Community Garden: Apartment Neighborhood Bonus!

For many apartment or urban dwellers, living near a green space is a non-negotiable. When people don’t have yards of their own, they often want to be near a community garden or park to help fill that need. Many cities are now building and maintaining community gardens that also frequently help feed underserved neighborhoods.

Here are 5 reasons to get involved with a community garden near you:

1) Fresh food for you (& neighbors!)

When you plant a community garden, you’re working together to plant all kinds of things. In your area’s garden season, many vegetable plants will produce bountiful results, fresh food to eat at home or share with others in the community or surrounding neighborhoods. If your bounty is extremely large, you could make a bulk donation to a local food pantry or similar organization on behalf of your community garden.

2) Chances to socialize with neighbors

Since community gardens are about sharing the work and rewards of a garden, they foster communication between neighbors. Many garden organizations hold events to discuss working and investing in the garden and some even collaborate with farmer’s markets to sell plants and vegetables.

3) Great activity for kids

Kids are likely a part of your community. A garden is a great chance for them to hone their work ethic and sense of responsibility, while enjoying the rewards of a job well done and the joy of sharing.with those less fortunate. Kids love getting their hands dirty with planting seeds and picking vegetables.

4) Beautifies your neighborhood

Community gardens can help with the visual appearance of your neighborhood, turning a forlorn lot into a happy green space and a point of pride. Community gardens positively reflect the people and homes in your neighborhood. They automatically convey a sense of community and collaboration while creating something fun to keep an eye on.

5) Can attract affluent neighbors

Areas with community gardens often attract residents in a higher income bracket. Whether they’re empty nesters or young professionals, garden fans are looking for ways to stay healthy and be a part of their communities. A bonus: If nearby residents are in a higher income bracket, they’ll have more disposable income to contribute to maintaining a community garden.

There are many benefits of living near and being a part of a community garden. Whether you’re looking for a chance to be a part of a community organization or trying to learn how to garden, apartments and homes near community gardens are sure to give you plenty of opportunities.

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Living in the North: What to Expect

You’re planning on living in the north. How do you get ready? What do you need to know? What has a life without winter in the south left you unprepared for? ApartmentGuide shares everything you need, to prepare for your new northern adventure!

Weather

When it comes to living in the north, the first thing that comes to mind is likely snow. Winters – and sometimes harsh winters or stretches of weather – are part of northern life. The snow begins to fall in autumn and is still on the ground during spring. However, living in the north means at least six months of very nice weather. Embrace the seasons and find what you like about winter, whether it’s snowmobiling, fashion opportunities or cuddling in front of a fire.

Most complexes hire snow removal companies to handle snow. This helps keep things less icy, but not ice-free. Be careful in the early morning going out to your car. All that melted snow (from either salt or sun) is ice now and it can be hard to see. Stay alert for black ice on the sidewalks and roads (a thin coating of clear ice which gets its name from being transparent, allowing a black road to be seen through it), a common cause of injuries and car accidents.

How to Winterize

It never hurts to prepare your home for the winter. Even if you do just a few small things, it will still save you money on your energy bill. Things like window insulation film, heavier drapes and draft guards are quick and inexpensive to install.

What to wear

Of course in the dead of winter, you want to make sure you have your gloves, hat, and a giant parka. But, there are other ways to keep comfortable too. Wearing several thinner layers under the parka will help seal out the cold air. This will also help you remain comfortable if the weather is windy. Be sure to invest in a good pair of weatherproofed snow boots too. This way your work shoes will stay looking great.

Your Car

If you drive a convertible, you may rethink that when winter hits. It will depend on the age and style of your roof, and the power of your heater. (You’d be the envy of everyone come summer, though).

One thing you’d probably never think of is getting winter tires. Winter tires use softer rubber and different tread patterns to give you a better grip on the road when it’s cold (under about 40 degrees Fahrenheit) or snowing. You’ll still need to drive with caution – they’re better, not magical – but it can make the difference between life and death.

