My First Apartment https://www.myfirstapartment.com Sun, 20 Aug 2017 16:00:18 +0000 en-US hourly 1 How To Deal With Noisy Neighbors https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/08/how-to-deal-with-noisy-neighbors/ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/08/how-to-deal-with-noisy-neighbors/#respond Sun, 20 Aug 2017 16:00:18 +0000 https://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=25442 It was at our second apartment that we had our first run in with noisy neighbors. We lived on the bottom floor of a large apartment building and they moved in directly above us a year or so after we did. Shortly after they moved in, we noticed that they were stomping around a lot…

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It was at our second apartment that we had our first run in with noisy neighbors. We lived on the bottom floor of a large apartment building and they moved in directly above us a year or so after we did.

Shortly after they moved in, we noticed that they were stomping around a lot more than the previous tenants. My husband was in college and the constant stomping made it difficult for him to concentrate. A week or so after they moved in, they hooked up their surround sound- directly above our bedroom. It was no longer tolerable once their booming surround sound started shaking the pictures off my walls and kept us up all night.

Here are some tips on how we dealt with it and how you can deal with noisy neighbors of your own

1. Try Communicating With Them

This is the first thing we tried when we realized the noise problem wasn’t going away. I chose to write a friendly letter explaining how their noise levels were affecting us, and I slid it under their door. Our initial reaction was to bang on the ceiling to make them stop, but I thought a letter would be a nicer way of making contact. It may be that they didn’t realize how thin the walls or floor were and they may not have realized you were bothered by the sound.

2. Communicate Again

If your first attempt fails, try another method of communication before escalating it further. If you see them in the hallway, or outside, simply start a conversation about it. Be friendly and non-confrontational. Depending on the reason for the noise, try to work out a compromise. For example, if they are listening to loud music while they work out every day, see if they can use headphones.  If they seem receptive to your complaint, wait and see if they lower the noise levels. If they are defensive about it, or refuse to respect your wishes, understand that communication probably isn’t going to work and you’ll need to take the complaint further.

3. Contact Your Landlord Or Management

If your methods of communication have failed, it’s time to speak to your landlord. Landlords have no problem dealing with noise complaints, and can send the noisy tenants a letter advising them to quiet down. Most buildings have noise clauses in the lease that the landlord can reference. This step is usually enough to get most people to lower the noise, for fear of being evicted.

4. Contact The Authorities

Most cities have public disturbance by-laws that require people to keep music and other noise levels to an appropriate level. I would only recommend contacting the authorities if your neighbors are blasting music into the early morning, partying loudly, or engaged in a domestic dispute. Chances are, the police are not going to do anything about loud TVs so make sure your complaint is appropriate. Always make sure to call the non-emergency line, unless there is an emergency situation happening.

Comment below and let us know if you’ve ever dealt with noisy neighbors! How did you handle it?

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Buying Furniture for the First Time: 4 Questions to Consider https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/08/buying-furniture-4-questions-to-consider/ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/08/buying-furniture-4-questions-to-consider/#respond Fri, 18 Aug 2017 15:00:26 +0000 https://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=25526 Furnishing your first apartment can be super fun (for most of us, this is the first time we’re making large purchases that are just ours). However, buying furniture can also be a huge hassle if you don’t do it right. Here are some questions to think about before you whip out the credit card. How is…

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Furnishing your first apartment can be super fun (for most of us, this is the first time we’re making large purchases that are just ours). However, buying furniture can also be a huge hassle if you don’t do it right. Here are some questions to think about before you whip out the credit card.

How is it getting to my apartment?

I had all my furniture picked out from IKEA’s website until my mom asked me how I planned on fitting everything (including a couch and mattress) in my tiny car. Not a problem, I thought, IKEA delivers. Then, I calculated the cost of shipping my order. So much for that plan. If you’re planning on doing store pick-up, figure out beforehand if it will fit in your car. How many trips will you have to make to and from the store? Does anyone you know have a truck or SUV you could borrow? If you’re getting it delivered, look into shipping cost. Is that couch still a good deal if it costs $200 to ship it? Are there hidden shipping costs for large items? Will you be there to receive the delivery?

Can I assemble it myself?

