Apartment Living

A Simply Delicious Summer Drink

A Simply Delicious Summer Drink

Even though summer months are beginning to wane, most of the tale-tell signs of a shift in seasons – namely schoolgoing back in session – doesn’t look to be happening any time soon. I don’t know about you, but I’ve decided to keep my summer cocktail game strong.

A Simply Delicious Summer Drink on Apartment 34

Thankfully I snagged a Skagerak Trolley to serve as our outdoor bar cart during our yard makeover and I’m definitely putting this pretty little baby to good use. I love the bar cart’s classic modern design, the use of warm (and durable!) teak mixed with powder-coated steel. This version is in this dark forest green but it also comes in white.

But my current go-to summer drink is crazy easy, refreshing, not overly strong. Most importantly it comes together in the few seconds you have before you have to chase a child around your house. If, like me, you need some fresh shelter in place inspiration I hope this helps. I’ll be diving into recipes in the next couple of weeks as well because no matter how much I love crispy rice and carmelized shallot pasta, it’s time to have some new tricks in the bag.

A Simply Delicious Summer Drink on Apartment 34A Simply Delicious Summer Drink on Apartment 34

RECIPE: Simple Summer G&T

85ml tonic
35 ml gin
lemon slices

Directions: Fill a double old fashioned or coupe glass with ice. Pour in the tonic. Top with gin, stir in 3-5 raspberries, and squeeze in a lemon slice to two. Enjoy!

Here are a few of my other go-to summer cocktails. Do you have a summer drink you’d add to the list? Share recipes in comments, please!

The Aperol Spritz

Cucumber Gin Fizz

Apartment 34 Fizz

Grapefruit Margarita 

Pineapple Mint Agua Fresca (virgin)

photography by seth smoot / styling kendra smoot

Published at Mon, 03 Aug 2020 21:42:39 +0000

Emmanuelle Simon Designs a Stunning Mini-Apartment in Paris

Emmanuelle Simon Designs a Stunning Mini-Apartment in Paris on Apartment 34

As we sit at home most days, one of my favorite pastimes is looking at other people’s spaces! I highly suspect it’s one of your favorite activities as well. That’s why I had to share this eye-catching petite Paris apartment with you.

Emmanuelle Simon Designs a Stunning Mini-Apartment in Paris on Apartment 34

This apartment might be tiny – it comes in at just 300sq ft, but it packs some major design punches. The space evokes the feeling of an idyllic hotel suite, but one you never have to check out of. Interior designer Emmanuelle Simon set out to optimize livable space and create a soothing respite from the outside world, without sacrificing functionality or beauty.

Simon outfitted the apartment with custom limestone colored waxed-concrete cabinetry that tucks away all essentials, creating a sleek, clean effect. Oak was used to create a custom banquette and sits atop a window seat that wraps one entire wall of the apartment, offering both seating, more storage and a place to display objet.

Emmanuelle Simon Designs a Stunning Mini-Apartment in Paris on Apartment 34 Emmanuelle Simon Designs a Stunning Mini-Apartment in Paris on Apartment 34 Emmanuelle Simon Designs a Stunning Mini-Apartment in Paris on Apartment 34

The varied texture between the wooly morrocan rug, travertine coffee table, small ceramic accessories and vintage Dutch rattan chair in the image above is a master class in mixing materials.

Emmanuelle Simon Designs a Stunning Mini-Apartment in Paris on Apartment 34

Of course, the pièce de résistance of the apartment is the beautiful mirror-polished brass counter and backsplash in the exposed area of the kitchen. The brass surface reflects not only light but also subtle reflections of the space itself, creating a unique illusion of additional depth.

The apartment’s clean, minimal look is further balanced and warmed with choice vintage pieces such as glass vessels clad in wicker, fuzzy throw pillows in soft creams and dusty rose, a large 1960’s ceramic table lamp from famed Marshall Studios, and a classic Gubi Multi-Lite Pendant.

I love how this apartment illustrates that you can pack elevated taste into even the tiniest of spaces. You just need to make smart, impactful design decisions to optimize every square inch you have. This apartment offers thoughtful details – I would certainly love to have a little piece of Paris like this to call my own!

For more inspiring home tours, CLICK HERE.

photography courtesy of Emmanuelle Simon

Published at Thu, 30 Jul 2020 20:28:48 +0000

Apartment Living

Everything You Need to Know About Micro Apartments

Everything You Need to Know About Micro Apartments

Size doesn’t always matter, especially when it comes to apartment size.

Let us introduce you to one of the newest apartment living trends — micro apartments. The best way to think of them is the urban version of a tiny home. Here’s everything you need to know about them.

What is a micro unit apartment?

Usually smaller than a studio apartment and averaging between 200 and 400 square feet, micro apartments or micro units are popping up in major cities all over the country. Typically designed as an open-living concept with high ceilings and big windows to create the illusion of more space, they’re a great fit for single residents, as opposed to families or people with roommates. Most are usually designed with efficient furniture, such as Murphy beds and kitchenettes, too.

However, some micro-apartment buildings offer a mix of private rooms and communal spaces, such as bathrooms, large rooftops or lounge rooms. The location of micro apartments, high-end amenities and community features tend to balance out the lack of space for most people who choose micro-living.

micro apartment

What to look for in a micro apartment

When looking for your perfect micro apartment there are some key amenities you should look for before signing a lease.

Architecture and design

The architecture of the building can have an effect on the micro-apartment design. Try to look for micro apartments that have been built with tall ceilings, large windows, balconies or decks because these features will amplify the space. You should also look for space-saving furniture that can serve dual purposes. Here are some examples of how to best design your space.

  • Murphy beds: These beds allow you to put your bed away while you’re not using it to clear up some space in the living area. In some cases, Murphy beds have dual functions, such as turning into a desk or storage space. This type of dual-purpose furniture clear up more space in a tiny apartment.
  • Loft beds: Using a loft bed is a great way to create extra space in your micro- apartment design. Since your bed is out of the way, you can use the space below for an office, a TV room or anything your mind can dream up.
  • Lounge chairs or bean bags: Instead of a large couch that takes up most of your space, consider a nice recliner, beanbag or nest chair to decorate your living room.
  • Bar area: Use your kitchen bar area and bar stools instead of a large dining room table. This can help save space while still allowing you to have a dining area in your home.

Common areas and community spaces

Whether they be rooftop patios, gardens, lobbies or club rooms, communal spaces are key elements of many micro-apartment buildings. Since the apartment itself is smaller, these areas offer a great space to work or relax outside of your small space. When looking at a prospective apartment, check out these features offered and make sure they work for you.

Another thing to keep in mind is the community within the micro-apartment complex. The shared space gives micro living a communal feel. This can be very appealing for young residents who are new to the area as a way to meet people and make friends. However, since you could be sharing areas, such as rooftops, kitchens and even bathrooms, in some cases, it might be a good idea to make sure you vet the people with whom you’ll be sharing your space.

Pros and cons of micro-apartment living

Here are some pros and cons to think about before renting a micro apartment.


  • Saving money: Micro apartments are a way to live in a big city and save money as they typically cost less than a studio apartment. Since they’re a small space, you won’t need to spend a lot of money on furniture, either.
  • Location: Micro units can often be found in the heart of the city, offering breathtaking views and convenience. Being close to restaurants, parks and museums is what makes giving up space worth it for so many people. Also, you can live, work and play within the same area and won’t need to spend a lot of extra money on travel and commuting expenses.


  • Space: While the tiny space appeals to some, it’s not meant for everyone. If you enjoy having a separate room for your bed or like to spread out, micro-apartments might not be the best option for you as space is very limited.
  • Guests: Living in small spaces makes it difficult to have guests visit, whether for dinner or for a longer stay. These spaces also aren’t ideal for sharing with family or friends.
  • Cost: Although micro apartments do tend to cost less than a traditional one or two-bedroom apartment, that doesn’t mean they’re inexpensive. Prime locations and new amenities contribute to their cost.

micro apartment kitchen

How much do micro apartments cost?

The cost of micro apartments varies greatly from city to city, but generally, rent is around 70 to 80 percent of what a typical apartment costs.

Although micro apartments can cost more per square footage than a traditional apartment, overall, they’re still more affordable and a great option for mid-income earners who want to live in the city.

Who lives in micro apartments?

While micro apartments can house a large range of ages, they typically target single, 20-somethings or millennials with few possessions and moderately well-paid city jobs. Millennials are taking longer to settle down, making micro living a great option as they’re best suited for single people not families.

They’re a great starting apartment for young renters who are also willing to exchange space for location and convenience and enjoy spending time exploring the city and socializing outside of their apartment. People in this age range don’t want to be tied down to one place. They want to move and explore, which is why renting is best suited for them.

Are micro apartments right for you?

Micro apartments might start popping up in more cities across the world. Although micro living may require you to adjust your lifestyle, they can be a great starter apartment for young people moving to a new city. Not only are they often centered in great locations, but they also offer great amenities, a sense of community and above all, a more affordable way to live alone in a big city.

Published at Thu, 23 Jul 2020 12:00:01 +0000

Rookie Mistakes Everyone Makes During Their First Move

It’s a learning experience.

Moving for the first time? Even if you think you know it all, you probably aren’t quite ready. A move, no matter how far, typically involves a lot of moving parts. And moving mistakes.

Check out our list for some common first-time errors and to learn how you can avoid making them.

1. Packing up your home “as-is”

When moving for the first time, you might be tempted to just pack up your existing home “as-is” and move your entire past life to your new home. This is usually not a wise decision.

If you’re the type of person that’s very thorough and regular with cleaning out your home, you can skip over this step. But, if you’re like the rest of us and have packrat tendencies, you need to listen up.

Before moving day rolls around, take at least a week to incrementally purge your personal possessions. If you’re honest with yourself, there’s probably a good amount of documents, clothes, tools and more that you don’t need to take to your new place. Donating or tossing these items before packing can save you time and money in the long run.

There are a number of ways to tell if you own too much stuff, according to organizational experts, but one works particularly well. Dorothy Breininger of the TV show “Hoarders” told Bustle that if you can afford to go days or even weeks without unpacking after a trip, you own too many things. “For people who don’t keep a lot around, they can’t afford to not unpack and put their things away,” she says.

moving list

2. Skipping over the planning

It seems simple, right? Put your things in a box and get those boxes to your new home. No matter the size of your move, you have to plan ahead, especially if it’s your first move. If you don’t, moving day will be a harsh and, likely expensive, reality.

There are plenty of easy-to-follow moving timelines that will help you be sure you’ve covered all the bases. From the months leading up to the move all the way to the very day of the move, you need to have certain preparations made.

You can also utilize a number of tech tools to help avoid any moving mistakes. One great online tool is MoveAdvisor, a mobile app that can help you find the right professionals, keep an inventory of your home and organize and schedule your move based on the time remaining until moving day! MoveAdvisor is available for both iPhone and on the Google Play store.

3. Forgetting about your first night in the new place

One of the most common yet most aggravating moving mistakes you can make is forgetting to plan for your first night in your new home. On moving day, you’ll probably move all of your boxes and furniture into your new home.

