used furniture

Save Money with Used Furniture for Your Apartment

When getting your first apartment one of the first things you need to get is furniture. If you’re just starting out, however, there is a good chance that you are operating on a budget. As you get used to having new bills and rent you may not have a lot of disposable income for furniture and decorations. A great way to save some money is to buy used furniture for your apartment. While it may not be brand new, you can find some great used items that will be both durable and comfortable for your needs. Here are some of the best things to buy used. 

Bed Frame – Sure, you can just put a mattress on the floor and sleep on it, but why not get a bed frame? This will allow you to get your mattress off the floor and it can even provide for some extra storage space under the bed. You can get a used bed frame that is both durable and adjustable for the size of your bed for less than $50. An Adjustable bed frame can also be handy for when you get a larger mattress. It will let you size up to something bigger. 

Exercise Equipment – Many apartments have exercise rooms and equipment that can be used as part of the community, but having your own equipment is an option if your apartment doesn’t offer this. The value of a treadmill or exercise bike drops significantly once you bring it home. You can go to a resale store and get them for a fraction of the price. Garage sales are also a great place to find used exercise equipment. You should almost always buy used exercise equipment if you are buying your own. 

Tables – When buying used furniture tables are a great place to start. You should avoid buying anything with upholstery to avoid any possible allergens, but kitchen tables and coffee tables can be found for a pittance at resale shops. Garage and yard sales are also a great place. If you’re allergic to pets though you probably want to pass on a couch. You don’t know if someone had a cat or a dog you might be allergic to. 

What to Buy New

Cookware and Small Appliances – Something like a new coffee maker can cost as little as $25 and will be up to date. It will even be under a brief manufacturer’s warranty in case it breaks down. Most small appliances are inexpensive. When it comes to cookware cleanliness is an issue. This can lead to food allergies and more. 

Bedding – You should definitely spend the extra money on a new mattress. People shed skin cells when they sleep, making any used bedding unsanitary. With a new mattress you know that you’ll be sleeping on something clean and fresh, giving you peace of mind. 

self storage lock

Finding the Best Lock for Self-Storage

Keeping your property secure is the number one concern of anyone who rents a self-storage unit. These are places off of your own property that rely on others to stay fully secure. This is why many storage vendors sell premium locks that will both stand up to the elements and keep your unit secure. Most of the time these locks are heavy-duty locks that function with a key, but padlocks can also be used. To learn which type of lock is good for your unit consider the following:

Shackle Padlocks

These traditional locks have a base locking unit with a rounded shackle that passes through an eyelet on handle to secure the door. Since the shackle is the weakest point of the lock, the length of material, thickness, and material is important. The shackle of your padlock is an obvious point of attack for thieves wielding bolt cutters and the like. Because of that, it is important to strike the right balance between reducing the amount of exposed shackle and allowing sufficient clearance for your purpose.

A close shackle has built-in shoulders that expose only a small amount of the shackle, but this reduces the useable clearance of the lock. As far as thickness, anything over 10 millimeters of thickness for the shackle is considered high security, while anything less than 7 millimeters is low security. They can be made from materials such as plastic for light security situations all what way up to molybdenum, which is the strongest material used in padlocks. 

Cylinder Locks

Cylinder locks are offered by many storage companies and they slide directly into a hole in the door. This tight fit eliminates the exposure of a shackle and a raised area that can be tampered with. It is often a lock flush with the door much like a conventional permanent lock. 

Smart Locks

One way that the storage industry is going is the use of smart locks. These types of locks are completely keyless and can be opened via a keypad or an access card. Some of the more sophisticated models can even use biometric fingerprint recognition or interaction with an app on your smartphone. These are a good option for self storage companies because they do not need to be replaced when a new renter takes over a unit. They can merely reprogram it for the new client. 