Nothing stinks more than using a cardboard box as a dining table except finally getting your real table delivered, only to discover that you’re missing the tools to assemble it. Before buying anything, check if it comes with tools. If not, do you have the tools it requires? Are you handy enough to put this together, or will you need a friend to help you out? If you’re buying online, read product reviews and see if other people struggled with assembly.

Can I get it inside my apartment?

It doesn’t matter how easy assembly is if the box your furniture comes in is too big or too heavy for you to get it in the door. Most products online will tell you how much an item weighs, as well as its dimensions, so make sure you check these stats. If you’re shopping in the store, come prepared with a list of relevant measurements (like the height of your ceiling, the width of your hallway, any tight turns on the stairwells,  etc.) Always ask yourself: Will I need a friend to help carry this? Will it fit through my doorway? How am I going to get it up the stairs? Just to be sure, also ask about the store’s return policy. If you measure wrong and the sofa does not make it through the door, will you then have to pay return shipping and restocking fees?

How many stores am I buying from?

You’ll have to coordinate delivery or pick up from every company you order from, so the fewer details you have to organize, the easier it will be. Not to mention, most places will charge you a flat delivery fee per order, regardless of the size of your order. Instead of paying to ship ten items from ten different stores, try to limit yourself to two or three stores to save money. Walmart might have a table you like more, but if you’re ordering everything else from Target, save yourself the hassle and get the table from Target, too.

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How Meal Prep Can Save You Serious $$$ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/08/how-meal-prep-can-save-you-cash/ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/08/how-meal-prep-can-save-you-cash/#respond Wed, 16 Aug 2017 16:00:56 +0000 https://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=25386 Saving up for a big vacation? Saving to move out? Saving for a new car? Unfortunately, money doesn’t exactly grow on trees. But, what if I told you that you have more money than you ever imagined? The key to unlock some extra cash? MEAL PREP!  Now, I know you’ve heard about meal prep from…

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Saving up for a big vacation? Saving to move out? Saving for a new car? Unfortunately, money doesn’t exactly grow on trees. But, what if I told you that you have more money than you ever imagined? The key to unlock some extra cash? MEAL PREP! 

Now, I know you’ve heard about meal prep from hundreds of others, but they’re missing part of the message: IT’S EASY!! And, not only does meal prep give you healthy options, it also legitimately puts money back into your pocket! This is crucial for all of us in first apartments (or saving for our first apartment!) because any extra cash saved absolutely makes a difference.

Step 1: Add up what you currently spend

Add up what you’re currently spending to determine what you can save. Here’s my breakdown below:

Breakfast costs: $1 per day * 7 days = $7
I mostly ate a hard boiled egg for breakfast, sometimes with oatmeal or a granola bar. 

Lunch costs: $8 per day * 7 days = $56
We have a cafeteria where I work, so I would generally purchase a big salad for lunch every day. Add a snack for my 3pm lull, and the total hit right around $8 on average. On the weekends, my SO and I generally go out for lunch instead of cooking at home. I estimated a $8 lunch for myself on each weekend day.

Dinner costs: Chipotle ($10) + Homecooked meals ($6 * 3 nights = $18) + Out to eat ($15) + Random takeout ($10)  + Frozen meal ($3) = $57

While this is variable, we were eating out a few nights a week or ordering takeout. Above was an average week for us.

Weekly total: $120 per person! Holy smokes, that adds up to $480 per month, or $5,760 per year!

We wanted to make a change to start to save money to purchase a house and wanted to be healthier by cutting out restaurant food as much as possible. And guess what? We are down to $45 per person each week! That’s right, each of our meals costs between $1.50 and $2.50 after following these meal prep guidelines. Annual total? $2,160. Over $3,500 saved EACH…that can go straight to purchasing a home.

Finding these savings will take a little time. Choose one day in a week to knock it all out — you’ll need 2-3 hours.

Step 2: Research recipes and prepare shopping list

Writing down all recipes’ ingredients will help you avoid purchasing too much food, and help you identify recipes with similar ingredients.

