Create an Apartment Ready for Unexpected Guests

shutterstock_140124130Maybe you have that family member that is known to “just happen to be in the neighborhood” and wants to swing by to see you. Or a neighbor that knocks on your door in need of a cup of milk or an egg at the most inconvenient time. As the holiday season quickly approaches, these unexpected guests tend to show up at your doorstep more often than normal, so now is the time to ask “is your apartment guest ready?”


First Impression

What’s the first thing your guest sees when you open the door and invite them in? Is it a shoe pile and a stack of mail? A pleasant first impression of your apartment sets the tone for your guest, so keep your entry clear of clutter, add a decorative basket to hide your shoes, and install a rack to hang coats, purses and keys.



You may be unaware of smells in your apartment because you live there and have become used to them. This is especially true if you have pets, enjoy cooking, or live in an older apartment. Guests can often pick up on smells – good or bad – that you cannot. Add seasonal oil diffusers and candles to your entryway and throughout your apartment (don’t forget the bathroom) to give your home a festive yet pleasant aroma.



It’s inevitable, your guests will need to use your restroom. Keep your restroom tidy throughout the holiday season by adding a towel hanger to the back of the bathroom door, a dirty clothes hamper, and stock up on hand soap, toilet paper, and air freshener to prevent awkward situations for your guest.


Be Clutter Free

Is your dining room used to store your Amazon Prime packages or your folded laundry? Is your living room open with plenty of seating? When preparing for holiday season, clear out the open areas of your apartment and put away the items that you don’t need. The less clutter you have, the more space you have for your beloved unexpected guests.


shutterstock_256671766Guest Bedroom

If you have an extra room in your apartment, you may be prone to these unexpected guests. Set up your guest bedroom as if you were listing your room on Airbnb by putting fresh sheets on the bed, fluffing the pillows, add a small trash can, and make sure there is room for them to store a suitcase.


There is nothing worse than a friend or family member showing up at your doorstep with a messy and unprepared apartment behind you. By using these quick and easy tips throughout the holiday season, you will be prepared and on standby for Aunt Betty or Fred from your fraternity to swing by. Happy holidays!

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How to Make Your Apartment Your Own

Death_to_stock_photography_weekend_work (3 of 10)Moving into a new apartment is a great time to get rid of the things you don’t need, redecorate, and to make your space your own. Unfortunately, apartment interiors are typically neutral and can be rather boring which makes it more challenging for you to feel like your apartment is your own and not just another rented space. However, there is a lot you can do with a hammer and nails and a little bit of feng shui to make your apartment feel like your own customized space.


Hang Art.

Do you have an eye for photography or do you do you prefer beautiful abstract paintings? Not sure? Try both! Finding or creating your own art is a perfect way to showcase your personality while displaying something you love. And pretty things make for a happier home, so start creating or searching for that perfect piece!

Bonus tip: Use the art and/or photography that you find to create a gallery wall on that large empty wall. You can get even more creative by adding in quotes, wall decor pieces, or posters. Gallery walls are very popular right now; they are like life size mood or inspiration boards, and they give your guests a great representation of your personality.


Add the custom home features.

Interior finishes in apartments are constantly improving as new developments hit the market, but these standard finishes can still feel very, well, standard. Or even worse, they could clash terribly with the decor you have already purchased for you home. If this is happening in your apartment, head to your local home improvement store to pick out new cabinet door pulls, sink faucets or even a new shower head. A new shower head can work wonders in personally designing your apartment to your preferences.


Incorporate optical illusions.

Does your apartment have poor natural lighting, unappealing views, or really low ceilings? While these feel permanent in your home, there are solutions! Pick up a floor lamp and place it in a dark corner in your home to open up your space and add the faux natural lighting.

If your view is of a brick wall, or even worse, a dumpster, buy sheer curtain panels to replace your blinds. These will still allow natural light to enter your home, but will distract guests from the unfortunate view. Also, add greenery to your apartment: aloe vera plants or succulents are perfect for apartment home living.

Lastly, purchase floor to ceiling curtains. These don’t have to break the bank, either. A low quality, almost sheer curtain will add depth to your apartment, but be sure to hang them where the wall meets the ceiling opposed to above your window.

0002410429DD-565x849Bonus tip: If your wall color is making you cringe, turn your floor to ceiling curtains to wall-to-wall curtains. These can be a solid color that matches your decor, or can be a pattern to give the illusion of wallpaper. By doing this, you won’t be forfeiting your deposit or making a commitment to a particular color.


The key to decorating your apartment is to do what you love and what makes you happy. Don’t feel obligated to redecorate your entire home to match the finishes of your new apartment. All you need is a hammer and nails to make a few adjustments to make your home a happy place filled with your personality

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Summer Activity – Geocaching

Are you a tech savvy individual that thrives outdoors? While there are countless summer activities to do outside, there aren’t many that speak to the technologically advanced masses… Until now.