These are just a few of the options out there for self-storage locks, and many of them depend on the type of facility you choose. Each storage company is difference and has difference capabilities for locks. Be sure to ask for what options you have up front. 

pet friendly

Finding a Pet Friendly Apartment

When you move you want to find an apartment for your entire family. This includes the furry members of your family. While some apartments will not allow pets because of liability concerns, other will welcome pets as long as you abide the guidelines. This can include an extra pet deposit fee on top of your rental deposit, an extra fee on your monthly rent, or more. Some complexes may also limit you to only a dog or a cat, so finding a place that will accept your emu could be difficult. With some advice, however, you can find a pet friendly apartment that will make everyone in your family happy. 

What Amenities to Look For

How pampered is your pet? If you’re looking for a place to live and only a place to live many apartments are happy to accept pets. Others have amenities that can be specific drawing perks to pet owners. Many newer complexes not only accept pets, they will have dog parks, in-home groomers, and more. They view the dog park as part of the community so residents can connect with other residents, and this includes the dogs. In some larger cities they may even have access to veterinarians and more. 

Know Where Your Pet Can Go

While some apartments and buildings will allow pets, they don’t mean to allow blanket access to all parts of the building. There may be other businesses within the building that are not as pet friendly. While they are fine with you having your pet in the apartment unit itself and some of the hallways it is unlikely they will be welcome in community areas or the gym. You’ll also want to check and see what pet-friendly amenities are nearby. This includes a vet, grooming, and pet supplies. 

Find the Right Apartment

Your apartment itself can be pet friendly, but some apartments work better for poets than others. For example; if you have a pet that sheds an apartment with tile or laminate floors will be easier to clean than one with carpet. Having a unit on the ground floor is easier for dog owners so they can go outside easier. 

Check Your Lease

Finally, if you have a pet in your apartment you will need to learn the terms of your lease and how they relate to your pet. Some communities will have a weight or breed restriction on dogs. Most will have a pet deposit that is separate from the regular damage deposit. You might even have to pay a small fee each month on top of your regular rent. If you follow all of these steps, however, you can find the perfect apartment for you and your pet. 

Local Move

The Cost of a Local Move

Moving is already hard, but moving across the country is even harder. If you’re moving across town that can be taken care of in a day or two depending on how much stuff you have. The cost of a local move can depend on a large number of factors. This includes transporting large items, vehicles, family, and more. Most of the time you’re going to need a moving truck, but it can be cheaper sometimes if you have a complete moving service. Fortunately, over 60% of moves in the country occur within the same county and another 21% of moves occur within the same state. 

Location

Where you live is a major factor when it comes to determining the cost of a local move. Moving a two-bedroom apartment in Dallas costs $729 on average, but in San Francisco it is almost twice as much. That is an estimate of three movers at 6 hours each plus truck costs, and that is just locally. This is just what the market demands because some cities simply have a higher cost of living than others.  When you are moving locally the costs are generally considered to be by the hour, as well. That includes packing, carrying, loading, and more. 

What You Move

Heavier and bulkier items are going to cost more than moving boxes of clothes or kitchen utensils. It generally takes a crew of three movers about five to seven hours to move a two bedroom apartment, but if you have heavier items, excessive stairs, or a long distance to the moving truck it can take longer. You’ll also want to factor in the tip to movers. This is not required, but it is generally considered a courtesy to tip movers 10-15%. Movers generally charge $35 per hour per mover, but the local market can determine the price better. 

When You Move

Moving on the weekend is more expensive, especially with moving services, because they are in more demand. If you’re able to do most of your move during the week it can actually be cheaper because you’re avoiding peak move times. Traffic can become a factor here, however. Be sure to ask your moving service if they have different prices of weekend vs. weekday moves. 

Do What You Can Yourself

While a moving service is great, the more you can do yourself, the better. This means packing up what you can before the movers even get there so your stuff can go on the truck faster. This allows it to get to your new destination faster. If you have everything ready to go when the movers arrive that is less time you’re paying for them to pack it up. 

self storage

Choosing Between a Storage Shed and Storage Unit

Every home can use more space. Deciding between building your own storage shed and renting a storage unit can be a tricky choice for many homeowners. Each type of storage solution has its benefits as well as its drawbacks. Here is what you should consider when deciding between a storage shed and a storage unit.