  1. Research recipes that are appetizing, healthful and use basic ingredients, and save them (I Google “lunch meal prep” to find some awesome options!)
  2. You will need 2 recipes for lunches and 7 recipes for dinners (or a few recipes you can make multiple nights), plus a basic breakfast option.
    • Pro Tip: Find recipes you can double and tweak for a second meal, for example, chicken cutlets Tuesday, chicken tacos Thursday.
  3. Recipes with lots of vegetables will be cheaper than recipes with processed foods
    • Pro Tip: Look for recipes with similar ingredients! If a recipe calls for half of a lemon, look for a recipe that includes lemon so you can save money.
  4. On paper (see image above!), write out all of the ingredients needed for each recipe in order
    • Pro Tip: It doesn’t have to beautiful or Instagram-ready! Do this quick to save yourself some time
  5. Create one shopping list by taking all ingredients from your recipe pages and combining them together.
    • Grocery list time!

    • Pro Tip: Consider adding healthy snacks to help you avoid the office vending machine. Baby carrots and trail mix are my go-to’s!
    • Extra Pro Tip: Organize your grocery list into the store’s departments. List all produce together, frozen foods together, dry foods together, etc. for quicker shopping.
    • Extra-Extra Pro Tip: After you have your list, estimate the cost of each item using your grocery experience. If the total is far more than you can afford, head back to Google and find recipes with more wholesome ingredients to eliminate expensive processed foods.
  6. That process should take you under one hour. Then it’s time to shop!

Step 3: Hit the grocery store

  1. Grab a snack before you start grocery shopping…trust me on this one!
  2. Don’t feel the need to shop at multiple grocery stores unless you really need to penny pinch. I shop at a superstore and choose the store brand when possible to cut corners.
  3. Don’t panic at how much food is in your cart! It will look like you are shopping for 6! Remember that vegetables are very inexpensive!

Step 4: Once you’re home and unpacked, cook your recipes for your lunches.

  1. Depending on your comfort in the kitchen, you can take the recipes one at a time, or cook both at once. Don’t feel overwhelmed!
  2. Pack your lunches in microwave-safe containers and store in the refrigerator.
  3. Store the rest of the food and pack snacks!

These two or three hours have become therapeutic for me! Plus, knowing I have cheap, healthy options has made a big difference. Be sure to pack your lunches in the morning and use all of the food you purchased for dinners!

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Renting an Apartment, Sight Unseen https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/08/renting-an-apartment-sight-unseen/ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/08/renting-an-apartment-sight-unseen/#respond Mon, 14 Aug 2017 12:00:03 +0000 https://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=25490 Moving cross-country often means renting sight unseen and you don’t get to set a foot into your apartment before the moving-in day. Here are a few tips to help you find the right place to live when you can’t check it out yourself. This may be obvious, but DO YOUR RESEARCH. There are times in life when…

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Moving cross-country often means renting sight unseen and you don’t get to set a foot into your apartment before the moving-in day. Here are a few tips to help you find the right place to live when you can’t check it out yourself.

This may be obvious, but DO YOUR RESEARCH. There are times in life when it’s fine to make a purchase on a whim–apartment hunting is not that time! There are dozens of websites dedicated to rating and reviewing apartments, so don’t just look at one and call it done. Check three or four review sites for each prospective apartment. It’s a hassle now, but it pays off in the long run.

Read reviews (the right way).

Reviews are crucial when you don’t get to check out a place for yourself. Don’t just look at the number of stars a place has, actually read each review, and check how long ago each one was written. I almost overlooked a great place because it had a low Google rating, but when I looked at the reviews, I saw that all of the negative reviews were almost five years old—all the recent reviews were phenomenal. Also, keep in mind that the only people who tend to review anything are those who had either a wonderful or a terrible experience, so don’t let a few one-star reviews scare you. As long as there are as many (or more!) five-star reviews, it’s probably alright. That being said, if every low rating is complaining about the same issue, then there’s going to be some truth to it.

Plan your commute.

Google maps is great for this. Not only can you see exactly where the apartment is located, but you can also see how long a trip to any given destination is, by car, public transit, or by foot. Do you hate city driving? Make sure there’s a route to work that avoids those roads. Planning to use public transit? That “perfect” apartment you found might not be so perfect when you realize that the closest bus stop is a ten-minute walk away.

Call with questions.

Most apartments have a phone number on their website that you can call to talk with someone in management. Write up a list of questions you have about the apartment and then give them a call. Is the person on the other end trying to answer you helpfully and honestly, or are they more interested in making a sale than giving you information? Chances are, these are the same people who you’ll interact with once you move in, so use this as an opportunity to get a feel for the people in charge.