The next few days or even weeks will likely be consumed with unpacking. But, you don’t want to wait days or weeks to get to all of your essential items!Before you pack, put together an “overnight” kit to use during the interim between move-in day and finishing your unpacking. This kit should have everything you need for basic survival and hygiene, such as:

  • Phone or laptop chargers
  • Toiletries
  • Clothing
  • Checkbook
  • Important documents like insurance info, social security card and driver license

4. Forgetting to forward your mail

Granted, much of our important correspondence these days comes electronically, but snail mail still plays an important role in our lives. Before you move, you shouldn’t forget to forward your mail to your new address. It’s easy to do online, and if you’re in the U.S., it only costs a dollar to officially change your address instantly.

old moving truck

5. Falling for a too-good-to-be-true price for movers

Like the old saying goes, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” If your move involves hiring professional movers, you’ll probably want to avoid being swayed by a too-good-to-be-true cost.

Before hiring a mover or moving company, check at least three references. You are 100 percent within your rights to ask for a moving company to provide their licensure and insurance information, and you should. Lastly, be sure you read any contracts thoroughly before signature. A shady company could leave you with a big mess that you’re ultimately liable for.

According to, “The average cost of a local move is $1,250. The average cost of a long distance move is $4,890 (distance of 1,000 miles),” based on a 2-3 bedroom house and average 7,500 pounds of cargo.

That price estimate is based on licensed, professional movers, so if you receive a quoted price much lower than that, you should be wary. When in doubt, you can use an online moving cost calculator to see about what you should be paying.

6. Forgetting about Fido

Obviously, you won’t forget to move your pets with you. But, many people do forget to plan their big moves with their pets in mind.

Before moving with a pet, make sure they have a “survival pack” for them, too — just like the one we mentioned you would need for yourself. This should include food and water bowls, blankets and waste bags. A few of your fur baby’s favorite toys can’t hurt either.

There are also a number of health precautions you should take with your pets. Prior to a move you should have a regular vet checkup. If you’re moving across state lines, your new home may have different health requirements for animals that you’ll need to educate yourself on.

Moving with pets is not hard, it just takes a bit more planning.

DIY move

7. Equating DIY with money-saving

There’s a reason people do things professionally — because they’re good at it. The same can be said for professional movers. If it was easy to do it the right way, everyone would do it for themselves.

Despite the fact that self moves are growing in popularity, moving is complex, tiresome and often high-stakes. The smallest mistake can end up costing you a ton of money. If you’re considering a DIY move because it will save you money, think about the overall value of some of your most expensive items.

If even one item is damaged, you could end up losing all the money you “saved” by doing it yourself in the first place. Some of the most common moving mistakes center around an over-ambitious DIY move.

If you’re considering a DIY move, perhaps consider some hybrid option. A model of moving known as “You Pack, We Drive” moving is increasing in popularity. This option allows you to pack up your belongings at your own pace and have them professionally transported to your new home, where you will then unpack on your own.

Be smart and avoid moving mistakes

Whether you’re dreading your move or you’re excited about it, chances are there are some anxious feelings surrounding moving day. With that, you can easily make moving mistakes that will cost you in the long run.

Be smart, plan ahead and follow our advice to avoid those moving mistakes, and you’ll thank yourself in the end.

Published at Wed, 22 Jul 2020 12:00:30 +0000

Apartment Living

Home Buying and Selling During the Pandemic: What You Need to Know

Home Buying and Selling During the Pandemic: What You Need to Know

Technology and good-old-fashioned creativity are helping agents, buyers, and sellers abide by COVID-19 health and safety practices while getting deals done.

Some buyers are touring houses virtually. Others visit in person while remaining at least six feet from their agent. Sellers are hosting open houses on Facebook Live. Appraisers are doing drive-by valuations. Buyers are watching inspections via video call. Masked and gloved notaries are getting signatures on doorsteps.

“We have had to make some adjustments, for sure,” says Brian K. Henson, a REALTOR® with Atlanta Fine Homes / Sotheby’s International Realty in Alpharetta, Ga. “Everyone is trying to minimize face-to-face interactions. There have been some delays, but mostly, deals are getting done, just with tweaks.”

Here’s what home buying and selling during the pandemic looks like.

Showings Go Virtual

The rules around in-person showings vary by city, county, and state. Some allow them and some ban them. Check with your state, county, and local government to get the latest on business closures and shut-down rules.

Agents have conducted home tours via FaceTime and other similar tools for years. But these platforms have proven invaluable for home buying and selling during the pandemic. Real estate sites report a surge in the creation of 3D home tours. Redfin, a real estate brokerage, saw a 494% increase in requests for video home tours in March.

“I’ve done several FaceTime showings,” says Henson. He conducted virtual showings before COVID-19, too. He recently closed a deal on a home the buyers only saw on video, he says, but hasn’t yet done so during the pandemic.

In places where in-person showings are allowed, agents wipe down door handles, spray the lockbox with disinfectant, and open up the house, closets, everything for a client. “We leave all the lights on so no one touches switches, and we don’t touch cabinets or doors during showings,” Henson says.

Safe-Showing Guidelines

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, which produces HouseLogic, recommends only one buyer enter a home at a time, with 6 feet between each guest. NAR also recommends agents have potential buyers wash their hands, or use hand sanitizer when they come in the door. They should also remove their shoes. No children should be present at showings, either.

“We’re living in extraordinary times and unusual circumstances. If you have the ability to work, you have to be creative,” Mabél Guzmán, a Chicago real estate agent, told NBC News. Guzmán, who is also vice president of association affairs for NAR, has put together a video offering tips and strategies for virtual showings during the pandemic.

Down Payment Help

Many organizations offering down payment assistance to first-time home buyers have temporarily suspended the programs or changed the rules. You can check the status of programs in your area at the Down Payment Assistance Resource site.

Desktop, Drive-By Appraisals

Appraisers are essential workers in many areas, so home valuations are continuing. But often remotely. New, temporary rules from the Federal Housing Finance Authority allow drive-by and desktop appraisals for loans backed by the federal government.

In a desktop appraisal, the appraiser comes up with a home estimate based on tax records and multiple listing service information, without an in-person visit. For a drive-by, the appraiser only looks at the home’s exterior, in combination with a desktop appraisal. The Appraisal Foundation has put out guidelines for handling appraisals during the pandemic. Here’s the FAQ.

And here are specific new appraisal guidelines by agency:

On the other hand, some private lenders still require in-person appraisals, which are allowed even in areas with shutdown orders. Private lenders hold about 35% of first-lien mortgages, according to the Urban Institute

When appraisers come to your home, they should adhere to Centers for Disease Control guidelines, including wearing gloves and a face mask, keeping at least 6 feet apart from anyone in the home, and asking if the homeowners have been sick or traveled recently to a COVID-19 hotspot.

Inspections Via Live Video

Inspectors are now often working alone, no buyers in tow, and using hand sanitizer and alcohol wipes. The National Association of Certified Home Inspectors advises inspectors to videotape their inspection so clients can watch it at home later, or to use FaceTime or other live video chat apps to take their clients along on the inspection, virtually. They can also call clients with their findings after they’re done.

The American Society of Home Inspectors has also issued guidelines for inspectors so they keep themselves and the homeowners safe while providing an accurate assessment of a home’s condition.

Mortgage Rates and Locks

With mortgage rates fluctuating quickly and closing times taking longer than usual, some lenders are extending mortgage rate lock periods. You can grab a good rate and hang on to it even if your lender takes longer than usual to process your loan.

But the protocol depends on the lender and the loan. Some lenders are offering this for all loans; others for refis. Check with your lender about its policy.

Related: How to Get Home Financing

Employment Verification

An important step in getting a mortgage is proving the borrower has a job. In pre-coronavirus days, lenders called the borrower’s employer for a verbal verification.

The Federal Housing Finance Authority, which oversees Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and federal home loan banks, has relaxed the rules for loans backed by the federal government because so many businesses are closed.

Lenders for federally backed loans now accept an email from an employer, a recent year-to-date paystub, or a bank statement showing a recent payroll deposit as proof of employment.


Home buying and selling during the pandemic means real estate agents can conduct the final walk-through via video with their clients. Or they can just open the home and have buyers walk through on their own. Henson says he still accompanies his clients, but stays six feet away and has them wash their hands when entering and exiting the house. Everyone’s wearing masks, too.

And, of course, when the buyers take possession, they should disinfect.

Remote Notarization Depends On Where You Live

About one-half of states have permanent remote online notarization (RON) policies. These allow a notary and signer in different locations to sign electronic document, usually by use of video apps like Zoom or FaceTime. Notaries will watch you sign either a paper document or do an electronic signature on an e-doc, via camera.

Some states have rolled out temporary rules allowing RON. Here’s a state-by-state list of notary law updates, and the type of remote notarizations allowed. The number of states allowing remote notarization could grow as federal and state pandemic legislation expands.

Closings Get Creative

Traditional closings, where everybody gathered around a big table to sign the final papers, are no longer possible. Title companies and banks are getting super creative in dealing with the limitations.

A Minnesota company, Legacy Title, rolled out a drive-thru closing service at one of its offices in an old bank branch building. The title company rep sits in a bank teller window and handles the closing papers while the customer sits in their car. Legacy completed 14 closings in the first week it offered drive-thru service.

Then there are drive-by closings, where the entire transaction takes place in cars. Masked and gloved notaries meet buyers in parking lots and pass documents through car windows.

“I had a closing where the buyer sat in her car the whole time. The attorney came out to her car, gave her paperwork, had her sign in her car, and my buyer never got out of her car,” Birmingham, Ala., agent Isaac McDow told WBRC television.

Says Georgia-based agent Henson, “I’ve had closings the last three weeks [that] I’ve been asked not to attend. There was one where the seller signed two days before buyer. Then the seller came back two days later and signed.”

Henson, who is also licensed in New York, has had to extend closing dates on two sales there since. Co-op boards won’t let non-residents into buildings ­­­– not even an electrician who needs to make repairs as part of an issue that came up in the inspection. He left the closing with an open-ended date.

“It’s all about being really flexible right now,” he says.

TIP: Find out if your county recording office can complete the deal online.

Student Loan Relief

Finally, if you’re also trying to swing your student loan payments, know that federal student loan borrowers get an automatic six-month break in loan payments from April 10, 2020, through Sept. 3, 2020. Thanks to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, they also won’t be charged a dime of interest in that time.

Learn more at the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s site.

Keep in mind that payment suspension only applies to federal loans owned by the Department of Education. Some help may be available to borrowers with private student loans and other loans (like Perkins Loans and Federal Family Education Loans) that aren’t covered. But it’s not automatic. Reach out to your student loan servicer for information.

So, Should You Buy or Sell?

The real estate industry is creatively and safely responding to the situation, and mortgage rates remain low. Your agent is a great source of information about home buying and selling during the pandemic to help you feel comfortable. But, ultimately, it’s a question only you can answer.

Related: 5 Questions to Ask Your Agent When Buying a House

Published at Fri, 01 May 2020 21:31:14 +0000

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Apartment Living

RentHop 2020 Subway Rent Map: Rents Are Dropping at Major MTA Stops

RentHop 2020 Subway Rent Map: Rents Are Dropping at Major MTA Stops

New York’s MTA subway system is an integral part of most New Yorkers’ lives. With as many as 5.5 million riders each weekday, it truly is the backbone of the city. It should be no surprise that it is one of the first things that people consider when looking to rent an apartment. Proximity to the right trains means shorter commutes and more time spent doing what you love. RentHop’s data scientists love maps and rental data, and so we’ve mapped out rental prices by subway stop to assist in your apartment hunting endeavors.

