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If there’s any stereotype that holds true, it’s that most college students don’t have much money. Between taking out large student loans, struggling to make time for paid work against the burden of schoolwork and classes, and going out with friends, students often need to save money however they can.

At the same time, if you’re in college, you might be pretty concerned with standing out from your peers, and one way to make an impression is by decorating your space in a way that, well, doesn’t look like Grandma’s old couch (even though you’re probably rocking it). The bare white walls and tiny spaces in most college apartments don’t make for the most welcoming spaces around, but decorating can cost more than a few bucks, especially if you’re really going for something that’s not tacky. The decorating ideas below will allow you to upgrade your college apartment for cheap without using anything generic or overdone.

Make your own headboard

Relying on your arts and crafts skills is a surefire way to spruce up your room, even if you don’t consider yourself to be at all artistic. Gather plywood, a staple gun, and quilt batting, either from a craft store or search for someone giving them away online. After you cut the plywood into a rectangle, cover it in quilt batting. Staple the batting down and feel free to decorate your new, DIY headboard with photos, fabrics, colors, and other items that will make the space behind your pillow come to life.

Go wild with removable wallpaper

Your college apartment’s walls are often adorned with strings of photos, Christmas lights and band posters, but that kind of decor looks more like a cheesy dorm room than a college apartment. These decorations, though commonplace, do nothing to address drab colors in lived-in spaces. Covering your room with removable wallpaper will help you say goodbye to boring colors you can’t stand without creating a permanent mess that you’ll have to spend hours covering up when you move out.

Buy some plants

Plants are a cheap, vivid decorating solution for even the tiniest of budgets. Small succulents can be inexpensive at just a few dollars at your local plant store, and you can grab tiny fake plants for just about the same price on your next home goods store run. If you’re not near a plant specialty shop, plenty of plants are available at grocery stores and home improvement stores. You’ll want to err on the low-maintenance side if you’re buying real plants, so stick with snake plants, aloe vera, and cacti for starters. For fake plants, though, the options are endless.

Add storage boxes to your decor setup

Find colorful, fabric boxes for storing books, clothes, and smaller items, but instead of hiding these under your bed or in your closet, line the periphery of your room with them for everyone to see. A bunch of cute, bright cubes is an affordable way to bring new life to your room on a budget while saving space. You can find these cubes for approximately $15 or under at many stores and on the internet.

Get an area rug

Liven up the boring space in front of your bed with an area rug. You can find some cute rugs at reasonable prices. Get the size that covers plenty of floor area without being so big that they’re hard to transport, roll up, or put down without the corners folding or rolling up against hard surfaces such as chairs or your bed frame. Plus, if you have footstep-sensitive downstairs neighbors, these rugs will help dampen any noise.

The post How To Upgrade Your College Apartment For Cheap appeared first on My First Apartment.

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This is a huge moment in your life: You’ve found that special someone, you’ve been with them for quite some time, and you’re planning the next significant step: to share a home with them. Although the notion of your significant other moving in may be a storied, romantic one, it comes with no shortage of practical considerations and new responsibilities. Even if the person you’re sharing a home with is the absolute love of your life, matters as small as choosing the right couch for your living room or as big as splitting the bills can be stressful and exert weight on your relationship.

To counter the potential for financial hiccups, you and your significant other should discuss everything before commingling finances. Here’s how you should budget when your significant other is moving in.

Utilities

The easiest budget item to consider when moving in with your significant other will be your monthly utility bill. Since you and your significant other will be sharing your home equally, you can simply divide your total utility costs in half. Keep in mind that winter heating costs can potentially drive up your gas bill, hot summer weather can increase your electric bill by one or two hundred dollars, and internet isn’t all that cheap for such a ubiquitous resource.

Rent

It might be tempting to split rent costs in half as well, but since rent can be a massive expense for the average person, you and your significant other should discuss paying proportional rent before agreeing to move in together. This means that if one partner makes $30,000 and the other $50,000, the partner who makes $30,000 will pay $30,000/($30,000 + $50,000) of the rent, or 37.5% of the rent, as compared to 50% in a half-and-half arrangement. This math can make a huge difference, as 37.5% of a $1400 one-bedroom apartment is $525 as compared to $700.

Other household expenses

Before your significant other moves in, make sure to talk about whether you’ll split other household expenses, such as renter’s insurance, household supplies, and groceries, evenly or proportionally. Household expenses may seem to only modestly impact a person’s wallet, but spending on even the basics can add up in time. If there’s not an understanding between you and your significant other, household expenses can lead to strife as you both spend more money.

