Apartment Living

Evictions Dropped Thanks to Cuomo, and Gravesend Is Now One of the Most Livable Places in NYC

Evictions Dropped Thanks to Cuomo, and Gravesend Is Now One of the Most Livable Places in NYC

Finding the right apartment is never easy, especially in the City of New York.

To find the right apartment, we need to first identify the right neighborhood. But how do we do that? Well, this is where data science comes in handy. Instead of blindly recommending neighborhoods based on how “hip” they are, the Data Science team at RentHop crunched the numbers and ranked the NYC neighborhoods by livability. We understand that each person values different things. For some, finding an apartment in a quiet neighborhood is of the highest priority, while for others the number of subway stops in the area is just as important. We believe, by analyzing the pros and cons of each neighborhood, we can help renters make an informed decision.

Our findings this quarter include:

  • Battery Park City-Lower Manhattan ranks the best neighborhood among 150+ NYC neighborhoods for the second straight quarter. The NTA, which includes FiDi and Battery Park City, has 14 subway stops, or 20.5 per sq mi, with a renter-friendliness score of 93.6. However, its quiet score went down 21%, from 91.2 to 72.9 this quarter, possibly related to COVID and the State’s stay-home order. [Neighborhood Livability Infographic]
  • Upper East Side-Carnegie Hill replaced Brooklyn Heights-Cobble Hill as the second most livable neighborhood in NYC with a high cleanliness score of 93.1, which means that the residents experience fewer poop complaints and rodent sightings. With median 1BR rent at $3,050, it is more affordable than Lower Manhattan. [Neighborhood Livability Map]
  • Brooklyn Heights-Cobble Hill continues to be the most livable neighborhood in the Brooklyn Borough. However, its overall ranking dropped from #2 to #3 this quarter due to lower cleanliness and noise scores. The noise score dropped 11.3 points to 78.6 this quarter. [Top 5 Neighborhoods in Brooklyn]
  • Erasmus remains one of the least livable neighborhoods in New York City. The neighborhood suffered in categories including quiet score and renter friendliness in the past three months. From January 14h to April 13th, Erasmus received in total 492 noise complaints (or 481.3/10k households) and 418 heat complaints (or 521.0/10k renter-occupied units).
  • Many neighborhoods experienced a significant drop in their quiet score due to noise complaints, including Manhattanville (-36.4 points), Washington Heights North (-34.8 points), and Prospect Lefferts Gardens-Wingate (-25.1 points), which could be related to people staying at home and practicing self-isolation.
  • As the most livable neighborhood in Queens, Ft. Totten-Bay Terrace-Clearview improved its overall ranking from #12 to #5 in our Q2 index, thanks to its perfect cleanliness score and outstanding quiet score (94.6). Meanwhile, Oakland Gardens improved its ranking from #38 to #9 with a 10-point increase in the cleanliness score. [Top 5 Neighborhoods in Queens]
  • The average score among neighborhoods in the Bronx is 60.3, 1.4 points lower than the previous quarter. This is mainly due to the growing noise complaints. [Top 5 Neighborhoods in the Bronx]

NYC Neighborhood Livability Map

The map below illustrates the livability of each NYC neighborhood. The darker the shade, the higher the score. You can click on the neighborhoods to learn more about the score breakdown as well as the median 1BR rent.

Thanks to Gov. Cuomo’s mandate, evictions were down in most NYC neighborhoods, including Crown Heights North (-26) in Brooklyn, Crotona Park East (-20) in the Bronx, and Central Harlem South (-18) in Manhattan. However, most neighborhoods saw an increase in the number of noise complaints in the past 90 days due to the COVID pandemic and the New York State “stay-home” order. In fact, over 85% of the neighborhoods in our index experienced a surge in noise complaints, which resulted in city-wide changes in the quiet score category.

Generally speaking, Manhattan neighborhoods enjoy higher base scores thanks to the comprehensive MTA subway lines. Compared to the other three boroughs, Manhattan neighborhoods also have relatively higher renter-friendliness scores (average 83.2). The average quiet score in Manhattan is down from 75.1 to 63.0 this quarter, which translates to a 16.1% dip. Specifically, Central Harlem North-Polo Grounds and Washington Heights South had seen over 2000 noise complaints respectively in the past 90 days.

In Queens, the average cleanliness score went down 6.7 points, from 91.6 to 84.9, only 0.1 higher than Manhattan. Brooklyn neighborhoods scored an average of 83.7 in terms of safety, 1.1 points lower than the previous quarter. But the borough is a lot noisier these days – Prospect Lefferts Gardens-Wingate and Bushwick South saw 903 and 821 more complaints respectively in the past 90 days. The neighborhoods in the Bronx improved slightly in the renter friendliness category thanks to the warmer weather and fewer heat complaints. The borough also saw some positive changes in terms of cleanliness. The score went up 19.2 points (27%) in Spuyten Duyvil-Kingsbridge and 10.9 points (14%) in Pelham Parkway.

Here are the Top 10 Neighborhoods in New York City

How We Did It

To determine the most renter-friendly and best neighborhoods in New York City, we compared over 190 Neighborhood Tabulation Areas (NTAs) across six key categories, including (1) Neighborhood Greenness, (2) Transportation, (3) Quality of Life, (4) Renter Friendliness, and (5) Safety, using in total 13 relevant metrics.

The following metrics were used for this neighborhood livability index:

Base Score [25 points]

  • Population Density — NTA Population / Land Size (sq mi) [2.5 points]
  • Transportation — MTA Subway Stops / Land Size (sq mi) [10 points]
  • Neighborhood Greenness: Tree Data — Street Tree Count / Land Size (sq mi) [6.25 points]
  • Neighborhood Greenness: Park Coverage — Park Area / Land Size (sq mi) [6.25 points]

Cleanliness [15 points]

  • Poop Complaints — 311 Canine Violations / 10k Households [7.5 points]
  • Rodent — 311 Rat Sightings / 10k Households [7.5 points]

Quietness [20 points]

  • Noise Complaints — 311 Residential Noise Complaints / 10k Households [16 points]
  • Potential Construction Noise — DOB Permits Issued / Total Housing Units [2 points]

Renter Friendliness [30 points]

  • Landlord Level of Responsibility: Heat Season — 311 Heat Complaints / Renter-Occupied Units [9 points]
  • Landlord Level of Responsibility: HMV — Housing Maintenance Code Violations / Renter-Occupied Units [3 points]
  • Percentage of Renter-Occupied Units — Renter-Occupied Units / Total Occupied Units [3 points]
  • Evictions — Evictions / Renter-Occupied Units [15 points]

Safety [10 points]

  • Motor Vehicle Collisions — Collisions / 10k Population [10 points]

We also adjusted the curve based on rental unit availability since that it’d be easier for renters to find an apartment in a given neighborhood if it has more available units on market. The rental rates were calculated using RentHop listings from January 14, 2020, to April 13, 2020.

We will be releasing the RentHop Neighborhood Livability Index on a quarterly basis, and we’d love to hear from you! Think we missed something? Any specific 311 complaints or dataset you’d like us to include? Or, would you like to work on an urban planning project using our underlying dataset? Email us at
You can also check out our previous quarterly report here.

Published at Mon, 20 Apr 2020 14:20:31 +0000

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Apartment Living




Have you ever met a real live hero? When we were children, our heroes were larger than life. Take Superman for instance a fictional character created in 1938 with Action Comics. He had the following powers: superhuman strength, agility, heat vision, X-ray vision, superhuman breath that could freeze things or blow like the wind. Best of all he was “the man of steel” who could fly! We have been idolizing heroes in movies, books and folklore for centuries. We could sure use one now to swoop in and solve all our problems.

But now due to Covid-19, we are seeing a new brand of hero. Or are we seeing everyday people doing random acts of heroism? We have been studying heroism for years. What happens during a dangerous event that causes that one person to risk his own life for someone he has never met? In a crowd the “herd mentality” where most people do not want to get involved as it none of their business, makes anyone who steps up to help a hero. Mr. Rodgers said “Always look for the helpers” when in trouble.

Cardinal Property Management carefully navigated through the uncharted waters of the pandemic by creating transparency between their corporate office and their on-site management teams. Through discussion and surveying their employees about concerns and fears, Cardinal Group created a benevolence fund called “Cardinal Heroes”. Their people can nominate a coworker that they believe has acted as a hero. These are leasing and maintenance teams on the front lines in apartment communities without any superpowers doing extraordinary acts of heroism. This has given their teams a sense of pride and a feeling of community in a time when it is too easy to go down the rabbit hole into despair.

Nurses, doctors and emergency first responders unlike Superman did not even have enough personal protective equipment to handle the onslaught of sick overwhelming their hospitals. Then heroes from all over the country began to sew masks and create makeshift PPE out of what seemed like thin air. People trained in any related medical industry went to help on the front lines at great personal risk. First responders were working double shifts even with the very real fear of their own health and safety. But like Superman they had the power of their convictions and the courage to see them through.

From the people who are employed by grocery and pharmacy stores, to our on-site property management teams helping to keep our apartment communities open, these people are unsung heroes. Seemingly normal people who under the most extraordinary of times provide vital services so we may have a roof over our heads and food on our bellies. Churches and food banks and their parishioners are providing food to their communities. Celebrities and young children are donating time, PPE and funds to help the close to 15% of unemployed workers due to social distancing mandates and business closers. So, you see we all have the superpowers of love, creativity, compassion, bravery, strength of conviction and valor. Superman would be proud of us! He knows that there is a little bit of him in all of us. Will you be  a superhero to someone?

Published at Thu, 14 May 2020 12:30:48 +0000

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Apartment Living

How To Install a Window Air Conditioner

How To Install a Window Air Conditioner

In many parts of the country, temperatures are rising steadily as summer approaches. In apartments without central air, the race toward summer means that it’s time to install a window air conditioning unit. If you’re anxious about doing so, fret not: After reading this guide on how to install a window air conditioner, you’ll be equipped to properly mount and seal your unit and enjoy a cool apartment no matter how hot summer gets.

install window air conditioner

1. Check whether the window can accommodate an air conditioner

Not all windows will be secure enough to safely accommodate an air conditioner. A window with rot or damage in or near the frame is not safe for installing an air conditioner. Arrange for the appropriate repairs to be made before installing your air conditioner, and while you wait for these repairs to be made, learn how to stay cool without AC. You may also discover that your window air conditioner won’t be stable without a support bracket, wood slats, or other additional materials.

