Tips for Finding an Apartment Before Moving to a New City

If you’re set to make a cross-country move– or any move to a new city you’re unfamiliar with– finding an apartment can be a little difficult. Not only is it hard to choose an apartment itself before looking at it in person, but it can also be tough to even know which neighborhoods will fit your needs until you’ve lived in the city for awhile. And the last thing you want is to move into a new apartment or to a neighborhood that, at best, isn’t really what you’re looking for.

Tips for Finding an Apartment Before Moving to a New City

Step one: Don’t get discouraged. Finding an apartment when moving to a new city can be done! Read on for some tips and guidelines for finding an apartment in a new city:

Start by Researching Neighborhoods

The first step is to do your best to determine which neighborhoods will be most ideal for you. Whether you need a neighborhood that’s an easy commute from your job, one that’s affordable, or you’re simply looking for an area that suits you, you can discover a lot about neighborhoods by going online.

Tips for Finding an Apartment Before Moving to a New City - Start by Researching Neighborhoods

You may want to connect with some friends, family members or even acquaintances who live there and ask for their advice. They’ll likely be happy to give you a rundown of a few good options.

Ask Your Employers

If you’re struggling to find neighborhoods or apartments that work for you, and you’re moving for a job, you may want to talk to your employers for a little assistance.

Tips for Finding an Apartment Before Moving to a New City - Ask Your Employers

They’ll at least be able to help you figure out some neighborhoods that will be easily accessible from the office, and it’s possible they’ll be able to connect you with a realtor or local apartment-finding service that you’ll find helpful.

Decide What You Want

After getting a better understanding of the neighborhoods best suited to your lifestyle, you have to prioritize your apartment wish​ list. First decide what type of apartment you’re looking for (studio, one-bedroom, etc.).

Tips for Finding an Apartment Before Moving to a New City - Decide What You Want

Then, write down some of the amenities you need and make a separate list of any features you want. These can be any number of factors, such as included utilities, a parking space, in-building laundry, a doorman, a workout room, and so on. Knowing what you want will make narrowing down the hundreds of online listings that much easier.

Go Online

Speaking of online listings, most of your apartment search will have to be done on the Internet. You can use ApartmentGuide.com to look for available apartments that meet some of your requirements (you’ll be able to search by area, type of apartment, price and amenities).

Tips for Finding an Apartment Before Moving to a New City - Go Online

You can also use online apartment hunting sites to peruse listings and get a better idea of what prices are like in each neighborhood you’re interested in.

Pay Attention to How Landlords Communicate

Once you begin connecting with landlords, pay attention to the way they communicate with you. If they respond right away and are eager to share whatever information you need, that’s a very good sign.

Tips for Finding an Apartment Before Moving to a New City - Pay Attention to How Landlords Communicate

Landlords who don’t respond right away, don’t answer your questions or otherwise don’t communicate as well should be a red flag. The apartment may not be exactly what they’re advertising, or you may find them just as hard to reach in the future if you ever need help with a maintenance issue or anything else.

Consider a Staycation

​If looking solely online seems overwhelming or risky to you, you may want to think about setting aside a few days for a short trip to your new city. Plan on a time, then get in touch with some of the landlords you’ve been talking to and ask to set up in-person viewings.

Tips for Finding an Apartment Before Moving to a New City - Consider a Staycation

Go prepared to apply for an apartment on-site, so bring your ID and three recent pay​ stubs, along with enough money to pay for things like deposits, application fees and first month’s rent.

Ask Friends for Help

If a short trip isn’t in the cards for you, you can still learn more about the apartments you’re considering. One of the best ways is to ask your friends or family members who live in the city to go check out a place for you.

Tips for Finding an Apartment Before Moving to a New City - Ask Friends for Help

You’ll be able to trust their opinions, and they can provide you with as many pictures as you need while doing a walk through.

Don’t Sign Before Seeing

Whether you ask your friends for help or simply request as many pictures as possible from the landlord or building manager, it’s best not to sign a lease before seeing the place yourself. Ask your landlord if it’s OK for you to wait to sign on the dotted line until you’ve seen the place with your own eyes.

Tips for Finding an Apartment Before Moving to a New City - Don't Sign Before Seeing

If that’s not possible, see if they’ll negotiate a clause in the lease that says you’re allowed to back out within a specific amount of time if the apartment isn’t what they’ve advertised. It’s a great way to protect yourself and feel secure in your decision. Just make sure you have a back-up plan if that apartment ends up falling through!

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Tips for Finding an Apartment Before Moving to a New City

How to Prioritize Your Apartment Hunting Wish List

Imagine your perfect apartment. Mine has a big kitchen with plenty of storage, an extra room for crafting and working, central air conditioning, on-site laundry and a closet big enough for all of my clothes. As you can see, my wish list is long. To get everything I want in the city where I live, I’ll have to shell out way more money than I can afford.