For the driving itself, you need to learn some new habits. The most important is to slow down any time there’s ice or snow on the road. You’re much less likely to skid out of control when driving slowly. Even if you do lose control, don’t slam the brakes in a panic. Slowly go with the skid until you are no longer on the ice. Keep an ice scraper and some gloves in your glovebox, and a blanket in the trunk, in case of a breakdown. Make sure you have a phone charger in the car.

Many cities in the north use salt to de-ice the roads during the winter. The salt works great to get rid of the ice, but it can cause the undercarriage of your car to rust. That can mean some costly repairs. One solution to this problem is to take your car through the car wash when it’s not too cold. Make sure you choose the option that cleans underneath your car, too. Do not procrastinate on this. Expect car washes to close for the day if it’s too cold outside.

Many apartments in the north offer garage rentals. Renting a garage, at least during the winter, can be a huge time-saver. Defrosting and scraping snow or ice off your car can be a long, tiring process. Even if frost forms on the windows, you have no choice: you have to scrape. If the weather dips too far into the negative digits, your car may not even start. A garage can solve that problem for you during the winter.

Four seasons

You have four distinct seasons in the North. You’ll get to see the leaves change color in the fall, and the flowers bloom in the spring. It gets somewhat hot in the summer (although it’s pretty mild), and of course, it gets cold and snowy in the winter. Be sure to check out local parks during the autumn and spring. They’ll make you remember why you live up north. Anticipate much longer days in summer – yea! – and shorter days in winter.

Gorgeous gardens

Northern states, especially the Midwest, are known for their fertile soil. If you have a green thumb or love the farmers market, you’ll love the north. Since the spring and summer months don’t usually get unbearably hot, working in a garden is very pleasant. You can also just enjoy the beautiful gardens you’ll find all across your new city.

Ice hockey

Football, baseball, and basketball are still big in the north. But if you’ve been living in the South, you may get to experience ice hockey for the first time, as a spectator or participant. It’s an exciting, fast-moving sport and any northern fan will probably be happy to talk you through the basic rules. Watch parties are also a great place to meet people; your common areas or the neighborhood bar are both good bets.

Fireplaces and fire pits

There’s no better reason to live up north. The sheer relaxation of sitting in front of a fire is a primal pleasure, one that makes many people anticipate winter with gusto. Many apartment complexes have common areas with fire pits, a great place to meet your neighbors on a chilly evening (take a thermos of hot cocoa and cups with you to assure this!). If you have a fireplace in your apartment, ask the manager to show you the ins and outs of using it, then enjoy!

A new culture

Prepare to trade in your margarita habit for a different kind of libation (except perhaps in summer). You certainly won’t hear “y’all” bandied about, (unless the speaker is being sarcastic) and depending on where you are, you’ll have to train your ears to hear a new accent. Your neighbors will support different sports teams, and their favorite foods might include anything from cheese curds to lobster rolls, depending on where you move. Have fun exploring new events, new foods, and various cultural pockets of your new city.

Living in the North

Living in the north takes a little know how when it comes to the weather. However, northerners have systems in place to handle inclement weather. Make yourself a cup of cocoa, put a fire in the fireplace, and enjoy the perks of living up north.

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NextDoor App for Neighborhood Info

Ever wondered who your neighbors were? Looking for a lost pet? Maybe you just want to find a babysitter for Saturday night. While asking for recommendations on Facebook is one way to handle that, you may not live near most of your friends. That’s where Nextdoor comes in: this handy app not only helps you connect with your neighbors on a community level, but lets you reach out to people who live near your home.

Nextdoor App? What’s That?

Nextdoor was created in 2010 as a social network for neighbors. The idea was to connect neighbors and neighborhoods, thus drawing people together, as resources for each other.

How Do I Get On Nextdoor?

In order to register with Nextdoor, you have to provide your real name and verify your home address. Verification methods can include a credit card, or confirming a code that’s either mailed or phone to the new user.

Once verified, you can post messages to neighbors in your community, as well as nearby apartment communities. You can also reply to other messages. Can’t find anyone you know on the app? It even provides you the ability to send postcards to non-registered neighbors to get them on board.

What Can I Use Nextdoor For?

