What to Do With Mail For a Previous Tenant

If you’re a new resident in a house or apartment, you’ll likely get snail mail sent for the previous tenant(s). What are you supposed to do with mail for a previous tenant and how do you stop it from showing up day after day? Because at some point, the task of taking care of it gets old.

Stuffed mailbox.

Stuffed mailbox.

Open, toss, shred?

In a word, “No.” It’s a federal crime to open or destroy mail that is not meant for you — even junk mail.

If you do open something by accident, not to worry, you won’t immediately hear sirens. Someone would have to prove you intended to steal something in order to involve the authorities.

If you know the previous tenant or the person whose name is on the envelope and that person told you to open the mail, then it’s all right to go ahead and do so. FindLaw cautions that if you get charged with “obstruction of correspondence,” you should contact a criminal defense attorney right away.

Trashing the mail is the same as destroying it. Plus, the sender will never know the person is no longer at that address. Also, the previous tenant may have filled out the correct forms, but this piece of mail fell through the cracks. That person might appreciate getting that $14 check from Great Aunt Gladys.

Note that you are not responsible for holding someone’s mail. If a previous tenant tells you that, reply with a hard “no”; they need to fill out a change of address form.

Looking at mail from the mailbox.

Looking at mail from the mailbox.

Send the mail along

If you know where the person now resides, you can forward the mail to them by crossing out the address only — leave their name — on the envelope. Write the new address near the incorrect one. Then, on the same side of the envelope write something like, “Please forward; not at this address.”

In addition, if there’s a bar code on the envelope, cross it out. This is part of the USPS’s automated system and removing it makes the system register the mail as “undeliverable.”

Thinking you’ll be a good citizen by filling out a change of address form for the other person is not a good idea. Again, this is a federal crime. Who knew? You do, now. If you fill out a change of address form for the person, they will get a notification in the mail, and you’ll be in hot water.

If you have no idea where the other person lives, write “moved,” “not at this address,” or “return to sender, address unknown” on the envelope. This lets the post office know that the person is no longer at your address, but the post office will not necessarily return the letter to the original sender.

Eventually, the post office will get all this information into the system and the wrongly addressed mail should stop coming to you.

What about junk mail?

It’s still mail and falls under the heading, “it’s a federal crime to open or destroy mail that is not meant for you.”

If you know that the intended junk mail recipient is deceased, you can report the death to the Direct Marketing Association. Click this link for “Deceased Do Not Contact Registration” to stop the junk mail from coming to you.

Mail.

Mail.

How can I make wrongly addressed mail stop coming?

If sending mail back doesn’t work, you can put a note into your mailbox. In the note, write to your mail carrier the names of the people who no longer live there. For example, “Former Tenant’s Name is not at this address” or “Please deliver mail only to Current Tenant’s Name.”

You can also speak directly to your mail carrier and explain the situation. Since you may not always have the same mail carrier every day, you have to hope that they bring back the news and share it with the office.

What should I do when I move?

You don’t want to annoy the next person who takes over your address.

As a first step, you should fill out a change of address form.

But there are entities you might want to contact directly. Consider reaching out to utility providers, the newspaper, schools, the IRS, Social Security Administration, DMV, election offices, the Department of Veterans Affairs or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Filling out the change of address paperwork and submitting it online is easy and painless. It takes 10 business days for the change to become effective. The USPS delivers to 160 million residences, businesses and P.O. boxes; they’ve got a lot on their plate so be patient.

Show some courtesy

When deciding what to do with mail from a previous tenant, you should do the right — and legal — thing by either forwarding the material or returning it to the sender. Don’t forget — you’re going to move someday, too, and would want the next tenant to show the same courtesy to you.

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How to Charge an Electric Car at Your Apartment

Plugging a car into a socket to charge it instead of filling it up with gas once was something of a sci-fi fantasy. Now, electric vehicles — or EVs — are becoming more and more popular. From Nissan to BMW to Tesla, you’ll see all major car manufacturers are creating fully electric vehicles.

If you’re jumping on the trend and are considering purchasing or already own an EV, that’s great. However, you’ll want to consider how and where to charge it if you’re an apartment dweller.

Whether your apartment has electric car charging don’t worry! Here are some ways to fully charge your car at your apartment with — or without — EV charging on site.

Electric vehicles charging on the street.

Electric vehicles charging on the street.

Apartment electric car charging

It is slightly more difficult to own an electric car if your apartment doesn’t offer EV charging, but it’s not impossible. With a bit of creative thinking, you can give your car a jolt of energy and be off cruising in no time.

