanning bridges, Portland, Or. is one of the jewels of the American Pacific Northwest. The Pacific Northwest is known for its majestic, epic forests; its robust coffee (Seattle was the home to the original Starbucks); and for an unconventional, independent subculture, thanks to the Grunge movement of the ‘90s.

Portland is nestled against the foothills of the Tualatin Mountains, to the West, while the Cascades lie to the East and the snow-capped peaks of Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Hood are visible to the North on clear days.

Portland, Or. lives up to its reputation as one of the Greenest Cities In The Country with over 10,000 acres of parks within the city limits, including one of the largest municipal parks in the country, if not the world, with the rambling, old growth of Forest Park. These parks not only contribute to the clean, environmentally-friendly vibes of the city, they also factor into the laid-back crawl of life Stumptown is occasionally known for. On a nice day, which can be few and far between, it’s not uncommon for the parks to be teeming with hundreds of barely-clad people, young and old alike. Bands might be playing, people will be rollerskating, skateboarding, and hula-hooping. Free food may be disseminated to the hungry. All of which contribute to a vibrant, lively feeling similar to what it might’ve been in Paris from the 1880s to the 1920s. A feeling of collaboration, of possibility, of interaction and exchange.

Much of Portland is flat, which is good news for those not big on the incline (maybe you’ve been living in San Francisco), but the foothills to the West give a mild incline headed towards downtown, which can be a nuisance when you’re riding a bicycle. Be advised.

Moving To Portland Guide

Apartment Hunter’s Guide To Portland, Or.

The Weather

The weather in Portland separates those who are cut out for living in the Pacific Northwest and those who are merely believing the hype. A lot of people from elsewhere think, “Oh yeah, I hear it’s rainy, but it can’t be that bad!” True AND false. On one hand, it’s NOT that bad, as our version of rain during the wet winter months tends towards a light, drizzling sprinkle, which can leave you feeling like you’re living inside of a Supermarket Produce Section for six months. Which you essentially will be, as this constant precipitation is what makes the lush greenery and ample wildlife possible.

This weather can take a psychological toll, however, which a lot of people neglect to factor into their moving plans. Constant rain also means no sun, and you can sometimes be left feeling like you live in Scandinavia or Alaska by the time March rolls around, and you haven’t seen the sun for months.

What this means is, in one acronym, S.A.D. – Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s a real thing, and if you feel like you’re prone to melancholy or depression and have a hard time snapping out of it, don’t move here!!! If you think you’ve got what it takes, buy a light box and an oversized bottle of Vitamin D tablets, and find out if you have what it takes. (Ed. comment. It’s clear J was writing this at the end of the looong winter…)

Portland Oregon Moving Guide

Portland, Oregon – A Home For Melancholics And Introverts

Of course, the six months of rain is the old, traditional bogey of the Pacific Northwest, partially designed to deter the curiosity-seeking transplants. The secret is (and I could get deported for writing this publicly) is the other three seasons are as close to paradisical as you’re likely to find in the continental United States. We make up for the rain with nearly four months of unbroken perfection. This leads to the other, sunny side of Portland’s personality, as everyone goes absolutely bananas for the entire summer. Clothing becomes optional (This is not hyperbole. Public nudity is not illegal in Oregon.), sunbathing becomes the national past time, and seemingly every day and every night is crammed full of more fairs, festivals, concerts, and gallery walks than you could shake a smudge stick at. And that’s not even mentioning the glories the natural world have to offer.

The Job Market

Portland has a reputation for being “slack”, a place where people go to do nothing, or chase their unrealistic dreams of questionable entrepreneurship (“he’s making furniture now”, “she’s making jewelry now”). This has just as much to do with the job market as it does with the starry idealism of our residents. It also reveals possibly the starkest, most startling aspect of what it means to move to Portland.

There’s not a lot of jobs in the City Of Roses, although this is expected to change in the foreseeable future. The current employment rate is 6%, 1.1% higher than the national average. The sometimes bleak downside of this statistic is that not a lot of these jobs are general, open-to-the-public type jobs. Jobs in the retail and restaurant industry can be fiercely competitive, with several hundred people applying for a Craigslist listing within the first 48 hours.