No matter what, never install an air conditioner in an unsafe window. Window AC units are expensive and can sustain extensive damage if they fall from your window. More importantly, a falling AC unit can also severely injure passersby. 

2. Gather the appropriate tools

To safely, securely install a window air conditioner, you’ll need the following tools:

  • A power drill and twist drill bits
  • Wood screws and sheet metal screws (often provided in proper sizes and amounts with window air conditioner purchase)
  • A screwdriver, ideally multi-bit
  • Any spare foam insulation you have on hand (often provided with your window air conditioner purchase)
  • Possibly a microfiber cloth, broom and dustpan, or vacuum for cleaning any dust that accumulates after drilling holes

Once you have these, you’re ready to install your window air conditioner.

3. Assemble, place, and secure your air conditioner

Unbox your air conditioner and assemble the side accordions according to the instruction manual provided. The instructions should detail how to secure the side accordions to the top railing of the air conditioner. Once the accordions are properly installed, you can safely mount your air conditioner.

To do so, open the bottom sash of your window as high as it will go. Then, slowly and carefully insert the air conditioner in your window while aligning the flanged bottom portion of the unit with your window sill and the top railing with the bottom of the open sash. While holding the unit in place, lower the bottom sash onto the top railing so that it firmly holds the window air conditioner in place and rests against the unit’s top railing.

4. Screw the air conditioner railing into your window sash

After completing the previous step, your air conditioner is only partially stable in your windowsill. To fully secure it, you’ll need to drill screws through the holes in your air conditioner’s top railing and into the bottom of the window sash. Be sure that you’re drilling into the plastic or wood in your window sash rather than into the glass of the window itself. If your window sash is made of wood, you may need to first drill pilot holes into the sash where you’ll later insert your screws.

5. Extend the air conditioner curtains

With your air conditioner now screwed into your window, you can extend the side curtains to cover the space between the air conditioner and the window frame. The thin plastic comprising these accordions can block insects and outside objects from entering your apartment, but they aren’t fully insulating, and window air conditioner installation tends to introduce gaps in these barriers. That’s why the next step is so important.

6. Add extra insulation

Many air conditioners come with extra insulating materials to secure the seal around your window. Most units will include a strip that goes between the top sash of your window and the elevated bottom sash, as the gap there can introduce extra air from the outside into your apartment. You may also want to add insulation above or around the side curtains to fill any gaps and enhance the plastic’s insulating properties.

What else should I know about my window air conditioner?

When installing your window air conditioner, read the instruction manual thoroughly for any directions specific to your unit. You should also locate the instruction manual section about changing your filter or, if applicable to your unit, enabling its smart technology features. Alternatively, if installing a window AC unit seems too challenging or worrisome for you but you still need better airflow in your apartment for the summer, you can always consider a portable AC unit.

Published at Fri, 22 May 2020 13:22:23 +0000

Container Gardening for Apartments: 10 Helpful Tips

Since the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the global food supply chain and relegated non-essential workers to their apartments, some people have turned to container gardening to grow vegetables at home and start a fun new isolation hobby. If your apartment has a backyard or a balcony, you can easily start container gardening, and since no scientific evidence exists of COVID-19 transmission from plant matter to people, container gardening can provide a safe way to enjoy the outdoors without increasing your chances of contracting your virus. 

Of course, container gardening isn’t just as simple as packing seeds and dirt into a box. Here are 10 helpful tips for container gardening in an apartment.

container gardening

1. Choose the right spot for your container gardening setup

If you place your container garden in a spot where it will receive at least six hours of sunlight per day, you’re already off to a good start. To determine whether the spot in question gets enough sunlight, place your empty container there and check every 30 minutes to see whether sunlight falls onto it.

2. Consider temperature variations

Most plants won’t grow if their soil temperature is below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, so at cooler times of the year, you may need to find a windowsill appropriate for indoor gardening in smaller containers. Plants are also sensitive to hot temperatures, and certain container materials can increase the soil temperature too strongly, severely damaging your plants’ roots and their ability to grow.

3. Choose the right containers and materials

If you’re container gardening during hot months, using metal or dark-colored containers may backfire, as these materials can result in root-damaging soil temperature increases. Otherwise, any food-safe container with built-in drainage and enough space to grow your plant should work. Certain materials, though, may serve better than others.

If you’re on a budget and want to minimize your spending on containers, you can reuse old plastic buckets or other household objects. If you’re looking to buy new containers, then wood, plastic, ceramic, or self-watering containers may be best for first-timers. Terra cotta ceramic pots may also work, but the clay comprising them can extract too much water from your plants’ soil, introducing another variable to an already precarious system. You should also be sure your container is sizable enough to accommodate your plant at its largest.

4. Choose the right soil

Although the term container gardening may imply that you can use standard gardening soil, you’ll be far better off if you use potting soil, as standard gardening soil may not drain properly when compacted in containers. Additionally, gardening soil can introduce weeds to your container garden that are far less likely to grow there otherwise. You should also opt for organic soil, as using it has been correlated with vegetables that taste better and contain more nutrients.

5. Know when to water your plants

Ideally, your container garden’s soil will be evenly moist but not absolutely soaked, and it’s easy to check whether you need to water your garden more. Just insert your finger one inch into the soil, and add more water if the soil feels dry. If you can’t decide for sure whether you need to add water, check again a few hours later. During hot months, don’t be surprised if you need to water your plants once or twice a day.

6. Know when to feed your plants

Like humans, plants can’t survive on water alone. You’ll also need to fertilize your plants to ensure they’re getting enough nutrition to grow. Many potting soils include fertilizer, reducing the number of times per growing season you need to add fertilizer to your container garden. Regardless, you should fertilize your plants often during their growing season.

You may be able to incorporate fertilizer into your soil when you first plant your garden. If so, you can supplement the existing fertilizer with liquid fertilizer twice per month to enhance the nutrient profile its roots can access. You can also use compost in your garden to provide extra nutrients.

7. Set up ample drainage

When too much water collects in your container garden, plants can drown or succumb to root rot. Make sure that your container garden allows excess water to flow out through the bottom. If you’re using a container made from old household supplies, elevate the container and prop it up, cut a hole in the bottom, and cover the hole with a coffee filter or another material that will let water, but not soil, through. This way, as water needs to escape your container, it can do so without your garden crumbling or your floors trapping water inside your container.

8. Consider other potential challenges

Setting up your container garden outside can lure unwelcome pests, whether insects or mammals, that wouldn’t otherwise appear. Additionally, some plants may require vertical support as they grow larger. These challenges can be hard to predict in advance, but you should keep them in mind and prepare to deal with them if necessary.

9. Know whether to start from seeds or seedlings

Once you’ve set up your garden, you’ll need to plant vegetable seeds or seedlings, and choosing between these options can be one of the most challenging decisions you’ll make when container gardening. For a full list of seed and seedling considerations, click here.

10. Decide which vegetables to grow

As you finalize your container garden, keep in mind that not all vegetables are well-suited to this gardening method. Find a small list of appropriate, beginner-friendly vegetables here, and upon choosing the right vegetables for you, start your container garden quickly to stay ahead of any possible food shortages and begin a new hobby that might make passing your time in quarantine significantly easier.

Published at Wed, 20 May 2020 13:20:29 +0000

Apartment Living

Biden Gains Momentum in Manhattan and Brooklyn, While Trump Continues the Lead in Staten Island

Biden Gains Momentum in Manhattan and Brooklyn, While Trump Continues the Lead in Staten Island

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.

Each quarter we at RentHop review the fundraising data released by the FEC with the hope of providing insights to voters. 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 New York City for Q1 2020:

  • From Jan 1, 2019 to Mar 31, 2020, Biden attracted 6,382 unique donors, whereas Trump gained 3,656 unique donors.
  • With Mayor Pete dropping out of the race, Manhattan voters shifted their support to Biden. As of Q1 2020, the Biden campaign attracted 4,845 unique donors in Manhattan, a 112% growth from 2,281 at the end of Q4 2019.
  • While Brooklyn, as of Mar 31, 2020, was still Sanders’ base, the number of unique donors contributing to Biden’s campaign jumped 232% this quarter, from 249 to 826.
  • Among the 217 zip codes included in this study, 201 are blue zip codes. Meanwhile, Biden leads in 99, or 46% of the zip codes. We expect this number to continue to grow as Democratic voters consolidate their support.
  • 17 NYC zip codes are becoming “bluer”, including 11434 (Queens), 11691 (Queens), and 10310 (Staten Island). This means that the Democratic support is growing in these zip codes.

Which Candidate Does Your Neighbor Support?

The interactive map below highlights New York City and its 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.

Looking at the map and the chart above, we can tell that Senator Bernie Sanders was the front runner in the City of New York in Q1 2020, but as Vice President Biden seized primary victories in other states and positioned himself as the presumptive party nominee, more donors were turning to his campaign. In March, the Biden campaign attracted over 2,000 unique donors, pushing the total unique donor count to 6,382 as of March 31, 2020, around 74% more than what Trump had attracted.

When breaking down the contributions by borough, we can see that Biden’s unique donor base composes largely of Manhattan voters. In fact, of the 10 zip codes where Biden gained over 100 unique donors in Q1 2020, nine are located in Manhattan. 76% of the donors who have contributed to Biden’s campaign are in Manhattan. While Brooklyn, as of Mar 31, 2020, was still Sanders’ base, the number of unique donors contributing to the Vice President’s campaign jumped 232% this quarter, from 249 to 826.

Trump’s fundraising effort, on the other hand, seems to be slowing down in New York City. From Jan 2020 to Mar 2020, Mr. Trump only gained 20% more unique donors in the city. Of all the unique donors the incumbent President has attracted in the past six quarters, 31% are from Manhattan, and 28% are from Queens.