Our key findings this year include:
  • Rents remained the same around 28 MTA stops, increased at 257 stops, and fell at 159, or 36%, stops. This number is 10% higher than in 2019.
  • As landlords were pushed to offer more concessions in response to the lackluster market performance caused by the pandemic, more stops in Manhattan this year experienced price cuts, including 28 St ($3,635, -11.3%), 34 St – Herald Sq($3,600, -7.6%) , 86 St ($2,978, -6.7%) , and Times Square ($3,299, -5.1%).
  • Even with a significant YoY decrease, Union Square continued to be the most expensive stop in the NYC metro area. Median 1BR rent at this stop currently sits at $4,750, 6.8% lower than the same period in 2019.
  • New developments continue to be a key driver of rental rates. In Brooklyn, median 1BR went up at several stops, including 36 St ($3,050, +9.1%) , Hewes St ($3,050, +9.1%), and Marcy Av ($3,150, +5.0%).

The Interactive Map Below Shows All Rents, Stops, and YoY Price Fluctuations


Find our map useful? Check out the static map at the bottom for a quick snapshot of the data and for easy sharing.

Major subway hubs like Union Square, Fulton Street, and Atlantic Ave/Barclay’s Center give nearby residents flexibility and convenience when traveling or commuting to different places. They also make it easy to convene and get home from anywhere after a long day of work. It’s no wonder these subway stops ranked among the most expensive stops on the RentHop subway rent map.

Median 1BR Rents at Major NYC Subway Hubs
  • Union Square 14 St (4/5/6/L/N/Q/R/W) – $4,750, YoY -6.8%
  • Times Square 42 St (1/2/3/7/N/Q/R/S/W) – $3,173, -2.4%
  • Grand Central (4/5/6/7/S) – $3,500, -2.8%
  • West 4 St (A/B/C/D/E/F/M) – $3,556, +7.9%
  • Herald Square 34 St (B/D/F/M/N/Q/R/W) – $3,600, -7.6%
  • Fulton St (2/3) – $3,824, +2.9%
  • Fulton St (4/5) – $3,800, +2.8%
  • Fulton St (A/C/J/Z) – $3,805, +3.0%
  • Jay St – Metro Tech (A/C/F/N/R/W) – $3,523, +0.4%
  • Atlantic Ave – Barclay’s Center (2/3/4/5/B/Q) – $3,364, -2.4%
  • Atlantic Ave – Barclay’s Center (D/N/R) – $3,452, +0.1%
  • Broadway Junction (A/C/J/L/Z) – $2,000, +6.7%
  • Jackson Heights – Roosevelt Av / 74 St – Broadway (7/E/F/M/R) – $1,950, +2.6%

36% of MTA Stops Experienced Rent Drops, 10% More than Previous Year

2020 has been a rough year for New York. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the unemployment rate in the city skyrocketed 18.3% as of May, according to City Comptroller Scott Stringer. This inevitably had a severe impact on real estate, pushing down rental rates across the city. As people relocate to other metro areas and suburbs, landlords across the boroughs are having trouble filling up the vacant apartments, especially those who own and operate luxury rental buildings.

Compared to only 115 stops in 2019, this year, 159 stops, or 36%, saw price reductions, some of which are in the wealthier neighborhoods in the city. Median 1BR rent dipped 11.3% at 28 St (6 Train), as luxury rental buildings offered more concessions to attract new tenants, including Prism at 50 East 28 Street (YoY -5.2%) and Instrata Gramercy at 290 3rd Ave (YoY -9.3%), which doubled the concessions from one month’s free to two months. Similarly, buildings around 34 St – Herald Square also increased incentives, including EOS at 100 West 31 Street and Epic at 125 West 31 Street, which in turn drove down the rents by 7.6%. Stops in the Upper East Side also experienced notable price fluctuations, with median 1BR rent decreased 8.4% around 96 St (Q) and 6.7% at 86 St (4/5/6).

Gentrification remains a key driver of NYC rental rates. Median 1BR rent jumped 10.1% at 36 St stop (D/N/R Trains), from $1,998 to $2,200. This fluctuation is likely due to the Hyland, a new development launched early this year located at 194 21 St in Brooklyn that features bike storage, gym, parking, and a modern roof deck. Meanwhile, median 1BR rent rose 9.1% at Hewes St (J/M) and 5.0% at Marcy Ave (J/M/Z) respectively, mostly driven by the DIME, a 23-story, 177-unit high-end rental building located at 275 South 5 Street, Brooklyn.

These stops saw some of the largest rent drops on one-bedroom apartments
  • 28 St – 6 Train – $3,635, YoY -11.3%
  • 62 St – D/N – $1,550, YoY -8.8%
  • 96 St – Q – $2,839, YoY -8.4%
  • Fort Hamilton Parkway – D – $1,800, YoY -7.7%
  • 34 St – Herald Sq – B/D/F/M/N/Q/R/W – $3,600, YoY -7.6%
These subway stops saw some of the most drastic rent jumps
  • 36 St – D/N/R Trains – $2,200, YoY +10.1%
  • Hewes St – J/M – $3,050, YoY +9.1%
  • West 4 St – A/B/C/D/E/F/M – $3,556, YoY +7.9%
  • 161 St – Yankee Stadium – 4/B/D – $1,995, YoY +7.8%
  • Beverly Rd – Q – $2,041, YoY +7.4%


To calculate the median net effective rents for the map above, we used RentHop’s rental data for one-bedroom apartments from March 16 through June 15, 2019 & 2020, MTA Lines and Stops data, and GIS data for subway stops compiled by CUNY – Baruch College. To get accurate prices near the subway stops, we looked at least 50 non-duplicated rental listings within half a mile of a subway stop and then calculated the median rents. If there were less than 50 non-duplicated listings, we expanded the distance to 1 mile of a subway stop.

Condensed Map for Easy Sharing – Click on the image for the full map!

Click on the Map For High-Resolution Map

Published at Tue, 23 Jun 2020 16:30:25 +0000

RentHop NYC Market Report: Rents Are Going Down in New York City and Manhattan Is Losing Renters

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically altered life in New York City. The MTA system grapples with billions of dollars of deficits with historically low ridership, and many people, who once called New York City home, are now breaking their leases and leaving the epicenter due to concerns over a potential second wave, burden of high living costs amplified by unemployment, and changes in company remote working policies.

After a few painful weeks with severe declines in leasing activities and high vacancy, the NYC rental market seems to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. While still slow compared to previous years, the rental market has shown some signs of recovery in the past month, including more inventory hitting the market. In this report, we will analyze the current state of the rental market and offer some insights for people who are looking to move in the coming weeks.

For the First Time in Years, Rents Are Dropping

Calculated using thousands of listings advertised in the past 30 days (May 12 to June 11), the median 1BR rent in New York City currently sits at $2,645.3, down 1.3% from $2,681 during the same period in 2019. This downward pressure is largely caused by reduced demand and an increasing amount of rental concessions offered by landlords grappling with tenant retention and high vacancies. The anemic demand and competition for tenants are forcing some landlords to double their incentives, going from 1 month free to 2 months free on certain units and lease terms.

We are also seeing a growing number of no-fee apartments on the market, whether advertised by rental agents or directly by landlords. Prior to the pandemic, around 58% of the listings on RentHop were no-fee. This number has since increased to 64%.

For those who are staying in the city with expiring leases, now might be a good time to start your apartment search. We expect that the rental trends will continue as New York City struggles with unprecedented job losses, an outflow of residents, and the economic turmoil due to the coronavirus lockdown.

Inventory Flows Back In, Approaching the Pre-Pandemic Level

While April has historically been the beginning of busy real estate sales and rental seasons, the market has been flat this year. Due to the COVID-19 lockdown and pause of real estate showings, the number of active listings on RentHop dropped dramatically within a week after the start of the stay-at-home order. By mid-April, the number of active listings on RentHop had lowered 20% to just around 20,000 on average each week.

Since then, inventory has been growing steadily. The number of active listings first peaked the week of May 4 to May 10 since COVID-19 and has generally been trending upward. This implies that inventory is now flowing back, and renters now have more options to choose from.

Renter Inquiries Recovered to the Pre-Pandemic Level

Unsurprisingly, the coronavirus outbreak exerted downward pressure on the rental market in the city of New York. Daily inquiry count started dropping exponentially in early March, and by March 20, the day when the PAUSE order was announced, the daily renter inquiry count had fallen over 60% below the pre-pandemic daily average.

But things quickly started to turnaround by early April. This upward trend continued through May, with May 12 being 26% higher than the daily average prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. And while the recent BLM protests have had an impact on market activities, generally speaking, the number of renter inquiries is reaching the pre-pandemic level. We expect this upward trend to continue in the coming months, driven by pent-up demand as people who have held off moving are now restarting their apartment search process.

Leads, however, seem to be shifting from Manhattan to Brooklyn. As shown in the chart below, the top 5 most inquired neighborhoods last year were all Manhattan neighborhoods, such as Hell’s Kitchen, FiDi, and the East Village. The rankings changed drastically this year. Four out of the top five neighborhoods are located in Brooklyn, and the fifth one is Astoria, Queens. This shift might be evidence that the city may be seeing an outflow of residents from Manhattan to more affordable and less populated neighborhoods in outer boroughs.

Published at Tue, 16 Jun 2020 14:00:37 +0000

Apartment Living

Three Small Apartment Clothing Storage Hacks

Three Small Apartment Clothing Storage Hacks

If you’ve lived in a small studio or one-bedroom apartment, you know how tough it can be to make space for all your clothes. Small apartments can be limited on closet space, not to mention floor space for additional items such as coat racks, shoe racks, and dressers. With these three small apartment clothing storage hacks, though, chances are you’ll find yourself fitting all your clothes in your small apartment with ease.

small apartment clothing storage

1. Under-bed storage

In small apartments, you only have so much floor space available. That’s why thinking vertically helps when it comes to small apartment clothing storage. Take a look around your apartment at the objects occupying the most floor space – is there any way you can fit other objects under them?

When it comes to your bed, chances are the answer will be yes. The space between your bed frame and your floor can provide more than enough room for storage bins (especially if you elevate your bed frame using bed risers). These under-bed storage bins make great homes for clothes, especially clothes you’re not wearing at the moment – a bin full of neatly folded and organized winter sweaters, for example, fits nicely under your bed and can stay there until the next time winter rolls around.

2. Top shelf storage

Many apartment closets come with a top shelf that provides plenty of storage space. That said, anyone who’s attempted to stack clothes on these top shelves knows that doing so can get messy and unorganized sooner than later. Perhaps more annoyingly, piles of clothes stacked too high on these shelves can easily come tumbling down, ruining all the careful organization work you’ve put in and making it difficult to use all the shelf space available.

Just as with under-bed storage, you can use storage bins to keep your top shelf organized and neat. If the same large, plastic tubs that can fit under your bed also fit your top shelf, you can easily use the same bins, but other options such as foot-by-foot storage cubes with lids may be better suited for turning your top shelf into a well-organized, easily stackable small apartment clothing storage space for socks, underwear, and other modestly sized garments. With proper top-shelf storage items, you can effectively add an extra shelf or two to your closet.

3. Benches, trunks, and ottomans

The best apartment storage hacks simultaneously expand the space you have available for stashing away items while adding decorative flair to your apartment. Benches, trunks, and especially ottomans can easily pull off this pair of needs while helping you maximize your small apartment clothing storage.

A bench at the foot of your bed that both looks nice and is tall enough to gently disguise storage boxes under it can help to streamline your small apartment clothing storage. A trunk that at first appears to be just a pretty decoration can likewise include ample space for coats, linens, and more. A large storage ottoman may be best of all for small apartment clothing storage, as not only do ottomans look especially natural at the foot of a bed and provide additional seating, but they also tend to mask their double use as storage far better than benches and trunks do.

