Apartment Living

Cities Where Your Stimulus Check Covers More of Your Rent

Cities Where Your Stimulus Check Covers More of Your Rent

Help is on the way.

Stimulus checks are popping up in checking accounts across the country. This means you could be getting a financial boost during this very uncertain time during the coronavirus pandemic to help reduce the burden of everyday living.

There are a lot of caveats in the CARES Act that spell out how much each person gets. In general, most individuals are eligible for a $1,200 payment, while married couples who filed their 2019 taxes jointly, will get $2,400. Children under 16 net you an extra $500 per child.

You can end up with a sizable amount of money to help make a dent in your monthly bills. If you’ve lost your job, it may be enough to cover expenses until unemployment kicks into gear. But how far stimulus checks will go is really dependent on where you live.

Covering rent with your stimulus check

Are you a party of one or two? The distance your stimulus check goes to help pay large expenses like rent is dependent on where you live and how much you’re getting. As a single person, you may have enough for one month, with a little left over.

As a couple, or if you’re in a living situation with roommates, you may stretch stimulus checks a little further. Applying the money to rent can help delay the need for rent assistance while giving you a bit of a financial break in covering your usual expenses.

One-bedroom apartments

Looking at the average rents in 100 of the most populated cities in the U.S., a single stimulus check will cover a month’s rent in about 38 of them. If you can add up to $100 of your own money, then that number goes up to 46 cities.

If you’re a married couple living in a one-bedroom apartment, there are 88 cities where your check would cover the rent for one, maybe two, months.

one bedroom heat map

  • The South takes the lead with the most cities that have an average monthly rent of less than $1,200. Tulsa, OK tops the list with an average one-bedroom costing only $688 a month. Other Southern cities in the top 10 include Lubbock and El Paso, TX, Greensboro, NC and Oklahoma City.
  • San Antonio, TX is the most populated city with an average monthly rent less than the standard stimulus check. It just makes the cut at $1,131. This is good news for the percentage of the 1.5 million residents who rent. All of which are patiently waiting for the Alamo, River Walk and authentic Mexican restaurants the city is known for, to reopen.
  • For couples sharing a one-bedroom, having double the stimulus checks to apply to rent opens up the ability to live somewhere a little more expensive. Cities like Phoenix, Dallas, New Orleans, Sacramento and Philadelphia all have average monthly rents coming in below $2,400, but above $1,200.

Curious to see where your city lands? This is where your stimulus check will go the furthest in paying rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the 100 most populated cities.

Two-bedroom apartments

If you happen to live alone in a two-bedroom, not to worry. There are 18 cities out of the 100 most populated in the U.S. that have average monthly rents less than $1,200. If there are two of you picking up the tab, that number jumps to 77 cities.

Number 77 is Atlanta, and at only $2,233 on average for rent, you still have enough left over to order delivery from your favorite restaurant.

2 bedroom heatmap

  • It’s the South and Midwest that offer the best average monthly rent for two-bedroom apartments. Wichita, KS ranks No. 1 with an average rent of only $827. With $2,400 in stimulus money, that’s almost three month’s rent, should you need it.
  • Houston is the largest city in the country where two people sharing a two-bedroom apartment can get a month’s worth of rent from their $2,400 in stimulus money. The average two-bedroom apartment there is about $1,650, so you’ll even have money left over.
  • Even a little break is better than nothing if you live in the most expensive U.S. cities. Los Angeles, New York, Boston and San Francisco residents can use their $2,400 stimulus checks to pay up to 44 percent of a month’s rent in a two-bedroom apartment.

A second bedroom opens up a lot of space but generally is more expensive. Here’s a look at how much rent relief you’ll get from stimulus checks in the 100 most populated cities.

Getting paid

If you received your previous tax refund through direct deposit, that’s most likely how you’ll get your stimulus check. It’s also the fastest method of delivery, and many people have already had their checks pop up in their accounts.

The alternative option is getting your check through the mail, but this takes longer. You can check on the status of stimulus checks on the IRS website.

Making the most of stimulus checks

However you decide to spend your stimulus check, putting it back into the economy in some way is what the money is all about. “The objective of a stimulus package is to reinvigorate the economy and prevent or reverse a recession by boosting employment and spending,” says Adam Hayes from Investopedia.

Whether that means you cover rent, pay your bills, treat yourself to an Amazon splurge or spend a little extra on groceries, putting that money out there helps everyone. Get out there and give the economy a little boost and yourself a break.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and’s multifamily rental property inventory from March 2019 to March 2020. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.

Published at Fri, 24 Apr 2020 14:57:31 +0000

7 Coronavirus Elevator Safety Tips You Need to Follow

The ups and downs of elevator safety during coronavirus.

As the coronavirus pandemic continues to roar across the United States and the world, getting the right information to stay safe in every situation can be overwhelming. Normally, having an elevator in your apartment building can feel like a luxury, but during a pandemic, it can quickly become an anxiety-inducing activity.

According to Johns Hopkins research, the coronavirus tends to last longer on frequently touched hard surfaces like elevator button panels vs. soft surfaces like your clothes. Apartment complexes across the U.S. have taken note of this, like Brookfield Management, and regularly clean highly-traffic areas to keep residents safe.

“Our third-party cleaning company cleans all of our common areas twice a week, and they have added the following: disinfecting all door knobs, disinfecting all stair rails, cleaning and disinfecting all basement doors and fully disinfecting all laundry rooms,” says Justin Becker, the owner of Brookfield Management.

Sure, you started taking the stairs more often to walk the dog and go outside, giving you some much-needed exercise. But if you proceed with caution and follow these seven coronavirus elevator safety steps, you can protect yourself (and your neighbors) as much as possible.

1. If you can, take the stairs

Being inside all day can get old — real fast. If you’re an able-bodied person, consider skipping the elevator altogether and taking those stairs. It will help stretch your legs after sitting at your desk all day, it engages multiple muscles in a low-cardio exercise and it improves balance.

Just keep an eye on your hands and don’t touch any doorknobs or handrails. If you can’t push your stair door with your body and must turn the doorknob, bring gloves or use a napkin to turn it. Don’t touch your face or mouth during this time. If there’s another neighbor taking the stairs, step to the side in between flights and wait for them to walk by. It’s important to keep as much distance as possible.

2. Strategize your timing

If you live on a high-rise or can’t take the stairs, that’s OK. You just need to take extra precautions when riding the elevator. If you need to take the dog out for a walk, throw away your trash or hit the mailroom, try to go early in the morning (think 7 a.m.) or late at night, if possible.

By avoiding the busiest times in the elevator, you have the ability to ride alone and not ride in a small space with other neighbors.


3. Wait your turn

Unfortunately, sometimes you have to ride the elevator during peak hours. That’s OK, too! But patience is key during these times. Leave your apartment with a 10- to 15-minute buffer if you can.

When the elevator doors open, and you see two or more riders, skip it. At most, you should only ride the elevator with one other person. Unfortunately, safe elevator ridership is up to individuals and being courteous to others.

If you’re riding alone or with another neighbor and someone new wants to take the elevator, feel free to exit and use the stairs instead. It’s up to you to stay safe and kindness goes a long way during these times.

4. Stand on one side of the elevator

Once inside the elevator, stand on one side. Elevators are not large spaces, but it’s important to stand as far away as possible from the other elevator rider. Since the coronavirus is transmitted through droplets from the mouth, refrain from talking while on the elevator.

If you have to cough for any reason, cover your face with your elbow and turn away from the other person.

5. Wear a mask

Depending on where you live, you may not have access to a proper mask or have the financial means to obtain one. However, you can outfit yourself with a DIY facemask or cover your face with a bandana.

While in the elevator and beyond, make sure you don’t touch your mask or readjust. Don’t remove your mask or face covering until you’re back in your apartment.

pressing button with cloth

6. Use a cloth to press buttons

Outfit yourself with gloves or bring a pen or handkerchief that you can wash later to touch the buttons. Use the handkerchief on the same side every time to prevent skin contact. Don’t touch any buttons or doors at any time with your hands. Bring hand sanitizer with you, as well.

7. Most importantly, wash your hands

Whether you’re going on a walk or simply headed to the mailroom, it’s important to avoid touching any surfaces with your bare hands. If you have gloves, use them. If you accidentally touched something, reach in your pocket and use your hand sanitizer immediately. In the end, nothing replaces washing your hands.

Once you return to your apartment, remove your gloves from the inside (here’s how to do it correctly) and throw them away. Remove your mask from the back (don’t touch the front of the mask) and set it with your laundry. Then wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with water and soap to kill the coronavirus.

Return to the packages, if any, that you placed by the door and disinfect their contents. Lastly, disinfect your apartment’s doorknobs that you touched when you came in and you’re done.

