Back to School Checklist for Your Apartment

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The summer heat isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, but the beginning of the academic year looms in the not-so-distant future. Are you ready for it? Is your apartment ready for it? During the summer months, desks and workspaces get covered up, supplies distributed here and there, and for the most part it gets shoved into a corner somewhere and forgotten for the summer months. If you’re prepping for the school year ahead, there are some helpful ways for you to get your apartment ready, as well as your state of mind.

  1. Carve out a good work space Put a good desk or table near some outlets in your room or in a space that’s not too close to the TV or soundsystem. Have a nice chair ready so when you’re poring over books you’re not feeling uncomfortable. Organize your desk so that it’s ready for the year ahead by clearing off old papers and grouping tools and utensils in caddies or bins. Keep your electronic cables in order with cable clips on the wall or a cable organizer you can get at the office supply store. I also like to have a calendar, bulletin board, or chalkboard up on the wall behind the desk along with some inspiring pictures to help keep me focused and inspired.
  2. Clear out the landing strip Make a nice clean space for you to stop and unload when you get in the door. You’ll want to drop your stuff wherever, but you’ll stay more organized if the mail is in a place you can remember and your backpack isn’t in the middle of the floor for you or someone else to trip over. Using a small table with an organizer on it and a chair or stool helps to keep things in their correct places near the door.
  3. Organize your bookshelves You’re most likely going to have some new books and it might be time to get rid of the old ones, possibly by selling them at the local used bookstore or online. Clear a good sized space for your new textbooks so you don’t have to scramble after you get them.
  4. Clean out the refrigerator Kind of like spring cleaning, back to school is a good time to just weed out all the junk around. Clean out all the old and questionable food from the fridge and prepare for having less time to do tedious tasks like this. It might also be a good time to stock up on essentials that are non perishable or that keep for a long time. Basically, do things that take time while you have time!

Have a great school year!

Awesome Bike Accessories to Help You Do Everything

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Cycling is experiencing a huge spike in interest for many college students. They’re opting to bike instead of driving to school and around town because it’s both cheaper in the long run and easier to find parking. This is great both for your wallet and for the environment!

So if you’re an avid biker, you might need things that help you do what those car folks have easy. Here are some accessories that make biking around a little more convenient than before.

Grocery Basket A quick trip to the store can easily be accommodated by this front-mounted grocery basket, which is inexpensive at $30 and fits most bikes. I used to use a backpack, but depending on how heavy your groceries are and how hot it outside, that can get uncomfortable pretty quickly. If you need extra storage for food, consider a rear-mounted platform or basket as well.

U-Lock Holder You might need one of these if you have a big clunky u-lock to lock your bike up with when you park it. U-locks are definitely the preferred way to keep your bicycle safe while you’re inside, but they are heavy and trust me, you don’t want to hang it on the handlebars while you ride. This lock holder is pretty cool – handmade from Oopsmark on Etsy, it mounts your U-lock behind your seat and is made from attractive vegetable-tanned leather. This brings us to the next one…

Wine Bottle Carrier From the same company on Etsy, there is an awesome wine bottle carrier so you can transport that bottle of wine to your friend’s without any hassle. This is also made from the same high grade leather as the u-lock holder and looks spectacular.

Bike Storage Owning a bike and living in an apartment can be tricky, even though the two circumstances often coincide. This bike rack is beautifully minimalist and fits almost any bike so you can mount it on the wall and get it off of your much-needed floor space.

Be a Savvy Apartment Shopper!

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The Gainesville Apartment and Condominium Guide helps you find a new place with a number of awesome features – you can pick specific features to search, search certain areas in Gainesville, and schedule a tour online, which all helps you to find the perfect new place. There are also some other things you should know about looking for an apartment when you’re new to apartment hunting or you haven’t done it in a while. These things will help you get the best deal and understand what you’re signing up for.

Tip #1 You see the words “First Month Free!” and it catches your eye – One month free means it’s most likely worked into the monthly rate for the rest of the year. This can be an advantage if you’ve been hit hard with a lot of bills at once and you need a little bit of a breather. However, understand that it’s not that it’s so much cheaper so much as it’s just redistributed.