Don’t forget your social media network.

Finally, and this may prove to be your best resource, reach out through all your social media networks. You should do this at the beginning of your search to get leads and at the end to double check if anyone knows about the place you are about to rent sight unseen.

Please share your best long distance apartment hunting tips in the comments.

 

 

 

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How to Safely Receive Packages in Your Apartment https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/08/safely-receiving-packages/ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/08/safely-receiving-packages/#respond Sun, 13 Aug 2017 16:00:01 +0000 https://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=25482 With the new trend of ordering things online, ensuring you can get your packages on your doorstep has never been more important! But with apartments, there are often plenty of strangers walking past your door at any point, increasing the risk of having your new items stolen. Fortunately, there are some things you can do…

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With the new trend of ordering things online, ensuring you can get your packages on your doorstep has never been more important! But with apartments, there are often plenty of strangers walking past your door at any point, increasing the risk of having your new items stolen. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to assure the safe arrival of your packages, so you can be sure your new clothes or goodies don’t go missing!

Schedule delivery when you’re home

Whenever possible, schedule the delivery of your new finds to a time that you know you’ll be home. UPS offers a MyChoice option (free!) that gives you some flexibility to schedule your packages’ delivery times, or choose a delivery date that fits your needs. My trick for non-essentials is to place my order on the date that delivery on Saturday is free. (Amazon is a great example — With Prime, I do most of my orders on Thursdays, so I know it will arrive Saturday when I’m home more often.)

By scheduling your package to arrive when you’re likely to be home, you’ll rest assured knowing you’ll be around to take the package from your mailman or front stoop before anyone else can!

Send it somewhere else

If your apartment isn’t completely secure and you’re unable to schedule a delivery time, consider sending your package somewhere safe, where you can pick it up at your convenience. Some ideas:

  • Parents’ home
  • Friend’s home
  • UPS or local post office
  • Apartment front office

There are plenty of places to send your package so you can get to it. It may add a layer of inconvenience to pick it up, but if you ship to a friend or family member, you can ‘thank’ them by bringing over dinner or a board game and spending some quality time when you grab your package.

When thinking about places to ship your items, be sure that they are actually secure, you’ll have access to the package when you need it, and that you have permission to send it there.

Ask a trustworthy friend

If you have a friend or neighbor nearby, consider asking them to stop by and pick up your package when it arrives! If you have an expensive item arriving while you’re stuck at work, or accidentally scheduled a delivery while you’re out of town for the weekend, close or trustworthy friends will often be willing to help you out. Be clear about when you’d like them to swing by (identifying the time that your package should arrive helps!) and be specific on what you’d like them to do with it, whether that’s using your spare key to bring it inside or taking it to their place.

Shipping items to your apartment isn’t tricky, but thinking of the safest way to get everything you ordered is always smart. What else can you do to avoid package theft?

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Summer Heat Continues: More Ways to Stay Cool. https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/08/beat-summer-heat-apartment/ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/08/beat-summer-heat-apartment/#respond Sat, 12 Aug 2017 14:00:30 +0000 https://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=25426 The dog days of August are here! It may be the tail end of the summer but that doesn’t mean the heat streak is over. Sometimes the summer heat can trail on well into September and beyond, and I’m here with some more tips to keep you at your coolest. Get out of your apartment…

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The dog days of August are here! It may be the tail end of the summer but that doesn’t mean the heat streak is over. Sometimes the summer heat can trail on well into September and beyond, and I’m here with some more tips to keep you at your coolest.

  1. Get out of your apartment and do something cool: There are many things you can do to keep cool outside your apartment. Go to the movies. Try a new restaurant. Go hiking in a nearby park where it’s cooler than in a stifling apartment. Visit a friend who has good A/C. Go to the local beach or pool. Visit your local supermarket and linger by the freezer section.
  2. Hydrate: Always remain hydrated. The heat takes a lot out of you especially if you’re in a hot apartment. Its easy to forget to take a sip of water once in awhile. You can even drink juice with some water added to bring down the sweetness! Furthermore, hydration can also help you get rid of the munchies, since most of the time we confuse thirst and hunger.
  3. Take a cool shower: The effects will linger for a while.
  4. Utilize fans (and add a bowl of ice): If you’re not in the position to add an air conditioner or if your apartment complex doesn’t allow it, you can have fans! One of the tricks I like to use is putting a square fan in the window so that the fresh and cool air blows into the room. They have more advanced fans now that are stronger than ever. Another trick is adding a bowl with ice in front of the fan, which creates a cooler air flow within your apartment — so simple but effective!
  5. Crack open a window: On those cooler nights,  just open your window.Not only is it energy efficient but there is no harm in getting some fresh air as well! Of course, when its the peak of the day (and heat), better shut those windows and shades.Caution: If you are on a low floor or your windows are easily accessible, make sure they have security gates before you sleep with open windows.