Stay socially distant and follow coronavirus elevator safety tips

In some buildings, taking the elevator right now is unavoidable. Follow these coronavirus elevator safety tips to protect yourself and your neighbors from coronavirus.

Published at Fri, 24 Apr 2020 12:00:12 +0000

Apartment Living

How to Find an Apartment During the Coronavirus Pandemic

How to Find an Apartment During the Coronavirus Pandemic

I had to find an apartment during the coronavirus pandemic. Here’s how I did it.

A coronavirus apartment hunt may sound like the last thing anyone would do right now, as the virus continues to spread and shelter in place rules have been extended.

The majority of states in the U.S. have told its residents to stay home and practice social distancing. As of this writing, there are about 750,000 cases of coronavirus in the U.S., with roughly 70,000 recoveries.

Undoubtedly, coronavirus is hitting us hard, so the thought of moving in the near future felt impossible and overwhelming. I emailed my landlord, who said it would be OK to extend the lease. But because I had plenty of time to be inside, I decided to slowly start looking.

So, I started emailing apartments in prime areas in Oakland and realized that almost everyone got back to me. Competition for popular areas has gone down, and newer developments began slashing rent prices or even offering a month or two for free.

After searching for a few weeks, this is what I learned about my coronavirus apartment hunt and how to navigate this tricky landscape.

Note: With shelter-in-place in most states, it’s best to stay inside. This post is not encouraging you to move. Extend your lease or go month-to-month if you can. If you’ve lost your job and can’t pay rent, there are eviction moratoriums, depending on your state.

1. Virtual tours are a thing now

Many apartment leasing offices and landlords are adjusting to social distancing and offering virtual tours. On our partner site Apartment Guide, you can go on a virtual tour with a leasing agent or take advantage of extensive video and 3D tours.

virtual tours on apartment guide

You can then contact the property via email or phone. (Soon you’ll also be able to submit your application through the site as well.) The property will request you fill out a lease application, send the application fee and submit pay stubs. They may also ask you for your credit score and run a background check, which may be included in the application fee.

Pro tip: This is a great time to negotiate, so if you notice anything in the video that concerns you, bring it up in the follow-up conversation. For example, in the apartment I am moving into, the door to the bathroom was sticky, so I asked them to either replace the door or have it fixed.

2. Potential tenants may get to enter the unit without meeting an agent

Perhaps signing a lease on an apartment “sight-unseen” makes you uncomfortable. That’s perfectly understandable. If you’re interested in an apartment, ask if the building can leave the door unlocked.

Many places I looked at left a phone number for me to call, so I could be buzzed into the building without someone having to meet me.

3. Ask for discounts

Normally, I would never even consider asking for a discount on rent, especially for units that are in a prime location with tons of competition. However, uncertain times may mean people are willing to be more flexible, so I started asking if there were any deals they could offer me. I asked for a $150 discount on rent, and I got it.

I was also able to negotiate a temporarily reduced price on rent for the first two months.

In addition to asking for discounts on rent, you could ask if the landlord has any wiggle room for the following:

  • Discount or deferment of the security deposit
  • Waive or defer the application fee or pet fees

4. Reiterate the fact that you’re a stable tenant

It’s a good time to be braggy. Landlords are probably feeling the strain of filling empty apartments and want to know they’re renting to the right person, not the only person.

Give them peace of mind by showing them your strong credit score, your steady income and zero prior evictions.

man moving during coronavirus

5. Stagger your schedule with movers

This part might be tricky, because many moving businesses may be temporarily shut down due to coronavirus. Start by asking the landlord or management office if they know of any movers who are still operating.

At the time of writing, TaskRabbit, an online service with individual helpers and movers, is still open, however, they’re adhering to the social-distancing mandate.

Pack your valuable items ahead of time and leave the big stuff for the movers.

It may be challenging, but on moving day, you could pack your car ahead of time and head over to your new place before the movers, so you’re staggering the schedule and potentially lessening physical interaction.

Making the decision to move or stay put

Moving to a new place is stressful enough — throw a worldwide pandemic into the mix and it just got that much more stressful.

If you’re not finding a lot of places offering virtual tours or keyless entries (without having to meet someone at the building), consider going month-to-month or asking your building or landlord if they can extend your lease.

Of course, the best-case scenario would be to stay put until the virus is better contained and shelter in place orders are lifted.

Remember to always stay six feet apart from others in public, wear a mask and wash your hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds when you return home.

Published at Tue, 21 Apr 2020 12:05:14 +0000

25 Denver Facts That All Locals Know to Be True

It’s more than just the mountains, but there are a lot of them, too.

If you’ve ever signed a lease in Denver, you know what it’s like to plant roots in the Mile High City. You understand the city’s appreciation for quality craft beer, you spend all your free time outside, you care about recycling and you root for the Broncos.

Don’t try to argue with someone from Colorado about these Denver facts

1. Denver isn’t necessarily bohemian or grungy, but its people have certainly embraced an outdoorsy, yoga-in-the-park culture.

2. It’s big on its breweries. Each year, the city hosts several beer festivals, plus Beer Week: the largest beer competition in the nation.

3. If you plan to ski on the weekends, expect to sit in traffic for at least two hours —and that’s before you even try to park at a ski resort.

4. Locals love their parks, and it’s not uncommon to see any given park in Denver littered with locals (and their dogs and bikes) on a Saturday or Sunday.

5. Speaking of parks and beer, to initiate as a local you must have a picnic in the park (and that picnic must include some beer).

6. The Mile High City is known for its transplant-friendly attitude — mostly because most locals are transplants themselves.

7. Most of Denver is pretty sheened up with high rises (oh, and Denver has some of the highest rent costs in the country, by the way).

8. Denver and Salt Lake are both mountain cities, but Denver has a hipper, more robust nightlife and downtown than Salt Lake.

9. Denver is no cow town. Between art districts and crystal shops, any remnant of the cowboy vibe (other than bearded bros with banjos) is now long gone.

10. To date successfully in Denver, you need to be outdoorsy and like beer, or be great at pretending you are.

11. Most dating apps in Denver are 90 percent composed of dudes that wear cargo shorts and flip flops who also work at a tech company

12. Those in the 702 keep up on current events and are usually glued to local news apps (and are also passionate about saving planet Earth).

13. Denverites love their Mexican food, and if you head West of the city, you’ll get the best of the best.

14. Denver’s health food scene isn’t quite as dedicated as LA’s, but locals into running, hiking and biking definitely appreciate eating green and clean.

15. Colorado was one of the first states to legalize marijuana, and locals in Denver love their pot.

16. Denver’s population is primarily white working professionals in their 20s and 30s. It’s, uh, not the most diverse town.

17. The city isn’t sketchy. Denver has an especially low crime index for a city its size.

18. The mountains are to the West of Denver, and just about every local uses them to tell where they are at any given time. Instead of “Take a left at Main street,” it’s “head west once you hit Main Street.”

19. Denver’s public transit system is so-so, so if you want to really get around the city, you’ll need two sets of wheels.

20. Right next to drinking beer and taking your dog to a park, hitting up a farmer’s market is another favorite Denver pastime.

21. Denver has some of the most unpredictable weather in Colorado (Trust me on this one).

22. What Denver lacks in its food scene, it makes up for in its underground, grunge, you-heard-it-first-on-SoundCloud music scene.

23. It’s cool to ski or snowboard. Even if you fall on your butt, it’s worth it to post a cool Instagram and pretend to be a ski bum.

24. Between cliff divers and margaritas, it’s a tradition that every local goes to at least one birthday party at Casa Bonita.

25. It’s not uncommon to see drunk people cruising in the fast lane on Birds and Limes between brewery hops — so watch where you drive.

What’d we miss?

If you’re a Denver local, do you agree with our list? What did we miss? Let us know in the comments section below!

Published at Tue, 21 Apr 2020 12:00:39 +0000

Apartment Living

What to Do if You Can’t Afford Rent Payments Due to Coronavirus?

What to Do if You Can’t Afford Rent Payments Due to Coronavirus?

For the 36 percent of Americans that are renters, the virtual national business shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis is hitting hard.

With an estimated 10 to 20 million people out of work, innumerable citizens are or will soon be struggling to pay their rent on the first or 15th of the month.

Housing is the No. 1 monthly expense for most people. So, amid the spread of this novel coronavirus, rent payments may be difficult to come by.

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If you’re having trouble paying your rent — or fear you soon will be — you can follow these steps to meet your lease obligations.

