Blog

Learn how to reduce your utility costs in the summer without sacrificing comfort.

How to Reduce Utility Costs in the Summer

You don’t need to look at the thermometer to know that summer has arrived. As the heat and humidity soar, so can your energy bills if you aren’t careful. Summers in Central Ohio can get pretty hot and if you want to stay comfortable without blowing your budget, here are some easy, inexpensive ideas you can try to keep your apartment cool and your reduce utility costs in the summer.

  1. Unplug appliances when they’re not in use. Even if an appliance or device is turned off, it is still consuming energy. You can buy smart power strips that will completely shut off the gadget when it goes into sleep mode. 
  2. Keep the drapes and blinds closed. When it’s cool in the mornings, you might open your windows. That’s great, but when you close the windows, close the blinds and drapes, too. This will block out the sun and heat. 
  3. Insulate. This might sound counter-productive, but insulation can also keep your apartment cool.  Like in the winter, use weather-stripping around the windows to seal any gaps. You can also roll up a towel and place it against the bottom of your front door to prevent cool air from escaping.
  4. Get a smart thermostat. You can program the thermostat to raise the indoor temperature during the day when you’re not home. Towards the end of the day, the thermostat will kick the A/C on, so it’s nice and cool when you get home from work. If your apartment doesn’t already have a smart thermostat, you can buy them online and some utility companies provide them to reduce utility costs in the summer.
  5. Don’t use the oven. That’s why microwaves were invented (and carryout/delivery). Turning on the oven heats up the entire apartment and your AC has to work extra hard to cool the place down. If you must use the oven, try to do so in the evening when it’s cooler.
  6. Put your ceiling fan to work for you. As heat rises, the ceiling fan will trap it above the blades and reduce the overall temperature in the room. If you can, adjust the fan’s rotation to counterclockwise, which will provide even more cooling benefits.

Summer doesn’t last forever and you can survive the sweltering heat and not blow your budget. By implementing even just a few tips, you can reduce utility costs in the summer without sacrificing comfort.

 

Learn how to set a fair budget with your roommates.

Budgeting with Roommates

Living with roommates is no longer reserved for college days. In today’s economy, it makes sense to split expenses by budgeting with roommates, especially if you are just starting out in your career or are trying to save money to eventually rent your own apartment or buy a house. In addition to saving money, some people just enjoy companionship. Just keep in mind that expenses are the major cause of disagreements among roommates, so it makes sense to have everything in writing by drawing up a roommate agreement — which we will get to in a few paragraphs. Also, when you are looking for roommates, aim to select people who have a solid job and the income to afford the apartment. Obviously, life happens, so your roommate agreement should address contingency plans in case of job loss, relocation, etc.

Here are some of the main expenses of apartment living that you will be budgeting with roommates:

Rent

It’s usually easiest to divide the rent between each roommate. However, if one roommate has a bigger bedroom or separate bathroom, then they should pay a larger share of the rent. Double-check the clause of your lease about other residents in the apartment. Inform your property manager when new roommates move in or out. The person whose name is on the lease should be the one to pay the rent; they can collect their other roommates’ shares.

Utilities

This category is more flexible. Typically, roommates evenly divide the cost of electricity, gas, and cable/internet. A popular practice is to divvy up the smaller expenses and have each roommate pay the entire bill. This could include streaming services, water, and trash.

Pet rent

If each roommate has a pet, then split this fee evenly. If only one person has a pet, then they should pay the full amount.

Groceries and miscellaneous expenses

Food is probably the second major cause of roommate showdowns and is usually resolved by having each person buy their own food. If you are having a party or want to have a fancy dinner, then you can split up the grocery bill. Otherwise, it’s best to keep food (including condiments) completely separate. Roommates can divide the cost of cleaning supplies or you can have each person be responsible for the cleaning supply inventory for a specific room.