The bottom line is, if you don’t already have either a job lined up or a bunch of money saved, I’d HIGHLY advise against relocating to PDX. It’s possible to have a dream and make it work here, but with the insane escalation of the cost of living, the past few years, the scarcity of jobs and vacant housing, and a general feeling of burn-out among the charitable denizens of this city, it’s getting harder and harder by the second.

Top 5 Industries In Portland, Or.

  1. Sales, office, administrative support 22.16%
  2. Management, business, finance 15.90%
  3. Production, transportation, material moving 10.55%
  4. Food preparation, serving 7.54%
  5. Engineering, computers, science 7.19%

Where To Live: The Quadrants

Like many river cities, the Willamette River bisects Portland’s East and West sides. As such, Portland is divided into quadrants, or four sectors, with each area having its own distinct flavor, price points, and population.

A note on the average cost of housing. All data was compiled from Craigslist ads, from throughout the region, and consolidated into a Google Spreadsheet. Data points were collected from throughout the quadrant, from close in to the dividing line, to the farthest outlying regions. We gathered as much data from as many different housing situations as possible, from studios to four bedrooms, and averaged the results. Certain areas, however, have a proliferation of certain types of housing, like studios in SE, near PSU campus, while N/NE – North Portland, Kenton, and Saint John’s – tends to have more shared houses, which is incredibly common in Portland. When considering which area you’d like to live in, keep in mind these averages don’t reflect the size of the space, so you could potentially be paying a lot more for a lot less space. Make sure to do further research, before signing any agreements.

Here’s a brief overview of the four quadrants, touching on the strengths and weaknesses of each.

SE Portland: Westmoreland, Eastmoreland, Hawthorne, Sellwood, Mt. Tabor

SE Portland might be the most iconic, picturesque area of Portland, with charming, tree-lined streets, public gardens, rose gardens galore, trendy shopping, eating, and lots and lots of houses.

SE Portland is one of the densest, most populated areas in Portland, particularly for young families. Housing tends towards private houses, suitable for a single family, or as shared housing with other singles or couples ( highly common throughout the city).

Due to the reputation, particularly around neighborhoods like Hawthorne (known for some time as PDX’s “hippy district”), people are seeking their image of the iconic, idyllic Portland, which means housing can be hard to find and expensive in SE. Up-and-coming neighborhoods, like Division St., might make it worthwhile, however, especially if you’re looking for the slicker, sharper “new Portland” that is starting to emerge.

SE can be a bit slim on the night life (another tendency common to many areas of Portland, particularly the residential neighborhoods), but most things are either walkable or accessible by a small commute by bike, bus, train, or car.

Deep SE used to be rather cutoff and difficult to access, particularly in Sellwood and East/Westmoreland, but the newly unveiled Orange Line MAX connects the North and South like a dream, meaning you can take one train to get from one end of the city to the other, without having to transfer. If you’re a transit warrior, you’re likely to appreciate the convenience, particularly in rainy weather.

Average Rental Price: $1480
Average Shared Housing Price: $650

North/NE Portland: Hollywood, Irvington, Mississippi/Albina, Alberta, Laurelhurst, St. John’s

North and NE Portland have long had a reputation as some of the funkier, more blue collar living. This reputation is still true, even in these shifting times. It just means you’re likely to walk past three or four modernist high-rises that went up in four months on your way to eat soul food, see a folk concert at The Waypost, or hang out and smell the roses at Peninsula Park.

Mississippi/Albina/Alberta have become a mecca for the arts&crafts contingent PDX attracts. If you’re looking for some good kombucha, a kimchi quesadilla, ear plugs made out of refurbished bicycle parts, knitting supplies, and high-end design shops, you’ll be in heaven here. Of course, this demographic tends to have a lot of cash, meaning it can be hard to find a place, affordable or not. It can be done, however, if your heart is set on it.

Let me break the fourth wall for a moment with an autobiographical anecdote. My girlfriend and I are currently living in a split-level old wooden farmhouse, close to the Killingsworth MAX stop, and we love it! It’s double what we’ve paid, the whole five years I’ve been living here, but it has resuscitated our fervor for this city. It feels like A CITY, living in N/NE. We’d been living in the far outlying neighborhoods of Sellwood and St. John’s for the last two years, which can lead to feeling detached and out of the loop, particularly when you don’t have a car, so keep that in mind.