Communicate with your landlord if you can’t pay your rent

For many, even the combination of unemployment compensation and government assistance isn’t enough to cover the rent along with other bills. The best plan is to discuss your situation with your landlord or property manager and come to an agreement together. And regardless of what you need or the solution you may be able to come to with them, the first step is to be honest, open and upfront with them.

“[No landlord] wants to just get a text or email saying times are tough and we need help. What is your runway on finances? When do you think you might need help if it’s not right away? Be as honest and open as you can, because this will help your landlord plan too,” Portland, OR, landlord Colin Cook told CNBC.

And your best course of action is to get ahead of the problem. Don’t wait until your rent is due to spring your need for help. Give your landlord or property manager as much notice as you can, which gives them more time to put a plan into place and also shows your willingness to follow any agreement and that you’re acting in good faith.

Of course, if possible, do all this by email or phone. Don’t make an unnecessary trip to the property manager’s office if you can avoid it, for your safety and theirs. Chances are, they are working remotely anyway.

signing lease

Ask if you can restructure your payments

The most feasible arrangement to offer your property manager is a reasonable payment plan. Present them directly with a plan based on your current needs and limitations.

  • Show your need by providing documentation or proof of the severity of your financial situation. The more you have the better, whether it’s a memo from your employer indicating the length of your layoff or a copy of your unemployment compensation application. Don’t be ashamed of needing help. Millions of Americans are in the same exact situation as you are right now.
  • Let your landlord or property manager know how much you can reasonably pay now and how much you’ll be able to pay over the next month or two. Unless you’re in dire straits, you should offer to pay at least some of your rent. If you offer something, they’re more likely to agree to your plan.
  • Give them a specific date when you’ll be paying back the remainder, along with full payment of that month. Stick to that date. If you can’t, discuss an extension with your landlord as early as you can.
  • Provide all of this in writing, signed and awaiting their countersignature. Make it as easy for them as possible.
  • Assure them that this is only temporary until the crisis is over and that you do not anticipate this happening again.

There’s a chance the landlord will request a late fee to be paid at the time of settlement. Feel free to ask that it be waived if you’re a good tenant who has previously always paid on time. Your landlord might also present a counteroffer.

Know before you go in exactly how much you can afford and be clear about your limits. And if they’re not open to rent restructuring, ask them what solutions they may be willing to offer. All apartment communities will be handling this situation in a slightly different way, so don’t assume that this your only option or demand that your property manager accommodate you.

Have empathy for your landlord

We might think of our landlords as giant corporations getting rich off of our rents. But the truth is, almost half of rental properties are individually owned, mom and pop landlords and people just like us investing in real estate.

They’re also under stress from the coronavirus crisis with property taxes, insurance and mortgages coming due, repairs and upkeep to make and property managers and maintenance staff salaries to pay, with rent their only source of income. Even large rental companies will feel the pinch as they have difficulty covering expenses, utilities and mortgages.

Most landlords want to help you in this time of need, but they aren’t immune to the economy themselves. Be kind, have empathy and be patient with your landlord or property manager. Absolutely avoid making demands because you are asking them for help.

And don’t take advantage of the situation. If you can afford your rent, keep paying it. That will only lead to them being able to assist other tenants and staff.

stressed person

What if your landlord can’t or won’t help?

If your landlord is not willing or not able to help restructure your payments or offer any rent relief, you do have some other options.

1. Apply for rental assistance

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website offers links to a number of helpful resources for rental assistance, such as state or local financial assistance programs.

As well, the Salvation Army and Catholic Charities may also be sources of rental support. You can also contact the United Way by dialing 2-1-1 to be connected to local organizations that may be able to help.

And if you or anyone in your household is a veteran, HUD and the U.S. Veterans Administration has programs that can help with rent.

2. Take out a loan

If you have solid credit and can prove that despite the current crisis you’re a trusted recipient, you can turn to your bank and apply for a short-term loan. Banks will take into account your financial history and may be willing to loan you enough money to take care of rent and expenses.

Do you own a small business? Then you can apply for a Small Business Administration Disaster Loan. These loans are not only available for you to help keep your business afloat or pay employees but to keep your home and bills paid, as well. And through the Paycheck Protection Program portion of the federal government’s stimulus package, additional types of businesses can qualify for small business loans.

3. Take advantage of the CARES Act

The CARES Act, the $2.2 trillion stimulus package passed last month, is offering a cash payment to most every American. The majority of those individuals making under $75,000 (or $112,500 as head of household) will receive a stimulus check of $1,200, plus an additional $500 per household with a dependent (a bit less for those making up to $99,000 individually or $146,000 as head of household). These payments have already started appearing in some bank accounts.

And for Americans who have lost their job due to the coronavirus crisis, the CARES Act is also providing an additional $600 a week for those receiving unemployment compensation through their state during the shutdown, on top of their regular payment, for up to 39 weeks.

Some states are also offering even more assistance to their citizens who lease. For example, Delaware is providing a payment of up to $1,500 for renters who have lost their income. Be sure to check if your state or city is offering similar programs.

The federal and state governments are encouraging Americans to use this stimulus money to help pay bills, including rent.

What shouldn’t you do?

It’s understandable that desperate times call for desperate measures. And for many people, this may be their first time in this sort of situation. Even if you can’t figure out other options, don’t put yourself in a situation where you kick the can down the road that will only make things worse.

  • Don’t send your landlord a check you know will bounce. You won’t accomplish anything but angering your landlord and possibly setting yourself up for future eviction. And worse, you’ll still owe the money.
  • Don’t just ignore the problem in hopes that it will go away. No one knows how this crisis will play out and the last thing you want to do is have unpaid bills and no recourse for how to resolve them. Your rent isn’t going anywhere, even if you ignore it.
  • Avoid turning to payday lenders and car title loan companies to find quick cash. In the end, you’ll be paying much more in the long run and putting yourself at risk of damaging your credit.
  • We’ve mentioned this a few times already, but don’t demand that your landlord or property manager needs to help you. They do want to work with you, but they aren’t going to let you live rent-free.
  • Lastly, and hopefully it goes without saying, absolutely don’t skip out on your rent. If you need assistance, speak up sooner than later.

Are you going to be evicted if you can’t pay?

If you can’t pay your rent on time due to income loss related to the coronavirus shutdown, are you in danger of being evicted? Most likely, no.

The CARES Act includes a freeze on evictions of tenants for non-payment in buildings financed by federally-backed mortgages (like those subsidized by Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae and HUD). However, this protection only applies to about a quarter of all renters, with the rest funded by banks and private lenders.

For those not covered in the stimulus, most states and a number of individual municipalities have issued their own stays of eviction, many in place between one and three months. Keep in mind, a few locales do require some type of proof you have suffered a loss of income due to the shutdown.

But just because your city or state has passed a moratorium on eviction doesn’t mean all landlords are aware of the new rules. If your landlord does attempt an eviction and you believe you’re protected, check with the local sheriff, who in most cities is the one that carries out evictions and knows the temporary restrictions.

Eventually, you have to pay

Be aware: Just because you’re a beneficiary of an eviction moratorium, doesn’t mean you never have to pay. These provisions are deferments, not cancellations. Just because you can’t be evicted now, doesn’t mean you can’t after the crisis has ended. If you didn’t pay knowing you couldn’t be evicted, plan to pay back any months you didn’t pay once the situation has normalized.

“A moratorium isn’t a pass to skip paying rent. It means that your landlord cannot sue you for nonpayment or pursue the eviction process while the moratorium is in place,” debt resolution attorney and author Leslie Tayne told The Huffington Post.

However, there are a number of housing rights groups advocating a movement to end rental obligations during the crisis, most notably under the #CancelRent banner. The effort is requesting the federal government subsidize property owners so rent can be exempted. While unlikely, renters should keep an eye on the story.

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice. Readers are encouraged to seek professional financial or legal advice as they may deem it necessary.



Published at Fri, 17 Apr 2020 14:07:58 +0000

What To Do if You Run Out of Toilet Paper?

Don’t wait until you’re running low to consider toilet paper alternatives. Shoppers hoarding toilet paper during the coronavirus pandemic have forced us all to examine our bathroom habits. Suddenly, a private matter has become a very public conversation.

While there really aren’t any true toilet paper alternatives (that can be safely flushed, anyway), there are other options. With a little planning, conservation and creative thinking, you can handle toilet paper shortages with confidence, minimize shopping trips and help keep your apartment community safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

Shop smart and plan ahead

Stock up the best you can. Add toilet paper to your grocery pick-up or delivery order and look for it every single time you shop. Be reasonable about what you purchase, or you become part of the panic buying problem. You just need enough to get you through two weeks, the amount of time you’ll need to self-isolate if you become ill.

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If toilet paper is missing on the shelves, try ordering it and other staples online. You can also call ahead to check availability at local stores to minimize the amount of time you spend in the building.

