Why Smart People Rent: On the Benefits of Renting

Why Smart People Rent--On the Benefits of RentingTrying to decide between renting or buying a home? Of course, buying a home gives the stability of a mortgage. And renting a house or apartment allows for tremendous flexibility of location. But there must be more, right? Is flexibility the only reason to rent?

The Khan Academy has published a video on the difference, mathematically, between renting and buying. They challenge the notion that “buying is always better than renting.” Many people have also challenged the claim. If you haven’t heard, renting is on the up-and-up. According to Appfolio.Com, “2 million new renter-occupied households were added in 2014, while the number of owner-occupied households decreased by more than 350,000.”

Amenities are an often overlooked but important aspect of renting a unit in an apartment complex. If you buy a house, not many conveniences are included. Gyms typically require a $30-$50 per month membership plan. You may have to drive to a far location to play tennis or basketball, or to swim. And, almost certainly, your home will not come with a playground. Imagine all these expenses as monthly fees in addition to your mortgage. However, many apartment complexes include such amenities and more.

Many pro-and-con lists are created for this type of decision. Realtor.Com has a convincing video for the pros of renting. For example, if you rent, you may have access to amenities that, as a homeowner, would not typically be within your reach. Similarly, renters often do not make home repairs. Rather, property managers and landlords take care of them. Many apartment complexes have onsite maintenance and even 24/7 emergency maintenance. Everyday maintenance issues are taken care of by property owners or landlords. Furthermore, you may wake up to an upgraded wifi network, new central air unit, or a newly carpeted hallway.

What renters lack in ownership they gain in freedom. If you don’t like your neighborhood, feel an itch to move, or want to explore the world, renting is a good option for flexible people. Leases aren’t mortgages. With renting, you aren’t locked in for 30 years.

The decision to rent or buy is one of the more important decisions you’ll have to make. The worst thing to do would be to listen to cliches. As we have seen, renting isn’t just for people who want flexible living arrangements. There are reasons to rent long-term.  It is not accidental that rental properties are thriving: the numbers don’t lie.

Renting has many appeals, from communal living to practically maintenance-free living. And renters don’t need to acquire realtors. Many apartment complexes now have their own websites. Utilizing the tool ApartmentsForUs.Com proves that finding the perfect apartment in this day and age is a breeze thanks to the rise of digital marketing.

Prevent Mosquitoes at Your Apartment

prevent mosquitoesMosquito bites shouldn’t ruin the summer for you. Open the windows and curtains and enjoy the weather from the inside of your home. Keep the mosquitoes away from your apartment this summer with these tips.

Screens

Most modern windows come with screens. But some don’t. You can purchase a low-cost screen to fit any window size at most hardware stores. Lighten things up with some sunshine. Enjoy the breeze and air out your apartment with a window screen.

Seal Windows and Doors

As time goes by, wood splits and houses settle. Basically what this means is sometimes your windows and doors allow a bit of air (and therefore bugs) to get by. Insects crawl through the smallest cracks. You can prevent most bugs from entering your home by purchasing door sweeps and weather strips. Either will take about five minutes or less to apply. It’s worth the peace of mind. Then you’ll also be prepared for winter!

Outdoor Water and Plants

If you have a patio or balcony attached to your apartment, be sure no standing water is sitting in plants, bowls, or chairs. Mosquitoes are notorious for breeding in standing water. Females prefer to lay eggs here. So it’ll also attract males.

If you don’t have plants on your patio, get some. Certain types of plants actually repel mosquitoes. You’ll also add to your balcony’s beauty. What’s the downside? With plants, you’ll get fresh air and, with certain types, a mosquito-free patio or balcony.

Repelling mosquitoes is actually pretty simple. Ensure they don’t ruin your summer by taking simple steps. And if all else fails, use mosquito repellent spray. Enjoy yourself this summer by preventing mosquito bites.

Gift Ideas for New Neighbors

gift ideasNot much is worse than living next to a neighbor you don’t want to socialize with. The typical neighborly gift is food. But many people have food allergies. Get off on the right foot with these gift ideas for new neighbors.

Introduce to Local Places

Your new neighbor may also be new to the community. Gift cards to local restaurants and coupons to local stores should warm them up. Sharing your favorite places in the community, and giving tips on where to shop for the best deals, is a good way to start the conversation on your interests.