Consider opening a household checking account

Once you’ve budgeted for all the above, you may want to consider opening a joint checking account with your significant other, into which you’ll both deposit a set amount of money each month to cover rent, utilities, and household expenses. You can both use this account to pay for relevant expenses, whereas you can continue using your personal checking account for nights out with friends, meals you eat alone, new clothes, and other things that are yours alone to use.

If you don’t want to open a joint account, discuss in advance who will be paying the bills. Who writes the rent check, who pays for electric, who takes care of the internet bill? How will you pay your significant other — in cash, check, bank transfer, or an online tool? Be sure to have a clear procedure and set date before you unpack your first box.

In keeping your personal checking account, you should also be certain to not combine finances with your significant other unless you are married. Similarly, it is unwise to buy a house or a car with a significant other to whom you are not yet married, because the legal and financial protections on these items, not to mention combined finances, are far fewer and not nearly as strong as for married couples. It might be exciting that your significant other is moving in, but don’t jump the gun – there are plenty of other practical considerations to focus on instead.

The post How You Should Budget When Your Significant Other Is Moving In appeared first on My First Apartment.

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You’ve made the big leap. After years of sharing homes with roommates, you’ve signed a lease and put down a deposit on your first apartment alone, a studio that you’ll have entirely to yourself. The only downside is adjusting to life in a smaller space. Most studios are just several hundred square feet in size, and you’re eating, sleeping, and hanging out all in one small space. The space-saving tricks below can make your home feel way bigger on a pretty modest budget.

Use that space under your bed wisely

All that space low down to the ground holds plenty of storage potential out of sight of family and friends. Take advantage of this extra space by filling plastic storage bins with linens, towels, seasonal items, and other necessities that you don’t need to access every day. Consider picking up clear bins so you can see your items at a glance. You can also consider a bed frame with built-in drawers to store these items truly out of sight.

You can add even more storage space with a set of bed risers. Typically around 6 inches tall, this adds just enough space to place a tall bin or two underneath the bed.

Stock up on over-the-door storage

The inside of your closet or bathroom door (or even your front door) can make a great space for hanging towels, storing shoes, or organizing ties, running shorts, and so much more. With the proper over-the-door storage in your bedroom closet, you might be able to say goodbye to that one set of small plastic drawers that offers ample storage space but takes up more room than you’d like.

Invest in storage furniture

Couches, coffee tables, ottomans, and chairs will all take up valuable floor space in your first studio apartment. Make them work overtime by buying furniture that comes with built-in storage space. Under-couch storage can be a great place to keep blankets, towels, and other basics that aren’t as easily stored in your closet. Keep remotes, portable speakers, board games, and other items organized and neatly hidden in storage ottomans. Store books, small candles, and other living room items in the drawers of a coffee table.

Hang items on the walls

Your bike might allow to get you around town without spending any money and while getting in your daily exercise, but it also takes up plenty of space. Buy a bike rack so you can store your bike on your wall without it interfering with your décor setup. If you’re not a biker, mount your TV to the wall so you can free up the space a TV stand would occupy for a dresser or desk. Sure, walls are important to decorate so your first apartment feels like a home, but they’re also important to take advantage of so that you can use all the space possible in your new studio. And in your first studio apartment, maximizing space is essential.

Plot out your closet before you move in

Studios typically only come with one or two closets, so it’s very important that you make these little storage spaces work. This may take some extra careful planning and an extra trip to a home improvement store, but the investment is worth it. Extra wire shelves, hooks, and cubbies can help keep you organized and properly stack items that need to be stashed away.

The post Creative Ways To Save Space In A Studio Apartment appeared first on My First Apartment.

