My First Apartment http://www.myfirstapartment.com Sat, 25 Mar 2017 15:00:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Decorating 101: How to Paint a Room http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/03/decorating-101-how-to-paint-a-room/ http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/03/decorating-101-how-to-paint-a-room/#respond Sat, 25 Mar 2017 15:00:47 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=23219 By Emma Clark One of the least expensive tricks to change the look of your new apartment is to paint it. Just make sure you get your landlord’s permission before you pick up the paint brush… if you don’t, you put your security deposit at risk. Once you’ve chosen your color combination, bought all the…

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By Emma Clark

One of the least expensive tricks to change the look of your new apartment is to paint it. Just make sure you get your landlord’s permission before you pick up the paint brush… if you don’t, you put your security deposit at risk.

Once you’ve chosen your color combination, bought all the essential tools, and decided on the look for a particular room, it’s time to get on with the actual process of painting a room.

Painting a room is one of the simplest DIY jobs there is, and your experience as a painter won’t matter that much if you follow the instructions correctly. So be confident! And remember: patience and perseverance are the keys to all home improvement projects.

Materials (available at any hardware store, such as Home Depot or Lowe’s):

• Paint (water based is easier for a first time painter to use)
• Primer
• Brushes (wall brush, trim brush, sash brush)
• Roller
• Paint tray
• Painter’s tape
• Tarp or drop cloth
• Plastic wrap
• Ladder
• Extension pole (if you paint the ceiling)
• Rags
• Rubber gloves
• Old shoes
• Mask or respirator
• Coveralls (optional) or set of old clothing
• Protective eyewear
• Hat

1. Prepare the room

Before you start painting, remove all objects from the room, including furniture, light fixtures, ceiling fans, and everything else that can be removed. After that, lay down a drop cloth or a large tarpaulin on the floor.

The next thing you need to do is apply the painter’s tape to trims and edges of doors, windows, baseboards, light switches, and electrical outlets. Remove peeling or cracked paint from the walls and repair any damages or cracks. Sand down painted woodwork. Clean all the surfaces with a damp rag and allow to dry before moving on to the next step. Open windows for ventilation to let paint fumes escape. Turn up heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.

Pro tip. To reduce the amount of paint smell, lay down a few buckets of water with lemon slices on the floor (or any odor-absorbing object like charcoal). The water can help absorb some of the odors from the paint.

2. Prepare your materials

Double check that the hardware store mixed the paint color you ordered correctly. Check all  the brushes and rollers you will use, to make sure that they are clean and free from any debris or old paint. Learn the proper way of dipping a brush into paint. This can be done by dipping two-thirds of the bristles into the paint, and brushing the excess paint off the edge. Another cool trick is to wrap a heavy duty rubber band around the paint can vertically (across the top), and use the rubber band to remove excess paint. This can reduce the amount of paint spilled over the edge of the can.

3. Apply a primer

Before anything else, apply a primer to your wall. Primers are cheap and are easy to apply, so take the time to do so before painting your room. A primer will allow the paint to adhere to the surface better, while preventing stains from bleeding through the paint.

4. Paint the ceiling first

If you’re going to paint the ceiling, do it before painting the walls and trims.  The easiest way to do so is with an extension pole attached to your roller. You can also use a ladder, but do not use a chair, it is not stable enough.

To paint your ceiling, push the roller away from you and create a pattern similar to painting the walls (see below), until the first coat covers the entire ceiling. Let the first coat dry completely before adding your second coat.

5. Paint the walls

The walls are also painted with a roller. Roll in the roller onto the tray, and remove the excess on the tray’s angled platform. Paint a section of the wall at a time. You can use the roller like this:  paint up a single strip from bottom to top, and then make a zigzag pattern going down. For best results, make swift and smooth motions with the roller. Use a wall brush for spaces that the roller cannot reach. Do so with a smooth stripe from top to bottom of the wall.

How do you know when to reload your roller with paint? If the roller no longer sounds wet and squelchy, simply dip it again in your paint tray and you’re good to go. Paint and reload until you have finished your first coat.

Most paints will not look good enough with the first coat, so allow your paint to dry completely before adding a second or even a third coat. By that time, you will have achieved your desired shade.