How to Prioritize Your Apartment Hunting Wish List

Every renter goes through this debacle of looking at their income and their apartment hunting wish list and realizing there’s a gap. The unfortunate reality is that we can’t have it all (sigh). But prioritizing the things you want in an ideal apartment will help you sign a lease as a satisfied renter.

With that in mind, here are some tips to help you prioritize what you really need out of your next place:

What Can’t You Live Without?

Your top priorities for apartment hunting should be features you can’t live or rent without. These are the parameters you include in your search. For many, a certain price tag is No. 1. If your budget limits you to places that are $800 and under, you can only look for units in your range.

How to Prioritize Your Apartment Hunting Wish List - What Can't You Live Without

Additionally, if you’re a pet owner, finding a pet-friendly apartment will be high on your list– if Fluffy can’t stay, then you can’t either!

The third deal breaker could be any number of things, depending on what you personally need. It could be a certain neighborhood, access to public transportation (especially if you don’t have a car) or a certain number of bedrooms. Additionally, security measures (like having a deadbolt lock and hallways that are well lit) are important.

Make a list of all the items you absolutely can’t rent without and stick them at the top of your priority list.

What Don’t You Need, But Would Make Life Easier?

Let’s be real: We don’t all need laundry on site, building parking, or central air conditioning. However, these amenities can increase quality of life. I’ve had both a radiator and central heat in my apartments, and I’d prefer the latter any day.

How to Prioritize Your Apartment Hunting Wish List - What Don't You Need, But Would Make Life Easier?

Although amenities are nice, you don’t necessarily need them. You can walk to a laundromat, find street parking or buy a window air-conditioning unit if your building doesn’t have what you want. It may be inconvenient, but things like location, rent cost, pet-friendly living, and the right number of bedrooms are way more important.

Know What Matters to You

In order to make lists that include your must-haves and would-like-to-haves, you need to know what matters to you. For this, take a look at your lifestyle.

How to Prioritize Your Apartment Hunting Wish List - Know What Matters to You

If you enjoy walking everywhere, don’t live in a neighborhood where stores, restaurants, etc., are miles apart. If you like to go out on the weekends, living near bars could be high on your list. Those who cook and bake regularly need a good-sized kitchen with updated appliances.

Even your work can help you figure out what means the most to you. From commuting distance to needing fast Internet to work from home, your job could influence your apartment-hunting wish list.

Talk to Your Roommate

Knowing what you want out of an apartment makes building a priority list of amenities easier. However, if you plan on living with other people, you’ll have to make compromises. Even if your budget is big, your roommate may want to save money. Your roomie may also want to live in a different neighborhood than you.

How to Prioritize Your Apartment Hunting Wish List - Talk to Your Roommate

Have a conversation with your roommate about each of your priorities. Both of you should share your individual priority list to see where you match and where you don’t. Then you can start compromising. Perhaps you’ll give up central air if your roommate is willing to bump parking up on the list.

When you’re done talking, you should have a joint list of apartment priorities to use when searching for your next place. Stick to it and you’ll be able to keep the peace.

When You’re Looking …

Although you’ve spent time making the perfect priority list, you may not find a place that has everything, or even half of what you want. Remember, you want your next apartment to hit at least the must-haves. Then, if it has one or two of your other priorities, you’re in good shape.

How to Prioritize Your Apartment Hunting Wish List - When You're Looking

Ideally, you’ll search for places by going top-down on your list. That way, the things you care about most will be included in your apartment.

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How to Prioritize Your Apartment Hunting Wish List

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7 Tips That Speed Up the Moving Out Process

Consider this: The faster you move out of your apartment, the earlier you can be finished with the whole stressful moving process! On top of that great benefit of moving out quickly, though, there are a plethora of other reasons people may want to speed up the task.

7 Tips That Make Moving Out Go Faster

Perhaps your landlord gives you a small time frame to move everything out of the building, or maybe you just don’t want to pay movers for a minute longer than you need them.

No matter what, moving out quickly will keep the whole operation efficient and get you moved in and ready to start setting up your new place in a timely manner– and who doesn’t want to begin hanging curtains and arranging furniture as soon as possible?

Here are seven tips that will make moving out go much faster:

1. Start Packing Early

You may not think it matters how early you start packing as long as everything is ready to go by moving day, and to an extent that’s true. However, packing up early will give you ample time to go through your belongings and get rid of excess stuff you never use or don’t need.

7 Tips That Make Moving Out Go Faster - Start Packing Early

It doesn’t make sense to move more than you have to, so taking time to downsize will speed up the whole moving process. Packing early will also help you keep things organized and stress-free.

2. Stay Organized

A systematic packing process can greatly increase your efficiency on moving day. Organize all of your boxes by room and make sure you know what’s in each one. You can label the boxes with all of the items that are in them, number the boxes and keep a list of items separately, or even take pictures of everything that’s going into each box.

7 Tips That Make Moving Out Go Faster - Stay Organized

That way, if you need to find something quickly, you’ll be able to with no trouble. Keep all of your moving information, including your moving truck reservations, new apartment information and movers’ contact information in a single folder or binder so you can access anything you need right away.