How do you make space for your small apartment clothing storage? Sound off in the comments!

Published at Mon, 06 Jul 2020 13:06:40 +0000

How to Keep Gnats, Ants, and Flies Out of Your Apartment

Let’s face it: Even the most modern, well-constructed apartments aren’t perfectly sealed to the outdoor world. At some point or another, a gnat, fruit fly, or ant will likely find its way into your apartment. While gnats, ants, and fruit flies are all tiny and virtually harmless, they certainly aren’t pleasant presences, so here’s how you can keep these bugs out of your apartment.

keep bugs out of apartment

How to keep fruit flies and gnats out of your apartment

Fruit flies and gnats are particularly pesky invaders in that they can enter your apartment through produce you buy at the grocery store. With fruit flies, you may have better luck handling your insect problem once your unwanted visitors arrive rather than beforehand. Fruit fly traps, for example, are quite simple to create using just some basic household goods. Preventative measures, though of limited success with fruit flies, can include taking out your garbage more regularly, cleaning dirty dishes sooner than later, and minimizing damp spaces to potentially keep these bugs out of your apartment.

How to keep house flies out of your apartment

While fruit flies are so tiny they can sometimes be easy to miss, house flies are larger and, to many people, more annoying due to their constant buzzing. Additionally, since house flies can see everything around them at all times, killing them using fly swatters can prove immensely challenging. 

Like fruit flies, house flies can be tricky to prevent from getting into your apartment. However, since house flies are bigger than fruit flies, simply keeping your doors and windows closed – or at least making sure your window screens are down when your windows are open – can help keep house flies outside.

If house flies begin populating your apartment, try hanging fly tape near the spot in your apartment where you see the most flies. This method can also be useful for reducing fruit fly populations, whereas other fruit fly and gnat techniques such as homemade traps may be less successful when dealing with house flies.

How to keep ants out of your apartment

Ants can be especially tricky to keep out of your apartment. Not only can they fit through the tiniest of cracks, but they can also crawl all over surfaces throughout your apartment, meaning that nothing of yours is truly off-limits to them. That said, ants may be easier to avoid bringing into your apartment than are gnats, fruit flies, and house flies. 

Whereas gnats, fruit flies, and house flies will theoretically enter any apartment with produce, dirty dishes, or a garbage bin, ants are significantly less likely to go to apartments with no obvious mess. A clean apartment is thus a huge – and easy – ant deterrent. Another preventative method is spraying lemon juice into any cracks and holes from which you see ants emerge, as the high acidity of lemon juice can disrupt ants’ biological signals and discourage them from entering your apartment.

What about other insects?

Whereas fruit flies, gnats, ants, and houseflies are small and harmless insects, you may also be worried about bigger nuisances such as roaches and fleas. These insects can be tougher to deter. For advice on dealing with roaches, click here, and for advice on fleas, click here.

Published at Fri, 03 Jul 2020 13:03:27 +0000

Apartment Living

Pros and Cons: Pets in an Apartment

Pros and Cons: Pets in an Apartment

In our Pros and Cons series, we weigh the advantages and disadvantages of important decisions that apartment dwellers are making every day.

For some people, apartment life might not quite feel complete without a pet. That said, the responsibilities involved in pet ownership can be daunting – and that’s before you factor in the many unique considerations that come with apartment life. Below, we weigh the pros and cons of having pets in an apartment.

pets apartment

Pros of pets in an apartment

Less lonely

People who live alone in an apartment may experience loneliness, especially during times when it’s best to stay at home. Pets may help to counter loneliness since their companionship, though not human, can take on the role of a best friend. Additionally, if you live in a pet-friendly building with many other pet owners or regularly walk your dog, you may find yourself meeting and befriending other pet owners in your area. Even just noticing that other residents in your apartment building have pets can make it easier to befriend these neighbors if you too have a pet.

More entertainment

If you can’t get out of your apartment much but find yourself easily bored, a pet can provide plentiful entertainment. Playing with your pets can help you pass the time when your other usual apartment activities just aren’t doing the trick. Pets can be just as entertaining for any guests who visit you too.

Get out (or stay in) and exercise

Some studies have correlated pet ownership with longer life expectancy, and others have shown that dog owners get more exercise than people who don’t own dogs since dogs must be walked several times per day. Pet ownership may thus prove especially healthy for you if you struggle to make the time to exercise or just find exercising in your apartment annoying. Additionally, if your apartment building has pet-friendly amenities or an outdoor area where pets are welcome, you may find that your pet helps you explore these common areas – and befriend your neighbors – more easily.

Cons of pets in an apartment

Lack of space

Pets require exercise and entertainment, and both of these needs may be hard to provide in small apartments where you struggle to make space for yourself. If you find it challenging to get proper exercise in your apartment, then you might find it just as tough to get a heart-racing game of fetch going for your dog (especially a large dog) or provide your cat with enough space to go chasing after toy mice or yarn balls. And if your apartment lacks outdoor space, you may not have the option of letting your dog out quickly for a bathroom break instead of committing to a full-on walk. A lack of indoor space can also make storing pet supplies, toys, and food more difficult.

Challenges with apartment hunting

With a pet in tow, finding a new apartment can become significantly more challenging. Not nearly all landlords will allow pets, and those who do may also charge you an extra one-time pet fee or monthly additional pet rent. Additionally, if you need an apartment with access to pet amenities such as dog-washing stations, your apartment hunting options may prove limited (and likely more expensive).

More expenses and responsibility

Owning a pet means taking care of it, and taking care of your pet means not just feeding it and caring for it, but paying for food, toys, pet furniture, vet bills, and other pet expenses you wouldn’t otherwise have to worry about (plus, for cats, cat litter). If you travel for extended periods and don’t have roommates to watch over your pets, you may also need to pay someone to take care of them in your absence. And if your pets experience medical emergencies, paying for their healthcare can make an instant, large dent in your budget. 

Do you have pets in your apartment? Why or why not? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Published at Mon, 29 Jun 2020 15:01:16 +0000

Five Space-Saving Dish Drying Options

Many apartment dwellers need to buy their own groceries and cook their own meals to maintain a feasible budget, but small kitchens can pose some challenges for making food at home. As though kitchenware and food storage obstacles aren’t limiting enough, there’s also the struggle of making space to dry your dishes when your countertop space is minimal and you don’t have a dishwasher. But people are nothing if not innovative, so there have long been plenty of space-savvy ways to dry dishes in your small kitchen – here are five space-saving dish drying options.

dry dishes small kitchen

1. Countertop dish rack

Perhaps the most common of all apartment dish drying options, a countertop dish rack easily allows you to dry dishes in a small kitchen. Place your countertop dish rack next to your sink so that, once you’ve washed your dishes, you can immediately place them in your dish rack to air dry for a few hours. Many countertop dish rack models take up only a modest amount of space, making them ideal fits for especially cramped kitchens. You can also find certain models with slots for drying utensils or two X-shaped rows for extra dish drying capacity.

2. Silicone dish mat

When you use a countertop dish rack to dry dishes in a small kitchen, the water that drips from your dishes collects on your countertop. If water accumulation concerns you, then you may prefer a silicone dish mat. These drying surfaces are lined with grooves that allow airflow for easier dish drying and serve as channels for water collection. 

Silicone is easy to clean with soapy water, and a silicone dish mat’s flat shape may be easier for cleaning than the varying shapes of a countertop dish rack might be. You may also want to use a silicone dish mat in conjunction with a countertop dish rack to maximize dish drying space while catching water drippings before they hit your countertop.

3. Over the sink dish rack

Over the sink dish racks are somewhat rarer than their countertop and silicone counterparts, but they may be ideal for kitchens especially lacking in countertop space. Over the sink dish rack options span a wide variety of shapes and possible kitchen placements that allow you to dry your dishes in a small kitchen, as some models literally stand well above your sink while others dip into it. No matter which type of over the sink dish rack you choose, you’ll be saving your countertop space for other purposes including storage and food prep.

4. Dish towels

If occupying more countertop space to dry dishes in your small kitchen or buying additional kitchen devices is infeasible for you, dish towels may work best for you. A clean dish towel can take your washed dishes from soaking wet to fully dry and ready to reuse in just seconds, saving you the wait and space involved with other drying options. Dish towels can be especially useful for your apartment if you have space to hang and dry your wet towels or in-unit laundry for quick cleaning and drying.

5. Dishwasher

If you’re lucky enough to have an apartment with a dishwasher in the kitchen, then your countertop drying woes may be somewhat relieved. That said, not all items can go in the dishwasher, but even for items that aren’t dishwasher safe, you can always use the dishwasher as a large post-cleaning drying rack. Of course, you’ll need to be sure to remove the non-dishwasher safe items before you run the dishwasher to prevent these items from warping, melting, or otherwise failing.

How do you dry dishes in your small apartment? Share your tips in the comments!

Published at Fri, 26 Jun 2020 13:26:39 +0000

Apartment Living

Skip These 7 Home Projects—They Won’t Increase Your Resale Value

Skip These 7 Home Projects—They Won’t Increase Your Resale Value

As a homeowner, it’s important not only to keep your home in great shape, but to also increase its value when you can. If and when you decide to sell, you’ll have already taken care of the ability to get top dollar for your property. 

But there are plenty of home improvement projects that just aren’t worth trying when it comes to upping your resale value. Some of them are even counterproductive. Ahead, find some of the projects you’ll want to avoid if you’d like a sweet return on your investment.

What buyer wouldn’t like a home theater? Apparently, not everyone is impressed by them enough to pay for one. “A home theater is great in theory as an upgrade, but that is not going to increase your home sale price as one would believe,” says Jason Rowland, a real estate broker at the Rowland Group/Compass in Chicago. That’s because it’s a limited market amenity, and he says many people are not accustomed to having one. “This will not speak to the majority of home buyers, so it won’t create multiple interested parties, it will limit competition—the exact opposite of what you are trying to accomplish,” he says.

Rowland says there’s a simple way to determine if the upgrade you have in mind is a good idea. “Out of the 20 closest people you know, how many of them have this upgrade?” he reasons. “If the answer is ‘zero,’ it’s probably not a viable upgrade that will speak to the buying public.”  

A swimming pool can provide unlimited fun, but whether adding one is solid choice or not will depend on your location. “Using interior rooms or outdoor space for what the majority of your market is used to seeing is the best course for increasing price and number of interested parties,” Rowland says. In other words, if your neighborhood is full of homes with pools, then adding one would make sense. “If there are no pools in your neighborhood, know that it might not be a value add, as home sales in the neighborhood aren’t going to have comps to support a substantial upgrade in price.”

His view is shared by Eve Henry, a realtor in Prosper, Texas, who says pools can be tricky. “An appraiser will likely be comparing your home to others that have a pool, so it won’t add much value compared to the installation price.”

Here’s something else to consider: some buyers with small children refuse to purchase a home with a pool because they consider it too much of a risk.

If you’re trying to increase your livable space, why not convert that garage that you never use? Well, Henry says a garage conversion is almost always a bad idea. “You are losing covered parking, which, in most places in the U.S., is one of the most desired features,” she explains. And technically, you may not be increasing your livable space. “Unless you are adding new heating and air conditioning systems, windows, and appropriate roof coverings, appraisers often will not count this additional square footage as living space,” Henry says.

Jaylon Brigham is a real estate broker at Halstead Manhattan in New York. One problem he sees with co-ops and condos is conversions. He says people believe if they convert a 2BR/JR-4 apartment (usually defined as a one-bedroom apartment with a dining alcove that could be used as a bedroom) to a two-bedroom, it will make the apartment compete and price along with true two-bedroom apartments.

