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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The post 10 Tips for Washing Your Car at Your Apartment Community appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

How To Write an Appeal Letter If You’ve Been Denied an Apartment

You’ve been touring various apartments, and you find the perfect one. It fits your budget, the natural light is beautiful and it comes with great amenities. And then a curveball — your rental application gets denied. You’re not alone. Nine out of 10 people have their rental applications rejected. What now? You write an appeal letter. Here’s how to write an appeal letter to your potential landlord:

Well, thanks to the Fair Housing Act, landlords cannot reject applications based on an applicant’s race, sex, gender, national origin, color, disability or familial status.

Beyond that, there are many possible valid reasons for a rental application denial — including income, credit score, bad references, rental history and background check. This is why it’s essential to look at the property’s requirements closely.

If you feel like the landlord made a mistake with your rental application, here’s how to write an appeal letter to ask them to reconsider.

Writing a letter.

What is an appeal letter?

The appeal letter expands on an issue found by the landlord that led to the denial. For example, no previous formal rental history or maybe you have more income than you showed. If you feel like you have additional information or clarification that may change their mind and approve your application, you might want to try writing an appeal letter.

When to write an appeal letter?

The most optimal time to send an appeal letter is within a week from receiving the denial letter from the landlord.

First, make sure the unit is still available before sending it, if possible. Then put together all evidence as soon as possible and send it certified via mail to confirm receipt. Emails can get lost in inboxes or ignores. Check-in 48 hours after receipt via email if you haven’t received a response.

What to include in your apartment appeal letter?

Now that you’ve decided to appeal the landlord’s decision, it’s time to build your case.

Scan your denial letter carefully

Every denial letter must tell you the specific reasons why your application was denied. After reading it carefully, identify the details that you’d like to provide more clarification on for the appeal letter. If the letter is vague, ask for a new letter with more specific information about your denial. It will help you provide a better appeal letter.

Think of what reason you want to address and how

If you had an incomplete application with not enough references, provide those in the appeal letter. Or if you didn’t have a formal rental history, explain that it’s your first apartment or provide references from old informal landlords.

If your income doesn’t meet the requirement in the background check provided, share that you have more than one job and bank statements to corroborate your actual income. Or maybe the credit check showed the wrong score.

Writing.

Address the appeal letter

Add your name, current return address at the top with your rental application date. Follow below with today’s date and the landlord’s name with property address below that.

First paragraph: Ask for reconsideration

This paragraph should focus on quickly explaining the reason for this appeal letter. Start by thanking the property manager for their time and share that you’d like for them to reconsider your application for this specific property.

Second paragraph: State your case

This is where you make your case. First, clearly state the reason for the appeal of the property’s decision and restate their reason for denying your rental application. Then add additional evidence or clarify why the property manager should reconsider. If your credit score was wrong, attach a new credit report from a bureau and explain why the error happened, for example.

Take your time to flesh out your reasoning before putting it on paper. Stay concise in this section but effective at making your case.

Third paragraph: Offer possible concessions

Here’s where you will quickly summarize your letter by restating your reason for the appeal and offer any additional concessions, like a larger security deposit or a shorter lease, for example. Mention the other documentation you’re attaching, if any.

Conclusion: Don’t forget to sign

Write ‘Sincerely’ and sign your name. Below that, print your name with your contact information for easy access.

Use persuasive language

Keep the letter concise and explain just the facts. Avoid any negative language or complaining throughout the letter. The letter must remain clear and impartial to highlight your points more effectively. You’re negotiating with the landlord via the letter so think about what you can offer to make you trust you over someone else.

Avoid being overly emotional or desperate. Just make sure you don’t concede too much that you put yourself at risk as a tenant.

Man reading.

How do you write an appeal letter for reconsideration?

Use this template below to write your appeal letter. You can also download a word document of this sample letter and make changes where necessary.

