A few Blurbs

•May 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

To hear a few of my opinions on rental companies click here, or to hear a little about neighbors, click here.

Final Post

•May 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Hey everyone, I imagine most of you are done with your blogs, but I decided to do one final post. I’m actually feeling pretty nostalgic toward leaving all this behind – it seems like as soon as you really start to enjoy something you have to leave it.  That being said, I’m going to list off some miscellaneous tips in no particular order – that’s not true, it’s the random order my brain thinks of them, lol.

I know I said this before, but budget, Budget, BUDGET!  When you get a new place you have all these fantasies of how you want it to look, but unless you bought a house, most of that will go out the window.

You’re not allowed to paint your walls, so they’re all going to be white.  But using pictures and tapestries (I have a huge dragon one that uses basic colors to tie the living room together) will help take the edge off things.

Another important thing I’ve noticed:  occasionally you get to stay in the same place for awhile – actually my townhouse in Mac is the place I’ve stayed in the longest.  But usually you have to move out for some reason.  Don’t be ashamed of that, it happens to the best of us.

I had to move out from my dorm because I hated it, lol. Then I had to move out of my first apartment because the complex was remodeling.  Then I had to move out of my first townhouse because my roommate committed arson and fled the state and I couldn’t afford to live there alone.  Then I had to move out of my second apartment because I transferred schools.  Finally, I’m packing up to move out of my second townhouse because I’m graduating. Whew!

Moving tips:

1. Give things away, not only does it make you feel good but its a lot easier to assess the actual value something has to you when you’ve been packing for seven hours.

2. Get boxes from your work.  Chances are good that your work has unused boxes they will be willing to give you – much cheaper than buying them.  If not, talk to your friends to see if their work can help you out.

3. Things will get broken.  Inevitably something gets broken every time I move, and I’m a careful packer.  If you have something you really don’t want to get broken, pack it carefully and make a special trip to your new place.  when you’re there do not just set it down! (Broke a crystal orchid that way once) Find a closet shelf or a cupboard and put it box and all in there.

4. Invite friends over to help you pack.  When packing an entire residence, you can get easily overwhelmed, so buy pizza and beer, pick some not-too-fragile areas (like the entire entertainment center, or pots and pans) and assign a friend to pack it.  It’s not great work, but if you turn on some music and take occasional breaks to socialize it’s not too bad.  Plus, if you give things away (above) they’re likely to come back.  My friends love to help me move :).

5. U-Haul is not cheap.  Plus, they lied and tried to screw us out of a lot of money.  So I would suggest asking around, friends, parents, relatives, to see if anyone has a large trailer, or truck they can help you with.  If so, offer to fill their tank before and after, so they get something out of it too.

6.  This should really be number one, but the last one brought it to mind.  Save up a lot of money for moving.  I started saving a year and half in advance to move down to Mac.  We saved $2,600 and it still cost us all that and more on credit cards.  You end up paying a lot when you move – first month’s rent, deposit, fees, moving expenses (mostly gas).  You also have to pay for rent in two places usually, because you’re moving out of one and into the other all at once.

7. Sometimes things aren’t worth moving.  Ever moved a washer and dryer? I have ONCE, and this time I’m just going to sell them and buy a different set when I get there. Ugh.

8.  Selling stuff: Don’t overestimate how much your crappy lawn chair is worth.  If you do, you’re likely to end up throwing it in the dumpster for free because no one wanted to pay $40 for it.  However, look critically at the item you are selling and ask yourself how much you would really pay for it.  Do not take checks, cash only.

9. Buying things, new to you.  Used stuff is SO MUCH CHEAPER.  That being said, don’t be afraid to haggle.  It’s still hard for me to do because Americans never haggle, but it’s worth it.  And sometimes you can offer something more attractive than just money.

My best example is when I was buying our washer and dryer set.  Most of the sets were more than $300, or at least the ones I was willing to buy.  Luckily we found a guy selling an unmatching set for $275 (It doesn’t matter if they match, most of them are white anyway so you can’t tell.)  Anyway, I called him and told him we could only spend $200 on a set, he tried to reason with me, but I offered this too: “We have cash and a truck, we can be there in an hour and the money can be in your hand.”  Instant sale is quite attractive and he agreed to it.