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With a move across town often comes finding everyday goods and services closer to your home, such as grocery stores and dry cleaners. For people with prescriptions, there’s also the burden of finding a new doctor and pharmacy — making the trek all the way back to the old neighborhood for prescriptions is a time-waster and a burden. For those taking birth control medications, the potential delay in birth control access, not to mention possible price changes, can be a risky situation. Luckily, online solutions exist to ensure that no woman misses her daily dose of birth control as she moves into a new apartment in a new neighborhood. One healthcare company, Simple Health, offers especially affordable, accessible birth control medication delivery that won’t be impacted by a move. Simple Health eases birth control access Even for women who are well-settled into their homes and neighborhood, birth control access can be difficult. To save money, one in every four women have skipped their daily birth control doses. Another 10 million women don’t have any health insurance to cover their birth control costs. Simple Health launched to address these challenges, and its online delivery service also offers a much-needed method for women to receive their birth control without needing to jump through hurdles each month. Simple Health eliminates several obstacles involved in accessing birth control. Its patients are relieved of the time and money involved in scheduling doctor visits, getting to and from doctor’s offices, losing hours spent in waiting rooms, and getting to and from pharmacies to receive prescriptions. That’s because Simple Health delivers birth control directly to patients’ homes. Here’s how the Simple Health platform works. Deciding on a birth control method Users new to Simple Health begin by completing an online health profile, which is then reviewed by a licensed medical professional. The consultation can be done from any smartphone, computer, or tablet, and Simple Health’s staff of physicians reviews each patient with rigor and care to determine which birth control method is best for them. Simple Health offers three methods of birth control, all of which work by releasing hormones that block ovulation, regulate the body’s natural hormonal cycle, and boast a 91% efficacy rate. The first and most common form is the once-daily pill. Also available are a patch changed weekly and a vaginal ring replaced every three to four weeks. Once a Simple Health doctor has prescribed one of these methods to a patient, Simple Health ensures timely, repeated prescription shipments — and that’s just where the convenience begins. Receiving birth control Simple Health requires no pharmacy visits. Once patients give their new address to Simple Health, it ships prescriptions to their doorsteps immediately after the initial consultation. Simple Health then takes on the burden of fulfilling prescriptions for one year, with delivery every one or three months depending on the patient’s insurance. Even patients without insurance can receive an online birth control prescription for just $15 per month, and all users, whether insured or not, can easily change their delivery addresses when and if they move. The ease of address change makes Simple Health vital for any woman moving into a new apartment. Simple Health users can simply log in to their accounts and change their address in their user portal. From that moment forward, Simple Health will automatically deliver its online birth control prescriptions to the new address, so patients won’t skip a beat. And if the next prescription delivery is set to arrive close to or on the day of a move, Simple Health users can always contact the company’s customer support line to ensure their medication is delivered on time to the right address. Simple Health makes birth control access easy It can be pretty anxiety-inducing to make time for doctor visits and pharmacy runs. Imagine how much more dreadful it becomes to schedule these appointments around packing, unpacking, decorating, organizing, and all the other chores that come with moving? Simple Health gives its patients one less thing to worry about during this process. Anyone can use the platform to conveniently, affordably establish a birth control plan and receive the prescriptions needed to stick to it. New users simply need to complete an online consultation and let Simple Health handle the rest. Simple Health’s affordability and ease of use make it the perfect solution for not enduring any birth control prescription delays during a move. Visit the Simple Health website to get started with the most convenient, budget-friendly birth control method on the market!

The post Home Delivery Birth Control Perfect For Renters appeared first on My First Apartment.

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All your bills come under greater scrutiny once a good chunk of your budget begins to go toward the rent. If you’re new to renting, it’s only natural to examine your other bills to see where you can reduce your costs. There are plenty of small things you can do to reduce that monthly burden, such as swapping out your lights for energy-efficient LEDs. There are also plenty of ways to maximize what you already have, such as a high-speed internet connection, which can be as essential as water and electricity to many.

One way to truly maximize the internet you’re already paying for is to cut your cable bill and switch to streaming services. The cost of cable keeps spiking year after year, leaving many people to pay three-figure bills every month just to channel-surf. With Netflix, Hulu, individual cable networks, and the many other streaming services dominating entertainment options at a way lower price, you might just be able to trade in your cable box for a TV casting device.

Consider these pros and cons while weighing your decision to cut the cable:

Pros of Getting Rid of Cable More money

The most obvious pro of getting rid of cable is perhaps the most appealing reason to cut it. Cable subscriptions don’t come cheap. Although internet and cable combination packages may seem to save you money on paying for cable, when you break costs down by service, you can save plenty of money each month by opting solely for internet. Paying for one or two streaming services can save you a fair amount, and for cost-cutting purposes, it might be worth your while to have somewhat more limited viewing options.

Cheaper alternatives

For most things for which you use cable, a cheaper alternative exists. For example, with a cable subscription, you have access to Music Choice’s nearly one hundred TV channels that spin music non-stop. Although this can add welcome ambiance to a party, these days, Spotify, Apple Music, and other music streaming services offer much more customizable music listening experiences for a much smaller amount per month than cable costs. Similarly, Netflix, Hulu, and the like charge cheaper monthly rates than cable does.