3. Consolidate Your Belongings

Use your dressers, baskets, suitcases and anything else you can pack items in to cut down on the number of boxes you’re moving. Keep all of your clothes in your dresser, and wrap the whole thing with plastic wrap so the drawers stay closed.

7 Tips That Make Moving Out Go Faster - Consolidate Your Belongings

Use shirts or sweaters to wrap breakable items, rather than moving paper. Also, don’t discount plastic garbage bags for your pillows and blankets– they’ll be easier to stuff into nooks and crannies than sturdy boxes.

4. Ask For Help

This is perhaps the most important way to speed up your moving day: Get as much help as possible.

7 Tips That Make Moving Out Go Faster - Ask for Help

Whether you hire movers or enlist several friends, the more bodies you have, the faster moving out will go.

5. Move Some Stuff Early

If at all possible, try to move some of your belongings before moving day. Even if you can bring just a few suitcases of clothes or some breakables that will have to be moved cautiously, you’ll be able to spend a little less time on those items on the big day.

7 Tips That Make Moving Out Go Faster - Move Some Stuff Early

Ask your new landlord to let you know when the apartment will be available– if it’s a few days before moving day, you’ll have a little extra time.

6. Prepare Everything The Night Before

You shouldn’t have anything to do on moving day but move. That means everything from cleaning out the fridge, to repairing the holes in your walls, to packing up every last toiletry should be done the night before.

7 Tips That Make Moving Out Go Faster - Prepare Everything the Night Before

Keep some items that you’ll need that night or the next morning in a small suitcase or tote, and put everything else in its box. You should also confirm your truck rental and make sure your friends know what time to head over the next day.

7. Pack the Truck Strategically

When packing the truck, load all of your furniture and other heavy items first, then follow up with your boxes and bags. Continue loading items from biggest to smallest to ensure you can fit all of the larger boxes.

7 Tips That Make Moving Out Go Faster - Pack the Truck Strategically

If there’s anything you’ll need right away at the new place, save it until the very end– it’ll be the last stuff to go in the truck and the first stuff to come out.

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How to Introduce Pets When Moving In With Another Pet Owner

Moving in with a roommate can be tricky as it is, let alone when trying to introduce a new pet into the mix at the same time. When cats and dogs (or cats and cats and dogs and dogs) first move in together, the relationship can be pretty precarious. But as long as the introductions are made properly, the pets will likely get along in the end– or at least be able to coexist peacefully.

How to Introduce Pets When Moving In With Another Pet Owner

If you’re moving in with another pet owner into a pet-friendly apartment, here’s how to introduce your beloved cats or dogs as safely as possible:

Start Slow

The first rule of introducing pets is to avoid just tossing them into a room together and hoping they work out their differences. That’s probably not going to work.

Cats_Wallpapers_laba.ws

Introducing pets can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks, and the first interactions should be just a few seconds long. As they slowly get used to the other’s smell and to sharing their home, things will get easier for you and your roommate.

Isolate the Newcomer

No matter what, the animals need to be separated by a door at first. This will give them the opportunity to smell each other and even interact under the door a little, without being able to do more than hiss or growl if they’re uncomfortable.

How to Introduce Pets When Moving In With Another Pet Owner - Isolate the Newcomer

Usually that means that one animal will be stuck in a single room, while another is able to roam the rest of the apartment. If you’re moving into your new roommate’s apartment, or vice versa, the new animal is the one that should be isolated in a single room.

Move both of their food and water bowls near the bottom of the door to get them as close to each other as possible, and switch the animals’ places every so often. This will give the new pet time to get used to the rest of the apartment while the other animal explores the newbie’s space and becomes even more accustomed to their scent.

Let them interact with each other (supervised) a couple times a day at first, and slowly increase the number of times each day.

Give Them a ‘Safe’ Zone

Each animal should have a safe place they can retreat to if they start feeling uncomfortable.

How to Introduce Pets When Moving In With Another Pet Owner - Give Them a Safe Zone

For the new cat or dog, this can be their isolation room. Keep a bed or crate in each separate area that will make the animals feel safe.

Take Dogs On a Walk

Dogs react really well to being introduced while on a walk together because it gives them time to feel (read: sniff) each other out. Plus, the sights and smells while on walks can distract dogs from each other if the relationship is a little tense at first.

How to Introduce Pets When Moving In With Another Pet Owner - Take Dogs on a Walk

Try to keep the leashes loose and avoid yelling harsh orders– believe it or not, the two pups can feed off that negative energy and become even more tense with each other.

If they’re meeting for the first time before the walk, have one dog sit or lie down for treats, while the other is allowed to sniff, then switch their positions.

Be Patient

If the introductory process is taking longer than you thought it would, try to be patient. Some animals, especially if they’ve lived alone their whole lives, find it really difficult to live with another pet, so they may continue barking, growling, or hissing for weeks.

How to Introduce Pets When Moving In With Another Pet Owner - Be Patient

Keep doing what you’re doing, and if you stop noticing any progress at all, consider asking for help from your vet or an animal behaviorist.