Find a supercharging station located near you

When your apartment doesn’t have an option for electric car charging, you’ll need to find car charging stations in your area. To do this, download apps like PlugShare or OpenChargeMap where you can type in your location and find supercharging stations near you. This is a great option because you’re likely to find several EV charging stations near your apartment. You can plug in your car to charge while you’re grocery shopping, running errands or at the gym.

Charge at your office

If you still commute to an office and aren’t solely work-from-home, you can charge your car at your office building. A lot of companies are installing EV charging stations for their employees, so you can drive to work, charge during the 9-to-5 and leave work with a fully charged car.

Electric vehicle charging.

Electric vehicle charging.

Run a heavy-duty extension cord from your apartment to your car

If you’re lacking apartment electric car charging options, you can create a makeshift charging station by purchasing a heavy-duty extension cord and snaking it from your apartment to the car itself. This isn’t an ideal option because you may not have enough voltage for a full charge. However, if you’re in a pinch this can work.

Look for apartments with EV charging

If you currently lease or own an electric vehicle and you’re looking for a new place to rent, it’s smart to search for an apartment with EV charging stations already included. This will save you time and energy as you can simply plug your car in to charge at your dedicated parking spot.

When searching for apartments with specific amenities, you can use a search finder tool to narrow your search and find the perfect place for you. Put in the features you’re looking for — like two bedrooms, on-site gym, swimming pool and apartment electric car charging — and you’ll get a list of available rentals tailored to your needs.

Why not include the exact features you’re looking for so you can charge your car while at home?

Ask your landlord to install an EV charging station

The green movement and electric vehicle trend are here to stay.

Over time, landlords will start installing apartment EV charging stations on their properties. While some have already started doing this, as the tenant, you can also push for this and ask your landlord to consider installing an apartment electric car charging station. There are companies like ChargePoint that will work with property owners to install EV charging stations on site.

It may seem like a big ask to get your landlord to install an EV charging station, but it benefits both the tenant and the landlord in the long run. First, you’ll be a satisfied tenant. And second, it’ll make the property more appealing to future renters.

Electric vehicle charging station.

Electric vehicle charging station.

Types of EV charging

Just like there are different types of gas to purchase (regular, premium, diesel), there are different types of charges for EVs.

  • Level 1 charging: This is the basic level of charging and can use a standard 120V household option. If you’re using a heavy-duty extension cord from your apartment to your car, you’re going to get a level 1 charge. Typically, this will get you around 4 to 5 miles of range per hour. If you’re driving here and there but mostly stay at home, this is a sufficient charge.
  • Level 2 charging: With level 2 charging, you’ll get more mileage, typically 12 to 20 miles of range per hour. This type of charging requires 240 volts.
  • DC fast charging: This is high-voltage charging, typically 800+ volts, and allows your EV to rapidly charge. This is a great option but you won’t find this at your typical apartment complex in most cases.

Understanding the different types of charging options can help you decide how and when to charge your electric car at your apartment.

Go green at your apartment

As electric vehicles increase in popularity, you’ll start to see more and more rental complexes offer apartment electric car charging stations as an amenity. Until it becomes common practice though, you can still go green, drive an EV and rent an apartment with EV charging options.

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Swimming Pool Etiquette: Staying Safe During the Pandemic at Your Apartment Pool

Now that warm weather is upon us, we long for beautiful days outside enjoying ourselves under the sun — this definitely includes hanging out at your apartment complex’s pool so you can cool off. However, there’s still a pandemic, so your usual swimming pool etiquette will look a little different this year.

Because the pandemic is still a concern, many communities are reopening their pools with a long list of rules designed to keep renters safe and healthy. Here’s what you need to know when visiting the apartment pool this season.

apartment community recreational area

apartment community recreational area

Is it safe to swim in a pool during a pandemic?

While COVID-19 can spread through airborne droplets, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says there’s no evidence you can catch the virus through the water in a swimming pool. However, outdoor swimming pools rank less risky than indoor ones, which are not as well ventilated.

Because the chlorine in the pool is a disinfectant, experts say the main risk is being in close contact with other people around you. Following public health guidelines designed to keep you safe is the way to go — so here is what you need to know about the swimming pool rules for your building.

