My First Apartment https://www.myfirstapartment.com Thu, 29 Jun 2017 12:00:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Should You Hire a Professional Cleaner? https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/06/should-you-hire-a-professional-cleaner/ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/06/should-you-hire-a-professional-cleaner/#respond Thu, 29 Jun 2017 12:00:12 +0000 https://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=25090 As a first-time renter, you’ve just started your career and you’re on your own for the first time. You often don’t have a lot of money and you’re just learning how to seriously follow a budget. A cleaning service is for the wealthy, for those older than you, totally unnecessary. Right? Mostly, yes. But there…

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As a first-time renter, you’ve just started your career and you’re on your own for the first time. You often don’t have a lot of money and you’re just learning how to seriously follow a budget. A cleaning service is for the wealthy, for those older than you, totally unnecessary. Right?

Mostly, yes. But there are circumstances where it makes sense to at least consider hiring a professional.

Your roommates (and maybe you) are slobs:

The kitchen sink is always piled high with weeks-old dishes, the living room carpet has popcorn embedded in it, and your dining room table is covered with so many half-drunk beverages that it looks like mug-henge. You’re fed up. Your roommates are fed up. Whose fault is this mess? How does it get resolved? Cleaning schedules don’t work. Everyone promising to be neater doesn’t work. You thought you and your roommates got along, but now all you do is fight about this dang issue.

  • The cleaning solution: Splitting the cost of a cleaner several ways makes it a lot more affordable. You can pay the cleaner to clean all the common areas and if one of you (or all of you) want them to clean your room as well, that person can pay for that portion of the clean. Yes, it’s an expense, but if it means your place is livable again, you and your roommates get along again, and your blood pressure returns to normal, well, that’s worth it. Try having a cleaner come every two weeks.

Too busy and exhausted to bother:

Your job is great, but way more intense than you anticipated, so you’re not getting home until eight or so. You also have a robust social life – no time to enjoy the city like the present, right? You’re only at your place to sleep and to crash a few odd hours here and there. You’d love to have a clean pad, but you don’t have the energy.

  • The cleaning solution: Even if it’s not that messy, because you’re rarely around to mess it up, it still might make sense to have a pro come in. That way, you could fully enjoy the time you do just Netflix and chill. You also probably have a bit more money because of that intense job. Try having a cleaner come every four to six weeks.

You can do it yourself, but you’d rather not … and you’re not that good at it anyway.

You put a serious clean on your schedule every month or two. And it works, except it always ends up a total bummer. You’re spending four hours on a Saturday mopping and scrubbing, and for what? You’re not a pro. By the time you’re finished, you’re resentful and frustrated: You didn’t dust the top of the headboard, or polish every cabinet handle, or do that thing with the coffee maker where you run vinegar through it. And you’ve spent a precious weekend afternoon doing only an okay job.

  • The cleaning solution: You clearly appreciate the fruits of the labor. But man, you hate that labor. If you’d rather prioritize your time doing something else, that’s okay. Hiring a professional cleaner might be a bit expensive, but it’s also an investment in a weekend afternoon doing what you want. If that sounds like money well-spent, it’s probably worth it. Try hiring a cleaner as often as you’d normally set aside time for your ‘serious’ clean.

You never deep-clean because you don’t notice … until it’s too late.

You’re pretty well organized and you clean as you go. But after a year you realize you don’t really mop unless, well, unless there’s actual orange juice on the floor. And the shower, well, it’s gradually gotten dirtier, slowly enough that you didn’t really notice until you stopped and thought about it. No one would accuse you of being a slob, but somehow your place is starting to feel pretty gross.

  • The cleaning solution: You just need a little bit of help going that extra mile. It’s simple. The pro will take care of what you don’t bother with and overall you’ll love the revived sparkle of your place. Try hiring a cleaner every few months – or as needed.

Party people know that it takes a lot of cleaning to host.

You and your roommates love to have parties. It’s so fun to gather all your friends and talk the night away. And you’re a good host: you provide drinks and snacks and a great playlist. Problem is, between cleaning before people arrive … and then cleaning the next morning after people leave, that’s a lot of cleaning.

  • The cleaning solution: Depending on your personality, maybe you’d want the pro to come before your guests do, so your place truly shines. Or, maybe you want the pro after your guests leave, so you can enjoy a fresh clean home for a couple weeks post-party. The choice is up to you, but it might be worth doing one or the other. Try hiring a cleaner once and see how it goes.

P.S. If there is no way you can afford to hire a cleaner – or share one with roommates – having the right tools and supplies for the job will make all the difference.