N/NE is rife with live music, fabulous restaurants and food carts, cafes, bakeries, and specialty shopping, most within walking distance! Your only problem will be having enough time and money to try all the awesome places you’ve spotted, which is a great problem to have! Incidentally, N/NE has the best pizza I’ve found so far in Portland, with Eddie’s Flatiron Pizza, which is super important for a Chicago boy like myself. If you visit or more to our fine, fair neighborhood, make sure to check out their delicious Calzones and exquisite-but-affordable pie. Tell ‘em J sent you!

Average Rental Price: $1550
Average Shared Housing Price: $522.50

NW Portland: The Pearl

Northwest is the heart of “New Portland”, full of high-end boutiques, design firms, stylists, gyms, “galleries”, and the like. Rent is triple what it would be in any other neighborhood, and you can get a polished-chrome closet-sized apartment which will at least have tons of natural light, but zero privacy.

Quick access to downtown and PSU will make this popular for business people and students, but that’s about the extent of it.

(Frankly, NW is where you move when you’re willing to pay exorbitant fees for an impressive address that will let you feel superior to others. Portlanders, however, are not impressed, and are more likely to feel pity and mild distaste.)

There are some perks of NW, as there are some nice shops and places to eat in that quadrant, but not enough to pay $2000/month for a studio. Take heed!

Average Rental Price: $1430
Average Shared Housing Price: $595

SW Portland

There’s not much in SW, apart from PSU, although there are some areas of natural beauty. It is home to some of PDX’s most well-known attractions, such as the International Rose Test Garden, Japanese Gardens, Hoyt Arboretum, Children’s Museum, and Oregon Zoo.

If you don’t own a car, SW can be a bit remote and cut-off from the rest of the city, being accessible mainly by bus lines that stop running at an inconveniently early hour.

If you’re going to be attending PSU, and don’t feel like paying out the nose to live in The Pearl, SW could be a good option. There tends to be some good deals on places on 4th St./Barbur Ave., so make sure to bookmark that area if you’re looking for apartment deals.

Average Rental Price: $1347
Average Shared Housing Price: $512

Other Factors To Keep In Mind When Moving To Portland

So far, we’ve touched on all the major points of moving to a new city: the weather, the economy, the lay of the land. Now let’s talk for a moment about some of the finer points of the city, to help you decide if Stumptown is right for you.

The People

Pacific Northwesterners are weird people. We’re somewhere between the friendly, slow-rolling hospitality of the South, with the brusque, no-nonsense, keep-to-yourself edge of  the East Coast. As a Midwesterner by birth, who has spent some time living in the South, it agrees with me perfectly. The dichotomy can make it hard to get a read on people, however.

Sometimes Portlanders will stop and chat with you for half an hour, exchanging pleasantries, discussing ideas, telling you about their cosmic epiphanies. (It happens. All the time.) We will also totally blow you off, not giving you the time of day, depending on the time of day (pro tip: if someone looks like they’re late to work, don’t try and start a meaningful conversation).

As a general rule, Portlanders tend to be conscientious to a fault. It’s a city full of caring, empathetic people (my girlfriend will go to great lengths to avoid squishing a slug, which are also prevalent in this city). This tendency has been taken advantage by many in need of a helping hand or looking for a handout, which has left many natives and residents feeling burnt out and resentful, giving more of a conventional urban vibe.

More on that in a moment, but it’s worth mentioning that, for the most part, Portland tends to be very female-friendly. We haven’t entirely eliminated many of the problems that plague most urban environments, but we’ve come a long way. Many women report feeling safe going out at night, no matter the neighborhood, and, thank the stars, catcalling seems to be on the decline. When some meathead steps out of line, there’s quick to be a crowd of dagger-eyed sympathizers, meaning we are standing on the edge of that glorious day when a lady can look good because she feels like it without having to live in fear.