Cable isn’t as easy to use

You might want to keep in mind that cable can be genuinely more annoying to use than a streaming service. You can’t quite search for whatever TV show or movie you have in mind with cable, and the channel guide that most cable subscriptions include is tedious to navigate. If you’re really looking for instant access to TV and movies, you may want to consider cutting cable and going with streaming services instead.

Cons of Getting Rid of Cable Unlimited TV access

Let’s say you absolutely loved a show you watched on Hulu or Netflix, and you can’t wait to watch its new season. Then, you realize that the upcoming season of the show is only available on TV. What do you do?

Having cable lets you stay up to date on your favorite shows without having to wait forever — sometimes as long as a full year — before it lands on your preferred streaming service. You can tune into the channel that airs your favorite show right as it’s making its way into millions of homes across the country. In some cases, your cable subscription can get you access to an online, on-demand portal so you can watch new episodes whenever, wherever. It also doesn’t hurt to be able to tune into late-night TV, game shows, or sports games whenever you’d like.

Several smaller bills per month

When you cut cable, you split services such as music streaming and on-demand TV access into several parts. Although this means that you’ll be spending less money, you may find it more challenging to stay atop all your bills when you have six roughly equal bills for six different music and TV services instead of one lump sum for cable. Extensive, regular checking of your budget, bank accounts, and credit cards can solve this issue, but for those who lean on the less organized, more easily overwhelmed side, cable can offer an easier all-in-one solution.

There’s no wrong decision

Whether or not you cut cable, you’ll be making an informed decision that keeps your budget and your wants in mind. There’s no wrong decision, plus you can always change your mind!

The post Should You Give Up Cable? Pros and Cons to Cutting the Cord appeared first on My First Apartment.

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After a long hunt, you’ve finally done what might’ve once felt impossible: You’ve found an apartment you love, you’ve signed a lease, and you’ve put down a deposit. Congrats on landing your new place to live!

Now that you’re living in your own place, it’s time to give your cooking game some serious upgrade, too. It’s time to move on from instant microwave noodles and takeout and truly break in that new kitchen. But where do you even begin stocking your first kitchen? How many plates do you need? How much silverware? What kinds of cookware?

Our ultimate checklist for your first kitchen is organized by category, and it lists your top needs in bold so that you know to get them first. You might be tempted to buy everything new when you first begin reading this checklist, but don’t forget about the power of buying used kitchenware at thrift stores or even on the internet (where you can even find things for free). Don’t forget to let us know in the comments if we’ve missed anything!