10.  Make it a home.  When you move a lot it can be hard to make your dwelling your sanctuary, but it needs to be.  One thing I do, is always set up the same art.  I have a lot of tapestries/pictures/paintings/drawings that are assigned to each room (bedroom/bathroom/living room) that I put up as soon as I move.  (There are some pics below of some of my decorations) So even though the architecture is different, when I come in the door I still see my home.  Smells also help, bake a loaf of bread.  If you’re a terrible baker you don’t have to eat it, but the smell will make you feel good. 🙂

My dragon tapestry

My table, I waited until it went from $359 on sale to $149. Yay!

A bookshelf is an easy way to display pics without making holes in walls that you’ll have to pay for later

I can’t always afford to buy fresh flowers, so I borrowed these from prunings that were being thrown out by a neighbor.

I try to tie things together, lol.

We have a metal door, so I used magnet clips to hang this tapestry on it.

Ok this is turning into a novel so I’m going to cut if off here.  Below are some links I thought would help you guys out. Enjoy.

Your First Place

Real Estate Terms

Decorating

Moving (This is a good one)

Video

•May 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

*Sigh* I don’t now why my video won’t embed.  But here is the link.

Renter Beware!

•May 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment

So I thought about what exactly I wanted to write about in my final days of school and I have to say I feel like venting.  So first let me apologize to my sweet and loyal readers – those of you who just scoffed at that remark can piss off!- for subjecting you to the nasty part of renting, because let me assure you, there are several down sides!  So here are some of my cautionary tidbits.

Floor Plans:  Check out the floor plan of your dwelling before you even make an appointment to go look at it.  This will help you imagine where your furniture will fit and whether you will be comfortable.  I rented a place once only to find out a few days later that you couldn’t open the bathroom door when someone was inside without them having to get in the shower to fit.  Bummer.

Open Cupboards and drawers!!: Yeah.  *Sigh* This one has gotten me several times.  Once you have made an appointment to go and look at a dwelling, make sure you thoroughly check it out.  In my first apartment some of the drawers had holes in them, wouldn’t open, or fell out when you opened them too far, and the cupboards were very dirty.

Check out your neighborhood: I was really lucky with my first apartment, so lucky in fact that I didn’t know what to look for when I moved.  We moved less than a mile from the train which came through at 3:00 am whistling loudly.  Check to see what’s around you that could be noisy, a bar? A firehouse? A police station? The train?

Look out the windows: I know this stuff all sounds simple, but when you’re moving and you’re considering your lease, your budget, your job, your car, your spouse, your pets, your storage unit, the moving costs, and a million other things, it’s amazing how quick simple things slip your mind.  Back to the windows: The third place I rented was a ground level (My first) and my bedroom window was literally three feet from someone’s parking spot.  This meant that in the summer when out window was open all night, my neighbor would leave for work at 5:00 a.m. and his engine would scare us out of bed. This was terrible to say the least. It also meant we could never have our blinds open without the neighbors peaking into our bedroom.

Hmmm There’s nothing else I can think of now that doesn’t pertain to roommates… So be ready because the roommate post is coming! 🙂

Stay tuned.

After Budget

•May 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Alright, so now that you should have your budget, you can start looking. It’s much wiser to look when you know what you can afford, sounds simple, but so many people kid themselves into thinking they can afford a nice place and then get evicted, which you don’t want.

As I said before, I’ve never been evicted, but I have a few friends that have, and they’ve said that it is almost impossible to find apartments that will rent to you after it’s on your record.

We’re all lucky enough to get to live in a time when Craigslist makes shopping for a place way easier.  It’s never too early to go to Craigslist and find out what rent prices in your area look like.  (Choosing the area you want to live in is usually already dictated for you – i.e. already have something set up, your job is there, your family, spouse etc…)

Dwellings

So of course most of you should know what kind of options are out there for what you can live in, basically there is an exponential cost/benefit ratio.  The more pleasant the dwelling, the higher the cost.

Houses

Benefits – neighbors are often less whiny about parties, you usually some kind of a yard, usually you can have more kinds of pets, more privacy, lots of space and usually there is a garage.