Democrats Are Taking Over these Zip Codes

In addition to analyzing which candidate leads in each zip code, we also noticed that certain zip codes are becoming “bluer” from Q4 2019 to Q1 2020. In total 17 zip codes went from neutral to blue, whereas the Republican party has yet to successfully flip any zip codes in New York City. Below are some highlights of these zip codes.

  • Zip code 10271 (Manhattan): Democratic donor share went from 50% to 86%. Four of the donors contributed to the Sanders campaign, and two to other past Democratic candidates. Trump attracted one unique donor in this zip code. Biden, meanwhile, has yet to generate anything in this zip code.
  • Zip code 11434 (Queens): Democratic donor share went from 50% to 78%. Seven of the unique donors contributed to the Biden campaign, and six to Bernie 2020. Trump attracted five unique donors in this zip code.
  • Zip code 11417 (Queens): Democratic donor share went from 47% to 61%, making it a light blue zip code. Trump, however, is still the unique donor leader in this zip code, with 10 unique donors as of Q1 2020.
  • Zip code 11691 (Queens): Democratic donor share went from 50% to 62%, making it a light blue zip code. Trump, however, is still the unique donor leader in this zip code, with a total of 11 unique donors compared to Biden’s four as of Q1 2020.
  • Zip code 10310 (Staten Island): Democratic donor share went from 50% to 60%, making it a light blue zip code. Most of the Democratic support in this zip code, however, was driven by past Democratic candidates, such as Pete Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard, and Bernie Sanders. Biden received contributions from only three unique donors in zip code 10310, compared to Trump’s 15 as of Q1 2020.
Biden Thrives in these Zip Codes

As he became the presumptive Democratic nomitee against President Trump in November, Biden finally started gaining momentum in New York City after months of flat numbers. Below are some of the zip codes where the Biden campaign saw the most quarter-over-quarter growth.

  • Zip code 11225 (Brooklyn): 14 unique donors, +1300% Q/Q
  • Zip code 11205 (Brooklyn): 11 unique donors, +1100% Q/Q
  • Zip code 11203 (Brooklyn): 9 unique donors, +800% Q/Q
  • Zip code 11358 (Queens): 9 unique donors, +800% Q/Q
  • Zip code 10037 (Manhattan): 11 unique donors, +450% Q/Q
Unique Donor Leaderboard – Biden

Below are the top 10 zip codes where Biden received the most support.

  • Zip code 10023: 96% Blue, 428 unique donors contributed to Biden’s campaign.
  • Zip code 10024: 97% Blue, 400 Uunique donors
  • Zip code 10021: 93% Blue, 358 unique donors
  • Zip code 10128: 93% Blue, 328 unique donors
  • Zip code 10028: 91% Blue, 282 unique donors
  • Zip code 10011: 98% Blue, 277 unique donors
  • Zip code 10025: 98% Blue, 272 unique donors
  • Zip code 10022: 89% Blue, 243 unique donors
  • Zip code 10003: 98% Blue, 219 unique donors
  • Zip code 11201: 98% Blue, 209 unique donors
Unique Donor Leaderboard – Trump

Below are the top 10 zip codes where Trump received the most support.

  • Zip code 10314: 51% Red, 101 unique donors contributed to Trump’s campaign.
  • Zip code 10022: 11% Red, 100 unique donors
  • Zip code 10028: 9% Red, 91 unique donors
  • Zip code 10128: 7% Red, 83 unique donors
  • Zip code 11209: 24% Red, 81 unique donors
  • Zip code 11375: 18% Red, 75 unique donors
  • Zip code 10312: 56% Red, 72 unique donors
  • Zip code 10021: 7% Red, 70 unique donors
  • Zip code 10065: 11% Red, 69 unique donors
  • Zip code 11235: 41% Red, 69 unique donors


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 Wed, 06 May 2020 13:20:39 +0000

RentHop Q1 2020 Rental Report – COVID Edition

How COVID-19 is Changing Renter Neighborhood Preferences in NYC

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted NYC more than any place in the country. Given the unprecedented health, economic, and social disruptions inflicted upon the city, it should come as no surprise that NYC apartment hunters are changing their preferences as to where to live. As one of the city’s largest apartment rental platforms, RentHop possesses a massive data set of rental leads giving us a unique insight into where prospective tenants are looking to rent in the current environment. In this quarterly report, we’ll analyze the trends in each borough, highlighting the neighborhoods seeing the greatest increases and decreases in leads year-over-year.

Overall Lead Traffic Decline and Resurgence Since COVID-19

On March 20, Governor Cuomo ordered all non-essential businesses to close, and for residents to stay home as much as possible in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Not surprisingly, from March 23 through April 5 there was a dramatic decrease in average daily renter leads sent on RentHop.

By the numbers, the period of March 13 through March 22 saw a 45% drop in weekly lead count compared to the weekly leads sent by renters from February 10 through March 15. In other words, renters stopped looking for apartments in unprecedented numbers. This downward trend continued through the rest of March and into April.

However, this trend rapidly reversed by mid-April. The week of April 13 through April 19 saw a whopping 56% increase in weekly leads over the period March 23 through April 5. And this upward trend appears to be accelerating as a growing number of renters are more eager than ever to move out of the apartments they’ve been spending so much time within during the lockdown.

Increased Demand for Roommates

As the economic crunch caused by the pandemic is felt by New Yorkers, there appears to be an upward trend toward renters looking to move into a roommate situation rather than lease their own apartment.

Looking at the top 10 neighborhoods measured by roommate leads in NYC, eight out of the 10 neighborhoods saw significant year-over-year increases in renters inquiring about room shares. For example, Hell’s Kitchen saw a 227.4% increase in roommate leads, Hamilton Heights saw a 166.8% jump, and in Crown Heights, the number of room share inquiries went up by 83.6%.

Most Popular NYC Neighborhoods by Renter Inquiries

Top Growing Neighborhoods

With respect to renters seeking full apartments, certain popular neighborhoods have seen an outsized increase in renter leads year-over-year from the first quarter of 2019 to the first quarter of 2020. Looking at the most inquired about neighborhoods, the neighborhoods with the highest growth appear concentrated in Brooklyn and Manhattan, with Weeksvillle seeing a 116.8% increase in leads, Crown Heights a 52.3% increase, and Bay Ridge a 49.9% increase. Flatbush also saw a 49.4% jump in leads in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019. In Manhattan, Hamilton Heights saw a 61.5% increase and Central Harlem a 35.3% increase. Meanwhile, lead volume in the East Village grew 32.8% year-over-year.

Top Declining Neighborhoods

At the same time, many popular neighborhoods in the city have seen a substantial decrease in renter leads year-over-year in the first quarter of 2020. The majority of these large declining neighborhoods are concentrated in Manhattan, with the Financial District seeing a 35.5% decrease,East Harlem a 18.6% decrease, and the Upper West Side a 12.1% decrease. Lead also dipped 10.1% in Gramercy Park. Meanwhile, Bushwick, the hip and artsy neighborhood in Brooklyn, saw a 29% reduction in lead volume year-over-year.

Top 10 Neighborhoods By Borough

Of these popular neighborhoods in Manhattan, the most notable increases in year-over-year leads were seen in Hamilton Heights (+61.5%), Central Harlem (+35.3%), the East Village (+32.8%), and the Upper East Side (+18.4%). The two declining neighborhoods were the Financial District (-35.5%) and East Harlem (-18.6%).

8 out of 10 of the most popular neighborhoods in Brooklyn saw an increase in year-over-year lead traffic, the most notable increases in leads were seen in East New York (+463.2%), Weeksville (+116.8%), Crown Heights (+52.3%), Bay Ridge (+49.9%) and Flatbush (+49.4%). The lone declining neighborhoods were Bushwick (-29%) and Ocean Hill (-10.7%).

Most of the neighborhoods in Queens saw relatively little change year-over-year compared to Brooklyn in Queens, with the exceptions of Flushing (+160.8%), Forest Hills (+67.2%), Long Island City (-24.2%), and Hunters Point (-19.9%).

Relative to the other boroughs, the Bronx saw a massive growth spurt in leads year-over-year, topped by Highbridge (+420.5%), Central Riverdale (+308.9%), Mount Eden (+252.6%), Kingsbridge (+183%), and Mott Haven (+73%).


Released on a quarterly basis, the RentHop Rental Report analyzes the NYC rental market using the platform’s traffic and lead generation data. The lead volume, most inquired apartment type, and year-over-year changes are determined based on the inquiries sent by renters visiting the RentHop site. The median asking rent is calculated using all listings created in the previous quarter across all apartment types. Please email for a detailed report covering all NYC neighborhoods. Note that unlike other RentHop studies that analyze and summarize data using the Neighborhood Tabulation Areas, the RentHop Rental Report adopts a more granular neighborhood shapefile for the analysis, which is consistent with the listing search criteria on the consumer side.

Published at Mon, 27 Apr 2020 14:00:55 +0000

Apartment Living

18 DIY Curtain Ideas That Will Instantly Give Your Room a Style Boost

18 DIY Curtain Ideas That Will Instantly Give Your Room a Style Boost

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

When it comes to making a space feel homey, walls are usually at the top of the list for upgrades, whether it’s via paint, art displays, mirror gallery walls, wallpaper, and more. But there’s another area of your home that’s a prime candidate for high-impact upgrades: your windows!

My husband and I rented for years, and after getting settled in each time, our apartments never felt like “home”. We tried every rental hack, invested in tons of Command hooks, but overlooked a simple detail that in hindsight would have made a world of difference: We left all our windows with the cheap, plastic blinds. Learn from our mistake! Adding curtains is a great way to bring soft texture to your walls, tie different design elements of a room together, and make your windows look more finished and—dare I say it?—grown up. Don’t feel limited by off-the-shelf options—DIY curtains are a great afternoon or weekend project that’s affordable to boot. Say no to naked windows and get inspired by these DIY curtain ideas.

1. Hand-painted polka dot curtains

Mandi of A Beautiful Mess took a free-form approach to polka dots with her hand painted pattern. This slight twist on a classic makes these DIY curtains feel fresh and unique.

