Apartment Living

How To Tip Your New York City Building Doormen

How To Tip Your New York City Building Doormen

What is the customary tip for your luxury high-rise doormen? or for that matter, your super, your porters, and housekeeper? Every other guide simply defers to the non-advice of “it depends.” So we will try to be more concrete. First, check out our guide on how MUCH to tip doormen.

Most people who give will give more than you think

In an infamous and wide-ranging study, Sociology professor Peter Bearman sent students out on a massive crowd-sourced effort to interview doormen everywhere and ask about tipping. He found that most of your neighbors will lie about how much they give – because they actually give more!

What’s the logic?

Some are naturally more generous. Others more frugal. We all lie somewhere on the spectrum, but of course we prefer not to spend more money than we need. Most New York residents aim to be slightly above average tippers in their apartments in Everett WA. So they will tell their neighbors when asked a lower amount.

Perhaps they say they gave each doorman $50, but they did not include the Macy’s Gift Card worth another $50. Or that $50 only went to the least favorite doorman, but others got up to twice as much!

But Many Give Zero!

Ok, maybe not MANY, but a larger percent than most millennials would expect. Unfortunately, you can’t count the cheapskates into your equations. In some ways, it’s better to give nothing at all and have the staff assume you don’t know the culture and tradition. Because if you do tip, and it is far below the typical amounts, you actually end worse than the non-givers.

What actually happens to you when you are a low or zero giver? Don’t expect any over the top service in the future. The next time you have guests coming over or a heavy delivery, the doorman will be very by-the-book. No bending the rules to make life easier. But worst of all, residents have reported that they KNOW when the tip was too low. The staff suddenly stiffens up into a very stoic, almost blatantly obvious cold tone for the next few weeks. Ask yourself, is it really worth saving a few bucks if it means coming home to an awkward building lobby for the entire next year?

If you actually own your unit via a condo or co-op, then going the cheap route is incredibly foolish. Things happen when you live in a building for a long time, and you want the staff that is there day to day to be on your side.

Image result for tipping doorman

Who To Tip

The luxury high rises, large no-fee doorman buildings, and private social clubs make this easy for you. If you should be giving a tip, or at least the staff expects it, they will send you the classic holiday mailer in late November or early December. For no apparent reason, they think you want a list of the names and sometimes tenure of all the staff members. In some cases, it lists their position, and in all cases will have staff nicknames in case you don’t know their full legal name.

How To Tip

Cash versus gift cards vs check? That’s easy – they don’t like gift cards as much, for the same reason you don’t like gift cards. You need to actually deal with the hassle of spending the cards. Sometimes if you had a personal conversation about liking a particular store or brand, it can be a nice touch to add a gift card – but only in addition to the primary tip.

As for cash versus check, doormen probably prefer cash in all cases. But there is a practical reason to give checks. At least you will know that the correct person received the tip, AND the doormen will also track it properly (yes they do track). Best of all, YOU can track over the years in case you’ve forgotten. And as a practical concern, if you don’t keep the correct hours to see each doorman individually, you might need to drop the checks and cards into the communal box or to the trusted “main” doorman, in which case checks are simply more secure.

When you do the hand-off, you don’t need a long speech. They know the game and have dozens of other residents doing the same thing daily. But thank them for their hard work, wish them happy holidays, offer a firm hand shake, with extended eye contact, and you are done!

Published at Mon, 16 Dec 2019 21:06:41 +0000

Ghost Banning To Stop Real Estate Broker Spam

Posted on December 15, 2019 12:01 am

Back in 2009, Lawrence and I were speaking with one of our early investors about spam messages. Specifically, Craigslist postings at the time were full of low quality ads, and for anyone with a legitimate apartment, they would find their inboxes quickly filled with unsolicited offers.

“Getting rid of spam is easy!” the investor told us excitedly. “You just need to make sure the spammer doesn’t realize they are banned.” This particular investor knew a lot about spam – he was one of the inventors of modern spam filtering today.

So finding and identifying the spam is not hard. But how do you make a spammer go away? The practice known as “hell banning” or “shadow banning” comes from the old days of dial-up modems and bulletin board systems, but deployed in modern apps such as WeChat, Reddit, and RentHop’s apartment finder and messaging system.

Why Is It Called Ghosting?

The idea is, eventually the problematic or abusive user will see that his or her messages appear to be sent to and seen by everyone else. However, the crowd just ignores them completely; no one even engages with or interacts with the offensive post. The banned person, unable to elicit a reaction from anyone, leaves and brings their toxic attitudes elsewhere.

Perhaps it’s like the classic movie Ghost, when the hero desperately tries to have an impact on the world around him but is unable to do so? Or how about Sixth Sense and the classic quote: ” Walking around like regular people. They don’t see each other. They only see what they want to see. They don’t know they’re dead.”

Published at Sun, 15 Dec 2019 05:01:36 +0000

Apartment Living

RentHop Completes The Ultimate Heist

RentHop Completes The Ultimate Heist

Originally posted on December 13, 2019 4:38 am

Updated on December 13, 2019 11:39 am

Today we had our annual RentHop Secret Santa gift exchange. We upgraded from the old “names in a hat” method to the much higher tech Elfster (because one employee was tired of getting the same recipient 3 years in a row, which Elfster can prevent).

Photos from the gift exchange and drinks will follow, but we also spent time discussing our multi-year tradition of exploring various escape rooms in New York City (we used to also play NY Urban volleyball). Our latest conquest is the Ultimate Heist, a puzzle from Clue Chase near Bryant Park.

Escape Room Stats – Which Is Most Important?

Some people prioritize the decor and ambiance of an escape room. Call it part of the immersion experience and production value. Others want extremely clever or memorable puzzles. I usually ignore the storyline, but some rooms punish you if you forget key points in the plot!

Lawrence in particular likes what I call the “Zelda effect” – performing a seemingly innocuous triggers some huge surprise. For example, a tiny switch opens an unexpected secret passage into a new, larger room, or a sturdy looking wall suddenly collapses away revealing an exotic contraption (or dummy corpse).