Seems pretty easy, right? Well, I’d say anyone can paint a room, even beginners with no experience in painting at all!

Pro tip: If you’re going to take a break, make sure to wrap your rollers and brushes in cling wrap or plastic to avoid them getting dry. Replace the lids on the paint buckets and cover the paint tray as well.

6. Paint the trims

First, remove the painter’s tape as carefully as possible to prevent leaving adhesive residue on the trim. Use a trim brush for frames of the doors and windows, and a sash brush for more complicated spaces such as around a light fixture. Just make sure to go slow and steady, but still fast enough to avoid brush marks or paint splatter. If you mess up, don’t worry! For example, if you accidentally paint over a frame or light switch, immediately remove the paint. The imperfections will be less noticeable on the trims and edges. Then, allow the first coat to dry completely and apply a second coat if needed.

Trims can be difficult for inexperienced people with less than steady hands, but do not let mistakes discourage you. Think of it as practice for your next painting job!

7. Clean up

You’re almost done! By this time, congratulate yourself on a job well done. But there’s more to do; and that’s cleaning and replacing all the furniture in the room. Remove the paint apparatus from the room before anything else, and clean your brushes and rollers immediately to store for future use. Remove the drop cloth last. Once the room has completely dried and most of the smell is gone, re-install the fixtures you have removed previously and replace the furniture in the room.

The process of how to paint a room is as simple as that! If you’re a beginner, I suggest watching a few tutorial videos alongside using this article as your reference before you begin. Remember: it’s okay to make mistakes the first time, but make sure you learn from them for the next time.

Emma Clark blogs at The Art of Home Renovations. She is an interior designer with one true passion: home improvement. With her experience and skill, she wants to help you make your home into a revolutionary & magical work of art through easy, inexpensive, and innovative ideas that you can DIY!

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Do You NEED Roommates? http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/03/do-you-need-a-roommate/ http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/03/do-you-need-a-roommate/#respond Thu, 23 Mar 2017 16:00:58 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=23235 With graduation and moving season around the corner, there are tons of people in the market for their very first apartment. One of the most fun parts of living alone is the independence you gain. From managing your monthly bills and making meals to locking up for vacation, living alone will teach you a lot about…

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With graduation and moving season around the corner, there are tons of people in the market for their very first apartment. One of the most fun parts of living alone is the independence you gain. From managing your monthly bills and making meals to locking up for vacation, living alone will teach you a lot about yourself and what you’re capable of. But, when you start looking for your first place, a major question will come up…Do you need roommates?

Ask yourself these questions as you make start to make a decision about if you’d like a roommate or not.

1. Can you afford to live alone?

Finding an apartment with roommates is a quick and easy way to cut down monthly costs. Not only do you split your monthly rent payment, but you will also likely split all utilities (water, electricity), cable, Internet, and any other monthly fees. If you’re on a tight budget or moving to an expensive city, you most likely have to live with a roommate no matter what.

If you’re prefer not to live with a roommate, be very strict with your budget and savings pre-move so you will be ready to pay any big bills solo.

2. Will you be lonely living alone?

For you social butterflies, living alone may be a scary thought! If you love to be around people, living with a friend could be an awesome bet. That way, you have a built-in friend to come home to each night. However, if you’re less likely to be social outside your apartment, it is also a good idea to consider living with a roommate who may help you get out of your comfort zone from time to time.

3. Are affordable small apartments available?

Living alone generally means you won’t need a lot of space (and probably means you can’t afford a lot of space, either!) so before making any final decisions, check out the market in the city you’d like to live in. If most available units are duplexes, houses, or large apartments, you may need to find a roommate or two to split the space and the cost. Even if smaller apartments are available, the area may be so expensive that you cannot afford any size apartment on your own.

However, if you’re lucky to be moving to a city or location with lots of affordable studio and one-bedroom apartments, you may be able to live alone without a roommate.

4. Do you feel safe living alone in the area you’d like? 

Finally, some feel more safe and secure about living with a roommate versus living alone. In either case, be sure to select a town/city/suburb where you feel safe no matter what. If having a roommate adds a second layer of comfort no matter where you live, start looking!