Give Them Attention and Love

Don’t forget that your animals love you, so give them plenty of attention when they’re feeling scared or confused!

How to Introduce Pets When Moving In With Another Pet Owner - Give Them Both Attention

Living with another pet can be stressful and difficult for some cats and dogs to adjust to, so make sure that your four legged friend is feeling loved and safe during the transition.

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How to Introduce Pets When Moving In With Another Pet Owner

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9 Ways to Meet New People in Your Neighborhood

Moving is a stressful life event in more ways than one, and making new friends is one of the scariest parts of a big relocation. When I moved across the country from Iowa to Oregon, my first big scare was when I realized I didn’t have my best friends to lean on anymore– I was all alone (cue sad music).

9 Ways to Meet New People in your Neighborhood

What I came to realize, though, is that there really are a lot of easy ways to meet new people in your neighborhood, whether you’ve just moved or you’re simply looking for some new friends to hang out with– it just takes courage, determination, and a few motivational pep talks in the mirror. Here’s how to meet new people in your neighborhood:

1. Suggest After-Work Happy Hour

Some of the first people you’ll meet after relocating are your co-workers, so try getting to know the people you’ll be interacting with every day. Not only will this make work more fun, but you’ll hopefully get to know some similarly minded people who could end up being great friends.

9 Ways to Meet New People in your Neighborhood - After Work Happy Hour

Send out an email or suggest to a few close teammates that you should all go to a nearby happy hour after work. And if you enjoy each other’s company, make it a weekly ritual.

2. Be a Friendly Neighbor

If you’re moving into an apartment, there are dozens of people in your building that could potentially become friends. Say “hello” to anyone you pass in the hall, and introduce yourself personally to those in the apartments adjacent to yours.

9 Ways to Meet New People in your Neighborhood - Be a Friendly Neighbor

Also, if your building hosts any get-togethers or events, make sure you try to take part– you’ll be able to meet even more residents that way!

3. Use Your Dog

I know you love your dog like a child, but that doesn’t mean you can’t use him to meet new people. Take Fido to the dog park and other dog-friendly neighborhood spots where you’re likely to meet some other animal lovers.

9 Ways to Meet New People in your Neighborhood - Use Your Dog

If you make a connection, set up a play date. You can even try to connect with other dog owners who live in your building when you take Fido out for a bathroom break.

4. Take Advantage of That Friend of a Friend

Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody who “lives just a few blocks from you.” Take advantage of that!

9 Ways to Meet New People in your Neighborhood - Take Advantage of that Friend of a Friend

People are almost always happy to make introductions, and the connection, however roundabout, will be a great icebreaker when you and that friend of a friend hang out for the first time.

5. Volunteer

If you have a cause you love, getting involved is one of the best ways to meet new people with similar values and interests– plus it feels great to spend time helping an organization you care about.

9 Ways to Meet New People in your Neighborhood - Volunteer

Look for volunteer opportunities in your neighborhood or city, and try to join in whenever you have some free time.

6. Get Online

While you shouldn’t rely on only the Internet to make friends, there are a few good websites that can come in handy when you move to a new neighborhood. Try perusing Meetup.com, which allows users to create groups that meet regularly around the city.

9 Ways to Meet New People in your Neighborhood - Get Online

You’ll find groups of singles, volunteers, yogis, photographers, and almost any other type of person you can think of. Look for a group of people doing something you’re interested in, and sign up to get alerts whenever they’re hosting a new meetup.

7. Take a Class or Join a Team

Classes and teams make meeting people easy, especially when they involve group discussions and activities. If you play a sport, look for a league in your neighborhood. If you’ve always wanted to be a comedian, take an improv class.

9 Ways to Meet New People in your Neighborhood - Take a Class or Join a Team

8. Become a Regular

Is there a coffee shop down the block you can work in or a dive bar that offers amazing drink specials? If there’s a great neighborhood spot nearby, you can bet there will be plenty of neighborhood regulars who frequent the establishment.

9 Ways to Meet New People in your Neighborhood - Become a Regular

Spend a little time there and start conversing with some of the familiar faces you see often– you’ll have at least a few acquaintances in no time.

9. Never Turn Someone Down

Of all the ways to meet new people, the most important is this: Never turn down an invitation if you’re free.

9 Ways to Meet New People in Your Neighborhood - Never Turn Someone Down

While cozying up in your apartment with Netflix and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s may sound great, if you don’t accept invitations, people may be a little less likely to continue extending them in the future.

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9 Ways to Meet New People in You Neighborhood

Photo Credit: kafka4prezJeff McCChrisThis Year’s LoveAbbey HambrightTed Fu, Truthout.orgSeattle Municipal ArchivesJason Crane, Peter

Blend Styles When Moving In With Your Significant Other

Moving in together is a big step for any relationship. When couples first live together they have to learn how to handle each other’s strange habits and idiosyncrasies, and they have to be able to come to a consensus on things like cooking, cleaning and paying the rent.