Pots and pans
  • Saucepot. Buy a small pot with enough volume to prepare enough sauce for one meal. Make sure the pot is actually small and designated for sauce — heating your sauce in too large a pot might cause too much to boil off.
  • Pasta pot. Pasta pots often come in 5-quart, 6-quart, or 8-quart varieties. If you use too small of a pot, your water might overflow as the pasta cooks. You may want to opt for a larger pot if you tend to make more than one box at a time.
  • Stockpot. A stock pot is ideal for preparing soups, stews, and broths. These pots are usually large enough that, if you’re preparing soup, using an immersion blender to mix it all doesn’t create splatter all over your stovetop.
  • Frying pan. Any medium or large pan is great for preparing a quick stovetop meal such as eggs or grilled cheese.
  • Wok. A wok is both wide and deep enough to work perfectly for stir-frying. An ordinary frying pan is decent for stir-frying, but a wok prevents food and sauces from spilling over.
Silverware
  • Forks, knives, and spoons. Investing in some good flatware will go a long way and last you for years. These utensils are sold in sets, so you can go online or head to your local home store to pick up the set that appeals to your decorative tastes. Oftentimes, these sets come with some additional serving pieces, which may come in handy when your parents come for dinner.
  • Silverware organizer. Keep your silverware organized and easy to find. Without a silverware organizer, you’ll struggle to find the right fork, knife, or spoon and keep track of how close you are to running out of clean silverware.
Dishes
  • Small plates. Use these for breakfast, smaller meals such as eggs and toast, or as separate salad or appetizer plates when hosting guests.
  • Large plates. Lunch and dinner will fit better on these. They also tend to look more appealing for serving friends.
  • Bowls. Whether a breakfast cereal, a delicious parfait, or some hearty stew, bowls go a long way in your kitchen.
  • Dish towels. Dry off dishes and countertops without wasting paper towels.
  • Dish rack. Let your dishes dry on a rack over the course of a few hours. You can also add a draining board or a dish drying mat for additional protection of your countertops.
Cookware
  • Can opener. You can’t open cans without a can opener. Beans, tomato sauce, vegetables, and other affordable staples are inaccessible without one.
  • Prep knives. Easily chop through vegetables, meats, and other ingredients before cooking.
  • Spatulas, tongs, and mixing spoons. Flatware just doesn’t cut it when it comes to preparing food. Look for heat-resistant, food-safe silicone to stir, turn, and mix foods.
  • Ladles. Use ladles to serve soup and large amounts of sauce. It’s much more efficient than using a soup spoon for serving.
  • Whisks. A whisk lets you achieve an even mix for scrambled eggs or baking mixes. Spatulas and the like aren’t as good at breaking up small pieces in liquid mixes.
  • Measuring cups and spoons. Keep your proportions even and your flavors balanced in any recipe you make.
  • Cutting boards. These are flat, sturdy surfaces for chopping ingredients. Using a plate will make cutting much more challenging and possibly lead to injury. It’s also a good idea to have separate cutting boards for meat and for everything else; this helps prevent cross-contamination.
  • Colander. With a colander, you can drain your pasta easily and quickly. Avoid the potential mess and time loss involved with carefully tipping a pot of boiling water and cooked pasta over your sink.
Appliances
  • Blender. For a quick smoothie or to perfect blend a soup, a blender can be a lifesaver. You can use its lowest setting for food processor functions as well.
  • Toaster or toaster oven. Warm your bread in mere minutes. A toaster oven also comes with baking capabilities for smaller meals.
  • Microwave. There’s no faster, easier way to warm up leftovers. Microwaves are especially good for flash-thawing frozen foods.
  • Kettle. For tea, coffee, and oatmeal, you’ll need to boil water quickly and easily. A versatile kettle does the trick.
  • Rice cooker. A rice cooker makes rice easily and quickly without scalding or overcooking. Some rice cookers come with additional steaming and slow cooking functions.
Ovenware
  • Oven mitts. Don’t burn your hands on hot baking trays. Oven mitts are available as cloth gloves, cloth pads, or silicone pinch mitts.
  • Sheet pans. Bake cooking, roast vegetables, cook chicken breasts, and much more, with a single pan.
  • Oven-safe dish. Pick up one rectangular and one square oven-safe dish for cakes, pasta bakes, and other delicious recipes.
  • Silicone mat. A flat, thin, flexible silicone mat creates a non-stick surface on your baking trays. It takes up less space and cleans more easily than a baking tray does. Just roll it up and tuck it out of sight when it’s not in use.
Food storage
  • Food storage containers. Rigid plastic containers of all sizes are vital for storing leftovers. Glass storage containers offer an environmentally-friendly alternative.
  • Freezer bags. Some raw ingredients survive better in airtight plastic bags. You can also store plastic utensils and other random household goods in these.
  • Reusable bowl covers. Silicone stretch lids offer a tighter seal than plastic wraps while being just as easy to apply. Fruits, vegetables, and leftovers will all last longer in the fridge when properly sealed.

The post Your First Kitchen: The Ultimate Checklist appeared first on My First Apartment.

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When your lease ends and you’re ready to relocate, finding a new place to live can be daunting. It’s stressful enough to devote time every day to hunt down a new luxury rental on the many apartment finder websites out there. Contacting landlords and agents becomes a time suck, and that’s before scheduling rental visits around your busy work schedule and social life. Why should you have to skip work to see an apartment you ultimately might not get?

Before you spend significant time sifting through apartments that don’t meet your expectations (or standards!), it’s important to get a strong handle on what you’re looking for in your new luxury rental. Having this information in hand cuts through the clutter, helping you make the important decisions about rentals in record time.

How To Determine What You Want In Your Next Luxury Rental

First, it’s important to understand what’s included in a luxury building that you won’t find in your standard complex. Luxury buildings aren’t just new constructions with nice floors and pretty countertops — they offer a suite of stunning options that are unavailable anywhere else. Luxury buildings offer top-of-the-line security, deluxe kitchen appliances, more spacious floor plans, resort-style swimming pools, in-building fitness centers, and much, much more. More luxury rentals are offering in-house, 24-hour concierge service, too.

Ask the simple questions once you have a handle on the options available to you. Know the important basics such as how many bedrooms you need, how soon you’d like to move, how much rent you want to pay, if your building needs to be pet-friendly, and whether you require amenities such as a parking space, in-unit laundry, a gym in the building, or hardwood floors. You should also have a neighborhood or two in mind. Once you determine these core needs, this information will help narrow your options available within the timeframe you want or need to move.