(Your name)

(Current address)

(Date)

(Name of landlord)

(Address of property)

(Landlord’s last name),

Thank you for taking the time to review my rental application at (property address with unit number) and now, my appeal letter. I understand that my application was not approved due to (reason for denial), but I wanted to share additional information for your consideration.

(Paragraph explaining your denial and what you’ve done to fix the problem.)

(Paragraph explaining what concessions you might be able to offer. Reference any attached documents here.)

Please feel free to contact me to discuss my rental application further. Thank you again for taking the time to review my rental application again for (property address with unit number).

Sincerely,

(Signature)

(Phone number)

(E-mail address)

Avoid getting your application denied for next time

Getting your hopes up about an apartment and then getting your rental application denied can truly crush you.

Most of the time, a rental application doesn’t have room for nuance, and that’s where the appeal letter can help with more details. Make sure to double-check your application before submitting it, too. If the apartment complex has other units available, it’s worth appealing their decision with more facts and seeing if you can nab an approval.

The post How To Write an Appeal Letter If You’ve Been Denied an Apartment appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

What is an Independent Living Community?

An independent living community is a grouping of homes designed specifically to encourage independence and community among senior adults. The ideal resident of an independent living community is someone who does not need any live-in assistance and wishes to share a community with others in the same age bracket.

Can you rent in an independent living community?

Renting in an independent living community is certainly an option. While many homes in these communities will be owned by the residents, some will have owners looking to rent it out. Additionally, some independent living communities are made up entirely of rental units.

Why or why not rent in an independent living community?

An independent living community isn’t right for every senior adult looking to rent, but it is a good option for many. Here are some of the positives and negatives of renting a home in an independent living community.

Pros of renting in an independent living community

  • Plenty of socialization opportunity
  • All-inclusive living — no need for maintenance or landscaping
  • Safety is a primary concern of management

Cons of living in an independent living community

  • Costs more than other rental units
  • May be guidelines concerning visitors
  • Potential for stress related to leaving long-time home

What does a home in an independent living community look like?

independent living community

Homes in independent living communities can take on many forms. Some homes resemble suburban, detached homes in a shared neighborhood. Other homes in independent living communities look like standard apartments and are grouped together in a single building — like the apartments seen in the photo above at the Crossing at Waters Edge 55+ Independent Living Community Apartments in Moorhead, MN.

On the inside, homes in independent living communities are usually optimized for senior adults. This means features like wheelchair accessibility, extra-loud or visual doorbells, and handrails in the bathroom are usually included.

Additional resources

  • How to Select a Senior Friendly Apartment
  • 7 Senior Living Technology Pieces Your Parents Need for Their Home
  • The 10 Best Cities for Seniors in the U.S.
  • What Seniors Should Look for While Apartment Hunting
  • Apartment Safety and Convenience Items for Senior Living

The post What is an Independent Living Community? appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

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.

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.

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.

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.

The post How to Charge an Electric Car at Your Apartment appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

What is a Property Management Company?

A property management company is a loose term used to define a company that does — exactly what you might guess they do — manage properties.

Beyond that, a property management company handles much of what an individual landlord may traditionally take care of including collecting rent, tenant maintenance requests, vetting applicants and other similar responsibilities.

Does every rental have a property management company?

Not every rental unit is managed by a property management company. Many detached homes and even apartment communities are managed by the individual or company that actually owns the property.

If you don’t already know this information, you can find out whether an apartment is owned by a property management company or by an individual proprietor by simply asking your landlord or leasing agents.

What makes a property management company different than a landlord?

couple shaking hands with landlord

Property management companies are quite different than landlords. Let’s take a look at some of the major differences.

What a landlord does

  • Both own the building and manage the rental unit(s)
  • Typically involved in general rental operations
  • Oftentimes, directly accessible by tenants

What a property manager does

  • Paid by the property owner to manage rental operations
  • May be located in an off-site office in the same city as the rental or some other city entirely
  • May never interact with tenants

Should you rent from a property management company?