Something for Everyone

Thankfully, Ultimate Heist has something for everyone, checking all of my boxes, but also with a unique twist. Ultimate Heist is one of the most parallel escape rooms ever designed. A team can split into groups working on an endless slew of side quests. Just don’t forget to actually solve the main puzzle and… escape the room!

Published at Fri, 13 Dec 2019 09:38:57 +0000

Two Sigma Ventures to Grand Central Tech

Originally posted on December 11, 2019 1:54 pm

Updated on December 13, 2019 11:34 am

Last time we discussed the very early days. From mid-2008 to 2010, RentHop used co-founder Lawrence Zhou’s apartment to write code on nights and weekends, while the founders held day jobs at Traxis Partners, D. E. Shaw & Co., and Two Sigma Investments. The doormen must have assumed we were dating, given all the late nights when I would leave the Beaverton apartment, looking disheveled from a long hacking session.

Grand Central Tech – Urban Tech Hub

In 2013, RentHop raised a seed round from Two Sigma Ventures, one of the first investments TSV made in the PropTech and Big Data space. Floored and Canary were also part of their early portfolio, and all three companies shared offices, first at 96 Spring Street then 101 Avenue of the Americas.

Within two years, the office was full of startups from all kinds and sizes. One of the best things about Two Sigma Ventures is their willingness to invest in a large range of company stages, and a wide range of check sizes. You can be two founders with a prototype, or a borderline private equity deal – as long as your company is engineering innovative solutions using data analysis and machine learning, they should be on your list.

RentHop grew to 9 employees during our time at Two Sigma – but sitting next to us, delivery company Homer Logistics raised $8.5 million and quickly expanded to over dozens of executives and employees. When Homer outgrew the space, CEO Adam Price moved the company to Urban Tech Hub at Grand Central Tech, and was kind enough to carve out space for us to sublet. Adam is now CEO of a publicly traded company after selling his startup, and we took over the GCT space!

Urban Tech Hub at Grand Central Tech attracts alumni from various accelerators – some from Y Combinator (RentHop), others from Bachman’s Hacker Hostel (SeeFoods)

Not at All Like WeWork

Urban Tech Hub brings together a unique community of invite-only startups focusing on unique problems and opportunities in dense cities such as New York – transportation, logistics, infrastructure, clean tech, and big data, and space allocation are focus areas – thankfully RentHop and RealtyHop tick many of the boxes! We will discuss our current offices more another time!

Published at Wed, 11 Dec 2019 18:54:53 +0000

Apartment Living

How to make the most of your apartment’s fitness center

How to make the most of your apartment’s fitness center

How to make the most of your apartments fitness center

Drinking in fresh air while you workout may be a good motivator, but when the weather doesn’t cooperate, it’s not a practical option. You could spend a chunk of your hard-earned paycheck on a membership at a gym, but it’s going to be easy to find an excuse to skip your workout when you have a commute to the treadmill. Since your building boasts its own in-house fitness center, there’s no need to spend any extra money or travel further than a few hundred feet for a workout. Here are a few ways that you can make the most out of a fitness routine in your apartment’s own fitness center.

  1. Begin with just your bodyweight.
    Apartment fitness centers tend to vary in terms of the equipment they offer, but all of them tend to have one thing in common: limited space. So you might not see the wide variety of cardio and strength-training equipment you’d find at your typical gym. This just gives you the opportunity to simplify your workout. When you first embark on a fitness routine at the apartment gym, try skipping the equipment altogether and just using your own bodyweight. Moves like squats, lunges, and burpees torch calories and strengthen muscles, even in a small space.
  2. Strengthen your core.
    One muscle group that’s easy to shred with zero equipment and a small amount of space? Your abs. As long as your apartment fitness center has a mat, you can power through crunches, bicycle kicks, and grueling planks to really take your six-pack to the next level. If one is available, throw a medicine ball into the mix to add an extra challenge to your ab routine.
  3. Get creative with minimal equipment.
    If you do want to incorporate some of the available equipment into your workout, try creating a circuit that hits every part of the body from head to toe. Start with a round of bicep curls and tricep rows using the hand weights. Sink into a dolphin plank for intervals of 30 or 60 seconds. Then start squatting with a medicine ball or kettlebell in hand to strengthen those glutes and legs. Hop on the treadmill or elliptical for a minute in between each strength-training move to keep the heart rate high and the body burning calories.
  4. Try some supersets.
    Have you ever heard of a superset? If not, now’s the time to learn. When you’re working out in a small space, the superset is your best friend. It’s a pairing of two moves performed back-to-back, typically working two antagonistic muscle groups. For instance, you could do a set of deadlifts and then transition swiftly into a round of pushups. So, what’s the benefit of a superset? When you do this, the movement keeps your heart rate elevated, which means your body will continue to burn calories all throughout the workout.

Take Advantage of Your Building’s Fitness Center with These Workouts [DNAInfo]

Apartment Gym Workout [The Optimal You]

How to Create a Workout Program for a Small Apartment Gym [The Nest]

Published at Sat, 01 Dec 2018 20:50:41 +0000

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Apartment Living

Finally Tour My Entire House! It Only Took 5 Years

Finally Tour My Entire House! It Only Took 5 Years

While I’d usually be regaling you with gift guides, party ideas and more holiday decor then you can handle right now, I’ve got a different kind of gift for you this year. After nearly five full years since our demo day, the official before and after reveal of This Old Victorian is here! I’m thrilled to announce that our home has been published in the first-ever Renovation Issue of Domino Magazine and it hits newsstands & stores today!

non random light by moooi from ylighting | custom dining table godar furniture | tonneau dining chairs by Pierre Guariche almond & company | tableware carole neilson ceramics | footed bowl march sf | faye toogood rubber spade chair from march sf | art untitled by vanha lam from tappan collective | dress kamperett | sneakers by malene birger / atlas rug mehraban rugs 

It feels almost surreal – I wonder if any of you reading this actually read the post about when we bought the house?? Don’t worry – if you missed it, it was 2014!