Finally, get this all down in writing by initiating a roommate agreement. This is a document that spells out who is financially responsible for what. It can be a simple Google doc or you can go online and find more formal templates (full of legalese). Everybody should agree to the terms and sign the roommate agreement. And if any problems surface, you have a written record to refer to when you sit down to talk.

It’s a pretty open field for tracking expenses. There are Google and Excel spreadsheets and numerous apps you can use. Some apps link to your bank and will even transfer money between roommates’ accounts for bill paying or reimbursement.

Living with roommates has many advantages. If everybody is on the same page, then your apartment life should run smoothly and harmoniously.

Questions to ask before renting an apartment

What to Know Before Renting an Apartment

Important questions to ask when renting an apartment

If you have recently graduated and are ready to start a new job and get your own place, now is a great time to be looking at apartments. The same can be said if you want to buy a house or have sold your home and are waiting to move into a new one. Currently, it’s a seller’s market in the housing industry and mortgage rates are predicted to increase, so if home ownership is your goal, it might be best to wait it out.  An apartment offers many amenities that you won’t find in a house, like a swimming pool or fully equipped fitness center. And if you’re new to the area, apartment living is a great way to meet people and get acclimated to your new community.

One of the benefits of living in an apartment is that you aren’t locked into a long-term mortgage. Most leases renew annually and some property management companies offer month-to-month leases. You will be required to put down a security deposit, which will vary by property, and it should be returned to you when you moved out, provided that the apartment didn’t incur any major damage while you were living there. There may also be a pet deposit and if you are just starting out, you may need to pay deposits in order to establish utilities in your name.

Here are seven important questions to ask when renting an apartment:

  1. How much is the security deposit? Most apartment deposits amount to one month’s rent and you may also be asked to pay an application fee. Make sure you understand that upfront and be sure to get clarification on how you get your deposit returned when you move out.
  2. Is there a pet deposit? Many apartments now require pet deposits and some also charge a small monthly rental fee for the pet. The deposit and monthly rent are usually based on the weight of the animal, and most communities have restrictions on how many pets a resident can own. Some cities and apartment communities also have breed restrictions, so be sure that your pet is on the approved list.
  3. What are the terms of the lease? You want to be very clear on this one because it is expensive to break a lease. Are you bound to one year or can you go month-to-month? How much notice are you required to give if you intend to move out?
  4. What utilities are covered in the rent? In some communities, your rent also includes water and trash removal. Be certain to check as you don’t want to be surprised by unexpected utility bills. As an incentive, some properties offer free internet/cable services like Google Fiber. If that is the case, make sure to find out how and when the rates increase, how soon you will be notified, and if you have the option to decline this service.
  5. How are maintenance requests handled? This is important to know in advance so you will not have unrealistic expectations. Find out if there is a dedicated maintenance staff for your property and when they are available. Also, ask if there is after-hours emergency maintenance and what constitutes an “emergency.” Do residents submit maintenance requests online or do they need to call their property manager? Some properties allow residents to perform simple DIY repairs themselves and deduct the cost of any supplies from their rent.
  6. Do residents have dedicated parking spaces? This can be a huge headache for apartment residents — where to park. Are there reserved parking spots or is it a free-for-all? Some complexes charge more for reserved parking spots or carports. In addition, find out where guests are supposed to park. Guests parking in residents’ “usual” spots can get ugly quickly.
  7. What is security like? Every property is different. Some have locked outside security doors, while others have passcodes or gates at the entrance to the complex. High-rise apartments might have a concierge or on-site security guards. Check all of the windows and doors to make sure they close and lock properly. In addition, check for working smoke/CO monitors in the unit and for fire extinguishers in the hallways.

These are some tips to get you started on your apartment search. Your main goal in finding a new place to live is that it is safe, comfortable and fits your lifestyle. By gathering basic information upfront, you will understand your obligations as a resident and the responsibilities of the property management company, so your apartment life will be harmonious and stress-free.