In a pinch, you can grab toilet paper alternatives like tissues, paper towels or wipes. These aren’t flushable, no matter what the packages say (more on that later), but they’ll get you through until your next shopping trip.

toilet paper

Conserve what you have

Save toilet paper for using the toilet only. If you’re in the habit of reaching for the roll to wipe your nose, dab at shaving nicks or clean up small spills, now is the time to switch to more appropriate materials, like tissues, napkins or paper towels.

Since these paper products are also in high demand, try using dishrags or towels for spills or a handkerchief for runny noses instead. Just make sure you’re washing them often.

Once you actually need to use the toilet, consider if you really need to use as much toilet paper as you normally would. When supplies are plentiful, it’s easy to mindlessly use a lot of toilet paper. Kids are the most common culprits, gleefully grabbing handfuls at a time, but adults can be surprisingly wasteful, too. So, monitor your own habits during times of scarcity.

Toilet paper alternatives

OK, so you’ve shopped smart and conserved toilet paper and you still ran out. Now what?

First of all, don’t panic. Toilet paper was only invented in 1857, so people have been making do without it for centuries.

Reach for the toilet paper alternatives you’ve already purchased. The most logical and readily available options are tissues, napkins, paper towels, personal cleansing wipes and baby wipes.

Anything other than toilet paper should be discarded in a small wastepaper basket lined with a plastic bag. A scented bag or the addition of a dryer sheet or air freshener will mask odors if you’re squeamish. Take the garbage out more often, just to keep things smelling fresh.

This solution seems strange to many Americans, but a wastepaper basket is common in Europe, where historic buildings and aging pipes mean any toilet paper at all is a strain to the system. If you can handle it on vacation, you can manage during your unexpected staycation.

You can also upgrade your toilet with another European solution — the bidet. A bidet gently rinses the area in question with water, reducing or eliminating the need for toilet paper altogether. Hand-held bidets are an affordable solution for apartment dwellers.


The consequences of flushing

It can be tempting to flush tissues, paper towels and wipes. But even though they feel like toilet paper, they don’t break down like toilet paper, explains Tom Bigley, Director of Plumbing Services for United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters. And that creates big problems when they enter the pipes.

“Anything other than toilet paper is going to be a problem because when they design the toilets, they base the engineering on how much water is needed to flush biodegradable paper and solids,” says Bigley. “If it’s not biodegradable, it’s going to leave it behind. It won’t transport the sewage to the sewer effectively. The water goes by and leaves the solids behind, so what happens is we start having stoppages.”

A flood of waste and water in your apartment isn’t ideal under any circumstances. But it’s even worse when you’re sheltering in place. Plus, you might have to wait longer than usual, because plumbers are in high demand.

“They’re getting more (calls) than normal because people are flushing things down. What I’ve been hearing is that people have been using baby wipes, Kleenex, paper towels.” – Tom Bigley, Director of Plumbing Services for United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters

Personal cleansing wipes often say that they’re flushable on the package. But Bigley says they don’t break down properly and are responsible for many stoppages. That stoppage might not just affect your apartment — it can affect your neighbors, too.

“Let’s use the scenario of a six-story building with, let’s say, 12 units,” says Bigley. “If somebody on the sixth floor is flushing something down that they shouldn’t be, it’s going to have consequences for everyone in the building. The stoppage is going to back up into the first floor. You’re not going to be able to use your water until it’s repaired.”

Plan, conserve and deal with toilet paper alternatives

Since many of your neighbors are working from home and most people are spending more time indoors, this is definitely not the time to flood their apartments and inconvenience the whole building.

A little planning, conservation and toilet paper alternatives will help you navigate a toilet paper shortage until the shelves are fully stocked again.



Published at Thu, 16 Apr 2020 20:12:23 +0000

Apartment Living

9 Apps to Help you Stay Connected While Social Distancing

9 Apps to Help you Stay Connected While Social Distancing

As the coronavirus keeps most of us at home in our apartments, the lack of in-person human contact is less than ideal. Luckily there are many ways to stay connected while social distancing. We have put together a list of nine apps to help you stay-in-touch with family and friends.


Facetime is a free app that allows up to 32 people to connect straight from their Apple device. This app is built into every iOS device, so connecting with others is a breeze.

Google Hangouts

Google Hangouts can be used for messaging or free video or voice calls with one person or a whole group (up to 25 in fact). Hangouts is a free smartphone app or Google Chrome Extension. It can be used on any kind of smartphone and even has fun features like photos, stickers, and emojis.


Facebook offers a range of virtual connectivity options. In addition to sharing statuses and commenting on someone’s wall, there is Facebook Messaging, which can be between two people or a whole group, allowing for a chat or texting option. Facebook also has a new feature called Watch Party. With this feature, the host can pick out a queue of Facebook videos and line them up for the party. The host invites friends and they can see and hear each other, as well as comment on the videos. Bring on the goat videos!

Marco Polo

Think of Marco Polo as email, but with videos. This app allows you to exchange video messages at your leisure. The app also stores your content, so they won’t disappear after you open them. Even better, it is ad-free.


An oldie but a goodie. Skype is one of the original (video) chat apps. It’s a great choice for groups of up to 50 people – you can even call landlines for a small fee.


Watch YouTube videos, hand-picked TV shows, and movies, or listen and share music with friends in realtime with Airtime.


Use the Houseparty split-screen feature and enjoy hanging out with seven of your closest friends and chat face-to-face.

Netflix Party

Host long-distance movie nights with Netflix Party. Simply install the Google Chrome Extension to start binge-watching your favorite Netflix movies and shows while video chatting with your friends.


No, this isn’t an actual party – the Rave app allows you to sync video content from YouTube, Reddit, Google Drive, Dropbox and Viki with friends in real-time via chat and voice calls. Even enjoy an in-home karaoke party!

What other apps are you using to stay connected? Comment below!

Published at Sun, 12 Apr 2020 15:53:38 +0000

Free At-Home Workout Videos to Try During Quarantine

Staying healthy and in shape while quarantined is totally doable. Even if you have no equipment or very little time, there are many great options to help you exercise in your apartment. Here’s a list of some of our favorite at-home workout videos. They include yoga, Zumba, CrossFit, Bootcamp-style classes, kickboxing, and barre exercises.

Yoga with Adriene

Find a yoga practice that suits your mood with Yoga by Adriene. If you’re brand-new to yoga, check out the Yoga For Beginners and Foundations of Yoga series. For those of you experiencing back pain, she also features Yoga For Back Pain practices on her channel.

COREPower Yoga

COREPower Yoga is offering free access to a limited collection of online yoga and meditation classes on their website.


POPSUGAR Fitness offers an extensive library of fitness tutorials, workouts, and exercises with celebrity trainers on their YouTube channel, covering the most buzzed-about workout classes and trends, including the Victoria’s Secret workout, Tabata, P90X, Bar Method, and more.


A fitness-focused YouTube channel led by Maddie Lymburner, MadFit features free workout videos on everything from no-equipment workouts to apartment-friendly workouts to low-impact ones. Try a full-body HIIT workout or focus on just one area: Whatever your workout preference, MadFit has a heart-pumping video for you.

STRONG by Zumba

Torch and tone with STRONG by Zumba. This high-intensity workout combines cardio and muscle-conditioning moves to the beat of some fantastic music!


Cassey Ho, the fitness guru behind the hugely popular Blogilates YouTube channel and website
continues to offer a massive library of Pilates-style toning classes. In
response to the outbreak, she also created a 14-day quarantine workout plan, a great option
for those looking to add structure to their at-home workout schedules. 

Orangetheory Fitness

ORANGETHEORY is sharing a new 30-minute workout video each day, featuring some of its most popular coaches from around the world

305 Fitness

305 FITNESS is offering cardio dance live streams twice a day on their YouTube channel. The sessions are held at 12pm and 6pm ET.


YMCA launched on-demand exercise and youth programs called YMCA 360, including barre, boot camp, yoga and more to support the health and well-being of everyone staying home

Amazon Prime Video

If you’re an Amazon Prime member, you
already have free access to a varied library of fitness videos, including
cardio programs such as 21-Day
Transformation from GymRa
. Just head to
Prime Video and search for “fitness,” then check the
“Prime” box in the left sidebar to see what’s available for

Published at Fri, 03 Apr 2020 16:51:07 +0000

Apartment Living

Should You Pay Rent During The Covid-19 Eviction Moratorium?

Should You Pay Rent During The Covid-19 Eviction Moratorium?

Posted on April 09, 2020 11:28 am

If you decided not to pay rent in April 2020, you are in good company. About 31% of renters did not pay on time, according to the National Multifamily Housing Council. Clearly this is a time of financial hardship for many, and governors everywhere have announced a halting of foreclosures and evictions.