  • Lost Pets: Let’s face it — pets get out and it’s tough to track them down. Nextdoor can help you to alert your neighbors to keep an eye out.
  • Items to Sell: That horrible chest of drawers you’ve been dying to get rid of may just be someone else’s treasure. Try advertising your unwanted stuff on Nextdoor and make some extra cash.
  • Recommendations: Need a cleaner? How about a babysitter for that date on Friday night? Your neighbors in the know can help you find a reliable source.
  • Questions: Unsure and new to the area? Ask your neighbors to let you know the best commute route to downtown, or about that free shuttle bus nobody told you about.
  • Crimewatch: Many police departments are posting local crime tips on Nextdoor. Neighbors also tend to report suspicious activity. Take a look to be aware of what’s going on.

If you’re a bit too shy to go and introduce yourself to your neighbors, the Nextdoor app can be a great way to engage with your community. Try planning a pool party or potluck, or simply as where the best dry cleaner in the area is. This handy app can make sure you stay connected.

Are you friendly with your neighbors or are you just on a “nodding acquaintance” basis? Is getting to know your neighbors worthwhile? Let us know on social today!

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Now Save This: Maximize Your Grocery Budget

Your rent is already eating a hole in your pocket… so how can you maximize your grocery budget? Getting savvy with your grocery shopping techniques can go a long way toward grocery shopping on a budget. You probably already know about clipping coupons (which is still a great tactic), but here are some other tips to keep your bank account in the black and your pantry and fridge full of goodies.

Get to Know the Store Manager

If you’re going to the same grocery store a lot, it helps to get to know the Manager. These are the guys and gals who can clue you in to when they mark down produce, meat and even fish that’s about to go past the sell-by date. They’ll also let you know about upcoming deals, and it’s in their interest to sell these things.

Sign Up for Loyalty Programs

Loyalty card? Collecting points? All of these things can pay off in the long run. Some stores only offer certain deals to card holders, and many also let you load digital coupons on to your card, making your shop a lot easier. Find your grocery store’s loyalty program here.

About Those Digital Coupons

By taking just an extra 20 minutes a week to go to your store’s website, you can find savings on the things you were already planning on buying (or even stock up on the things you use all the time). This is also a good time to browse any specials the store might be running and plan accordingly.

Sign Up for Cash-Back Apps

Apps such as Ibotta or Checkout 51 can really help boost your savings on your foot budget. Additionally, look for savings on apps you’re already using. For example, eBates and Acorns give cash back when you shop at certain online stores.

stretch your grocery budget
Are you spending more on groceries than you should? That can put a world of hurt on your overall monthly budget.

Get Clipping

Yes, coupons are still very much a thing in your Sunday paper, and having a look can really help reduce your grocery budget. Remember, only buy things that you will actually use, or that you can use to stock up your pantry. If you don’t like beans, then buying a truckload just because they’re cheap won’t help you.

Stock Up on Savings

Even if you live in an apartment, there are always places you can stash essentials and build your pantry, particularly when they’re on sale. Find a cupboard, closet or shelf where you can store nonperishable essentials like canned foods, pasta and rice. Having these on hand can mean a quick dinner when you don’t feel like heading out to the store, or you’re too broke to order in.

Beware of the BOGO

Buy one get one free? Awesome deal, right? Not always. Check the original price and make sure you’re not just getting seduced into buying more than you need. Also, some grocery stores have a policy to let you buy just one, giving you ½ off. Make sure you know your store’s policies and use them to your advantage.

SEE ALSO: How much can you save with energy-saving bulbs?

What are your best tips to save at the grocery store? Let us know below!

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Thrillist’s Top 50 Essential Restaurants: Is One Near You?

Is there anything that can cause a bigger debate than the best place to eat in your town or city? If there is, we don’t know about it (or talk about it – at least this debate is fun!)

Thrillist recently published its Top 50 Essential Restaurants Every American Should Visit list – a treasure trove of American dining experiences that you should make sure to add to that ever-growing must-eat list. While you might think this means a list of high-end, totally out-of-budget restaurants, you’d be wrong. While some are expensive, many fall into the “sandwich you can’t miss” or “to-die-for BBQ” categories.

