Assessing the Security of a New Apartment

An important step in searching for a new apartment is to evaluate its security. From high-tech security cameras to armed security guards, there are clear indicators of how secure an apartment building is from potential burglars and other criminals. factors in the crime rate when calculating how kid-friendly a neighborhood is. Otherwise, use the following tips in making your own assessment:

  1. First, search online for the apartment building or complex’s website. Many apartment complexes now have websites with detailed information on the apartments themselves, and some even have comments from past and present tenants. See if they also give any information regarding the security features of the building.
  2. Drive around the apartment complex to see for yourself what kind of security measures there are. Visit the building at different times of the day to see how quiet (or loud) the neighborhood is, check out the amount of light available in the building’s parking lot, see if the windows are barred (indicating a rougher neighborhood or trouble with break-ins), and keep an eye out on the amount of garbage on the street.
  3. Keep a list of questions to ask the landlord when you call or visit the apartment. For example, ask if they have security cameras, security staff, deadbolts and locks on all the doors, carbon monoxide and smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and adequate lighting in hallways, the parking lot and any covered walkways. Also make sure to ask if there are sprinklers in all of the apartments.
  4. If there is a garage for tenants, make sure it is safe and secure just as the apartment complex should be. Ensure that the parking garage is well-lit, features a security guard or some other form of precaution to keep non-residents out, security cameras, sprinklers, fire alarms, and an alarm system.
  5. Does the lobby have safety measures to make sure someone off the street cannot access the apartments? This is very important and a tenant should definitely ask the landlord this question before renting the apartment; make sure the lobby can be accessed only via a key or access code, or that it has a guard on duty at all times.


Making moving easier on your kids

Moving inevitably means a lot of change – new home, new neighbors, maybe even new furniture. You can minimize the stress of moving on your kids by finding a home either within their current school district or close to another great school.

Start by entering the neighborhood, city or zip code where you’re looking for a new home, and click on “Search Properties”.

school search 1

You will be directed to a page that shows properties in the location where you are looking for homes. Under the Schools tab, locate the school that you are looking for.  You have the option of looking for both public schools and private schools. You can even check multiple schools to expand your search!

school search 2

When you finally do find your perfect home near the schools where you want your kids to attend, you can make the move fun for your children by taking them to meet your new neighbors or inviting a few of their friends over for a small pizza party in your new place!

Quick and Easy Ways to Add Color to Your Home


You don’t have to paint your walls a garish color or invest in a bright carpet to add pops of color to your apartment. There are many different ways to enhance your décor with a variety of pastel or primary color combinations.

Throw pillows. This inexpensive idea can add just enough color to a family room or den without breaking the budget or adding too much of one bold color to the room. Choosing a bright hue, like robin’s egg blue, orange, or royal purple, really increases the drama. Added bonus? You can easily change up the color schemes each season.

Vases. Mix and match vases with other colorful items for a dramatic vignette on a mantle or for a dining table centerpiece. Use one color but in a wide range of hues for a monochromatic look. For example, choose blue and then buy vases, candles, and other knick-knacks in different hues of blue

Rugs. Although you can certainly purchase an expensive Oriental area rug if you wish, there are other cheaper rug options available. Go to home stores and other department stores and look for a nice rug that has your home’s color scheme in it, or chose one that has the bold colors that you want to try in your apartment (yellow and blue is a great combination, or try red and purple).

Paintings. This idea is not only a great focal piece for a wall, but also a great investment if you know what to look for and where to buy. Opt for a large piece with lots of bright and muted colors, especially if you’re placing the artwork above a mantle, over a sofa, or perhaps over your bed. By choosing art that has both bright and muted colors, each of the colors will pop more because of the contrast.

Wallpaper. Create a focal wall in one room to showcase boldly patterned wallpaper. In your bedroom, opt for the wall against which your bed is located. In the den, try the wall opposite the TV or fireplace. Choose the longest or tallest wall in your dining room. Choose wallpaper with a large overall pattern, bold stripes, or a brightly hued all-over floral design. For added drama, try textured wallpaper, such as linen or bamboo.