2. Modern farmhouse-inspired burlap curtains

This DIY burlap sack curtain—from Carissa of Bless this Nest—proves just how much curtains can bring that extra oomph and tie a room’s style together.

3. Boho-chic macrame curtains

While this macrame curtain is beautiful on its own, it would also look lovely layered over basic white curtain panels to give windows a bit more privacy, too. Emma of A Beautiful Mess shows how this curtain can be used in front of a closet as a breezy alternative to a door, too.

4. Cottage-style ticking stripe curtains

Besides the gorgeous ticking stripe fabric Stephanie of Celebrated Nest chose for her curtains, look at the handmade tassels sewn into the pleats! That extra detail can be both hard to find and expensive on store-bought curtains, making the DIY version worth the effort.

5. A DIY hack for adding length to pre-made curtains

Katie of A Beautiful Mess is blessed with extra tall windows in her 1800s home. While they’re great for enviable lighting, it can be a hassle finding ready made curtains. Steal a page from her DIY book and add a long, lace trim to stylishly gain those extra inches.

6. Crochet detailing for pre-made curtains

You’re not limited to lace when it comes to customizing pre-made curtains. Instead of using lace trim, Sarah of She Holds Dearly upcycled a vintage crocheted table runner to add character to her bedroom.

7. Colorful scarves-turned-curtains

Decluttering your closet? Don’t throw out those scarves! Upcycle your favorite pieces into a patchwork curtain for a new, functional way to display your collection.

8. Customized curtains with decorative edges

DIY trim is a curtain’s best friend. Annie of DIY Decor Mom had her heart set on Greek key curtains, but couldn’t justify their high price tag. So she DIYed her own for half the price! Try to imagine her stunning living room without that detail. It just doesn’t feel the same.

9. IKEA hacked linen curtains

Linen curtains have a beautiful softness & drape with a not-so-beautiful price tag. At least usually. Sarah of She Holds Dearly found an affordable set at IKEA and added a small tassel trim for a subtle and sophisticated look. Check out her full tutorial for a bonus hack for getting IKEA curtains pure white.

10. Sheer curtains with faux floral details

The light coming through these sheer curtains dotted with faux flowers creates a welcoming, soft glow. If you’re curious about upkeep, Natalie of Design Love Fest recommends giving them a hand wash with cool water for the occasional cleaning.

11. White curtains with colorful trim

Tasha of Kaleidoscope Living pulled together all the colors of her daughter’s room by adding a strip of statement paneling to plain, white curtains. And she did it without having to sew! This is also a great way to use your favorite pricey fabric without breaking the bank.

12. IKEA hacked pleated DIY curtains

Scroll too fast and you might miss this clever IKEA hack from Cathy of The Grit and Polish. She started with basic blush curtains and created her own pinch pleats for a classic take that looks completely custom.

13. DIY blackout curtains

Most blackout curtains are either ugly with a thick plastic look or shockingly expensive. Carmen of Living Letter Home didn’t settle for either, and shares how to turn your favorite curtains into blackout curtains.

Can you believe these curtains started out as plain, cheap drop cloths? Lisa of Shine Your Light worked her magic with some paint, stencils, and creativity to put the finishing touch on her dining room.

You can make similar custom curtains using plain white panels, too. Zoe of Crafted by the Hunts went with a modern stencil and cleverly coordinated her choice of navy paint with her other navy accents.

16. Geometric stamped curtains

If your DIY comfort level is somewhere between free-form painting and following a stencil, try DIY stamped curtains. You can create your own shapes and play with different layouts like Katrin of Northern Feeling to get a handmade, artisan feel.

Erin of Francois et Moi has several tutorials to walk you through the sumptuous world of indigo dyeing. You can use the dye with classic tie-dye folds or try your hand with a mudcloth-inspired technique.

18. Pom pom trimmed curtains

Mandi of A Beautiful Mess used trim in a different way and upgraded a basic panel set with contrasting pom-pom stripes. It’s fun and bold without being complicated to make.

Published at Thu, 14 May 2020 19:30:00 +0000

8 Old-School Gardening Tips from the Father of Landscape Architecture

If strolling through a city park has been a rare source of solace for you in the past two months, you can probably thank Frederick Law Olmsted. Born in 1822, America’s first and foremost landscape architect was a passionate advocate for truly public parks and the conservation of natural landscapes—at a time when the only real public green space found in most American cities was the local graveyard

After partnering with Calvert Vaux to design New York’s Central Park in the 1850s, Olmsted and his firm went on to create Prospect Park in Brooklyn, Boston’s Emerald Necklace, Montreal’s Mount Royal Park, Chicago’s Jackson Park, and the grounds of Stanford University and the Biltmore Estate, among other projects. 

While his specialty was creating sprawling natural escapes amidst the chaos of America’s fast-growing cities, Olmsted’s design philosophy offers lessons for our backyards, too. After all, he applied some of the same principles to his 1.76-acre lot in Brookline, Mass. So if you’re looking to turn your yard into a serene retreat from city life, here are some landscaping tips from the founding father of America’s urban parks.  

Olmsted was no fan of stick-straight hedges and right angles. Nature flows in curves and waves, and he sought to emulate—as well as enhance—its tousled natural beauty. 

He embraced rolling meadows broken up by irregular clusters of trees, and sought to mimic nature’s vastness and mystery by contrasting lush layers of foliage. Using different shapes and shades of green enhanced the effects of sunlight and shadow—chiaroscuro, if you ever took an art history course—and created perspective between foreground features and an indistinct backdrop.

So instead of a square, flat lawn with crisp, straight edging, don’t be afraid to add some curves and a variety of plants and groundcover. Layer darker or more vivid shrubs in the foreground and place bigger, blander foliage in the backdrop to make the space seem bigger. 

Use native, low-maintenance plants

Olmsted wasn’t strict about using only native plants—in fact, he imported quite a few European species to the U.S. But he at least tried to choose plants that fit their setting, and would thrive in nature’s care without excessive maintenance. Most importantly, he avoided using elements that clashed with the local environment, like a tropical flower in upstate New York, or a cool-weather turfgrass in the sun-baked Southwest. 

Use nature like a proverbial fig leaf

Olmsted wanted people to feel immersed in natural settings and be able to reflect without distraction, so he used stone as a building material when possible and camouflaged necessary but unseemly man-made elements with foliage. One of his greatest feats in Central Park was to hide the crosstown traffic traversing Manhattan from the view of park visitors. At his Brookline home, he added trellises so that ivy could climb the exterior walls of the house. 

In your own yard, this might mean using fieldstone for steps or planting shrubs to obscure unsightly air conditioning units, propane tanks, electric meters, your neighbor’s shed, or other unnatural elements from your line of sight.  

Whether you’re exploring Central Park or wandering outside the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C., a hallmark of Olmsted’s landscapes are winding paths that branch off this way and that— over small bridges, along creeks, through meadows, and under leafy canopies. The effect is tranquil and mesmerizing, and allows you to get lost in the landscape—while knowing you’re not really lost, because all the paths eventually meander back into one another. 

Even in the relatively small yard of his Brookline home and office, Olmsted created a winding gravel footpath—complete with a bench—that beckons one to take a stroll. When most of us think about laying a stone path in our yard, it’s often to get from one place to another: From the deck to the shed, from the driveway to the front door. But maybe a path doesn’t have to go anywhere at all. 

Surprisingly, Olmsted didn’t like the concept of “gardening” and frowned upon showy flowers or prized specimens that called too much attention to themselves. Just as he wanted his parks to be enjoyed by all social classes, he valued an egalitarian landscape that worked in harmony. 

On one occasion, he noted that while a bright hybrid flower in a glass vase may capture our immediate attention, a common wildflower in a grassy meadow may touch us more deeply and have a more soothing influence—though we’re barely aware of seeing it, as it’s just one piece in a greater pastoral portrait. 

While a stately tree or favored fall bloomer can certainly serve as an anchor for your larger landscape, Olmsted believed each element in a design should, more importantly, be part of the greater, cohesive whole—to be taken in all together, and not as individual pieces. 

Remember that function matters

Olmsted valued function over form. “Service must precede art,” Olmsted wrote. “So long as considerations of utility are neglected or overridden by considerations of ornament, there will be no true art.” 

Nature offers us so many useful creations. Use them. If your basement experiences water seepage, maybe your soil could benefit from some beautiful but thirsty plants, like winterberry or tatarian dogwood. If you like to cook with fresh ingredients, then don’t waste time with pretty flowers—plant some chives, rosemary, or a full vegetable garden. If your living room roasts in the summer sun, maybe it’s worth planting some deciduous shade trees. 

Know that it’s never too late

Maybe you’ve never pruned a plant in your life; maybe you’re not sure what pruning even means. Maybe you’ve lived in your home for five years or more, and have never once done anything to the yard. It doesn’t matter: It’s never too late to start. 

The most famed landscape architect in American history didn’t design a park until the age of 35, and didn’t commit to the profession until age 43 — at a time when the average American male could only expect to live until about 40. After a short stint as a surveyor, Olmsted nearly died of scurvy sailing to China as a deckhand, ran a farm for six years without ever turning a profit, and reported on the Confederate South for the New York Times. Then he and Vaux designed one of the greatest public parks the world has ever seen. 

Like the best gardeners, Olmsted was patient, and understood that his landscapes would take time (lots of time) to fully mature into masterpieces. He planted a hemlock tree in the carriageway of his Brookline home and office the same year he bought the place, knowing it would be a decades-long wait for the desired effect: An imposing centerpiece that anchors the estate’s entryway. 

He also understood that people need more immediate payoff. As they churned the soil of Central Park in 1858, he and Vaux made sure to have at least one major feature ready for the public at the end of the first year: The Lake, which people could skate on, allowing them to enjoy the new park even in winter.  

It will take years before this season’s saplings cast summer shade or grow boughs big enough for kids to climb. And it’s worth the wait. But you also deserve something to enjoy now, whether it’s a whimsical stone path, some berries to pick, or a tranquil spot to sit or entertain.  