At Vision Communities, we welcome you to explore our floor plans and find the right one for you and your furry friend. Our facilities are top-notch and based on some of our resident reviews, we think you’ll love the atmosphere, amenities, and our property management staff, all designed to give you a place you are proud to call home. There are so many amenities and things to do in and around our Central Ohio communities

Schedule an appointment to check out our spacious floor plans, and our friendly property management staff will be happy to show you around. 

Learn a few cleaning hacks for the kitchen in your apartment

Kitchen Cleaning Hacks

Cleaning Hacks for Your Apartment Kitchen

Your kitchen is the busiest room in your apartment and also the one that can be the most difficult to clean. (Yes, even more difficult than the bathroom.) Your kitchen is a high-traffic area and the floors, countertops and appliances take a beating on a daily basis, especially if you live with roommates. Now before you head to the nearest discount store to stock up on cheap cleaning supplies, keep in mind that you do not own your kitchen, so you need to put some thought into how you clean it. Remember that when you move out, the property manager is going to go over the unit with a fine-tooth comb to look for any damages, which means they may have reason to hold your security deposit.

Here are some hacks that use all-natural ingredients that you can use to clean your kitchen. Most of the items you should already have on hand, but if you don’t, they are cheap and plentiful. Of course, you can also look for natural cleaning supplies at practically any store, just keep in mind that you will pay a premium for these brands and most of them contain stuff that you probably already have at home or can pick up on the cheap.

  1. Stainless steel appliances. You can restore the luster to your fridge and other appliances by using coconut or olive oil. Just pour a few drops of oil on a soft cloth or paper towel and buff your appliances. Keep in mind that stainless steel scratches easily, so avoid using scouring powder, “scrubbies” or bleach.
  2. Granite countertops. Granite can be finicky as you want to be careful to not nick or scratch the surface. A DIY solution is to use mild dish soap and warm water on a microfiber cloth. Do NOT use any acids like vinegar or citrus, abrasive scrubs, or steel wool.
  3. Vinyl flooring. First, thoroughly sweep or dry vac any debris from the floor. Use a solution of vinegar and warm water to mop the floor with a soft cloth or mop to prevent scratching. Scuffs can be buffed with jojoba oil or WD-40 and tough stains can be removed with a baking soda and water paste or rubbing alcohol.
  4. Removing greasy buildup. This sounds counterintuitive, but use grease to remove grease from your stovetop, backsplash and vent hood. Pour a few drops of vegetable oil on a soft cloth and wipe away the grease. Keep buffing then wipe away the excess oil.
  5. Microwave. The microwave is probably the most abused appliance in the kitchen and can get gross pretty quickly. Place a bowl of vinegar and sliced lemons in the microwave and let the timer run for two minutes. Leave the door closed for several minutes after the timer goes off to let the steam clean the interior. Open the microwave and wipe away all of the residue.
  6. Stovetop. If you have hard crusty stains that vegetable oil won’t get rid of, make a paste of baking soda and warm water. Leave it alone for about an hour, then wipe it away. If you’d like, you can then give the stovetop a good buff with vegetable oil.
  7. Sink. Your stainless steel sink needs slightly different care than the appliances. First, rinse the sink, then sprinkle it with baking soda. Use a paper towel to scrub the sink thoroughly, then spray on undiluted vinegar. Rinse away with plain water. You can use a toothbrush to scrub hard-to-reach areas.

It is pretty painless to clean the kitchen, but the biggest hack is to not let the situation get out of hand in the first place. There are many resources online that give great advice on how to keep your kitchen under control with daily use. Create a plan with your roommates on how to manage the kitchen during the week. You have better things to do during the weekend!

Live the Good Life in a Vision Community

At Vision Communities, our goal is to create the space for you to make it your own. We want you to feel at home when you join one of our Central Ohio apartment communities. Making your kitchen your own is part of that process. If you are looking for an apartment, check out our 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom floor plans, many of which offer a balcony space to build your own oasis. 