 

 

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Signs You Found A Good Landlord https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/06/signs-you-found-a-good-landlord/ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/06/signs-you-found-a-good-landlord/#respond Tue, 27 Jun 2017 12:00:37 +0000 https://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=23864 When you are looking for your first apartment, you may not realize how important a good landlord will be to your well-being and happiness during that first year on your own. But how do you tell a good one from a bad one before it’s too late? Don’t worry, there are plenty of signs that…

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When you are looking for your first apartment, you may not realize how important a good landlord will be to your well-being and happiness during that first year on your own. But how do you tell a good one from a bad one before it’s too late? Don’t worry, there are plenty of signs that can let you know ahead of time which type your potential landlord will be!

Whether you live in a family-owned building or a big apartment complex, landlords have the responsibility to keep your property in good condition and to keep open communication with you if issues do arise. So, we’re essentially looking for someone who is responsive and shows good follow-through.

When you think about the application process, ask yourself:

  • Were they responsive to your questions?
  • Did they appear interested in your requirements, or simply making a “sale”?
  • Did they provide a way for you to contact them during office-hours?
  • Is there a separate method to contact them outside of office hours, in case of emergency?

You also want to feel that you are safe in your apartment and know that your landlord has appropriate follow-through when there are issues. Think about:

  • Did the landlord properly vet your renter’s application? Did your references get called by the landlord?
  • Did they perform credit or other employment checks?
  • Have they provided references that you can check with? If so, be sure to ask about the landlord’s approach to dealing with problems.
  • What is the turnaround time they provided on emergency issues (i.e. leaks)? On basic issues (i.e. cosmetic problems)?

A great way to tell if your landlord will be fantastic or not-so-fantastic is to check out your lease. Good landlords will be specific about the apartment and your responsibilities (sometimes with more detail than you wanted to sit and read through!) and is adamant about getting any exceptions written on paper. While this may come off a bit abrasive at first, it is generally a sign of an experienced landlord who knows it’s best to have everything in writing to avoid any future misunderstandings.

Be sure to also ask for language in your contract about when they are “allowed” to enter your apartment (i.e. under which circumstances, what permission is required and how much notice must be given) and what could warrant eviction. Again, a good landlord shouldn’t have an issue including the “tough stuff” in your lease or talking to you about it before you decide to sign!

On the flip side, bad landlords are pretty common, and are also possible to sniff out ahead of time! If your potential landlord exhibits any of these traits, keep looking…

  • Unresponsive to calls or emails – This is a big one! You need to be able to reach your landlord!
  • Long turnaround times for your questions via email/phone
  • Rushed apartment tour or conversations
  • Avoids or dodges questions about the unit, utilities, or location
  • Lack of clarity of responsibilities for the unit (i.e. is unclear on your responsibilities versus theirs)
  • Does not deliver a clear contract, or does not require you to review the contract before you sign
  • Applies very vague rules on returning your security deposit

Think about all of these guidelines when checking out apartments. Remember that your landlord is the the one who decides how well your unit and the entire complex or building are maintained and protected. If you want a great first apartment experience, be sure to choose a great landlord!

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How to Turn Into a Penny Pinching Millennial https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/06/turn-penny-pinching-millenial-better/ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/06/turn-penny-pinching-millenial-better/#respond Sun, 25 Jun 2017 16:00:35 +0000 https://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=23942 Being at the forefront of adulthood is a tricky phase to manage. We are looking for a new job, trying to navigate the world outside the college cocoon, and calculating how we could ever afford to leave our parents’ house. We may feel just lost for a while but slowly we all catch up, start…

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Being at the forefront of adulthood is a tricky phase to manage. We are looking for a new job, trying to navigate the world outside the college cocoon, and calculating how we could ever afford to leave our parents’ house. We may feel just lost for a while but slowly we all catch up, start making smarter decisions and moving on. With a little willpower and the right guidance, one of those decisions should be to adopt a more budget-friendly lifestyle.

It’s exhilarating when you finally have your own paycheck and the world feels like your oyster. Maybe you’ve been saving for that perfect apartment? Or are you a first time apartment renter with a bright future and minimal furniture? With credit cards it’s pretty tempting these days to throw money at all that you desire. How can you help yourself when you see a strategically shot Instagram with your dream outfit, shoes and all? How do you resist an invitation to a fun dinner out with friends? We’re young and trying to live our life to the fullest, until a moment of truth arrives when we realize that the checking account balance is lower than anticipated and the rent is due. We all know the feeling.

As a fellow millennial, I would like to share a few proven tips for penny pinching and living on your own without breaking the bank.

