What Is an HOA, or Homeowners Association?

When searching for a home, knowing everything you can about the home and the neighborhood you may move into is important. One thing that home buyers should look for is whether or not they would like to live in a neighborhood or community with an HOA. HOA stands for Homeowner’s Association, and many homes are located within HOAs due to their rise in popularity in recent years.

Common Questions About HOAs 

What is an HOA? 

HOAs are a group of Homeowners in the area that are typically elected or volunteered. Then they form a board of directors that govern common interests in their community or neighborhood. Homeowners in areas with HOAs typically have to pay fees to cover the use and maintenance of amenities in the area. For example, if you owned a home with an HOA in a community or neighborhood with a pool and park, you would be paying the fee for the maintenance of that pool and park. The board of directors for the HOA will not receive any of the money from the monthly fees; they are unpaid. Instead, the fees go to the maintenance, and the HOA makes decisions on the maintenance that needs to be done and who should do it.  

How much do HOAs cost? 

HOAs usually charge a fee monthly. How much this fee is will depend on where you live. Therefore, the cost of every HOA fee varies drastically. But if you want to live in a neighborhood with an HOA, expect the fees to typically cost you hundreds of dollars a year.  

What do HOA fees cover? 

HOA fees typically cover: 

  • Maintenance of Pool 
  • Maintenance of Parks  
  • Trash Removal  
  • Landscaping of Community Areas 
  • Pest Control of Community Areas

What are the typical responsibilities of an HOA?  

The responsibilities of the HOA include the maintenance of the neighborhood along with making any rules that serve common interests. For rules, the board of directors would be responsible for setting these rules as well as listening to complaints from the community and handling them. Plus, if a community member broke a rule, they would be in charge of notifying them and/or issuing them a fine. Along with maintenance and rules, HOA board members are also in charge of holding meetings to address issues and concerns with everyone in the neighborhood. These meetings would be open to the community who pays fees, so anyone should be able to voice any concerns they have. And if you don’t like the board of directors for the HOA in your area, it’s important to note that you can always volunteer to join or be elected to the board. 

What are some pros and cons of having an HOA? 

No matter what choice you make in life, there are always some pros and cons. It’s up to you to determine whether the pros outweigh the cons of living in a community or neighborhood with an HOA. The pros of the HOA are that the amenities in your area, such as the pool or the park, will be maintained and taken care of. A con of an HOA could be the excessive number of rules those amenities may have because of the HOA.  

Something that could be a pro or a con of having an HOA is the monthly fee you have to pay. The HOA fee could be a pro because of everything it covers, but it could be a con if it costs too much or the HOA does not keep up with maintenance or residents of that area like they are supposed to. One final con is that the HOA may issue too many fines, such as you not maintaining your lawn or having a clothesline, or even having too many pieces of outdoor furniture. If your HOA is like this, you may not enjoy living in your home. That’s why it’s important to talk to your neighbors about the HOA before buying the home.  

Whether you’re buying a house for the first time or the third time, it’s essential to know whether or not your home is in an HOA to ensure you and your family are getting the perfect experience inside and outside your home. 


Helen Wells

Hi! I’m Helen Wells, the Content Writer Intern here at Homes.com. In my spare time, you can find me either reading a novel, watching the latest TV drama, or hanging out with my friends. Follow me on Twitter at @hawells21.  

Source: homes.com

How Much Does It Cost to Furnish an Apartment?

Price out the essential furniture to determine your budget and start shopping.

Furnishing an entire apartment is challenging. That’s because buying furniture takes both time and money. You also need to understand your taste and how the new apartment needs to function. It’s hard to determine a furniture budget beforehand because the cost to furnish an apartment can vary widely.

So, how much does it cost to furnish an apartment? That depends.

How much space do you need to fill? Are you bringing furniture with you or do you need to buy everything after you move in? Do you prefer vintage and antiques or do you like things shiny and new? Is it an unfurnished apartment or is some furniture provided? How much time, money and energy can you devote to the project?

Determine your furniture budget

To determine the cost of furnishing your new apartment, first determine what furniture is essential to you and learn the average cost. Then, make a list of furniture you already have and a list of what you need.

Invest more in items you’ll use every day and classic styles that will stand the test of time. Buying used furniture or accepting secondhand items can keep furniture costs low.

Decide on your essential furniture

Everyone needs a place to eat and sleep. But the exact furniture we need varies from household to household. A sturdy desk and a comfortable chair are the top priorities for people who work from home, while a large dining set is a must for roommates and families who gather around the table every night.

“You do not need to adhere to the notion of needing a ‘complete set of furniture’ in any room of your home,” Tate Swanson, boutique and marketing manager of The Sitting Room in Excelsior, MN. “I suggest starting with the biggest piece, whether it be your bed or your dining room table, and then fill in from there.”

If you’re setting up a new apartment, purchase the essential furnishings first. These are just the basics, the bare minimum that you’ll need to spend the night in your own space. Budget $25 for a plastic shower curtain liner, soap and cleaning supplies to get through your first week.

We’ve listed the ballpark cost of each item. It assumes you’re purchasing the item new, but it doesn’t include tax, assembly or delivery costs. Prices might change over time or vary by region.

Mattress

Mattress

Mattress

A quality mattress and box spring support your back and neck, so you can sleep well and wake up refreshed. A typical price is $500 to $1,200. A twin bed costs less than a queen or king.

Always buy a new mattress. An old mattress won’t offer proper support and could be full of allergens like mold or dust mites. Even worse, it could have bedbugs that infest your whole apartment.

Bed frame

A bed frame evenly distributes your weight and supports the mattress. A basic metal frame starts at around $80. Decorative options (like platform beds, sleigh beds and trundle beds) may include storage, headboards and footboards. But they’ll also cost you more, too.

Sofa or loveseat

A sofa anchors the living room, so choose wisely. You want something comfortable that works with the budget and your style. Styles range from a compact love seat for two to a family-size sectional sofa.

Sofa prices ($300 to $2,600) reflect this variety. A slipcover can make an old sofa work in a new room for much less.

Dining furniture

Dining room furniture

Dining room furniture

You can find a dining table and chairs made of metal, stone, wood or glass. You can also find the table and dining chairs of the same material, or you can mix and match. Buy enough chairs for all household members and frequent guests.

If you have a counter, reserve $150 to $400 for bar seating. The average cost for a dining table and chairs is $400 to $1,200.

“Plan for a minimum of three feet of space from the edge of the table to the walls to allow space for chairs to move in and out,” suggests Swanson. “The table shape and size are determined by the size and shape of the room. A lot of dining rooms are rectangular, so a rectangle or oval table often works best.”

Secondary furniture

Furnishing an apartment doesn’t have to happen all at once. If your apartment budget is tight, you can buy the essentials and add them as you go. This gives you time to save money, invest in quality or find the perfect piece to reflect your style.

Bedroom furniture

Bedroom furniture includes dressers and nightstands. Small rooms might only need one or the other, while a larger room adequately accommodates both.

The amount of furniture you need depends on the number of bedrooms you have. So, the cost of furnishing a one-bedroom apartment will almost always be cheaper than a larger unit.

A typical dresser costs $150 to $350. You can find nightstands (around $100 each) that are a simple table or a larger unit with drawers for additional storage space.

Bookshelves

Bookshelves

Bookshelves

Bookshelves are often living room furniture. But they’re useful in bedrooms, dining rooms and offices, too. They can also line hallways or awkward nooks.

If you have books, plants, art or a collection to display, you’ll need a few shelves. They cost between $80 and $275, so budget accordingly.

Floor lamps

As you settle into your new apartment, you’ll notice that the overhead lights don’t illuminate every inch of the space. You might need to buy a floor lamp or two.