Over the next few days, I’m going to take you behind the scenes of our renovation saga, fill you in on all my decor dilemmas and share every before and after that I’ve had to hold back for SO many years now. I hope I can impart a few helpful lessons, a little design inspiration, but mostly, I want to raise the curtain on what it really takes to create your dream home. Everything from HGTV, to this blog right here leads one to believe that design and decorating should be quick, easy and cheap, but most of the time that is so far from the truth.

I’m sure you’re asking, why oh why has this house taken you SO long? Well trust, I’ve asked myself that question a million times too. But there are actually a few very legitimate reasons this process was painstakingly slow.

The first is that we bought a historic home. As in, the house can be found on the historic register and therefore has a number of restrictions on what you can and cannot do in a remodel. Those hoops can take quite a while to jump through.

non random light by moooi from ylighting | custom dining table godar furniture | tonneau dining chairs by Pierre Guariche almond & company | tableware carole neilson ceramics | footed bowl march sf | vintage mirror 1stdibs | custom credenza lauren nelson design / ceramic vessel by ank from spartan shop | arch, totem and seed sculptures by tina frey designs / chesneys la rochelle mantel / paint white wisp by benjamin moore 

We also wanted to do more than simply remodel the home – just tearing everything down to start with a blank slate would have been easy. Instead, we really wanted restore the house to its original grandeur. A historic Victorian is such a gem. I just happened upon a diamond in the rough. Our house had not been well cared for over the years. In fact, it stood abandoned for a good chunk of the 70’s! Lath and plaster from the 1860’s, leaking windows, rotted out framing, falling down chimneys, original plumbing and nob & tube electrical – we had it all. Don’t worry, as we dig into all the befores you’ll understand the hot mess with which we started.

While our focus was on restoration of the home, we did make major architectural changes. The house was originally four bedrooms, one bath and is now three bedrooms, two and a quarter baths. There wasn’t actually a real kitchen of any kind, so we had to build one from scratch. I also wanted to open up the postage stamp sized rooms to create a more modern, open living concept. That required removing load baring walls, taking out a second staircase – we basically reshuffled the entire layout of both floors. All that to say, renovating required major focus on everything that you’ll never actually see – plumbing, electrical, architectural structure – you know, the extra sexy stuff (that tends to be rather spendy).

bulb fiction pendant lamps by kibisi for fritz hansen ylighting / norm na3 stools by &tradition / promaster faucet kohler / range, oven, hidden fridge, dishwasher thermador / silestone countertop in ariel / concrete saucer the vintage rug shop / cabinet hardware school house / custom cabinetry / art tappan collective / dishware heath ceramics / atlas rug mehraban rugs 

bath tub kohler / hardware kohler / art cristina coral / dancing pendant by menu via ylighting / norr tray skagerak / vintage stool elsie green / rug anthropologie / paint white wisp benjamin moore 

Oh, and did I forget to mention that I had a baby less than three months after demo started? I’d be the first to warn that first-time motherhood and major renovations don’t mix particularly well.

But in the end, it was all more than worth it, because 12 years after I started this site to chronicle the remodel of 250sq ft condo I thought was going to be my dream house (oh hello 27 year old self), I’m thrilled to have a dream home for my son to grow up in.

I do hope you’ll pick up the new issue of Domino to see the full tour. If you need a few more sneak peeks and just cannot wait until you get your issue, you can see the online story here.

But come back tomorrow – I’ll be digging into how we figured out our new floor plans and the full reveal of the first floor!

To catch up on the This Old Victorian journey, CLICK HERE.

photography by seth smoot for domino magazine | produced by kate berry | styling by rosy friedman 

Published at Tue, 03 Dec 2019 23:38:24 +0000

My Next Dream Kitchen

If you don’t follow Apartment 34 on Instagram, than you might have missed the exciting announcement that official This Old Victorian – aka my five year renovation saga – is about to come its close. Domino Magazine announced its first ever Renovation Issue and I’m thrilled to announce that office tour of our house is included. If you want your first sneak peak into the our before & afters (and they’re rather dramatic), click here.

But I think once you try your hand at renovations, you catch the bug. And so I’m already designing my fictional future dream house in my hand. And I think I already found my dream kitchen.

This epic kitchen is another product of design savant Amber Interiors. She has figured out the magic mix of California casual, old world grandeur, and what I like to call elevated rustic style that combine to create warm, welcoming but also dramatic spaces.

Obviously, the architecture of this space lends itself to its awesome dramatic feel, not to mention all that stunning natural light. But that is probably one of my biggest leanings from our renovation – that a space’s bones are everything. If you happen upon some a home with some good architecture, jump on it! You can be confident that even the ugliest of toads can be transformed.

The use of various both refined and rustic materials offers really beautiful juxtaposition in this kitchen. Honed Calacatta marble counters and backsplash feel sleek and fancy. But then the reclaimed French limestone looks as if you could be in a farmhouse in Burgundy. The mix and match continues with smooth plasters walls abutting a white brick pizza oven. Brass hardware offsets the custom white oak cabinetry, but the cup drawer pulls reinforce the more country, rustic feel. Finally, a rustic beam holds residence above a sophisticated Lacance range. Yet it all works.

This space would feel fitting should it be in middle of wine country, in Europe or in downtown LA. In fact it resides in Malibu, CA but you certainly wouldn’t say it has a beachy feel.

I love how Amber switched the far counter’s top to a dark limestone to anchor the space and mirror the dark range across the room.

If I could get my hands on this space I might have thickened the countertops (I still love that fat look), selected more modern cabinetry hardware and swapped out the antique pendant lights for something more minimalist and refined. But that’s fun thing with renovating. Once you get to play with the details, you just want to play more and more and more and more.