Published at Thu, 14 May 2020 19:00:00 +0000

Apartment Living

Expert Interview: Avoiding Aesthetic Monotony in Your Rental during Quarantine

Expert Interview: Avoiding Aesthetic Monotony in Your Rental during Quarantine

If you’ve lived in your apartment for a while now, it is sure to carry your unique style with it. However, being indoors all the time can make the apartment feel a bit too flat, since you’ve probably gotten used to the layout and the overall look of your design. That’s why it is a good idea to look for design tips and implement some creative solutions for avoiding aesthetic monotony in your rental.

These solutions can range from rethinking your layout and moving the furniture around, to painting your walls or adding some accents. Depending on your lease and your level of commitment, there are different options for you to try. Below, you will find some tips from interior designers on how to do just that.

add art colors

Also, as more and more people start working from home, another innovation is likely to pop up in your apartment: a home office or a workspace. Although many people think it takes a whole lot of space, that mustn’t always be the case. Check out what practical tips these experts have about creating a productive workspace.

Beth Diana Smith, owner of Beth Diana Smith Interior Design

interior design advice“Art and décor are both quick and simple ways to transform a space; plus, they’re easy to take with you when you move. If you’re not ready to make a large art investment, prints and digital prints are budget-friendly especially when you use places such as Etsy, Minted, and Juniper Print Shop. As far as retail décor goes, CB2, Jung Lee NY, and West Elm are great online choices.

When it comes to creating a workspace, keep it clean and create storage for the items that you want easy access to such as pens, scissors, AirPods, and charging cords. And you could easily do that now by using items you have around the house; for example you could use a mug for pens and scissors, a simple binder clip to help you keep the cords at bay, etc.”

Kesha Franklin, principle designer of Halden Interiors

interior design advice“With the standard restrictions that come along with renting an apartment, renters can sometimes feel like it’s not worth investing in decorating their home. But, there are ways to add interest in the space. One of my go-to recommendations is hanging art on the walls. A gallery wall in particular can make a great statement and show off your personal interests. Another cool visual option is removable wallpaper which has a big impact; it’s easy to install and won’t cost you anything to bring the apartment back to its original state when it’s time to move on to bigger and better things!

Let’s discuss the home office situation. Typically, a rental apartment means there is limited space. So, having a designated area to work from home during times like this can be a challenge. A few tips that I would offer are to find a spot near a window to pull on the outdoor energy to feel productive. You can also purchase a folding screen to create a work area with a small desk and chair, that you can use and keep visually separate from the rest of your living space. Lastly, a C-Table is a great option to easily use at your sofa where you can place your laptop, phone and notebook. They come in a variety of heights, widths and finishes and are aesthetically pleasing to compliment your existing décor!”

Mally Skok, founder of Mally Skok Design

interior design advice“I am an Etsy fiend. Nothing warms up a space like a fun Turkish or Morrocan vintage rug. The Etsy shipping is usually free, the vendors are reliable, and there’s a whole lot of bang for your buck. Also you can roll the rug up and take it with you when you need to move.

Colorful pillows are a way to make your space feel distinctly yours. John Robshaw has ready-made pillows that are gorgeous; if these are too pricey, you can always find some cheery ones on West Elm or Crate and Barrel.

There are some clever new ways of hanging pictures on the walls without a nail. I am all for piling up the things you have hanging around in your life — old posters, old photos or postcards. Buy ready-made frames off Amazon and go bananas on your walls.

Another great idea for a quick improvement is plants. Do some research on plants that do well with limited water and sunlight. There are many! Having another living thing in your space — even though it won’t talk back — will make your apartment a whole lot homier.”

Stacey Sheppard, founder of The Design Sheppard

interior design advice“When you live in a rented property it is often difficult to put your own stamp on it. Many landlords are not particularly flexible with what they allow you to do to a property, but there are plenty of creative ways in which you can adapt your home to avoid aesthetic monotony. Changing up your textiles is a great way to make a space look different. Adding new cushions, blankets, rugs or curtains/blinds is very simple. You can change them with the seasons and — by switching to a new color palette — you can give a room a whole new look.

Repainting is a cheap and easy option that has the ability to completely transform the look and feel of a room. You don’t necessarily even need to paint entire walls. Making a feature by painting geometric shapes in different colors can work wonders. Wall art is also a great way to add visual interest. If you aren’t allowed to hang pictures, consider investing in larger framed pieces and simply lean them against the walls. And don’t forget the power of plants. Plants are not only good for our well-being and our health, but they can really bring a room to life. Move them round to change things up, buy new ones to fill empty spaces or — even better — propagate your existing plants to breed new ones.

add plants

To comfortably work from home, you should design a space for your home office. You don’t need a huge amount of room to set up a productive workspace. There are plenty of space-saving desks on the market that will fit into narrow spaces, unused corners or even that fold away when not in use. Make the most of the space you have available by putting wall shelves up above the desk to store all your office supplies. If your landlord won’t allow you to drill into the walls, consider buying a freestanding shelving unit that has a small desk shelf built-in. It is extremely important to invest in a good office chair that supports your back and provides maximum comfort. Whatever your desk space is like, try to ensure you position it in an area of your home that gets plenty of natural light, is quiet and comfortable. You’ll be most productive when you enjoy spending time in a space.”

We hope these tips proved useful and you’re ready to embrace a bit of change. Even the simplest details can wake up your apartment, so don’t be afraid to experiment. Start small and build your way up to refresh your home.

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Published at Wed, 06 May 2020 11:51:30 +0000

Expert Interview: Keeping Kids Happy and Healthy While in Quarantine

Isolating at home with kids is a task that requires constant creativity. Thinking of ways to keep them active and engaged and coming up with activities and games they enjoy is no simple endeavor; parents need to adapt and overcome these situations. Luckily, there are many sources for inspiration online, as well as free tools and advice.

If you’re in need of extra help, we’ve asked some expert parenting bloggers what their tips for dealing with this new situation are. From ways to keep kids active to discussing the much feared screen time, here’s what these parents shared with us:

Julie, founder of Fab Working Mom Life 

parenting blogger“Living in a small space — especially during this time when parks are closed — is a challenge. Try to go on family walks around the neighborhood, and find some options for good exercise for the entire family.

My son loves doing silly minute-to-win-it type games and arts and crafts. Those are great ways to keep him motivated and having fun (and off his tablet). He’s in Pre-K so the amount of homeschooling we need to do is minimal, but I try to do a few letters and early reading activities with him daily to continue preparing him for kindergarten. If parents in a similar situation are able to take family walks along their neighborhood streets, do so daily. Parks might be closed but the outdoors is still available for a healthy lifestyle.

cooking with kids

Try to make any activity meaningful. For example, during the walks, point out specific flowers and have your kids count the different types you see. Parents living in an area where long family walks are not as easy to accomplish can have fun, active time with their kids by following along an online video, such as Cosmic Kids Yoga. Break out the board games if kids are older, and even make clean-up a fun competition. This is the time to simplify and focus on the few things that matter so we don’t get overwhelmed with it all.”

Tara, founder of Feels Like Home

parenting blogger“First of all, don’t panic about screen time. Accept that your kids are going to have more screen time than usual during this weird and difficult time. Just like you are feeling the need to be more connected to the outside world, they are feeling the same need, and getting on social media or YouTube helps. More screen time also helps to keep them engaged and out of parents’ hair during work from home time. It’s not ideal, but it works.

Every kid has passions. Help yours cultivate their unique passions, even if it means more screen time or making messes. One of my daughters is in love with Minecraft. She plays Minecraft on the phone and watches endless Minecraft YouTube videos. When I lamented about this infatuation to an educator whom I really respect, she reminded me of all the things my daughter is learning while she plays and that problem solving and creativity are just as important and valuable as math and reading skills. It was an eye-opening moment for me as I realized that Minecraft is not time wasted but a valuable activity because she’s pursuing something she loves.

kids activities

Finally, encourage independence in your kids. Allow them to self-monitor their activities and switch when they want. Remind them to clean up after themselves, and help a little if they need it. Show them where the (healthy) snacks are and allow them to feed themselves throughout the day. Prepare enticing “stations” where there are interesting activities or games, and give your kids the freedom to wander into and out of the stations. Don’t harass them to do what you think they should do; let them guide themselves.

My favorite thing to say to my kids is this: “Boredom is good for your brain.” I say it anytime someone tells me that she’s bored, because it’s true. Boredom sparks creativity and passion. Let your kids be, even when they’re bored. Feel free to use my line, tell them that you know they’ll come up with something good to do, and let them do it.”

Vicki, founder of Honest Mum and author of Mum Boss

parenting blogger“Parents like myself have a challenging job right now, as we juggle homeschooling duties with work during the Coronavirus pandemic. It’s crucial that parents make time for self-care so they can be strong and well for their families. This means taking some time off, eating well and exercising once a day (getting the heart rate up to burn off stress).

What you can do is head out once a day for exercise, kids in tow, wracking up a minimum of steps each time, following the social distancing rules. Use this time as an extra-curricular educational moment, exploring nature trails, logging birds, insects and flowers, using these findings during home-school activities, researching what you’ve discovered on your trips out, and illustrating the observations.

Another good activity is cooking as a family more at home. Parents tend to focus on baking with kids, but I’ve decided to teach my sons more about healthy snacks and main meals to help them slowly become more independent. You can do the same with more detailed chores. Give your kids more of a chance to skill up and learn about the daily chores of maintaining a home.”

There’s no right recipe for caring for your kids, and as such you should follow your instinct and listen to their needs and requests. Everyone is different, but we hope these other perspectives helped you out in understanding what others are also going through. Take it easy and stay safe!

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Published at Sun, 03 May 2020 09:50:41 +0000

Apartment Living




Is there a bright side to the global Covid-19 pandemic? Should we even think about looking for a bright side? The answer is absolutely “yes”. The downside of this situation can feel overwhelming and desperately sad. There is no shortage of bad news, but there are many reasons and benefits to remaining hopeful now and moving forward.

All over the world people found ways to connect during social distancing. From the Italians who sang arias from their balconies to neighborhoods in the US who met on their streets for dance offs.  We learned to use new technology such as Zoom or Facetime for virtual happy hours and dinners. From a safe 6 feet apart, you can go for walks with friends and family.  Have balcony fun and get to know your neighbors that live in your apartment building. My daughter has befriended a senior lady on the second floor of her apartment building. This daily interaction reduces isolation especially for her and creates smiles.