Blend Styles When Moving In With Your Significant Other

This means that live-in couples need to learn the fine art of compromise: Finding a middle ground in any dispute is essential to keep the peace. If you and your significant other are about to move in together, the first hurdle you’ll have to manage is figuring out what to do with all of your stuff.

Trying to blend two completely different styles is tough, but with a little respect and, you guessed it, compromise, it can be done. Here are a few guidelines for finding a middle ground between two decorating styles when moving in with your significant other:

Decide What Stays

The very first thing you should do before moving in together is take an inventory of everything you both have and decide together what stays and what goes. You likely don’t want two couches, two beds, etc., so pencil in an evening to go through each piece of furniture and decide which one you both like better.

Blend Styles When Moving In With Your Significant Other - Decide What Stays

If you can’t come to a consensus, try making a trade-off. His couch, but your coffee table. His bed, but your dresser. Be prepared to have to donate, sell or store some items you really like– it’s all about finding a balance.

Emphasize Your Similarities

Your styles may be as different as apples and oranges, but there’s likely some aspect of the decorating you can both agree on. Maybe you both love photography, and you can decorate the living room with framed prints.

Blend Styles When Moving In With Your Significant Other - Emphasize Your Similarities

Or perhaps you bonded over a love of the color green. Go for some forest green throw pillows or a rug with green accents. Focusing on the similarities will create a space you and your significant other both love.

Use Your Basics

Incorporate furnishings with basic colors and styles into your apartment as much as possible, since neutral pieces can act as a buffer between the two styles.

Blend Styles When Moving In With Your Significant Other - Use Your Basics

Maybe you’re stuck with a crazy couch or entertainment center– plain black coffee and end tables can give the room a more unified look.

Give Each Other Space

If there are some things you just can’t agree on, consider giving each other a specific space to decorate however you want. Maybe one person can decorate the bathroom and the other gets to be in charge of the kitchen. Try to find middle ground on how you decorate the bedroom.

Blend Styles When Moving In With Your Significant Other - Give Each other Space

Or, put two shelves in the living room, one for each of you. Display whatever knick-knacks and keepsakes you want, and allow your significant other to do the same. You’ll have a cute his-and-hers display of stuff you may grow to love.

Take Some Time

Keep in mind that you don’t have to decide on everything the minute you move in. After moving in together, it may take a couple of weeks to settle into a routine. Give yourselves that time to make some of the decisions on what stays and what goes, and on how to decorate.

Blend Styles When Moving In With Your Significant Other - Take Some Time

After the first few weeks you may find yourself getting used or even liking to some of the items you didn’t like right when you moved in, and your partner could feel the same.

Show Respect

If there are some things you really dislike that your partner absolutely loves, it’s probably a good idea to let those go and respect his feelings. What’s worse: an unhappy partner or living with a keepsake set of action figures?

Blend Styles When Moving In With Your Significant Other - Show Respect

Plus, you both want to feel like you’re living in a shared space, so make sure both of you are being fair about deciding what stays and what goes.

Shop Together For New Things

If there are any gaps in your combined possessions– like a wall-hanging for over the couch or a set of bar stools for the kitchen island– go shopping for them together. Find items you can both agree on, and enjoy spending that time together.

Blend Styles When Moving In With Your Significant Other - Shop Together for New Things

Finding a middle ground on even the most basic items will make the experience fun, and you’ll love being able to put the finishing touches on your first apartment together.

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How To Blend Styles When Moving In With Your Significant Other

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Icebreaker Activities for New Roommates

I do anything I can to save a few bucks, whether it’s using coupons at the grocery store or shopping in the sale section at my favorite clothing boutiques. After apartment searching in the city of Chicago, I’ve discovered another wonderful way to save money: a roommate. Thankfully, my brother needed a roommate as well, so we’re sharing the rent, making that monthly expense a lot more manageable.

Icebreaker Activities for New Roommates

However, if you want to save money, but don’t have anyone to live with, you may consider moving in with someone you don’t know. Maybe it’s someone you found online, or a friend of a friend. Either way, you don’t know each other, which can be super awkward if you’re living together.

Rather than wait until the awkward situations subside, take matters into your own hands with any of these icebreaker activities that will turn you from random roommates into friends (hopefully):

Ask Questions

You don’t have to interrogate each other in interview format– instead, stick to fun questions that will help you get to know each other.

Icebreaker Activities for New Roommates - Ask Questions

Take the pressure off of both of you by making a bowl of popcorn, turning on a show you both like, and during commercials, have fun answering any of the following questions:

  • What person from any book or movie would make the perfect/worst roommate and why?
  • What was your favorite musical group when you were in junior high? (Nothing brings people together quite like nostalgic boy bands.)
  • Do you have any hidden talents?
  • What are some of your hobbies?
  • What song best describes your life?
  • What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever eaten?
  • Do you play any sports?
  • What was the best/worst first date you’ve ever been on?
  • What’s something not many people know about you?
  • Do you have any pet peeves?