Only 69% of renters paid on-time

Ignore The Headlines – Bad But Not So Bad

So far, all of the headlines have said 1/3 of America is not paying their rent. That sounds horrible, but that’s the problem with sensational headlines. Everyone reads it and assumes we dropped instantly from 100% of people paying rent to every third household becoming deadbeats. It’s not true.

Just the month prior, for rent due March 1st, prior to almost all of the USA Covid-19 spread, only 81% of households paid their rent on time according to the same data source, the NMHC. And that was the month following all-time highs for the economy on many fronts (record low unemployment with record high stock markets).

It also helps to look at one year prior, where 82% of households paid rent on time. So 81% to 69% is the number. Yes, it’s a big blow to landlords. An increase from the usual 19% delinquent renters to 31%. More than a 50% increase in late or unpaid rent. But it’s not the mass wave of deadbeats suggested, where an apartment complex has 300 paying tenants and suddenly 100 of them stop.

Any Data Bias?

We are always mindful of any strange bias sources in the data. The 69% number comes from rent-collection and property management software such as Yardi / Appfolio. Who uses these? Mostly large, multi-family property managers who own big apartments complexes. There is a large number of tenant and landlord relationships that use more old-fashioned methods: the monthly check, or monthly cash payment.

Whether or not smaller landlords will see better payment patterns in unclear, but I would lean towards slightly better than the 69%. The relationship is more personal than a big, faceless company, and unfortunately collections is probably more stringent, with tenant rights not always respected.

Published at Thu, 09 Apr 2020 15:28:20 +0000

A Distant Light

Today Evan mentioned he sees a light at the end of the tunnel, regarding the virus-related lock-down that has crippled so many businesses, including real estate brokerages. It’s been a long, dark tunnel so far, with many people dealt irreparable hardship. But the NYC numbers are improving — or at least there hope that the curve is reaching the peak.

Hard To Tell – But There Is Hope

We don’t want to spend too much time calling the peak. It’s actually to hard to tell, but at least the news is reasonable.



West Coast To East Coast – All Hopeful

New York has been the epicenter (along with our usual Tri-state bedfellows). Next hardest hit is the SF Bay Area and Washington State. The news is looking good there as well!



Did We Flatten The Curve?

Thanks to MOST people following the stay-home orders, and the virus incubation period of approximately 7-14 days, we are in much better shape than we might have been. We may never know the full extent of how bad it could have gone, but there is clear evidence that late March saw the fastest growth rates — approximately 7-14 days after most cities finally issued orders to stay at home.

Of course, flattening the curve serves multiple purposes: reducing the overall number of infections is obvious. We also reduce the magnitude of the peak and delay the speed we reach the peak, to relieve strain on the medical system.

The RentHop And RealtyHop Curves Are Trending Back

Our own traffic analytics seems promising as well. Our curve is quite anti-correlated to the Covid-19 new infections curve. The first half of March saw an amazing year-over-year increase in traffic and leads — only to slowly falter in the 2nd week of March.



By Monday March 16th, the first day NYC Schools closed down, we fell off a cliff along with every other real estate and lead generation site. But our team is hard at work to do everything possible to help our customers make it through. This is the first week we are seeing a healthy increase on both the nyc rentals and nyc condo and co-op sales sites. Fingers crossed. But we start by saying we see a distant light…

So What Actually Happens in May, June, and Beyond?

Even when we cross the peak, even when hospitals finally reach a manageable load, then what? The vaccine won’t be out for at least 12 months, so say the experts. But it’s completely impractical to keep everything shut down until then. Will we reach a weird new normal, where everyone still tries to work from home? How about real estate showings?

We have no idea. We will take it one week at a time, but our team is here and ready to serve the landlord, broker, and nyc sublets community.

Published at Tue, 07 Apr 2020 06:44:14 +0000

Apartment Living

A Cozy Astoria Apartment Has a Wonderfully Warm and Cheery Color Palette

A Cozy Astoria Apartment Has a Wonderfully Warm and Cheery Color Palette

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.

Name: Justin Russo and Pierce Atkins
Location: Ditmars neighborhood — Astoria, NYC
Size: 1,200 square feet
Years Lived In: 11 year, renting

New York-based artist and illustrator Justin Russo has lived in this apartment for a long time. Eleven years ago he found it on Craigslist, and after many years of different roommates and “mismatched furnishings,” he was finally able to make this two-bedroom home is own. Now sharing it with his partner Pierce, the apartment is full of warm colors, green plants, and lots of references to old movies.

Justin’s Warm and Cheery Astoria Apartment | House Tours

“My home feels like an homage to postwar New York, which is my favorite historical and artistic period,” says Justin. “I am a cinephile and art geek and each time I open my front door, it feels like I am stepping back into a period of creative frenzy. The apartment is on the second floor of a two-story home (very typical for Astoria) and was built in 1925. Seemingly unlike most of the HGTV generation, I prefer nooks and closed-off spaces. My home is resplendent with these details.”

Justin, who you might have seen on “Fire Island,” is also the host of an LGBT travel show, “Check Your Luggage,” premiering soon on HereTV! and Amazon Prime. You can find more of Justin’s art on Etsy.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: I lovingly call my style “Secretly Gay WWII Veteran Returning to NY in 1946 to Mourn His Lover Lost in Battle.”  I think of it as Film Noir meets Technicolor.

Inspiration: Essentially that period of time where immediate postwar meets mid-century modern. The sets of such films as “Mildred Pierce” or “The Big Sleep” without a film studio’s budget.

Favorite Element: I love how the living room and bedroom are connected via double doors. The bedroom has a large picture window and lets in a lot a light, warming up the entire space. This also enables us to easily create privacy or enlarge the living area when necessary.

I also love how a color scheme has been introduced throughout the entire place as it makes the home cohesive and connective. I’ve tried to keep the palette colorful and bright but manageable: teal, burnt oranges, golden yellow, and navy.

Biggest Challenge: In an older home and a rental, there are lots of particular issues of age to overcome. The kitchen, hall, and bathroom still need to be brought to life. The cabinets have been painted white (from a dark brown) to lighten the space. The hall has a built-in curio cabinet that was initially closed off. The doors were removed, and the shelves are now a bar.

Proudest DIY: Older homes tend to lack closet space. I turned an alcove in the studio into a functional storage space for my clothes and turned a very narrow “closet” (a closed space over the staircase) into a shoe closet using shelving from Home Depot and the help of my mom (who is an organizational whiz).

Biggest Indulgence: The orange sectional was definitely a splurge but easily the best purchase for the space. My sister helped source the piece and we somehow bought it at a steep discount. I also have an obsessive personality, hence the multiple photos of Lauren Bacall, bevy of art and film books, and an assortment of plants. I sometimes hide new books from my boyfriend.

Best Advice: Not everyone has a fully realized concept of their style but ultimately, if you are drawn to a color or a piece, start there. I drew my color inspiration from a 1942 “Casablanca” film poster and my love for a particular era. If something speaks to you, own it.

What’s your best home
My tendency for neatness has
been passed along from my great-grandparents. One can have many items, say a
pile of books, and it feel open as long as the space is organized. Simply put,
finishing chores promptly (i.e. doing dishes after cooking) rather than waiting
keeps a home in order.

Published at Tue, 07 Apr 2020 16:00:00 +0000

22 Projects to Up Your Curb Appeal While You’re Stuck at Home This Spring

Every homeowner knows the joy (or, in some cases, agony) of showing up to their home after a long day at work and seeing it as the rest of the world does. This “first impression” of your home is known as its curb appeal, and perhaps unsurprisingly, it can have a big impact on your home’s value. 

According to Rick Slachta, a real estate agent with RE/MAX Professionals in Stillwater, Minn., your home’s curb appeal can add between three and five percent to its value, as long as your exterior is in good shape. 

The better that first impression goes, the more likely potential buyers are to put in an offer on your place. So how do you make sure your home’s curb appeal is up to snuff? “It’s not about doing one big project to increase curb appeal, but rather a number of small projects that can showcase the pride in ownership,” Slachta says. 

Here are 22 ideas (both big and small) that you can get started on this spring to try and maximize your home’s curb appeal.

1. Update fixtures and hardware

Don’t underestimate the difference new fixtures and hardware can make. Swapping outdated lighting, or well-worn door knobs and hinges, can give your home an instant facelift (without lifting too much out of your wallet). Shops like Rejuvenation and offer unique options that can be ordered online. It’s also worth phoning your locally owned hardware store to see if you can coordinate a pick-up order.