Good thing I have my yard project to keep me busy at the moment, because I’d be rather tempted to start housing hunting again! Don’t tell my hubs.

palatine apartments for rent

design by amber interiors, photography by tess neustadt 

Published at Thu, 21 Nov 2019 22:29:54 +0000

Apartment Living

Rental Listings – Feeds, Syndication, Aggregation

Rental Listings – Feeds, Syndication, Aggregation

Originally posted on December 06, 2019 1:44 pm

Updated on December 06, 2019 1:45 pm

Lawrence made a bold prediction 10 years ago, back in the Wild West days of online Everett apartment marketplaces and listing portals. He said in the future, all that would be left are syndication websites and aggregation websites (alongside brokerage firms). Attempting to play in more than one role would be impossible, because such a platform needs to serve two sets of opposing interests. Amazing foresight into the endgame scenario for the rental world!

Back in 2009, almost every city had their own rental startup. While we were graduate from Y Combinator Demo Day, investors everywhere listen to our pitch with enthusiasm, but then the next day they would send three links to competing sites and ask, “What are you going to do to beat them?”

Listing Syndication is Born

Naturally, many companies opted to stop competing as yet another marketplace to reach out to consumers. Instead, they wanted to be a syndication tool, which helps landlords and brokers manage all of their listings in one place, then syndicating out to the other marketplaces.

Listing Aggregation Becomes The Norm

Eventually, Postlets, Repost123, RealtyMX, and many others grew a large enough client base that new marketplaces came along offering to aggregate the various data sources, rather than source their own inventory. An aggregation website could focus on the front end features and avoid gathering inventory, but create new challenges in back-end data processing.

Feeds from multiple sources will be in conflict, or will contain disjoint but important data. Several parties may attempt to advertise the same listing, and some scoring method must resolve duplicates. Jason Freedman, founder of 42Floors and our YC batch mate FlightCaster, wrote about the “Listings Data Shit Show” in his Kintsukuroi Repaired With Gold essay.

The 2020 Situation

The battle of the online portals continue to this day. There are still many syndicators. There are still aggregators. But with each passing year, we also see more consolidation. Some players are even taking aggressive moves to become BOTH a syndicator and aggregator, or both a marketplace and brokerage firm, but the inherent conflict of interest makes the dual path challenging.

Can we imagine a world with only one winner, or will there always be multiple niches that can only be served by multiple apps and websites? Renters looking for lease breaks and sublets might be very different from those willing to rent in a condo or co-op investment.

Published at Fri, 06 Dec 2019 18:44:18 +0000

Bad Brokers: Charge Fine or Ban Account?

Originally posted on December 05, 2019 2:51 pm

Updated on December 06, 2019 10:58 am

Today we had a discussion as a team about how to deal with brokers behaving badly. After posting a fake or misleading listing, we have many algorithms and support staff in place to catch or flag the bad advertisement. Unfortunately, it becomes a cat and mouse game as rotten agents find new ways to post bad advertisements. Unfortunately, in a competitive industry such as apartment and flat rentals, there are many incentives to cheat.

Just today we suspended a broker who continued to insist that Financial District rental building 90 Washington Street had true 2 bedroom apartments for rent at $4150. That’s the price of a studio with home office, or post-converted 1 bedroom with home office. As discussed, a home office is not a bedroom under our current policies.

Fine vs. Ban?

How does our team handle advertising violations? We could apply a fine to the agent and deduct credits from their accounts or even charge their credit cards. However, we don’t want to put a price on a bait-and-switch advertisement, not are we trying to collect money from unscrupulous agents. Our goal is to put an end to the bad listings.

Our decision is to suspend or permanently ban accounts that show a repeated disrespect for our policies. RentHop works because the majority of landlords and managers believe in honest and truthful advertising. We shouldn’t let a few bad apples linger around, no matter how much they are willing to pay to break the rules.

Published at Thu, 05 Dec 2019 19:51:24 +0000

Apartment Living

Coworking – What It’s Like to Rent Your Workplace

Coworking – What It’s Like to Rent Your Workplace

You might live in a Bala Cynwyd apartment or occasionally rent a tux or a car, but what is it like when you rent the place where you work?

Coworking is a trend that’s been gaining momentum all around the world, especially among freelancers and entrepreneurs. What it basically means is that you pay the coworking hub a membership fee for a desk or office area, while also getting access to the hub’s common areas and amenities. This system isn’t all too different from renting a place to live, but there are some things to keep in mind when deciding to join a coworking hub.

How Coworking is Similar to Renting an Apartment

Community Spirit

Coworking hubs are similar to apartment buildings through the networking aspect that they imply. Common areas are a great place to socialize and meet new people, and coworking hubs have the added benefit of connecting you to people who might share your ideas or work in a similar field. In this way, coworking hubs can help your business by introducing you to valuable contacts.

However, interaction doesn’t have to happen only between hub members. A good landlord will see his tenants as more than just sources of income and try to connect with them on a personal level. Similarly, the administration and staff of a coworking hub will probably try to interact with members and build friendships. This process is made much easier by coworking software like Yardi Kube, which helps coworking hubs keep in touch with their customers while also assisting with things like billing and invoices.

The Economic Side

You might prefer to rent an apartment in Bala Cynwyd because it offers more flexibility than securing a mortgage. Moreover, rentals offer much more freedom if you have to move into a place of a different size; the situation is similar in the case of coworking hubs.

Coworking is especially popular with solopreneurs and startups simply because they allow you to rent anything from a single desk to a decently sized, private office. This gives a lot of leeway to companies at the start of their journey, offering freedom for gradual and efficient expansion, while also being much more affordable than a full office.

Additionally, many coworking hubs offer month-to-month memberships, while traditional office lease agreements are generally signed for several years and include upfront costs that are generally much steeper than those for flexible office spaces.