We’ve picked our favorites from this year’s list, but you can see the full list here.

Apartment Guide’s 18 Picks from Thrillist’s Top 50 Essential Restaurants:

Peter Luger Steak House

Brooklyn, NY

Arguably the best steak in NYC, and therefore probably the world – these Peter Luger’s are the Jedi Masters of meat.

Yume Wo Katare

Cambridge, MA

Great ramen, applause when you finish your bowl and encouragement to write down your dreams and hang it on the wall. Bliss.

The Buckhorn Exchange

Denver, CO

Open since 1893, this restaurant has seen several presidents pass through its doors. It’s also where you can try Rocky Mountain oysters, rattlesnake or even buffalo.

Johnnie’s Beef

Elmwood Park, IL

In a town known for Italian beef sandwiches, this Chicago area classic serves up one of the city’s finest examples.

Ganesh Temple Canteen

Flushing, NY

Found in the basement of a Hindu temple, this all-vegetarian eatery is known for their beautiful, crepe-like dosas.

Little Vincent’s Pizza

Huntington, NY

It may look like just another New York pizza place, but think again. They’re slinging out slices covered in cold, unmelted mozzarella cheese. And people love it. Really.

Joe’s Kansas City BBQ

Kansas City, KS

Forget the pulled pork of the south and the brisket of Texas and belly up for what’s often called a “life-changing slab of ribs.”

In-N-Out

Los Angeles, CA

Yes, it’s a chain fast food joint, but to West Coast folks, it’s more than that. Grab yourself a cheeseburger and go “animal style,” otherwise you’re ordering it wrong.

Payne’s BBQ

Memphis, TN

Let’s face it – Memphis is known for BBQ, and they take it seriously. When locals tell you this is the best place in town? You believe them.

Matt’s Bar

Minneapolis, MN

Home to a cheeseburger’s bigger, badder older brother, the Jucy Lucy (yep, it’s spelled that way), Matt’s ditched cheese on top for their famous, oozing cheese-stuffed burger.

Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack

Nashville, TN

If you love spice, this is the place for you. Crunchy chicken drowned in sauce of varying degrees of heat. Don’t be a hero: you can’t handle the “XXX Hot.”

Café Du Monde

New Orleans, LA

Undo what you surely got up to the night before with classic, chicory-infused café au lait and a pile of fried beignets, heavy with powdered sugar.

Katz’s Deli

New York, NY

Home to a classic pastrami sandwich as big as your head, and also the backdrop to many films. Don’t lose your ticket!

Pat’s King of Steaks

Philadelphia, PA

You simply can’t go to Philadelphia without getting into a cheesesteak. We think it may be the law.

Pizzeria Bianco

Phoenix, AZ

Love a proper Italian pie? Meet the place that kicked off the revolutionary American artisanal pizza movement.

Primanti Bros.

Pittsburgh, PA

This old-school lunch counter is home to the city’s favorite blue-collar special: their sandwiches stacked with meat, slaw and a fistful of fries.

Mama J’s

Richmond, VA

The portions are almost as enormous as the lines at this classic, Southern soul food restaurant.

Ben’s Chili Bowl

Washington, D.C.

World famous chili dogs adored by both locals and tourists alike. One will never be enough, so order a couple and prepare for a chili facial.

Do you agree with Thrillist’s list? Did they miss something major, or overlook a culinary hotspot? Get social with us and tell us your favorites!

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Address Change: How to Do It, Who to Tell

When it comes to moving, remember: you DO still get some important snail mail, even if most of your communications are digital. Adding an address change to your long to-do doesn’t have to be frustrating. Rest assured, it’s pretty simple. Here’s how it works, and who needs to know you’re moving.

Start at the Post Office

The Post Office (USPS) is always the first place to to go when your address changes. They can also walk you through how to change your address. The first step is forwarding your mail. This is an easy-to-fill-out form and can also be done online. All mail addressed to to you will be re-directed to your new address for a fixed amount of time (typically a few months).