Cost

The good news is that the cost of a storage shed is all up front. It can be a bigger initial investment, as it could cost a couple thousand dollars, but it depends on the length of time you will need storage. The average cost to rent a storage unit is $91.14 a month. You could store your items in a storage unit for 9 months at an average cost of $820.26. This varies by the size of the unit and the facility, but if you only need short-term storage it may be more cost-effective to rent a storage unit.

Security

Storage units have varying levels of security in the form of cameras, gates, locks, and more. Many facilities also have managers that live on site and conduct routine security patrols. With a storage shed on your property all security is up to you. You can add locks and connect it to your home security system.

Access

A major advantage to having a storage shed on your property is that you have access to your belongings at all times. For items like garden tools, sports equipment, and more having everything on site is great. Many storage facilities offer 24-hour access, but they are still off-site and you have to travel to access your belongings. You still have to maintain the shed, however. You have to paint it, make repairs, and such. With a storage unit, the storage company handles all this.

Pests

Part of the storage company’s responsibility is to spray for bugs and keep other pests out of its units. They often have a standing contract from pest-control companies to take care of these things, while your own storage shed leaves this as your responsibility.

After careful consideration of each of the criteria above, there are still other things to consider. Is the convenience of a climate-controlled unit something you need? What life-phase are you in? Everyone has a different opinion on what is “convenient”, so be sure to take the time to think it through. Everyone has different needs when it comes to storage, so it is important to consider all factors.

bicycle storage

Bicycle Storage in Your Apartment

bicycle storage

Nowadays apartments come with a wide range of amenities and even more space than before, but apartment living still means space is at a premium. You have to learn to economize the space that you do have. This is true for all of your stuff, including your modes of transportation. While parking is generally considered to be part of your lease in many places, if you live near the core of a city it can be an additional fee. Many apartment dwellers are choosing to go car-less and get around via bicycle. When it comes to bicycle storage, however, that can be difficult in an apartment. Here are some tips on how you can store your bike to keep it safe and secure in your apartment.

Bicycle Storage in Your Coat Closet

Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of room to store a bike, which is why a coat closet can be a great option. It is easily accessible and in poor weather you’re going to need your coat anyway. Since this is likely the closest spot to the front door it makes for an easy-in/easy-out option. In the summer you can get more space for your bike by moving winter coats to your main closet, thus making it easier to get your bike in and out.

Balcony or Porch

This only works if you have the option of a porch or balcony, but it is a great place to store your bike out of the way. You don’t have to worry about moving coats or sweaters out of the way to get to it. Weather can still be a factor, but you can protect it from the elements by putting a tarp or other form of cover over it. Just make sure that you don’t block the door to your apartment, as this could be a fire hazard.

Garage

This is by far the easiest place to store it if you have the option. Some apartments do come with the option for a garage or other covered parking. If you are already paying for this, it is a great place to store your bike and keep it out of the elements. It is also a great place to perform any maintenance on it if needed. You won’t track in any dirt and it is completely out of the way from being inside your apartment.

Bike Rack

Many apartments offer on-site bike racks for their residents to use communally. There are also plenty of types of stands, racks, and hangers that your complex can offer. These are versatile structures that allow you to lock your bike up and leave it there with the peace of mind that it is safe.

Whatever storage option you choose, a bike in your apartment is both a great way to get around and a great way to get free exercise. You can find any number of innovative solutions that will not only solve your storage issues, but keep your bike safe and sound.

Holiday Party

Hosting a Holiday Party in a Smaller Apartment

Holiday Party

The holiday season is almost here. It can often be a troubling time if you are an apartment dweller. You may feel that your space is too small to host something like a family Thanksgiving or a Christmas party for a group of friends. The good news is that you can, indeed, host events like these no matter how small your apartment is. Sure, it will take a small amount of pre-party planning, but with a little work you can pull off a great party.

Make Some Space

Yes, you have a limited amount of space to work with, but an added benefit of clearing away some clutter is that you can create more room in your apartment even after the apartment. Look at it this way: you are probably wanting to clear away some clutter anyway, so why not do it to benefit hosting a great party?