  1. Set up an automatic transfer to your savings account.  “Save your money!” is the constant reminder from our elders. If you set up an automatic transfer from your paycheck, these savings will happen like clockwork;  you’ll never have to remember to make a manual transfer to your savings. The money that you set aside can be for future expenses, emergencies, or perhaps a little vacation fund. Always save. Always!
  2. Determine your wants and needs. Trust me, it’s so easy to just swipe but my greatest advice is to think before you swipe. Do you have 10 black and white striped shirts already? Do you have clothing items you haven’t worn yet? Then put that blouse down! There is a huge different between your wants and needs. For example, you need toilet paper but you don’t need another pair of brown leather wedges. You want a trip to Cape Cod but you need to pay your rent. Take a moment and think.
  3. Download the Mint app. I have been hearing people talk about this app for a very long time and how it helped them to manage their spending with a more visual presentation of their budget, as opposed to just a list on a piece of paper. This app is free in the iTunes store and connects to your checking account. It categorizes each transaction, which helps to show where most of your money is going. Going out to eat too much? Out for two nights in a row with a hefty bar tab? It will give you a pie chart of all your spending categories and reminds you when the bills are due. Know what you have, where it has to go, and when you need to show some willpower. (You can find more information about budgeting apps here.)
  4. More cooking, less eating out. Eating out is one of the simple joys of life but once you overdo it, it can weigh heavily on your budget. Since I have been living on my own, I have been trying to cook weekly at least one meal with tasty leftovers. For example, if I make a soup that serves four, I’ll eat leftovers for lunch or dinner. It helps to keep cost down. Find some easy, inexpensive recipes to try, as well.
  5. Cut the coffee runs. Just try it. You can save a fortune by making your own coffee. Cut down on the trips to the hipster coffee shop around the corner that has more kinds of coffee beans than you can count. For my caffeinated fans, I know it is easier said than done but that saved money can possibly go towards a new rug or grocery money for the week. Imagine that! (Bonus tip: Buy your coffee beans from that fancy coffee shop, but brew your coffee at home. You’ll drink the coffee you love and still save a bundle.)
  6. Keep your coins and wrap em! Coins are money and sometimes we forget that. Although its only 5 cents or 25 cents, it’s real money. Get into a habit of emptying all your change into a piggy bank at the end of the day, and wrap the coins and deposit to savings monthly.  It may not be a lot but every little bit helps.
  7. Buy it only if you love it. If you don’t see yourself wearing an outfit every chance you get, just walk away. Its easy to buy things, then forget about them as they fall to the back of your closet. Honestly, people don’t remember your outfits. Just give an old outfit a new spin!
  8. All bonuses go to your savings. Whenever I get a bonus at work (holiday bonus, promotion bonus, any excess amount of funds), I made the decision to always put the money into my savings. And most importantly, I decided not to touch that money at all. As I have said before, save, save, save!! You never know what type of obstacles you will experience in life. Heaven forbid, a toilet overflows or your drunk friend splits your table in half by jumping on it. Just save!
  9. Be lazy and stay in. Doing activities with your friends is fun but if you’re going on adventures every weekend and getting yourself a nice Margarita afterwards, then its time to cut back. Fill your time with free activities like hiking or reading. Its nice to just stop once in awhile and enjoy time to yourself. You can relish the silence AND save money.
  10. Focus on yourself, not others. With the daily stalking of social media, its easy to start comparing yourself to what others have and where they go. Oh, is that friend going on yet another island vacation? Did that guy get a new watch that you’ve been eyeing? Bring yourself back to earth and focus on what you need for yourself. How can you start thriving in this world? What do you   need to be better? How can you control your budget and plan for the future?

This all may seem like small attitude changes or slight changes in routine but they can mean everything when it comes to staying within your budget. Whether they help you save $20 or $50 or $100 more a month, its better than savings nothing at all.

Congratulations, now you are ready to join the rest of us millennial penny pinchers!

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Your Guide to Online Home Furnishing Shopping https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/06/your-guide-to-online-home-furnishing-shopping/ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/06/your-guide-to-online-home-furnishing-shopping/#respond Sat, 24 Jun 2017 14:00:55 +0000 https://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=25028 Sponsored post.  Even for those of us who love shopping and decorating, furnishing your first apartment can be a long and tedious process. Online shopping has made the process considerably easier by allowing you to shop from the comfort of your couch or while out on the go, but digital browsing comes with its own set…

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Sponsored post. 

Even for those of us who love shopping and decorating, furnishing your first apartment can be a long and tedious process. Online shopping has made the process considerably easier by allowing you to shop from the comfort of your couch or while out on the go, but digital browsing comes with its own set of challenges as well. Don’t even ask me how many times I’ve ended up in an online shopping spiral. Admit it: You’ve found yourself on page 45 of a Google search before while trying to scout out the perfect (insert item here) for your new apartment.

Thankfully, the online shopping rabbit hole can be avoided when you go into the hunt prepared. Check out this handy guide to online home furnishing shopping below for tips and tricks that will ensure you never see Google page 45 ever again.

Measure. Then measure again.

If you’re shopping for furniture online, the most important first step is to measure the space where you want the item to go (and all the doorways/hallways you’ll need to pass through to get to that space). Then, measure again to make sure you have the dimensions just right. Use these measurements to help you choose an item that will actually fit into the space.

Trust me (I know from experience), the last thing you want to buy is a couch that you can’t fit through the front door.

Read every review you can find. (Yes, seriously).