This isn’t just an aesthetic problem: Broken, drooping, and clogged gutters can present a structural problem to your home as well. Make sure that all the rain gutters on your house are set to the proper pitch (away from your house and angled towards your down spout), are firmly attached (check the brackets that secure them to your roof to ensure they’re not pulling away) and that they’re free of debris. 

If that sounds like more work than you’re willing to put in every spring, consider installing gutter guards. The higher-end pieces (not the ones you get at your local home improvement store, but the ones that professional contractors install) can increase the resale value of your home further.

It seems simple enough, but keeping on top of your routine lawn maintenance can make a big difference. “Regularly care for your lawn by mowing the grass, raking off leaves, and pulling weeds,” Slachta says. Prospective buyers want to see consistency—not an overgrown lawn one week and a perfectly manicured one the next.

4. Throw down a new welcome mat

A fresh welcome mat may only cost you a few bucks, but it’ll elevate your entryway, making it appear more cared-for and more welcoming. You can splurge on a high-end version, but even a cheaper mat will do as long as it’s clean and in good shape. In our mystery makeover series, you can see how blogger Chelsea Foy transformed a humdrum brown welcome mat into a one-of-a-kind piece for $50.

It’s often a forgotten feature—especially when they’re more decorative than functional—but if your house has shutters, you should take care to show they’re in tip-top shape. That could mean a fresh coat of paint for weather-worn plastic ones, or repairing cracks and water damage in wooden ones. Just beware, darkly colored shutters are a haven for wasp nests, so don’t get stung!

That goes for your shrubs, your grass, and even your flowers. Vibrant green yards will always look better than ones that have brown spots on the lawn or dying plants in the garden. 

7. Slap on a fresh coat of paint 

Touch up your front door, your mailbox, your fence post, and the trim around your windows. Basically, touch up anywhere your paint is looking worse for wear. 

8. Up your garden’s ‘wow factor’

You don’t need to spend a lot of money refilling your garden bed with expensive plants and shrubs, but you can splurge on a few fancy ones that’ll make a big difference for your garden’s ambiance. Before splurging, make sure you check that the plants you’ve picked will do well in the natural lighting, soil, and drainage that your home already has.

Adding lighting where none exists can do two things: Illuminate the positives (like all those new flowers you just spent your entire weekend planting) and increase your security. Both will thrill any prospective buyers. Slachta says shining a light on your yard is easier than ever thanks to solar powered LED lights. 

“With this option you don’t need to spend time or money digging trenches and hooking up wires,” he says. “String lights around the top of the porch, install post lights to highlight walkways and natural areas, or even a put up security light or two to make buyers feel safe.”

Do you have a muddy patch in your yard? A shady spot where you can’t seem to get grass to take? Add some hardscaping. You can talk with a pro about installing patio pavers or spend a few weekends putting them in yourself. Either way, this splurge is an investment that extends your home’s living area by adding a lounge space outside. 

If you want a more elevated place to kick back outside, consider building a deck. With the low-maintenance materials, available on the market today, like composite and fiber cement, you can spend a little extra up front and end up with a deck that doesn’t require refinishing every other year. That’s an investment that pays off in time saved if you plan to stay in your home for a few years. 

12. Fake it ‘til you make it

If you live somewhere dry, or where grass has a tough time growing, consider lawn alternatives like shrub beds, decomposed granite, water-wise plants, artificial turf, or a combo of the four. Not only will it look better, but it’ll be lower maintenance, which means it will continue to get better looking without requiring extra attention from you.

Increasing your outdoor storage space can benefit you in a few ways. Not only does it mean you can put unsightly things away when you’re not using them, like lawn equipment and children’s toys, but it also gives potential buyers more places to imagine storing their own stuff. This can be especially beneficial if you don’t have basement or attic storage, or if those spaces aren’t easy to access. 

If you want to make a high-impact change, consider updating your home’s exterior. Replace old asbestos tiles (contact your local municipality to confirm disposal requirements first) or upgrade dated aluminum siding with fresh vinyl materials. 

If eyes are the windows to the soul, then your home’s windows are, well, the windows to your home’s soul. Replacing all of your home’s windows at once can be expensive, but it adds both immediate and long-term value in the boost to your curb appeal—not to mention the savings to your energy bill.

16. Replace the numbers on your mailbox

It’s a quick, cheap, and easy change, as well as one that can make a huge impact if your mailbox has unappealing sticker-style numbers, or rusted, rotting ones.

This is another big resale value add. Installing a fence offers your home a defined property line as well as security. And it’s great for letting potential buyers know that their children (or pets) would feel safe and at home in your yard.

18. Repair, replace, restore

Anything that is visibly broken should be repaired or replaced in order to keep up your home’s appearance. This means missing shingles, cracked siding, or busted sections of fence. Anything that isn’t in tip-top shape may make potential buyers wonder what else you’ve been neglecting, and that’s a question that’ll make them look harder at other areas of your home.  

19. Reseal driveways and hardscaping

If you have an asphalt driveway, you should be resealing it once every three years in order to keep it from cracking. If you have a regular concrete driveway, you can get away with waiting a little longer between resealing, but it should still be done every three to five years. As for your hardscaping—those patio pavers especially—you’ll want to reseal those every three years. 

While none of these are super glamorous (or highly visible) updates, they can actually bring down your home’s curb appeal if not done often enough, by allowing cracks and weeds where they wouldn’t otherwise be.

20. Freshen up your patio furniture

If you have a ratty old set of patio furniture taking up space on your front porch, now is the time to replace it or rehab it. (Try this $2 patio table makeover, or another DIY project to save a few bucks.) Even though it’s not usually something you leave behind when you move, it gives potential buyers a chance to picture themselves sitting there someday as well. 

21. Create a welcoming entryway

Make your entryway pop by adding some greenery to it. “Buy some big planters and fill them with varying heights of annuals or perennials grouped together at either side of the walkway,” Slachta suggests. “Part of increasing curb appeal is making sure that when interested parties walk up to your home, the entryway is clean, fresh, and welcoming.”

If your house already has flower boxes, make sure they are filled to the brim with brightly colored plants that will make your home look warm and welcoming. If you don’t already have flower boxes, consider adding some. The low-cost accessories can completely change the way the front of your house looks. That includes adding depth and dimension to houses with a flat exterior. 

Published at Tue, 07 Apr 2020 15:00:00 +0000

Apartment Living

How to Incorporate Nature Into Your Apartment

How to Incorporate Nature Into Your Apartment

Can’t get out and enjoy nature right now? Bring nature in your home. You may not own your dwelling, but you can still find ways to bring the outdoors inside. Whether your space is large or small, gardening enhances both your health and happiness. 

Living in the middle of a city, disconnected from nature, makes it all the more important to add some green in your life. You’ll find yourself feeling better and thinking more clearly. Here, we’ll go through the main benefits and the basics of incorporating more green space into your home.  

Plants Add Humidity 

indoor plants

Apartment plants are desirable because they add a bit of humidity to the air through transpiration, releasing moisture through small pores in their leaves. Lack of humidity usually leaves you with dry skin, and dry air can cause lung irritation and dry mouth. Recent studies suggest that increasing the humidity can also lower the odds of getting a cold or sore throat. Group a few of the right plants together in a couple of rooms, and you should see an increase in humidity. Some of the best plants for adding moisture to the air include: 

  • Rubber plant 
  • Peace lily 
  • English ivy 
  • Spider plant 

Plants Clean The Air

Taking deep, cleansing breaths is great for your health and you want to take in the purest air possible. Houseplants help with that. The NASA Clean Air Study (1989) started out as research on ways to clean the air in the Space Station. It found that certain plants filtered pollutants — including benzene, formaldehyde and trichloroethylene — out of the air. While more recent research shows plants may not work as well outside of a controlled environment, scientists agree that they are removing harmful chemicals. Here are a few of the plants recommended for scrubbing the air. 

  • Elephant ear philodendron 
  • Aloe Vera 
  • Bamboo palm 
  • Barberton daisy 

Plants Boost Mental Health 

nature apartment

Houseplants may have an even bigger impact on our mental health. Working near greenery helps with concentration and memory. Flowers can boost the feeling of happiness through their appearance and scent. Keeping them in your home makes you less stressed and more relaxed. And whether you’re growing your plants out on a balcony or indoors, they need sunlight. As the plants are exposed, so are you. Sunlight increases our brain’s release of serotonin, the hormone responsible for boosting good moods and helping you feel calm and focused. 

All plants in your apartment garden have the power to positively impact your mental health, but you may want to give careful consideration to a money tree plantWhile money doesn’t grow on treeslegend has it that carefully tending to this particular green pal brings positive energy, good luck and prosperity! It’s a great way to spruce up your apartment. 

apartment flowers

Now that you know the why, let’s talk about the how. Apartment living often comes without a yard or a large space to turn into a garden. However, you can still get your hands in the dirt by bringing nature inside. 