Know the swimming pool rules

Some apartment pools might post information online about swimming safely. If not, call the pool management team or building manager. Most local officials have implemented rules for public pools based on CDC guidelines. You might want to ask:

  • Is pool management restricting the number of residents using the facility or staggering arrival times?
  • Is there a reservation system in place so you can book swim time?
  • Are locker rooms and restrooms open?

Pool cleaning supplies.

Pool cleaning supplies.

Ask about the pool’s cleaning routine

Aside from the pool water itself, tested by the staff, everything else in the area needs disinfecting too. Find out how often equipment such as lounge chairs, outdoor tables and chairs undergo cleaning. You might want to bring sanitizing wipes with you to clean things yourself.

Follow instructions for entering, exiting the pool area

Your apartment building might assign separate entrances and exits to the pool so that people move in one direction and stay six feet apart — just a few inches longer than a typical pool noodle.

Time your visit to the pool to avoid crowds

Try swimming at off-peak hours so you can easily stay six feet away from people you don’t live with. Your apartment pool might have signs and markers on the property reminding residents about physical distancing.

Avoid gathering at the edge of swimming lanes, on the stairs, near the diving board or on the pool deck, unless it’s with the people in your household.

Pool day.

Pool day.

Don’t invite friends to your apartment’s pool

Most buildings strongly suggest limiting visitors during the pandemic. Anyone not living in your apartment should not accompany you to the pool.

Arrive at the pool ready to swim

To avoid indoor areas as much as possible, come to the pool ready to swim: Shower and put on your swimsuit in your apartment. Skip the pool’s locker room!

Pay attention to signs about limited capacity

One safety standard required for reopening pools is the number of people in the space — so everyone can stay six feet apart. If you get to the pool and it’s crowded, come back later.

people wearing masks bumping fists

people wearing masks bumping fists

Wear a mask

Until you actually go into the pool, wear a face mask to protect yourself and others on the pool deck.

Do not wear a mask while you’re swimming — the CDC warns that a wet mask makes it harder to breathe. If your mask gets wet, it’s less effective for protection too — so pack an extra one in case yours gets a good splashing.

Bring your own pool accessories

Even if your apartment pool has goggles, snorkels, life jackets and noodles available for residents’ use, you should bring your own. These items are difficult to disinfect and most come in contact with your face — so unless you find out how often they’re cleaned between uses…avoid taking this risk!

Stick to your own lane

Pay attention to your surroundings before and after entering the pool so you can avoid people coming in and out right beside you.

Once you’re in the pool, leave plenty of room for other swimmers and don’t try to pass anyone if you’re swimming laps. This is basic pool etiquette anyway. Some pools might limit the kinds of strokes you can do to avoid excess splashing, such as the butterfly.

Forget pool games

Whether you love playing Marco Polo or pool volleyball, it’s harder to keep your distance when you’re throwing a ball around. It’s best to avoid close-contact games this season.

Keep your hands clean

Just as you would in any public space, wash your hands before and after touching things. If you’re using sanitizer, wipe off your hands with a towel first because greasy sunscreens reduce how well sanitizer works.

Don’t bring food and drinks to the pool

Because you need to take off your mask to enjoy refreshments, the CDC discourages eating and drinking at the pool unless you can distance yourself from anyone you don’t live with.

person in tube in the water

person in tube in the water

Use pool etiquette common sense and keep everyone safe

Many pools have staff on site who will ask if you are feeling healthy. Be smart and respectful of other residents and follow pool etiquette. Please stay away from your apartment’s swimming pool if you have a fever, cough or any other coronavirus symptoms that could put people at risk.

Last but not least — don’t forget to wear SPF! Kill two birds with one stone — protect yourself from COVID-19 and sun damage.

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10 Tips for Washing Your Car at Your Apartment Community

Don’t let random passersby deface your ride with “Wash Me” scrawled in windshield dirt. Instead, avoid the old “drive of shame” and give it a good old-fashioned scrub down with an apartment car wash.

Even if your apartment doesn’t have a car wash station on its list of amenities, that doesn’t mean you can’t still DIY this wet and wild chore. It just takes a few supplies and a little bit of strategy to get the job done.

A dirty car with someone writing

A dirty car with someone writing

How do I wash my car if I live in an apartment?

Sure, you could drive somewhere for a car wash, but where’s the fun in that? Hand-washing a car is a great workout and an even better way to cool down in the summer months. Just follow these easy tips for an apartment car wash and you’ll soon have the ultimate clean car. Bonus points if you detail the inside, too!