You still need to let other important people and organizations know of your address change, though, since your mail forward is only temporary.

Utility Companies

This one can be easy to forget, especially during the hustle and bustle of your move. However, it’s important to let utility companies know you are moving. They will need to send you a final bill or change your account information.

Related Video:  How to Transfer Your Utilities

Department of Motor Vehicles

If you just moved across town, you don’t have make a special trip down to the DMV.  You can change your address online once the dust settles from your move. You typically have between 30-60 days (depending on your state) to let the DMV know of your address change. You don’t want to be late on this, so you are not subject to fines.

Your Bank, Broker & Credit Cards

When you have to make a withdrawal, the bank will want to see your ID. If your address doesn’t match their records, it may be more difficult for you to access your funds. Checks are not nearly as popular as they once were, but if you use them, those need to be updated too. Use the 800 number on the back of your credit cards and call to report your address change. They’ll mail you a confirmation of the change.

Be sure to tell your investment broker you’ve moved, especially if your monthly statements are mailed to you. This is sensitive information.

Your Employer

Even if your paychecks are direct deposit, your work still needs to know your new address. When tax season rolls around, most employers mail out tax forms. If you have a 401K or employer stock options, that information gets mailed too.

Your Doctors

Even if you haven’t been to the doctor in long time, this one still makes the list. Sometimes it can take a long time to process billing (it can be over a year). You want to make sure you are up-to-date on all medical bills. Don’t put a black mark on your credit just because you moved.

Your Insurance Companies

This is especially important for your renters insurance. If you don’t let your insurance company know you have moved, your items may not be insured at your new home. One quick call to your agent, and your belongings are safe and sound.

Subscriptions

Do you get any magazines, retail products, prescriptions or food shipped to you on a regular basis? These companies will need to be alerted that you’ve moved.

Tax Collectors

If you own any real estate or other real taxable property, don’t forget to let the tax collector know where to find you. Tax bills are generally sent out each November, with monthly reminders coming for a few months after that.

See Also: How to Give Notice to your Apartment

Moving can be stressful, but changing your address doesn’t have to be. Many of these items can be easily done before the packing begins. If you forget someone, you mail will be forwarded for quite some time. This will give you the chance to inform everyone of your new residence. You’ve done the hardest part, you moved your home. Changing your address is the easy.

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Most Popular Apartment Amenities List

When it comes to the best apartment amenities, what’s popular in 2017 may surprise you. According to Apartment Guide research, many of those searching for an apartment tend to focus on individual apartment features rather than community features. However, many apartment hunters weigh community features at approximately the same level of importance as how many bedrooms they’re looking for, so community features matter.  Those who want community features, however, tend to weigh them as highly as features of each apartment, so community amenities really matter as well.

apartment amenities list
Data based on Apartmentguide.com searches in June 2017

According to our data, apartment renters love their pets with most of the apartment searches looking for either pet friendly communities or apartments that allow pets. Being able to do the laundry also ranks supreme, with an in-unit washer and dryer at the top of the wish list for many renters. Additionally, keeping cool is also a big concern for renters, with many looking for air conditioning or a community pool as an amenity.

You’re ready to start your search for a new apartment. You’ve selected the neighborhoods you like and made a budget so you know what you can afford. Now it’s time to narrow down your search by determining which apartment amenities you might need.

RELATED:  6 Reasons to splurge on a garage

RELATED:  How to meet dog friends

As a recap, here’s what recent ApartmentGuide searches show as the most popular amenities:

The Most Popular Apartment Amenities in 2017

  1. In-unit washer and dryer
  2. Air conditioning
  3. Pets allowed
  4. Furnished apartments
  5. Dishwasher
  6. Washer and dryer connections
  7. Some utilities included
  8. Balcony
  9. Cable ready
  10. All utilities included

 The Most Popular Community Amenities in 2017

  1. Pet friendly
  2. Garages
  3. Swimming pool
  4. High speed internet access
  5. Fitness Center
  6. Laundry Facility
  7. Covered Parking
  8. Gated Access
  9. Wireless internet access
  10. Access to public transportation

Growing in popularity

 These lists are never set in stone. What’s important now may not be in the future, and amenities we barely think about now become must-haves in the future. We took a look at some industry trends, and found these amenities, while not yet on this list, are on the way up.