Do you feel the silence?  During snowstorms when plane traffic is halted, silence feels like a warm blanket. Now the birds are in their element with less cars and planes in the air. With more time in our lives to explore new interests, bird watching as a hobby is on the increase. They are much easier to hear and spot when we do not need to filter through all the man-made noise. We can rediscover nature.

We can see clearly now and breath better in many cities all over the world. The media shows us photography of blue skies in Los Angeles. NASA says that the atmosphere is significantly cleaner. With the reduction of non-essential travel, the drop in pollution has been significant worldwide.  Cleaner air promotes better health for people suffering from asthma and other respiratory related illnesses. This year with the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, we are seeing many places with the best air quality in decades.

Did you catch up on all the projects that you thought that you never had time to do before?  I have cleaned and organized everything from my attic to the linen closets and the food pantry. I thought that I had plenty of canned goods only to find that a can of green beans expired in 2018. My hurricane provisions from 2019 had expired too. Knowing exactly where I stood with non-perishables will help me be ready for hurricane season 2020. Catching up on my “to do list” had given me a feeling of accomplishment and control during a time when we have no control over a global pandemic. It was a more positive way to spend my time than binge watching news and obsessing about the pandemic. Trust me I spent too much time going from streaming news to local news providers. (Source: Bright Side)

To find the bright side of the any bad situation, it is best to try to have a positive attitude. It will not be an easy thing to do. Even if it is only for a few minutes a day, looking for the bright side can help you not to go down into a rabbit hole of despair. There are so many health benefits with a positive outlook. Can you chat with a senior shut in? Could you donate to a non-profit or support local shops and restaurants? Can we find ways to sustain clean air and continue to commit to a healthier global environment? That remains to be seen. I know that some good will result from Covid-19 pandemic. But it will be up to each of us as we find the new norm to be positive. I’m betting on us to win!

Published at Thu, 07 May 2020 12:21:47 +0000

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Apartment Living

Millennials and Boomers: The Best of unlikely friends

Millennials and Boomers: The Best of unlikely friends

Millennials and Boomers: The Best of unlikely friends

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

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

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

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

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

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Apartment Living

12 Important Things People Should Learn About Colorado Springs Before Moving There

12 Important Things People Should Learn About Colorado Springs Before Moving There

Colorado Springs is a famously attractive destination for people seeking to relocate. The rental market is cheaper than in most big cities, while the job market is thriving. Also, there’s a generally laid-back feel to the town, which some might even describe as bohemian, and of course a myriad of opportunities for outdoor activity.

If you’re considering Colorado Springs for your next move, here are some funny, quirky, interesting and very useful things to learn about this city.

1. How much do apartments and self storage cost in Colorado Springs?

Renting an apartment in Colorado Springs will cost you around $1,200 per month, well below the national average of $1,468, according to Yardi Matrix. You might want to look into self storage as well, as you’ll probably require a home away from home for all those things needed for enjoying the outdoors, including hiking gear and a bike, winter clothes and gardening equipment. The city is not short of good self storage options, with the street rates for a self-storage unit in Colorado Springs hovering around $108 per month for a standard 10X10 unit, under the national average rent of $114.

2. You get to witness the majestic beauty of Pikes Peak each and every day

The 14,115-feet high Pikes Peak towers over Colorado Springs with all its picture-perfect beauty – one more reason for the social-media obsessed Millennials to love this city. Basically, most pics you take around Colorado Springs are Instagram-worthy. “Pike’s Peak provides the backdrop for the city.  Almost every day you can see it on the west side of the city. It’s gorgeous,” David and Lisa Wolf, long-time residents of Colorado Springs, told us.

American writer Katherine Lee Bates, who visited the area in 1893, was so impressed by its beauty that she wrote the famous poem “America the Beautiful.”

3. Visit the Garden of the Gods

The Garden of the Gods, located at the base of Pikes Peak, only a few miles from downtown Colorado Springs, is a national park featuring stunning geological formations. The iconic deep red, pink and white rocks formed millions of years ago due to erosion and upheavals in the earth’s surface.

The park, with its 21 miles of trails, is very popular for hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking and horseback riding, and it attracts almost six million visitors annually.

4. Money has its own museum in Colorado Springs

It shouldn’t be assumed that Colorado Springs’ residents are materialistic – on the contrary, the city is well known for its unpretentious, relaxed lifestyle. But the Money Museum in the city, part of the American Numismatic Association, is a very cool place to visit, especially with your young ones. You get to explore the power that money has had throughout history and how it influenced culture, art, science and people’s lifestyles. Look at the fascinating exhibits about the evolution of currency worldwide and enjoy one the most extensive US gold coin collections ever assembled. The museum also organizes numismatics seminars and workshops.

5. Giraffes seem to be thriving at high altitude

The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is the highest in terms of altitude in the United States, and it has one of the largest herds of giraffes in captivity worldwide. About 200 giraffes have been born in Colorado Springs since the first one was brought here in 1954. The giraffes, obviously thriving at over 6,000 feet above sea level, are part of the zoo’s renowned breeding program that supports conservation efforts.

There are plenty more habitats and animals to admire at this high-flying zoo, including African tigers, several different species of bear, apes, bald eagles, and many more. In addition, an open-air ski lift allows you to admire the entire zoo from above.

6. Check out the one-of-a-kind museum of World War II aviation

As you have already noticed, Colorado Springs is a pretty unique place, so no wonder you can find an amazing, one-of-a-kind museum right here. The National Museum of World War II Aviation, opened in 2012, is the only one in the world to focus exclusively on the role of aviation during WWII.

You’ll be able to admire dozens of airplanes and other vehicles that were used in WWII. The museum also includes a state-of-the-art restoration facility, where old airplanes are brought back to life for the public to enjoy.

7. Take a stroll through Manitou Springs

As most Manitou Springs residents will let you now, their small town is not technically part of Colorado Springs. However, as it’s located just a few miles from downtown Colorado Springs, it has become a de facto neighborhood of the larger town. Manitou Springs is a National Historic District, scattered with art galleries, restaurants, cafes and boutiques. All in all, it’s the perfect spot to spend a relaxed afternoon with your family, or a fun weekend, making the most of the area’s many sunny days.

8. Get used to living near Olympians

The US Olympic Training Center has been located in Colorado Springs since 1978, and the reason why the city was selected to host the training center has to do, once again, with the altitude. Experts agree that training at high altitudes drastically improves athletes’ performance.

And not only might you casually meet your favorite Olympian while standing in line to get coffee, but you can also tour the facility and understand all the hard work and dedication behind getting those shiny medals.

9. Cross America’s highest suspension bridge

Located about an hour away from Colorado Springs, the Royal Gorge Bridge is the highest suspension bridge in the country, crossing the gorge at almost 1,000 feet above the Arkansas River. The bridge itself is 1,260 feet long, 18 feet wide, and its towers are 150 feet high – a impressive structure that offers breathtaking views. The bridge is part of the Royal Gorge Park, which also includes aerial gondolas, zip lines, hiking trails, a children’s playland and photo lookout areas.

10. Are you ready to track Santa?

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD)’s famous Santa tracking program started in 1955, and Colorado Springs is the origin of this beloved tradition. It appears that in 1955 a child trying to reach Santa Claus on a hotline provided by Sears misdialed and instead reached Colorado Springs’ Continental Air Defense Command Center.

The call was answered by Colonel Harry Shoup, who provided Santa’s “current location” for the young caller. From there, the Santa tracker exploded in popularity, and today NORAD, who took over this huge and extremely important mission, relies on hundreds of volunteers to answer the approximately 100,000 phone calls and 12,000 emails coming in each Christmas.

11. Colorado Springs is a favorite destination for Millennials

According to research done by the Brookings Institution, the city registered a 15% growth of its Millennial population between 2010 and 2015, the highest nationally. The proportion of Millennials among the entire population of the town is over 26%, the same research says. This obviously indicates that Colorado Springs is a young and thriving place, with plenty of amazing food and entertainment options available.

12. Learn the good and the bad about Colorado Springs: there’s plenty of sun but a little less oxygen

Due to the high altitude of its geographical location and the dry weather in the area, Colorado Springs benefits from about 300 days of sunshine per year, making it one of the sunniest places in the United States. However, there are some downsides regarding the weather in Colorado Springs.

“With the elevation comes crazy weather — it can be really warm, almost hot one day, and the next day snow,”  added David and Lisa Wolf. “Last year we had a horrible blizzard May 20 that wiped out so many trees. The earliest we have had snow since we’ve lived here was September 8…then everything went brown and dead.  Very short growing season! We usually have thunderstorms every afternoon in summer and unfortunately really bad hail frequently.”

The elevation of over 6,000 feet also means that Colorado Springs only has about two-thirds of the oxygen concentration found at sea level. For some people, the exposure to low amounts of oxygen and the changes in air pressure can lead to altitude sickness, characterized by symptoms such as headache, nausea, and tiredness. “It takes about a year to get used to living at this altitude. Some people cannot – especially if they have heart issues,” explained our Colorado Springs couple.

Are you already living in Colorado Springs? Let us know in the comments what your favorite things about the city are and what else a person planning to relocate there should know about.

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Published at Thu, 30 Apr 2020 06:42:23 +0000

Austin’s Best Neighborhoods for Renters

Austin is one of the most culturally and economically diverse cities in the entire U.S., and it’s only getting better. Besides being one of the country’s most booming cultural hubs, an excellent place for prosperous employment and one of the safest urban hotspots in the U.S., the cost of living in Texas’ capital is also lower than most cities in its category. 

Meanwhile, high incomes, low taxes, great public transportation, and a thriving music and arts scene will make any renter happy to live here. So, if you want to enjoy the perks that the greenest town in Texas has to offer, here’s a breakdown of its most popular neighborhoods for renters, which are just as diverse as the local community itself: 

  • Number of large apartment buildings: 48
  • Number of apartments for rent in large buildings: 5,565
  • Average rent: $2,668
  • Average apartment size: 968 square feet
  • Median age: 35.7
  • Share of renters: 45%

As is the case with many big cities, the most sought-after neighborhood in Austin is the bustling downtown area. And, why wouldn’t renters want to live here? Downtown Austin is as lively on a Tuesday as it is on a Saturday, and as one of the biggest cultural hubs in the U.S., there are plenty of job opportunities that anyone would want to live near. It should come as no surprise then that residents living in the core of the job hub earn a higher income than those in most of Austin’s popular places. 