This is not the case. “Just because a seller puts up a wall and a door around a 10’ by 8’ area, it doesn’t make the apartment any larger.” That’s because the square footage hasn’t changed, so the seller can’t compete with true 2-bedroom homes that are 20 to 25 percent bigger. “The intrinsic value may go up for some buyers, who, for example, are expecting or planning a baby in the future, or are working from home, but the real value doesn’t.”

He notes you could also lose potential buyers who would prefer the open layout with a separate dining area. “My advice to anyone looking to convert that area into a second bedroom or a study is only to do it because they have a need for it, not because they think their home will all of a sudden be worth 30 percent more, because they’ll be disappointed,” he explains.

Curb appeal is important when selling your home. But if you get carried away, don’t expect to recoup your investment. “I would stay away from re-landscaping an entire house,” advises Jennifer Okhovat, a realtor with Compass in Los Angeles. Of course, you need to maintain the property—which includes keeping the lawn mowed and getting rid of weeds. But she says there’s no reason to overhaul the whole yard before you put the home on the market. 

“In the past few years, for example, I have seen clients replace grass lawns with artificial turf—only to have the new homeowner change it back,” she says.

Another questionable choice is replacing a home’s flooring. “Unless your flooring is completely atrocious and in a condition that makes the home unsellable, I would personally refrain from changing floors,” Okhovat says. Doesn’t every buyer love new hardwood floors? Perhaps, but your choices may not match their taste. “For example, if you pull out all of your dark hardwood floors and just replace it with new brown hardwood, often buyers will have particular taste in flooring and will just change it when they purchase the home anyway.”

This is something that Rick Albert, a broker associate with LAMERICA Real Estate and investor in Los Angeles, can also attest to. “That money could go to waste, especially if the homeowner went cheap when they should have spent more, such as with laminate flooring versus real hardwood.” Albert advises against spending money on any finishes since your preferences might differ greatly from the next homeowner.

Focusing on the wrong areas

It’s no secret that buyers often make emotional decisions—and kitchens and bathrooms are the areas that tend to sway them one way or the other. However, if you invest in a kitchen remodel but the rest of the house needs work, Albert explains buyers won’t be that impressed. “Plus, if you’re a buyer and the kitchen, or bathroom, or whatever, is remodeled but the rest of the house isn’t, now the buyer has to plan their remodel around the new kitchen to keep it consistent,” he says.

Published at Thu, 25 Jun 2020 19:00:00 +0000

How to Find the Most Hackable IKEA Pieces, According to Seasoned IKEA Hackers

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

You’ve searched the entire internet for the perfect piece that will fit your space and budget, but… no luck. Time to get creative! And as seasoned DIYers and renovators know, one prime way to do that is with IKEA hacks—changing up off-the-shelf IKEA pieces with new legs, hardware, and more to turn them into a dreamy custom creation.

But when it comes to hacks, not every IKEA product is created equal. Some IKEA products are easier and more cost-effective to change up and personalize than others—owing to their construction, material, and other factors— and no one knows that better than experienced IKEA hackers. Here’s what these pros advise when it comes to picking out a piece with prime hackability.

“For me, the whole point of an IKEA hack is to take advantage of the low product pricing, so it doesn’t make sense to choose a hack with exorbitantly expensive materials,” says Faith Towers-Provencher of Design Fixation. According to her, any product over $100 is out of the running.

Nomita Vaish-Taylor of Your DIY Family, on the other hand, does some number crunching. “The general rule I follow is that the total cost of the IKEA product plus all other materials should cost less than buying something similar.” If she can’t find a finished product that makes the most of her space or she does and it’s way over budget, then it’s time for a hack.

If it’s going in a high-traffic area, look for something sturdy

Before selecting an item to DIY, consider its function in your home. Will it get a lot of wear and tear on a daily basis—like the hacked banquette pictured above, from a plant-filled California condo—or will it just sit there and look pretty? Lexy Ward of The Proper Blog says that some IKEA pieces are super sturdy, others not so much. “So it’s important to give some thought to how you’ll use items in your space,” she says.

If your finished item will be heavily used or you’re overhauling the IKEA product, take a tip from Amy Taylor of The Mombot: “I always look for sturdy items to be the base of my hack. If you try and hack or build upon one of their cheaper pieces, construction will be an issue.” She says to look for solid wood and avoid the hollow furniture made of particle board. One of her top picks is unfinished pine.

Consider the material and what you’re hoping to make

In terms of the surface, “Anything can be painted if it’s prepped right,” according to Jessica Nickerson of House Homemade. But there are definitely some materials that are easier and faster to coat. The general consensus among the DIYers? Wood and metal are best. Nickerson also notes that the more matte the product, the easier it is to paint. If you’re changing the look of a piece with tacks or nails, Towers-Provencher recommends choosing a softer material with some give, such as cork or wood.

Skip pre-constructed pieces

How the product is constructed (or rather, deconstructed) also plays a part. Kristine Franklin of The Painted Hive says that products with pre-connected components are probably not the best option for major hacks.

Another tip: You know those IKEA pieces with the finger cut outs on the drawers? Franklin says, “If you want to dress things up with hardware, check if the drawers can be reversed,” so you can screw in a cute knob. Never underestimate a hardware upgrade!

Prioritize large, flat surfaces

One reason IKEA products are so hackable is their simplicity, but pay attention to their shape. “Pieces with flat surfaces lend themselves more to hacks because it’s easier to add other materials to them,” says Towers-Provencher. “You can’t easily add wood or other rigid elements to rounded shapes.”

Pick something in a shade close to the finished color you’re going for

Starting with a raw wood piece is a great option because it’s a blank canvas. But when you’re choosing between, say a white, black, or navy product, Franklin says to select a color that’s closest to your finished hack because it’s easier to get good coverage. Plus, it better hides future scratches or chips. Carrie Waller of Dream Green DIY has a different approach and likes to purchase white pieces. “I know that any color or pattern I put on it will complement the white and bring it to life,” she says.

Whatever you do, follow what’s right for you. Happy hacking!

Published at Thu, 25 Jun 2020 18:30:00 +0000

Apartment Living

The Ultimate College Apartment Checklist: From Finding a Place to Moving In

The Ultimate College Apartment Checklist: From Finding a Place to Moving In

If you’re getting ready to look for your first college apartment, you’re probably feeling a mix of joy, excitement and even a bit of stress at the task ahead of you. It’s only natural, as renting your first apartment will definitely require a little work. That’s why we put together the ultimate college apartment checklist, packed with everything you need to know to help you move into your first apartment quickly and easily. From establishing a budget to checking the place and watching out for scams, here’s how to find and lock in the perfect new home. 

Jump to:

What’s my moving and renting budget? 

College Apartment Checklist - Budget

The first step on your college apartment checklist is your budget, which you need to figure out before you begin your apartment search. That’s because most of the following steps will depend upon how much money you can and are willing to spend on your future rental. 

But, how do you establish a budget? First, consider all of the costs involved in securing and maintaining your new apartment, and separate your budget into two categories:

Upfront costs 

Upfront costs refer to one-time payments that you generally pay before you move into your new home. For example, landlords and property managers usually have:

  • Move-in fees: These fees cover the first and last month’s rents.
  • Security deposit: It covers any damage you may cause, and will be refunded if the apartment is in good condition when you move out.
  • Application fees: Some properties have an application fee to cover the cost of your background and credit checks. 
  • Holding fees: Landlords may charge this fee to hold your rental unit for a specific period of time prior to signing a lease.
  • Pet fees: Most properties will ask for a pet deposit to cover potential damage, while some will add an additional fee for pet rent.

At the same time, if you plan to use a moving company to transport your belongings to your new place, budget for these services, too.

Recurring costs

Recurring costs refer to the payments you will have to make on an ongoing basis, usually monthly. These largely depend on the amenities your building offers and the arrangement the property has in place regarding utilities. In this category, consider:

  • Rent: How much can you afford to spend on rent? If you have a regular income, establish your budget with a rent affordability calculator. If you don’t, you will also need a co-signer, like one of your parents. 
  • Utilities: Most likely, you’ll split these with the landlord. For instance, most buildings will include water, sewage and garbage in the cost of your rent, while you’ll be responsible for covering the electricity, gas and internet/cable bills. To get an idea of how much you should budget if you’re moving out of state, check out this utility cost breakdown by state
  • Amenities: While apartment buildings are offering an increasing number of amenities which are covered by rent, some buildings may also feature luxury services as add-ons. 

What are my needs as a renter? 

Once you’ve figured out your budget, it’s time to list your needs for your college apartment checklist. But, even before you consider your needs, do some research on the city you want to move to in order to see how much apartments usually go for and what amenities they include. For instance, on, you can find average rents for each city, as well as use the filtering options in the search bar to look into different types of apartments, amenities and neighborhoods. 

After you get an idea of what the rental market looks like, answer the following questions to guide you in your apartment hunt:

What size apartment am I looking for? 

If you’re renting alone, consider whether you want to rent a one-bedroom apartment — which offers more space — or a studio apartment, which is more budget-friendly. Alternatively, if you’re moving in with roommates, determine how many bedrooms you’ll need. 

Renting Small: Main Differences Between Studios and One-Bedroom Apartments

How long will I be renting? 

Rental apartments are typically leased for a fixed period (usually one year) or on a month-to-month basis, and there are pros and cons to both. For example, a yearly lease will get you the best deal on rent. Fixed-term leases also ensure you’ll pay the same amount throughout your lease. Conversely, in monthly contracts, the rent can change each time you renew. What’s more, a one-year contract will protect you from undue evictions, while a monthly lease means your landlord could decide to end your contract from one month to the next. However, a month-to-month lease does offer more flexibility by allowing you to move out whenever you want to without penalty. 

Where will I be renting?

Do you have a car or will you be using public transportation to get to school? With a car, you can move anywhere. But, if you’re planning to use public transit, make sure your apartment is located near a bus, subway or train station.

Meanwhile, consider the type of neighborhood you want to live in. Are you looking for a quiet, residential spot, or do you want to live in the heart of the action? Do some research on the neighborhoods in the area to find the right fit for your needs. Also, remember to check how safe these neighborhoods are. 

What amenities do I need?

Buildings and apartments offer different amenities, and it’s up to you to decide which ones you really want. Below are some of the perks to consider when you’re looking for an apartment. Establish which amenities you absolutely need on your college apartment checklist, and which aren’t necessary, but would be nice to have. This will enable you to be more flexible in your search and to stay on budget. 

  • Appliances: Do you need an in-unit washer and dryer or a laundry room? Are you looking for an apartment with a dishwasher? 
  • Furnishing: Do you need a pre-furnished apartment? These rentals are certainly easier to move into, but they also come with more expensive rents. 
  • Pet friendliness: Do you plan to take a pet with you to college? If so, you’ll need to search for pet-friendly apartments.
  • Air conditioning: While you likely won’t need this one in colder areas, if you’re moving to an apartment in L.A., for example, you’ll definitely need an A/C unit.
  • Parking: If you plan on taking a car with you, try to find a place with a parking space. Street parking isn’t always available and, in some cities, it’s notoriously difficult to find a free spot. 
  • Outdoor spaces & swimming pools: This largely depends on your lifestyle preferences and if you can spare the extra budget for a rooftop garden, a communal terrace or a swimming pool. 
  • Fitness centers: Do you need to have quick access to the gym? Apartment buildings are increasingly offering gyms as an amenity, so you might want to take advantage of this. 