While most of “NEEDING” a roommate comes down to finances, there are a few other questions to think over before making a final decision. What are your thoughts on roommates? Did you need one when you moved into your first apartment?

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15 Tips for Moving Day http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/03/15-tips-moving-day/ http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/03/15-tips-moving-day/#respond Tue, 21 Mar 2017 15:30:23 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=22949 Moving into a new apartment? If you don’t plan ahead and make specific arrangements, moving day can become a nightmare. With a little planning and preparation, you can make moving day run smoothly for both you and your movers. Make moving day easier with these 15 moving tips: If you’re hiring movers, set a moving…

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Moving into a new apartment? If you don’t plan ahead and make specific arrangements, moving day can become a nightmare. With a little planning and preparation, you can make moving day run smoothly for both you and your movers.

Make moving day easier with these 15 moving tips:

  1. If you’re hiring movers, set a moving date at least two weeks beforehand. Remember to be flexible, though, if you plan to move on a weekend or during the summer as these are busy times for movers.
  1. Before you hire a moving company, ask friends, coworkers, and neighbors for recommendations to ensure you hire a reliable company.
  1. Remove any clutter from your current apartment or home before the movers arrive.
  1. Unless you’re paying your movers to pack your belongings, too, pack items you won’t use at least one week before moving day.
  1. Make lists of contents and separate boxes according to which room they’ll go in in your new apartment so your movers can place them in the correct room. Sequentially number boxes so that if anything is missing you’ll know what was in the box.
  1. Be present on moving day in case the movers have any questions.
  1. Label boxes with large, clear handwriting or labels to help the movers recognize what goes where in your new apartment.
  1. Label and separate items that are heavy or fragile and be sure to tell the movers to be extra careful.
  1. Ask your new landlord about parking and unloading regulations before moving day to ensure you and your movers have adequate space to park and unload. If your old or new building has elevators, find out if they have to be reserved in advance.
  1. Prepare a floor plan so your movers will know which boxes and pieces of furniture go to which room.
  1. Have drinks and snacks available for your movers at both your old and new apartment.
  1. Have soap, paper towels, and toilet tissue easily accessible at both your old and new apartment.
  1. Do a final walk-through of your old apartment and your new apartment before the movers leave to ensure everything is in the correct place and is not broken. Once you are satisfied, sign off on any final paperwork.
  1. If it’s in your budget, hire a cleaning crew to clean your old apartment after your belongings are out.
  1. Tip your movers, especially if they did a good job.

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4 Rules for Buying First Apartment Furniture http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/03/3-rules-buying-first-apartment-furniture/ http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/03/3-rules-buying-first-apartment-furniture/#respond Sun, 19 Mar 2017 15:00:44 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=22933 Furnishing your first apartment is a big budget item and it’s easy to make costly mistakes if you don’t plan carefully before heading to the store. If you follow these four rules, you can save big hassles and lot of money later on. 1. Decide if you plan to keep the furniture for one year…

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Furnishing your first apartment is a big budget item and it’s easy to make costly mistakes if you don’t plan carefully before heading to the store. If you follow these four rules, you can save big hassles and lot of money later on.

1. Decide if you plan to keep the furniture for one year or for the long haul

Many people opt to take the low-cost route (IKEA, Target, etc.) when furnishing their first apartment, knowing that it may not pay to take the furniture along in their next move. But if you’re looking for a little stability in your new set-up, you may want to invest in — or “appropriate” from willing relatives — at least a couple of pieces of furniture that don’t require assembly.

If you decide to shell out on the good stuff, keep in mind you’ll have three choices next time you move:

  • Take the furniture with you, which could be very expensive if the move is long-distance
  • Sell it, which takes time and energy to do and inevitably brings in only a fraction of what it cost
  • Donate it to friends, neighbors, or charity — which can be surprisingly difficult and thankless, since people are apt to see through your magnanimity to the hassle behind dealing with the furniture
  • Haul it to the curb and leave it to the elements, the sanitation department or another first time renter, whichever comes first.