How Coworking Might Differ from Your Usual Rental Experience


Many coworking hubs are quirky and homely—to a much greater extent than a traditional office. Still, even though you’ll be renting a desk for a relatively long period of time, you might not necessarily be able to express yourself by decorating your desk space as much as you can with your rented room back home. Some potted plants and bobbleheads could make your rented workspace feel more like you, but make sure you know the hub’s cleanup rules and keep in mind that you might not be the only one using the desk.


Your apartment block might have an on-site laundry, assigned parking spaces, or a common patio. On the other hand, coworking hubs are more oriented toward a business environment when it comes to amenities, often offering conference rooms and kitchenettes stocked with beverages. Sometimes, they may even include attached daycares and regular yoga classes. If you’d like to get the best of both worlds, look into coliving, which is a more recent development of coworking that also offers on-site housing and associated amenities.

So, if you’re all about the community spirit and would like to get out of your home office every now and then, you could start browsing coworking hubs near you and see what it’s like to rent your workspace first-hand.

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Published at Wed, 04 Dec 2019 09:35:11 +0000

Holiday Cheer & Charity in Atlanta

For all its timeless magic, December has a tendency of speeding things up. It adds a bit more pressure to our daily routine as we try to squeeze more time in for presents, social events, decorating … and oh, the shopping. Strangely enough, the end of the year also slows things down somehow; it helps put things in perspective and makes us understand—time and again—that we’re not alone and that we can offer help and support to those less fortunate.

If you’re in Atlanta and up for a good deed or feel like giving back this time of year, here are a few options worth checking out:

Atlanta Children’s Shelter

The wonderful people at the Atlanta Children’s Shelter share one mission: to break the cycle of poverty for families facing homelessness by focusing on early childhood education. You, too, can become an ally in this noble quest by volunteering, donating, or even going the extra mile to help host a fundraiser. This season, you can be part of their annual Holiday House event and make the season truly special for families who are currently or formerly homeless.

Atlanta Mission

To those living here trying to make their community a better place, the Atlanta Mission is no secret. If you share their objective to leave a lasting influence and end homelessness, consider volunteering to provide and serve a meal at one of their facilities this December. You can also help by browsing their Christmas catalog and funding a hot meal or a warm bed to a person in need.

Children’s Restoration Network

If you’re looking to do your part, the Children’s Restoration Network is among the non-profit organizations that could use your attention and support. The agency has been around for quite a while trying to make the world a better place for children and women with children. This month, the elves at the Children’s Restoration Network hold the 12 Days of Caring Toy and Gift Drive 2019. Even the smallest contribution can help this worthy initiative and touch the lives of many.

Second Helpings

The mission of this non-profit food rescue organization is simple: reduce hunger by reducing food waste across the Atlanta metro. But, in order to do this, they need your help! Second Helpings is constantly updating its routes and needs volunteers who can transport food as soon as possible from food donors to partner agencies. The organization has many volunteer opportunities, so don’t waste time and apply now!

PAWS Atlanta

The people at PAWS Atlanta have a deep love for furry friends. Without any federal funding, PAWS Atlanta relies on the generosity of its supporters. You can become one and help their cause by giving money, getting involved in their events, or simply volunteering to help their small staff. Or, take it a step further and offer to foster or even adopt one or more of the many cats and dogs at the shelter. This winter’s event is a lovely day out for you and one of the doggos there; the pooches are dying to stretch their legs and go for a long Saturday stroll with you. What a wonderful idea that is!


As far as Georgia animal rescue initiatives go, Furkids is among the best. The organization runs its own thrift store that helps fund Furkids programs, and customers and their donations are more than welcome! If you can’t take one of the shelter pets home with you, you can also help by sponsoring one of them; or, be their holiday hero by making a year-end donation. The younger generation of pet lovers can also get involved by volunteering to be Santa’s little helpers for Christmas events across Atlanta adoption centers. All you have to do is sign in and bring the cheer!

Trees Atlanta

Older than mainstream climate talks, the story of Trees Atlanta began from a simple human need to be surrounded by green in the graying landscape of downtown Atlanta. If you share their vision of conservation and environmental initiatives, you, too, can become part of the solution by donating, volunteering, or partaking in any of the planting and education events.

The holidays are a time of spreading joy and giving back. So, why wait to make a difference? Start with one of these area charities spreading goodness in the local community!

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Published at Wed, 04 Dec 2019 08:00:58 +0000

Apartment Living

Ways to make your space feel bigger when you meditate

Ways to make your space feel bigger when you meditate

Ways to make your space feel bigger when you meditate

In a world that moves at a breakneck pace, finding time to slow down and quiet your mind is difficult—and it’s also essential. Many people turn to meditation to help. The practice guides the mind to a calmer place using breathing techniques, mantras, and imagery. It can be as simple as breathing deeply and repeating a phrase or as complicated as traveling to a different plane tucked away in the recesses of your imagination. Either way, you need a quiet, calm space to do it in order to really reap the benefits of meditation. Here’s how to make your apartment feel bigger when you meditate.

  1. Oust any clutter.
    One of the most obvious ways to make your space feel larger is to rid it of any stuff that’s non-essential. Purging extra clutter is a good habit to get into, whether you meditate or not. Donate any knick-knacks, furnishings, and decor that you don’t really need in order to open up some space for your meditative practice. This will make it even easier to get into the zen zone.
  2. Welcome natural light.
    When sunshine comes streaming into your home, it makes your world a bit brighter and bigger. Harness the power of natural light and pick a corner for meditation with ample windows. The sunny rays, and the view visible through the windows, will make your meditation nook feel instantly more spacious.
  3. Enlist neutral hues.
    While dark colors tend to make a room feel smaller, light and neutral tones do just the opposite. Whites, creams, and shades of beige create the illusion of extra space. So when you pick furnishings for your meditation area (or for any room in your home, really), opt for these lighter colors instead of dark, bold hues. If you already have darker furniture in the area where you intend to meditate, there’s no need for a full makeover. Just add some lighter elements, like a whitewashed throw blanket or set of pillows.
  4. Just add mirrors.
    Mirrors instantly add square footage to your home, almost in the same way that a window does. The reflection seemingly doubles the size of any space. Affix a mirror to your wall or find a small stand-alone mirror that you can incorporate into your meditation nook.
  5. Strategically place your pillow.
    One essential that every meditation space must have is a cushy pillow for you to perch on. Pick your pillow and then arrange it strategically to make your space feel larger. Instead of pushing it up against the wall, pull it out at least six inches. This is an old trick for arranging furniture. When you let your furnishings float, the room feels bigger. When they connect with the wall, that seems to suck up space—or, at least, make a room look smaller. You can use this tip with any piece of furniture or decor in your meditation area.