Schedule an appointment to check out our spacious floor plans, and our friendly property management staff will be happy to show you around. 

Learn where to find good roommates on the Vision Communities blog.

Tips for Finding Reliable Roommates

How to find a great roommate

Whether you need help in sharing living expenses or just enjoy companionship, finding the right roommate(s) can be tough. Gone are the days when you had instant roommates that blossomed into lifetime friendships from living in campus housing at school or roomed with a group of friends from high school. Even though things are getting a little better with the pandemic and economy, it’s important that you choose reliable, compatible roommates, especially if the relationship is for the long haul. You don’t want somebody who is looking for a place to hang out temporarily until their situation improves and leaves you hanging with unpaid rent or even worse, isn’t taking covid precautions seriously.

So, how to you find reliable roommates?

  1. Make a list. Before you start asking around, make a list of what you are seeking in a roommate. This could include financial stability, smoking, lifestyle (e.g., are they are a night owl, while you turn in at 10 p.m.), pets, food preferences, etc. This doesn’t mean that if you’re a meat and potatoes person that you can’t live with a vegan or vice versa, especially if food shopping and meal prep are done separately. You need to assess what’s important, then prioritize it. If you are a classical music fan but can tolerate EDM, then don’t sweat the small stuff. And last but certainly not least, ask them about their reaction to covid. Have they been vaccinated? Do they plan to get vaccinated? Have they had covid? Do they work in a high-risk job?
  2. Ask family and friends. Word-of-mouth is the best recommendation. Ask around and see if your family and friends know anybody who is looking for a roommate. Maybe they know a person who just left a live-in relationship or is new in town. People you trust and who know you can attest to the person’s character, stability, etc.
  3. Ask at work or school. If you are finishing up school, there are resources for matching roommates. You just need to check out the student resources online or on campus, if you are able to attend any classes in person. You can also ask coworkers. The only downside is if the roommate situation doesn’t work out, it could create an awkward situation with your coworker. 
  4. Social media. If you have a close-knit group of friends on your social media platforms, then ask them. You never know who is a friend of a friend … One advantage to using social media is that it creates a bit of distance. You can subtly gather information, and if it doesn’t sound like a good fit, you can back out before making any type of connection or commitment. Many communities have area specific pages, so if you are feeling adventurous, put some feelers out and see who responds.
  5. Online clearinghouses. There are many websites to match roommates, like Roomster. You just sign up and fill out questionnaires and pay a fee. Similar to a dating app, your specs will be matched against other candidates to see who would be compatible with you. 

 

Your home is where you want to feel, safe, secure, and comfortable. Having the right roommate(s) can make your apartment a peaceful relaxing environment and the wrong ones can create an uncomfortable living arrangement. By identifying qualities you seek in a roommate, doing your homework and asking the right screening questions, hopefully, you will find great people to share your apartment and forge lifelong friendships.

At Vision Communities, we welcome you to explore our floor plans and find the right one for you and your new roommate. Our facilities are top-notch and based on our resident reviews, we think you’ll love the atmosphere, amenities, and our property management staff, all designed to give you a place you are proud to call home. There are so many amenities and things to do in our Central Ohio communities, that you have an outlet when you and your roomate need some space. 

Schedule an appointment to check out our spacious floor plans, and our friendly property management staff will be happy to show you around. 

The best type of vegetables to grow in apartments.

The Best Vegetables to Grow at Your Apartment

Growing your own apartment garden

With the increasing price of groceries and questionable nutrition value of what you find in the grocery store, growing your own vegetables makes sense. But what if you live in an apartment? There is nothing to stop you from enjoying homegrown vegetables in an apartment garden if you have a patio or balcony; you can grow a crop of vegetables in containers.  All you need is good light, the right containers, water, and plant food. You will also need patience because some plants, like tomatoes, will not yield until later in the summer. Other plants, such as cool weather crops like early lettuce will grow quickly, so you can start enjoying fresh salads shortly after planting.