1. Use a spigot and hose

The water’s going to have to come from somewhere, right? Even if you know where the spigot is already, it’s probably smart to check with management to make sure you can use it. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even spot you a hose for the job! If not, pick up an expandable hose at the local hardware store. Those are easier to store than the old-school variety.

2. Go waterless

A waterless car wash product is a solid option for cars that aren’t filthy to start off with. So, if you’ve just gone muddin’, skip ahead. These products are not for you. Waterless car wash is available in concentrated form (so you have to dilute it), or ready-to-use. Some even have built-in wax! To use, simply spray the product on and wipe it off with a soft towel. When the towel section gets dirty, use a different part.

3. Use a no-rinse product

Split the difference between waterless and a full wash by using a no-rinse product, like Optimum No Rinse. This three-in-one product functions as a rinseless wash, as well as a detailer and a lubricant. Just add the recommended amount to one or two gallons of water, then apply with a wash mitt or microfiber towel.

Car wheels being washed.

Car wheels being washed.

4. Be wheel wise

The wheels are not the same as the rest of the vehicle, so don’t treat them like they are. Clean them first because they’re the dirtiest parts of the car.

Spray with a good hose to dislodge dirt from crevices. Use a tire-specific cleaner and a towel/mitt to scrub it down. Don’t use that towel on the rest of the car because it’s likely pretty gross.

5. Go with waterless wipes

The waterless car wash product community is booming. There are waterless wipes already primed with cleaners available for purchase. Pick up a pack each for general washing, tire and trim and wax, if you want to go full-out.

Man washing his car.

Man washing his car.

6. Pick up a pump sprayer

Here’s another idea on the waterless front. If you want to avoid the hassle of a spigot and hose (or don’t have access to one), purchase a small pump sprayer. Such a device helps evenly apply a coat of waterless cleaner. Then, you just clean as normal with a mitt or microfiber towel. It can also rinse the car off with plain water (fill it up inside first), but the water pressure isn’t as good as the average hose.

7. Use a duster

If you can’t do a full wash apartment car wash at your complex or just don’t have time, use a California Duster to quickly get rid of dirt and dust and bring back the shine. This tool will buy you more time between washes, and is usable during full washes, as well.

8. Wipe aways bugs with dryer sheets

Sometimes dried up, dead bugs just don’t want to come off. Without the power of a professional car wash it is extra challenging. Before you start washing, use old dryer sheets to wipe bugs off. Then wash as normal.

Toothpaste on car.

Toothpaste on car.

9. Apply toothpaste (no, seriously!)

No need to buy a pricey product to put the finishing touches on your headlights. Squirt some toothpaste on a rag and polish up those headlights until they shine.

10. Create your own all-natural cleaner

For the final, streak-free rinse, opt for a green cleaner. Wash the car as normal. Then rinse the soap residue with a hose. Mix three parts vinegar to one part water in a spray bottle and spray the car. Then wipe down with a newspaper for a shiny, squeaky clean finish.

Hand washing a car.

Hand washing a car.

General apartment car wash tips

Specific techniques aside, there are some general things to consider when doing an apartment car wash. Minding these suggestions make the whole process easier, not to mention more effective and enjoyable.

  • Do a quick once over: Before setting up for the apartment car wash, make sure your car isn’t leaking any fluids or oils. That won’t go over well with management.
  • Steer clear of storm drains. It’s bad for the environment, local wildlife and drinking water if soap from the car wash gets into the storm drain. Do your best to find a spot far away from storm drains to prevent any issues, or use an eco-friendly cleaner that is non-toxic and doesn’t have chlorine, fragrance, phosphates or petroleum-based ingredients.
  • Seek out the shade: It seems counterintuitive, but the sun causes streaks. So for the best finish possible, find a spot in the shade to do your apartment car wash.
  • Get your towels: Grab a few towels or wash mitts to get the job done. Make sure to have one each (at least) for the tires, body wash and for drying.
  • Conserve water: Don’t just leave the hose on indiscriminately. Doing so wastes about 10 gallons per minute! While you’re doing the wash — turn it off whenever you’re not rinsing or filling the bucket. Make it easier on yourself by attaching a nozzle that will automatically shut off the water when not in use.
  • Clean up after the clean-up: Other than waiting for water to dry, no one at your apartment should see any residue from your apartment car wash. Resist the easier, but less responsible urge to dump dirty water in the street. Instead, carry the bucket inside and dispose of it in a sink or toilet.

Other than these tips, use your common sense. If all goes well the first-time management is more likely to let you keep doing car washes from the comfort of your apartment parking lot.