Place them in dark corners, on either side of the sofa or provide ambient light in the dining room or bedroom. Floor lamps cost an average of $50 to $175 each.

Table lamps

Table lamps are a type of task lighting, which means they illuminate a particular activity zone. So, put a table lamp on your desk or near your favorite armchair. They also work well on nightstands, bookshelves, dressers and anywhere else you need a small pool of light.

They’re functional, so you won’t know exactly how many you need until you’ve arranged your furniture.

Desk and office chair

Desk and office chair

Desk and office chair

Choose a desk based on the work surface and storage you need. Make sure it doesn’t overwhelm the space or block doors and windows.

The average desk costs between $140 and $300. A basic chair can cost between $75 and $150. An ergonomic chair will cost more, but it’s a good investment for people who spend hours at a desk.

Additional seating

Most living rooms need seating for four or five people. This usually includes a couch and an accent chair or two. But a bench or a pair of stuffed ottomans can work if the room is small, irregularly shaped or if you have a limited furnishing budget.

A single armchair sells for $175–$500 at full retail price. Ottomans are cheaper at $50–$200 each.

TV stand or entertainment center

You can’t drill holes in the wall if you want your security deposit back. So, an apartment living room needs a TV stand. The right stand puts the television at a comfortable viewing level. It can also hide cords, video game consoles, speakers and other entertainment systems. Some offer extra storage, too. Most cost $150–$400.

The decorative flourishes

Choosing wall art, plants and home décor is one of the most enjoyable (and least stressful) parts of furnishing an apartment. You don’t need to study interior design to understand your own personal style. Pick colors and pieces you love to make your new space feel like home.

Rugs

Rugs

Rugs

Rugs ($150 to $500) are both decorative and functional. They warm up cold floors, provide a safe surface for kids and pets and add a pop of color to a room.

Use a large area rug to anchor a dining room or living area. Smaller scatter rugs work well in front of the kitchen sink, in the entryway or inside the front door, while bathmats offer traction on slippery floors.

Decorative tables

Once you have seating in the living room, you need a place to put your coffee or display a lamp. Depending on your square footage, a coffee table or a few side tables will complete the room.

A new coffee table averages $130 to $350, while side tables cost $100 and up. You can find these tables in almost any material: wood, plastic, metal, even vintage crates and reclaimed lumber.

Mirrors

For some renters, the bathroom mirror is enough. But if you want a full-length mirror to check your outfit or a mini mirror to apply lipstick as you head out the door, set aside $80 to $400. (Large decorative mirrors double as art and make up the high end of this estimate.) Check your lease to see if you can mount them on the wall before you buy.

Window coverings

Even unfurnished apartments usually come with basic window coverings. Ask your landlord if you can install decorative curtains and curtain rods ($50 to $150).

Art

Wall art

Wall art

Art is an easy way to add personality to your apartment. The price ranges from a few dollars for student work, mass-produced prints and postcards to thousands of dollars for art purchased in a gallery. Budget $100 to $150 for art and frames.

Miscellaneous home décor

Set aside $50 to $100 for the little details that make a house a home. Put soft bath towels and a decorative shower curtain in the bathroom. Put fresh flowers in a pretty vase, burn candles and display plants along the windowsill. These individual touches make the space your own.

A fully furnished apartment

If furnishing an apartment feels overwhelming, you can rent a furnished apartment instead. A fully furnished apartment will contain a sofa, coffee table and living room seating. The kitchen and the bathroom will be functional. (You may have to provide cleaning supplies and towels.) The bedroom will contain a bed and basic storage, although the add-ons vary widely.

Buying new apartment furniture

You can buy new furniture at several price points. The average person sources furniture from a variety of new and used vendors to keep the cost of furnishing their apartment within their budget. To avoid bedbugs, allergens and water damage, buy upholstered chairs, sofas and mattresses new.

Furniture stores

furniture store

furniture store

Furniture stores let you see and test furniture before you buy it. Most stores offer delivery and assembly assistance. This furniture is high-quality and designed to last, so it’s more expensive.

Many stores offer financing and specials like 0% interest or deferred payments to counteract the higher prices. Just remember, if you have to begin paying immediately or have a high-interest rate, you’re not really saving money. Wait for holiday discounts, instead. Presidents Day and Labor Day are some of the most popular times for furniture sales.

Home furnishing stores

Specialty home shops like Pottery Barn, Anthropologie and West Elm offer an artfully edited selection of furniture and décor. From budget-friendly IKEA to high-end RH (formerly Restoration Hardware), there’s a home furnishings shop for most budgets.

The merchandise is seasonal, so buy before it’s gone. The store’s aesthetic will be consistent from season to season, so the items you buy over the years will work together.

Big box stores

Big box stores have traditionally offered decorative accents, textiles and art. But now, they’ve branched out into furniture, as well.

Target offers the items listed above, as well as lighting, TV stands and a selection of living room furniture and storage options. Walmart sells all that, too, plus dining room sets, office furniture, bedroom sets and mattresses.

Shop online

Shop online

Shop online

Shopping online can save you money. You can’t try things before you buy them, but having something shipped to your door is very convenient. Many home furnishings stores and big-box retailers also offer online shopping.

Amazon is a good place to browse many vendors. You can also add assembly assistance to your cart before checking out for a small fee. Wayfair offers a variety of styles and financing options. Burrow specializes in modular, expandable furniture.

Liquidation stores

For new furniture for less, head to a liquidation store. These companies purchase unsold inventory from other shops, then sell it to customers for less than retail value. The furniture selection and style vary from store to store, but most have mass-market appeal.

Pre-owned furniture

Buying used furniture has many benefits. The cost of furnishing an apartment goes down when you can buy at least some items secondhand. Buying more affordable furniture means you can splurge on other items.

Since you’re buying something that already exists, you reduce waste and shrink your carbon footprint. And when you purchase old furniture, you’re giving a time-tested gem new life. Furniture from many eras makes your home feel curated and distinctive.

Hand-me-downs

Friends, relatives, old roommates and colleagues are a great source of secondhand furniture. They might give you the furniture. Or, you can trade or offer cash.

Buy nothing groups

Buy nothing groups have popped up on social media over the last decade. Participants can trade, lend, gift or share items, but they can’t pay money for goods and services.

“Don’t be afraid to ask for items you need,” suggests Sarah Cottrell, a Minneapolis resident who has sourced children’s furniture and books this way. “I think it’s best to approach it with less of a scarcity mindset and only take things into your home that you truly want.”

Resale shops, consignment stores and thrift shops

Consignment furniture

Consignment furniture

Resale shops sell previously owned goods at a discount. The average prices are much lower than retail, so your dollar goes further. And your local thrift store is often a non-profit organization that gives back to the community, so your money helps others.

There are over 25,000 resale, consignment and thrift shops in the U.S., according to the Association of Resale Professionals. Some, like Habitat ReStore, focus on building materials, furniture and appliances. Others offer home décor and furnishings.

Craigslist, online classifieds and Facebook yard sale groups

After scouting the thrift shops, Craigslist and other online classifieds are a logical next step. They make it easy to search for used goods in your own city. Study photos carefully, don’t pay without seeing something first and only meet strangers in public places.

Yard sales and garage sales

Garage and yard sales are a great way to keep the cost of furnishing an apartment low. They’re a good source of furniture, home décor and accent pieces. Look for listings on Facebook or Craigslist. Or, search the Garage Sales Tracker for sales near you.

Flea markets, antique shops and estate sales

Find vintage items with character at antique shops and antique malls. Or, search for treasures at flea markets and estate sales.

Antique sellers and flea market vendors often specialize in certain styles and eras and can guide you to items you’ll like. Estate sales often include the contents of an entire house, condo or apartment. They’re a great source for well-made but cheap furniture that has already lasted for generations.