Of course, all of these perks do come at a cost, and rents in the neighborhood are higher than the national average. Also, if you want to enjoy the high life by moving to a luxury apartment, you’re going to have to shell out a pretty penny for it because these units go for $2,736 on average. Still, living close to award-winning restaurants, museums, diverse art galleries and the best shopping spots in the city is worth it — especially if you want to snatch up a place with a view in one of the neighborhood’s many high-rise apartment buildings.

  • Number of large apartment buildings: 153
  • Number of apartments for rent in large buildings: 4,360
  • Average rent: $1,449
  • Average apartment size: 843 square feet
  • Median age: 33.7
  • Share of renters: 58%

If you’re looking for a master-planned community where you can have some peace and quiet — but still be relatively close to the heart of the action — Mueller’s the place for you. This brilliantly designed neighborhood is the result of years of redevelopment that completely changed the face of the old airport area. The award-winning urban village has everything you could possibly need nearby. Plenty of parks and recreational areas, great restaurants, and a dedicated retail area are all a stone’s throw away from where you’d be living. Plus, it’s only three miles from the downtown area. 

Meanwhile, if you’re planning to or already have kids, Mueller is also a great place for families. In particular, the parks, children’s hospital and good schools make it the perfect location for young families looking for a balance between a great neighborhood and a fair price — apartments here go for less than the national average. 

  • Number of large apartment buildings: 424
  • Number of apartments for rent in large buildings: 11,059
  • Average rent: $1,645
  • Average apartment size: 800 square feet
  • Median age: 32.6
  • Share of renters: 60%

South Lamar seems to have it all. It’s full of trendy restaurants, bars and art galleries, and is only two blocks away from the Greenbelt. Even so, it still has a residential feel, which makes it a great place to call home. Plus, it’s as safe as urban neighborhoods can be with a community feel among residents. Moreover, great markets and grocery stores are within walkable distance, and commutes are shorter than average in the area. While South Lamar isn’t as quiet as other neighborhoods in the city and is mostly a young professional hotspot, it does have plenty of great schools that parents swear by, making it a good home for families, as well.

However, because it’s close to both the Greenbelt and the downtown area, rents are higher than average in this vibrant neighborhood. But, they’re still much lower than in other central places like Downtown Austin or Hyde Park, so the price is worth it, especially if you’re a young professional. 

  • Number of large apartment buildings: 420
  • Number of apartments for rent in large buildings: 7,324
  • Average rent: $1,211
  • Average apartment size: 846 square feet
  • Median age: 34.2
  • Share of renters: 66%

Wells Branch is the third-most-popular Austin neighborhood for a reason: the suburb offers a great mix between urban living and small-town quiet, with great schools to boot. Parks are abundant in the area, with the largest one running straight through the middle of the suburb, so you’ll be close to a green space wherever you choose to live here. What’s more, the skate park and swimming pools make it the perfect spot both for young renters and families, while the spacious dog parks ensure any furry friends are healthy and happy. 

Wells Branch also comes with lower-than-average apartment rents, so if you’re looking for a deal, this is the perfect spot for you. And, because the apartment buildings in the area are low-rise, you’ll enjoy clear skies and plenty of sun on your walks through this quiet, yet lively suburb. 

  • Number of large apartment buildings: 193
  • Number of apartments for rent in large buildings: 8,897
  • Average rent: $2,123
  • Average apartment size: 895 square feet
  • Median age: 25.3
  • Share of renters: 78%

This young and vibrant neighborhood mixes the best of both worlds. It’s just north of the university campus, which means it’s the place to live for upper-level students and young professionals alike, and that you’ll enjoy a relaxed atmosphere while dwelling among socially conscious people. But, Hyde Park is also a quiet area with a small-town feel, so you won’t be bothered by noisy streets or too-loud neighbors. 

The youngest neighborhood in Austin, Hyde Park doesn’t have as many green areas as suburbs further from the city core, but its historic buildings and beautiful streets make it a delight to stroll through. Combine this with the area’s trendy, independent cafes and restaurants, and you have the makings of a near-perfect neighborhood. Of course, everything that makes Hyde Park such an amazing place to live also makes it one of the priciest neighborhoods in the city its rents are well above the national average, with apartments going for $2,123 on average. 

  • Number of large apartment buildings: 908
  • Number of apartments for rent in large buildings: 18,882
  • Average rent: $1,476
  • Average apartment size: 818 square feet
  • Median age: 34
  • Share of renters: 57%

South Congress is the shopping and entertainment heart of Austin. If you’re thinking of moving to Austin and you’re the type of person who thrives living in the middle of the action, then this is your best choice. In fact, SoCo is one of the most active neighborhoods in the state, filled to the brim with creative restaurants, live music venues and plenty of local retailers, each with their own unique personality. Of course, while a bustling neighborhood such as South Congress is a dream for many young urbanites, it’s also become known as a home base for tourists, so it’s not the best choice if you’re looking for a quiet community. 

However, if you live for concerts and like dressing with thrift shop flair, SoCo is for you. The young, bustling neighborhood also has an unobstructed view of the Texas State Capitol, and its rental prices are about the same as the national average, with apartments renting for $1,475.

  • Number of large apartment buildings: 324
  • Number of apartments for rent in large buildings: 6,735
  • Average rent: $1,221
  • Average apartment size: 870 square feet
  • Median age: 30.7
  • Share of renters: 44%

Onion Creek is one of the most popular neighborhoods in Austin because it’s quiet, well-managed and home to the only golf community in southeast Austin. The neighborhood lies south of the Onion Creek Greenbelt, and while it’s not the most walkable of residential areas, there are plenty of stores that are just a short drive away. Homes in the neighborhood are spacious, and because of its distance from the core of the city, they also come at a lower price than usual, going for $1,221 on average. 

Add a pool and a local park to the in-demand Onion Creek Club, and you’ve got the makings of a great family neighborhood (especially for golf lovers), just 10 miles from downtown Austin. 

  • Number of large apartment buildings: 834
  • Number of apartments for rent in large buildings: 10,158
  • Average rent: $1,297
  • Average apartment size: 841 square feet
  • Median age: 40
  • Share of renters: 46%

If you’re looking for a neighborhood with a tight-knit community and a life of its own, Balcones Woods should be at the top of your list. This small, but lively community is known for its active local life. Residents are engaged in interest clubs and the neighborhood association organizes activities for most of major holidays. Moreover, while the area has a quiet feel to it, it’s also located in the heart of northwest Austin, so it’s close to some of the best shopping and dining districts in the city, as well as the biggest tech employers. 

Overall, Balcones Woods is a great place to move for both single, young professionals and families. It’s friendly and close to everything the big city has to offer, and with an average rent of $1,297, it’s prices are well below the national average.

  • Number of large apartment buildings: 530
  • Number of apartments for rent in large buildings: 9,597
  • Average rent: $1,105
  • Average apartment size: 805 square feet
  • Median age: 30.9
  • Share of renters: 62%

If affordability is your main concern, North Lamar is the most inexpensive of Austin’s most popular neighborhoods for renters, with apartments going for $1,105 on average. This tiny neighborhood is only 15 minutes from the heart of the city and comes with fantastic Asian shops and food, and plenty of other diverse mom-and-pop businesses. Though a major highway and thoroughfare border it, it’s still surprisingly quiet. 

Living in one of Austin’s cheapest neighborhoods comes with its drawbacks, though. The southern border of the neighborhood is considered unsafe at times, while parks and cultural centers are in short supply. But, if you’re looking for a great deal and don’t mind living in a shabby area, residents will tell you that it’s worth it and the neighborhood has its charm.

  • Number of large apartment buildings: 864
  • Number of apartments for rent in large buildings: 18,650
  • Average rent: $1,625
  • Average apartment size: 858 square feet
  • Median age: 37.6
  • Share of renters: 44%

Last, but not least, Barton Hills is the place to live if you’re a nature lover but still want to be close to Austin’s core. This sought-after neighborhood is located right next to the Barton Creek Greenbelt and Zilker Park, home to the famous Austin City Limits and SXSW festivals. Besides the roaring cultural life, the neighborhood is also within close proximity of any shops and restaurants you might want to visit, as well as plenty of museums and art galleries. If you’re not one for driving, Barton Hills is also well-connected through public transportation. 

To top it off, the area is wildly praised by its residents, who recommend it not only for its vibrant local life, but also for its safety and great schools. Residents here have the highest incomes of Austin’s most popular neighborhoods, so high-end apartments abound while rentals go for $1,625 on average.

Looking for the perfect new place in this diverse and vibrant job hub? Browse through thousands of verified apartments in Austin and find your ideal home in a snap.

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Published at Thu, 30 Apr 2020 06:04:51 +0000

Apartment Living

Your “Work Self” is Gone Now That Your Coworkers Have Seen Your Apartment

Your “Work Self” is Gone Now That Your Coworkers Have Seen Your Apartment

In the last month, I’ve shown a lot of people the inside of my home. I’ve invited my therapist into my tiny backyard, where she commented on my raised bed (and finally met my two dogs). I’ve caught up with a friend quarantined abroad while sitting cross-legged on the floor of my bedroom, surrounded by a little nest of clutter and laundry. And I’ve joined writing groups from my desk in my attic, which I’m now realizing is not quite as tidy when viewed from my laptop camera’s perspective. 

These encounters are, of course, all taking place on the video conferencing platforms to which so much of our professional lives—and nearly all of our social lives—have been relegated for the several weeks. On Zoom, FaceTime, and Hangouts, we try to replicate spending time with our friends and family, those who’ve already seen our homes (and maybe even our clutter-nests). But we also allow little glimpses of our private selves to those with whom we might not ordinarily share it. Zoom calls can feel like a low-key treasure hunt of subtle clues about who our professional peers and colleagues really are, when viewed from a perspective we may not normally have access to: the coworker not at their desk or office, but in their natural habitat, surrounded by the quotidian stuff of domestic life. 