2. Measure twice, buy once!

Before buying anything bigger than a breadbox, measure doorways, hallways, stairs, and elevators that your purchase has to pass through on the way to your new apartment. Draft an accurate floor plan to make sure that whatever you buy can squeeze into the space you intend to place it.  And if your geometry skills aren’t up to Euclid’s standards, familiarize yourself with the furniture store’s return policy before signing on the dotted line. Pay especially close attention to re-stocking fees that can come to bite you even if the place offers money back returns.

Pro tip: Take especially careful measurements of any kinks or turns in your staircase if you have to haul large pieces of furniture up narrow stairways so common in older buildings.

3. It’s OK to take it slowly

You finally have a place to call your own, but after paying the first month’s rent and security deposit your funds are too tapped out to even cover a futon sofa for the living room. Meanwhile, your new job is 24/7 and you have no time to shop around for bargains. It is no shame to live with bare essentials (bed, maybe couple of chairs and a table) until you have some more time and money. Even your parents did not furnish that house where you grew up overnight.

4. Make a budget and stick to it

Whatever your budget, there is usually a way to find what you need, if you have little patience and creativity. Just keep in mind it can get very tempting to overspend when you can buy furniture on an installment plan or put it on your credit card.

Budget $0-250

When your budget is minimal, don’t be ashamed to get as much as you can for free. If you have relatives living in the city where you are moving, you are in luck. If your family really loves you, someone may even deliver the stuff to your new place just to get rid of it, but the rule of thumb with free furniture is that you usually have to pick it up, which requires access to a car or van.

If you have no local connections, you might be able to scavenge enough usable furniture from the street by checking out the more posh neighborhoods the night before the garbage truck comes by. Street finds are okay when it comes to furniture you can clean and disinfect thoroughly, but you should avoid anything with upholstery or cushions that could harbor small living things, like bed bugs.

Craigslist, EBay, local second-hand stores, and the Salvation Army are other places where you can get really low-priced finds, but they require some sort of transportation, or at least a few friends willing to lug stuff across town.

Budget $250-500

Now, in addition to the cast-offs and street finds, you can add stores like IKEA, Target and Walmart  to your list. Always check online for coupons and special offers before heading to the store.

Pro tip: If you need a desk, a chair, or a couple of bookcases but don’t have a car, check out Staples and Office Depot. They offer next-day free delivery on purchases over $50.

Budget $500-1000

Now you’ll have enough room in the budget to buy a decent mattress and still have money left over for a few other pieces. In addition to the stores mentioned before, also check out Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie for furniture with a little more personality.

Pro tip: Urban Outfitters and Anthropologie have some great sales at the end of each season — we’re talking $10 curtains and rugs — on anything left over, and the floor models can usually be purchased at a sharply reduced price.

Budget $1,000-2,500

At this level you can actually have enough furniture that your guests won’t have to sit on the floor. You can furnish both your living room and your bedroom. Most of your new furniture may still require some assembly, but you can start checking out sales at major department stores. And don’t forget Craigslist — unless you’re too snobby for that now, you big spender!

Budget over $2,500

You are now getting into a territory where your furniture arrives fully assembled, possibly smelling of real wood. You are ready to check out stores like Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, or Restoration Hardware.

Good luck! Let us know what tricks you found useful to get your first apartment furnished.

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IKEA’s New Stockholm Collection Is Stylish and Apartment Friendly http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/03/we-want-everything-from-ikeas-new-stockholm-collection-you-will-too/ http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/03/we-want-everything-from-ikeas-new-stockholm-collection-you-will-too/#respond Thu, 16 Mar 2017 16:00:59 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=23143 The reviews are in, the votes have been tallied, the collective internet voice heard: IKEA has upped their style game. Big time. Building on top of their reputation for affordable, space-saving furniture for minimalist apartment living, IKEA’s newest collection (out next month) offers items that you’d be proud to showcase in your apartment, regardless of…

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The reviews are in, the votes have been tallied, the collective internet voice heard: IKEA has upped their style game. Big time. Building on top of their reputation for affordable, space-saving furniture for minimalist apartment living, IKEA’s newest collection (out next month) offers items that you’d be proud to showcase in your apartment, regardless of your budget or square footage.