Keep calm and furnish on

Buying furniture can feel overwhelming at first. And, the cost to furnish an apartment can vary. But learning how to furnish an apartment is a life skill. And just like any skill, it gets easier with time and practice.

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute financial advice. Furniture prices listed here do not constitute a pricing guarantee as they can vary by source.

Source: rent.com

Renting a Furnished Apartment: Pros and Cons to Think About

Whether you’re a first-time renter or you’re renting your next apartment in a new city, the process of finding an apartment is difficult. From scouting out the perfect location and finding an apartment that fits all your needs to buying furniture and decorations for your new apartment, the entire moving process is stressful.

Then, there’s the question of renting a furnished apartment or an unfurnished apartment in the first place. If you’re considering a fully furnished apartment as your next place, here’s everything you should know about furnished apartments.

Furnished apartment

What is a furnished apartment and what do fully furnished apartments include?

There are three different types of furnished apartments and you may wonder exactly how much furniture comes in a furnished apartment?

There are fully furnished, furnished or semi-furnished apartments. You can find furnished apartments in all apartment sizes — from a studio apartment to a two-bedroom apartment or even, sometimes, a house. Each type of finished apartment can come equipped in a variety of ways.

Fully furnished apartments are move-in ready and can include all your basic heavy furniture, such as a bed, couch, dining room table, bathroom appliances, coffee table and dressers. However, they also go above and beyond and might include amenities like interior design and décor, basic kitchen appliances and, sometimes, even a washer and dryer.

Furnished units usually include basic needs like a bed, end tables, chairs, a microwave and a couch. Some might include more or less but it really depends on the landlord or property owners.

Semi-furnished apartments have fewer items included than furnished apartments. They still come with the basic needs including a bed, couch and some kitchen appliances but you’ll get fewer amenities in something labeled “semi-furnished.”

Before you decide on which apartment to rent, ask the landlord for an apartment tour or even reach out and ask the tenants if they enjoy living there.

Pros of renting a fully furnished apartment

As with anything, there are pros and cons to renting furnished apartments. So, here’s a list of the pros and cons to consider to make it easier to rent your perfect apartment.

moving

Moving is easy

Moving from an old apartment to a new one is time-consuming. There’s so much to get done from boxing up all your belongings to then hiring a moving company or enlisting your friend’s help. You no longer have to worry about moving heavy furniture when you rent a furnished apartment.

Lower upfront costs

If you’re looking to save money upfront, then a furnished apartment might just be for you. With a furnished apartment, not only do you not have to worry about moving furniture, but you don’t have to spend extra money buying your own furniture just yet.

Furniture is expensive and takes a long time to accumulate, leaving you with a semi-furnished apartment for a while. A furnished rental eliminates the additional costs of furniture and saves you more money upfront.

Short-term rental

Renting an apartment is a big commitment you shouldn’t take lightly. If you’re unsure about how long you’ll be in one place, consider moving apartments to a place ready to go.

A business person, college student or someone who only wants to stay in a place for a few months are good candidates for short-term rentals. If this sounds like you, then pre-furnished apartments are great for short-term tenants.

stress

Reduce stress

Renting a new place is stressful, to say the least. Then, add in all the other tasks that go into moving, from filling an empty apartment with new furniture to learning your new neighborhood. A furnished apartment can help to reduce some of the big stresses that come with moving.

Cons of renting a fully furnished apartment

With every pro, there’s a con and a furnished apartment is no exception. Here are the cons of furnished apartments that you should consider before moving.

Higher rent fees

If you already own furniture or are fine to pay for new furniture, then renting a fully furnished apartment is a bad idea. Renting a furnished apartment typically comes with higher monthly rent and a higher security deposit. The higher rent prices are due to the fact that you’re not only paying for the space but also the furniture in the apartment.

If you’re renters who plan on planting roots in one place for more than a few months, then this could be one of the bigger cons of furnished apartments to consider. In the long run, renting unfurnished apartments might actually save you money. If you’re looking to buy your own furniture but on a budget, then second-hand furniture is a great option to fill your unfurnished apartment. And over time, you’ll save the extra money that you would have had to pay for rent. This is something that future tenants should take time to consider and budget out which option is best for them.

cheap furniture

Poor quality and lack of personality

Another con of furnished apartments is you don’t know the quality of the furniture. It could be old, damaged or even dirty from previous renters. You should talk to the landlord and ask about the quality and maintenance of the furniture before you rent.

You may not like the furniture in the house or it isn’t your taste or have the amenities you’re looking for, either. And while you can add little touches here and there, it’s important to live comfortably in your space and furniture does contribute to that.

Fear of damages

It’s one of the fears all renters have — damaging the apartment, or in this case, the furniture in the apartment. Damaging your own furniture is bad enough but damaging the furniture in your furnished apartment is even worse and can result in fees. If you spill or your pooch decides the couch is their new chewing toy one day, that could mean you’ll get charged or even lose your security deposit.

This can make you feel like you’re walking on eggshells in your own apartment and is something you should really think about before you rent. It’s also a good idea to ask your landlord about their specific damage policies. This will help you also avoid rental scams.

To rent furnished or not to rent furnished

Renting a new apartment is a big moment in life for anyone. Whether you decide to rent a furnished or unfurnished apartment, you’ll finally have a space that’s all your own. A furnished rental is a great option for people who don’t own enough furniture, people who are short-term renters or people who aren’t committed to a new location. Talk to your landlord about the furnishings included if you go this route.

Source: apartmentguide.com

7 Ways to Show Proof of Renters Insurance to Your Landlord

No one wants to have an apartment break-in happen to them or lose their personal belongings to an unexpected tornado but sometimes life happens. When the unexpected occurs, everyone wants financial coverage and know that they have a backup plan or safeguard in place.

That’s where renters insurance comes in. While property owners will have insurance policies covering the apartment complex and building in place, it’s often up to the tenants to provide their own renters insurance where the policy covers personal belongings. In fact, most landlords are requiring proof of renters insurance to rent their property before signing the lease.

We’ll help you understand the fundamentals of a basic tenant insurance policy and provide ideas on how to show proof of renters insurance if your landlords require it.

What is a renters insurance policy?

Simply put, insurance is protection against financial loss. Renters insurance is a type of insurance policy that’s specific to tenants and renters only. Unlike homeowners insurance, renters insurance does not usually cover the structure of the building, but it does cover the renter’s personal property that’s housed inside the apartment.

Renters insurance exists to protect you and your personal belongings should an incident — like theft or fire — occur while you rent. The insurance policy would then pay you for the damage caused to your belongings. Renters insurance also protects renters from liability in case someone gets hurt within your apartment.

Renters insurance covers property from a burglary

Why every renter needs renters insurance coverage

Landlords are requiring tenants to provide proof of renters insurance. This helps safeguard property managers from liability, but it also protects renters. People who have renters insurance can breathe easy knowing it protects their personal property. Here are a few reasons you need to purchase renters insurance:

  • Offers protection of your personal items from theft or natural disasters
  • Covers you from personal liability if someone is hurt within your apartment
  • Often required to sign a new lease
  • Sometimes required for lease renewal
  • Can save you money should something happen to your personal belongings
  • Provides peace of mind to tenants
  • Helps expedite the rental process and avoid waiting periods if you already have a policy

Regardless of the reason you purchase renters insurance, it’s smart to have it when you live in a rental unit.

What exactly does renters insurance cover?

We’ve talked about the benefits of having renters insurance, but what exactly does renters insurance cover? Your coverage will vary based on your insurance company and policy, but in most cases, renters insurance policies offer these types of coverage:

Personal property coverage

Personal property coverage includes repairs or replacements for lost or damaged property, such as furniture, electronics and clothing. Depending on the policy, it may cover the costs of things like jewelry, but you’ll have to check with your insurance provider to see how much coverage comes with your plan.

