Good Gifts for New Neighbors

The trope of new neighbors typically brings to mind movie scenes involving casserole dishes. In our day and age expectations of neighborly courtesy have certainly changed. Traditional gifts like food dishes become less and less appealing when you think about the possible allergies any dish, even by accidental ingredient inclusion, might agitate. We are required to be mindful of food allergies. There are alternative gifts that are perhaps even better than the food dish.

Gift Cards & Local Places

One of the best ways to connect with new neighbors is by introducing them to places around town. Just pick up a gift card next time you dine at your favorite restaurant and acquaint the new neighbors to one of the best spots in town. Likewise, you can pick up a gift card for a Netflix subscription, HBO, and other streaming services! In this day and age, who wouldn’t appreciate a free month of streaming?

Favorite Gifts

Have a favorite recipe that you’d like to share but don’t want to agitate allergies? Give a gift basket that includes all the ingredients, a nicely printed recipe, and maybe a spatula. This can work with favorite foods or even favorite movies, television series, or books.

Utility Gifts

This can be a rather unusual and quirky option, but sometimes the best gift is a set of basic tools. Who couldn’t use a basic hammer or screwdriver set? Anyway, if your new neighbor already owns these, they can regift them!

It’s time to get creative. Use this article as a launching pad to think of new ways to welcome new neighbors and let us know what you did in the comments below!

Prevent Bugs and Pests in Your Apartment

Prevent Bugs and Pests in Your Apartment

Yes, it is a harrowing thought that one day when you get home from work it is possible that the beloved family dog will have eaten half of the living room carpet the leasing office just installed. But there is nothing worse than cooking dinner and, upon reaching for the cup of flour you poured a few minutes ago, your hand grazes the hard skeleton of an energetic cockroach. Pests in the apartment are the worst. The good news is you can prevent these uninvited guests by maintaining a few best practices for apartment cleaning.

The place with all the food is the best place to begin: the kitchen. Food crumbs from dinner are not the only culprit here, week-old pet food outlining the exterior of pet food bowls is an attractant to cockroaches particularly. Either be sure to clean up any grounded food whenever you feed your pets, or give more restricted portions to limit the amount of misplaced pet food. Another thing to watch out for is standing water, either in the sink, on the counter tops underneath dish racks, or on the floor. Standing water anywhere in your kitchen attracts bugs and pests in your apartment. Wipe counters dry after you clean dishes, and do not leave standing water in pots or pans for longer than a few hours.

Likewise, if you have a carpet, vacuum at least twice a week, and more if you have pets, to reduce dandruff, dead skin, and stray hair on the floor. These things will inevitably be there, so removing them as often as possible will remove food sources and breeding grounds for pests.

These few tips will prevent a large majority of pests from making your apartment their new home. Just be consistent with your cleaning, remove food and water from surfaces, sweep hardwood floors and vacuum often, and you won’t have to worry about the vast majority of pests and bugs entering your apartment.

Tips for Moving with Pets

Tips for Moving with PetsWith all the boxes, fragiles, and furniture you’ll pack into the moving truck, it’s easy to lump your pet’s belongings with everything else. But your pet’s belongings are key to comforting your pet during this time of change. As you think about moving, don’t forget your pet. Below are two important pieces to making the move with your pet as smooth as possible.

The Vet

Before you move, you’ll want to make sure you have your pet’s vaccination records, especially if you’re moving to an apartment. If you schedule a check-up with your pet you can get any records your missing and, more importantly, you can check the state of your pet’s health to ensure it can handle the stress of moving, especially if the move covers a long distance. Some vets will even provide a sedative. If you haven’t yet, be sure to schedule a vet checkup before your move, so that you will have all the relevant information on your pet, including its current state of health, and any extra tools that might make the move easier.

Your Pet’s Belongings

Moving day can be as stressful for your pet as it is for you. In the rush to move everything, you might be tempted to just throw all your pet’s toys and beds into a box and move them out with everything else. This will only exacerbate your pet’s anxiety. Your pet’s belongings have its scent, and this scent is an important signal to your pet that they are in a familiar place. When things get stressful, your pet will look for familiar things and places to comfort it. Taking your pet’s belongings away at the beginning of the move will make a bad situation worse, as it will leave your pet without the comfort of familiarity. Confine most of your pet’s things to a room and leave your pet with them while you move everything. This will help ease the transition to the new place.

While comforting your pet in a time of change, your pet’s belongings will also play an important role in introducing it to its new home. Introduce your pet to its new home by furnishing a room with its belongings, which already contains it scent, so that the new environment will already contain elements of familiarity. This will reduce the shock of transition and create a welcoming environment in a new space.

The Best Time To Rent A New Apartment

The Best Time To Rent A New ApartmentPeople move for many reasons: their apartment wasn’t what they expected, annual rate increases, or newfound desires to change scenery. Yet there are some who anticipate the move, and rent a new apartment at the optimal time. Notwithstanding the specials that come and go at every apartment community in any given season, there are actually two such times each year when it is best to look for new apartments.

According to Rent.com, the best time to look for a new apartment, if you want the most options, is from May to September. This is the time span in which most people move. Thus, more availabilities at more apartment communities. But if you’re looking to save money, the best time to rent a new apartment is from October to April. This is the time when most people are not moving, and, as a result. some apartment complexes may have more vacancies than they anticipated, and therefore rates will likely be lower to account for the deadened demand.

The best time to rent a new apartment depends in large part on the kind of apartment you want. If you’re looking for the most options, the mid-year is the best time to rent. But for those who want to save money, they’ll be wise to look in the offseason.