Cook A Meal Together

I probably wouldn’t have put this offer on the table with my old roommate from college, as she tried to cook a frozen waffle in the oven. But assuming your roommate knows what general kitchen appliances are for, this could be fun.

Icebreaker Activities for New Roommates - Cook a Meal Together

Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, food can really bring people together. Look through a cookbook or choose a dish to make off of your food-themed blog or Pinterest board, and head to the store to pick up the ingredients.

Cooking gives you something to do with your hands, so you won’t feel uncomfortable just standing there staring at the other person, waiting for them to speak. You can even play the 20 questions game I mentioned earlier while you make the meal.

When you sit down at the table to enjoy your meal, pour a drink and cheers to the beginning of a great roomie relationship.

Play Desert Island

This has to be one of my favorite icebreaker activities. You may have played this game, or know it from the popular TV show “The Office” when Jim played with his co-workers. This fun game actually is a pretty good way to get some insight on your roommate. Here’s how to play:

Icebreaker Activities for New Roommates - Play Desert Island

Let’s say your roommate is trapped on a desert island– ask them what five items would they bring with them. You can get a bit more specific, asking what five movies or books they would bring. The movies or books they choose may help you get to know them a little better and give you a sneak peek into some of the things they can’t live without.

Explore Town

If you’re new to town, but your new roommate isn’t, ask him or her to show you around the neighborhood. Explore your surroundings on foot, or go for a drive if one of you has a car. You can check out his or her favorite places, like a local bar, restaurant or store.

Icebreaker Activities for New Roommates - Explore Town

If you’re both new to town, do a bit of research before you leave your apartment, finding out which attractions are nearby that you can visit, or read some Yelp reviews on local restaurants to figure out where to go for dinner.

Work On Decorating

Become better roomies by putting your energy into decorating your new place. Go to the store together to pick out paintings, blankets, rugs or tables that you both like.

Icebreaker Activities for New Roommates - Work on Decorating

Along the way, you’ll begin to get an idea of your new roomie’s style.

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How to Fix Common Damage Issues Before Moving Out

Moving out of your apartment can be bittersweet. You pack up all of your things, begin moving furniture, start taking down wall art– and, lo and behold, there’s that golf ball-sized hole in the wall you accidentally made one night, then covered with art.

How to Fix Common Damage Issues Before Moving Out

After living in an apartment for at least a year, there’s bound to be some small damage here and there. While some wear and tear is normal and should be built into your lease, fixing minor damage before moving out will ensure you get your full security deposit back. Plus, you’ll stay on good terms with your landlord, who you may need for references down the road.

To make sure you leave your apartment in good condition before moving out, take a look at these normal damage issues and their fixes:

Small Holes

After taking down the photos from your gallery wall, you probably noticed the many small holes left by nails that were used to hang the frames. Patching small holes left by nails, tacks and screws is simple and will leave the walls looking great again.

How to Fix Common Damage Issues Before Moving Out - Small Holes

You’ll need some spackling paste, a putty knife and some sandpaper. Squeeze a small glob of the spackle into each hole, then use the putty knife to spread and blend it over the hole and wall. Once the spackle is dry, use the sandpaper to lightly sand the area, especially around the edges, to leave a smooth, flat wall.

Scuff Marks

Though scuff marks likely aren’t going to cost you any of your security deposit, they make the apartment appear dirtier than it is.

How to Fix Common Damage Issues Before Moving Out - Scuff Marks

Since I seem to make an inordinate amount of scuffs on the walls of my apartments, I typically don’t try to tackle them all– just really noticeable and large ones. A magic eraser works wonders to get rid of them, so pick up a couple and your walls will be white again in no time.

Large Holes

Now it’s time to tackle that large hole you hid under your favorite painting. Mending large holes in drywall isn’t as easy as some of the other fixes, but it will most likely cost you less than if you were to let your landlord handle it and deduct it from your deposit.

How to Fix Common Damage Issues Before Moving Out - Large Holes

Pick up a mesh repair patch at the hardware store to use with your spackle. Then, cut the patch so that it fits over the hole and the surrounding wall. Cover the patch with spackle, and after it dries, sand down the edges so they blend into the wall completely.

Broken Blinds

Another common damage issue I’m guilty of is bending or even breaking some of my window blinds. Before moving out, dust your windows and blinds, and make sure none are bent or cracked. If bent, do your best to straighten them out as much as possible.

How to Fix Common Apartment Damage Issues Before Moving Out - Broken BlindsIf you can’t straighten them, or if one of the blinds is broken, look for blinds of the same size and color at your hardware store. Replace the broken slat with the new one, and your landlord won’t ever know the difference!

Carpet Stains

If you’re a red-wine drinker living in a carpeted apartment, you probably know a thing or two about removing carpet stains. Tackling stains before they get a chance to set will help your carpet look better overall, but before moving out, peruse the carpet for any stains you might have missed.