Liability coverage

Liability coverage protects the tenant in case an injury occurs to someone within the apartment and needs medical attention. There’s often a cap on how much liability coverage there is, so read your policy carefully.

Renters insurance will cover a hotel room if you

Additional living expenses coverage

Additional living expenses coverage includes the cost of hotel or travel bills should your apartment become unlivable due to an incident that occurs on-site. This part of a policy will not cover property damage to the building itself — that’s usually the landlord’s responsibility — but it will cover your hotel bills while you find a new place to rent.

You’ll likely have increased premiums when you purchase more coverage and it’s up to you to determine how much renters insurance you need and how much coverage your landlord requires. Do your research to select the best policy for you.

How to show proof of renters insurance to your landlord

We’ve mentioned that landlords require proof of insurance to rent a rental property. But how do you show proof of renters insurance to a landlord? Here are several ways to show proof of renters insurance.

1. Provide the declarations page to your landlord

Every renters insurance policy will have a declarations page that outlines the details of your coverage. The declarations page will include things like your name, the policy number and how much coverage you purchased. You can send a digital copy directly to property management as proof.

Send a digital copy to your landlord.

2. Share a digital file with the landlord

You can show digital proof of your insurance by emailing the landlord a copy of the entire policy or the declarations page itself. When you send electronic proof, you have a digital footprint that shows your communication with the landlord. You can even ask your landlord to store this electronic copy on their property management software so you have a record of it.

3. Show them the physical copy of the renters insurance policy

If you’re more old-school, you can print out a physical copy of the policy as a way of showing proof of coverage. Print out a copy for your records and print out a second copy for the landlord to have, as well.

4. Have your insurance agent contact your landlord to confirm

If your landlord will accept verbal confirmation, you can ask the insurance company to call the landlord directly to show proof of insurance. Let your landlord know when your insurance agent will contact them so they can prepare for the call.

5. Add the landlord as an interested party to the policy

On any insurance policy, you can add an interested party to the policy. This is one way to show proof that the tenant has insurance. When the insurance agent is writing the policy, they will add the landlord as an interested party and then, notify the landlord upon completion of the policy.

6. Share the policy number and insurance agency with your landlord

Another way to show proof when renting is to share details of the policy with your landlord. You can share things like the number of the policy, the name of the insurance company and agent or the amount of coverage purchased.

Simply tell your landlord you have renters insurance.

7. Give verbal assurances of your renters insurance policy

Depending on the property managers, you can show proof by giving verbal confirmation of coverage. While this is only as good as your word, some landlords are OK with this type of proof. Keep in mind that there’s often no digital or written record of verbal assurances, so it’s not the most concrete or secure way to show proof of renters insurance.

These are some of the most common and accurate ways to show proof of coverage when property owners require proof.

How much does renters insurance cost?

Renters insurance is relatively inexpensive and ranges from $15 to $20 a month, or $180 to $220 per year. The cost of the policy will depend on how much coverage you purchase. Some landlords will even require that you have a certain amount of coverage, but that varies by location, by the landlord and even by state. When you’re analyzing your budget, it’s important to include renters insurance with your other utilities.

Keep in mind that most policies renew annually and if you don’t automatically renew your policy lapses and you may temporarily lose coverage. You also need to pencil in the cost of compensation for the agent, if they charge a fee to draft a policy.

Signing the renters insurance policy.

How to get a renters insurance policy of your own

If you’re trying to rent an apartment and can’t sign the lease until you have proof of renters insurance, then it’s time to find a policy for you. There are ways to find an insurance agency who you get you set up:

  • Ask your new landlord for a recommendation
  • Use your existing insurance agency and bundle it with your car insurance, for example, to save money
  • Use an online comparison tool to find an insurance company
  • Do an online search to find an insurance agency
  • Ask your neighbors who they use
  • Go to your local insurance broker

Proof of renters insurance is key

Once your policy is in place, you’ll be happy to know that you can then sign the lease, move into your new apartment and feel secure knowing you’re protected from the unexpected.

Source: apartmentguide.com

How To Decorate Your Home On A Budget

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

While finding the right house is important, the way you furnish and decorate a space is what really makes it home. But when you’re on a tight budget, it can be difficult to create the vibe you’re looking for.

The good news is, you can drastically drive down the cost of furnishing and decorating with a little creativity. Here are some of our best tips.

How to Decorate Your Home on a Budget

Decorating a new house can be more expensive than you realize. Read below for ideas on how to find furniture, decor and accessories without busting your budget. 

Shop at consignment stores

Many high-end consignment stores carry furniture and decor for half off of their original cost. You can find a West Elm dining room table for hundreds of dollars less than the retail price. 

Do a Google search for the best consignment stores in your area and visit their websites to see if they sell furniture and decor. If they do, plan to visit or follow them on social media to see what they post. 

Local liquidation stores often carry furniture and decor from name brands and designers. One liquidation store near me only carries items from Target, so you can find cute throw pillows, candles, mirrors and home accessories at clearance prices. 

Some furniture stores may also have outlets near you where they sell last season items for a huge discount. 

Visit flea markets

While antique stores carry expensive furniture pieces, flea markets can have hidden gems for much lower prices. Flea markets can be a fun place to find decor and furniture items like chairs, coffee tables and dressers. 

Flea markets usually don’t help with delivery, so you’ll need to bring a large car, rent a van or ask a friend for help. Make sure to include the cost of renting a car or truck when deciding if the price is fair. 

Flea markets and thrift stores can also be a fun place to find knickknacks and tchotchkes. Also, look through old boxes of childhood items and family heirlooms for things to display around the house.   

Find frugal picture frames

Custom framing can cost hundreds of dollars. Instead of getting your art or pictures custom framed, scour through your nearby thrift stores for a suitable frame. Make sure to measure the art beforehand. If you can’t find a perfect-sized frame, find one that’s slightly bigger and buy a mat that fits the picture online.

You could also visit a framing store and pay them to add a mat. You’ll still be saving hundreds of dollars compared to the cost of custom framing.

Find second-hand furniture and decor 

Every day, homeowners post furniture and decor for sale on sites like OfferUp, Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace. You can also find special Facebook groups devoted to selling furniture and other items within your neighborhood. Your neighborhood NextDoor community is another place to find cheap or free items. 

Freecycle is a site where you can find free items that people are donating. You can subscribe to get daily emails to see what people are giving away. 

Sometimes you can find people who will deliver the furniture to you for free or for a small fee. The fee may be less than what you’d pay buying new furniture. 

Look for plants and planters that people are donating. These are another easy way to spruce up a place without spending a bunch of money. 

Bring out your crafty side

You can save a lot of money on home furnishings by getting a little crafty. Try spray painting furniture or frames a different color. If you have more time, you can also sand wooden furniture and stain it a different shade. 

Find ways to update old furniture that you already own. For example, your grandma’s dresser may look frumpy now, but with some new knobs or handles, it can look like a completely different piece of furniture. 

Print pictures

If you have high-resolution photos of beautiful locales, consider printing and framing them. Printing large pictures can cost less than $10, and if you print a standard frame size, you can buy a regular picture frame instead of needing a custom frame.

Use sites like Shutterfly or the Costco photo center, which offer low prices for printing services. Choose a matte finish, which will look more refined and high-end than a glossy finish.

Don’t underestimate the power of paint

Decorating a white wall with art and pictures can be expensive and time-consuming. Instead, consider painting the wall a bold color, which can have a huge visual impact. 

When you paint a wall, you don’t have to hang as much art. If you already have art or pictures in mind that you want to hang, make sure to pick a paint color that will match those frames. 