Does the product stand the test of time? Does it look anything like the photo shown online? Does the company have a good reputation for helpful customer service? Reading reviews helps you answer questions like these and know if the product you’re interested in buying is actually worth your money. So, sit back, kick up your heels, and get ready to read your heart out.

If you’re not into an afternoon of casual review reading, then get ready for some really good news. HousePouch makes shopping online for your apartment super easy and efficient. This handy site allows you to search items from 20+ retailers all in one place. Through personalization tools that filter results based on your preferences for budget and style and by limiting product offerings to only those with the best reviews, HousePouch really is a one-stop-shop for all your apartment shopping needs.

Compare pricing across multiple sites (and items).

To ensure that you’re getting the most bang for you buck, it’s key to compare prices across many different brands and sites. This will not only help you pick the best item, but will ensure that you’re paying the least amount possible for the product you decide on in the end. HousePouch scores again in this department. Showcasing products with the best competitive pricing (including pricing updates for sales), their site makes it easy to compare prices without having to go to tons of different websites.

Pro tip: Wait for a sale. Trust me, nothing stings quite like paying full price for an item only to see it listed for 10% off a few weeks later. 

Well, there you have it, fellow apartment-dwellers! Keep these tips in mind when shopping for your apartment online and furnishing your new place will be a breeze. Get started now by using code mfa15 for 15% off your first purchase through HousePouch

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30 Minutes or Less to a Tidy Apartment https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/06/30-minutes-less-tidy-apartment/ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/06/30-minutes-less-tidy-apartment/#respond Fri, 23 Jun 2017 12:00:43 +0000 https://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=23871 A messy and unorganized apartment can happen before you know it – you leave a dirty towel on the bathroom floor, an empty water bottle on the coffee table, a bag full of trash in the kitchen, and that’s how it starts. But don’t fear. That pile of clothes, stack of dishes, and basket full of…

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A messy and unorganized apartment can happen before you know it – you leave a dirty towel on the bathroom floor, an empty water bottle on the coffee table, a bag full of trash in the kitchen, and that’s how it starts. But don’t fear. That pile of clothes, stack of dishes, and basket full of unopened mail that makes your apartment look messy is easy to handle. In just 30 minutes – or less – you can organize your apartment with these 10 quick and easy steps to a tidy apartment.

Kitchen

  1. Wash, dry, and put away your dirty dishes.
  2. Put away any unnecessary items – such as cereal boxes, trash, or mail – from your counter tops, and then wipe your counter tops clean.
  3. Sweep the floor.
  4. Take out the trash.

Living Area

  1. Sort through any unopened mail, place your scattered books back on the shelf, and throw away all old and/or read magazines.
  2. Straighten the cushions, pillows, and throws on your living room furniture.

Bedroom

  1. Make your bed.
  2. Place any dirty clothes in your hamper, and put away clean clothes.

Bathroom

  1. Place any dirty towels, wash cloths, or clothes in your hamper.
  2. Put away any unnecessary items that clutter your counter tops, and then wipe your counter tops clean.

 

P.S. A quick cleaning routine works great if your apartment is just messy and untidy, but not totally disgusting and unsanitary.  If things have gotten truly bad, you need to set aside one Saturday and do a major cleaning following Chloe’s checklist.

Complete Apartment Cleaning Checklist

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50 Free Or Cheap Things To Do This Summer! https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/06/50-free-or-cheap-things-to-do-this-summer/ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/06/50-free-or-cheap-things-to-do-this-summer/#comments Wed, 21 Jun 2017 12:00:20 +0000 https://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=24985 It’s hard not to remember childhood summers as the most magical, wonderful times of the year – full of fun, freedom, adventure, possibly romance. But, as we get older, and move into our first apartments, summer stops feeling quite as thrilling. We no longer look forward to summer – after all, who has the money…

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It’s hard not to remember childhood summers as the most magical, wonderful times of the year – full of fun, freedom, adventure, possibly romance. But, as we get older, and move into our first apartments, summer stops feeling quite as thrilling. We no longer look forward to summer – after all, who has the money to drop on a trip and how are you even expected to get that time off of work?

On this first day of Summer 2017, we declare that this attitude is just too tragic to allow! Just because we’re not in first grade and have to pay bills doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be able to experience joy and freedom, that we can’t take advantage of the glorious warm weather and the beautiful natural world. No one should have to feel bored, stuck, or depressed in the summer.