The most successful vegetable plants are those that are self-contained; in other words, they are a single plant that will grow upward and fill out. While it is possible, you don’t want to try to grow a “viney” spreading plant like squash, pumpkins, or watermelon in containers on your balcony. If you want to attempt a crop like that, try pole beans or a variety that you can “train” to climb a trellis or other supportive structure.

How to successfully grow container vegetables on your balcony or patio

Pots. The easiest container is a large plastic bucket which you can find at any hardware store or lawn and garden center. You will be surprised by how much soil a single plant like a tomato or eggplant needs. There are also “smart pots,” which are made of polypropylene and are breathable, which makes for healthy roots. Plants with shallow roots like lettuce and other greens can be grown in planter boxes. You can also get creative and plant an herb garden in a hanging basket. Basically, if the pot allows for good drainage, is not fired with any toxic glazes, and is large enough to keep the plant from becoming root-bound, anything goes.

Soil. There are so many types of name-brand soil that you can buy at a big box store that this is a no-brainer. Choose a potting soil with good aeration and a neutral pH. What you don’t want to do is to go somewhere and just dig up random soil as you don’t know the composition of minerals and other nutrients. Packaged potting soils, found at your local lawn and garden retailer, contain specially formulated soil mixture for container gardening so you don’t have to mess with adding other elements to get the right balance for optimal growing.

Fertilizer. What you are looking for is a water-soluble or liquid product that is balanced in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which is indicated by the ratio on the package, such as 10:10:10. The fertilizer you choose will depend on what potting soil you use and the type of vegetable. Many commercial fertilizers take the guesswork out of feeding your plants and there are also many resources online if you would like to make your own. You should start feeding your plants about six weeks after you’ve put them out.

Light. Most vegetable plants need at least six hours of direct light a day. If your balcony or patio gets spotty sunlight, you may need to move your plants around to catch the rays.

Water. Keep your vegetable plants watered so the soil remains damp but not saturated. Don’t let the soil dry out between waterings. Once roots are dried out and damaged, it is very difficult for the plant to recover.

Now that you have the basics, what kinds of vegetables successfully grow in containers in Central Ohio (Zone 6)?

  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Eggplant
  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers
  • Onions
  • Arugula
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Herbs

 

Don’t let this list limit you and try whatever you like as long as you have the space and light. Gardening is a rewarding hobby and gives you ownership over what you are putting into your body. You grew it and have the peace of mind that your vegetables were not treated with any types of pesticides or preservatives. Now is the perfect time to hit the garden center and soon you will be enjoying the delicious and nutritious rewards of your hard work.

Live the Good Life in a Vision Community

At Vision Communities, our goal is to create the space for you to make it your own. We want you to feel at home when you join one of our Central Ohio apartment communities. Planting a vegetable garden is one way to make that a reality. If you are looking for an apartment, check out our 1 bedroom, 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom floor plans, many of which offer a balcony space to build your own oasis. 

Schedule an appointment to check out our spacious floor plans, and our friendly property management staff will be happy to show you around. 

Learn about different houseplants used to purify the air in apartments.

Plants that Purify the Air

Find a new plant for your Apartment

Spring is in the air and so are plenty of allergen and toxins. If you are sprucing up your apartment to welcome the new season, how about adding some plants to your décor? Indoor plants are inexpensive and most of them are low maintenance. As well as adding a touch of green to your living space, many houseplants remove toxins from the indoor environment.

Toxic chemicals exist in some of the most seemingly innocuous household items. Cleaning products, air fresheners, cooking utensils, and even some scented candles release harmful elements that can cause health problems. Furniture, paint, and carpeting can include formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, and VOCs. Also, during the spring, trees and plants are budding and releasing airborne pollens; springtime rain can increase the outdoor mold count. All of these pollutants can lead to watery eyes, sneezing, and other respiratory problems.