Use social media

Before you visit a furniture store, post on social media what you’re looking for. You never know who might be getting rid of the exact item you need. People may also have suggestions on where to get a good deal on what you want. 

If social media doesn’t work, you can also make a post on your local Freecycle.org group or on your neighborhood’s Facebook or NextDoor page. 

Don’t Feel the Pressure to Decorate Quickly

When you buy a new house, you’re likely spending a lot of money on moving expenses, minor upgrades and basic necessities. You may feel pressure to put the house together quickly, but this can result in you buying cheap furniture instead of quality pieces you’ll have for years to come.

Instead, take your time to save up and invest in items that you’ll enjoy for a while. Don’t worry if a room or wall is blank for several months.

Save more, spend smarter, and make your money go further

Mahima Dutt

Source: mint.intuit.com

Are Cats Happy in Apartments? 21 Experts Weigh In

Are cats happy in apartments? Learn from the experts what it takes to make sure your feline shines at home.

Whether you’re loving life in an enormous industrial loft, sticking it out in a small studio or living the high life in a highrise downtown, odds are, you either have a pet or you’d like to get one. If you are one of the many people that side with cats in the great cats vs. dogs debate, this article is for you.

Listed below are the responses from over 20 cat experts to the question: Are cats happy in apartments? If not, what can a cat owner do to improve their furry friend’s quality of life?

Read up and redefine your relationship with your cat or use the information to ready your apartment for a new addition in the form of a furry feline friend.

1. Bring the outside in

Man at the window with his happy cat

Man at the window with his happy cat

“Cats that have been raised indoors can be perfectly fine in an apartment, but the key is to provide them with enough stimulation,” explains Daniel from Catpointers.

“Possible solutions would be to adopt another feline friend or to get some interactive toys that your cat can play with. But my favorite solution is to bring the outside in. Consider building a natural cat tree or placing a few non-toxic plants around the house. My cat loves exploring them!”

2. Create cat territory

According to Amy Shojai, CABC, “Cats CAN be happy in apartments but it depends.”

“Kitties want to own territory and in apartments that have limited space, that can increase feline stress. A stressed cat tries to relieve their angst by spreading self-scent, scratching or urinating outside the box.” In an apartment or home of any size, this is a serious problem.

“When limited space poses problems, remember that cats love heights. Create second-story real estate for cats by clearing off one shelf in the bookcase or top of the refrigerator for a feline perch.”

3. Provide entertainment options

Cat on a cat stand looking at a plant

Cat on a cat stand looking at a plant

“Yes, cats can be happy in apartments,” says Katherine Kern, the award-winning author behind the Momma Kat and Her Bear Cat website.

“In fact, some cats might feel more secure in a smaller space. To maximize your cat’s space in an apartment, I’d recommend several cat trees, maybe some cat shelves/perches and a great window sill for your cat to look out the window. These options are important for cats in big houses, as well. This way, your cat has an outlet for scratching behavior (which is instinctual), room to run and jump and space to survey his or her domain.”

Speaking specifically to apartment residents, Momma Kat explains, “In a small space, it’s even more important that humans consider a cat’s enrichment needs.”

“Most cats aren’t satisfied with just laying around and doing nothing. They need mental stimulation and outlets for their instinctual behaviors, like scratching and hiding. When these needs aren’t met, we’re more likely to see feline behavior that humans dislike.”

4. Consider vertical space

“Are cats happy in apartments? Of course! But I understand the space concerns. We should think vertically, as cats do,” says Pamela Merritt from The Way of Cats.

“The best way to solve this is to give the cat the tallest, sturdiest cat tree we can afford. We’ve doubled the runway space in the room when we play wand toy with them. Racing to the top will exercise all their muscles.”

Training your cat to forego picking away at furniture for a scratching post instead, Pamela explains, is not as hard as it may seem from the outside. “We take them from the furniture to their own scratching post and tell them how happy we are when they scratch it. Now we have trained them to use their post. It’s that easy.”

“Cats are ambush hunters. They don’t need a lot of aerobic exercises. They need short, intense, bursts of activity. A cat tree and a loving person will take care of many needs. Even in an apartment.”

5. Make space for naps

Apartment cat napping atop a cat tower

Apartment cat napping atop a cat tower

No strangers to a daily nap, “Cats sleep anywhere between 12 and 20 hours per day, so apartment cats mostly need lots of nice, cozy and warm places to take naps,” explains Isabel Ludick, the Brand Coordinator, Marketing Director and Avid Animal Advocate behind Excited Cats.

Isabel explains the reasoning behind this by saying, “Cats instinctively sleep this much so they can build up energy to hunt at night. Therefore, apartment cats need lots of playtime and stimulation when they wake up in order to put their preserved energy to good use. Otherwise, they might direct their energy toward destructive behavior.”

Isabel capped off her thoughts by reminding everyone, “Cats are creatures of habit. If you provide them with enough stimulation, playtime, chill zones and lookouts, your cat will adapt to their new environment soon enough and get comfortable in their space.”

6. Buy an extra litter box (or two)

“Most cats will do just fine in an apartment, although you may wish to keep it to no more than two or three cats in a one-bedroom, provided they get along well,” explains Ro Delrose a Cat Behavior Consultant at Feline Fab.

She suggests that people, “Place several large, open-top litter boxes (one per cat plus one extra) throughout your home in the areas where your cat likes to hang out. The litter box is a very significant source of the scent and helps cats feel that their territory is well marked and secure!”

7. Give your cat something to look at

Happy cat staring out the window

Happy cat staring out the window

“I have had three cats and ALL were happy in apartments,” explains Caren Gittleman from Cat and Dog Chat with Caren.

The key to her success, she explains is, “I have a cat tree in every room with a window. I have LOADS of toys. I save empty boxes and provide multiple lounging areas.”

Caren also mentioned, “Having a dog doesn’t hurt either or a companion cat. A playmate is always fun!”

8. Create a custom catio

“Cats generally prefer larger spaces, but they can absolutely be happy in an apartment with their owners,” explains Molly DeVoss, CFTBS, CCBC, CRM, FFCP of Cat Behavior solutions.

Molly explains that “There are many things a cat parent can do to improve quality of life. These include:

  • Engaging in prey play. An example would be interactive play with a wand toy, simulating the hunting sequence at least two times a day for 10-minute sessions each.
  • Creating a safe catio experience where kitty can get some fresh air but not get fully out
  • Taking walks in a harness and leash or an enclosed stroller.”

Molly was also sure to add, “When you have to leave your cat alone, play Cat TV (YouTube) for them to watch and hide food puzzles around the home.”

9. Make time for play

Cat riding on a skateboard with a kid watching

Cat riding on a skateboard with a kid watching

“Your favorite feline can absolutely be happy living in an apartment,” According to Amanda O’Brien of The Discerning Cat.

Amanda concedes that “Of course, cats would love lots of space to hunt and prowl. But this isn’t a pre-requisite for cat happiness.”

According to her, “There are two things you can do to make your apartment as cat friendly as possible:

  • Invest in a cat tower with scratching posts. If you have limited space invest in a cat tower that has a small footprint on the ground but goes quite high. Your cat will most enjoy jumping up and down the tower and investing in some serious scratching action. Cat towers can also be a great place to store cat toys and other cat paraphernalia, saving more room.
  • Try to spend some time every day playing with your cat. This may be with a feather toy or simply throwing a ball or a puzzle toy. If your cat has less space to move, keeping its brain busy will increase its happiness and playtime is a great bonding time for you and your favorite kitty.”

10. Get a furry friend for your feline

“Many of Meowtel’s clients are thriving in apartments,” explains the Meowtel team.