How to Make a Small Room Look Bigger: 25 Tips That Work [StyleCaster]

5 Steps to Creating the Perfect Home Meditation Space [Yoga Journal]

10 Sneaky Ways to Make a Small Space Look Bigger [The Nest]

Published at Sat, 01 Dec 2018 20:53:45 +0000

The trick to staying away from holiday snacks

The trick to staying away from holiday snacks

If there’s ever a time to indulge, it’s the holiday season. The nonstop family gatherings, workplace celebrations, and get-togethers with friends certainly provide ample temptations in the form of festive treats. And while it’s fine to nibble on something sweet at the occasional soiree, when you make a habit of it, you could enter the new year carrying some additional weight. Here’s how to avoid going overboard with the holiday snacks.

  1. Preemptively eat a healthy snack.
    When you grab a healthy snack before you head out to a holiday party, you won’t be ravenous by the time you show up. This will make it easier to stay away from the festive spread, or at least to keep yourself from overdoing it. So nibble on some fruit or veggies the next time you’re getting ready for a holiday party.
  2. BYO noshes.
    If you don’t think pre-gaming with healthy snacks will be enough to keep you away from the buffet table, here’s another way to avoid temptation: bring your own bites. Instead of chowing down on holiday cookies, chips, and other unhealthy snacks, bring along veggies and hummus, fruit and yogurt, or low-fat cheese and whole-wheat crackers to share with the crowd. Other health-minded partygoers will probably thank you!
  3. Focus on balanced snacks.
    If you do intend to partake in the provided nibbles at a holiday bash, make smarter selections. Opt for a healthy balance of protein and carbohydrates, ideally with a small amount of fat. This combination will help to keep you full and avoid overeating.
  4. Sip on tea or coffee.
    When you’re at the family holiday party, do you devour snacks because you’re actually hungry, or simply because they’re sitting on the table next to you? Many people will absentmindedly snack just for something to do. Distract yourself with a hot cup of peppermint tea or black coffee instead. Sipping on the warming beverage will keep your hands busy, but it won’t add any calories to your daily intake.
  5. Chew gum.
    Another way to distract yourself from the snack spread is to chew gum. Most gums contain only a few calories, and they help to trick your brain into thinking you’re snacking freely. If you’re not actually hungry, just looking for a way to keep your teeth busy, pop a stick of gum instead of snacks.
  6. Keep treats out of sight, out of mind.
    When you go to a party hosted by someone else, you don’t have control over the menu. That’s when the previous tips may come in handy. But when it comes to your own home, you can choose what you bring into it—and how you display (or don’t display) holiday treats. Try to avoid bringing candy, cookies, and other desserts into your apartments in Duluth altogether. When you can’t, at least keep them stowed away in the cabinet and showcase fruit and other healthy snacks on the counter. This makes it more likely that you’ll choose a light and healthy bite over a calorie-dense treat.

Published at Sat, 01 Dec 2018 20:52:20 +0000

Apartment Living

What Is Meant By A Rent To Own And Would It Be A Great Choice For Me And My Kin?

Rent to own is where you lease a house, but you as well be in command of the property by having the strategy to actually buy it at a later time in the course of your lease period.
The property owner is not going to sell the house available for sale,
considering the fact that he/she is legally bound by the settlement to sell the Townhomes for rent in Lynn Haven home to you at a pre-determined rate which you agree on before you decide to
move in. There are basically two parts to the contract:

The first is a regular
a lease that spells out the regular monthly rent, as well as another standard lease

The second part is a
Real Estate Option. It is actually a one-way arrangement that binds the Vendor to sell to you at an agreed selling price. The Owner will have to sell if you wish to procure (during the option period), however, you don’t need to purchase if you don’t intend to. That is the reason why it is a one-way settlement.

settles the property taxes as well as insurance during the period of the Rent
To Own?

The homeowner is mainly responsible for responsibly paying the tax and home insurance. You are actually
accountable for paying the monthly rent (that remains the same way for three
years) and utilities until you finally actually carried out the acquisition.

are renting presently, just how is that different?

This is a strategy to
help you get going towards BUYING your own house. A part of your rent payment
will go straight into the purchase of the house you are in. Rather than
trashing your hard-earned money away each month on rent and getting nothing at
all to show for it towards the end of the year, with rent-to-own, every month a
a significant part of your month to month payments (typically 20%) is attributed
toward the acquisition of the house.

credit standing is not very good, will you still support me?

Sure enough, in a lot of cases most rents to own companies are able to assist. Should you qualify for a
basic rental agreement, then it’s most probably you can be prompted to start
your own rent to own arrangement given you have a minimal upfront payment. The
the nominal down payment is normally between 2-3% of the purchase price of the
house but yet may differ from company to company.

I will be able to have my legal representative take a look at the documents?

Yes, it’s a smart idea
to have legitimate representation yet somehow, if you prefer not to, that’s
okay also. You are definitely encouraged to seek advice from a reputable
licensed authorized representative despite that it does not have any
legislation which makes this necessary.

Does the total procedure operate the same as a typical sale?

Absolutely no, the procedure works significantly faster as compared to the regular bank process.
Consensus can normally be given and conveyed within a couple of days. From that
the point, everything that is necessary is for you to pay the deposit sign the
arrangement and move in — it’s as easy as that!

