How Reliable are Online Reviews?

How reliable are online reviews-1In this day and age, online reviews are often visited and can carry a good bit of weight with readers.  However, something to keep in mind when looking for a place to rent is that not all online reviews are true and honest.  That’s right,  some companies pay people to submit positive reviews.  Some companies make up online profiles and submit the positive reviews themselves to maintain a good online reputation.  And please do not forget that many people do not make the time to leave a positive review for a community.

Typically, someone scorned or utterly disappointed will hop on any bandwagon to post their dissatisfaction. So how do you know when the reviews are true?  Take a look first of all, at the quantity of reviews.  Are there hundreds or more like twenty?  Twenty reviews for a normal sized rental community are not enough to formulate a good opinion.  One hundred may be.  The next thing you need to consider is the time frame in which the reviews are being posted.  Of the one hundred reviews, are eighty of them in the past year?  If only about ten are from the past year, you may not be getting a true picture.  Communities, especially those that are not functioning well, may change management companies and really turn things around in less than a six month time frame.

The next thing you need to do is look at numerous review sites for the same community.  Internet search engines have made this really easy to do and not very time consuming at all.  If you have three or four sites with a large number of reviews in the past year that are highly positive, chances are the community deserves a look.  On the reverse, if the community has terrible reviews across numerous sites, you may want to mark it off your list.

How reliable are online reviewsAfter looking through the online reviews, visit the actual community.  Keep in mind some of the negative information you read and consider it as you tour the community and surrounding area.  Never be afraid to ask the leasing associate difficult questions.  This is, after all, potentially your future home.  You do not want to move in and later find out you should have been more inquisitive.

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Budgeting for My First Apartment

Budgeting for my First Apartment-1I just graduated from college, and I got my first full paycheck from my first real full-time, career-track job!  I am full of excitement and know exactly what I want in a place of my own.  I made my list: two bedrooms, hardwood floors, ceiling fans, screened in porch, pets allowed, dark maple cabinets and stainless steel appliances.  I look at these super nice apartments and fall in love.  I go to the office to get all the paperwork in line to move-in and what a surprise!

So here is the rundown on what you need to move-in to that brand new apartment you are in love with.  First, determine if you really can afford more space than you need.  Without a roommate a fresh college graduate in an entry-level job usually cannot afford more than a one bedroom apartment.  So get a roommate, or tone down those dreams.  Most new graduates will also start making student loan payments soon.  Know what your payment amount will be.  You may have a car payment, and you will have to pay your insurance.  You also need food and gas every month.  List out all these expenses, and remember it is better to overestimate than underestimate.  If you can manage to get into this stage in your life with no credit card debt, try your best to keep it that way.  No student loans, even better!

Now comes the apartment move-in information.  Many places will charge an administrative fee, an application fee, and a security deposit.  Some also charge a refurbishment fee.  If you plan on having pets, there is a fee for that and some communities add $10-$30 a month to your rent also.  With no pets, typically you are looking at fees in the range of $200 – $800, and a security deposit that can range from nothing to two full months rent.  That is a pretty good chunk of change up front.

Now factor in your monthly costs for water, sewer, trash, pest control, electric, and possibly gas.  Check with the community, because many of them include at least trash and pest control in the rent.  Some even include water and sewer.  The higher end communities often include basic cable in your rent.

Budgeting for my First ApartmentOther things to consider are Internet and phone service.  These will all be recurring bills you have to budget for, and make a roommate very appealing when first starting out. The standard recommendation used to be that your rent should be no more than one-fourth of your gross income.  Now, some have backed it down to one-third.  The younger you are the more able you are to do without some things.  Budget wisely in the beginning and it’ll be that much easier later in life.

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Prepare for a 4th of July Party

Prepare for the 4th of July-1 Fourth of July is fast approaching and now is a good time to start planning if you plan to have a party.  Even if you plan to stay at home with the kids, or if you plan to go to the neighborhood fireworks show, there are always preparations that are necessary.  If you plan to have a party or just stay home and light some fireworks, you should check the management office to ensure their community allows lighting of fireworks on the grounds.