Downfalls – your utilities sky-rocket – heating/cooling a whole house is expensive.  You also have to pay water/sewer/garbage (W/S/G) yourself, which is usually included in your rent for other types of dwellings.  You will probably have to have roommates to pay for a house too, which is another whole problem we’ll tackle soon.

Townhouses

These usually distinguish themselves from apartments by having washers/dryers (W/D) or W/D hook ups.  Occasionally you will find something advertised as an apartment with laundry facilities in it, but that is rare.

Benefits – usually have more than one bathroom, more than one level, W/D or hookups, garage (50/50 some do, some don’t), cheaper rent than houses, usually only one common wall, water/sewer/garbage are almost always paid in your rent.

Downfalls – one common wall, which can mean hearing/being heard by your neighbors. Parking becomes more limited than at a house, although you’re still almost guaranteed some kind of outdoor space, you probably won’t have a yard.  Which means you probably have limited breeds of dogs you can have there.

Apartments

I’m sure you’re familiar with apartments, so I won’t bore you with the details.  But just to be clear, they usually don’t have W/D or hookups, usually one level, in complexes and have several neighbors.

Benefits – rent is usually pretty cheap and you can probably afford a one bedroom on your own (w/o roomies) if you’re willing to be responsible.  You often get access to complex-shared amenities, such as a hot tub/pool, club house – usually has games, a sitting area and big screen TV.  W/S/G are almost always paid in your rent and you can often find apartments that offer free wi-fi or cable TV.

Downfalls – not a lot of space, lots of neighbors, lots of shared walls/floors/ceilings, you’re usually only allotted one parking space, which means if you have more than one car you’ll have to fight over the visitor parking spots (there never seems to be enough). Outdoor space is usually just a patio/deck.  Usually laundry facilities are on site, which is better than the laundry mat (fewer people use it) but it still costs just as much and people still steal your stuff.

Studios

These usually have just one room and a bathroom and closet.  Sometimes they have small kitchens on one side, and other times you only get a hot plate and a mini-fridge.

Benefits – you’re almost certainly able to live here without roomies, rent should be pretty cheap.  (I can’t think of any other benefits, lol) 

Downfalls –  you only have one flippin room! (Which can be rather embarrassing if you bring home someone new, lol).  These dwellings are often part of a house or something and usually don’t have defined parking.  Occasionally you’re allowed in the rest of the house, but usually not.  You aren’t likely to have any outdoor space, which is a lot more depressing than you would think. You might not have a whole kitchen and laundry will be iffy at best.

As there are endless benefits/downfalls to each of these dwellings I could not have possibly listed them all, but hopefully you at least have a few more insights on what you want now.

What do you want?

•May 3, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Actually, the title of this post should not be “What do you want?” but “What is your budget?” because that is often the more pertinent detail that affects your choice in where you will live.

There are several things to consider when you start living on your own.  You first really do need to decide how much you can afford to pay in rent, utilities and other expenditures – in short, make a budget.

I can’t really tell you everything you need to consider in your budget, because different people consider different things necessary – for example, I will cut down on my alcohol intake one month to afford a new shirt or something.

Here is a great worksheet to get you started.

A word to the wise (WTTW): do your budget BEFORE you start spending money lol, not once you think you might be SOL – because if that’s the case, you already are.

A 2nd WTTW: ALWAYS put a little money in a savings account you won’t touch.  I chose an altogether different bank from what I do most of my regular banking with.  I didn’t order checks, or a debit card for it.  Which makes it a lot harder to spend the money on a whim.  But I cannot stress how often a bill will slip your mind and you find yourself ironically a day late and a dollar short – so save some money, even if it’s only $20 a month, you’ll be so glad.

Starting Out

•April 21, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Hey Mass Comm students, this is my blog about life outside the dorm, outside your parents house, outside their wallet.  This is about the difficulties and challenges a young student faces when they strike out on their own.

I named the blog utilities paid, because as you begin sifting through the countless posts for apartments, townhouses, duplexes, triplexes, first and last’s and the deposits, it’s nice to see that the Utilities are Paid.