  • More elaborate fitness centers: It’s not enough just to have weights and exercise machines. Everything from adding tennis or basketball courts to having full, complimentary yoga classes are becoming more common.
  • Bike-friendly amenities: More people are getting around on their bikes, so amenities such as bike storage and repair are becoming much more sought after by renters.
  • Online payments and maintenance: Do you really want to call the front office to get something fixed? Does anyone like writing checks for rent? Being able to handle these online is especially attractive to younger renters.
  • Package lockers: We get far more packages than we used to – have you seen how many people buy everything through Amazon? – so having somewhere to keep them other than at your front door is incredibly attractive to renters.
  • Electric car charging stations: More electric cars means more people needing somewhere to plug them in overnight.
  • Hardwood floors: Not all the rising amenities are new things. Having your apartment look good on the inside is a strong desire, and carpet or tile just doesn’t do it for some people.

Related:  When to sign a lease

Video: Most popular words in apartment names 

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Bike to Work from your Apartment: Is it for You?

Tired of sitting in traffic day after day, or having to adhere to unreliable public transportation schedules? If you’ve ever envied those cyclists whizzing by your car, you might want to look into the option of riding your bike to work. Not only will your commute be more pleasant, but it’s a great way to stay in shape. However, being in the right location is key, as well as a few other factors. Here’s some things to consider in your quest to bike to work.

Location, Location, Location

You may want to grab your cycling gear and start peddling away, but ensuring your apartment is in a good location for making the ride is hugely important. How many miles are you willing to ride? If you live in the suburbs, you may have to bike to public transportation to make some of your journey: does your transport system allow bikes? Take a look at apartments near where you work and see if they might fit your taste and budget.

Is Your City Cycle-Friendly?

Many US cities are taking steps to ensure their city is perfect for those who want to ride their bike to work. For example, Chicago offers cycle paths and bike lanes in many of its communities, as does New York City and Boston. Cycling commuters in Atlanta not only have bike lanes, but they also have the added bonus of busses with bike racks on the front and spaces to put their bikes on public transportation service, MARTA. Bike-friendly Greenville, SC, a smaller city which encourages active living, continues to expand its massive Swamp Rabbit Trail, and bike repair stations have popped up all over the city.

Want to know if your city is bike friendly? Check out Thrillist’s compilation of the top cycling friendly cities in America for more details.

The Sweat Solution

One of the facts of cycling to work is that it’s possible to work up a sweat, particularly during the warm summer season. Check with your office to see if there’s a gym on the premises with a shower you can use. Additionally, if you’re looking to get fit, there might be a nearby gym that you can join and use its facilities. No showers? No problem. A pack of baby wipes, some deodorant and dry shampoo spray can work wonders in a pinch.

Hot Tip:  Some offices have a ‘bike to work day.’ If yours does, ride to work on this day to check out the lifestyle.

Storing Your Ride

All the bike paths in the world won’t matter if there isn’t a place to park and secure your bike when you get home. Check with your apartment community to see if they offer bike storage, or other secure locations to park your bike. Or ask if you can install wall hooks to simply hang your bicycle on the wall when you get home — hey, instant art! It’s also important to check with your work to see what storage options they offer, and how secure they are.

Are you ready to make the switch to biking to work? Maybe you already do and have some pointers? Get social with us and tell uswaht you’ve learned!

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Corporate Relocation Services: How They Work, What They Do

You’ve accepted a great job in another state. Now, you have to find housing. That can seem like a daunting task when you don’t know the area. This is where corporate relocation services come in.
ApartmentGuide explains what corporate relocation companies do, how they can help you and what to expect, when you’re moving for work.

They take care of the moving

Corporate relocation companies are hired by your employer.  They take care of packing and moving your belongings. This takes a load off of you, so you can focus on having a great first day at work. The truck can get pretty hot. If you’re moving during the summer, they may not be able to pack things like candles, lotions etc. These things may explode or melt in the truck due to the heat.