Tip #2 What’s included? Factor in all utilities to monthly rental rate and compare application, pet, administrative fees when you’re making comparative notes. It can be easy to forget the little things that add up when you’re just looking at a number for the monthly rent. You may get cheaper rent one place, but if the utilities are more expensive or fewer of them are included in your monthly rent it can make a big difference how you compare places.

Tip #3 Some amenities can make a huge difference. I’ve written about laundry facilities a number of times and how they’re a deal breaker for me. What are your deal breakers? Make sure you factor those in too and not just the rental rate because they can make quite the difference in your happiness living in a certain apartment.

Tip #4 Have you ever tried the rental calculation for how much you should be spending on rent? This is a pretty good way to determine how much you can really afford per month. Some people say 30% of your annual income is a good amount, but most landlords or property management companies base it on dividing your income by 40.

 

How to Stay Away From the “College Apartment” Look

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Do you feel like you’re ready to distance yourself from that collegiate apartment vibe that seemingly everyone doing their undergrad appears to have? I’m not sure where these visual guidelines exist in print, but they certainly exist in practice. Maybe it’s due to the sidewalk poster sales on campuses and what’s readily available within walking distance. Either way, there eventually comes a time when you’re feeling over the dorm room look. There are some simple ways you can avoid it and embrace a more mature, but still fun feel in your apartment.

Instead of posters taped to the wall, try posters in poster frames It’s perfectly ok to like your posters, but adding the frame gives them a more finished look on the wall. Poster frames are relatively inexpensive and readily available at craft stores like Michaels and Hobby Lobby as well. Real art work always looks more sophisticated, but is much more expensive. However, if you have friends in the art department see if you can buy a piece that they may be happy to part with for a reasonable price.

Instead of lining liquor bottles up above your kitchen cabinets, try different colored glass vases It sound old lady-ish but it’s actually quite chic – case in point, the amazing look of rainbow colored glass in Elsie Larson’s (A Beautiful Mess) home. If you’re not feeling the colored glass, potted plants that don’t need much sunlight also look great on top of cabinets.

If you have a hand-me-down couch that’s seen better days, try a slipcover and a few throw pillows to spruce it up There’s nothing wrong with using furniture that’s been handed down a couple of times. I’m all about reusing things that aren’t ready to be thrown out yet and sometimes they aren’t exactly what we want, but there are ways to improve on an oldie. So give the old couch a thorough cleaning and check out some fun slipcovers. There’s a whole world of throw pillows out there, including basically anything you could ever want on a pillow on Society6’s website.

Consider your guests One of the main differences between a college apartment and a professional person’s apartment is not having the things a guest might expect – so check on your soap, hand towels, tissues, and all that. The details can make the biggest difference!

How to Get Your Apartment Date Ready in 15 Minutes!

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If you just got off work and remembered someone is supposed to come over and you still have to shower, get dressed, possibly pick up a bottle of wine and you, gasp, realize your place isn’t looking so hot… never fear! Unless you haven’t cleaned in months and your place is in need of some serious deep cleansing (in which case you should suddenly suggest the two of you go out), you can spruce up your apartment in 15 minutes with no trouble at all. Here are the most important things you can take care of before your date arrives-

  1. Grab all the extraneous stuff lying around with no real home and put it in a place where it isn’t visible. This is the point when a junk drawer or junk box with a lid is advisable. If all else fails, shove it in your bedroom closet to be sorted with later. Don’t use a hall closet, though because that’s a spot more likely to be opened by a guest.
  2. Take out all the kitchen and bathroom trash – you can handle to waste one bag if there isn’t much in there because if there is so much as one banana peel in that trash can it can stink up a whole apartment. Make sure there aren’t any pizza boxes lying around on countertops either. Then grab the febreeze and give everything upholstered a light spritz. If you don’t have febreeze, light a candle or make coffee to cover up any extra household odors.
  3. Adjust the lighting to mood lighting – lamps, string lights, but cut down on overhead lights. Not only does this create ambience, chances are it will minimize the amount of attention paid to the less organized areas in your apartment.
  4. Tweak a few thoughtful details by putting one of your favorite books or magazines on the coffee table along with a dish of snacks or a bottle of wine for the evening. If you have additional time, put on some music in the background. Now, breathe! You did it.