Lather, rinse, repeat

Each and every time you wash your car by hand you’ll come up with ways to make an apartment car wash more efficient and easier. Eventually, you’ll be a well-oiled machine for…well, your well-oiled machine.

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The Correct Way to Write an Apartment Address (You’ve Been Doing it All Wrong)

Did you know there’s a proper way to write your apartment address? According to the United States Postal Service (USPS), there’s a correct way to do it, and you’ve likely been doing it wrong this whole time.

Between 2012 and 2013, address corrections cost USPS about $14 million.

Plus, if you fill it out incorrectly, the recipient may have difficulty submitting a claim if lost, so it’s definitely worth your time to learn how to write it down the right way.

Although your mail has probably gotten to you with no problem, there’s a proper way for your address to be written out that will ensure that your mail gets to your mailbox.

Hint: it’s that second line. It turns out the second address line you find on many online and paper address forms isn’t necessary to fill out. Keep reading to find out how to write an apartment address.

How to write an apartment address

When you’re ordering online or sending a postcard to a friend, there’s usually a second line included where many people typically write their apartment or unit number.

However, the USPS says line two doesn’t exist, and you should include all of the information in one line.

You should ignore it when writing an address with an apartment number.

The USPS postal addressing standards say a complete address consists of only three lines as follows:

Recipient Line
Delivery Address Line (Street address)
Last Line (City, State ZIP code)

How to write address with apartment number

If you need to include a unit number for your apartment, you only need to add a comma on the delivery address line with that information. Don’t use the second line for it. For example:

Jane Doe
123 Berry Lane, BLDG A, Unit B (all in the first line)
New York, NY 12345

But what is the second line for?

The second line does have a purpose that most of us won’t need to use.

Things you can include on the second line are secondary addresses, attention designations, C/O (in care of) addresses, company addresses or special instructions for delivery. For example, this lets that person know who the package is for:

Jane Doe
C/O Tiny Tim
123 Berry Lane, APT # 4
New York, NY 12345

If you need to let your delivery driver know how to find your apartment, the second line is the place to do so. You can use abbreviations for building, for example, when writing the address for your apartment.

You should try to adhere to the USPS standards for both deliveries and return addresses so your mail will have a better chance of always getting to you, especially if it bounces back.

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Using abbreviations in your apartment address

If your address or street name ends up being too long, you can use abbreviations approved by USPS and use them as second address designations. For example:

Jane Doe
123 Berry Lane
UNIT B
New York, NY 12345

Common abbreviations that you can use in your apartment address include:

  • Apartment – APT
  • Building – BLDG
  • Floor – FL
  • Suite – STE
  • Room – RM
  • Department – DEPT
  • Unit – Unit (no abbreviation)

Using the pound sign in your apartment address

The second tip is how to use a pound sign when writing your apartment address. USPS requires you to add a space between the pound sign (#) and the apartment number. It’s all in the details. For example:

Jane Doe
123 Berry Lane NW, APT # 4
New York, NY 12345

Make sure you always include the directional information for your street, especially NE, NW, SE, and SW. Skipping the directional information means your package could end up on the wrong side of town as many cities have two different streets with the same name.

Address format for more than one recipient

There are three ways to correctly display the Return and/or recipient name field names if there’s a partner or spouse. You can use ‘The Smith Family,’ Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Ms. Jane Doe and Mr. John Smith. Write it in one single line, for example:

Ms. Recipient 1 and Mr. Recipient 2
Street Address, APT # 4
City, State ZIP Code

If you recently moved and need to change your address

Moving requires you to change your address in many places — from your bank to your streaming services. USPS will forward your mail from your old address (you can sign up on their site), but since you’re a new resident, it’s important to use your legal name when signing up for new services.

Remember, the postal carrier is going by the name in the mailbox in your apartment building. Using a nickname instead of your legal name may cause some of your mail to not make it to you, after a change of address.

Plus, if you ever hold your mail for any reason, you’ll need to show a valid ID at the post office to pick it up. Avoid any headaches by using your legal name.

Apartment address format matters

When writing your address, make sure to pay attention to the details. Use a ballpoint pen and write clearly to avoid any smudges.

Make sure you double-check your unit number, use your legal name and make sure to follow the rules listed above.

These days, our postal carriers need all the help we can give them. Start practicing how to write your apartment correctly after moving and eliminate the second address line to reduce confusion and make deliveries easier.

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How to Write a Holiday Thank You Note

The holidays have come and gone.