There are certainly pros and cons to renting an apartment from a property management company as opposed to an individual landlord. Having a personal relationship with your landlord can be mutually beneficial, but property management companies are often able to provide higher-end service.

In most cases, you should make a decision based on which unit you prefer instead of who owns it. However, if you find yourself needing to make a critical choice between renting from a landlord or a property management company, be sure to ask as many questions as you can and not commit before you’re fully convinced the unit is right for you.

Additional resources

  • What is a Property Manager?
  • What is a Landlord?
  • What’s the Difference Between a Property Management Company and a Landlord?
  • 5 Things Landlords Look For When Picking Tenants
  • What Property Managers Look for in a Resident

The post What is a Property Management Company? appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

Picking the Best Air Conditioner for Your Apartment

Looking to cool down your apartment? With spring and summer approaching soon, it’s important to start thinking about how to prepare for those hotter months and stay cool. While many apartments come with built-in air conditioning (AC) units, many do not. So what are your options for cooling down your space? In this article, we’ll go into detail about how to decide what is the best air conditioner for your apartment.

How do air conditioners work to keep your apartment cool?

Air conditioners have been around for a very long time, in fact, the first air conditioning system was developed in 1902.The basics of how air conditioners work are similar to how a fridge works. Air conditioners use an internal refrigerating system to take in hot air and cool it. The hot air, absorbed by the AC unit through various coils and systems, turns into a gas. From there, the unit converts it back into a liquid.

Next, the hot air pushes out the back through vents or a window and the cool air pushes into your apartment. The website HowStuffWorks.com puts it very simply: “Think of it as an endless, elegant cycle: liquid refrigerant, phase conversion to a gas/heat absorption, compression and phase transition back to a liquid again.”

air conditioning

Important things to understand when selecting your AC unit

There are a couple of other things to consider when picking which type of AC unit to use for your apartment. You’ll want to consider things such as cooling capacity, BTUs, energy efficiency and costs.

BTUs

BTU or British thermal units is the amount of energy it takes to heat or cool one pound of water. For air conditioners specifically, the BTU refers to the amount of heat your unit can remove in an hour. Some units take more than others. For instance, a window unit takes anywhere from 3,000 to 25,000 BTUs, whereas a portable system can use anywhere from 8,000 to 12,000 BTUs. Make sure to take the time to research this before deciding on which unit is best for you. Learn Metrics has created a more in-depth chart for understanding different BTUs for different sized apartments.

Cooling capacity

When picking out your AC unit keep in mind its cooling capacity. The size of the area you want to cool will greatly impact your choice. Different units cool different area sizes. Take portable units for example — these are usually only able to cool the area they sit in. Window units on the other hand are a better option if you are looking to cool down an entire apartment.

Energy costs

The cost that it takes to run an AC unit is something else to consider. The price can greatly change depending on how big your unit is and how big of an area you’re trying to cool. On average it can cost anywhere from $14.40 per month to $211.20 to run different types of AC units.

Best air conditioner options for your apartment

Now you know how air conditioners work, how do you know which type is right for your apartment? Here are a couple of different options that you can choose from.

1. Portable air conditioner

Portable units are one option when looking for an AC unit. They come in various sizes and work in many different rooms. Often referred to as “portable swamp coolers” or “evaporated cooling” these two systems work similarly to other AC units but primarily rely on water. Another difference is their setup. For instance, some require their own voltage plug and most require you the ability to vent the hot air out of a window.

Another great question to ask when thinking about portable units is, “Can you use a portable air conditioner in an apartment?” The answer depends on your apartment complex and its rules. In certain apartments they are not allowed, so make sure to check with your apartment before you invest in one. Here are some pros and cons of portable AC units.