“Cat parents can make even a small studio apartment comfy for their kitties. Strategically placing furniture near windows will provide a source of entertainment when they’re not home. Cats love watching squirrels, birds and people outside!”

“Finding a companion for your kitty is another option.” The Meowtel team notes that this solution may not be applicable in every situation by saying, “Some cats enjoy being in pairs and appreciate the company, while some prefer to be on their own.”

Be sure to make the right choice for your feline friend!

11. Be attentive

white cat playing with a wand toy on wood apartment floors

white cat playing with a wand toy on wood apartment floors

“Cats definitely can be happy in apartments. What is important is not the size of the space, but how much enrichment and attention they get, no matter what kind of cat,” explains Mary Tan of Whisker Media.

“Too many people think cats are like living room furniture and don’t need anything. If you don’t have activities for them, that’s when destructive behavior happens. They will get bored. While not having a lot of space, a studio apartment can still be a playland!”

“Cats need toys, scratching posts and catnip. They need to play to stimulate their senses. It’s also important that you rotate their toys daily, so they think it’s a brand new toy! I have three rotating sets of toys that I change out daily, and my kitty, Dr. Farley Waddlesworth, thinks they are new each day! Also, cats are hunters and predators by nature.”

Mary summed it all up by saying, “I recommend hiding their food and treats throughout the apartment, even up high, so they have to work for their food just like they do in the wild.”

12. Enrich your cat’s environment

“We from Katzenworld believe that, just like with humans, some cats are happy living in apartments while others are not.”

“It’s all about environmental enrichment,” the Katzenworld team explains. “We are not talking about a gaming console or a TV for your feline friend. We are talking about species-appropriate enrichment, such as scratch pads, interactive cat toys, catnip or valerian toys! The more enrichment you provide your cat, the happier they will be.”

13. Equip your cat with the comfort essentials

Cat relaxing on a green couch in a modern apartment

Cat relaxing on a green couch in a modern apartment

“Of course, cats can be happy in an apartment,” says Phil from Upgrade Your Cat.

“Most breeds of cats have fairly small environments. What’s more important is what they have within their immediate surroundings than what’s available across a large area.”

“As long as you have a good cat tree, a couple of litter boxes that are not near their food or sleeping areas and provide plenty of affection, I’m sure you’ll have a happy and healthy cat no matter how small your apartment is!”

14. Stimulate your cat’s natural instincts

“With all cats,” explains Patience Fisher of Patience for cats, “simulating hunts with a wand toy is an important part of each day. Cats were born to hunt, and being able to do this instinctual behavior can greatly add to a cat’s contentment. When living in a confined space this is even more important.”

15. Mimic your cat’s natural environment

Feline on a white couch. Wand toy in the foreground, person on computer in the background

Feline on a white couch. Wand toy in the foreground, person on computer in the background

According to Chris from Caredicat, “Cats can be perfectly happy in small spaces such as apartments.”

“The things that make a cat happy in the outdoors are climbing, scratching and predatory behavior, such as chasing prey. The key is to mimic this as closely as possible inside of your apartment. Here’s how to do it:

  • Cat hammock – This allows your cat to look out into the world and watch birds and people walk by which creates great stimulation for your cat
  • Scratching posts – A number of vertical and horizontal scratching posts around your apartment will allow your cat to sharpen its claws, as well as provide exercise and allow them to stretch their muscles
  • Toys – A big selection of toys and interactive toys is essential to provide physical and mental stimulation
  • Private space – Cats like somewhere to retreat if they are scared or anxious. Cardboard boxes or cat towers that feature a hideout box are excellent choices.
  • Playtime – It’s important to have a couple of short play sessions with your cat on a daily basis. This helps to create a great bond between the pair of you, as well as providing stimulation to keep your cat happy.”

If you can give your cat those five things consistently, the Caredicat team believes you and your cat will love life in your apartment.

16. Respect your cat’s basic requirements

“Cats can be happy anywhere as long as the right provisions are made available, says Katenna Jones of Jones Animal Behavior.

“The happiest cat in the world could thrive in a tiny studio apartment or an RV. At the same time, a very unhappy cat could be languishing in a sprawling mansion or farm. It’s all about environmental enrichment.”

Katenna elaborates on this idea of enrichment by explaining, “Environmental enrichment involves enhancing an animal’s environment to facilitate as many natural behaviors for that species as possible.”

The apartment cat happiness checklist:

  • Vertical climbing options such as shelves or stairs
  • Vantage points that are positioned at human foot height as well as waist height, as well as head height
  • Feeding out of food puzzles like those at Food Puzzles for Cats
  • Clicker training
  • Exercise wheels
  • Two large, easy-to-access litter boxes with small, natural granules

“Think of all the things that cats do naturally. Things like digging, sleeping, rolling around, running, playing, hiding and so on.”

17. Abide by the five pillars

White cat hanging out on a black book shelf

White cat hanging out on a black book shelf

“Whether they live in an apartment, townhouse or a traditional single-family home, all cats need access to important environmental resources. This includes access to food, water, litter boxes, rest and sleep areas and elevated areas or perches. These are known as the five pillars of a healthy feline environment,” states Dr. Michelle Meyer, the President of the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP).

18. Make space for hunting and hiding

According to Holly, the founder of Cat Care Solutions, “Cats can be fantastic companions for apartment-dwellers. In fact, I once lived in a very small apartment with four cats of my own!”

Take it from Holly, “The key to a happy indoor apartment cat is enrichment. Simply put, enrichment satisfies your cat’s natural instincts, such as hunting, mental stimulation, bonding with you, observing their surroundings from a safe hideaway and getting up high. Bored cats are unhealthy, unhappy, destructive creatures. This is especially true for higher-energy breeds and personalities that don’t get enough activity.”

19. Take the time to take proper care

Happy woman holding her cat in her apartment bedroom

Happy woman holding her cat in her apartment bedroom

“Cats are happy in apartments as long as they are being well taken care of, they have all their needs and they are being trained to what their environment looks like every day,” says Zac Yap from Top Cat Breeds.

“Different cat breeds have different personalities. Not all cats like to go outside, for instance. They can adjust to their environment as long as the fur parent is giving them enough attention and treatment and not triggering them with any sudden noises.”

“Our team recommends investing in small, affordable cat furniture to increase the spaces where they can spend their time in your apartment.”

20. Understand your feline friend

“If your cat is going to be happy in an apartment, you need to know your cat,” Explains Anita Aurit of Feline Opines.

“For example, if you have a very active breed, like a Bengal, you’ll need to add some exercise and exploring time for your energetic feline.”

“It’s also possible to take your cat for a neighborhood stroll. Your cat should have a well-fitting harness and leash and you both can explore the neighborhood together. If things are a bit too busy in your neighborhood or your cat is not a fan of walks, consider a cat stroller.”

Anita encourages cat owners to remember, “Spending time with your cat makes them happy no matter whether you live in an apartment, a house or a mansion. Give them a little TV time with their favorite video from the cat YouTube channel of their choice. If your TV is safely secured, you can also leave a kitty video running for your cat to provide some interest to their day when you are away. One of my cats took a flying leap at the birds in the video and knocked the TV down which was good for the cat’s enrichment but not so good for my TV!”

“Finally, a little catnip always makes a day fun, whether it’s in a spray, a refillable toy or a catnip infused bag. No matter where you live, you and your cat can have a happy, fun and even adventuresome life when you are intentional about enriching their environment.”

21. Your cat can be content in a small space

Kitten kicking back on a small blanket

Kitten kicking back on a small blanket

“In our opinion cats are the purrr-fect animal for apartment living,” says Linda Hall, ABCCT, Executive Purrrr-ector and Meownipulator at Cat Behavior Alliance.”