Once you set your basic parameters, it’s time to drill down the details. These additional options should be your “nice to have” list, such as big windows or a smart thermostat, which you’d ideally find in your next luxury rental but you could live without. Compartmentalizing what you’d like to have, versus what you must have, will make it easier to navigate your options without excluding anything you may not have thought of.

While narrowing down what you need and want in a luxury rental may seem like an overwhelming process, there are software platforms and services available that make it much easier to quickly identify what you’re looking for. AptAmigo combines the brainpower of experienced real estate concierges with the power of proprietary software to put the best luxury rental matches at the top of your list so you can quickly find what you’re looking for.

How AptAmigo Blends Technology and Concierge Service

AptAmigo supplements its custom-built luxury rental search engine with a touring agent assigned directly to you. This agent acts as your liaison throughout your apartment search, identifying the properties that fit your budget, must-haves and desired amenities.

AptAmigo asks these key questions right away to narrow down the available options and provide your agent everything needed to find your next home. At the very start of your search, you’ll share your must-haves and your “nice to have” list. Your agent will then send you a list of luxury rentals that fits your needs, from which you can remove any rentals in which you’re not interested. Once you’ve selected the residences you’d like to see, your touring agent will schedule a full day of visits for you. If you can’t make an appointment, your touring agent will go in your place and take video for you!

AptAmigo doesn’t stop at identifying luxury rental options. The concierges handle all leasing agent communication, including follow-up and asking questions, on your behalf. AptAmigo also pays for all transportation between your visits, making it even simpler to move from appointment to appointment.

If you want to maintain a bit of control over what luxury rental listings you see, AptAmigo’s proprietary property search software lets you narrow down your options in truly unique ways. The search engine displays ratings for each luxury rental, all submitted by people who have lived there, alongside indicators that a rental is hot and trending or lowering its rents (or sometimes both). Its map view labels the public transit options surrounding a luxury rental, so you’ll be able to size up your commute and travel times right away. You can click on any neighborhood on the map to quickly narrow your search, and you can even set your own customized geographic boundaries thanks to AptAmigo’s Draw tool.

Why Renters Are Switching to AptAmigo

People who have used AptAmigo universally wish they’d found it sooner. Rachel F., who moved five times in five years, used AptAmigo on her most recent move, and she says the company “made the process enjoyable and pain-free.” Alisha F., in a particularly insightful testimonial, says that AptAmigo “simplified a 36-hour hunt that ended in success.” You can read more testimonials from happy, satisfied customers on AptAmigo.

AptAmigo is available in Chicago, Denver, and Atlanta, with more cities being added in the coming months. Begin your apartment search today! Visit www.AptAmigo.com to get started.

The post How To Find Your New Luxury Rental In 36 Hours appeared first on My First Apartment.

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Sometimes, you just don’t want to clean your place. Whether you’ve gotten off from a big day at work or you’ve been swamped studying, daily cleaning can get lost in the busy fray. However, taking care of these 7 weekly cleaning tasks makes your monthly cleaning that much easier.  Your cleaning can be easily split up throughout the week to help you tackle all those pesky tasks. After all, no one wants to live in an apartment that does not look and smell clean.

If you create a weekly cleaning list and stick to doing one or two items a day, not only will you be able to stay on top of all your cleaning, but you’ll also maintain a perfectly nice place to invite friends to drop by any time.

1. Vacuum Carpet or Sweep Floors

Photo by The Creative Exchange on Unsplash

While some people may choose to do this chore daily, whether you have carpet, tile, or wooden floors, you should be cleaning them, especially if you have pets. Choose a day of the week to vacuum all the carpet in your home or sweep your floor, and you won’t have to worry about pesky build-up.

2. Wash and Change Sheets

Photo by Anastasia Dulgier on Unsplash

Changing your sheets certainly doesn’t need to happen daily, but it does need to be on your weekly cleaning list. A tip? Get more than one pair of sheets to prevent wear and tear from washing. Plus, you’ll be able to immediately make your bed after throwing the dirty set into the laundry.

3. Bathroom Surfaces

Photo by Jonny Caspari on Unsplash

While countertops in your kitchen should be cleaned daily since you prepare food in that space, cleaning your bathroom surfaces can be done weekly (but a quick daily clean never hurts). Don’t put this chore off, though. Items in your bathroom get harder to clean as time goes on, and no one wants to be scrubbing away mold.