 

Community Spotlight: Asbury Park

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If “pristine” and “peaceful” are words that come to mind when you’re thinking about your ideal apartment, take a look at Asbury Park Apartments in southwestern Gainesville. Asbury Park is located a few minutes off Interstate 75, near the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens in a secluded gated community. Apartments at Asbury Park are one to three bedroom apartment homes with garages; you’ll feel more like you’re in your own home and not in a giant complex full of other people above and below you.

If you take a look inside the apartments at Asbury Park, you’ll see open airy spaces with high cathedral-style ceilings. You’ll also see large, fully equipped kitchens, a washer and dryer in every unit, and a nice screened in porch for enjoying the outdoors without having to leave your apartment. Safety is a priority at Asbury Park and not only is the community gated, but each unit has its own individual alarm system.

Outside on the grounds, there are a number of great amenities for residents to take advantage of! If you love to spend time outside, there are plenty of places for you to enjoy a sunny Florida day in the serene atmosphere at Asbury Park.   Depending on how you like to spend your times outside, there is a beautiful pool with a jacuzzi, there are lighted tennis and basketball courts, a 24-hour fitness center, and a playground.

Leases at Asbury Park start at 7 months and go up and pets are allowed, so schedule an appointment to see this charming community today!

Community Spotlight: Hunters Run Apartments

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Just south of the University of Florida and west of Sweetwater Wetlands Park is Hunters Run Apartments, where residents enjoy a calm atmosphere and are just a quick drive from city entertainment. The location is also convenient to Shands Hospital, Butler Plaza, and I-75. Apartments at Hunters run are spacious and inviting, with floor plans that range from one to three bedrooms. You can also pick a floor plan with a den if you want some additional living space in your apartment.

Well-kept grounds provide an ideal environment to call home. The space outside Hunters Run is complete with lush greenery as well as spots to spend an enjoyable afternoon out of doors. If you like to swim, there is a pool with lap lanes at your disposal. There is also a basketball court and a tennis court for having a match with friends or just getting some practice in on your own. If you prefer to stay out of the sun when you exercise, there’s a fitness center indoors with an array of exercise equipment.

Each apartment has great amenities to offer both inside and out. If you’re dreaming of a new place with high, vaulted ceilings and an expansive floor plan, this is the spot for you. Hunters Run apartments have screened in porches and even have fireplaces for added ambience.

Convenience is one of the many perks of living at Hunters Run. Apartments include washer and dryer connections within the unit, but there is also a community laundry room for residents as well.   Extra storage is also an option in case you need it. And last but not least, one of the best conveniences is how many utilities are included in your rent: water, sewer, trash removal, pest control, and cable are all included. This makes tracking monthly expenses much easier!

One more great reason to live at Hunters Run is pets are welcome! Dogs up to 90 pounds are allowed as well as cats and you can have up to two pets. Leases at Hunters Run start at 7 months and security deposits are as low as $250! Schedule a tour to see how you could call the apartments at Hunters Run home.

When to Buy Organic and When Not To

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Eating healthily these days seems overly complicated – there are so many choices. Organic, Non-GMO, farm-raised, and so forth. And while eating foods with these labels is good for you, it’s hard on your wallet. Some items are worth the extra cost, though. Buying produce grown organically means the growing methods are almost completely free of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers and are non-GMO. The USDA has a strict compliance guide for growers of organic produce to follow which is listed on their website here.

Certain fruits and vegetables are more heavily treated with pesticides than others or retain the chemicals even after washing, which when ingested can have negative effects on your health. Other items however are less treated or don’t absorb as many of the chemicals and there is not a significant difference between buying the regular and the organic.

According to www.organic.org, the most highly contaminated produce items are as follows:

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Nectarines
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Grapes (imported)
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes

The following are less contaminated and therefore less harmful to just buy the regular mass-produced variety if you are on a budget:

  • Onions
  • Avocado
  • Sweet Corn
  • Pineapples
  • Mango
  • Asparagus
  • Sweet Peas
  • Kiwi
  • Bananas
  • Cabbage
  • Broccoli
  • Papaya

Keep in mind there is some controversy surrounding the organic food trend due to the USDA’s definition of “organic” and what some people might like to believe it is. According to the Washington Post, growers are only required to have 95% organic ingredients to be qualified as organic. There are 200 plus types of non-organic additives that can be used in foods while still maintaining the title, so some of that could be pesticides used on produce. It’s good to do a little research into what you’re buying before you go grocery shopping if you want to be informed on what you’re eating and how it can affect your health.