How to Fix Common Damage Issues Before Moving Out - Carpet Stains

Try using baking soda or carpet cleaner first. If that’s not strong enough to remove the stains, consider renting a carpet cleaner from your hardware or grocery store. They’re easy to use, and your carpets will be unrecognizably clean when you’re done.

Scratches on Hardwood

Renters love apartments with hardwood floors because they’re much easier to clean than carpet, but they do have one common problem with them: Hardwood is easy to scratch. There are a couple of quick fixes for the shallower scrapes, though.

How to Fix Common Damage Issues Before Moving Out- Scratches on Hard WoodMany people swear by the walnut method, which involves rubbing a raw walnut along the scrape until the scratch blends into the rest of the floor. This method works well, just not on deep scratches and darker woods.

For deeper scratches, look for a wood-colored marker or pencil at the hardware store. These products are specifically made for filling in and disguising the scrapes.

General Dirtiness

Deep cleaning your apartment is generally recommended to ensure you get your full deposit back, and to give your landlord less of a headache when he or she is trying to ready the unit for the next renter.

How to Fix Common Damage Issues Before Moving Out - General Dirtiness

Give everything a good wiping, sweeping and dusting, but spend extra time in the kitchen and bathroom. The refrigerator, microwave, oven and stove should all be thoroughly cleaned, along with the toilet, shower, tub and sink.

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How to Fix Common Damage Issues Before Moving Out

Photo Credit: deadmanjonesNic TaylorDan PupiusSean McGrathSalva Barberakaiton

What to Handle First After You’ve Moved

You did it. You made it through what was potentially one of the most stressful days of your life up until this point. You moved. Now what?

What to Handle First After You've Moved

As a veteran mover, I’ve found there are certain tasks you’ll want to take care of in the first day or so post-move (after making sure all of your belongings are in your apartment and taking a 10-minute breather on your couch, that is). Here’s a guide for what to handle first after you’ve moved into your new place:

Unpack the Essentials

If you’ve just moved, the very first thing to do is unpack the most essential items from your boxes. Necessities like toilet paper, soap, paper towels, basic kitchen supplies, and bedding items are typically the first things people unpack.

What to Handle First After You've Moved - Unpack the Essentials

If you want to begin unpacking everything else, that’s fine, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be done right away either. As long as the essentials are out, you have some time to take care of the other important tasks on your list.

Do a Quick Walkthrough

Before setting up the furniture and unpacking all of your boxes, it’s a good idea to take your phone or camera on a quick walkthrough of the new place and snap pictures of any damage that was there before you moved in.

What to Handle First After You've Moved - Do a Quick Walkthrough

If you do end up finding some damage and taking a couple of pictures, send them to your landlord with a quick friendly note. He or she will likely appreciate the initiative, and it’ll ensure the damage is documented as early as possible, which will hopefully save you some money when it comes time to get your security deposit back.

Get the Internet Going

Unless you’re content using your smartphone for all of your Internet needs, it’s a good idea to get a wireless router set up as soon as possible.

What to Handle First After You've Moved - Get the Internet Going

We often take the Internet for granted, but having it running will make your life infinitely easier– especially if you start unpacking and realize you need to find a nearby hardware store or suddenly become famished and need to order a pizza ASAP.

If you don’t have your own router, you may need to contact your Internet provider to have them set one up for you. That can take a couple of days, so make an appointment right away.

Call Your Utility Companies

You should also call the rest of the utility companies for your building to get everything set up in your name.

What to Handle First After You've Moved - Call Your Utility Companies

Unless utilities are included in your rent and handled by the building, make sure to contact your energy, water, gas, and cable providers.

Hit the Grocery Store

An important first day task after you’ve moved into a new place is to hit the local grocery store. Acquaint yourself with the setup and pick up at least a few essentials to get you through the first couple days post-move.

What to Handle First After You've Moved - Hit the Grocery Store

While you’re there, it’s a good idea to see if they have a membership card you can sign up for. Since you’ll be shopping there for at least a year, having a discount card can only be beneficial for your bank account.

Change Your Address

It’s also a good idea to officially change your address with the post office as early as possible after moving into a new place so your mail starts getting forwarded right away. The U.S. Postal Service’s website makes it easy to change your address online, so start there.

 

What to Handle First After You've Moved - Change Your Address

Make sure to also change your billing address with your bank and credit card, and provide a new shipping address for any subscriptions you receive. You may even want to send out a quick email to friends and family members – one of them is guaranteed to ask for it at some point.

Transfer Your Prescriptions

Even though you don’t technically have to transfer prescriptions until it’s time for a refill, it makes sense to get everything set up at a new nearby pharmacy as soon as possible.

 

What to Handle First After You've Moved - Transfer Your Prescriptions

It’s easier to transfer all of them over together, and you’ll feel better knowing all of your prescriptions are taken care of.

Take Measurements

Make a list of all of the furniture and decor you need or want to buy after moving in. Decide where the new items will go, then take measurements of the areas where you’ll be putting them, making sure to mark down the measurements on your list.