Use Native Plants 

Even if you don’t have a green thumb, growing plants and flowers in pots is simple. Turn them into conversation pieces by choosing native plants. These flowers and shrubs have adapted to your area’s climate over many thousands of years. They typically require less water and fertilizer. Choosing native plants celebrates the heritage of the region. Not sure where to start? The National Wildlife Federation has an easy-to-use website where you simply type in your ZIP code and suggestions pop up, along with pictures. Find out which natives are best for apartment gardening from your local garden center 

Plant an Indoor Herb Garden 

herb garden

Limited indoor space practically screams for an herb garden. It’s a bit more challenging than growing potted plants, but extremely satisfying. You can grow herbs indoors year-round or put them on your terrace or patio during the warmer months. Perennial herbs, such as mint, thyme and sage, flourish when you’re able to set them outside. Growing herbs in your apartment has many benefits, among which their homey fragrance and aesthetically pleasing appearance, as well as a constant supply of herbs to season your meals. The herbs that grow best in an apartment garden include: 

  • Chives 
  • Rosemary 
  • Oregano 
  • Parsley 
  • Thyme 

Create Living Wall Art 

A distinctive way to Incorporate nature into your apartment is by adding living wall art. Also known as a vertical gardenthis assembly of wall-mounted plants is a perfect trend for smaller apartments, with plants that grow up instead of spreading out. Think “Jack and the Beanstalk,” only classier. To create your living wall, you’ll need a support structure like a trellis, chicken wire or planters secured to the wall. Vertical gardens can get heavy, so make sure your wall has enough support. Be sure to build this green wall somewhere where it can get direct sunlight.

There’s another aspect you need to consider: how you’re going to get water and nutrients to the plants. Living wall art can be made of greenery such as ivy and pothos, flowers including roses, wisteria and morning glory, and edible plants like kiwi, peas and tomatoes. 

Use a Jungle Theme 

jungle room design

Elvis Presley knew what he was doing when he created the Jungle Room at Graceland, back in the mid ’60s. That trend is still en vogue, and it’s a great way to bring nature into your apartment if plants aren’t an option. Most people don’t decorate their entire apartment in this theme but, rather, choose a room or two. Maybe a bedroom or a hallway.

You still have the option of adding a few plants, but the right patterns and materials can create the same jungle effect. Think bamboo furniture, woven floor mats and colorful jungle wallpaper, oeven a painted mural on one wall. Mix and match green with more subdued tones of tan and brown. Throw in animal ceramics like giraffes, apes or lions. Creating a jungle-themed room is different for everyone. You can go as big or as toned-down as you like. It’s a great way to bring nature into your apartment if you don’t have the time or the desire to have an apartment garden. 


About the author: Jayce Lambert is a graduate student in Texas who loves traveling, camping, hiking, and cycling. Her love of the outdoors is apparent in her dorm room, which she adorns with hanging plants and ferns. 


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Published at Tue, 31 Mar 2020 09:43:14 +0000

Relax & De-stress: 7 Apps We Could All Use Right About Now

For many, de-stressing at the end of the day goes hand in hand with a long binge session of your favorite series and a nice glass of wine. But, nowadays, as we spend more time indoors away from hectic commutes and long office hours, the days tend to blend. What’s more, because we’re at home most of the time anyway, we might feel like there’s no particular need to put an emphasis on relaxing.

However, in times like these, when the world is challenging for all of us, mental well-being should be prioritized. And, there’s no better place to begin than with a clear mind and a positive attitude. So, we compiled a list of apps available on Android and iOS to help you de-stress and reset. From games to quick yoga and meditation sessions, check out these seven apps to help you clear your mind.

1. Headspace

Headspace tends to top many lists of mindfulness apps, and for good reason. The free basic package is enough to give you an idea of what Headspace wants and can do for you. Get your very own guide to mindfulness and meditation tips, plus learn more about your sleeping pattern and how to improve it. Most important, the app is designed to help you relieve stress, reduce anxiety and learn how to relax, in general. It also claims to be able to increase your happiness level by 16%. With all that’s going on in the world right now, we’ll take it!

2. Calm

It’s in the name. The people behind the Calm app believe calmness to be the foundation of our wellbeing, and we can only agree. The first thing you do in Calm is tell it why you need it in the first place, which personalizes the content and caters it specifically to your needs. Like most mindfulness apps, you can sign up for content on how to reduce stress and anxiety, but Calm knows our happiness often lies in the little things. So, the app goes a bit further and offers to teach you how to build self-esteem, improve your performance and develop a sense of gratitude in your everyday life.

3. Stop, Breathe & Think

Admit it. You’d rather be doing anything else than meditating for an hour at home, even if you have nothing better to do. That’s why if there were an app to help you rewire your brain and find peace and quiet in five minutes, you’d use it. Well, Stop, Breathe & Think promises to do just that. The strategy is simple: you just have to stop and analyze yourself, breathe and understand yourself, and then think about how to better yourself. Furthermore, the app offers sessions and exercises to help you along the way while keeping track of your progress. All you have to do is stop and download the app, breathe as you choose what to start with, and think no more about postponing your well-being.

4. Insight Timer

Insight Timer prides itself in being the largest free library of guided meditations, while also providing you with a cool collection of meditation music to accompany the sessions. Choose what suits you best from hundreds of titles that teach you how to manage anxiety, improve your sleep and cope with stress. The one feature that might just win you over is the meditation corner for kids. Because it’s never too early to start understanding and taking care of yourself, the app offers nearly 500 meditations to teach our children how to cultivate peace, explore and understand emotions, and so much more. If you’re still on the fence, check out the Insight Timer blog for interesting and soul-searching reads before making a decision.

5. Sworkit

At first glance, Sworkit looks like your typical workout app — until you realize it’s made the lists of best science-backed fitness apps for years, competing with the best in the business. So, what keeps Sworkit on top? For starters, it promises to get you in shape and keep you that way, no matter your level of commitment. And, it does this even if you have no time, no gym access and no personal fitness equipment. You choose the length of a session, and the app provides you a customized workout plan to give you the best results within that timeframe. Then, just select your goal (weight loss or maintenance, increased flexibility or endurance, muscle gain or toning) and how to get there (cardio, yoga, stretching or strength). There’s even a kids version!

6. Two Dots

Reducing stress through workouts and meditation is great, but nothing beats a good old game to keep you alert while also taking your mind off everyday hardships. The calming power of Two Dots lies in its simplicity. All a player has to do is connect at least two dots, make moves and advance to the next level. The app has been updated numerous times to add more attractive graphics, music, side quests and new levels, but the principle of it hasn’t changed much. If you need a dose of serotonin at your fingertips, this is the game for you.

7. The Unic

There are plenty of relaxing games out there, but another excellent choice to help you unwind and keep the stress at bay is The Unic. This one is special because it boosts not only your serotonin levels, but also your creativity. An observation game, it requires the player’s attention to distinguish between duplicate patterns and identify the one that’s unique. Pretty simple, right? This free game just might become your greatest ally in tuning out the real world for a few minutes. Plus, the results are actually more satisfying than a quick review could reveal.

As COVID-19 demands more and more of our attention, we all need a little downtime and break from the news. We hope some of these apps will help you enjoy a bit of peace and quiet.

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Published at Tue, 31 Mar 2020 09:32:11 +0000

Apartment Living




We are made of tough stuff. Now more than ever before, we need to know that we will make it through this unprecedented COVID-19 global health emergency. As an industry multifamily will remain a strong player in the US economy. But what will be the impact of this national health crisis for apartment housing?

As we look for answers in the short term, one thing is clear, no one really knows what may and can happen.  This is the time to pull together as a country and help our residents the best way we know.  First and foremost, communication will be crucial. Some apartment communities have a broadcast text or email system to keep their residents well informed in real time. Message Assist from @CallAssist247 is a simple easy way to message your residents via phone, text or email. Remote messaging is the best way to continue to maintain physical distancing. We need to be social as isolation can lead to depression and sadness for many.

In the short term, The National Apartment Association has given guidelines for their members and has been key in trying to keep pace with an event that changes hour by hour. As rents are at an all-time high and the typical renter is spending close to half of their income on rent, April 1st there will be delinquency. NAA suggests that there is no easy cookie cutter approach for how to handle default rent, but to take each situation on a case by case scenario. Perhaps partial payments? There will be many residents who have never missed a rent payment and may need to choose between food and rent. Local governments may offer some solutions. You can be helpful and keep abreast of these local resources to help your residents. Are there local food banks or state agencies that can offer some financial assistance?