Cleaning Supplies

Cleaning is a universal activity for renters and homeowners. Who doesn’t need more cleaning supplies? Gift your favorite brands, or create your favorite home-made cleaners, and put them in a ribbon-tied basket. It’ll save your new neighbor money and it’s a gift they can use. Show how pragmatic you are with a bundle of cleaning supplies.

Plants

Don’t overdo this one. Especially don’t buy a high-maintenance plant. There’s no need to make your neighbor do work they don’t have to. But everyone can appreciate cleaner air. And the plant could contribute to decorating the new apartment.

A gift for a new neighbor will show your friendly side. And, who knows, maybe you’ll find another person to talk to about Netflix.

How Renting is Greener than Owning

renting is greener than owningWhen you think about it, the average apartment unit size per family size is probably smaller than the average house size per family size. This, at the outset, gives an advantage to renters: with a smaller area, you’ll use less energy to provide heating or cooling to satisfy the same amount of people. But some statistics, provided by the Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario in 2012, may surprise you. It turns out that renting is significantly greener than owning.

Statistics[i]

APARTMENTS ARE GREENER THAN SINGLE FAMILY HOMES

  • 65% less energy use per household
  • 40% less water per capita
  • 60% less waste 10 km shorter commute distance to work

RENTERS ARE GREENER THAN OWNERS

  • 50% less energy used per household 8.4 km shorter commute each day
  • 32% less likely to use a car
  • 150% more likely to take transit
  • 175% more likely to walk

This is good news. Not only is the rental market booming in the United States, but other green initiatives are combing to create a market climate better for the environment and better for our wallets.

Could there be a better time to rent?


[i]Federation of Rental-housing Providers of Ontario. (2012, February 08). Apartment Living Is Green. Retrieved August 23, 2016, from frpo.org, http://web.archive.org/web/20140208064830/http://www.frpo.org/documents/2012%20Apartment%20Living%20is%20Green.pdf

Tips for Working from Your Apartment

working from homeWorking from home can be a huge blessing for some people: you can drink as much coffee as you want! For others, it can be a death sentence. From childcare and errands to cleaning the house and Sportscenter, some distractions you’ll find at home don’t exist at the workplace. But distractions don’t have to ruin the experience for you. These tips will help you make the most of working from home.

Create a Workspace

This is one of the easiest ways to remove distractions. Create a workspace you’ll enjoy seeing and working in. Make it extremely personal. You can do this: you have the freedom of your home. But whatever you do, leave that television in the living room. And never bring your phone or phone charger to the workspace. You’ll probably want a coffee pot though, right?

Dress like You’re Working

I know, it’s very tempting to stay in your pajamas all day. But it might also encourage you to take a nap, watch TV, or check your Instagram. This is because you’re basically dressed to lounge around. Continue with your normal morning routine when you work from home, but instead of going in to work, you’ll be able to just go to a different room in your apartment. You’ll feel more energetic and ready to work if you don’t make working from home like a day-off.

Take a Walk

When you’re feeling drowsy or uninspired, simply take a break. But don’t just watch TV or check your phone. Get outside the apartment. Take a walk around the neighbor or exercise for half an hour. Make sure you’re off the clock. But getting your mind off work every once in a while might actually boost productivity and energy.

Working from home can be extremely rewarding. Follow these tips and you’ll be just as productive, if not more so, than when you drive to the office.

Boost Cell Phone Reception in Your Apartment

improve cell phone signal in apartmentNot much is more frustrating than trying to talk on the phone when your cellular reception is low. From broken sentences to incomplete words, the conversation is pretty much incomprehensible. The most obvious thing to do is keep your phone charged. A full battery guarantees the best hardware performance. But aside from finding the sweet spot in your apartment, there are a few things you can do to improve your cell phone service.

Wi-Fi Calling

Most phones now have a Wi-Fi assistance option. This is certainly the future of voice calling, and it’s free. All you need is an internet connection. And if your phone doesn’t have a Wi-Fi assisted option, you can simply forego your phone’s default voice calling by downloading any of the number of free Wi-Fi calling apps available on app stores. You can also get free texts through these apps also.

Purchase a Femtocell

A femtocell is a powered base station that connects to your internet service in order to amplify your cell phone signal. It’s basically an in-house cell tower. Through the Wi-Fi, a femtocell bridges the gap between the cell phone tower signal and obstructions (such as your house, its walls, and objects inside the house). It also reduces the number of cell phones using the cell tower directly, thus improving your signal.