Much has been made of Portland’s homogenous, white-washed demographics and, sadly, these reports have some kernel of truth. Oregon in general has some sad, buried racist secrets in its past which kept people of color and other ethnicities out and unwelcome for a long time. Racial tensions don’t tend to be above-board and obvious, but are more subtle and insidious, from having a largely white populace. This is a deterrent for a lot of people moving to Portland, and for good reason. For those more comfortable in more diverse communities, you’d be advised to look in N and NE.

The Homeless

Portland is known for having a homeless problem. This stereotype is partially true, although not much more than any other urban center. Being a relatively mild-weathered city on the West Coast, that is known for being friendly to the homeless, as well as being a waystation between other West Coast hubs, sets the stage for having a dense houseless population, particularly in the warm weather months.

Expect to see the usual rigamarole of panhandling – mostly courteous, some aggressive – as well as attempted cigarette bumming, public intoxication, lots and lots of street music and art (another reason we love it here), some interesting conversations (and some incoherent ones), with the occasional bout of anarchy on a Saturday night (although, to be fair, most of the chaos comes from PSU students and suburbanites from Gresham and Milwaukee). Homeless tend to gravitate downtown and around Burnside Ave. (the line that separates North from South), where most of the services are. If you frequent downtown, be prepared to be asked for a lot of cigarettes, even if you don’t smoke. But just remember to not get jaded or judge. People end up on the street for a wide variety of reasons, including many from untreated mental illness and addiction. Houseless people in Portland very rarely get really aggressive, so stay calm, and remain kind.

 Food

Portland Food Carts

Food Cart Pod At SW 5th Ave.//Food Carts help to keep the price of traditional sit-down restaurants at bay.

As we mentioned earlier, Portland was recently dubbed “The #1 Food City In America”, and for good reason. There is, quite simply, a staggering array of delicious, eye-cross, mouth-watering cuisine from every corner of the globe, as well as previously unseen, and untasted, combinations of each. As an example, from my house to where my girlfriend works on Alberta, there are FOURTEEN ETHIOPIAN RESTAURANTS! If you’ve ever had Ethiopian food, you’d realize this is Nirvana, especially considering you can go a couple more blocks for some French pastries for dessert, craft breweries for an after dinner pint, and cafes for the caffeinated.

Another aspect of Portland’s food scene, which is rather unique to this city, is the Food Carts. We’re loaded down with ‘em, in all manner of swank pods and outdoor dining areas all over town. When east-coasters hear “food cart”, they tend to translate that to “roach coach”. Wrongwrongwrong! First of all, we don’t really have roaches out here. Secondly, most food carts are exceptionally clean, being mobile high-end gourmet kitchens. The food carts operate with very little overhead, making it possible to keep their prices relatively low ($3 – 4 burritos are still a reality in some parts of the city), which helps to keep the prices down at the sit-down restaurants.

Once the spring springs, you can’t imagine the joy of sitting in a lovely rose garden, eating some $6 pad thai with some close friends. You wonder why we take the time to appreciate the finer things, in our little port town.

Final Thoughts

As we discussed at the beginning, Portland isn’t for everybody. The weird mixture of ambition and mellowness is really confusing for a lot of people. If you’re really stressed out and kind of a brusque jerk, you’re not going to like it here. Likewise, if you’re not doing anything with your life, you’re also likely to be outcast. We’re a city that builds its own culture, that prides itself on our DIY ethos, our ability to have a funky, weird good time with very little and, often, no money at all. We have a naked bike ride in the summer (something to see), lots of weird flash parties (zombie crawls galore), but we wake up at 8 the next morning and start our next non-profit.

To put in perspective, we’re smack dab in the middle of the angsty Grunge nihilism of Seattle in the ‘90s and the high-tech futurism of San Francisco and Silicon Valley. This is, perhaps, the best visualization of the push-and-pull dichotomy beneath the surface.

Before you move, you’d be advised to first, find a place to live (start early); second, find a job (I hear telecommuting is on the rise!); and, a subtle third, ask yourself not what Portland can do for you, but what you can do for Portland.

If you show up with a participatory spirit, an appreciation of culture and Portland’s weird history, you’ll do great. If you can manage to master the balance of being independent and self-motivated while still remaining friendly, open, and open-minded, this city has a way of making your dreams come true. It has for me.