Dinner parties were had, gifts were given and everyone was merry.

But even after the last present has been unwrapped and the last piece of silverware washed and put away, there’s still something else that must be done.

You need to plan how you’ll show your gratitude to those who share in the holiday season with you.

The lost art of saying thanks

Long before text messages and Instagram posts conveyed the innermost thoughts of people, cards sharing best wishes and kind appreciation were handwritten and mailed as thank you notes.

Receiving an actual letter in the mail amidst all the junk that still comes through can bring more joy to someone than whatever you’re actually thanking them for doing. The importance of taking a few minutes to jot down a special message for the people you appreciate, especially during the holidays, isn’t as common anymore, but it’s an easy gesture with a big impact.

Where to start

Before you begin thinking about the message you want to write, you need to have the right materials. Put aside blank sheets of printer paper and ripped off pages from notepads. They only convey a lazy sentiment and that you rushed to get this note written.

Instead, invest in a pack of nice cards to have on hand when needed. You don’t have to spend a lot of money at a stationary store in order to be prepared – just about every drug store sells them. If you’re in a situation where you’ll be thanking the same person more than once in a short time period, consider getting a set of notecards with different designs on the front, for some variety.

The pen you use is important, too. No pencil and no typing. Stick with ink colors that are easy to read and ones that stand out against the color of the notecard. Dark blue, purple or green might be good choices, but stay away from black, especially if your notecard is white. According to color studies, the black and white combination of colors is the hardest to remember.

Pick your handwriting style that’s easiest to read as well. If you can pull off an elegant cursive, go for it. Otherwise, stick to print. Don’t worry if your handwriting isn’t perfect, either. The fact that you’re taking the time to physically write out a note will make a positive impression no matter how neat the handwriting.

Write the right message

A typical thank you note doesn’t have to be long. A short, heartfelt message will do the trick. What’s important is that you speak in your own voice, share a message that’s complimentary and kind, and personalize each note with specific details related to the recipient.

Your purpose is to express gratitude, so make sure that clearly comes across. It’s OK to say thank you more than once in your note, as well. It’s also a nice touch to add a line about when you’ll see them again, or that you hope to see them soon.

Mailing the thank you note

Once the note is complete, it’s time to pop it in the mail. Again, hand write the recipient’s address on the envelope. Don’t print out labels, even if you’re writing quite a few notes. Show off that you’ve put time into this special message.

Consider purchasing holiday themed stamps for a little something extra, and keep return address labels on hand, even if you’re not sending out that much mail these days. Stationary stores also offer return address stamps or embossers if you’re interested in adding a classier element to your mail.

What are you thankful for

Two of the most common reasons to write a thank you note are for gifts you’ve received or to show gratitude toward someone who came to an event you hosted. Sometimes these sentiments are combined in a single note, like at a birthday party, but during the holidays, they’re often separate.

Here are two sample thank you notes which convey the tips already shared.

1. Thank you for coming to my holiday party

Dear Jill,

Thank you for coming to my holiday party this past weekend. It was such a fun night, and I was happy you were able to join in the festivities. It was so thoughtful of you to bring cookies to share with everyone. I appreciated the extra dessert and they were so delicious. I hope you have a wonderful holiday and look forward to seeing you again.

Jane

2. Thank you for the lovely holiday gift

Dear Clark and Lois,

Thank you so much for the wine of the month club subscription. I love trying new wine and it’s exciting to know I’ll be sampling bottles from around the world. I really appreciate you thinking of us during the holidays with such a kind gift. You’ll have to come over one month for a wine tasting! Have a wonderful holiday.

Diana

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Instacart vs. Shopping in Person: Which is Best for You?

You work eight hours a day, get stuck in traffic, hit the gym and somehow, you still need to scrunch up the energy to make a trip to the grocery store before getting home to cook. We’re tired just thinking about it.

Grocery delivery app Instacart aims to save you time by providing you with an on-demand personal shopper that picks up your groceries on the same day you place the order. Your first order is free and all subsequent orders include a small delivery fee when you spend $35 or more.

The catch, however, is the prices you pay for grocery items through Instacart may be slightly higher, often with a markup of up to 20 percent. Those higher prices can be worth it if you lead a busy life. But you also have to take into account the delivery fee (starting at $3.99), the driver tip (20 percent) and the service fee for the order. Each order requires a minimum of $10 on the cart.

To bring perspective into your decision, we’ve put together a list of items available at Publix, one of Instacart’s grocery store offerings, that shows the difference between picking it up at the store or ordering from Instacart.