Geocaching is an outdoor recreational activity of hunting for hidden treasures by using a GPS, mobile device, or mobile app. Your preferred global positioning method will direct you to a cache of your choice anywhere in the world. You can chose a cache by your location, difficulty, terrain, and number of favorites. A cache is typically a waterproof container containing a logbook and miscellaneous items placed by previous geocachers. Most caches recommend that you trade an item left in the container with an item of your own. Using the Geocaching app you can see tips from fellow geocachers as well as a virtual log for each hidden cache that will help you on your feat.

The beauty of geocaching is wandering in unknown land in your own neighborhood or even at a travel destination. You can find hidden geocaches literally anywhere.

New York

In NYC, you can discover national landmarks, such as the Empire State Building. There are plenty of caches, so the possibility of adventure is endless.





Los Angeles

There aren’t as many caches in LA as there are in NYC, but none the less, there are still a handful that will allow you to discover LA via urban adventure.






In Dallas, you can geocache in the concrete jungle of the city or venture out to trails and lakes. There is even a geocaching trail – meaning there are multiple stops – that guides you to historical locations surrounding the assassinations of John F. Kennedy. Get a history lesson and a workout at the same time!






You can make a weekend out of geocaching in Chicago; there are so many! Most of them will take you to tourist attractions, hidden places with amazing views, and all sorts of hidden spots throughout the city’s streets.






If you’ve been to Seattle before and think you have seen all that there is to see, geocaching will take you to hidden gems you likely haven’t been to yet, like a Waterfall Park hidden right in the middle of the city.






Turn geocaching into a themed party and separate into teams, or go solo. Either way, you’ll have a blast, and experience the great outdoors.

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A Pet Owner’s Guide To Cleaning In 3 Steps

Dog Making Mess Of Newly Mopped FloorHaving an animal companion is a source of joy for most of us. However, as any pet parent knows, keeping your apartment clean can be a challenge. From hair and dander to tipped-over water bowls and other accidents, even a well-behaved pet will create extra housework. When it comes to pets and cleaning your home, we recommend 3 stages: prevent, minimize, and clean. Whether you’re a cat person, a dog person, or the proud parent of a furry ferret, here are a few of our favorite tips and tricks to help make sure the mess is more manageable.  Continue reading

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Are Community Pools Safe?

Are Community Pools SafeSummer is here; let the heat wave begin.  Walking outside and nearly melting on to the sidewalk sure makes a nice dive in the pool sound wonderful.  What do you need to know about community pools to keep you and your loved ones safe? I’m not talking about the obvious stuff, like watch small children and do not go into the deep end if you can’t swim. I’m talking about getting sick because of what is in the pool water.

It is not uncommon to hear of people becoming ill after swimming in a community pool.  What is not as common is understanding the cause of the illnesses.  So what are some causes of illness from a pool? Parasites, germs, bacteria, viruses, and chemicals are the main causes of illness from playing and swimming in treated recreational water.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranks the top ten illnesses reported from pools.  Most of them are mild and non-life threatening with symptoms of nausea, diarrhea, pink eye, and bronchitis.  Others can cause pneumonia, which can be particularly difficult for anyone with a pre-existing condition or a compromised immune system.  Probably one of the most well known conditions a person develops from treated recreational water is what is called “hot tub rash”. This is actually caused by a tiny common germ.

The most surprising cause of illness from treated recreational water is illness caused by overuse of chemicals.  Disinfectants and other pool chemicals can create byproducts and gases that make people sick.  The most common symptoms are nausea and vomiting, but it can also lead to irritation of the eyes and lungs.

So how do you make sure the pools you and your family are using is safe?  Well, you can request to see the inspection reports to confirm they are in compliance with government standards.  You can also purchase your own little chemical test kit and check the chemical levels yourself.  These kits are relatively inexpensive and easy to use, clearly showing you the readings you should get for various chemicals.

Are Community Pools Safe2If the pool is located in the community you live in, you can also ask that they show you a test of the water to see real-time readings.  If they do not have the equipment available to do that for you, you should consider that a red flag.  Get your own kit and check before swimming there.  Being aware of the potential hazards is the first step in ensuring the safety of you and your family in a community pool.

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Things to Know About Breaking a Lease

Breaking A lease Aggrement2For years those who rented a place to live were filled with fear regarding breaking the terms of the almighty lease.  After a couple of recessions and common military and other job relocations this has become a whole new ball game for renters.  During the recession, many communities offered to allow anyone out of their lease if they lost their job.

While the standard move-out fees would apply, they would not be required to pay additional fees.  If you live in an area that is still being hit hard by unemployment, consider asking before you sign a lease about having this option added.  It never hurts to ask.

If you live near a military base, chances are a work relocation can possibly get you out of the extra broken lease fees.  While they usually stipulate a thirty or even sixty-day notice and require written documentation from your employer, you can often escape the extra fees associated with breaking the lease.  Again, if your company moves people around frequently, inquire about this being a part of your lease agreement, or if the community offers such an option.