Pros:

  • Move room-to-room
  • Cost-efficient
  • Come in various sizes
  • Great if you have a strict HOA or landlord and can’t install a window unit

Cons:

  • Sometimes are less energy efficient
  • Can be noisy

AC unit in a window against a brick wall

2. Window units

Window units are very popular throughout Europe and make another great option for your apartment AC unit. Set in a window, they function much like other AC units and are capable of cooling medium-sized spaces. Here are some of their pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Inexpensive
  • Come in various sizes to fit your windows
  • Can come with a heating system

Cons:

  • Not portable and stay in the window you place them in
  • Not energy efficient

3. Wall-mounted

Wall-mounted units are a great option for people who are living in older buildings that tend to get very hot during summer. Here are the pros and cons of these AC units.

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Don’t take up a window or block the view
  • Energy efficient

Cons:

  • Don’t cool the whole space
  • Must be cleaned and maintained regularly

Happy woman holding a remote under an air conditioning unit

4. Personal AC unit

Personal AC units are great for cooling down a single person in a smaller space. They are typically very small — meant for bed stands or desks and are not meant to cool the entire space down. These typically only need a plug and water, however, they do not cool as well as bigger units. Here are their pros and cons.

Pros:

  • Great for personal use
  • Move from room-to-room
  • Easy to use and install

Cons:

  • Not energy efficient
  • Need cleaning after each use to avoid germ growth

Man with his face in front of a fan

How to keep your apartment cool without an AC unit

If none of these options work for you, there are other ways to keep yourself cool this summer. Here is a list of other options to consider:

  • Installing fans
  • Purchasing dark blinds to block the sun
  • Putting cooling sheets on your bed
  • Switching out your light bulbs to ones that produce less heat
  • Opening your windows at night
  • Cooking outside

Stay cool as a cucumber

While the summer heat is great for outdoor activities and vacations, it’s not so great for your apartment. Keeping your place cool throughout these hot months is essential. There is nothing worse than being uncomfortable in your own living space. The good news is there are many different options to consider when thinking about the best air conditioner for your apartment.

The post Picking the Best Air Conditioner for Your Apartment appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

What to Expect in Apartment Living in 2020

As the Bob Dylan song goes, the times, they are a-changin’, and that couldn’t be truer than for apartment living.

Renting used to be a lower rung on the ladder as you climb toward the American dream — owning a single-family home in the suburbs. But as homes increase in cost and competition, renting is on the rise.

According to Harvard’s Joint Center on Housing Studies 2017 rental-market report, the number of high-income households (earning at least $100,000) renting their homes rose by 6 percent from 2005 to 2016. As a result of this increase, apartment complexes have added more amenities to appeal to the influx of renters. The same study found that in 2016, 89 percent of new apartments offered in-unit laundry and 86 percent provided swimming pool access.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. Today’s apartment complexes are not what they used to be, and apartment living is significantly nicer and more desirable than it was just 10 years ago. Here’s what you can expect for modern apartment living in 2020.

1. High-end amenities

indoor pool

Forget the bare-bones coin-operated laundry room and trash dumpster in the back parking lot or basement. According to NMCH’s 2018 Consumer Housing Insights Survey, 83 percent of adult and millennial renters said it was important to have an apartment that offered convenience and flexibility. Additionally, fast internet access, technology, and green initiatives are now considered must-haves for modern apartments.

To keep up with the competitive rental market, apartment complexes are upping the ante when it comes to amenities. In-unit laundry and pool access are quickly becoming par for the course, while many luxury complexes offer trash collection and recycling programs, high-speed internet, fitness centers, eco-friendly rooftop gardens and communal spaces, such as BBQs and theater rooms. These amenities make it easier to enjoy life at home and to entertain friends and family, just as one would if they owned a single-family home.

2. Online communication with apartment management

Speaking of convenience, flexibility and technology, many modern apartment complexes simplify the tasks that were previously pain points of renting — namely, rent payments, maintenance requests and apartment management communication. A number of complexes are capitalizing on technology to streamline these tasks.

For example, rather than having to mail a check each month, platforms like RentPay allow renters to automate their rent payments and pay via credit card or electronic check. Even if a landlord doesn’t accept electronic payments, RentPay prints a physical check and mails it directly to the landlord each month.