Finally, think ahead and choose an apartment with air conditioner: If you are still apartment hunting, plan for the next summer and add A/C to your apartment requirements. Fortunately, mine came with one. This was one of the requirements I had during my apartment search. Now the downside to using an air conditioner is the rise in your electric bill but if that’s what it takes to beat the heat, you just have to budget for those bigger bills. Use the power saver mode if your A/C has one, to save both money and energy. (If you have an older air conditioner like mine, then it might not have that setting.)

Enjoy those last bits of summer and stay cool!

 

 

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A Short Guide to Your First Apartment Viewing https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/08/short-guide-first-apartment-viewing/ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/08/short-guide-first-apartment-viewing/#respond Thu, 10 Aug 2017 12:00:40 +0000 https://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=25021 One of the most important parts of finding an apartment is seeing it. You need to schedule an apartment viewing and thoroughly check out the space that will potentially be your home for the next year or longer. The viewing is the time to make sure that this is the kind of space you want…

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One of the most important parts of finding an apartment is seeing it. You need to schedule an apartment viewing and thoroughly check out the space that will potentially be your home for the next year or longer. The viewing is the time to make sure that this is the kind of space you want to live in. It can be pretty daunting at first but I swear you’ll get a hang of it quickly.

Ask questions

If there is a time to ask questions, this is it! I always found it helpful to have a printout of the rental ad, so I could confirm what the landlord provides and what is missing from my own personal checklist. You will have someone to answer questions right in front of you, so take advantage of that. Ask  about parking fees, what utilities do they cover (water? garbage collection? internet?), are pets allowed, what is the noise level like, etc.  Also, clarify the costs that you will be paying. How much is the security deposit? How much is the monthly rental? What forms of payment do they accept for rent? Is there a late fee? How much is the estimated monthly electric bill? What paperwork is required for the apartment application process? Always get the name of the person showing the apartment, in case you have post-viewing questions.

Check out the apartment

During any viewing, it is essential to check out all the features of the apartment. One of the key things for me was looking through the cabinets and closets. You want to make sure that you are getting what you are paying for and that everything is in a good working condition. If you see anything amiss, say something. Try to spot any holes that indicate vermin or some other type of infestations. Look inside closets and under the sinks for signs of mold. See if any cabinets are broken, which indicates poor maintenance. Turn on the faucets and see what the water pressure is like. (That may seem like a minor detail but I guarantee you’ll be annoyed with a weak shower every day as long as you live in the apartment.) Test the oven and stove burners. Do the windows open and close and lock easily? What is right outside your window? Is the apartment on a main street or a quiet neighborhood with minimal traffic? Take a moment and listen. You may not hear the regular sounds of your neighbors but its always good to hear what’s around you. How is the exterior of the apartment? Does the landlord or the company take proper care of the facility? Is it evident that it needs maintenance? Is it older but well maintained? These are all things that are important when scoping out your new place.

Take pictures

We continue to document even the most insignificant moments in our lives, but apartment viewing is actually one of those times when it’s important to take lots of pictures. You do it for couple of reasons. First, this will help jog your memory when you look at many places and aid in making your decision. Having a visual will give you the opportunity to look back and see what you liked (or disliked) about a certain place. It will assist in visualizing the layout of one apartment compared to others that you viewed. Second, you’ll have a record of any problems you spot (chipped tile, stain on floor, etc.) so your landlord will not try to ding your security deposit for them when you move out.

Give yourself options. If they have other apartments in the building or complex that you can look at, go for it. See as many places as you can, so you’ll be sure when you sign the lease that you got the best one.

Please share in the comments your best apartment viewing tips.