There’s the quiet, voyeuristic pleasure of creeping on one another’s decor decisions, but in the context of work, it’s about more than just measuring up who has an expensive couch or good taste in window curtains. In an office, colleagues with whom we don’t otherwise interact can seem like two-dimensional characters who exist only on weekdays from 9 to 5. When we’re peering into each others’ private spaces, though, everyone suddenly seems so much more human. 

Square Foot, a commercial real estate company based in New York, has about 65 people working in its office, all of whom began working from home in mid-March. Joshua Vickery, the company’s CTO, says that ever since then, he’s been on video calls “more or less constantly” throughout the day. Before, if a colleague was working from home, Vickery says they’d normally choose to dial in to a conference by phone rather than by video (or even turn their video off). That’s changed in the last month.

“It definitely shifts the boundaries of what we do and do not share with each other,” he says. “There are people who have very carefully selected where they take calls from at home, but that’s the minority.” Recently, one of his colleagues called in from her childhood bedroom, where rows of equestrian medals are on display. “Once someone caught on that they were there, she showed them off. And we had a new hire who’s a current equestrian, so they connected over that.” 

Alisa Cohn, a start-up coach based in New York, works from home and normally takes her calls in front of a distinctive red painting, which her clients frequently comment on. Cohn, who left New York on the eve of the pandemic, is now thinking about how to work with her new surroundings (she even has a green screen). “I’m looking at what’s behind me, and it’s not perfect—but at least there’s not dirty laundry,” she says. She’s seen some of her clients take calls from their laundry rooms, dens, and, in the case of one young tech startup founder, a parent’s house.

“It’s great, and it’s homey, and it definitely humanizes him,” she says. “I’ve also now met a number of my clients’ kids, who wander into the space. There’s something really wonderfully humanizing about that, and very ‘we’re all in this together’ about that.” Cohn thinks it’s endearing for personal effects to be included in a call’s background, as long as the effect is neat and intentional. (Oh, and also work-appropriate. “I did hear that someone did a video call with an employee who had some off-color paintings in the background,” she says. “Let me just say: not recommended.”) 

Seeing a colleague’s toddler or golden retriever wander into the frame is one of the few sources of pure, delirious joy we can hope for these days, and it’s also an unignorable reminder that our colleagues have lives beyond the context of the workplace. (An eternal shout-out here to BBC interviewee Robert Kelly, whose children Kool-Aid Manned their way into his home office during a live interview and instantly became beloved by the internet.) I think catching a glimpse of a coworker’s terrarium collection, or a boss’s framed concert posters, or an intern’s powerlifting trophies, could have a similar effect. A professional’s cubicle might offer a few highly curated clues to what their lives are like after clocking out, but nothing feels more intimate than peering into someone’s home and seeing the ephemera they choose to fill it with. 

Unsurprisingly, there is (as of now!) little research on whether video calls from home have any impact on workplace and team dynamics. But research does seem to show that bringing more of our full selves into the workplace can benefit us by giving us more of a sense of control over our own identity, rather than feeling like we’re juggling distinct versions of ourselves at work versus at home. Maryam Kouchaki, an associate professor of management and organizations at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, is behind some of that research. When I asked her how that might extend to our current work-from-home dynamic, she speculated that people may be integrating more of their work and personal identities. “On average, I expect more humanization, more empathy, and cooperation,” she says. 

John Kello, a professor of organizational psychology at Davidson College whose research specializes in the science of meetings, is learning the ropes of Zoom just like everyone else. Video conferencing, he says, comes with a bevy of challenges that can result in less engaged colleagues—but he can see how the dynamic could yield better cooperation, too. “I’m not sure just how inter-person perceptions might change, but we do get to see colleagues more in their at-home mode than their at-work mode… it can be humanizing, I guess,” he says. “I could see members of other groups getting a warmer view of each other as a result of the communication-from-home process.” (That empathy, he adds, might also come from everyone clumsily learning the ropes of a new-to-them technology together, and helping each other out along the way.) 

While it might feel like we’re all in the same boat, there are drawbacks to the sudden expectation that every nonessential working professional reveal little slices of their domestic spaces to colleagues, as Kyle Chayka wrote about in Curbed. For one, it can feel invasive. A lot of people are already expected to treat work like “family” and make themselves available 24/7; can’t domiciles be one last safe haven from work? (Also: I’m already working; do I really have to tidy my space, too?) For another, it can throw inequalities into stark relief. As a friend remarked to me recently, it’s hard to feel like a team player for a company issuing pay cuts when one’s manager is conferencing in from what is very clearly an impressive vacation home.

When I can’t meet someone in-person, I normally conduct my interviews on the phone. On those calls, I try to get down to business quickly; sometimes I might even write out in advance what I hope to say at the beginning of the call for efficiency’s sake, so I’m not fumbling for words or filling the space with awkward small talk. But when I spoke with Vickery, it was, appropriately, on Zoom.

Before the start of our call, perhaps betraying my own hypothesis, I arranged my laptop’s camera to show little personal effects, beyond some framed artwork and a white wall — my own grasp at “keeping things professional.” Within fifteen minutes, my dog had ambled into the frame and started scratching at the rug (because no one laughs at stiff formality and curation like animals do), and by the end of the call, Vickery was introducing me to his wife and their new kitten. If that’s part of our “new normal,” I don’t hate it.  

Published at Tue, 28 Apr 2020 12:00:00 +0000

These Space-Saving Wall Mounted Desks are Just What Your WFH Setup is Missing

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Just because you live in a small space doesn’t mean you can’t have an efficient and organized work area. Simply getting a desk is one of the best ways to solve the non-existent home office conundrum. But if you’re short on space, your at home version of the C-suite doesn’t have to include an oversized computer table or giant chair. The right solution for you might actually be a wall-mounted desk. Also known as floating desks, these shelf-like set ups give you the workspace you need without imposing on your limited floor space. 

You can always DIY your own desk. But if time is of the essence or instant gratification is more your thing, buying a sleek model that folds down from the wall or picking out a small desk that’s deep enough and also takes up little to no floor space is the answer. While certainly convenient, the wall-mounted desks available these days are also ultra stylish. Many of them even sport features like mini cabinets and sliding hidden compartments that will make your WFH situation so much better.

Wall-mounted desks can be installed in nearly any room, and while providing a sturdy surface to work is their main purpose, they can easily double as a dining table or extra storage spot should you need it. If your home is at full capacity but you’re not willing to compromise your work environment, check out our favorite 12 floating desks.

1. Murray Wall Mounted Desk 

Like a Murphy Bed but just in desk form, this space-saving model provides plenty of room to work, but it also folds back up against the wall when you’re done using it. The little cabinet up top is handy for storing office supplies and other items. You can even top the entire unit with plants or photos so it really feels like an office. 

Buy: Murray Wall Mounted Desk, $299.00 from Urban Outfitters

When you’re off the clock, this cool wooden desk folds back up into a compact rectangle against your wall. But if you’re in need of a dining table and desk, you’ve found your perfect match. You can keep it out in the open to take you from work to dinner—and even use the shelves for wine glasses or linens.

Buy: Ebern Designs Dickey Floating Desk, $206.99 $185.99 from Wayfair

3. Way Wick Wall-Mounted Drop-Leaf Dining Table

The minimalist design of this desk won’t overwhelm your space, but it still offers you ample surface for your laptop, notes, and coffee mug. Folding down against the wall, you’ll barely notice your desk when you’re not using it. A desk like this also makes forgetting work over the weekend that much easier.

Buy: Way Wick Wall-Mounted Drop-Leaf Dining Table, $94.99 from Wayfair

This IKEA shelf is only 11 inches deep, but perfect for a laptop. Plus it has drawers to help keep your desktop clear. Use it either above an existing desk for extra storage, or on its own for the perfect small space solution.

Buy: Ekby Shelf Bar, $51.49 from IKEA

A desktop is one of the components of the String wall shelving system. It can be combined with the system’s brackets and shelves to create an attractive workspace/bookshelf combination. The desktop alone starts at $165, and you will need to buy the other components separately.

Buy: String Work Desk, $165 from Finnish Design Shop

6. Wooden Mallet Wall Desk

For the truly space conscious, this petite workstation takes up no more space than a picture frame, but can support up to 20 pounds when anchored to the wall properly.

Buy: Wooden Mallet Wall Desk, $141.80 from Amazon

Okay, so this desk does cheat a bit by touching the floor, but it still has the same minimal footprint and unobtrusive styling. It also comes in a 96″ high version with two extra shelves.

Buy: Stairway White Desk, $349 from CB2

8. Driftwood & Platinum Elfa Wall-Mounted Desk

9. Blu Dot Wonder Wall Desk

This wall-mounted desk by Blu Dot is its newest version. It features a compartment in the back for storing cords and comes in this gorgeous walnut color.

Buy: Blu Dot Wonder Wall 2.0 Desk, $799.00 $639.20 from 2Modern

10. MASH Studios LAX Series Wall Mounted Desk

Crafted out of English walnut wood, this desk is what minimalist dreams are made of. It’s composed of three built-in shelves, and its profile and trim really help to carve out a pop-up office space. A sleek sliding panel also allows you to change which shelf you’d like to keep covered, so you can store items safely and easily.

Buy: MASH Studios LAX Series Wall Mounted Desk, $792.00 from 2Modern

This wall desk folds out for a laptop workspace and closes right back up into a stylish little cupboard. There’s a cut out for cords too, and the cabinet on the right side has enough room to store a small selection of essential office supplies.

Buy: Covert Floating Desk, $499 from Crate&Barrel

12. Royal System Shelving Unit A With Desk Shelf

And finally, if you’re looking to shell out a little more cash for a floating desk, there’s the lovely Royal System from DK3, available through Design Within Reach.

Buy: Royal System Shelving Unit A With Desk Shelf, $1,195 from Design Within Reach

Published at Tue, 28 Apr 2020 03:47:35 +0000