I will be able to refurbish my property?

Most of the time Yes. So
long as the owner is consulted before you start any significant improvements
and the effort is executed by a professional tradesperson. Besides, numerous
Rent to Own businesses do not have any trouble with it as you are enhancing the
worth of your property which is advantageous for you in terms of refinancing.

So that you can acquire
your very own home, most of the time you have to meet the following three

1. Decent Earnings

2. Less Than Perfect
Credit Score

3. 5% Down-payment

If perhaps you’re losing
out on one of the three above as well as you’re sick and tired of giving your
hard-earned cash awayFree Articles, Rent to Own could very well
be a very good option for yourself along with your family.

Apartment Living

How to Improve Air Quality in Your Apartment and Prevent Lung Conditions

How to Improve Air Quality in Your Apartment and Prevent Lung Conditions

Winter is a beloved and nostalgic season, with holiday traditions and time spent with family and friends. However, winter snow and holiday parties can keep you indoors for extended periods of time.

November is Lung Cancer Awareness Month and there are several initiatives you can take to prevent lung conditions. There are plenty of health problems in response to low indoor air quality, most notably lung cancer and respiratory diseases, which makes perfect sense considering your lungs need clean air to support your wellbeing.

lung cancer awareness

The many hours spent in your apartment can be both a blessing and a curse. If you find yourself stuck inside—whether because of bad weather or because of good company and dinner parties—you may be trapped with indoor air pollution. Depending on your apartment’s air quality, you should know how to prepare for the season, so the air itself won’t be detrimental to your health. Here’s what you should pay attention to:

Air Quality and Your Health

The air we breathe has a bigger impact on our health than we know. Air pollution, though broadly connected to outdoor environmental issues, can be just as alarming in your apartment. However, the good news is that this is completely solvable; you have the power to improve your indoor air quality and, in turn, boost your overall health.

Poor air quality essentially refers to air that is contaminated with particles of many types. These toxins are quite common, and you can learn how to identify and get rid of them.

Toxins to Be Aware of


Mold can be found in the shower, on the walls, in your washing machine, carpet, wood products, or basically anywhere moisture can accumulate. There are a variety of mold species, properly referred to as fungi, which grow with diverse textures and colors. Be especially cautious if you have a diffuser.

expert cleaning mold

The symptoms of mold poisoning include a runny nose, allergic reactions, breathing issues, sneezing, watery eyes, itchy throat, and excess fatigue. Those who have weakened immune systems are more susceptible to contracting infections. Not only is mold unattractive (black, grimy, and/or velvety patches in your apartment), but it can depreciate the value of your place, cause sickness to infants and the elderly, and ruin furniture.


Asbestos was once an incredibly popular material, used largely for its heat and electricity-resistant properties, durability, soundproofing abilities, and low cost. Since it was easily broken and manipulated, it could be used in roofing, floor tiles, insulation, cement, and construction materials. If your apartment was built before the 1980s, it most likely has asbestos.

Mesothelioma cancer is directly correlated to the ingestion or inhalation of asbestos fibers and it primarily affects the lung region. If these microscopic fibers become airborne and are inhaled, they can latch onto your internal organs.

If your apartment is older or under construction, it may be worthwhile looking into. One percent of asbestos is still allowed in U.S. manufacturing today, so there is still a rare chance of which you should be aware.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide (CO) is dangerous because it is a colorless and odorless gas. Lanterns, heaters, gas stoves, and anything with combustion flames are sources for this toxin. Unlike mold, there are no clear indicators for CO. Your apartment must have a CO detector, so contact your landlord if it doesn’t and ask for one to be installed immediately.

The symptoms of CO poisoning include headaches, confusion, vomiting, chest pain, dizziness, weakness, and more.

carbon monoxide detector


Radon is a carcinogenic gas that is naturally forming. When there are cracks or holes in the foundation of your building, this gas can seep through and progress to dangerous levels.

In small doses, radon is practically harmless. Though if a building is constructed on soil with uranium, where radon is produced, it can lead to radiation exposure.

Radiation can destroy cells in the lining of your lungs. Consequently, those who have been in contact with radon are more prone to lung cancer.


Formaldehyde is a prevalent home toxin often used in building materials and household products. This chemical has the ability to vaporize at room temperature.

Like CO, it is also a byproduct of combustion processes. Renters who have fireplaces should be mindful of formaldehyde as it is formed from burning natural gas, tobacco, and wood. It’s also discovered in wood paneling, carpets, insulation, certain fabrics, and improperly vented appliances: kerosene heaters and gas stoves.

fireplace fumes

Some may experience difficulty in breathing, sinus and eye irritation and burning, asthma attacks, and it was recognized as a carcinogen in 1987.

How to Prevent Exposure

With this knowledge in mind, there are plenty of ways you can tackle these problems. You should try to keep air circulating to reduce the concentration of a particular toxin. Appliances, small rooms, kitchens, and other areas that may contain any of these carcinogens should always have ventilation.

Additionally, in the case of asbestos or mold, there are abatement professionals who can identify and appropriately handle this situation. You can also have your apartment tested for formaldehyde, CO, and radon, which are all undetectable to human senses.

smoke detector

If you plan on cooking throughout the holiday season, you should check the batteries in your smoke detector, to make sure you will be alerted in case of potential fires. Keep alert; this will stop you from inhaling smoke, which induces eye, nose, and throat irritation, respiratory illnesses, and asthma.

As tedious as it may sound, take the time throughout the year to give your place a deep clean. Mold and dust can hide in unlikely places. Communicating with your landlord and testing your apartment—even if you aren’t sure—is much better than dealing with the ramifications of ignoring poor air quality.