You’ll want to start by moving some furniture that may be in the way of a centralized area. If you have a bunch of unnecessary items and out of place belongings this is a great time to put them back where they belong. If you’re struggling to figure out what needs to be pared down take photos of your apartment. This can help pinpoint areas where you can clear out space. Who knows, your apartment may even look BETTER when you’re done.

Make Room in Your Coat Closet

Since the holidays means cold weather it is a great time to purge coat closets. You can switch out seasonal clothing and create room for your guests. Many communities also have coat drives, so you can donate items you no longer wear. Once you have made room make sure that you have extra hangers for your guests. If their coats are out of the way in the coat closet it means you have more room for your party.

Rearrange the Furniture to Encourage Conversation

The default setting of most living rooms is around the television, but this discourages conversation. The way around this is to shake things up with your existing furniture. Ignore the TV. Places sofas and chairs facing each other. Make sure you have a coffee table or something in the middle so guests can set down their drinks or snacks. If possible, arrange all furniture in a round layout around a centralized area. This encourages guests to engage in conversation and interact with each other.

Keep Your Place Open

The kitchen and the living room are the natural hotspots for the party, but keep your entire apartment open. Leave doors open so guests can explore. Just be sure to make sure all open areas are free of clutter too. This can greatly increase the space of the apartment while still allowing for areas of one-on-one conversation.

Don’t Forget Your Dining Area

Many apartments may not have much of a dining area, but you can maximize space by using other areas. If you have a coffee table drape a tablecloth over it for a secondary eating area. Limit the décor on your tabletops so there is more room for food and plates. When it comes to table decorations a little goes a long way.

Use Every Surface

With space at a premium, flat surfaces become critically important. End tables can become drink stations if placed in high-traffic areas. A padded bench or ottoman can become functional with a serving tray on top. Bookshelves, TV consoles, and other objects with a flat surface can become handy places for people to put down their drinks.

Find Alternative Seating

Everyone likes to sit at a party, but what if you don’t have enough seating? The first way to avoid this is to know your number of guests. Try to have a seat for each guest, especially if it is a dinner party. With a more casual affair you can probably get away with having a few fewer seats than guests. To come up with enough seats you can repurpose furniture from other rooms. Desk chairs, bed benches, and even patio furniture are great for this. Even stepladders can be used in a pinch.

The key to hosting a great holiday party in a small apartment is to be creative. With a little work you can pull off an event that your guests are sure to love.

apartment lighting

Apartment Lighting: Getting More for Less

Apartment Lighting

Something to think about when getting a new apartment is the lighting. It is not something that is always at the top of a prospective tenant’s list, but apartment lighting can be something you’re not happy with after moving in. You also might be sure how you can improve on it if it is bad. Sure, you can add floor lights or lights on end tables, but there are some other ideas that might help the situation even more. Here are some of the easiest solutions you can implement when it comes to improving apartment lighting.

Improving the Natural Light

The best way to improve light is to rely on natural light. You’ll have to have an eye for it when you are touring apartments, but you can also still optimize the natural light that you do have. If you don’t want any blinds or shutters you can take them down and store them for when you move out. If you would rather leave them up, be sure to leave them open during the day to maximize the amount of natural light.

Overhead Lighting

Most rentals have overhead lights and/or ceiling fans, but they might not provide enough light for your tastes. You can go to any hardware store and purchase your own new ones if you know how to safely install fixtures. These fixtures can stay up throughout your time in the apartment and come back down when it is time to move out. Just be sure that you can safely store the original fixtures and put them back up.

Amplify Light with Mirrors

While mirrors don’t make their own light, they do reflect other light sources and can amplify the light you have available. They make rooms feel larger as well. If you can hang mirrors or reflective metal surfaces across from windows, natural light sources, or lamps it will help brighten up almost any room.

Small, Portable Lights

Many stores now sell small lights that can be placed almost anywhere via Velcro or command strips. These lights are great for being put underneath a counter or on a wall and can be turned on with a simple touch. The downside is that they run on battery power, so they are not connected to the electrical grid of your apartment. Still, they are good for ambiance and can be placed in any number of spaces. They are also great for closets.