It’s a fairly inexpensive solution to what might be a long-term problem. Before you go out and purchase one, research which femtocell might be best for you.

Signal Booster

Another option is acquiring a signal booster through your wireless carrier. This device basically boosts signals from anywhere in your house. For instance, if you can get two bars when you stand nearby the microwave by the back door, placing a signal booster in that area will spread the signal throughout the house, and in many cases will improve upon it.

Basically one of the only free options for improving your cell signal is to connect your phone to Wi-Fi (if the option is available). No matter what you choose, be sure to research to determine the best option to fit your needs.

 

Use These 2 Things to Maintain a Clean Car

How to Maintain a Clean Car

We all know this experience. You go to the car wash. You pay for a nice shine. You vacuum the seats and floors. And after a month, not only has the shine faded, but it looks like a dump on the inside. Follow these tips to maintain a clean interior throughout the winter.

Trash Cans

This idea might seem unappealing at first. Who wants a trash container to take up legroom in the car? And won’t it smell? But, especially if you don’t want to clean out your car every time you drive it, a secondary benefit of a trash can is to get you in the habit of cleaning out your car. Even if it means just taking out the trash once a month.

But obviously the primary benefit of having a trash can in your car is it eliminates the garbage. And it won’t take up too much space. Buy a small 3 or 5 gallon trash can with a lid. Once you get in the habit of taking the trash out of the car, you can get rid of the trash can.

Organizers

Invest in a good car organizer. Then purchase some car wipes to keep the interior shiny and clean. Also stock up on some baby wipes for any messy passengers. Place these cleaners and any objects or tools in the organizer.

With the trashcan and organizer, what else can be in your car? Once you get organized, cleaning will be the easiest part of owning a car. Even if you have a family, an organizing box will hold toys, crayons, books, and anything else you’ll need.

Now that the floor is clean and the dashboard wiped, the interior of your car will stay as clean as it came out of the factory.

Winterize Your Apartment

Winterize Your Apartment

If this is the first year you’ve lived in your apartment, you don’t yet know how winter conditions might change your electricity bills or room temperature levels. Maybe things won’t change at all. Here are some tips in case they do.

Windows

The very first thing you’ll want to do is seal your windows. Even if they are new, it can only help. Purchase some plastic to put over the glass, buy insulating curtains, and get a door sweep. Even if your windows are old, the plastic and curtains together will reduce winter’s effects on your apartment significantly.

But don’t become a hermit. When the sun is out, make sure your curtains are open. It’s not only good for your skin to get some sunlight, but it’s a free source of heat.

Vent Filter

You’ll want to replace your vent filter as well. Ever wonder why spring cleaning is a huge deal? Why it has it’s own name? Why winter cleaning isn’t a thing? It’s because your home gets dirtiest during the winter months. This is due to a lot of factors. But the main reason is because people keep their windows closed when it’s cold outside. This traps in dirt, dust, and everything else in your home, for months.

Beginning the winter with a clean filter is a good idea. Not only will it filter out dirty air coming into your apartment, it’ll increase air flow from your vent.

Rugs

Lastly, rugs are great insulators. Get large rugs. Not only will it help liven up your living space, it’ll trap in some heat, especially if you have hardwood floors. It’ll be nice to not have to walk on cold floors during the coldest months of the year.

Space Heater

If you’ve done everything here and still are cold, don’t hesitate to purchase a small space heater. It’s not a bad investment, because it’s usually cheaper to run a space heater than it is to hike up the thermostat and keep the furnace running.

Conquer the Toxic Dust Hidden in Your Home

Conquer the Toxic Dust Hidden in Your HomeMany of us don’t need a substantial push to swap harmful cleaning chemicals for less intrusive alternatives. Who likes dry, bleach-stained calloused hands anyway? As the dangers of indoor dust are well known, it’s becoming apparent the invisible, long term effects of our daily cleaning habits, and lack thereof, can amount to terrifying heights of harm. A recent study that “…analysed 26 peer-reviewed papers, as well as one unpublished dataset, from 1999 onwards to examine the chemical make-up of indoor dust…” found nearly 90% of dust samples contained particles linked to cancer and infertility, as reported by The Guardian. These findings were due in no part to small sample size: “The studies covered a wide range of indoor environments, from homes to schools and gymnasiums across 14 states.”