4. Laundry

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Whether you head to a laundromat, have machines in your building, or are lucky enough to have them in your own place, laundry is a task that can build up quickly. Doing all your laundry weekly, including sheets, towels, and clothing, will help you make sure you’re never scrambling for something clean to wear. Plus, it’s also a chore that allows for multi-tasking (if you’ve got machines in your building or own place). While your clothes dry or wash, clean that bathroom or dust those shelves.

5. Dust Furniture

Photo by Norbert Levajsics on Unsplash

Dusting is the perfect example of a chore that, if left too long, really builds up. You should be taking care of dust (and fur if you have pets) weekly to prevent it from building and building until you’re basically having an allergy attack in your apartment. Save yourself the runny nose, and dust weekly.

6. Clean Your Shower + Toilet

If there’s a weekly chore you should never avoid, it’s this one. Your shower and toilet will only become more and more difficult to clean as time goes on. No one wants to scrub groat from their shower for hours in order to remove mold, and uh, no wants to clean and exceptionally dirty toilet. Do this weekly, and you’ll thank yourself in the long run.

7. Clean Out Your Fridge

Photo by Squared.one on Unsplash

Here’s thing about your fridge. Your entire apartment can be clean, but since you can’t see into your fridge all the time, it’s easy to forget about. Don’t do that. Every week, go through your fridge and find the food that has gone bad, the take-out leftovers you won’t eat, and place the food that only has a little time left near the front. No one likes a smelly fridge, after all.

If you stil to these 7 weekly cleaning items, your apartment could just be one of the cleanest on the block.

The post 7 Weekly Cleaning Activities You Should Be Doing appeared first on My First Apartment.

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Finding the perfect apartment quickly can seem like an extra challenge, but it can be done in one (active, busy) day or weekend with a few different visits! These tips are perfect for someone who doesn’t have a ton of free time to wander around the city or for someone trying to find their perfect apartment in a new city on one visit. By keeping organized and thinking ahead, it’s more than possible to set out to find your perfect apartment and sign the lease that day!

Do your homework

Now, you won’t get your apartment settled in one day if you hadn’t done your homework! Use apartment finder websites and Google searches to identify apartment buildings and complexes with open units in your area. On rental websites most apartments will showcase photos and floorplans.  Also, take time to research the area surrounding the apartment to ensure it’s safe and close to work or friends!

Once you’ve done this homework, you should have a few perfect apartment options that you’d like to visit.

Narrow down your must-haves

Before stepping foot on your first tour, make a list of all of your “must-haves,” then go through and narrow to your top few items. Maybe your must-have is a pet-friendly apartment but you’d prefer a second-story. Or, you must-have two bedrooms for your and your roommate and would prefer an updated kitchen. Your list of must-haves should be small – just a few key items – then have your preferences in your back pocket as well.

Get solid on your budget

Again, before you step foot in any of the apartments you love online, get very clear on your budget. Check out this resource to calculate your target spend and look through your bank statements and payment information. Once you’re comfortable with what to spend on rent and utilities, make a note of the top of your budget for the apartment all-in (i.e. rent, internet and cable, utilities) and recognize that you should aim for rent / utilities lower than the top of your budget.

Get your paperwork ready

A prospective landlord will want to know that you are a responsible tenant, so you should have your paperwork ready to show that. In the minimum, he’ll want to see couple of years of tax returns, plus 2-3 months of bank statements and pay stubs that show how you will afford your rent. Have this information ready in a folder as you get ready for touring apartments.

Schedule apartment tours and optimize your route

Now that you’ve narrowed down your apartment list, choose an open day and schedule those tours! Start with an early morning and plan your route, something like this:

  • 8:30am – Travel to Apartment 1
  • 9am – Tour Apartment 1
  • Allow time here! Even if you make an appointment, sometimes landlords are busy or running late. Plus, give yourself time to speak with them to answer questions and to take notes in transit to the next place.
  • 11am – Travel to Apartment 2
  • 11:15am – Tour Apartment 2
  • 1pm – Grab quick lunch!
  • 1:30pm – Travel to Apartment 3
  • 2pm – Tour Apartment 3
  • 4pm – Find a quiet place to think through your lists and decide which apartment works best for YOU!
  • If you love one of the apartments, this gives you time to make it back to sign your lease before the leasing office closes that day!
Plan in sustenance

No lies here – this is a long day! Plan in time for a quick lunch, pack snacks or water in your bag, and come prepared to move quickly!