What can we expect moving forward for our industry? Again no one has a crystal ball. Shelter is a basic need. Possible recession is a distinct possibility. Historically the apartment sector overall is likely to weather a recession well. We may see mobility slow as eviction and foreclosure processes evolve. The shortage of work force housing will be exacerbated by job losses from the service sector. And perhaps as more of us are working from home, the demand for commercial real estate will lessen. (Source:

We survived the subprime mortgage crisis in 2008, Black Monday in 1987 and recession in 1975. Often our greatest opportunity lies in our biggest challenges. With the strength of our nation, we will make it through this unprecedented global health crisis. As we pulled together as a country during 9/11, we will make it through Covid-19 as we are made of tough stuff!

Published at Thu, 26 Mar 2020 10:48:45 +0000

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Apartment Living

What If I Can’t Pay My Rent or Mortgage Due to Coronavirus?

What If I Can’t Pay My Rent or Mortgage Due to Coronavirus?

Over the past two weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic has at least temporarily shuttered a wide variety of small businesses, especially those in the restaurant, nightlife, hospitality, beauty, and entertainment industries. In turn, millions of people have been left with no source of income, and if you’re one of these people, you might be struggling to afford typical monthly expenses such as your rent or mortgage. The idea of not having a roof over your head might be scary, but there are steps you can take if you can’t pay your rent or mortgage due to the coronavirus – here’s what to do.

pay rent mortgage coronavirus

Don’t panic – you may be safe (for now)

If you can’t pay your rent or mortgage due to coronavirus, you may have at least temporary relief. Last week, President Trump said that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) will ban evictions and foreclosures through the end of April. In the event your landlord threatens to evict you or the bank threatens to foreclose on your apartment, you can attempt to contact HUD and have the department interfere on your behalf. It remains unclear whether HUD will require tenants and homeowners to eventually make postponed payments.

What to do if you own your apartment

If you own your apartment, begin by contacting your loan servicer. You may qualify for a special COVID-19 waiver. Once you get in touch, if your lender fails to cooperate with you and disobeys any obligations outlined in your mortgage contract, you can report your lender to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and your state attorney general’s office.

Next, reach out to your bank. Many leading banks have introduced programs to address their customers’ COVID-19 needs. As you contact your bank, keep in mind that, just as with lenders, these organizations may eventually require you to pay your mortgage even if you’re granted temporary payment delays. 

As an absolute resort, you can put your loan in forbearance. However, the immediate relief this option provides may not be worth the long-term interest that still builds on your loan. If you do pursue forbearance, no two forbearance options have the exact same terms, so ask your lender for details first before committing.

What to do if you rent your apartment

If you rent your apartment, contact your landlord as soon as possible to discuss your situation. Some landlords will be sympathetic to your situation – for example, a landlord in Maine went viral on social media for pledging not to collect rent in April. If you’re lucky, your landlord may take the same step, especially if you have a good relationship with them

If your landlord sympathizes with your situation but still needs to collect some amount of rent, you can try to discuss a reduced payment plan. For example, if your rent is $800, you can ask your landlord whether you can pay just $400 this month (or however much you can afford). If you worry that you can’t afford any rent, discuss a repayment plan instead. In this setup, you could take the $800 you owe for April and pay $100 more on eight future months of rent, whether those eight months begin in May or some other time after the pandemic passes.

If you’re exhausted all these options and your landlord still demands that you pay your full amount of rent, you can contact your bank for financial assistance. You can also call 211 to be connected with services that can potentially help you pay. You should also be sure to research new regulations that your municipality or state has enacted in the wake of the pandemic, as rules regarding rent payment during the pandemic may differ by region. You may even be able to find relief funds for workers that the pandemic has displaced from your industry.

Do you know of any additional resources for people who can’t pay rent or mortgage due to coronavirus? If so, please leave them in the comments for other readers to find. What you share may prove the make-or-break factor for many people facing immense obstacles that could completely alter their quality of life.

Published at Wed, 25 Mar 2020 13:25:30 +0000

Four Fresh Spring Decor Ideas for Your First Apartment

It’s one thing to get your spring cleaning done, but a sparkling, dust-free apartment isn’t necessarily a home with character. That’s where spring decor comes in. As you open your windows for the first time in months and the sun starts to shine in for more hours per day, the environment in your apartment will change, and there’s no better time to start putting up new decor. Here are four fresh spring decor ideas for your apartment. 

1. Go yellow, not mellow

As the sun stays out longer and the days get warmer, some flowers will finally begin to bloom. For many people, this transition evokes the color yellow, so consider focusing on this color when decorating your apartment. You can go for yellow lamp shades or use fresh lemons or tulips as interior decorations. You should probably avoid painting any interior walls yellow unless your lease allows it, as this may produce too bright an effect.

Brightness, though, is key for your fresh spring decor. If you don’t care for yellow, you can opt for other bright colors including baby blue, orange, or even a lighter shade of green. Fruits including oranges and limes and flowers including blue roses and purple tulips can help you to achieve a bright decor palette without relying on yellow.

2. Taste the rainbow

They say April showers bring May flowers, but what they often forget to mention is that April showers often bring rainbows, too. Prepare your apartment for the upcoming months with rainbow decor, but be sure to do so in ways that are charming and relaxing rather than tacky. Instead of putting up a rainbow print or decal (with the exception of an often-welcome Pride flag), buy related decor items in the colors of the rainbow and arrange them appropriately. This example using glassware is a great reference point, and you can also emulate it with multi-color cutlery, dishware, and silverware sets. String lights can also help you out on this one.

3. Let your blankets and tablecloths bloom

Winter can be a good time for plain, dark colors in your apartment. Your throw blankets and pillows might be black or an inviting shade of grey in the winter, just as your tablecloth on your kitchen table or dining room table might also be a deeper, less bright hue than you’re looking for now. Swap out your winter tablecloths for not just brighter colors, but flowery patterns that can last you all the way through the end of the summer. Tablecloths, blankets, and throw pillows (or pillowcases) with floral patterns are usually easy to find at any department store or home improvement store.

4. Houseplants galore

Houseplants are among the most popular apartment decorations, and spring is the perfect time to get more of them. As more (and warmer) sunlight comes through your west-facing windows, your houseplants will have more than enough sun to thrive. If you’re a hands-off person, you can count on succulents to survive no matter your apartment’s light and temperature conditions, but you have plenty of other options for introducing new houseplants to your apartment for the spring.What are your spring decor ideas for this year? Sound off in the comments!

Published at Mon, 23 Mar 2020 13:23:45 +0000

Apartment Living

Millennials and Boomers: The Best of unlikely friends

Millennials and Boomers: The Best of unlikely friends

Millennials and Boomers: The Best of unlikely friends

My daughter sat down next to me and looked like she had something serious to say. “Mom you don’t look as old as grandma did to me when she was your age.” At first, I thought that this was a compliment, but after a moment of reflection, I wasn’t sure if it was a compliment, or more of a statement of fact. So I said “what makes you think that I look younger”? She said that my clothes were trendy, and I have a lot going on in my life. My new position as the National Sales Manager for @Callassist24/7 has been an exciting challenge. I have always been passionate about the multifamily industry and about helping people find solutions to make their lives easier. Call Assist 24/7 has a simple solution for call management that makes communication with apartment residents seamless by using the native tools in our cell phones to text.

We are in a unique time in the multifamily industry history where we are experiencing a strong period of high occupancy. As the Baby Boomers look to downsize as they retire, they are moving into apartments in unprecedented numbers. (Source: Housepedia)  Strapped by huge student loan debt, the Millennials find that renting an apartment suits their needs financially. They want the flexibility that home ownership cannot provide. How will these two groups relate to one another co-habituating in the same apartment community?

One group likes to read print and the other group prefers to tweet, post, like and share their communication. Central Media Solution has the perfect answer with their print for both generations. @ApartmentMagz is a targeted apartment publication that gives you the option to hold and read a magazine or the ability to see it on a mobile device. Both generations are seeing the same content, but in a manner that makes them both feel comfortable. In addition, a vanity URL in the ads will offer both groups the option to go directly to the website of the apartment community to see more information.

If my daughter doesn’t view me as “old”, then I won’t view her as an internet obsessed young’un. As age and circumstances have brought these two groups together, all for one and one for all, they can help each other. Boomers have much to learn from Millennials about technology and creating sustainable environments. We raised these young adults to make the best decisions that they can by sharing our failures and successes. Age diversity makes for a strong sense of community. When we have communities, neighborhoods will grow strong and we will be better for it.

Published at Thu, 05 Mar 2020 12:51:56 +0000

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