That’s right, friends, the brand has matured and it shows. Inspired by art, nature, and creating comfortable spaces for modern living, the 2017 Stockholm collection is by far their most stylish line yet. But don’t take our word for it — check out a sneak peak of what’s to come below. (You can see more pictures here and on Pinterest.)

Rattan Armchair: $229

We cannot get enough of the versatile rattan pieces offered in this collection. Accent with the chairs in your living room or bedroom. Use the table as a coffee table, end-of-the-bed storage, or right at the front door (great place to drop your bags and kick off your shoes!). But the rattan cabinets are the real shining stars here. Not only do they look expensive, they’re a great storage solution if your apartment is lacking closets or cabinet space.

Velvet Sofa: $1299. Also available in dark blue and gray.

Don’t you just want to snuggle up on this sofa? With soft velvet fabric and plenty of plush pillows, this couch begs for movie nights and Sunday naps. And the compact size makes it perfect for small apartment living.

Rattan Cabinet: $349

Serving Bowl Set: $39.99

Focusing on the living room, the most lived-in space for many, this collection brings together different textiles and materials, such as rattan, blown glass, wool, ash, and brass, so that it’s easy to merge comfort and beautiful design.

The 47 piece collection hits stores April 2017, so start planning which items you’d like to snag for your apartment. If there’s one negative to this collection, it’s that choosing which items to buy is no easy task.

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Upgrades That Aren’t Worth The Cash in a Rental http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/03/upgrades-that-arent-worth-the-cash/ http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/03/upgrades-that-arent-worth-the-cash/#respond Tue, 14 Mar 2017 16:00:01 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=23013 Many apartments will try to catch your attention with fancy upgrades or add-on’s that tack on serious cost to your monthly rent payment. Some of them may be worth it…but some upgrades simply aren’t worth the cash. If you’re on a serious budget during your apartment hunt, check out the common upgrades below, and keep an…

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Many apartments will try to catch your attention with fancy upgrades or add-on’s that tack on serious cost to your monthly rent payment. Some of them may be worth it…but some upgrades simply aren’t worth the cash. If you’re on a serious budget during your apartment hunt, check out the common upgrades below, and keep an eye out for other options while you’re hunting. If an apartment you like (but is out of your price range) contains some of the add-on’s, ask the landlord if they have a similar unit without the upgrades to cut costs.

  • Granite countertops

While granite may be beautiful and functional (I do LOVE that you can place hot pans right on the counter!), don’t splurge for it in an apartment you’re renting. Many units use a granite-lookalike laminate that will work just fine. Remember, this is a temporary living situation in most cases. Use this time to save money and focus on your career, so when you finally purchase your own place it can include extra touches like stone counters.

  • Fancy shower or bathroom

Sure, you don’t want to live in a cramped, dirty bathroom…but don’t be fooled by overpriced apartments touting extra-large bathrooms or those with extra fixtures and appliances. Quick fixes to older bathrooms–like a deep cleaning, covering tile with nice bath mats, and adding artistic touches–can go a long way to make the space feel like home on a tight budget.

  • Room with a view

Units with especially nice views are often overpriced immediately! Instead of falling for the view, ask the landlord if they have any other units, and let them know that you’re open. Most apartments have some sort of nice view…Although you may not get to wake up to a view of the city skyline or a local park, saving money will make an average view worthwhile.

  • Upgraded kitchen appliances

Kitchen appliances, like a refrigerator, stove, and microwave, are kitchen appliances! It’s all about looks here, and landlords won’t hesitate to charge extra for units with brand new materials. Some landlords even purchase slightly used appliances or appliances that have cosmetic damage and pass them off as new…and you pay the cost! Instead of asking for brand new appliances in your apartment kitchen be flexible, and just make sure that the ones you have are fully functional.

  • Parking

Parking, if you drive, could be an upgrade that is worth it depending on your city. If there is public parking close by for a low cost, be sure to compare that pricing to what your landlord offers. If the landlord’s price is higher, try to negotiate to a lower price or park elsewhere.

