An Ode to Being a Renter

renter

More people my age (that infamous group known as Millennials…) are renting apartments over buying houses more than ever before. What was once thought of as a college age phenomenon is now the norm for individuals well into their 30’s. Renting has become more appealing over the years and seems to suit not only single individuals, but is popular for couples too.

There are a number of reasons why this is happening and why many find it preferable to rent over owning a spot. The overwhelming factor is the freedom; having a lease, typically for a year, provides flexibility to renters that homeowners just don’t have. This is particularly appealing to those who do freelance work or are still figuring out a career path, but can be just as attractive to anyone. In this way renting is liberating, especially if other areas of your life are less predictable than you’d like. With that being said, desiring flexibility does not mean you haven’t “gotten it all figured out yet” but sometimes is solely a comfortable way to live without feeling trapped in one place.

Another reason to be thankful to rent is the lack of liability. Owning a home is a wonderful thing, but it can also be a heavy financial burden. With renter’s insurance, renting comes with very little financial liability. Having a surprise plumbing leak or AC trouble is typically going to fall under your landlord’s responsibilities or will possibly be covered by renter’s insurance. This means less financial responsibility for you and more money in the bank for other things.

So whenever you feel less than ecstatic about being in a renting situation, remember that there are some great reasons to be a renter. With the growing number of renters, there are more resources than ever, too. Say hello to the new age of renting!

Perfect Apps for Renters to Have on Hand

renter-apps

All types of living spaces bring challenges to inhabitants, but renting a space comes with its own unique set of challenges. So when you realize that there are a number of apps out there that help with some of renting an apartment’s little struggles, it is a joyous occasion indeed. From moving to learning about your community, living comfortably and conveniently in an apartment can be as quick as downloading an app.

One of the all-around most useful of these apps is TaskRabbit, which has gained a lot of popularity recently. TaskRabbit is designed to help renters and homeowners find people to hire for their odd jobs and handyman needs. The app gives you a selection of tasks to choose from and then helps match you with an available individual for the job. So if you need help moving or putting furniture together or even just cleaning, TaskRabbit is a great tool to match you with the help you need.

Sortly is an app that can help you keep all your belongings in order when you’re in the middle of a move. Snap photos of your things and then organize them in the app according to which box they’re in. You can even print out QR code labels for your boxes so you can scan them later and know exactly what you’ll find in there. No more missing objects or digging through boxes to find that one item!

If you’re interested in sustainable living in your apartment, JouleBug is a fun, social way to help you stay on track. The app helps you keep tabs on your behaviors and energy usage, which both helps you live more sustainably and also possibly save money on your electric bill. You can even compete with your friends on Facebook to see who’s doing the best job.

When moving to a new location, you’ll want to know what the neighborhood’s like. This is the purpose for Next Door, which is a social app to help you to get to know your community. It’s a great tool for staying safe in your neighborhood and just knowing what’s happening on a regular basis.

5 Back to School Items Urban Outfitters Got Right

school-items

Is your apartment ready for the upcoming semester? It’s ok if you’re still getting some back to school shopping done; there’s still time to get things how you want them before the first day of classes! But if you want to really get something awesome for your money, you might be spending some time perusing around online instead of just at the mall.

Urban Outfitters is not just for clothes – it’s one spot that seems to always have amazing collections of things that are perfect for apartments and small spaces. Not only do they curate some really great apartment-friendly furniture and decor, but they make it look pretty darn cool, too (hint hint, check out their borderline annoyingly cool Instagram posts for room arranging inspiration).

Here are my top 5 picks for UO’s fall apartment line:

Leaning Clothing Rack This is one brilliant clothing rack. If you’re short on closet space and want something attractive to keep your clothes on, this gorgeously minimalist clothes rack is perfect. The sleek design, functionality, and a surprisingly reasonable price tag are the trifecta of wardrobe storage. $69

  1. Louisa Desk One of the many ways to save space in a smaller apartment is to have furniture designed specifically for small spaces – the Louisa desk is a dream for small spaces in that way. It takes up little floor space while still providing an excellent space to work on homework or projects. To top it all off, the Louisa desk is modern and visually appealing and would make a stylish addition to any apartment. $219
  2. Elise Convertible Mirror Take your vanity or bathroom to the next level with a versatile mirror. The Elise mirror can unfold to provide a stand for itself or fold up and be stored while not in use or hung on the wall. I’m always a fan of apartment goods that can be easily stored or collapsed when not in use and this mirror is a prime example of how that should be. As always is the case with UO, it’s also aesthetically pleasing. $29
  3. Leni Leaning Mirror You might ask why there are two mirrors on the list, but hear me out: this mirror isn’t just for your vanity or bathroom, it’s a full length mirror, plus The Leni Leaning Mirror has racks for towels or for draping clothes over, hooks at the top, and takes up a miniscule amount of floor space! $139
  4. Aila Earring Organizer All of you with pierced ears, listen up. This earring organizer is the bomb. It’s so lovely looking and holds all your stud earrings! I’m constantly trying to keep up with those tiny things and losing them left and right, but this baby makes organizing into a beautiful breeze. $19

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

college-apartment

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.