Reap the rewards!

Now that you’ve toured and selected your perfect apartment, reap the rewards! Ask the landlord if they offer any deals for signing that day or what options they may have available. Remember, it can never hurt to ask!

The post Find the Perfect Apartment in One Day appeared first on My First Apartment.

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Are you gearing up to find housing after graduation or for the Summer or Fall semester but don’t know where to turn? We explored the top five apartment rental websites and ranked them in terms of user-friendly access, comprehensive scope of search, and more! Find out below how Zillow, ApartmentFinder, Craigslist, Zumper, and Rent Jungle did on our rankings!

1. ApartmentFinder

The  top position on our list goes to ApartmentFinder.  The landing page of ApartmentFinder contains no frills and allows the user to input basic information like city, how many bedrooms desired, and the target price point. It is immediately clear that ApartmentFinder’s sole purpose is to connect users easily to the apartment of their dreams. The site has a brightly colored map that highlights apartments available within the given budget and projected location allowing for ease of visibility and a clear ranking structure. One special feature included in the ApartmentFinder platform is the “Deal” feature that displays all the offering discounts, promotions or slashed prices due to availability. This is a minimalist platform where you won’t find many bells and whistles but it’s perfect for a serious apartment hunter ready to discover deals and steals and sign a lease.

2. Zillow

Founded in 2006, Zillow is an online veteran real estate database that allows the user to buy, sell, and rent real estate ranging from apartments to townhomes and more.  The online platform at Zillow is easy-to-use and has every detail covered. Whether you want to minimize housing costs or add specific keywords like “pool” or “pet grooming” that you must have in your home or apartment, Zillow has these customizable options for you on its website. One downside to Zillow is it can sometimes feel a bit chaotic with the amount of platform space dedicated for homeowners or those seeking home loans peppered throughout the web page. If a rental apartment hunter can look past these small inconveniences, Zillow is a fantastic platform that offers ease-of-use, customizable options, and an automatic save search feature. If you have special requirements for your rental,  Zillow is the site for you.

3. Zumper

Zumper, a similar platform in scope and usability to Zillow was formed in 2011, and is a subsidiary of PadMapper, another useful apartment hunting site.  Zumper has pretty much all the features of Zillow, and, as an extra perk, even has a section where you can input exactly which neighborhood you would like to rent in. This feature allows the user to pinpoint the optimal geographic location. Zumper’s platform is fast, user-friendly, and even lets the apartment renter to contact the leasing agent/office directly with a custom message that will not require employment or salary information. Zumper is a direct, reliable option containing all the filters an apartment hunter needs in order to score the apartment of their dreams!

4. Craigslist

Craigslist is the granddaddy of apartment hunting sites, although it is technically a classified advertisement website, with sections also highlighting many other categories from jobs, services, discussion forums and more. Craigslist is a space that allows users to browse apartments and homes, in addition to contacting individuals who may desire to rent a room or who are looking for a roommate. This contact feature can be found under the “rooms/shared”, “rooms wanted” and “sublets/temporary” tabs on the Craigslist platform. Another perk that sets Craigslist apart is that many of the individuals renting or selling real estate photograph their respective units allowing for a level of authenticity and transparency that is not regularly shown on the larger platforms like Zillow or ApartmentFinder. Though Craigslist may not have the largest selection of apartment rental options compared to the other featured sites, Craigslist is absolutely a wonderful option if you are an apartment hunter seeking visual transparency and you are also looking to snag a roommate all in one go!

5. Rent Jungle

The fifth apartment rental website on our list is Rent Jungle. It is a platform specifically geared for apartment hunters who want to a lot of customization to find the perfect apartment rental spot for them and even their furry friend. Though Rent Jungle is an accessible platform there are some areas of the user experience that could be improved. Photos of the available units appear on the bottom of the search listing creating a kind of  “hunt and peck”  scenario that the user must go through to match the photo to the available unit. On the plus side, the platform allows the user to view all available transportation options specifically tailored to the location of the unit, like ride sharing and even scooter sharing!

As you start your rental apartment search, take all of these sites for a “test drive” and see which one is best for your needs. Happy hunting!

Our contributor, Faith Krech, is an avid apartment-hunter and writer of all things intriguing. When not eating copious amount of chocolate or writing in her many notebooks you can find her exploring the mountains of Denver, Colorado where she currently resides.

The post The Top 5 Apartment Rental Websites Ranked! appeared first on My First Apartment.

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