They help you find a new home

Part of the corporate relocation services package is helping you find a place to live. They have business relationships with the local real estate agents who can help you find a home that suits your needs.

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They help you find temporary housing

It’s understandable that you would want to physically see what options you have before jumping into a lease. The time of year which you accept the new position will determine availability. Most companies offer temporary furnished housing (or a hotel) until you can move into your new place.

What about your current lease?

When you accept a job in a new state, companies would rather you start sooner than later. If you are in the middle of a lease, the corporate relocation company will work with your new employer and landlord to buy you out of your lease. The sooner you can move and start work the better.

What about your car?

If you’re flying to your new home, your car will be shipped to you when you move. Typically, you’ll receive a rental car until your vehicle arrives.

What about your pets?

What to do with your pets can be stressful. If you are unable to take your pets with you on the plane or in the car, some companies offer pet relocation services too. You should not have to part with your fur baby simply because you took a job out of state.

What about your belongings?

When you’re ready to move into your new place, the company will bring your belongings to you. The only thing you have to do is unpack. Your items are insured should anything happen to them.

Hot Tip: There is usually a deadline to file a claim, so you want to make sure you are diligent with your unpacking.

What about the boxes?

Once the unpacking is done, you can breathe a sigh of relief. But what do you do with all those boxes? Some companies will come pick them up, but if not, you have options. You can sell them, give them away for free online, or you can take them to your local recycling center.

When you’re starting a new job out of state the last thing you want to worry about is your move. You have a lot on your mind learning a new job and adjusting to a new culture. Moving is hard work, but a good relocation service will effectively ease that burden so you can smoothly transition into your new home.

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What is a Co-Op Apartment?

There are so many possibilities for living arrangements once you move out on your own. You can decide to live alone or with one or more roommates. You can share space in a house or get an apartment. Another option, that has been around longer than you may think, is buying into or renting within cooperative housing.

Unlike all these other options, people who buy into a co-op own a piece of the entire building. It’s a unique way to own property that’s often more affordable than buying a condo or home.

It’s also a big investment. As a renter, living in a co-op creates a different, more communal atmosphere that you may not find elsewhere.

Before deciding to research co-ops in your area, it’s important to understand what a co-op apartment is.

What is a co-op apartment?

new york city apartments

Cooperative housing is where you buy in to become a part-owner of that entire piece of property. “When you buy into a co-op, you become a shareholder in a corporation that owns the property. As a shareholder, you are entitled to exclusive use of a housing unit in the property,” says Lisa Smith from Investopedia. Rather than owning a single unit, you become a part-owner of the whole building. This gives you the right to live on the premises, in an available apartment.

Everyone who is a part of a particular co-op shoulder some of the financial responsibility of ownership. This includes primary expenses of mortgage payments, maintenance costs and taxes. Other fees can consist of utility bills, the expense of running the building, maintaining amenities and insurance premiums. Each cost breaks up among the total number of people vested in the co-op.

The history of co-op apartments

“There is no clear-cut answer as to when the first housing cooperative appeared in the United States.” Says Lynne Goodman from The Cooperator New York. She does reference authors Richard Siegler and Herbert J. Cooper-Levy in “Brief History of Cooperative Housing,” who claim the first American residential co-op was established in 1876 in Manhattan.

As the starting point for co-ops, New York City continued throughout history to offer this housing option. Moving in waves of popularity in this ever-growing city, co-ops began as home clubs, where people organized with the intention of building an apartment building together.

Co-op popularity hit another high in the 1920s as urban populations boomed, post-WWI. The next uptick was in the 1940s as a response to rent control provisions. In the 1980s, popularity rose as a result of increasing oil prices.

Today, co-ops are more than just living arrangements. You can buy into a food co-op or shop at a store that produces goods from a co-op. The methodology of being a part of a larger group has grown beyond investing in housing.

Where can I find cooperative housing?