Additionally, it’s becoming more common for larger apartment complexes to offer an online portal or website for easier communication with apartment management, from submitting maintenance requests and asking questions to renew leases and sign contracts. This saves renters significant time and money.

3. More emphasis on safety and security

keypad

In the past, one of the downsides of renting was security. With people constantly going in and out of the building or complex, it seemed as if anyone could walk in. With so many technology advances this past decade, in terms of access and price, it’s easier for complexes and renters to invest in security.

Many of today’s complexes offer gated access to the parking lot, codes for elevator access and security key fobs to all points of entrance. Some even offer enhanced security within the individual units, like video doorbells and camera security systems.

If your building doesn’t offer in-unit security features, there are multiple home security options available that are non-intrusive, as far as security deposits and installation are concerned. Simply plug in the device and monitor your apartment from your smartphone. Many systems are easy to pair with indoor security cameras and other alarms for additional safety.

4. Smaller space

While apartments are getting smaller in square footage due to space constraints and population growth, architects are getting smarter with layout designs to maximize every inch of a room. For instance, micro homes, the tiny house equivalent in apartment form, are as small as 350 square feet but make use of movable and folding furniture so it can serve as an entertaining space by day and bedroom by night.

Open floor plans are still popular and, while they can at first seem daunting to decorate, they offer the most options for room layouts. And thanks to more furniture companies starting to specialize in small home living, it’s much easier to find compact couches and dual-purpose furnishings that go beyond the futon.

Popular home stores like Pottery Barn, CB2 and IKEA offer couches, tables and other items designed specifically for small spaces. While it’s becoming harder to find spacious apartments, complexes are making up for it with communal spaces for entertaining.

Apartment living has changed for the better

If you’re looking for a place to call home, apartment living may be the perfect solution. The evolution of apartments in the past decade means they’re a favorable housing option for a variety of lifestyles — in both urban and suburban settings.

Lush amenities, online communication, security measures and optimized floorplans have helped renting become a more comparable alternative to buying. You can enjoy the in-unit laundry, entertainment amenities and peace of mind without worrying about the costs or inconvenience of maintenance tasks.

The post What to Expect in Apartment Living in 2020 appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

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

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.

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.

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

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

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.

The post Swimming Pool Etiquette: Staying Safe During the Pandemic at Your Apartment Pool appeared first on Apartment Living Tips – Apartment Tips from ApartmentGuide.com.

6 Ways I Saved Money On College Costs

Check out this list of ways to save money on college costs. This is a great list!How much does college cost? This is a question many wonder. There’s rarely a week that goes by where I don’t receive an email from a student or parents of a student who are looking for ways to cut college costs. That’s why today I want to talk about college costs and how you can create a college budget that works so that you can save money in college.

College is very expensive – there is no doubt about that.

However, I want you to know that it IS possible to get a valuable college degree on a budget!

The average public university is over $20,000 per year and the average private university totals over $45,000 once you account for tuition, room and board, fees, textbooks, living expenses and more.

Even with how expensive college can possibly be, there are many ways to cut college expenses and create a college budget so that you can control rising college costs.

Continue reading below to read about the many different ways I cut college costs. While I was not perfect and still racked up student loan debt, I did earn three college degrees on a reasonable budget.

Related articles:

  • How I Graduated From College In 2.5 Years With 2 Degrees AND Saved $37,500
  • How I Paid Off $38,000 In Student Loan Debt In 7 Months
  • The Benefits of Paying Off Student Loan Debt Early
  • Should I Ruin My Retirement By Helping My Child Through College?
  • How To Save Money – My Best Money Saving Tips

 

1. Take classes at a community college to cut college costs.

Whether you are in college already or you haven’t started yet, taking classes at a community college can be a great way to save money.

Earning credits at a community college usually costs just a small fraction of what it would cost at a 4-year college, so you may find yourself being able to save thousands of dollars each semester.