How do I find and assess an apartment?

College Apartment Checklist - Apartment Search

Searching for the perfect apartment is no easy feat. But, if you follow the steps above, you’ll find a great place faster than you might think. 

Furthermore, one of the most important rules in apartment-hunting is considering multiple options. So, make sure you check out a few places before making a final decision. This way, you’ll get to know the market better and get the best possible deal. 

When to start your apartment search

While you can find an apartment at any time of year, you’re much more likely to get a better deal on rent and to tick all the boxes on your college apartment checklist if you start your search early. To get the best possible price for your future apartment, begin your search at least 60 days prior to your move-in date. Also, note that Google Search data shows that May, June and July are peak months for renting — which means you’ll have more competition and prices will be higher during this period. 

How to choose the right apartment

Once you find an apartment that fits your budget and your needs, it’s time to see it in person. When you arrive, ask your guide about the history of the property, the neighborhood and the neighbors. 

Then, during your walkthrough, make sure everything is in working order. Thoroughly inspecting the unit will ensure that you get what you’re paying for and that you’re not moving into a place that will need extra work after you move in. In particular:

  • Examine the walls and floors to see if they have any cracks, holes or leaks. If you find any, take note of or photograph them so you can let the landlord know they were there prior to your occupancy. 
  • Make sure all the lights and light switches work and that they don’t have any burn marks around them.
  • Check to see if the thermostat works. Turn on both the heat and the A/C to confirm that they’re in proper working condition.
  • Monitor the windows and doors to check for drafts.
  • Look for any signs of mold in the apartment.
  • Take note of any smells and investigate the source. 
  • Make sure everything in the bathroom is in working condition. Turn on the faucets and shower to check the water pressure and the drains. 
  • Turn on appliances to make sure they work correctly. 
  • Check the cabinets for any squeaky or wobbly doors. 

While you’re there, take a walk through and around the building to get to know the property and the neighborhood. After all, you won’t be living in a vacuum.

How do I review and sign a lease?

College Apartment Checklist - Lease

When you find the perfect apartment, lock it in as soon as possible. You can opt to hold it for a while (as explained earlier), but when you’re ready to move in, you’ll have to provide certain documents and sign a lease agreement. 

What documents do I need?

Normally when renting an apartment, landlords will expect you to provide your rental and credit history. However, real estate professionals are aware that they’re managing apartments in a student area, and typically, when you have no or very limited credit history, a co-signer will be required.

Additionally, be prepared to provide your landlord with the following information: 

  • Your social security number and birthdate
  • Pay stubs or bank statements to prove your income if you have a job
  • A co-signer’s information if you don’t have a credit or rental history  
  • Personal references 

How do I review the lease?

Even if you think you’ve found your dream apartment, scrutinize the lease agreement so you know what you’re legally committing yourself to. Specifically, check the terms of the lease carefully and ensure the things you talked about with the property manager or landlord are included. Then, discuss the questions below with the person you’re signing the agreement to make sure they’re in line with your college apartment checklist:

  • How do I make the payments?
  • Are there late fees? If so, how and when are they charged?
  • Which utilities are included in my rent? 
  • Are there any circumstances under which you can enter my apartment without notifying me first? 
  • How do you manage repairs? Is there a separate process for emergency repairs?
  • How much advance notice do you need if I decide to move out?
  • Under which circumstances would my security deposit not be refunded? How long does it take to refund a security deposit?
  • Do you have a guest policy? What are the terms? 
  • Can I sublet the apartment outside of the school year? 
  • If I move out in the middle of the month, will you prorate my rent? 

The Nitty-Gritty of Paying the Fair Amount – Prorated Rent Explained

How do I get a roommate?

College Apartment Checklist - Rommates

If you plan to share your apartment with a roommate, do everything you can to pick one who you’ll be happy living with. While there’s no exact science to choosing the perfect roommate, consider the following to make sure you’ll live in harmony:

What type of relationship are you looking for? 

Do you just want someone to pay half the rent, or are you looking for a person you can become friends with? If it’s the latter, you might want to talk about your goals and interests to see if you have things in common to bond over. 

Do your personalities match? 

Even if you’re both fantastic people, certain personalities just don’t work well together, so try to find someone with a temperament similar to yours. For example, if you don’t like to party, you’re probably better off with someone similar. On the other hand, if you’re a social butterfly, you might want to look for someone more extroverted and upbeat. 

Do you have similar cleaning habits? 

Some people are avid cleaners and organizers, while others care less about these things. You and your roommate should have similar expectations in this area. Otherwise, both of you might end up disgruntled. 

Do you have healthy communications with each other? 

We all have our quirks and anxieties, so it’s essential to find someone you can easily communicate with. Even if you end up being the best of friends, you still need to make sure you can talk about the good and the bad without fear or aggression. Because temperament defines communication more than your morals or values, this can be a problem even among the best of us. 

To find the perfect roommate, browse local Facebook groups and message boards. Or, check out these roommate apps, which can help you find your ideal match while taking the hassle out of the search. Then, once you’ve found a potential roommate, here are some questions to ask to see if you’re going to get along well.

How do I protect myself as a renter? 

Avoiding Scams

Unfortunately, as is the case with any housing option, you might run into scams or people who don’t have your best interests at heart. That’s why it’s important to learn how to avoid scams and protect yourself while renting.

Beware of scams

The first rule in avoiding scams is that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. That’s why you should always use reputable websites like, which has 100% verified listings. 

However, if you use websites that don’t verify their listings, get to know the area you’re renting in, especially when it comes to pricing. For instance, if the price of an apartment is much lower than you’d expect in a specific neighborhood, research it carefully. Below are a few scam-checking steps for your college apartment checklist:

  • Check the rental company and make sure it has a credible website. Google its name alongside keywords like “scam,” “review” or “complaint.” 
  • If you found the apartment on a listing website, make sure it’s also listed on the rental company’s website, if they have one. 
  • Ask for identification when touring to make sure you’re talking to a professional working at the company that manages the property. 
  • Never pay with cash or wire transfers. Only make payments to real entities that you can track and follow up with. 
  • Never give out your personal information to someone who hasn’t identified themselves.

If you come across a sketchy property or apartment and think it may be a scam, report it to the police to help others stay safe. 

Renter protection laws 

Know what your rights are so you can protect yourself in the event that anything happens. Each state has different rules regarding renter protections, so be sure to understand yours. 

On a federal level, you are protected against discrimination of any kind, and your landlord is obligated to make reasonable accommodations for you if you have a disability. You also have the right to safety. As such, your property manager or landlord must quickly make any repairs in the event that your home poses a danger to your health. 

When it comes to evictions, your landlord can only begin this process if you break the terms of the lease. In this scenario, they would have to inform you of your wrongdoing first and then offer you the opportunity to correct the issue. Only after you fail to do so can they file an eviction proceeding in court, while also giving you notice so you can participate. When you receive these notices depends upon the individual state laws. If your landlord wins the case, you will be evicted. You’ll also likely be ordered to pay any late fees and cover the costs to repair any damage you may have caused.  

Finally, your landlord cannot withhold your security deposit unless you break the terms of the lease and cause damage to the rental. Once again, each state has specific legislation as to how large this deposit can be and when it should be returned to you. 

How Not to Lose Your Deposit – The Superhero Edition

Renters insurance

Renters insurance is an added cost, but it should definitely go on your college apartment checklist. Just like any type of insurance, it will save you a lot of time and money if you need it. This is also why some buildings require you to have renters insurance before you move in. 

Renters insurance generally costs between $12 and $25 a month, but it compensates up to $30,000 in property damage and $100,000 in liability damage. Therefore, if disaster strikes, it will cover both your medical bills and the cost to replace your belongings. At the same time, if something happens to your apartment and you have to leave it, renters insurance typically covers a few nights in a hotel or the cost of a temporary rental. Finally, you’ll also be compensated even if you were responsible for the damage.

Next steps on your college apartment checklist  

Moving Out

Once you’ve found your new home and signed the lease agreement, it’s time to make a college apartment checklist for your move! To pack mindfully and have everything ready to go on moving day, follow the steps below:

  • Start getting the furniture and items your new apartment is missing. If you have one or more roommates, make sure you check with them first, so you don’t end up duplicating necessities.
  • Set up all the utilities you will manage — such as internet and cable — so you can use them as soon as you move in. 
  • If you have a car, ensure your insurance policy and check-ups are up-to-date, and change the oil if you haven’t in a while.  
  • Cancel any memberships and subscriptions you have in your old hometown, and look for alternatives near your new home.
  • Divide your belongings into essentials and nice-to-haves, and make a donation pile for the things you won’t need again. Pack up the essentials first, and then move on to the nice-to-haves. If you don’t have much space, consider leaving items that may be easily replaceable in your new town. 
  • Get packing supplies. To save time and money, buy these after you know what you’re taking with you.
  • Pack an essentials kit to get you through the first couple of days when you’re still unpacking your things. This should include any medications, personal care items, electronics and chargers you will need immediately. 
  • Get all the supplies you’ll need to clean your apartment and don’t forget trash bags and other home necessities. 
  • Make sure all of the important people in your life have your new address.

And, there you have it, the ultimate college apartment checklist to make your move a stress-free experience. Remember to carefully assess your needs, use reputable websites with verified listings and check out at least a few places before making a final decision. Now, go out there and find your new apartment!

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Published at Fri, 19 Jun 2020 09:30:02 +0000

Revolutionize Your Apartment with These Industrial Style Tips

Industrial chic has become trendy in recent years. And, chances are that you’re more familiar with it than you think. While some might associate this style with warehouse interiors, others might think of vintage factories with turn-of-the-century paraphernalia.

Initially thought to be a masculine and cold-looking home design ideal for big lofts in the big city, nowadays, industrial design is one of the most popular styles around. In fact, it’s being applied to homes across the country, as well as offices, restaurants, clubs and even your favorite café interior.

Although high ceilings work best, your apartment doesn’t have to have to be huge or have an open concept in order to successfully incorporate industrial decor. Surprisingly, industrial chic blends utilitarian design, minimalism and monochrome to achieve the coziest of results, no matter how small your apartment is. But, how does it work? Check out these easy industrial home design tips to find out:

1. Bring out the inside

Classic industrial style is all about exposed architecture, which includes stripping down the interior to see how everything works “on the inside.” For example, exposed architecture elements — such as wooden beams, cement floors, exposed piping and even ductwork — are key in giving your home that engineered look. If your apartment doesn’t have any of those, focus on imperfect finishes or metal reinforcement. You can even leave the walls completely exposed for a nod to the industrial revolution or paint them in a darker color. Plus, if your apartment boasts a classy, exposed brick wall, you already have the best canvas to work with.

If you’ve finished drawing inspiration from your city’s industrial buildings, you already know that raw, unfinished materials and simple, clean lines are the basis of industrial chic. The exposed architecture already mirrors the imperfect — yet organized — vibe you’re going for. Take it even further by incorporating furniture with clean lines and few, if any, unnecessary embellishments.

2. Play with metals

Metal is an essential of industrial style that cannot be overlooked. This particular element can be incorporated anywhere, from studios to huge condos. If metal desks and cabinets reminiscent of old factories don’t speak to you, make sure at least the legs of the furniture and hardware around the house are metal. The more metal around, the cooler the overall vibe of the interior.