1. Kashi cereal

Publix’s famous BOGO deal is available both in-store and through the app for Kashi Cereal. However, the buy one, get one free of equal or lesser price is cheaper in store. Most cereals in-store are priced at $4.49, but on the app, it’s 50 cents higher at $4.99.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

2. 4-grain eggs

The 12-count, 4-grain, large brown vegetarian eggs are on sale for $2.25 (regularly $3.35) on Instacart, but the Publix in-store flyer lists an offer of two cartons for $4.00.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

3. Califia Farms almond milk

For those that opt for Instacart, you’ll miss out on Publix’s 3 for $10 Coconut Almondmilk 48 oz. bottle deal. Each bottle on the app is $3.69, only $0.76 off.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

4. Cottonelle 12-roll package

Shoppers at Publix will save nearly 70 cents on top of the current sale of Cottonelle 12-roll package of double rolls if they stop by their local store instead of going the Instacart route.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

5. Romaine hearts

If you’ve got a Caesar salad in the works, romaine hearts are first on your shopping list. A 3-ct bag is 2 for $4, versus $3.29 each on Instacart.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

6. Annie’s mac ‘n cheese

Annie’s Homegrown shells and white cheddar mac ‘n cheese sells for $2.19 in-store, versus Instacart’s $3.09.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

7. Italian parsley

On the other hand, certain produce like Italian parsley are the same price in-store or via the app ($1.69) signaling true time savings since the cost is the same.

Verdict: Same price on both

8. Dove body wash

In the Instacart app, Dove moisturizing body wash (22 oz.) is $6.34 each with the help of an in-app coupon, same as in-store.

Verdict: Same price on both

9. Smithfield bacon

Smithfield’s natural hickory smoked bacon is up for grabs at Publix in-store for $5.58 (or through a BOGO offer). The BOGO offer is also available through the Instacart app, but it’s $6.19 each.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

10. Blueberries

Each pack of blueberries on Instacart is $3.69. That same pack of blueberries is going for 3 for $10 at your local Publix – an offer not available in the on-demand app.

Verdict: Cheaper in person

Adding it all up

There’s no right choice as the on-demand service is meant to be a complement to your busy life. If less stress and more time is worth spending a little extra money, then click away and wait for your order to arrive. If you’d rather save your money, then grab a shopping cart and hit the aisles.

These figures were accurate at the time this article was composed in February 2019. Prices on Instacart and Publix may have fluctuated since that time.
Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

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How Important Should Parking Be in Your Apartment Search?

Parking can be key to your apartment search, especially if you’re expecting a commute. A good parking situation can be a huge bonus when you finally nab the right apartment. The last thing you want is to circle your block hunting for a spot every day. And even if you do get designated parking, it can sometimes be pricey.

At the same time, your lifestyle, location and budget might make parking less relevant. If you’re moving to a new place, how will you figure out if you even need to worry about it? To determine the importance of parking in your search, answer the following questions.

1. Do you own a car?

This is easy. If you own a car, parking should absolutely factor into your apartment search.

Want some less obvious advice? If you don’t have one yet, consider if you might ever own a car. Your set of circumstances is liable to change from year to year. If you stay in the same place long enough, you may just have to purchase your own vehicle.

At the very least, parking is something to consider, even if you currently depend on public transportation. You might end up taking a new job in the middle of your lease at an office located an hour outside the city, for instance. Take stock of your present plans and goals and be considerate of your future needs.

2. Will you pay extra?

Some apartments charge a rent premium for parking garages, an additional cost to consider when weighing your options. You’ll pay more for these residential properties than those without the same amenities, so if you don’t need a space, you should look elsewhere.

The U.S. is a car-friendly nation, and that puts parking costs at a bit of a premium. That means apartments without solid options are likely to charge less. If you’re willing to sacrifice convenience, you might add more flexibility to your monthly budget.

If parking is a premium amenity for you, you can still make sure you know what you’ll pay. Meet with the landlord and have a discussion over what they charge for a space, what kind of security is available and any other concerns you have before you sign a lease.

3. Are there other options?

You have choices in how you get from place to place, and while car ownership is attractive, there are alternatives you can turn to. Dockless bike-sharing programs have seen increasing popularity in many cities, with bicycle commuting up more than 60 percent since the turn of the century.

Many of these cyclists don’t want the additional responsibilities associated with vehicle maintenance, and city traffic is often challenging to navigate. Bike sharing, scooter sharing and ride sharing options provide freedom from these anxieties, and these are friendly on both the environment and the wallet.