The Easiest Plants to Grow in a Container Garden

Container garden

Apartment dwellers, those who live in townhomes, or people who own a small condo can sometimes feel that gardening is out of their reach due to the lack of outdoor space. However, even those living in the tiniest places have gardening options! Container gardening is a growing trend and a great option for those who don’t have a yard or large patio. You can use many different containers, such as small planters, terra cotta pots in various sizes, and also creative plant growers like glazed ceramic pots. Just make sure that whatever container you use has a hole in the bottom for drainage.

There are also certain plants that tend to thrive better in small containers. Here is a list of the easiest plants to grow in your container garden, whether on your patio, deck or even on your kitchen windowsill.

Best flowers. If you want to have beautiful flowers on your patio or deck, there are many varieties that are ideal for small spaces. Geraniums, pansies, violets, petunias, marigolds, snapdragons, and zinnias are all lovely choices for a flower container garden.

Best herbs.  Most herbs are pretty easy to grow no matter what size pot you’re using, but there are some that are hardy and easier to grow than others. Try planting the following herbs in your container garden: basil, thyme, rosemary, mint, parsley, and oregano.

Best vegetables. Many of those who have limited space for gardening don’t think they can grow vegetables using containers on a patio or deck, but that is a myth as well. You can grow many types of vegetables using container gardening, including cherry tomatoes, radishes, hot peppers, carrots, lettuce, squash, and eggplants.

Best fruits. Many fruits grow well in small containers and pots, such as strawberries, blueberries, and dwarf citrus plants.

Furniture Hunting for Your First Apartment


The excitement and anxiety of renting your first apartment is just some of the joys that college grads have to look forward to. Furnishing your first apartment can be difficult, especially if you are low on funds, as most grads are when they’re entering the real world after college. Here are a few inexpensive ideas for sturdy furniture that will fit perfectly in that first apartment:

  1. Consider yard sales, garage sales, and thrift stores. All of these options offer affordable furniture that can be used in your first apartment. Although it can sometimes be fairly hard to find furniture at yard sales, check out thrift stores to see if they have any sturdy, non-stained furniture like sofas and chairs, which will usually be available at pretty cheap prices.
  2. Check out Craigslist. There are usually dozens of people getting rid of their furniture to make room for new pieces. Take advantage of this and score some great furniture for reasonable prices, but be sure to be cautious as there are many scams on Craigslist just waiting to take advantage of people. If you luck out, you may even find some good furniture for free!
  3. Ask family and friends. Many people know of someone within their network who have some furniture they need to get rid of. Ask family and friends to keep an ear out for anyone who is selling or giving away sofas, chairs, end tables, beds, mattresses, or dining tables.
  4. Wait for sales at furniture rental stores. Places like Rent-A-Center® and Aaron’s® will sometimes have special sales where they sell of pieces of furniture they can no longer rent out, such as those items that are slightly stained, damaged, or in need of paint or refurbishing. You can find great high-end pieces that only need a new coat of paint, new upholstery, a deep cleaning, or a new wood stain.

The Top Five Apartment-Friendly Dog Breeds


Living in an apartment doesn’t mean that you have to give up your dream of owning a dog. There are several dog breeds that do well in small spaces and thrive as long as you properly care for them, give them enough exercise, and show them lots of love and attention.

  1. Pugs. With their cute wrinkled faces, curled tails and short hair, pugs are a popular breed for apartment owners, especially because they only grow to be about 18 lbs. They are also kid-friendly, very affectionate, and get along well with other dogs and even with cats.
  2. Bichon Frise. With their curly hair, the Bichon Frise is not as high-maintenance as they may look, but is very gentle and sweet, and great with children and other dogs. Highly trainable, this little dog needs lots of exercise to get rid of his extra energy. However, he may suffer from separation anxiety if left alone for long periods of time.
  3. Chihuahua. Weighing in at just 2 to 6 lbs, these tiny dogs make wonderful pets for apartment dwellers. Though they can be a little yippy, their sweet nature and loyalty make up for their shrill barks. Make sure to let them know you’re the boss, and watch them around other dogs since they tend to forget how tiny they are and will challenge a larger dog entering their territory.
  4. Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. This is one of the most gentle of any small dog breed and a wonderful family dog. Gentle, sweet natured, and laid-back, this breed is one of the best dogs for singles or families who live in an apartment.
  5. Boston terrier. Adorable sums up the Boston terrier in one word, with its large brown eyes, loving and affectionate manner, and playfulness. They’re pretty quiet dogs, but can be territorial if another dog invades their space.