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Budgeting Boot Camp: Printable Apartment Budgeting Worksheet https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/08/budgeting-bootcamp-budgeting-worksheet-single/ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/08/budgeting-bootcamp-budgeting-worksheet-single/#comments Tue, 08 Aug 2017 15:00:50 +0000 https://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=25345 Our Budgeting Boot Camp continues. We are getting a high volume of comments from our readers to our budgeting-related posts Rent Calculator, How Much Rent Can I Afford on My Hourly Pay, How Much Money Do You Need to Save to Move Out, and others, asking for help with estimating first apartment living expenses. In…

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Our Budgeting Boot Camp continues.

We are getting a high volume of comments from our readers to our budgeting-related posts Rent Calculator, How Much Rent Can I Afford on My Hourly Pay, How Much Money Do You Need to Save to Move Out, and others, asking for help with estimating first apartment living expenses. In order to help our readers to start planning their own expenses, we have developed a simple, printable worksheet that covers typical essential expenses for someone living in a rental apartment. These expenses include rent and utilities, transportation to work, food and other groceries, health insurance and phone, plus any other monthly bills you may have, for example, student loan and credit card payments or childcare.

We also recommend setting a minimum savings goal at 10% of your take-home income. If you have a 401K plan at work, especially if the plan offers a match, you should start by saving at least enough to get the full match. A typical match is 50 cents on a dollar, so every dollar you save adds $1.50 to your account — you cannot beat that return on investment! And we’d like you to end up with about $100 a week after the “musts” have been paid, for such fun discretionary items as vacations, going out with friends and picking up a new outfit now and then.

So, take out your pencil and your calculator (there’s one already on your cell phone), and start budgeting!

Note: If you are already working and know your monthly take-home number, you can ignore the top part of the worksheet and start on the Monthly Take-Home Pay Line.

Download PDF [237kb]: MFA Budgeting Worksheet

 

MFA Budgeting Worksheet (PDF – 237kb)

Let us know in the comments if this worksheet is helpful.

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Moving Off-Campus? 4 Things to Consider https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/08/moving-off-campus-4-things-to-consider/ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/08/moving-off-campus-4-things-to-consider/#respond Sun, 06 Aug 2017 16:00:12 +0000 https://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=25355 Are you starting to get excited about that great off-campus apartment you’ll be moving into in a few weeks? If you have decided to move off-campus, here are four important things to understand about your new living situation. 1. Monthly Rent Payments vs. Semester Dorm Fees Renting an off-campus apartment or a roommate share is…

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Are you starting to get excited about that great off-campus apartment you’ll be moving into in a few weeks? If you have decided to move off-campus, here are four important things to understand about your new living situation.

1. Monthly Rent Payments vs. Semester Dorm Fees

Renting an off-campus apartment or a roommate share is often cheaper than the price of a dorm room, and the rent is paid monthly, rather than as a lump sum in the beginning of the semester. You need to become a good enough money manager so that you will have that rent money ready and available on the first of each month. In addition, when you balance the dorm vs. apartment cost equation, do not forget that dorm price is all inclusive.  If you love to crank your air conditioning really cold, and take long hot showers, the dorm is great because you don’t have to worry about running up your utility costs. In your apartment, the meter starts running as soon as you turn the lights on. For a full dorm vs. rental cost comparison talk to friends who have apartments and ask what their monthly utilities are. Luckily, you’ll probably split the bills with your roommates, so the costs may not be that high.

2. Campus Security vs. Apartment Security

With campus security, residential advisors, and passcodes or keys required to enter, dorm life is often viewed as more secure than apartment living. If you have overly concerned parents constantly worrying about your safety, then they might sleep better knowing you have your college campus looking out for you. However, there are some home security products that could be installed in your off-campus apartment to make it more secure, and some college towns have apartments in gated communities with secured parking and passcodes to enter the buildings. So depending on the apartment you choose, you could have equal or even better security than a dorm could offer you.

For more information about securing your apartment read Apartment Security 101 for the First Time Renter.