What to Handle First After You've Moved - Take Measurements

 

Take note of the sizes of your windows and the height of your shower curtain rod. If the shower curtain rod is high enough off the ground, you may need to pick up an extra-long liner.

Scope Out Your Neighborhood

Arguably one of the best parts about moving to a new place is the chance to explore a different neighborhood than you’re used to – unless you move only a block away, which has become a habit of mine. The best way to get a feel for your new neighborhood is to just start walking.

What to Handle First After You've Moved - Scope Out Your Neighborhood

Walk up and down the busier streets near you and take note of the cool cafes, eateries, and shops within walking distance of your place. Look for public transportation stops, fast-food options, and even a gym if you’re thinking of joining one. Most of all, just enjoy taking in the sights of your new city.

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What You Should Handle First After You've Moved into a New Apartment

Photo Credit: Cyril CatonDaniel IncandelaAnne Petersenphotosteve101Universal PopsI-5 Design & ManufactureLauren MitchellAdam FagenSean MacEnteegigi_nyc

Moving Out: How to Make a Packing Plan

So you’ve found a new apartment, gone through the application process and been accepted. It feels like a huge weight has been lifted off your shoulders … until you realize you have to start packing.

Moving Out How to Make a Packing Plan

Packing is one of the most stressful parts of moving because it involves trying to stay organized while going through every single one of your possessions item by item. And for those of us with a decidedly large amount of possessions, keeping everything organized becomes even more complicated.

If you’re moving out of your apartment in the near future, there are ways to make packing easier so it doesn’t overwhelm you. Here are some tips for creating a packing plan that will keep you organized:

Mark Your Calendar

As soon as you find out your application has been accepted, settle on a moving date and mark it in your calendar. This will allow you to physically see how much time you have to plan, and it will make scheduling your packing a lot easier.

Moving Out How to Make a Packing Plan - Mark Your Calendar

Go through the calendar day-by-day until your moving date and plan specific packing projects for each day.

If either of your apartment buildings (the one you currently live in and the one you’re moving to) require you to schedule moves ahead of time, make sure you set that up as soon as you can to get the date that works best for you.

Start Early

Once you have the moving date set up, get an early start on some of the preliminary packing projects, like decluttering and researching movers (if you’re using them). The earlier you start preparing to pack, the less stressed you’ll be in the days ahead of your move, so work now in order to relax later.

Declutter and Donate

Before even picking up a moving box, go room by room and decide what you’re going to save and get rid of. You don’t want to do this while you’re packing, because doing both at the same time can be pretty overwhelming.

Moving Out: How to Make a Packing Plan Declutter and Donate

Sort through everything in each room and start getting rid of anything you don’t use. If the item is broken, stained or otherwise unusable, simply toss it. If it’s in good condition but you haven’t used it in several months, put it in a donation pile.

A good rule to keep in mind: If you didn’t even remember you had the item until you found it, put it in the donation box – you don’t need it.

Figure Out What You’ll Need

Once you’ve gone through everything and (hopefully) downsized, you’ll have a much better idea of how many boxes and other moving supplies you’ll be needing. Start gathering enough moving boxes or bins for each room, along with packing tape and a lot of packing paper or newspaper.

Check out your local grocery store to see if they have any extra boxes you can use to save a little money. If you have a lot of breakables, you may want to invest in some bubble wrap to keep everything perfectly safe.

Create a Packing List

No, you don’t have to make a complete packing list for all of your belongings, but it’s a good idea to make a priority list of all the items you use most. That way, you can keep all of those items together and easily find them once you’re at the new apartment.

Moving Out How to Make a Packing Plan Create a Packing ListAlso consider making a list of everything you’ll need right away at the new place, like essential bathroom supplies, bed sheets and some kitchen utensils. You can pack those items together in one box so you’ll immediately have everything you need when you get there.

Stay Organized

Come up with a plan for identifying what items you’re packing in each box. Many people list every item in marker on the sides of the box, but do whatever you find easiest.

Some professional movers suggest taking pictures of all of the items that are going in each box. If you take the photos on your phone, you’ll be able to scroll through your gallery and quickly find whatever you’re looking for there first.

Pack for the New Place

Many people pack room by room, but that strategy may not make sense when it comes time to unpack at your new place, depending on how different the setup is there. Make a list of the rooms you’ll have at your new apartment, and organize your belongings that way to make the unpacking process that much easier.

Moving Out How to Make a Packing Plan Pack for the New Place

Consider an App

There are several apps out there that make the packing and moving process a thousand times easier. The Sortly and Moving Day apps both offer unique ways to inventory your belongings and organize them by what box they’re in.

The Move Planner app allows you to create a checklist for your move using one of their prepopulated checklist items or one you enter in yourself. Apps are a great way to organize any aspect of your move, including packing, unpacking and getting organization tips once you’re at the new apartment.

Remember: The more organized you are while packing, the easier the rest of your moving process will be!

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Moving Out- How to Make a Packing Plan

Photo Credit: Sarah BarkerChris Campbelldrip&jubgbloggingFinn Frode