Many communities, particularly in large cities, offer this type of arrangement as a courtesy.  That does not mean you won’t have to ask about it to get it. In some instances, they require that if they have a sister community in the area you are moving to that you continue your lease there.  While this may not be the most convenient, it could save some money and is worth considering. I am unaware of any community that will not allow for military to break their lease.  They do require a copy of your relocation orders, and some ask for thirty-days notice, but being military usually gets you out of the bad karma associated with lease breaking.

Breaking A lease AggrementSo, what happens if you get a new job and you really need to move closer to it?  Ask.  Many communities are willing to work with you, especially if they can set you up in a sister community in your new location.  However, if you do not ask about it, you will never know.  Open up the negotiations, and feel free to use the fact that you have been a great resident for the past five years.  Surely that type of loyalty is worth something.


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How True Are Apartment Reviews?

Couple Looking At Apartment ReviewsHave you ever been told, “Take this with a grain of salt”? It doesn’t just apply to friendly advice. Online renter ratings should usually be read with a dash of skepticism. That’s because it can be hard to separate the hype from the hyperbole when you’re getting tips from users you don’t know. So how can you know which apartment reviews to trust? Which concerns are valid and which should you ignore? Here’s a list of apartment review complaints, and how much stock you should put in them.

Reviewers say, “The neighbors are so loud!”

Annoying neighbors are the worst. There’s nothing like a party raging next door at 2 AM to really drive you crazy. However, if you read apartment reviews that tout this complaint, remember that these may be one-of cases. Apartment management can’t help who you move in next to, and sometimes it’s up to you and your neighbors to work things out. But if the complaint is that the neighborhood or the apartment community as a whole are loud, that’s cause for pause. So if a quiet neighborhood is important to you, evaluate whether the reviews are talking about their immediate neighbors or the general area. Continue reading

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Summer Cleaning

0002474508JJ-565x849Before you know it, fall is around the corner and summer will be ending. Now is a great time to spruce up the home with some summer cleaning.  Since the kids are out of school right now for the summer, they can help either redecorate or clean up the home before heading back to school.

If you have lived in your residence for a while or just want a change, repainting the walls is a great and inexpensive way to change and spruce up the home.  Accenting the wall with a different color has become popular in most homes since they are a new way to make a home appear larger and more modern.

Most communities do not have a problem with painting the walls a new color, but be sure you get prior approval before you begin repainting.  In addition, since fall is around the corner, it is a good idea to start thinking about where you put those sweaters and jackets since you may need to wash them or take them to the dry cleaners since you do not want the cold weather to catch you unaware.

0002302621SS-565x849Further, if the carpet needs some cleaning, you might want to ask the leasing personnel if they know of places that would clean the carpets so they stay clean and this allows you get your deposit back.  Otherwise, do not forget that if you just buy large rugs and place it over the various rooms that have carpeting, this also doubles as an inexpensive way to save and keep the carpet clean, which allows you to obtain your full deposit back.  Also, the style of the rugs can greatly enhance or change the decor of the room.

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Enjoy Your Amenities

Enjoy your amenities3Now that summer is here, resident’s often neglect to take advantage of their community amenities.  Since the weather is nice in most parts of the country, it is a good time to have friends over for a pool or barbeque type party. If you live in a community that has many amenities, be sure you take advantage of using them. Many communities offer business centers that are free of charge.  This centers allow you or your children to learn the computer and fax machines and offer free printing without having to pay a monthly fee for Internet usage.

In addition, many communities have a media room that is like a theater and plays movies.  Going to the movies can get expensive since most theaters average a ticket price that hovers over $10 per person and upwards just to see a movie, and that doesn’t include buying drinks and popcorn.

0009428001R-565x849Sending your children or teens to see a movie can easily set you back $50 or more.  If  your community offers a Media Room, do not forget to set some time aside and plan a movie night for the kids  Renting a popular video only costs about $2 nowadays and bringing your own drinks or snacks to these theater type rooms would greatly reduce any costs and keeps both the children and adults busy during the summer.

Sometimes residents get so tired from working, going home to prepare meals, and focus so much on taking care of the family, they forget to use the community amenities, which is beneficial to the entire family.  So, do not forget to circle any date on the calendar and spend a few minutes to coordinate a summer pool or movie night party.

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Which Atlanta Neighborhood Should You Live in?

Atlanta, GeorgiaAs one of the largest metropolitan areas in the country, Atlanta is a diverse and bustling city with a rich history. From a lively entertainment nightlife scene to historic and cultural museums, Atlanta is never in short supply of exciting things to do. Whether you’re looking to move to the downtown area or the restored Midtown neighborhood, Atlanta neighborhoods are as varied as the city’s activities. Here are a few of our favorite areas.


When it comes to mixing art and business, Midtown is unrivaled by any other section of the city. Located in the heart of the city between Downtown and Buckhead, here you’ll find beautifully-restored architecture and many of the city’s museums alongside major corporate offices like Coca-Cola and Wells Fargo. Living in a Midtown apartment means you’re never far from great shopping and delectable dining. Plus, many Atlanta festivals are held in the Midtown area. Continue reading

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