To help jog your gears, we’ve compiled a list of 50 free or cheap things you can do this summer!

cheap fun summer
  1. Go to a free music festival.
  2. Go camping.
  3. Go on a day hike.
  4. Ride your bike.
  5. Read a novel.
  6. Go to the beach.
  7. Write in your notebook.
  8. Stargaze.
  9. Call your mom.
  10. Go for a walk.
  11. Binge watch NetFlix.
  12. Go on a date.
  13. Learn how to bake a cake!
  14. Crushed ice drink party.
  15. Get caught up with Pretty Little Liars.
  16. Get involved with politics.
  17. Find local interest groups to join.
  18. Start writing your memoir.
  19. Pick strawberries.
  20. Pick wildflowers.
  21. Explore your city or town.
  22. Do cartwheels.
  23. Blow bubbles.
  24. Check out a parade.
  25. Play mini-golf.
  26. Get a Slushee.
  27. Do yoga in the park.
  28. Play guitar.
  29. Write a poem.
  30. Find the best happy hours in your neighborhood.
  31. Go to the library.
  32. Fly a kite.
  33. Go to a museum.
  34. Photography.
  35. Have a photo shoot with friends.
  36. Go to a baseball game.
  37. Have some friends over for a get together.
  38. Make a blanket fort.
  39. Go to a planetarium.
  40. Go to an aquarium.
  41. Do some gardening.
  42. Run through the sprinklers.
  43. Feed the ducks.
  44. Watch a documentary.
  45. Eat fresh fruit.
  46. Make gifts for your family and friends.
  47. Look at the clouds.
  48. Go to a butterfly garden.
  49. Go to a cafe.
  50. People watch.

So, jump into summer…the water is fine!

Free Things To Do This Summer

What are some of your big plans this summer? What are some things you like to do for free or very little money? Let us know in the comments!

Want even more ideas on how to find cheap things to do this summer? Read an interview about  MyFirstApartment.com on Mint.com, for even more tips on how to have fun on a budget this summer!

Looking for more ways to live a rich life on a budget? Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

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Preparing for Your First Roommate: How to Manage 4 Common Conflict Zones https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/06/preparing-for-your-first-roommate-issues-to-avoid/ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/06/preparing-for-your-first-roommate-issues-to-avoid/#respond Sun, 18 Jun 2017 16:00:04 +0000 https://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=24999 For some, the word “roommate” is synonymous with “best friend.” For others, it’s “worst nightmare!” Surely you’ve heard tons of stories from both sides of this fence: great roommates and roommate horror stories! But don’t fear…it’s not hard to be a good roommate and to find a roommate that’ll be good to you. However, it…

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For some, the word “roommate” is synonymous with “best friend.” For others, it’s “worst nightmare!” Surely you’ve heard tons of stories from both sides of this fence: great roommates and roommate horror stories! But don’t fear…it’s not hard to be a good roommate and to find a roommate that’ll be good to you. However, it will require for you to take some time to learn about the four most common conflict zones and how to manage them.

1. Communication

First things first: Communication is going to be KEY to a strong roommate relationship. Whether you’re living with a friend, acquaintance, or stranger, spend some time before you both move in to discuss your communication preferences. Ask questions like: Are you comfortable sharing your opinions? Are you passive? How do you want to address issues?

By having these conversations, you can determine the best ways to raise concerns with each other and ensure the lines of communication stay open. Here are some ideas to build strong communication:

  • Have a quick weekly checkpoint over breakfast or dinner to catch up with your roommate and raise any issues that may exist. Think of it as a quick “meeting” that may turn into time you really look forward to spending together.
  • Leave a notepad in common space to use for quick back and forth communication. Messages like “Having friends over from 6-8pm tonight” or “Please clean your dishes in the sink before my parents come on Saturday at 12!” give your roommate a heads-up and are easy to keep track of.
  • Leverage technology like phone calls or text messages, but be warned that emotion often loses its meaning over text!

2. Shared Spaces

Shared spaces can be the start of roommate issues, if one roommate feels more entitled to use the space than others or has different standards for keeping it neat and tidy. Talk about how you’d like to use shared spaces like living rooms, kitchens, and outdoor space. Some major questions to talk through together include:

  • What are your standards for cleanliness in shared spaces and how do you plan to maintain them?
  • How can we plan to host guests in shared spaces?
  • When guests are over, do both roommates still have access to shared space?
  • Who is responsible for furnishings and items in shared space (i.e. sofa, coffee table, television, kitchen supplies), and who’s responsible if items get broken?

3. Apartment Hours

Your apartment is your home, and every person has a different idea of how their home should run, and what hours to keep! When getting to know your roommate, ask about their preferences to ensure your schedules are compatible enough to successfully live together. Think through topics like:

  • Preferred “bedtimes,” or quiet hours for your apartment (i.e. no loud music after 11pm)
  • Work schedules (i.e. no loud music at 7am if your roommate doesn’t work until noon)
  • Favorite/least favorite hours (i.e. don’t bother me from 2-4pm when I’m working on my novel)
  • Weekends

Understanding how your roommate’s life operates outside of your apartment will help you understand and be respectful of their preferences in your apartment. By communicating these preferences ahead of time, there should not be any surprises!