Here are eight houseplants that will brighten up your apartment and clean the air as well.

  1. Pothos. This plant is also known as “devil’s ivy.” It grows quickly and has heart-shaped greenish-gold leaves. Other varieties have a marbled cream and green appearance. Pothos make beautiful additions to hanging baskets and are literally impossible to kill.
  2. Philodendron. “Philos” look similar to pothos, having heart-shaped leaves, but the leaves of philodendrons are a bit more delicate in shape and are dark green. Like photos, philodendrons as very easy to care for, and even the most hapless gardener can successfully raise them!
  3. Peace lily. Peace lilies are taller plants and do best in a pot or planter that is on the ground. They bear glossy green leaves and waxy white flowers with a prominent golden stamen. Peace lilies are easy to care for and simply need “dead-heading” when the blossoms are spent.
  4. Spider plants. Spider plants grow clusters of long, thin, pointed green leaves with white stripes. As the plant matures, it grows tendrils that will eventually sprout mini-spider plants. These baby plants can be cut off and planted in potting soil to grow new plants. They look great in a hanging basket hung in a sunny corner of your apartment.
  5. Rubber plants. Rubber plants are a variety of the Ficus genus and can grow to great sizes, so you can keep repotting it as it matures. It produces hearty oval-shaped leaves that are dark green with burgundy undertones. As it grows, string some fairy lights through it to create a living light fixture!
  6. Boston fern. Boston ferns grow large medium-green fronds that will fill out the plant as it grows. They are frequently used in hospitality and retail interior design as they are not only beautiful but easy to care for. The only downfall is to make sure the plant is kept watered as dead leaves will shed. This plant is definitely worth the extra bit of TLC.
  7. English ivy. English ivy is a prevalent species and often grows in abundance outdoors and clings to buildings, especially brick, as it can attach itself to mortar. You can grow a more domesticated variety indoors and just keep it trimmed to ensure healthy, lush growth. English ivy leaves have three points and are medium-to-dark green; variegated English ivy is medium-green and ivory.
  8. Aloe vera. This succulent doubles as a medicinal aid. The gel from inside this plant’s long, knobby silvery-green leaves can soothe burns and sunburn. You can also use it as a facial gel. As aloe vera is a succulent, it can go for long periods of time without water. Just don’t let it dry out completely.

If you’d like some healthy flowers, Gerbera daisies and chrysanthemums are good choices. Both are easy-care and long-lasting and will add a pop of color to your apartment. All of the plants mentioned are easily available at any lawn and garden store. You can also find them at big box stores and even some grocery stores. They are also relatively inexpensive and don’t require anything more than light, water, and some varieties like a bit of plant food. So, if you want to bring a touch of nature indoors and purify the air inside of your apartment, houseplants are a healthy, beautiful, and economical choice.

If you are on the hunt for a new apartment, the team at Vision Communities would invite you to pack up your plants and pets and check out one of our Central Ohio apartment communities. Our facilities are top-notch and based on our resident reviews, we think you’ll love the atmosphere, amenities, and our property management staff, all designed to give you a place you are proud to call home. 

Schedule an appointment to check out our spacious floor plans, and our friendly property management staff will be happy to show you around. 

The Orleans is a 2 Bedroom Floor Plan

Floorplan Friday: The Orleans

A spacious 2 Bedroom Layout

The Orleans is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment that is part of The Ave community in Greater Columbus. At 1,151 square feet, there is plenty of room for two people to live comfortably with plenty of personal space and privacy. The main feature of this unit is the contemporary open plan layout with the living area seamlessly flowing into the kitchen and dining area. This floorplan design is great for entertaining and lends a feeling of spaciousness.

The Orleans is a 2 Bedroom Floor Plan

The kitchen is outfitted with Energy Star-rated stainless-steel appliances which add a modern industrial vibe. The cabinets are crafted from reclaimed wood, which reflect The Ave’s commitment to green living; eco-friendliness is also reflected in the low-consumption water features throughout the apartment. This includes the full-sized washer and dryer.