Sometimes, communities actually have a firework party planned, so ensure you check with your management office to see if your community has scheduled any fireworks display party. Sometimes communities have block parties and might ask the resident to bring an item to the party, such as food, drinks, or other items.  If you plan to invite any friends over for your party or spend the night, ensure there will be enough parking or obtain any necessary parking permits from the management office as soon as possible.

Barbeques are also popular during this holiday. If you have a patio, ensure you have permission from the management company to ensure barbequing is allowed on the premises.

Prepare for 4th of JulyIf you wanted to have a pool party, ensure you check with management for any possible reservation requests. If you decide to go to a fireworks display show instead, ensure you secure your premises securely and keep the lights on for safety.  Always ensure you take extra clothing for night time activities and extra cash to buy food or drinks or bring your own snacks.  Have a happy, and safe fourth of July!

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Summer Activities

Summer Activites-1The sun is gleaming, the weather is warming up, and summer is officially here! You don’t have to own a home or be a jet setter to soak up the glorious summer months. Unwind, relax and soak up the summer sun by going on a ‘stay-cation’ from your apartment and around your neighborhood.

Apartment communities have the most luxurious and relaxing pools with sun decks, serene fountains, relaxing sunbeds, and plenty of sun. Grab a towel, your favorite book, and sunscreen to escape the everyday chaos. Great books to add to your summer reading list are: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, the classic To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and a Pulitzer prize winner, The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

If you prefer a more social summer day retreat, invite a few friends or family members over to enjoy the pool and its surrounding amenities with you. (*Note your community policies to see how many guests can accompany you, or ask the front office in advance.) A courtyard picnic or a poolside cookout are both a perfect way to enjoy a summer day with a small group of people. Try this honey chipotle glazed ribs recipe paired with this sparkling rosemary limeade spritzer.

For the artsy type, charge up your cell phone, throw on your tennis shoes, and take a photo excursion. Your apartment community’s landscaping is typically at its finest in the summer months – full of gorgeous blooms, lush greenery, and perfect natural lighting. Locate the nearest walking trail or public park if you want to branch outside of your community for more photo opportunities. Once you have captured your photos from your excursion, doctor them up a bit with an iPhone app: VSCOcam, Aviary, Instagram, or PicLab. Or if you want to splurge and go on a photo excursion in a group setting, search for workshops in your neighborhood like this one:

Summer Activites-2‘Tis the season for fresh fruit and veggies, so check out your local farmers markets to gather the best produce of the year. Depending on your city, farmers markets can get pretty big and popular, and your trip can turn into a full day, so plan accordingly. You won’t want to miss out and have to wait another month before you can go back.

Lastly, you can’t forget about your local flea markets, which are great year around. Flea markets are full of unique and sometimes vintage items – and the hidden treasure can go quickly – so it is best to go early in the morning. Shop for fun artwork to hang on your apartment wall, antique vases to display your summer flowers, and one-of-a-kind chotskies to add to your apartment decor.

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How to Find the Right Roommate

RoommatesWhen it comes to finding the right roommate for your next apartment, there’s a lot to consider, like if you want to live with someone you already know or start a roommate relationship with someone new. Or even how will you share the cleaning. And especially how much space is ideal for you and a roommate!

And while we all want the Chandler to our Joey, it’s important to narrow down the top 5 questions to ask as you take the next step towards cohabitation. Continue reading

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Ways to Save Money on Groceries

Creative ways to save money on groceries-1Everyone wants to save money in different areas of their life. Since we all need to eat, our groceries are one area where you can look to trim costs. The obvious way of course is to buy fewer groceries and of course you can use manufactures coupons to trim excess cost. But there are some other ways that you can incorporate in to everyday shopping that will help in the long run.


First of all, saving money on groceries can help you eat better. If you do not buy processed food then you will save some money. Fresh products are naturally better as they have a shorter shelf life and must be eaten within a time frame. Planning your eating will help with your bill.

Creative ways to save money on groceriesSecondly, look for community gardens and your local Farmers Markets. These types of places help you to buy produce locally. When these farmers grow crops, there produce is usually organic as the crops are not sprayed with large-scale insecticide. The farmers would also pick their own crops and thus keep the cost low.