  • Washer / dryer in apartment

While many rentals now come with washer/dryer units, it’s definitely not a necessity and may increase your monthly rent cost. If you live in an apartment complex or building without in-apartment washer/dryers, the landlord will generally provide access to a laundromat or recommend one nearby. You’ll have to pay by the load, but it may be less expensive than splurging on an overpriced unit. Having the washer/dryer in your apartment is definitely convenient, but popping over to your local laundromat isn’t too challenging. (You might even make friends at the laundromat, waiting for your clothes to dry!) Make sure to compare units with washer/dryers to those without to confirm you’re saving money.

  • Trendy accents 

Trendy accents like new flooring, cabinetry, and light fixtures can make a big statement when you first walk in the door…but after that, they don’t add much to your space. Instead of splurging on a newly renovated apartment, find a (CLEAN) apartment with older accents. Once you move in, spend $30 to $100 on new cabinet handles, light fixtures, and rugs. Plus, you get to take them with you when you move out, saving money in your next place.

So, what do you think about these upgrades? Anything you couldn’t live without?

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Tricks to Save Time On Your Apartment Hunt http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/03/ttricks-to-save-time-on-your-apartment-hunt/ http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/03/ttricks-to-save-time-on-your-apartment-hunt/#respond Sun, 12 Mar 2017 16:00:54 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=22939 One of the most common sayings about success is that “Time is Money!” That couldn’t be more true, especially as you try to learn and be successful in your work environment. But, it also applies to your everyday life! Time spent wasted on one task could be used productively on another. That brings us to…

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One of the most common sayings about success is that “Time is Money!” That couldn’t be more true, especially as you try to learn and be successful in your work environment. But, it also applies to your everyday life! Time spent wasted on one task could be used productively on another. That brings us to your apartment hunt!

It’s easy to spend hours and hours scouring websites for apartment listings, browsing through photos, and researching price points. While those are things you’ll need to do before selecting an apartment, here are a few tricks to help you work SMARTER, not HARDER, saving you precious time!

Set a specific time to research every day, and don’t run over

This may be the best advice to make sure you use your time wisely. As I said, it’s easy to fall into the black hole of the internet and spend far more time than you wanted to researching or browsing. Instead, set a specific 30 minute or 1-hour block every day, dedicated to your hunt.

Set a timer, then turn your cell phone on silent, close down other tabs in your browser, and dedicate yourself to apartment research. Once that timer goes off, save the apartments that interest you and move on to a different task.

Pick up where you left off the next day, instead of trying to absorb too much information and wasting an entire afternoon!

Save apartments that interest you

Whether it’s bookmarking websites to your browser, jotting down the address and landlord’s contact information in a dedicated notebook, or using apartment websites to track, be sure to save the apartments that you are interested in as well as keeping notes on what you liked about it. That way, you have a list of apartments to consider (and narrow down the list!) plus detail behind why you would want to live there.

This will help keep you organized, and save you valuable time. Instead of having to re-research the same place, you can reference your saved apartments and notes.

Book apartment showings ASAP instead of letting lists build up

When you find apartments that truly interest you, book showings with the landlord or leasing company! Instead of growing to a list of 5 or 10 apartments, book showings at those that really look like a good fit online.

Not only will visiting the apartment give you a better perspective on if you’d like to live there, but it will also show the landlord that you are interested, which could give you a better chance of getting the apartment later on.

Be as selective as possible

When saving apartments online and booking showings, be as selective as you can! Use concrete target lists (size, rent cost, utilities costs, etc.) to narrow down your search. If an apartment is out of your price range, too far from work or school, or is too big/small, don’t waste your time on it.

Remember, however, that some apartments will look better in person than online, so try not to narrow on appearance alone.

Using these tips, you can lead a time-effective apartment hunt without wasting your most valuable asset.

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More Ways to Save on Eating In and Out http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/03/save-or-splurge-food-edition/ http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/03/save-or-splurge-food-edition/#respond Sat, 11 Mar 2017 17:00:02 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=21043 One of the first things I noticed about living in my own place is that food expenses can really add up if you let them. At first, I didn’t pay much attention to where I spent my money, instead just watched for my bottom line at the end of each month. However, looking a little…

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One of the first things I noticed about living in my own place is that food expenses can really add up if you let them. At first, I didn’t pay much attention to where I spent my money, instead just watched for my bottom line at the end of each month. However, looking a little deeper into my finances, I realized just how much of my money I was eating…literally!