With the satisfactory appearance of Clorox’s clean glaze over countertops and the refreshing scent of Febreze floating like a lazy cloud from one room to the next, just when our homes seem cleanest, we may actually be most vulnerable. Altering what you buy, from harsh chemical cleaners to safer alternatives, isn’t the only thing you can do to curb indoor pollution, and doesn’t account for much of the problem. Your clean home houses hidden hazards.

The problem of indoor pollutants may appear at first glance counterintuitive. How could vanquishing bacteria, viruses, and who-knows-what-else from dirty floors and countertops, bathrooms and kitchens, ultimately harm us? Your everyday cleaners aren’t particularly handy for the real problem. The issue is that some chemicals in our couches and mattresses, our vinyl flooring and carpeting, contain flame retardants, known to cause cancer, affecting the reproductive and nervous systems, and phthalates, found in personal care products and food packaging, which “have been linked to developmental problems in babies, hormone disruption, and are also thought to affect the reproductive system.”

These chemicals, especially when imprisoned in a house on lock-down for the winter, can accumulate and mingle with dust in your home. “The researchers highlighted 45 toxic chemicals in indoor dust, 10 of which were present in 90% or more of the dust samples – these included flame retardants, fragrances and phenols.” As The Guardian points out, these chemicals, though banned in some products, like bottles and diapers, may not be banned in others, like walls and flooring.

But this isn’t a matter to just throw up our hands over, declaring all proactivity hopeless and ineffective. Singla, from the Environmental Science and Technology journal, writes there are steps we can take to reduce exposure to this toxic dust. One key is, when you are performing regular cleaning duties like wiping off the counters or sweeping, don’t tackle these tasks with dry brooms or paper towels. Use damp mops and cloths to reduce levels of dust. Whereas merely dry materials might kick the dust back in the air, damp materials will cause the dust to clump and aggregate. Also, vacuum regularly, as the suction disposes of the toxic dust in its container. And, of course, activism, to demand accountability, is the surest way to reduce exposure to these chemicals.

Although the problem of indoor pollution is extremely concerning, it’s in your power to reduce exposure. Besides changing the way you clean your home, you can also purchase plants, which help reduce indoor pollution by cleaning the air you breathe. And don’t be afraid to open up your windows when the days are brilliant, and the soft breeze of spring warmly soothes the plants and animals, blooming and bustling outside, stirred by the chance to enter your home like an old, visiting friend.

Tips for Storing Books

Tips for Storing BooksIf this is your first time storing books, you might think the process will be as easy as storing anything else: pack them up in boxes and throw them on a shelf. But that’s not exactly the case here. Books are delicate, sensitive to changes in their environments. Store your books with the confidence that they won’t diminish in value.

Preparation

Clean. You might not think dust is a big problem, but it can cause covers to fade, lose texture, and damage their surfaces after books set for too long. Inspect all your books for dust and dirt.

After you clean, you may want to wrap any books with dust jackets in Mylar book covers. This thin, plastic material is actually sturdy enough to prevent most damages to book covers. Plus, in the future, if you spill something in the vicinity of your book, it won’t necessarily ruin its cover.

Storage

The first thing you’ll want to consider is the kind of storage unit you want your books in. Climate-controlled storage is best, since you will be able to not only monitor the temperature of the unit but also the humidity levels. Aside from that, you probably shouldn’t store books in a unit without, at least, temperature-control, which makes the unit immune to major temperature changes (these units typically guarantee a range of temperatures for your storage: a range in Fahrenheit from about 50 degrees to 90 degrees).

Next, boxes, bags, or totes? If you use boxes, don’t use secondhand boxes, especially if they contained items that typically emit an odor (food, leather, etc.). These odors will settle in books after a period of exposure.

Don’t store in plastic bags. Not only can these produce gases after some time (which will settle in your books), but they also can trap humidity and water, forming a layer of condensation around your books. Bags can basically create the same environment as a humid basement.

Totes are usually okay for a few reasons. If the outside of the tote gets wet, the moisture won’t sink through the tote to the books (like it would a box). Secondly, there is usually extra space in the tote, which would allow for some air circulation for your books. And, thirdly, you won’t have to worry about the acid that some boxes contain yellowing the pages of your books.

Whatever you choose to do, now you have the information to store your books like a pro. Happy packing!

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