Decorative Lights

A great way to make your apartment more festive is to hang decorative lights across the ceiling light Christmas lights. These can work best in bedrooms or hallways, but can also be strung up virtually anywhere. As long as you have access to a power outlet you can hang Christmas and other decorative lights all over the place.

self storage summer

Clearing Garage Space with Self Storage

self storage summer

When you got your home or apartment you probably had grand visions for your garage. It was going to be more than a place to store your car. It was going to be a workshop, a place for your lawn care supplies, and maybe even an escape from the everyday world. Over time, however, it has become a catch-all for storage. Now you can barely fit your car in it because of so much stuff, and you haven’t even begun packing up your summer furniture.

Many people turn to self-storage units as a way to clean up the clutter in their garages. Self-storage units are a great place to store bikes, summer furniture grills, and other stuff during the winter so they are out of the way. But how do you pick what stays in the garage and what goes to the storage unit?

Use the Walls and Ceilings

For the items that are staying in the garage thing of the walls and even the ceiling as extra places to store things. Adding cabinets and racks provide additional space for smaller items and keeps them off of the floor. Bike hooks can be hung from the ceiling as a great way to stow bikes. The most important part is organization. As long as things are organized, you know where they are, and they are easier to get to when they are needed.

What Goes in Storage Units?

Storage units are great for large items that need to be stored, but you simply don’t have room for them in your garage. This can be stuff like patio furniture, outdoor games, grills, and more. Basically, they only take up space during the winter. This is why a short-term storage unit is a great option for the cold winter months.

Alternative Vehicle Storage

While you will need access to your primary vehicle, other vehicles like motorcycles, hobby vehicles, or even RVs still need a place. They often are not used much during the winter, anyway. Some self-storage centers have larger units that can even hold vehicles. With these larger items out of the way you can have more room at your home for winter storage.

A self-storage unit is always a great solution for short term and long term storage of items. As you’re cleaning out your garage this fall, consider renting a unit to store your summer items for the winter.

bicycle storage

All You Need to Know About Roommates

roommate agreement

When you’re just starting out on your own money can be tight, especially when it comes to living in cities. That’s why many people opt to live with roommates in order to share costs. It can be a great way to save some money on living expenses, but it can also be fraught with peril due to the ups and downs of interpersonal relationships. If you choose to live with a roommate here are some things you need to know before signing a lease.

What is a Roommate Agreement?

A roommate agreement is basically a written document that puts down the responsibilities of each roommate. It is often made without the landlord present. This can range from financial responsibilities to personal ones. It often outlines how rent and utilities are to be divided, but it can also be modified to include chores, food sharing, quiet times, and the policy on guests.

The three biggest things included in the roommate agreement are rent, security deposit, and utilities. These financial items are critical to any agreement.

Is a Roommate Agreement Legally Binding?

The answer to this can be tricky. A lease with a landlord is legally binding from beginning to end. If there is legal action against a tenant that broke a roommate agreement a judge will likely only hold them responsible for certain items. For example: If the roommate moves out early because they had to take a job elsewhere, leaving you to pay all rent and utilities, the court may order the roommate to pay you back in full.

The court likely won’t get involved if some of the more personal terms are violated like playing the TV too loud. Another important factor is if the roommate files for bankruptcy or has no money. If they don’t have any funds it is unlikely you will be able to collect on any judgment.

The phrase “caveat emptor”, or “buyer beware” is important before agreeing to live with a roommate. Be sure that it is someone you know and trust if it is at all possible. That makes the entire rental experience much more enjoyable for all parties involved. If you are meeting someone for the first time be sure to do your homework and find out more about them. In this day and age of the internet and social media you can learn a lot about a person before living with them.

In the event you do have to go to small claims court for failure to pay rent and utilities a roommate agreement can be a handy tool in your favor. It can help you get the share of the bills the other party agree to pay, but it is by no means a guarantee. By getting to know the person and trusting them you can make sure you have a much better experience, and it will end up as a much better experience for the second party as well, because they likely need a roommate too!