As a general rule, choose brass, copper, wrought iron and good old stainless steel instead of gold tones and shiny finishes. Remember, you’re going for a used and battered look, which is the pillar of the industrial style. Incorporate as much metal decor as possible and, instead of replacing that old-school, cast iron radiator, just give it a fresh new coat of paint. And, for the pièce de résistance, see if you can add a steel ceiling lamp that looks like it’s straight out of your favorite steampunk novel.

3. Use neutral tones

Industrial style is generally associated with darker tones that create a moody atmosphere, so pay attention to the color scheme you’re about to use. Focus on simplicity, starting from the monochrome walls and minimalistic upholstery the minute you walk in.

Specifically, select earthy tones and metal hues like cooler blues and grays — a combination that offers the perfect aged and worn feel. Then, to warm it up and give the apartment a more refined touch, feel free to play with contrast and add plenty of brown and beige for the furniture or rugs. Keep bright colors to a minimum and only use them on small pieces of decor to increase their influence. Likewise, because you’re going for a dark and calm color scheme, try to stay away from statement colors like red or yellow. Side note: When painting, choose a tarnished or matte finish instead of a shiny one.

4. Bring new life into the old

If you can’t make any significant modifications to your rental, decorating is the way to go. And, when decorating your apartment in an industrial fashion, take inspiration from old-school warehouses, factories and even barns.

What was once a strictly utilitarian purpose can now serve as decor. For instance, mechanical clocks play into the industrial-chic, turn-of-the-century vibe, as do restored manufacturing elements. Think gas lanterns, blueprints, industrial mirrors, rotary dial phones and even tools. Additionally, while metal might be the “it” factor when giving your apartment an industrial makeover, don’t overlook reclaimed wood, leather and even stone to create a relaxed atmosphere.

Industrial style is perfect if you’re looking for contemporary comfort with a vintage twist. Plus, it can be mixed with other styles like cottagecore, vintage and even modern, while still keeping its individuality. Contrary to popular belief, this style can also be used to create a comfortable and cozy atmosphere. If you appreciate raw materials and see the beauty of unfinished design, give the industrial style a try!

Discover Apartments Near You

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Published at Fri, 19 Jun 2020 07:00:06 +0000

Apartment Living

The Time is Now

The Time is Now

antiracism on apartment34

This site was started to celebrate what could be called life’s frivolities. Design, fashion, food, travel. Some would argue, and I am certainly among them, that these aspects of life and culture are, in fact, incredibly important components of self expression, mental health and wellbeing, connection, and community building. They are crucial parts of life’s joys.

But I have never explicitly acknowledged on this platform that my ability to focus on such frivolous things is in large part due to my privilege as a white person with means, who lives in a major city. I am housing and food secure. I have a higher education. I benefit from access, resources and status that is unearned. My privilege is made available to me simply because I am white.

In the two weeks since the murder of George Floyd, there has been a collective reckoning with the systemic and institutionalized racism that has terrorized Black communities in the United States for 400 years.

I have spent the last two weeks listening, reading, and recognizing my contribution to the system that continuously oppresses Black people and People of Color (POC) on a daily basis. My inaction is a failing.

But here I am. A white woman with this blog. This platform. With followers on social media. From this point forward, I will be taking conscious action to combat racism in all aspects. A part of this conscious action is embracing my responsibility to share my views publicly. It is my duty to engage in difficult and uncomfortable conversations with you because staying silent is complicity. Remaining silent does no good, only harm.

I suspect I will get feedback that politics should stay personal. You came to Apartment 34 for inspiration on what color to paint your living room, not to discuss politics. But the personal is always political. I’ve certainly never shied away from sharing my personal views here, but saying that a lifestyle blog “isn’t the place to discuss racism” is a luxury of white privilege. We, as white people, are able to compartmentalize different parts of ourselves because our existence is not questioned. It is not threatened on a daily basis. We can choose to not think about these issues. Black people enjoy no such luxury.

I am hopeful you will stay to have these challenging conversations with me.

I apologize to my Black followers and to the BIPOC community at large, as I have not publicly used this platform to do the work of an ally. That stops today. I am still working to unpack my own implicit biases and identify where I fail as an antiracism ally. But because I have this platform, because I am a citizen who lives in a country built on the back of institutionalized racism, and because I am a human who cares, I have a responsibility to not only be an ally, but also be an advocate. An open, active, loud advocate for antiracism. An open, active, loud advocate for Black people. An advocate for the disenfranchised. An advocate for all POC who face daily oppression. And this work doesn’t just happen one time. It’s not a single post. It’s not attending one protest, making one donation or taking one vote. This must be a consistent, ongoing, commitment to keep sharing, showing up, protesting, voting and applying pressure from all sides until justice is done.

As a brand, public platform and individual influencer (no matter how uncomfortable I am with that term), I am putting forth the following:

  • At Apartment 34, we stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter to bring justice, healing, and freedom to Black people across the globe.
  • Apartment 34 is an actively antiracist platform. To that end, we will not tolerate any racist comments or interactions in Apartment 34 owned spaces.
  • Apartment 34 will only work with partners who are also actively antiracist. Going forward, Apt34 will vet all potential partners to understand their hiring practices, their public stance on key issues and their philanthropic activities to actively lift up the Black community and other communities of color.
  • Apartment 34 will serve as a platform to amplify the work of Black designers, makers, artists and creatives not just now, not just occasionally, but on a regular and continual basis.
  • Apartment 34 will actively work to support Black-owned businesses through our purchasing power, links and work with freelancers.
  • Apartment 34 will work to keep the Creative industries accountable, to ensure that Black people have multiple seats at the table, that they are put in positions of leadership, that they are offered to share their expertise at conferences and on panels, and that their work is viewed within its own context, not only within the context of the white-dominant views of design work.

Finally, I still have a lot more personal work to do to examine how implicit racial bias shows up in my own life – a journey I am happy to share with you on the blog and on social media if you are interested (you can see all the resources I’ve shared to do saved on my Instagram Stories and this Google Doc is a list of incredible antiracism resources – I highly recommend you check it out) – but I’ve thought a lot about how Apartment 34 can make a tangible contribution in this moment, right now.

Here is what I’ve come up with:

If you’ve been following Black people on social media this week, or perhaps even had conversations with your own Black friends, you may have heard them say “do not ask me what you can do.” Or “stop asking me what you can do.” As a white person that can feel confusing as you’re just asking how to help, right? But in fact, by you asking, you’re putting all the onus back on the POC to educate you. You’re putting the work on them to dig up past traumas and explain them to you, when in fact, so many Black people have already so graciously, bravely and beautifully done that for all of us, in the form of amazing books about Black life in America.

So below I have compiled a nowhere-near-exhaustive list of Black literature, both fiction and non-fiction, that illuminate the Black experience. To qualify, I have read many, but not all of these titles so I cannot personally speak about each individual one. But I have added them all to my reading list – even the ones I’ve read many years ago. Because I need to have these stories etched into my mind and across my heart. I, as a white person, will never truly appreciate the Black experience because I cannot myself embody it, but I can do my utmost to be fully educated about it, to know Black stories so I can  empathize with the Black struggle to the best of my ability, and understand the history so I can be a better ally and advocate. We all can do this.

So you do not need to DM a black advocate on Instagram or text your Black friend. Simply pick up the work of these amazing Black authors (I have prioritized mostly women but there men too) who have given us an amazing gift with their words and stories.

While I encourage you to seek out Black-owned bookstores to purchase these books (here is a link to 124 Black-owned bookstores), all the links below are Amazon affiliate links. Amazon does offer access to those who cannot access a Black-owned bookstore in this moment in time. I will be donating 100% of any commission made from the purchase of a book listed below to The Conscious Kid, a nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing bias and promoting positive identity development in youth. As The Conscious Kid explains,

“To counter racist socialization, structural racism, and racial bias, experts recommend acknowledging and naming race and racism with children as early and as often as possible (Baron & Banaji; Derman-Sparks). Children’s books are one of the most effective and practical tools for initiating these critical conversations with children, and can also be used to model what it means to resist and disrupt oppression.”

All donations made to The Conscious Kid go to a dedicated fund for the organization to get children’s books from their list of “41 Children’s Books to Support Conversations on Race, Racism, and Resistance” into classrooms across the country.

A key step in ending institutionalized racism in our nation is teaching anti-racism to our children. It’s one of many many things we will need to do individually, and collectively, to begin to dismantle systemic racism once and for all.

100% commissions earned from the purchase of these books will go to The Conscious Kid.

image courtesy of ThirdLove

Published at Mon, 08 Jun 2020 22:58:23 +0000

Daydream Destinations – Villa Kuro

For years, our Gotta Getaway series has been a staple on this blog. Travel is one of my main forms of therapy. I use it to clear my head, get perspective and be re-inspired. Even during the times when I didn’t travel much, like when I’d just had a baby, I was constantly thinking about travel, planning it, wishing for it. While we might all watch our 2020 travel plans slip away and wonder when we might get to enjoy safe travel again, I do think it’s important to continue to dream, wish and plan – even if it’s for an unknown future.

So at the risk of torturing you (and myself!) I’m starting a new series – Daydream Destinations, basically as a way to bank a list of all the places that will be atop my travel wishlist once the world comes out the other side of this pandemic.

And I’m starting with a relatively attainable option – a stunning Airbnb tucked away in Joshua Tree – Villa Kuro.

Villa Kuro on apartment 34Villa Kuro on apartment 34

Set in the beautifully remote hills of Joshua Tree National Park, Villa Kuro is a much needed reprieve from your typical Palm Springs vacation rental. No swinging 60’s decor, no bright colors, no manicured lawns. Instead, this space is subdued. It is serene. It feels like you’ve been completely transported. Oh what I wouldn’t give to be transported right about now.

This stunning, tranquil space was actually on my radar before this all started. I’m kicking myself for not getting there when I had the opportunity last fall.

I love the white appliances in this kitchen – I think they’re making a comeback! The built-in niches also offer a laid-back, yet architectural storage solution. Wood beams in the ceiling warm up all of the hard surfaces.

Villa Kuro on apartment 34

Renovated with a nod to wabi-sabi, what was a 60’s ranch style house now features natural materials and textures, highlighted by oodles of natural light flooding through the oversized doors that connect you directly the desert landscape beyond.

Villa Kuro on apartment 34

I spy foraged branches! You see – the trend really does work no matter where you are.

Villa Kuro on apartment 34 Villa Kuro on apartment 34

A perfect mix of both custom, collected and vintage furniture add to the highly curated vibe of the home (the TV also comes pre-packaged with all your Netflix binging needs – but we may have watched everything that’s ever existed by the time we get here).

Villa Kuro on apartment 34Villa Kuro on apartment 34

But the piece de resistance of this vacation rental has to be the tea room – seen in the first image in this post. The designers realized the original garage had the property’s best views so they converted it into a tea room / meditation space, complete with a low slung table, woven mats for sitting and a desert zen garden. What I wouldn’t give for a little more zen right now.

I love the mix of woven elements  used throughout this house – lampshades, baskets, rugs – they juxtapose with the smooth plaster walls so beautifully. Also is anyone else noticing that backlight mirror in this bathroom? Genius move.

Being home is showing us how little we truly need to survive – food, family, a comforting environment – but I do think stepping outside the confines of our world offers points of view you really can’t acquire from your couch.

And I love Villa Kuro’s point of view.