4. Guests 

Guests can become a huge area of contention for roommates. (Read the comments to this post to see what we mean!) Instead of letting it get that way, establish some basic ground-rules in advance. Don’t wait until a problem arises to determine the best way that you and your roommate can coordinate having guests over. For instance cover these basics and tweak them to fit your needs:

  • Let your roommate know when you’ll have multiple guests over
  • Be respectful of shared spaces when you have guests
  • Don’t let your friends eat your roommate’s foods
  • Keep guests out of each other’s private spaces (i.e. personal bathroom or bedroom)
  • Overnight guests shouldn’t stay longer than 3 days
  • Decide if guests can be in the apartment when the hosting roommate is not home
  • Guests should maintain the same cleanliness standards you’ve identified together

Being a good roommate comes down to having open communication from the start. While preparing to live with a roommate for the first time, find a few minutes to talk through the lists above in order to avoid any future drama.

Have a great roommate experience!

 

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Top Summer Energy Saving Tip https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/06/top-summer-energy-saving-tip/ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/06/top-summer-energy-saving-tip/#respond Sat, 17 Jun 2017 16:00:20 +0000 https://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=23835 Want to know the quickest and easiest way to save cash and energy this summer? Keep reading for the top summer energy saving tip to implement this year! Whether you live in a hot and humid or a more mild city, air conditioning bills add up…and fast! Especially as you move from winter, which may require…

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Want to know the quickest and easiest way to save cash and energy this summer? Keep reading for the top summer energy saving tip to implement this year!

Whether you live in a hot and humid or a more mild city, air conditioning bills add up…and fast! Especially as you move from winter, which may require less energy, to spring, which in many cities, requires no climate control at all! So, when summer hits, your energy bill can take a crazy leap alongside the temperature if you’re not careful.

Your air conditioning system works in a pretty basic way. You will always have to set your thermostat to either Heat or Cool and specify a certain temperature. For example, if you set your thermostat on Cool and for 72 degrees, your system will kick on and start blowing cool air the second your apartment becomes warmer than 72 degrees. Once enough cold air is blown through your apartment for it to reach 72, the unit will stop and wait for it to heat up again… at which point the cycle continues.

So, what’s this tip?!

Turn off your A/C when you leave the house!

Yes, it is that easy!

Think about it! What’s the sense of keeping an ice-cold apartment while there’s no one there to enjoy it? You likely spend at least eight hours out of your apartment every day at work or school. Along with your eight hours at work, you likely spend one hour on your commute, and two more hours on errands, at the gym, or with friends each day. That’s 11 total hours you’re out of your apartment!

To estimate how much money this tip can save you, check out your average cooling bill and divide the cost essentially in HALF (the amount of time you can avoid leaving it on each day)!

The best part about this tip? You won’t notice a difference in how cool your apartment is until the moment you come home. Then, as long as you turn on the A/C right when you walk in, it will be cooled in no time.

Bonus Tip! If you have a newer air conditioning system or smart system, you can spend 10 minutes to program your thermostat’s settings to have the A/C automatically turn off when you know you’ll be out of your apartment (think 8am – 6pm Monday through Friday). Then, as you deviate from your regular schedule, you can adjust as needed and reap the savings! (Note: Unless you have great handyman skills, you probably have to pay your building’s handyman $20 to install the smart thermostat device.)

Smart air conditioning and thermostats are a new craze in homes, since they offer a TON of convenience! Instead of having to be home to adjust the temperature, you can do it all from your device. With options like Nest (here on Amazon for ~$250), you can be sure you get the most from your unit.  Think about it: Instead of remembering to turn off your A/C when you leave your apartment, you can simply update it on your phone during your morning commute. Plus, if you’d like your place to be climate controlled by the time you get home, you can adjust it on your way back!

Other smart air conditioning products with strong setting functionality are the Honeywell Lyric T5 ($~100 on Amazon) and the Ecobee ($~250 on Amazon). Each has unique features, but these boast advanced settings to ensure your apartment is always a great temperature without breaking the bank. While it may cost a bit up front (we know $250 isn’t pennies) a smart system will absolutely save you money over time, especially in hotter climates.

For even more energy saving tips, check out here.

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10 Kitchen Appliances For Your First Apartment https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/06/10-important-kitchen-appliances/ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/06/10-important-kitchen-appliances/#respond Thu, 15 Jun 2017 12:00:08 +0000 https://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=23907 Knowing which appliances you’ll need for your first apartment can be tricky. If you’ve been living at home, chances are you’ve probably grown up having most of the kitchen appliances you need – and many you don’t – your whole life. If it’s your first time living on your own, you likely haven’t even thought…

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Knowing which appliances you’ll need for your first apartment can be tricky. If you’ve been living at home, chances are you’ve probably grown up having most of the kitchen appliances you need – and many you don’t – your whole life. If it’s your first time living on your own, you likely haven’t even thought of all of the things you might need. It’s best to figure out these things ahead of time, instead of at 3 a.m. when you’re trying to make toaster strudel (Pro Tip: toaster strudel works best when you have a toaster.)