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Published at Fri, 29 Nov 2019 10:35:15 +0000

Expert Interview: How to Keep the Cost of Utilities Low During Winter

As cooler days draw nearer, the cost of comfort is rising. During winter, the cost of utilities increases due to the extra consumption of electricity and gas. With holidays, gifts, and parties right around the corner, winter already marks a larger spending on your budget. As such, keeping your expenses in check is necessary, and one way you can do that is to watch your consumption habits during the colder months.

First of all, you should be aware of how much you’re usually spending on utilities, in order to calculate your average consumption. Depending on where you live, what types of appliances you have, and what your habits are, the costs will vary. Check the averages for your state in our previous article on apartment utilities breakdown.

energy gas usage winter

Generally, the trends in energy consumption are cyclical; electricity use has two peak seasons—during summer months and winter months—because of the HVAC systems, but throughout the year there is uniform distribution regarding the electric bill. However, natural gas consumption peaks during winter months and the difference compared to the rest of the year is significant.

increase in energy consumption

Image courtesy of U. S. Energy Information Administration / Monthly Energy Review October 2019

Practical Advice from Experts

There are many ways in which you can save on electricity, gas, and water usage, and if internalized, these habits will help you throughout the year as well. We asked a couple of experts what you can do during winter in order to keep utility costs low.

Holly McQueen, vice president of GMH Capital Partners, considers that the best way to monitor your consumption is to oversee the thermostat. “You can set the temperatures for when you are active in the home, when you sleep, and when you’re away.” Elaine Doughty, utilities manager at Morgan Properties, recommends setting the thermostat to “78F in the summer and 68F in the winter—every degree of extra heating or cooling will increase energy usage 6% to 8%.”

thermostat setting 68 degrees

“If you don’t have a programmable thermostat, you can save almost 10% by lowering the temperature between 7 and 10 degrees when you are away for long periods (such as an 8-hour work shift)” suggests McQueen, and she also adds that “if you have a heat pump, which is common for apartments in the south, reducing the temperature at this rate can increase costs significantly. We recommend reducing just 1 to 2 degrees instead, to avoid the emergency heat setting from turning on.”

Experts recommend that you change your HVAC filter regularly to make sure the system is working properly, and if there is a ceiling fan in the apartment, it’s best to reverse the rotation of the blades during winter. McQueen explains that “warm air rises, so you want the ceiling fan to push the air downward.”

Another area where a lot of energy is used during winter concerns hot water. McQueen says that “renters can expect to save 3% to 5% of their energy bill for every 10 degrees they reduce their hot water”, and Doughty recommends washing clothes in cold water, when possible.

hot water consumption

If you’re doing these things and you still consider your costs too high, then perform an energy audit to see where you’re losing heat. Look for air leaks and try to find where draught is coming in from the windows; inspect your heating equipment and lighting systems, as well as the efficiency of your appliances and electronics.

You can hire a professional or talk to your landlord about having an audit done for the apartment, in order to better insulate and ventilate it.

Actionable Items

As utilities manager, Elaine Doughty gives some more energy-saving tips:

  1. During warmer months, close blinds, shades, and drapes on the sunny side to keep the home’s temperature cooler and reduce the work on your A/C. Open the shades during cooler months to let the sun warm your home.
  2. Use your microwave instead of your stove when cooking.
  3. Don’t peek in the oven while baking—each time the oven door is opened, the temperature can drop by 25 degrees.
  4. Don’t leave your computer on all day long.
  5. Refrigerators and freezers operate most efficiently when full, so keep your refrigerator and freezer as full as possible, to keep the airflow fluent. Use water bottles if necessary.
  6. Turn off lights when they are not in use. Lighting accounts for about 12% of a typical residential utility bill.

With such matters, the most important aspect is being informed. As long as you know the costs and you control your consumption habits, you’ll find it almost intuitive to cut down on utility costs. Integrating a more mindful attitude towards energy usage will help lower your costs and your carbon footprint, making your home greener and more efficient.

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Published at Fri, 29 Nov 2019 10:05:30 +0000

Apartment Living

How to Inspect an Apartment You are Going to Rent

If you are in search of Mauldin apartments for rent Boston, then you
will probably find an apartment that will be suitable for you.However, prior to
making your final decision on a certain apartment, it is highly recommended
that you visit the apartment and inspect certain things.This will help reduce
the potential issues that may arise from renting an apartment.Here are some of
the things that you should be looking at when you inspect an apartment. The
overall cleanliness of the building Take a look at the hallways, lobby, stairs,
elevator, etc.Do they look clean and well maintained? A clean apartment
building is a good sign of an owner or management company that really care about
their renters.Luxury apartments Bostonare generally well maintained and have
cleaning and maintenance staff that are always available on site. The condition
of the apartment Check for the presence of mold, which can pose a health hazard.Inspect
the water faucet, showers and toilet to make sure that they work well.Also take
a look at the various appliances provided like the stove, fridge and the
heaters to make sure they are fully operational and working as they should.Check
for cracks along the windows and baseboards.While they are not a major problem,
it is preferable that they be sealed, as they are a point from which various
pests can enter the apartment.It is also good if a professional pest control
company has been hired by the building management to apply a preventative
treatment prior to you moving in. Make sure the locks were changed Unless the
apartment building you are moving into has an electronic door opening system
such as a magnetic card or proximity card, make sure that the locks on the
doors will be changed prior to you moving in.Otherwise, even if the landlord
has collected all the keys from the previous tenants, you really have no way of
knowing how many keys are out there and who actually has them.Also, make sure
that all doors of the apartment close completely and that the locks work well,
otherwise, ask that they be repaired or replaced before you move in. If renting
a furnished apartment, take a look at the furniture It is not uncommon to find
Apartments for Rent Boston,that are furnished.If you do decide to rent a
furnished apartment, be sure that you have inspected the provided furniture.Check
to make sure that it is clean and that everything works correctly.Also, the
mattress should include a cover which will prevent infestation of bed bugs,
which are a common nuisance in places where there is a relatively high turnover
of residentsFeature Articles, such as in hotel establishments and in short term stay