While I’m certainly no medical expert, I’m beginning to consider staying in a vacation rental sometime over the summer. Vacation rentals in California are starting to become available again now. Maybe we won’t have to leave Villa Kuro in the day-dream category for too long.

images courtesy of villa kuro

Published at Wed, 27 May 2020 05:44:43 +0000

Apartment Living

Record Number of NYC Renters Looking to Sublet Their Apartment in Light of Pandemic

Record Number of NYC Renters Looking to Sublet Their Apartment in Light of Pandemic

Originally posted on May 20, 2020 9:30 am

Updated on May 29, 2020 11:11 am

New York City, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, has experienced unprecedented health, economic, and social disruptions over the last two months. Based on RentHop’s apartment listing data, it now appears a record number of NYC renters are looking for subletters to take over their leases – early evidence the city may be seeing an outflow of residents to the suburbs or other metropolitan areas.

In this report, we’ll analyze the recent spike in the creation of sublet listings1 on RentHop and their outsized distribution in Manhattan versus the outer boroughs.

Daily Average Sublet Listings Hit Record in May

The first two weeks of May 2020 saw a more than 150% increase in average daily sublet listings as compared to the average daily sublet listings of the first two weeks of April 2020. This is the most dramatic spike in new sublet listings we have ever recorded. Further highlighting this sudden increase, the average daily sublet listings in May were double the average of the first two weeks of each month in 2020.2

Even when controlling for seasonality, this spike in sublets is unprecedented. Unlike the May 2020 trend, in the first two weeks of May 2019, RentHop saw a 1% decline in average daily sublet listings as compared to the average daily sublet listings of the first two weeks of April 2019. Similarly, there was a 1.5% decrease in average daily listings in May 2019 compared to the average daily listings of the first four months of 2019.  By contrast, May 2020 saw a more than 150% increase in average daily sublet listings compared to April 2020.

Manhattan Seeing the Largest Spike in New Sublet Listings

Every NYC borough saw an acceleration in new sublet listings in the first two weeks of May 2020 compared to their average in the first four months of the year. Notably, however, Manhattan neighborhoods saw a substantially larger deviation from their 2020 average than neighborhoods in the outer boroughs. Manhattan’s outsized share of new sublets may be due to the relatively higher average socioeconomic status of its residents and their ability to relocate out of the city.  Another factor potentially contributing to May 2020’s sudden sublet spike could be pent up demand as many renters held off on moving in late-March / early-April as the lockdown orders had just gone into effect.

The neighborhoods that saw the most significant spikes in new sublets this month were the Theater District (267% above average), Astoria (267%), Yorkville (255%), Greenpoint (200% increase), Williamsburg (200% increase), the West Village (165% increase), and Battery Park City (160% increase).

1. As used in this report, “sublet listings” are listings created by apartment renters seeking to find a new tenant to take over the remainder of their apartment lease. In NYC, finding a subletter is widely considered the most effective way to get out from under a lease without paying the steep contractual penalties triggered by an outright lease break.

2. We analyzed the first two weeks of each month, as opposed to each month as a whole, because that’s the period when most renters create listings (generally about 1 month prior to their lease end dates).

Published at Wed, 20 May 2020 13:30:45 +0000

Biden Support More than Doubled in Pennsylvania in Q1 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden shocked the world with his Super Tuesday revival, and he is now on the right path to the Democratic nomination against President Donald Trump in November.

Thanks to the wide support he received from Black voters and the consolidation among Democratic moderates, Mr. Biden seized primary victories across the nation, clinching wins in key states such as Michigan, Florida, and Arizona. Now, the question is no longer Bernie vs. Biden, or progressive vs. moderate, but more so if Mr. Biden could unite the Democratic party and beat President Trump. Pennsylvania, one of the key states that postponed the primary due to COVID-19, will soon have its rescheduled primary on June 2nd. Using the FEC individual contribution data, we hope to get a better sense of how much support Mr. Biden could rally in the Keystone State. Our study for Q4 2019 for key cities such as Des Moines and Las Vegas shows that a city’s contributions might align with the outcome of the caucuses and primaries, and we believe that it would also shed light on the general election.

Below are our key findings in the State of Pennsylvania for Q1 2020:

  • From Jan 2019 to March 2020, 8,895 unique donors have contributed to President Trump‘s campaign, while 5,278 unique donors have chosen to support Mr. Biden‘s campaign through donations.
  • The number of unique donors contributing to Biden’s campaign more than doubled in Q1 2020. Specifically, his campaign gained 1,485 new donors in March, which translates to a 39% growth from February.
  • Meanwhile, President Trump’s campaign experienced a slowdown. In Q1 2020, the aggregated number of unique donors contributed to President Trump’s campaign increased only 25%.
  • Of all the zip codes included in this study, 47.9% are Democratic zip codes, 37.3% are Republican zip codes, and 14.8% are purple zip codes, which means that none of the parties holds more than 55% of the unique donor count. [Map – Pennsylvania]
  • Senator Bernie Sanders, who dropped out of the race in early April, was ahead of Mr. Biden in major cities such as Philadelphia, Pittsburg, and Allentown. The same trend holds true in rural areas. The real question, therefore, is whether Mr. Biden can really win over these Bernie voters and grow his base in the Keystone State for the General election.

Fundraising by Zip Code – Pennsylvania

The interactive map below highlights the state of Pennsylvania, its top five cities by population, and zip codes. More detailed, the map shows where each zip code stands, politically, and which presidential candidate is leading in each zip code. You can click on the zip code polygons or select from the drop-down menu to learn more. For a more detailed analysis of how candidates are doing in the same zip code, view the corresponding interactive line graph above the map.

Blue zip codes are zip codes where the aggregated number of unique donors of all Democratic candidates (including past candidates) is higher than the number of unique donors received by Republican candidates (including Trump, Sanford, Walsh, and Weld), and red zip codes are areas where the Republican candidates attracted more unique donors than all Democratic candidates combined.

Pennsylvania as a whole encompasses over 1,900 zip codes. We took out the zip codes with no fundraising activities and wound up with 1,269 zip codes. Of the 1,269 zip codes included in the study, 29.7% of them are blue zip codes, 23.3% are red zip codes, and 47.0% are purple zip codes, which means that none of the parties holds more than 55% of the unique donor count. Urban zip codes tend to have more democratic donors, whereas the Republican Party is more popular among the rural zip codes.

We also broke down the zip codes by the top five cities in Pennsylvania to further analyze voter preferences. These analyses further highlight Biden’s challenge to win over Bernie supporters. Click on one of the cities from the menu below to learn more.



As shown in the line chart above the map, Biden leads in Philadelphia with a total of 1,281 unique donors as of Q1 2020, more than doubled what Trump had drawn, 535, since January 2019. Note that, however, Biden was not really Philly Democrats’ first option. Sanders, in fact, attracted around 900 more unique donors in Philadelphia than Biden before quitting the race.

Among the 68 zip codes in Philadelphia, 92.6% of them are democratic zip codes, including zip code 19103, 19087, and 19106. Zip code 19137 and 19154 are the only two Republican zip codes. In zip code 19154, specifically, Trump leads Biden by 15 unique donors. It is worth noting that just because the Democratic Party leads in those 63 zip codes, it doesn’t mean that Biden has more unique donors in all of those zip codes. Sanders, in fact, drew more unique donors than Biden in 48 of the zip codes.

Biden Thrives in these Zip Codes
  • Zip Code 19103: 177 unique donors, +63.9% Q/Q
  • Zip Code 19106: 90 unique donors, +91.5% Q/Q
  • Zip Code 19096: 72 unique donors, +125% Q/Q
  • Zip Code 19130: 58 unique donors, +103.3% Q/Q
  • Zip Code 19147: 57 unique donors, +74.2% Q/Q
Trump Leads in these Zip Codes
  • Zip Code 19020: 33 unique donors, +26.9% Q/Q
  • Zip Code 19006: 26 unique donors, +62.5% Q/Q
  • Zip Code 19038: 21 unique donors, +23.5% Q/Q
  • Zip Code 19114: 21 unique donors, +31.3% Q/Q
  • Zip Code 19115: 21 unique donors, +23.5% Q/Q



As we can see from the colors of the polygons, Pittsburgh is a deep-blue city, with the Democratic Party leading in 94.9% of its zip codes and no republican zip codes. While Biden was not Pittsburghers’ first choice, the number of unique donors contributing to his campaign has been consistently growing since October 2019. With a significant quarter-over-quarter change of 84.7%, Biden now is ahead of Trump in Pittsburgh by a narrow margin of 36 unique donors.

Biden Thrives in these Zip Codes
  • Zip Code 15217: 75 unique donors, +78.6% Q/Q
  • Zip Code 15232: 31 unique donors, +63.2% Q/Q
  • Zip Code 15213: 30 unique donors, +87.5% Q/Q
  • Zip Code 15238: 27 unique donors, +58.8% Q/Q
  • Zip Code 15206: 26 unique donors, +44.4% Q/Q
Trump Leads in these Zip Codes
  • Zip Code 15237: 40 unique donors, +25.0% Q/Q
  • Zip Code 15238: 32 unique donors, +45.4% Q/Q
  • Zip Code 15236: 24 unique donors, +14.3% Q/Q
  • Zip Code 15227: 17 unique donors, +30.8% Q/Q
  • Zip Code 15136: 17 unique donors, +41.7% Q/Q



While all of the zip codes in Allentown are either blue (+70% democratic donors) or light blue (+55%-70% democratic donors), President Trump, as of Q1 2020, is ahead of Mr. Biden in all eight zip codes. Due to the fact that the Democratic Party had several candidates in the primary until last month, the support was widely spread among the candidates. However, in the past quarter the Biden campaign had shown great momentum – the former Vice President saw a 135% surge in the total number of unique donors from Q4 2019 to Q1 2020, compared to Trump’s 24.7%.

Similar to what we’ve seen in Pittsburgh, people in Allentown favored Mr. Sanders over Mr. Biden and given the differences between progressives and moderates, Mr. Biden will have to appeal to these voters and unite them in order to beat Mr. Trump.



The campaign donations data was retrieved from the FEC covering all individual contributions dated between Jan 1, 2019 and March 31, 2020. The city and zip code shapefiles were retrieved from the U.S. Census Bureau. In terms of unique donors, we deduped by names, zip codes, and committee names. We adopted 5-digit zip codes for this report as not all candidates collect 9-digit zip codes. People who have changed their names or moved in between donations could artificially inflate these numbers.

Frequently Asked Questions about Our Election Studies

1. Why would Trump be leading in a Blue Zip Code?

This is related to the nature of the primary. As we all know, there were as many as 31 Democratic candidates competing for the nomination, and so the support was divided among them. Meanwhile, while the Republican Party has 3 candidates running, all the support is gravitating towards Trump, and therefore he alone could receive support from more unique donors than any single Democratic candidate. Now that Joe Biden is the likely nominee, we should start seeing some changes.

2. Why should we care about unique donors?

While the dollar amount raised is important for candidates, we believe that it is more crucial to understand how many unique donors each candidate has attracted, as each unique donor potentially means one vote, and by measuring donor counts, it gives us a better idea of how many people support each candidate.

3. How is the party majority calculated?

The party majority is calculated using the aggregated unique donor count of a party and the aggregated unique donor count from Jan 1, 2019 to March 31, 2020. For instance, if Democratic candidates attracted a total of 200 unique donors, and the total number of unique donors within a city is 500, the Democratic share would be 40%. In terms of the color shades, purple areas are whether neither the Democratic candidates combined nor Trump has more than 55% of the donors. Light blue and light red represent zip codes where the party has 55% to 70% of the donors, and blue or red represents a majority of 70% and more.

Published at Mon, 18 May 2020 15:30:43 +0000