Three Places to Hide Your Spare Keys

Improvements in technology haven’t really solved the old, eternal dilemma: where to put the spare key. Hiding it is imperative, but keeping it accessible, and in a memorable spot, is difficult. We recommend 3 easy, accessible places to hide your key in plain sight.

Car floor mat

As long as you don’t lose your car keys, your car floor mat is a great place to keep your spare key. It’s so great because, presumably, your car will be wherever you are.

Wind Chime

It may be unorthodox to hide your spare key in plain sight, but it’s perhaps a most effective method, given certain constraints. Attaching your key to a wind chime gives you accessibility and also an alarm. If anyone is attempting to take your key, you’ll hear it. On the other hand, every time your wind chime rings you might be tempted to peek outside. It’s a worthy sport for consideration, though.

Pet or Pet House

This may not just be unorthodox, but downright heresy. So long as you have the spare key on a keychain loop, you can attach it to almost anything. Consider placing the key either on the collar of a pet or in an outside pet house. That way, the spare key has a guard, and it’ll come to you when called.

Wherever you hide your spare keys, just make sure you don’t forget where they are, and keep them in accessible locations. That way, next time you get locked out, getting back into your apartment or home won’t be a nightmare.

Apartment Living with Energetic Cats

Cats have taken over in some apartment communities. This is no accident. As independent, and somewhat aloof creatures, cats basically take care of themselves, given enough food and water. People who like to travel find this autonomy of cats convenient. Left alone too much, however, cats tend to become rambunctious.

Many have found even cats can be destructive to property. This kind of destruction seems inversely related to physical activity. When the yarn ball unfurls, or the toy mouse doesn’t zig-zag on the floor, your cat is going to need some attention. Whether you play with your cat or not, it needs to burn energy somehow.

This may translate into plucked couches or torn curtains. Take some time out of your day, maybe five or ten minutes, to keep your cat entertained, and let it burn some energy to indulge its instinctual drives. To reduce destructive behavior get a scratch post for them to use. Sometimes it is best to have a scratch post for each room. Anti-scratch tape, generally furniture friendly, also does the trick. Cats abhor the adhesive texture. And, if nothing else, during commercial breaks use a laser to imitate the prey-predator hunt.

Cats are independent, but they’ve also adapted to rely on play for exerting energy and satiating intense instinctual drives. Give your cat a little bit of time each day, and you’ll find its levels of destructive behavior will decrease dramatically.

Are You Ready to Sign the Lease?

Are You Ready to Sign the Lease?As you’ve counted down the days until your lease expires, the time lost to looking at new apartments on Apartments.com or Trulia has made your friends very worried. Why don’t you put that phone down and binge watch Netflix with them? It used to be your favorite thing to do. It’s like nobody knows you anymore. The season is only ten hours long!

So you schedule a tour, and you plan to put all the planning behind you.

It’s not easy, as a matter of adventure and commotion, to keep a level head when touring a new apartment community. The future always looks brighter when it offers new opportunities and remains somewhat unpredictable, especially when the present and past have been less than ideal. Expectations of what can be easily cloud good judgment. But it’s important to not dismiss the mundane things, the things that are forgotten in the fantasies of new life. Nothing is perfect. A level approach to the novelty of a new apartment is the best approach. Put yourself in the best position by considering the following elements before you sign the lease.

Pet Policy

Of course if you have a pet you’ll ask the property manager about the pet policy: whether pets are allowed. More specifically, ask about breed restrictions, or whether the pet has to be house-trained, below a certain weight, or declawed. Learning the specifics of the policy can save you from fines or, worse, eviction.

Parking

Ask whether residents or units are allocated a specific number of parking spots, and whether there is visitor parking that is separate from resident parking. If there is no separation, you might want to ask residents, via social media, what parking typically looks like after a day of work or on the weekend. Is it difficult to get a space? Ask also about the towing policy and how strictly it’s enforced. A strictly enforced towing policy can be a very good thing for residents, especially if they follow the rules. Towing policies are intended to benefit residents and are enforced to ensure residents have parking places.

Typical Utilities Cost

You can call up the utilities company you will be using and ask how much utilities typically cost for the unit you expect to lease. This will give you a good idea of how much you’ll spend each month, besides rent, to cover electricity, water, and the like.

Extra Expenses

Some properties have extra expenses that aren’t discussed with the price of rent. These may include water line hook-up, metering, and trash pickup. These expenses can sometimes be at least $25. Make sure you’re aware of any extra expenses you’ll encounter while living at the property so you don’t overextend your budget.

Noise Level

In the rush to get a new, larger, and nicer apartment, you may forget to consider what a typical day will bring. Look around the community: are the roads busy, what kind of neighborhoods surround it, how much traffic goes through the parking lot? This will be a good time to utilize social media again. Ask past or current residents. Are the walls paper-thin? Is there an airport next door?

It’s a great feeling to know you’re moving to a better apartment. But it’s terrible to realize after a month, that you didn’t think about the day-to-day expenses and hassles. Put yourself in the best position, and don’t let the possibilities of the future make you blind to the realities of the present.

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!

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.

3 Proven Methods for Improving Your Cell Phone Signal

Not much is more frustrating than trying to use a cell phone with 1x reception. From broken sentences to incomplete words, the conversation is pretty much incomprehensible. You try everything to improve the signal. The most obvious thing to do is keep your phone charged because a full battery guarantees the best hardware performance. But what next? 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 basically allows your phone to borrow from the Wi-Fi signal when the cell signal is too low. 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. Then you can call anyone from Wi-Fi whenever you want, and you’ll never have to worry about cell phone signal again.

Purchase a Femtocell

A femtocell is a powered base station that connects to your internet service. Its purpose is 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.

 

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