To help you get ready for living on your own, and avoiding any disruption in your daily dietary routine, we’ve compiled a guide of  top 10 appliances for your first apartment, in order of usefulness, analyzing their cost, and how often you’re likely to need them.

1. Microwave: Without a doubt, the single most obvious kitchen appliance for your first apartment is a microwave. It’s up to you to decide, however, if you care to have one of these boxy, clunky, radiation boxes in your home. For many of us, we’ve grown up around microwaves, growing used to their speed and convenience, making it difficult to transition to living without one. It’s always nice to have a microwave around, if you can afford it and spare the counter or under counter space. Microwaves come in handy for quick thawing, heating up food quickly and easily, and, of course, speedily preparing convenience food, like microwavable burritos, cup o’ noodles, or Hot Pockets, during hectic study sessions, binge watching Master Of None, or coming home late from work. For most, something simple like the $59 Danby Designer DMW077BLSDD Countertop Microwave  will meet most of your microwave needs. For the advanced apartment chef, something  like the Samsung MG11H2020CT 1.1 cu. ft. Countertop Grill Microwave Oven might be called for, with more elaborate settings and functions. Average Price: $60 – 150, although frequently available for less, or even free, on Craigslist or Freecycle.

2. Coffee Maker: When you’re constantly busy, running from class to work to internship to meet-up to a dinner date,  needing that coffee pick-up is a daily reality. In my household, we have a rule: no one may speak to one another until we’re at least one cup deep into a strong pot of Sumatran coffee, lest we say something we’ll regret later on. An electric coffee maker is nice to have, if you drink a decent amount of coffee or all of your roommates get in on the grind. Electric coffee makers are particularly convenient for busy mornings, when you just don’t have time to luxuriate, as you can prepare your morning pot the night before. A lot of electric coffee makers have timers, also, making the smell of fresh-brewed French Roast or Colombian blend your alarm clock. If you are serious about your coffee, something like this $73 Cuisinart Grind and Brew will fit the bill. Average Price: $20 – $95

3. Toaster: Again, a lot of us grew up with the classic two-slot toaster oven chilling on our countertops, just waiting for our Pop Tarts, our bagels, our muffins and toast. It’s difficult getting used to not having a toaster around, even if you won’t need it that often. It’s possible to make toast or bagels in an oven or on a stove top, but it’s tricky business, easy to get wrong. Even if you get your toast perfectly right, every time, it gets old. You’ll feel like you’re camping, in your apartment, which begins to lose its charm. This cute little Hamilton Beach can do even fat bagels and costs about $15. Average price $10 – $60

 

4. Countertop Blender: A countertop blender is one of those things that you don’t need, but you’d love to have. If you’re used to having a countertop blender around, however, you might need to have one, as it’s kind of hard to step back from being able to instantaneously dice, crush, pulp, puree, or liquify ingredients by hand. Ever tried to make a smoothie by hand? It’s not fun, trust us. But if you have this $80 Nutri Bullet it’s done in a flash. (Keep an eye out for sales – sometimes they can be had for about $50.) Average Price: $40 – $500, (there’s a staggering array of countertop blenders out there, at all price points.)

5. Hand Mixer: Much like blenders and food processors, if you’re used to having an electric mixer around, you do NOT want to go step backwards towards mixing things by hand. If you do any amount of baking, or even occasionally have people over for dinner, you’ll want a hand mixer in the appliance drawer. Electric hand mixers, like this Oxo for $28, make homemade whipped cream a snap, cake batter a breeze, and brownies in minutes. Average Price: $12.99 – $69.99

6. Water Purifier: Although a water purifier may not be the first thing to come to mind when you think ‘most important kitchen appliances’, as we tend to think of electrical kitchen appliances – water purifiers are appliances, AND essential. Living in cities is a fact of life for a lot of us – or urban/suburban centers, at any cost. Cities are notorious for bad, dirty drinking water, especially so in certain places (look at the drinking water crisis in Flint, MI for an example of why a water purifier is so important). A water purifier is a simple, small little device, like this Pur for $25, that attaches straight to your faucet. An attachable water filter eliminates the need for portable water filtration pitchers, like the Brita water filter, freeing up invaluable space in our already-crammed fridges and reducing the cost of filters, which can get kind of spendy for filtered water pitchers, leaving us drinking straight from the tap when you’re short on cash, which is not uncommon. Average Price: $15 – $70

7. Electric Tea Kettle: Although electric coffee makers are convenient and lovely, I’m addicted to my French Press, personally. Too many years living in the Pacific Northwest have left me immune to weak, watered-down coffee, so it takes several cups of thick, black, oil-like coffee to rev my engines in the morning. Sometimes it’s a bit of a pain having to boil water on the stove, as it’s easy to forget, boiling out all of your water, sometimes even destroying the pot. Electric tea kettles are almost ridiculously useful, boiling water faster than you can blink an eye. You’ll be amazed at how often you need boiling water, once you get an electric tea kettle, and astounded at what you can do with all that saved time! (like enjoying your coffee or tea, for starters!) We’d recommend the $19 Best Electric Tea Kettle, Version 2.0 Stainless Steel 2.0L Capacity, from Best, for a combination of capacity and affordability. Average Price: $10 – $40