Community Spotlight: The Crossing at Santa Fe Apartments

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Located right by Santa Fe College and just northwest of the University of Florida, the Crossing at Santa Fe is situated right in the mix of what’s happening in Gainesville, Florida. But the Crossing at Santa Fe has more than just a great location to offer! The Crossing’s spacious floorplans are sure to wow you with contemporary design and a student-friendly price tag.

Check out the different layouts for your next prospective apartment – the Crossing offers three and four bedroom apartments, furnished or unfurnished, with the added bonus of a bathroom for everyone on each floorplan. Apartments at the Crossing are the complete package: attention to details in the kitchen with granite countertops, cherry cabinets, and a dishwasher included, a washer and dryer in the apartment to make laundry easy, and an alarm system to keep your safety in mind.

The Crossing’s community amenities don’t disappoint either. Spend time outside your apartment in the sunshine by the gorgeous community pool. You can swim laps or lounge on one of the comfortable reclining lounge chairs on the pool patio. Other ways to have fun right outside your own apartment are by playing a game of basketball at the community court, play some beach volleyball, or tennis. If you want to stick to getting your exercise indoors, try out the Crossing’s gym facility. You’ll find that all the things you need to enjoy an afternoon at class are right at your fingertips at the Crossing!

If you’re bringing pets along, you’re in luck! The Crossing at Santa Fe allows both dogs and cats so you can live it up with your furry friends. Leases range from six to twelve months and application fees are only $35! Schedule a tour today and see how the Crossing at Santa Fe can be home.

 

Is Owning a Cat Good For You?

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Has your apartment been feeling a little empty lately? Have the local shelter’s Facebook posts been tugging at your heartstrings? They are pretty darn cute, those fluffy little critters! Having pets has been proven to improve your quality of life overall.

If you live in an apartment, it is easier to have a cat than a dog and still find a great place to live at a decent rate. Cats are also relatively low-maintenance; as long as you can afford to take care of one and you have a small chunk of time every day to dedicate to it, it’s a pretty great partnership between human and feline. So if you’re considering it, take a moment to ponder a few pros and cons:

The Cons…

Nothing is Sacred. I repeat, NOTHING is sacred. I live with three cats and I come home to little joys like these on a semi-regular basis. Things get knocked over, torn up, eaten, mutilated and absolutely no remorse is shown. This is just the nature of the cat. Dogs look guilty when they are caught misbehaving, but cats just look insolent.

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Exhibit A – what’s left of my box springs     Exhibit B – formerly a potted orchid

Allergies. If you’re not sure if you have an allergy to pet dander, you may want to find out first. Sneezing and having a headache and a runny nose all the time isn’t really my idea of fun.

Cost. Owning a pet isn’t always expensive, but vet bills can get expensive fast. So especially if you’re a student consider your budget for the upcoming year and see how a pet fits into that.

Now for the pros!

Companionship. Cats are wonderful companions, even with just a small amount of interaction. They may try to dominate your time, but thankfully it’s very cute when they do it. Phones, laptops, books…they all make great places to sit if you’re a cat.

Health Reasons. Noise frequencies between 18-35 HZ have been shown to help heal bones and muscles in people. Cats purr at about 20 HZ and love to lay around on you when you’re resting so they make a pretty amazing healing aid. Owning a cat has also been proven to lower stress levels and ultimately lower the risk of heart disease, too!

Entertainment. If you haven’t already spent hours of your life watching funny cat videos, it may make a great preview to what being a cat owner is like. I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a good laugh about something ridiculous one of these cats has done (which also brings us back to the health pro of #2). If you need examples, just google search “cats afraid of cucumbers” or “cat fails”. Cats make great entertainers, whether they mean to or not!

If you do decide to get a fancy feline and you’re in the midst of apartment hunting, use the Gainesville Apartment and Condominium Guide to find a perfect place that’s cool with cats by using the “narrow search” option and clicking “pet friendly”!