These alternatives are usually located in bustling cities, so they might not be available in your area. If they do catch your interest, research different properties and browse around. If living without a car seems freeing, it may even change up where you decide to focus your apartment search.

Parking is always going to be a major concern for most renters, but your situation might be unique. Things are always changing, too, and the next time you’re looking for a place to live, there might be even more transportation options out there. Rethinking your priorities can help you find the apartment that meets all your needs.

Photo by John Matychuk on Unsplash

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The Best Restaurant Neighborhoods in Philadelphia

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The Best Parks and Green Spaces in Philadelphia

From the moment William Penn, founder of the Colony of Pennsylvania, set aside Philadelphia’s Five Great Public Squares as part of his “Greene Countrie Towne” city plan, Philadelphia has been recognized for its amazing public green spaces and parks, large and small, urban and woodsy. Nearly every neighborhood contains an inviting, safe, inspiring public space. But what are some of the best?

Fairmount Park

Fairmount Park PhiladelphiaFairmount Park Philadelphia
Fairmount Park

Every discussion of Philadelphia parks must start with Fairmount Park, the largest space within the world’s largest urban park system.

Stretching from the Strawberry Mansion to the Spring Garden neighborhoods, the East Park half of Fairmount Park lies on the Schuylkill River’s east bank. This side features scenic running and biking trails that wind past historic sites such as The Philadelphia Museum of Art and Boathouse Row, with its famous light display, large plateaus near Brewerytown, which include the Sedgley Woods Disc Golf Course and Strawberry Green Driving Range and the vast Fairmount Park Athletic Field, where you can hop into a pickup hoops game or join an organized sports league. For a quieter outing, the recently renovated East Park Reservoir is one of the best bird-watching enclaves in the city.

Across the river, though still in Fairmount Park, the West Park runs from the Wynnefield neighborhood down to Mantua. Here you can take the kids to the first-in-the-nation Philadelphia Zoo, the Please Touch Museum or the John B. Kelly Pool right next door.

For a more adult excursion, take in a concert and an amazing view at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts or fling a Frisbee at the Edgely Ultimate Fields. In the winter, Philadelphians of all ages take to Belmont Plateau for the city’s best sledding hills.

Wooded parks

Wissahickon Valley ParkWissahickon Valley Park
Wissahickon Valley Park

For everything Fairmount Park has to offer, other city parks boast their own perks. The expansive Wissahickon Valley Park extends from Chestnut Hill through East Falls in North Philly. There you’ll find people on mountain bikes and on foot traveling the winding gravel paths of forested Forbidden Drive, youngsters learning while having fun at the Wissahickon Environmental Center Tree House and anglers casting into the trout-stocked Wissahickon Creek.

Running from Bustleton to the Delaware River in Northeast Philly’s Holmesburg section, Pennypack Park is a 1,300-acre wooded creekside hiking and biking oasis that provides nature programs at Pennypack Environmental Center, a full working farmstead with cattle, sheep, pigs and chickens at Friends of Fox Chase Farm, and King’s Highway Bridge, the oldest in-use stone bridge in America.

In extreme South Philly, you’ll find Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, adjacent to the professional sports complex, which contains a full 18-hole golf course, a nationally-celebrated skateboard park and the Meadow Lake Gazebo, long a popular spot for wedding photos.

The John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge at Tinicum, a little farther south in Eastwick next to the Philadelphia International Airport, is a top hiking, canoeing and fishing spot within a stunning environmentally-protected tidal marsh.

Urban parks

Spruce Street Harbor ParkSpruce Street Harbor Park
Spruce Street Harbor Park
Photo courtesy of Anastasia Navickas

If you prefer parks that feel part of the city rather than those that feel like you left the city, Philadelphia won’t disappoint.

Atop the Circa Centre South Garage in University City is Cira Green, a new rooftop greenspace boasting seasonal coffee carts, summer movies and some of the best views of downtown.

Named by Jetsetter Magazine as one of the “World’s Best Urban Beaches,” Spruce Street Harbor Park at Penn’s Landing is an eclectic recreational sanctuary along the Delaware River with seasonal food and beer trucks, a riverside boardwalk and a cluster of more than 50 cozy hammocks, which hang under spectacular LED lights strung amongst the trees.

From biking to basketball to bird-watching, Philadelphia’s city parks and green spaces offer unlimited means of escape from the bustle of urban life.

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