8. Food Processor: For the even more hardcore foodie, you might need a food processor. Your average blender can fulfill most basic chopping, blending, and dicing functions, but a food processor is mandatory for a full range of culinary functions. If you need to dice or chunk ingredients, for things like salsa or cole slaw, or grind things, like seeds, a food processor will save you countless hours of frustration. For those already fully in the grips of their gourmet obsession, try the Cuisinart DLC-8SBCY Pro Custom 11-Cup Food Processor – guaranteed to bring a touch of pure class to your countertop, with its brushed chrome exterior. It’s pricy at $166, but remember, Cuisinart invented food processors, so you get what you pay for. Average Price: $27 – $200+

9. Electric Grill: Some of us still scoff at electric grills as a legitimate, useful kitchen appliance, remembering all the infomercials for the George Foreman grill. For a while, we were wondering if fathers, grandfathers, or uncles knew how to give any gift other than a George Foreman grill, that become the de facto default ‘masculine’ gift. Turns out our forefathers were on point, with this trend, as electric grills really are handy. They reduce the amount of pots, pans, and skillets you’ll need to wash which, in and of itself, more than justifies the initial investment. Electric grills also make it possible to have grilled food, even when you live in an apartment. The idea of a summer with no BBQ is just a little bit of a bummer, even if you’re not that into it. Just don’t try making S’mores on your electric grill – it could probably be done, but I wouldn’t envy the roommate whose turn it is to do the dishes. $40 – $100

10. Convection Oven: If you eat a lot of toast, want full control over whatever you’re toasting, a convection oven is an insanely useful kitchen appliance. Convection ovens heat up three times as quickly as a full-size oven, cooking things up to 30% faster, while using a fraction of the energy. For fast, crispy sandwiches, microwaveable burritos without the radiation, or the ability to pretty much toast an entire loaf of bread at the same time, convection ovens more than make up for the counter  space they take up. This one from Oster for $85 even boasts a special pizza drawer.  $80 – $300

What are a few of your favorite kitchen appliances, that you couldn’t live without? Let us know in the comments!

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Prepping For Your Move: Managing Your List of Things-to-Do https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/06/prepping-move-managing-list-things/ https://www.myfirstapartment.com/2017/06/prepping-move-managing-list-things/#respond Wed, 14 Jun 2017 12:00:01 +0000 https://www.myfirstapartment.com/?p=23821 There is an overwhelming dread when you mentally list all of the things you have to do when you’re moving into a new place. It goes on and on like a never ending grocery list even though you keep purchasing items. Where do I have to go for this piece of furniture? How much do…

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There is an overwhelming dread when you mentally list all of the things you have to do when you’re moving into a new place. It goes on and on like a never ending grocery list even though you keep purchasing items. Where do I have to go for this piece of furniture? How much do I have to save to buy this dresser? What kind of utensils do I want for my apartment? What style of cups should I buy? Do I have enough money for all of this? It’s a merry-go-round of excitement with dashes of panic. So much to do, so little time. Literally.

When I moved, I found it helpful to create a timeline and map out all of the things that needed to be completed. If you’re a more visual person, this can make it infinitely easier to keep your ducks in a row when you’re preparing to move out.

It was just an abundance of tasks with a limited amount of time. Most of my days were spent at my full time job and by the time I got home, I was too tired to go to the store to buy small essentials, like kitchen or bathroom items, or even to shop for anything online. Per my example below, I used a simple chart to keep my panic at bay. It can be a list or a visual chart or a series of iPhone reminders. Whatever works best for you.

For example:

ACTION DEADLINE BUDGET
Buy kitchen and bathroom items/ bedding June 15th $200
Buy bed and coffee table June 20th $500
Buy dining table Whenever $200-300
Start packing Week of June 18 N/A
Get bank teller’s check Week of June 25 $1,900
Finish packing Week of June 25 N/A
Change over utility costs/ inquire on monthly costs Start utilities on July 1st N/A

 

Of course, you can customize your chart depending on what tasks you need to do but keep the 3 columns of Action, Deadline, and Budget. Mine was handwritten and included colors to keep it interesting. Honestly, a list of things-to-do can get pretty boring. Staying organized is an essential to making your move a success. There are some people who simplify their process to the extent that they throw their clothes in a bag and others who neatly fold their items and tuck them into a box. It all depends on how your mind functions and how you keep it all in check.

Here are some more moving tips for you to check out:
14 Point Moving Checklist
Things to Do When Moving Out of State

 

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