One factor making felines the premiere apartment-friendly pets, explains Linda is, “They don’t need to go outside for walks or to relieve themselves and they don’t require as much floor space as dogs do. They can be happy even in a studio apartment.”

Find what works for you and your cat(s)

Regardless of the type of building in which you reside, what city you call home or where you go from nine to five, it’s possible to create a completely cat-friendly environment for your furry friend. Not an environment where your cat will simply survive, but one that both promotes comfort and incites excitement for you and your feline confidant for all the years you spend in your place together.

Source: rent.com

How To Save Money on Rent: 10 Ways To Reduce Your Rent Payment

With rent climbing higher than ever, these tips can help you save money and stay within your budget.

If you’re apartment hunting right now or are on the verge of renewing your lease agreement, you’re probably noticing a trend. The rent is getting higher and higher. After a slump in rental prices caused by the pandemic, the price of rent is rebounding by hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars. Rent has already been climbing steadily over the past few decades, but this recent spike is pricing many people out of their homes or cities.

Thankfully, not all hope is lost for renters. While the high cost of rent is scary, there are ways you can reduce your monthly payments or find cheaper rates that fit your budget. Sometimes, you can negotiate with your landlord based on years of good behavior as a tenant or in exchange for services like maintenance repairs. Other times, it’s changing the location of where you live or how big your space is. Here are 10 tips for how to save money on rent.

Why is rent so expensive right now?

If it feels like rent is especially high right now and just keeps getting higher, that’s because it is. Due to a variety of factors, the cost of monthly rent has been climbing all over the U.S. But why has rent suddenly gotten so expensive?

The pandemic is partly to blame. When it began, many people moved away from big, pricy cities and metropolises seeking more room and space. With more units available and less demand, many landlords lowered their rents. But now, with people moving back to big cities, the demand is back and prices are jumping accordingly, with rents adjusting to and surpassing pre-pandemic levels.

Because of the extremely hot and competitive housing market, more people are staying renters instead of becoming homeowners. This means there are more and more people looking at and applying for a narrowing amount of rental units.

The lack of available units and rental units is another factor. There are simply not enough apartments and rental spaces available on the market to meet the large demand. Knowing that renters are desperate and have few options, a landlord can charge inflated prices.

These and other factors combine to make an expensive, difficult-to-navigate rental market. Potential renters also face challenges like real estate agents or investors with deep pockets who can pay upfront for a whole year or pay far more than the landlord is asking for the rental price.

Higher rents also mean a higher security deposit and other fees associated with renting like getting a background check on your credit report. If you don’t have enough savings, it’s hard to afford this process multiple times.

Combine all this and the high rental rates with the increasing cost of monthly expenses like utility bills and groceries, and lots of people are feeling the pinch right now. Luckily, there are steps you can take to save money and keep your rent down.

Tips for saving money on your monthly rent payments

Is your rent too darn high? Try these tips on how to save money on rent at your current or future apartment.

Move out of the big city.

Move out of the big city.

1. Move away from a city center

Sorry Petula Clark, but downtown is no longer the place to go to escape your worries and not be alone. Why? Because living downtown or near the city center is generally more expensive and you’ll likely need a roommate to afford it.

There’s more demand to live close to the heart of a city. It’s usually closer to offices and work, and it also lets you take advantage of all the perks of living in a big city. Dining, shopping and entertainment are all close by. But, you do pay a premium in rent for that access and proximity.

Even in the most expensive big cities, you can find more affordable rents in outlying neighborhoods and districts. When it comes to finding lower rental rates, choose your location wisely and live outside the city center. Yes, you’re not as close to all the city action. But you will save more money to actually enjoy those big-city attractions.

2. Find a smaller unit

Smaller apartments will have a smaller price tag. If you want to save money on rent, downsizing the size of your apartment is a great way to do so.

Larger apartments like two-bedroom apartments will always fetch higher rent. They’re bigger with more square footage, storage and other desirable amenities. So, if you’re finding yourself priced out of your two-bedroom apartment, look into smaller options like a one-bedroom apartment or a studio. With less square footage, these smaller apartments offer discounted rent.

You sometimes don’t have to look far for a more affordable new apartment, either. If you really like where you’re living but can no longer afford your current apartment, look at other units in your apartment complex. Apartment complexes will usually have numerous unit options size-wise. Yes, it does mean you’ll have a smaller room and smaller apartment overall. But it’s also a better deal.

A roommate will help you save money on rent.

A roommate will help you save money on rent.

3. Move in with a roommate

Having a roommate is one of the oldest tried and true ways to save money on rent. If your apartment or house is big enough to accommodate it, sharing the space and costs with a roommate — or several — helps a lot rent-wise. Everyone in the house splits the rent, so when it comes time for the landlord to collect rent, it will hurt your wallet a bit less.

Having roommates is also a great way to keep an apartment or house if rent has suddenly increased. If the rent has become too high but you can’t bear to part with your beloved home or moving out isn’t feasible for you, start looking for roommates. Living with a roommate, you can also split other housing costs like utility bills. It keeps costs down for everyone in the apartment or house.

Of course, this option won’t work for everyone. Some people value their personal space and alone time too much. Others don’t have big enough units to accommodate more people. But it can also be a lot of fun. You can meet new people and make new friends. Or, you can live with friends or move in with a significant other.

4. Pay more money upfront

If you have enough savings, you can offer the landlord more money upfront in exchange for reduced monthly rent. Think of it as similar to a down payment on a house. The more you pay upfront, the less you have to pay per month. For renting, it would reduce the amount you owe each month.

This is a more unconventional option, so you need to discuss it with your landlord in advance to see if it’s an option they’d consider.

A longer lease agreement will help save money on rent.

A longer lease agreement will help save money on rent.

5. Sign a two-year lease agreement

Scared of those pandemic rent price jumps that are going on? Rentals that were far cheaper in 2020 and 2021 now upping rent by hundreds or even thousands of dollars? One way to avoid those rent hikes is by signing up for an extended lease.

Instead of a standard one-year lease, sign an extended lease for two years or longer if you really like the place and want to stick around. There are numerous benefits to signing a long-term rental contract.

First, since they’ll have a new tenant locked in for several years, a landlord will sometimes reduce the monthly amount for rent. Since they know they won’t have a vacancy for a while, a price cut is sometimes acceptable.

Also, by signing a long-term lease, you can lock in the current rate for longer. After one year, even if rates are going up in other units, yours can’t change for another year. It’s good protection against a fluctuating market and high demand.

6. Search for rentals in the fall or winter

The time of year you’re looking at new rentals can also influence the price of rent because demand varies throughout the year.

Summer is usually the worst time to look for a new apartment. For one thing, the school year is over, so it’s an ideal time for families to move. People also have more time and availability on summer vacation. College students are also out for the summer and are moving cities. This time of flux for work and school means there are lots of people looking for new places to live.

Time your move and apartment search to happen during the fall and winter to find a better deal. Schools will be back in session, families are busy and there’s less hustle and bustle in the renting market. The cost of rentals may also be down due to reduced demand during this time period. Even if there’s not a big difference in cost, you can take advantage of the lack of demand to negotiate for less money.

Don

Don

7. Give back your parking space

If your unit comes with a parking space but you don’t have a car or use it, you can use it as a negotiation tactic.

Especially in the middle of a city, parking is in high demand. Landlords who can provide spaces to park cars have a definite advantage. Renters prefer to have a designated spot instead of hunting for parking on the street. It’s also safer for the car.

So, if you have a space you don’t intend to use, you can offer to give it back in exchange for reduced rent. In large apartment complexes where there aren’t enough spaces for all the tenants, your landlord might give you a discount for this convenience.

You’ll also save yourself from having to pay the additional fee that usually comes with having a parking space.