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Shopping for Furniture Online http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/04/shopping-for-furniture-online/ http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2016/04/shopping-for-furniture-online/#respond Wed, 13 Apr 2016 14:00:37 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=19584 Online shopping is one of the greatest modern-day conveniences. Furniture shopping online isn’t ideal, but it is a valuable option for some people. As a young adult moving into her first apartment, I realized quickly how much furniture I needed and how little time I had to purchase it. Maybe you are like me, and…

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Online shopping is one of the greatest modern-day conveniences. Furniture shopping online isn’t ideal, but it is a valuable option for some people. As a young adult moving into her first apartment, I realized quickly how much furniture I needed and how little time I had to purchase it.

Maybe you are like me, and are just too busy to spend a lot of time in furniture stores. Maybe you live nowhere near good furniture store options. Or maybe, you are like my sister and love to find unique pieces online that very few people have. Whatever your case may be, shopping for furniture can be a hassle.

How will it look close-up?

You won’t have an answer to this for sure. Your best option is to read reviews. Still unsure? This is when you have to decide if the piece is worth the risk and hassle of returning. Most furniture designs are pretty standard, so if you are unsure about this particular piece, just look to other brands for similar collections. If the piece is something you don’t see often, and you really want to have, then take the risk. (But please, PLEASE, check the return policy first. If you have to pay a fortune just to send it back, it’s not worth it)!

Is assembly required?

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-image-couple-putting-together-self-assembly-furniture-new-home-whilst-reading-instructions-image34164676Ordering furniture online often means putting furniture together, which can be a big struggle. If you are ok with having to assemble the furniture on your own, then just make sure to read reviews and the description to see if assembly will be tedious. I have been looking online for furniture and often in reviews I will read about missing pieces or unsteady furniture, and it definitely plays a role in my decision to buy the piece. Another big assembly issue is that people will move into their apartment and try to build furniture with all of their boxes and junk around. Little parts get lost and you can’t figure out why the pieces don’t fit together. If you don’t have enough room to build the furniture, it is going to be a very frustrating process and take a lot longer.

Are you able to pay more to have completely assembled pieces delivered right to your place? If this is a reasonable option for you, I highly suggest doing so. Another option, especially if you buy many pieces that need to be assembled, is to hire someone to do it for you. Just make sure to include that cost in your budget.

Final caution: Please do not order furniture that requires assembly if you don’t have a decent tool-kit. How in the world are you going to build furniture without tools? Invest in a tool-kit before your furniture is delivered. Sure, you can borrow your neighbor’s tools, but you really should have your own if you are moving into your first or third or sixth apartment.

How do I know it will fit?

There are tons of great websites that will allow you to enter the dimensions of the room, and place pieces of furniture to see what will fit. You can even put in the exact dimensions of the piece of furniture that you are thinking of purchasing. This is a great tool to use. I wouldn’t have purchased the furniture online without checking to see if it fit first.

Another “low-tech” tool to check for fit is masking tape. Just use the tape to outline the dimension of the piece on the floor and the wall, in the area where you plan to place it.

(Ed, comment: After you are sure that the piece will fit in your apartment, double check that it will also fit in the doors and stairwells it has to get through first.  We speak from experience here — nothing is worse than discovering that the couch or bed will not make the final turn in the stairwell on the fourth floor of a walk-up! Measure twice, buy one, is now our motto.)

Affordable prices

As a college student on a strict budget, the greatest perk of online furniture shopping that I have found, is the prices. I have what my dad calls “champagne taste on a beer budget” and so I frequent stores like Anthropologie and West Elm and fall in love with everything they sell, but I can never afford to buy much from them. Instead I use their products to inspire my decor, and then I shop at much cheaper places. When it comes to furniture, I have found a lot of great websites that have stylish pieces at affordable prices. I would recommend:

Buying furniture online is definitely a risk, but it is almost always worth it. I have had great luck with all of my furniture! I also feel that if I had shopped at a discount furniture store, I may have spent the same amount of money as I did ordering online. Meanwhile, I would have had a much narrower selection to choose from and my pieces would have fit my style a lot less. I am thrilled with my online furniture purchases so far and I hope you will be too!

 

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