There is a myth out there that your degree is worth less if you go to a community college. That is NOT TRUE at all. When you finally earn your 4-year degree, your degree will only say where you graduated from and it won’t even mention the community college credits at all. So this myth makes no sense because your degree looks the exact same as everyone else’s’ who you went to college with. You might as well save money because it won’t make much of a difference.

I only took classes at a community college during one summer semester where I earned 12 credits, and I still regret not taking more. I probably could have saved around $20,000 by taking more classes at my local community college.

Also, you are most likely just taking general credits at the community college, so it’s not like you would be missing much by taking classes there instead of a college that has a better reputation for the major you are seeking.

If you do decide to go to a community college, always make sure that the 4-year college you plan on attending afterwards will transfer all of the credits. It’s an easy step to take so do not forget! You should do this before you sign up and pay for any classes as well as to make sure that ALL of the classes will transfer succesfully.

 

2. Take advantage of high school classes to lower your college budget.

Many high schools allow you to take college classes to earn both college and high school credits at the same time.

This is something I highly recommend you look into if you are still in high school, as it saves time and is one of the best ways to save money on college costs.

When I was in my senior year in high school, nearly all of my classes were dual enrollment courses where I was earning college and high school credit at the same time. I took AP classes and classes that earned me direct college credit from nearby private universities. I left high school with around 14-18 credit hours (I can’t remember the exact amount). This way I knocked out a whole semester of college. I could’ve taken more, but I decided to take early release from high school and worked 30-40 hours a week as well.

 

3. Take all the credits you can to stay within your college budget.

At many universities, you pay a flat fee. So whether you take 12 credit hours or 18 credit hours, you are paying nearly the exact same price.

For this reason, I always recommend that a student take as many classes as they can if they are going to a college that charges a flat fee tuition.

If you think you can still earn good grades and do whatever else you do on the side, definitely get full use of the college tuition you are paying for!

 

4. Apply for scholarships to lower your college costs.

Before you start your semester, you should always look into scholarships, grants, FAFSA, and more. You usually have to turn in any paperwork around spring time for the following semester, so I highly recommend doing this right now if you are going to college in the fall.

Another myth will be busted right now. Many believe that all scholarships are impossible to have or it means you have to win a contest. That is just a myth.

I received around $16,000 a year in scholarships to the private university I attended. That helped pay for a majority of my college tuition. The scholarships were easy for me to get as they were all just because I earned good grades in high school and scored well on tests. I received scholarships to all of the other colleges I applied for as well just for good grades, so I know they can be found as long as you do well in high school!

There are other ways to find scholarships as well. You can receive scholarships from private organizations, companies in your town, and more. Do a simple Google search and I am sure you will find many free websites that list out possible scholarships for you to apply to.

Tip: Many forget that you usually have to turn in a separate financial aid form directly to your college. Don’t forget to do this by the deadline each year!

 

5. Search for cheaper textbooks to lower your college budget.

Students usually spend anywhere from around $300 to $1,000 on textbooks each semester, depending on the amount of classes they are taking and their major.

For me, many of my classes required more than one book and each book was usually around $200 brand new. This means if I were to buy all of my college textbooks brand new, I probably would have had to spend over $1,000 each semester.

I saved a decent amount of money on college textbooks by renting them and finding them used. Renting them was nice because I just had to pay one fee and didn’t ever have to worry about what to do with the textbook after the class was done, as I only had to return them. There was no worrying about the book being worthless if a new edition came out, which was nice! Buying books used was nice occasionally as well just because sometimes I could make my money back.

I recommend Campus Book Rentals if you are looking for textbook rentals. Their rentals are affordable and they make getting the textbooks you need easy.

Read: How To Save Money On Textbooks + Campus Book Rentals Review

 

6. Skip the high price of living on campus to cut your college budget.

To save more money, I decided to live on my own. I didn’t have the option of living at home after high school and living on campus would have cost me a ton of money.

Instead, I found a very cheap rental house (the house was VERY small and probably could have been considered a tiny home) and was able to somewhat easily commute to work and college from it. I probably saved around $500 a month by living on my own instead of on campus, and I learned a lot by living on my own at a young age as well.