8. Look for units that aren’t updated

Newer and flashier comes at a premium.

One way a landlord can entice applicants is by updating units. Those fancy new apartments with updated appliances, granite countertops, hardwood floors and other splashy amenities will cost more because of all those upgrades. Yes, they look great. But the amount the landlord is charging is far more than the unit is actually worth.

To save money, look for units that haven’t been recently updated. This usually means they’ll have older appliances. They aren’t as attractive, and sometimes, they’re inefficient appliances because they’re not the newest models. But they’ll still get the job done. And, if they don’t work or end up breaking? That’s what landlords and maintenance are for.

Another way to save money on rent? When given the option between a furnished and an unfurnished unit, opt for the unfurnished place. They’re more affordable. Plus, it’s always more fun to bring your own furniture and make the place your own.

Fix everything yourself if you hav the skills.

Fix everything yourself if you hav the skills.

9. Offer to fix things yourself

Are you handy at fixing things? That may earn you a break on rent.

A landlord needs someone to fix things and offer maintenance services for their units. Usually, they’ll source this out. If you have verifiable experience as a handyman or can show your adeptness for fixing things, that someone could be you.

In exchange for your help around the property fixing minor issues and doing small repairs, your landlord may offer to discount your rent in exchange for these services.

10. Negotiate

Finally, one of the simplest ways to save money and pay less on your rent? Negotiate for a lower rate with your landlord.

As with any negotiation, it may not always work. Especially right now, landlords might not negotiate. But it never hurts to ask, and there are some circumstances where it can come out in your favor.

Say you’ve lived in the unit for a long time and have been a model tenant, but your lease is almost up and you’re facing an increase. Now is an ideal time to talk with your landlord. As a good tenant, you have some leverage. Explain that you want to stay but the new lease amount is too much. You can request a reduced amount based on your history as a model tenant. Your landlord may or may not go for it, but if they do, congratulations.

How much should I spend on paying rent?

The general rule of thumb is that you should only spend around 30 percent of your gross monthly income on rent. The idea behind this is that it creates a balanced budget. That goes toward your housing cost, leaving 70 percent for everything else like food, utilities, bills, savings and more.

This is a good idea in theory, but it definitely doesn’t apply to everyone and it can vary. You can always find an affordable place that’s under budget and less than 30 percent. Or, maybe you’re paying a bit more than 30 percent for rent, but you don’t have as many additional expenses.

The 30 percent is a good baseline, but it does vary. So, figure out what works best for you and your budget. You can check how much your rent is per month using our rent calculator.

Save more when the time comes to pay rent

Being able to afford rent is a serious challenge these days. These tips on how to save money on rent will pay off come the beginning of each month.

Source: rent.com

6 Renter-Friendly Apartment Makeover Tips | ApartmentSearch

A bland or outdated apartment doesn’t have to drag down your style — and an apartment makeover doesn’t have to break the bank. You’re in luck if you’ve been inspired by the major rental makeovers overtaking social media. Use this guide to transform your apartment with renter-friendly tips and tricks. Every change is reversible, so don’t worry about getting your security deposit intact. 

Take your apartment from drab to fab with these 6 apartment makeover ideas. 

1. Give Your Apartment a Thorough Cleaning

You’d be surprised what a bit of bleach — or Bar Keepers Friend — can do for your apartment! Whether your building is new or old, you’ll want to get started with a thorough wipe down. Thoroughly dust, sweep, and vacuum your apartment’s floors and surfaces. Then, get to work mopping. For that extra clean look and feel, pay careful attention to the grout, baseboards, bathrooms, and kitchen. 

2. Make Simple Swaps

Does your apartment’s kitchen look old and dated? It’s time to make a few rental-friendly improvements here and elsewhere. Start by swapping out the hardware on your cabinets and drawers throughout your home. Replace the existing hardware with an option that suits your style better. Then, bag up, label, and store the old hardware. Before you move out, simply swap back the old cabinet and drawer hardware. Your landlord will be none the wiser.

Much like how you can swap out and save your old hardware, you can exchange your old light fixtures, showerhead, kitchen faucet, or light switch plates for a more attractive or ergonomic option. Swap out your bland shower curtain for a funky shower curtain. Each option is relatively inexpensive and easy to do with just a few simple tools. Just be sure to hang on to the originals so that you can reinstall them when your lease is up. 

3. Minor Tweaks = Major Improvements

After a thorough cleaning, you may notice some dings and damage. If your apartment’s cabinets or walls are slightly damaged or scuffed, consider making minor touch-ups. Take photos of the area you’re looking to touch up. Bring your photos to your local hardware store to ensure you have the right match. Then, get samples or a touch-up pen to make your fix. Before you go all in, do a test spot in an inconspicuous area to ensure you have the right match. 

4. Create the Illusion of More Space 

Think there’s no remedy for a too-small apartment? Think again. While you can’t add to your unit’s square footage, you can make your space feel and appear larger — and create a space that will suit all of your needs.

Interior designers love to use simple illusions to make a space feel bigger, such as placing decorative mirrors, staggering furniture, or cleverly using vertical space. Decorative mirrors reflect light and can make any room instantly appear larger. Consider adding a few to a gallery wall or use them as stand-alone focal points. 

How you place your furniture can have a significant impact, too. While your instincts may have you believing that cozying your couch up into the corner will save space, it can cause your room to feel smaller. Instead, try to “float” your furniture off the walls by a few inches and create more negative space. The result? A room that feels more spacious. 

Finally, make use of your vertical space. Consider using bookshelves, pegboards, or even decorative ladders to increase your storage space while drawing the eye upward. Vertical lines will help your space appear taller and more expansive while getting your goods organized and off the countertops (or floor).

5. Walls that Wow 

Enhancing your walls pays off — especially when you get creative. Scuffed paint and boring beige are no match for peel and stick wallpapers or backsplashes. Choose your option carefully and ensure that you choose a pattern or color palette that suits your end goal. For example, if you’re looking to make your space feel larger, you’ll want to stick to lighter hues — perhaps with a touch of iridescence. To make a room feel cozier, you can go bold with deep moody hues and wild pattering. The result is ultimately up to you! 

Feeling apprehensive about peel and stick wallpaper or peel and stick backsplash? Reach for wall decor instead. Gallery walls, statement art pieces, or even your favorite posters or tapestries can liven up even the dullest rentals. 

If you aren’t allowed to drill or make holes in your walls, you’re in luck. Look into damage-free options and use peel and stick hooks and picture hangers — like Command Hooks. To ensure that you’re truly doing damage-free hanging, be sure to follow the directions and remove them carefully when your lease is up.

6. Fabulous Flooring

Unfortunately, not every apartment has gorgeous original hardwood floors or attractive tiling. That’s where floor stickers and rugs come in. 

Adhesive floor stickers can be used on any solid surface and come up clean — meaning you can cover that yellowing laminate flooring with anything you please! Choose a luxurious marble look for a spa-like bathroom, or make your living room feel rustic and inviting with a faux-brick peel and stick option. Be sure to thoroughly clean and mop first — and consider enlisting the help of a friend! Double-check your peel-and-stick flooring instructions before you get started. Ensure your peel and stick option is safe to use on your apartment’s flooring. 

Do floor stickers seem like a little too much effort? Try layering in area rugs. Area rugs can help you create comfort underfoot, define zones in a studio apartment, or tie two rooms together. In addition to being cozy, fun rugs are also a great way to showcase your style.

Upgrade Your Apartment with ApartmentSearch

When an apartment makeover won’t do the trick, find a new lease on life with ApartmentSearch. Our customizable search filters make it easy to find a great new spot with everything you need — like a balcony or gym — all within your price point. 

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Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com