Eating expenses should be a balanced mix of saving and splurging, as long as your other finances are in line (and you can afford to splurge now and again). My advice to you? Make sure this spending doesn’t get out of control! Here are a few tips.

Ways to SAVE during the work week

  • Limit going out to once during the week, then try to eliminate it altogether. I know it’s tough to cook, especially after working all day, but commit to yourself and limit the money you spend going out during the week. Instead, treat going out as a fun, “splurge”, or social outing.
  • Grocery shop in advance, and pick food you’re excited to eat. Even if it’s a couple microwave dinners when you get started, choose foods that you’ll look forward to making in the evening. If you’re trying to eat healthier, choose vegetables that you love (and maybe buy a treat or two so you’re not tempted to go out).
  • Only buy what you know you’ll eat. This one is tricky because you want to have enough food to prep for the week, but buying too much can leave you with waste. Pay attention to how much you throw away and adjust your purchasing accordingly.

Ways to SAVE on weekend dining

  • Try your hand at cooking instead of going out for every meal. If you’re like I was, weekends usually meant going out for breakfast, lunch & dinner. Start by committing to making breakfast or brunch at home instead of spending money at a restaurant. That way, you can still “splurge” by eating out for dinner without spending an extra $30+ on breakfast and lunch.
  • If you just love to go out on the weekends, try to choose at least one low-budget option for every 2 times you go out. Don’t treat every weekend as a “treat yourself” occasion. This will help you save money in the future by limiting the number of meals with a big price tag.

Ways to SAVE on meals with friends

  • You don’t always have to go out! Consider hosting a dinner party instead of making a reservation at a restaurant nearby. It’s a fun way to show off your place and cooking skills, and your friends will likely be happy to save a few bucks too. To keep these as economical as possible for everyone, plan to provide the main dish and ask your friends to bring side items, drinks, and desserts.
  • If you do decide to go out with friends, consider snacking at home before heading out for dinner. That way, you won’t be as hungry and less likely to order an expensive entree. Instead, check out the salad or appetizer menus, which are generally cheaper as they serve smaller portions.

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Build Yourself a Safety Net When Moving In With Your SO http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/03/building-a-safety-net-when-moving-in-with-your-s-o/ http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/03/building-a-safety-net-when-moving-in-with-your-s-o/#respond Thu, 09 Mar 2017 17:00:10 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=23023 When your Significant Other (SO) is also your roommate, breakups are doubly complicated. Moving in with your SO is an extremely exciting time in any relationship. There’s lots of fun in merging styles, learning about your partner, spending extra time together and making your place feel like home. But no matter how comfortable you are that it’s a…

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When your Significant Other (SO) is also your roommate, breakups are doubly complicated. Moving in with your SO is an extremely exciting time in any relationship. There’s lots of fun in merging styles, learning about your partner, spending extra time together and making your place feel like home. But no matter how comfortable you are that it’s a long-term situation, it’s important not to lose sight of protecting yourself in case things do go sour. While we hope they won’t, consider the cautious safety net ideas below that will keep you protected from financial harm in case of a breakup.

  • Co-sign on your apartment lease

Be up front with your landlord that you are in a committed relationship, but have not yet tied the knot. In that case, make sure that both your and your partner’s names are on the lease and that both individuals must agree to each item in the lease individually. Instead of letting your partner read the lease and approve it for you to sign, both of you should take time to read and confirm that the terms are appropriate.

This fact can save you a huge hassle if things don’t work later on. If only one individual is responsible for the lease, they would be able to remove you from the apartment without your permission. Instead, with both names associated with the apartment, all moves become both of your responsibility.

  • Understand the terms of breaking your lease early

Breakups don’t always happen in perfect sync with your apartment lease cycle. Although you can’t control when things go bad (if they do!), you can be aware of the expense you’ll incur by breaking your lease to move to a different apartment. Keep this in the back of your mind, just in case!