If you can live at home though and want to save money, I highly recommend it if it’s an option for you. You can save thousands of dollars a semester by doing this!

I understand that some are against this because it may impact your “college experience,” but I think most people would be fine not living on campus, especially if it’s not in the budget. You could probably save around $40,000 over the years on your degree by living at home.

How did you cut college costs and control your college budget? How much student loan debt did you have when you graduated?

 

The post 6 Ways I Saved Money On College Costs appeared first on Making Sense Of Cents.

Source: makingsenseofcents.com

Make the most of an online shopping bonus category

The Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card made waves in early 2019 when it started offering cardholders the option to earn cash back on online shopping purchases. It’s still one of the only credit cards that rewards online shopping purchases so broadly. However, there are plenty of cards that reward online purchases from specific retailers or types of retailers.

With so many products available online, this can be a very lucrative bonus category. Whether you want to earn cash back on your grocery delivery or on your boutique hauls, you have plenty of credit cards to choose from.

But how exactly does an online shopping bonus category work? By understanding just how this bonus category works and what purchases qualify, you can get more out of your rewards card and boost your earning potential.

See related: The best credit cards for online shopping

How online purchases are identified

When a merchant or card processor sends a transaction to your credit card issuer, it is identified in a few different ways. Each merchant is assigned a merchant category code (varies by card network), to help issuers recognize which category your purchase falls under. But the transaction information is also classified as being made online or in-person.

If a transaction is noted as being made online, your issuer can then check the merchant category code to ensure the purchase meets any restrictions. Then, you receive any bonus points or cash back.

Which purchases count toward an online shopping bonus?

shopping portals offer points or cash back for making purchases at your favorite store through their link. By using one of these sites to make your online purchases, you can earn airline miles, hotel points or cash back on top of credit card rewards.

Pay using a merchant app

If you frequent merchants such as Starbucks that allow you to pay through their app, use this option whenever possible to rack up online shopping bonus category rewards on in-person purchases. You may also double-up on rewards this way by earning both credit card rewards and loyalty points with the retailer.

Use a cash back or rebate program

Cash back programs like Ibotta and Rakuten can help you squeeze every bit of cash back out of a single purchase. Each program works differently, but most allow you to shop online or within a mobile app, where you can browse cash back deals with specific retailers.

If you use your credit card to make a purchase through one of these programs, you can earn cash back twice – once with your credit card issuer and once with the cash back program.

See related: Our guide to the best cash back and rebate apps

Keep a close eye on your card’s terms and conditions

Each issuer has its own set of restrictions for which purchases qualify as online shopping. To make sure you aren’t missing out on rewards, check your credit card’s terms and conditions regularly and note any changes.

Cards that offer an online shopping bonus category

A few cards offer bonus points or cash back on online shopping, including the Bank of America Cash Rewards card.

Bank of America Cash Rewards card
Bank of America® Cash Rewards credit card
Rewards rate
  • 3% cash back on a category of choice (gas, online shopping, dining, travel, drug stores or home improvements and furnishings)
  • 2% cash back on groceries and wholesale club purchases
  • $2,500 combined limit on 2% and 3% categories each quarter
  • 1% cash back on other purchases
Sign-up bonus $200 online cash rewards if you spend $1,000 in first 90 days
Annual fee $0
Estimated yearly rewards value ($1,325 monthly spend) $309

The Bank of America Cash Rewards card also allows cardholders to change their 3 percent bonus category once per calendar month. So if you spend more on online shopping one month, but will spend more on dining the next, you have the flexibility to adapt your rewards as your spending changes.

Bottom line

When it comes to credit card rewards bonus categories, online shopping is one of the most flexible options out there. By understanding which purchases rake in points and cash back, you can get even more out of your card.

See related: How merchant category codes can help you leverage card rewards, Bank of America Cash Rewards cardholders can now choose how they earn rewards

Source: creditcards.com