Lastly, look for a co-op in your neighborhood. Some people would get together and have a collective buying power. So some items would be cheaper in the co- op. Think of it as you your shop for basics like flour, beans, and rice.

Keep chipping away at your bill and you will be pleasantly surprised: your health and pocketbook will thank you.



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Keeping Your Pet Happy When You’re Away

Keeping Your Pet Happy While You Are at Work-1If you have pets and you are renting, then you need to make sure your pet is not going to miss you and become sad while you are at work. If the pet does, then he or she can act out and cause damage to your property or your apartment.

If you rent with your pet, you probably paid a deposit. You would want your refund when you leave, so keep these ideas and tips in mind to help you and your pet have a happy home life.

If you have a dog, then first advice is to see if you can take your dog to work with you. Some places actually allow people to bring their pet in to work. If your job says no, bring it up as a suggestion.

Secondly, try closer to home and see if a neighbor can come in at certain times to let your furry pal out for a bathroom break. Even dogs need to stretch their legs. A teenager would help you out as well for a few dollars.

Keeping Your Pet Happy While You Are at WorkIf you have a cat, make sure your blinds are pulled up and the strings are put away. Cats have been known to get in to the blind pulls. Some cats break the blinds in order to see outside. It is much better to have a few precautions in place. Make sure the cat has plenty of toys to occupy their time.

Finally for all your pets, have fresh water available. Bathroom breaks must be available for the dog and a clean litter box will make your cat happy. Remember a happy pet makes for a happy home.



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Getting the Best Deal for Your Austin Apartment

Texas State CapitolAustin, Texas has quickly become one of the country’s coolest cities. With its live music nightlife, laid back atmosphere, and limitless outdoor activities, Austin residents have got it made! But as the city attracts new residents, the once-affordable Texas capitol has developed newly expensive real estate.

At Renter’s Voice, we want to help you find the best deal on Apartments In Austin by allowing users to compare reviews, ratings, and information about local properties. When debating a move to Austin, here are the three things to consider to make sure you’re getting the best deal.  Continue reading

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Company is Coming and Need to Tidy Up

Company is Coming and You Need to Tidy UpIf you have company coming over and you don’t have time to tidy up, don’t be worried as you can make your home look and smell good in very little time before your company arrives.  Here are some quick tips to show off your apartment or home in the best light in under one hour.

First of all, get a box of Arm and Hammer and put some in a plastic bag. Poke some small holes in the bags and place it with the holes facing up in your clothes hamper, refrigerator, and garbage can.

Secondly, in the bathroom, spray the sink with a cleaner and spray the toilet. Brush the bowl and then add in some cleaner to stay in the bowl without flushing. The cleaner will help the bathroom smell good. Try to wipe the bathroom mirror of smudges.

Thirdly, make sure your bed is made. Close the closet doors and your dresser drawers. A made bed looks wonderful and helps a room to look neat. If you have things on your nightstand, move them to the closet for a neater look.

Coming and You Need to Tidy Up-1Lastly take a look at your living room and kitchen. Move things off of the counters in the kitchen and put it into cupboards; In the living room, move things from the coffee table or arrange them neatly.

When you are finished you can take a look around and smile. Take pride and know your place will look and smell good for your company.



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Beyond the Riverwalk: 4 Top Rated San Antonio, Texas Apartments

AlamoThe star of South Central Texas, San Antonio has something for everyone! This historic city is home to iconic Texas landmarks like the Alamo, Tower of the Americas, and the San Antonio Riverwalk. However, as the city has grown over the years, it has come to be known for attractions such as the AT&T Center, home to the San Antonio Spurs, and theme parks like Sea World and Six Flags Fiesta Texas. As a hub of culture and education, San Antonio hosts thousands of students each year at world-class universities, while serving as a home for young professionals and families alike.

If you’re looking to connect with history and culture while contributing to the growth and modernization of this great Texas city, take a stroll down the Riverwalk and check out our 4 picks for the Top Rated Apartments In San Antonio. Continue reading

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