Female sitting on floor with coffee and her laptop, searching available apartment listings

In varying degrees of availability, you can find cooperative housing in every part of the country. “Housing cooperatives are quite common in certain parts of the country, such as New York City, Washington, D.C. and Chicago, but can be harder to find in other areas,” according to the National Association of Housing Cooperatives. They’re popular throughout the Northeast but exist elsewhere.

How do fair housing laws impact cooperative housing?

The Fair Housing Act consists of laws that prohibit discrimination based on race, skin color, sex, nationality, religion, disability and more when it comes to buying, selling, renting or financing housing.

Co-ops must abide by these laws, but at the same time, their approval processes for tenants is very different than what you find in a regular apartment. There’s no landlord-tenant relationship. Instead, a community board reviews applications. The members of this board can set up their own qualification system within the fair housing parameters. This can include net worth minimums or a certain debt-to-income ratio for eligibility.

“The board must not reject an applicant based solely on his or her race, gender, national origin, religion, sexual preference, marital status or familial status. The board can, however, take into consideration factors that impact an applicant’s ability to meet the financial obligations of the community, as well as governing responsibilities,” according to the law firm, Pentiuk, Couvreur & Kobiljak P.C.

A community board can be more restrictive than other housing options when it comes to inviting people to become owners or renters. This can make for a longer and more tedious approval process that doesn’t always feel so fair.

Is it worthwhile to buy in and become a part-owner?

Person accepting an offer to become a co-op shareholder from the board

Personal preference is what makes a co-op apartment appealing. To figure out whether it’s the right place for you, weigh the pros and cons carefully.

The perks

As a part-owner within a co-op, you influence how the building runs. You attend board meetings and get to vote on all decisions. This includes shaping rules and regulations for how the building is managed and who is eligible for consideration to join the co-op. You pretty much get to pick your neighbors and prevent anyone from moving in who might not maintain their space in the same way as the rest of the shareholders.

Another perk is the cost. Cooperative housing can cost less than owning a condo. “Co-ops tend to be cheaper per square foot. They typically offer buyers more control as an individual shareholder and often have lower closing costs,” says Lester Davis from The Washington Post.

The last primary perk to co-op living is community. This special living situation gives you more than somewhere to live, you get a whole community. You more often than not know your neighbors, have a network of people watching out for you and our home and connect with people you can rely on when in need of assistance.

The drawbacks

To get into a co-op, prepare for a more rigorous approval process. Not only will the board run a background and credit check, but you’ll have an in-person interview to get through. Everyone receives the same treatment. Once you’re approved, you’re in, but the process can also make it harder to sell when you’re ready to leave the co-op.

Rules within cooperative housing can feel more confining than in other living situations. Because you don’t own the unit you live in, you’ll have to contend with restrictions on how you can use your unit, whether you can sublet and more. You’ll also need extra insurance for your personal belongings since the building’s insurance won’t cover it.

One final key drawback goes back to cost. It may cost less to buy into a co-op, but with shared expenses comes more potential financial responsibility. If someone defaults on their payments, you and your neighbors are obligated to cover a portion of their missed payment.

Can I rent within a co-op?

Hand dangling apartment keys by one finger in front of the building where the unit is located

This is a tricky question. Since a set of shareholders own the building, no single unit belongs to any one person. Because of this, many co-ops don’t allow renters at all. Additionally, the rate of owner occupancy in cooperative housing is much higher than you’d find elsewhere.

If a building does allow it, you may face a large application fee, along with set limits on the length of your lease. You’re also technically subletting rather than renting outright since you rent the unit from the co-op shareholder who holds a lease on that particular space. It’s a little more work to rent within a co-op, but it’s not a terrible option. If you want something more flexible, with a little less upfront cost and rigidity when it comes to the approval process, you may want to consider other options.

Is a co-op right for me?

A co-op may be right for you if, after learning more about what it really is, the idea still sounds appealing. It all depends on your own personal needs, which is why it’s good to know you have options when searching for your perfect living situation.

While co-ops can get you more square footage for your dollar, they can also feel more strict when it comes to rules and regulations. Finding the perfect balance of cost and comfort will help you know whether it’s time to start looking for a co-op.

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