  • Ensure both names are on other payments, like utilities 

Instead of letting your partner take care of all the bills, split the burden with them and ensure both of your names are included on accounts for utilities like electric, water, garbage, and internet/TV. Not only is it a good learning experience, but it protects you from changes being made to the accounts without your permission.

  • Avoid taking out shared loans

This one is VERY important!! It may be tempting to pay for the sofa, a big new TV or the bedroom set on an installment plan, but avoid taking out loans with your SO until you are positive your relationship is permanent and you’re willing to take on shared debt. Not only can finances cause strain in a relationship, but repaying a loan is a huge responsibility that you don’t want to risk on another person. If you do end breaking up, you would be tied to your SO – and place your credit rating at risk! – until the loan is paid off, which could take a very long time depending on their attention to it.

  • Split all shared expenses

Decide in advance how expenses will be tracked and paid for, so neither member of your relationship feels that they are taking on an extra burden. For example, if you decide to split grocery and food expenses 50/50, track receipts each month and use cash or a money-sharing application to pay the difference to the person who spent more. Not only is this a good practice to ensure money is spent fairly while you’re in the relationship, but if you do break up, you won’t owe your SO any money for couple expenses (and they won’t owe you either!).

  • Stay on separate phone plans

It can be tempting to merge phone plans to save money, but since most plans come with contracts these days, it can be risky if you’re in a relationship. After a breakup, you would likely have to continue to share a phone plan or face costly expenses for exiting your contract early.

  • Think before you move

Most importantly, think very hard before making the decision to move in with your SO. It’s a major decision that shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you do decide to move in together, enjoy every minute, but be sure to protect yourself at the same time.

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Our Top Picks from Pottery Barn’s Small Spaces Line http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/03/top-picks-pottery-barns-small-spaces-line/ http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/03/top-picks-pottery-barns-small-spaces-line/#respond Tue, 07 Mar 2017 17:00:55 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=23164 It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of a small apartment must be in want of smart, savvy, space-saving furniture. Enter Pottery Barn’s Small Spaces line stage right. IKEA has long reigned as the place to find multi-purpose furniture for small apartments, but Pottery Barn is giving them stiff competition. Although less budget…

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person in possession of a small apartment must be in want of smart, savvy, space-saving furniture. Enter Pottery Barn’s Small Spaces line stage right. IKEA has long reigned as the place to find multi-purpose furniture for small apartments, but Pottery Barn is giving them stiff competition.

Although less budget friendly that our favorite Scandinavian brand, Pottery Barn’s Small Spaces collection is perfect for those looking to spend a bit more for a look that’s sophisticated and more mature while also saving loads of space.

To give you a glimpse into the beauty and functionality of their offerings, we’ve put together a list of the top 5 shining stars of the Small Spaces collection. Be prepared to be impressed.

1. Clothing Rack with Floor Mirror, $159

In the apartment world, there’s no such thing as having too much storage space, especially when it comes to place to stash your clothes and shoes. This mirror tops our list as the crown jewel of this collection because it’s chic and so functional. What’s not to love about a full-length mirror and shelving unit in one? The answer, in case you were wondering, is nothing. This is a winning combo!

2. Wall Unit Shelf with Glass Rack, $179

Anytime to can create storage that doesn’t claim floor space is a win in our book. This sophisticated shelving unit packs a serious punch by managing to be both stylish and incredibly practical all at once. We especially love the glass rack, where you can display plants or store your glassware.

3. Alice Gateleg Storage Table, $399

With shelving space and two flaps that can open or close depending on your needs, this table is an apartment dweller’s dream. Use it as a desk, a dining table, and a shelf combo.

4. Modular Clothing Rack, $249

No closet? No problem. Pottery Barn has your back. This standing clothing rack is packed with storage space but still manages to be sleek and compact.

5. Murphy Entry Bench, $199

While designed for the entryway, this sweet little bench can also add some serious style and extra storage to a hallway, closet, or the end of the bed. The versatility makes this one of the most stand-out pieces by a long shot.

We’ve showcased just 5 of the many fantastic items offered in Pottery Barn’s new collection. So grab a measuring tape and your wallet and get to shopping!

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