3. Dorm Furniture vs. Apartment Furniture

We all know what dorm furniture is like; an extra-long twin bed that comes with a beaten-up mattress, a dresser and a desk. An off-campus apartment comes with no furniture and you need to build in your budget at least some money for the basics. Buying furniture does not have to be expensive; you can find great deals at thrift stores, yard sales, estate sales and from friends and family looking to get rid of their stuff. However, you do need to build in your back-to-the-campus schedule time to get that furniture and figure out how to transport it to your apartment. Remember, your apartment doesn’t have to look like a page out of a catalog. If you enjoy decorating, then an apartment gives you the freedom to experiment. If decorating is not one of your passions, you can check out furniture rental companies like Cort.com that offer special packages for students. You can always put your own spin on your place by adding inexpensive accessories. Your off-campus apartment will give you your first chance to create a space that feels truly unique to you and shows your personality.

4. Restrictions vs. Freedom

The security elements of dorm life are also there to regulate campus rules. They require you to follow quiet hours, restrict the number of people you have in your room, limit overnight guests and tone down partying.

In an apartment, the freedom is yours. You can have as many people, of any gender, in your home and have the freedom to do as you please. However, with freedom comes responsibility. Just because you live in an apartment doesn’t mean you are free from being respectful. Noise complaints from neighbors could involve reprimands from your landlord or even the police. You are also responsible for any damage in your apartment.

For many, a key advantage of an apartment is that it allows you the freedom to choose your roommates, rather than being assigned one. Some people have made lasting friendships with their dorm mates, but surely you have heard some horror stories. Living with a friend can be great fun, and much more comfortable than an assigned match. Just keep in mind that finding a roommate that is right for you is as important as finding an apartment that is right for you. You won’t have anyone to mediate if things get rocky, so get key conflict areas talked over right at the start.

Parts of this post were originally published in July 2013.

 

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6 Ways to Welcome New Neighbors https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/08/6-ways-welcome-new-neighbors/ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/08/6-ways-welcome-new-neighbors/#respond Sat, 05 Aug 2017 16:00:30 +0000 http://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=23481 One of the best things about apartment living is that you have neighbors nearby. Even if you don’t intend to become best friends with your neighbors, it’s always a smart idea to be a good neighbor and make them feel welcome. When you are friendly and watch out for one another, your neighbors will most…

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One of the best things about apartment living is that you have neighbors nearby. Even if you don’t intend to become best friends with your neighbors, it’s always a smart idea to be a good neighbor and make them feel welcome. When you are friendly and watch out for one another, your neighbors will most likely return the favor. Having a positive, helpful relationship with your neighbors means you have someone nearby in case of an emergency, or you have someone to keep an eye on your apartment when you’re out of town.

To help build this relationship, consider these six ways to welcome neighbors when they move into their new apartment.

Handwritten Note

This classic welcoming tip is inexpensive, time-friendly, and a wonderful way to introduce yourself and to show your new neighbor that you’re happy to have them move into their new apartment.

Neighborhood Cheat Sheet

With a handwritten note, include a packet of helpful information about the apartment building and neighborhood. Include things like reminders for garbage and recycle pickup days, the best restaurant delivery services, library locations, special events that are coming up, and reliable handymen in the area.

Apartment Introduction

Your new neighbors most likely toured the apartment building before they signed a lease, but offer to show them around anyway. Sometimes, it’s nice to have a current resident who is familiar with the building to show you the ins and outs. Besides showing your neighbors around the building, introduce them to other residents you’re friends with, and show your new neighbors that they have people nearby who are available to answer a quick question or lend a cup of sugar.

Neighborhood Introduction

It’s exciting to move into a new, unfamiliar neighborhood, especially when there are so many new places to discover. It can often take months, even years, to discover all of the hidden gems, so save your new neighbors time and show them your favorite spots. Invite them to a restaurant within walking distance, and then walk them through the neighborhood and point out all your favorite shops, restaurants, and hangout spots.

Gift Card

Give your new neighbors a gift card to your favorite coffee shop or book store, especially one with friendly and welcoming staff. You don’t have to put a lot of money on the card – even enough credit for one free coffee would be enough to introduce them to your favorite neighborhood spot. Even better, pair a gift card with a menu from your favorite restaurant, and circle or star your favorite menu items to help them decide what to order.

Indoor Plant

This one can be tricky if you buy a high-maintenance plant, especially if your new neighbor doesn’t have a green thumb. Check out these plants to find a plant that’s both decorative and easy to care for.

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