Each generously sized bedroom has an en suite and enviable walk-in closet. There is plenty of space for clothes, shoes and storage items. Large windows let in plenty of natural light and the unit includes a walk-out balcony which is perfect for enjoying a morning cup of coffee or evening drink after work. Add some potted plants, soft lighting and outdoor furniture to create a posh outdoor living space.

And don’t forget … your four-legged family members are welcome at The Ave. We have a fenced dog park where our canine residents can play together.

The Ave features first-class amenities including:

  • Free 24/7 Starbucks coffee bar
  • Fenced dog park
  • 2 Outdoor fire places
  • 24-hour fitness center
  • Pool table and volleyball court
  • On-site professional management
  • Online submission of rent and maintenance requests
  • Package acceptance
  • Planned community events that focus on philanthropy and social well-being
  • Easy commute via SR 71 and SR 315
  • Walk to neighborhood shops and restaurants

Take a virtual tour or contact us to schedule a tour. You can easily apply online. We would love to have you make the Orleans your new home and welcome you as a new member of The Ave community.

Schedule a Tour of The Orleans

Our leasing office is now open for appointments and tours, and we are following CDC recommended social distancing and masking requirements. We ask the same of any guests. If you would like to call The Orleans your new home, give our office a call, or  stop by. We also have virtual tours, and you can submit your leasing application online for your convenience.

At Vision Communities, we are committed to creating the best apartment communities for you and your family. We feature multiple, pet-friendly apartment layouts, in desirable communities such as Clintonville, Westerville, and downtown Columbus. For more information about our communities, contact our team to get started.

Learn how to find a new apartment safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Apartment Hunting During the Pandemic

New year … new season … maybe you are itching to move to a new apartment. The idea of relocating to new digs or to a new part of the city or country sounds exciting, but realistically, how are you going to manage it during a pandemic? Gone are the days when you could just drive around and drop in at the leasing offices of properties that look tempting — at least for the time being. There are ways that you can rent a new apartment without even leaving your home, but it can be challenging.  Keep reading to figure out the best way to find a new home and stay safe during the COVID crisis.

Examine your motives. Why have you decided to move? If you have to relocate because of a new job, then done deal. However, if you are just bored or have pandemic cabin fever, it might be better to wait a bit longer.  If your lease is about to expire, but you are still determined to move, ask your current landlord if a month-to-month lease is an option until it is a safer time for you to relocate. Honestly, they would probably prefer that you stick around for a little longer as opposed to all of the exposure risk associated with bringing in a new resident.

Research. Downtime at home is a great opportunity to perform your due diligence. Take a close look at the neighborhood(s) you are considering. Sure, you can drive by or look via Google maps, but what you need is a comprehensive picture of the area. Many neighborhoods have dedicated Facebook groups or have space on a site like nextdoor.com. These resources really help you drill down into the community and learn about recreation and entertainment, neighborhood groups, traffic conditions, and the crime rate. If you are relocating because of your job, your new company’s HR should be able to put you in touch with a local realtor or leasing agent. If you already know some of your new colleagues, ask them for recommendations.

Virtual tours. Pandemic restrictions will vary by location, which will restrict which properties can offer in-person apartment tours. Most property management companies have virtual tours, so you can view different floorplans online; some companies take this a step further by having 3-D tours where a leasing agent will conduct a more in-depth online walk-through with you. This is a really helpful option if you are in a situation where you will be renting sight unseen.

In-person tours. Common sense prevails here. Wear a mask and maintain social distance. Carry hand sanitizer as you will be touching doorknobs, light switches, etc.  While you are on the property, it is a good opportunity to observe how other residents are reacting to the pandemic. Are people in common areas wearing masks? You get the idea.

The move itself. Moving companies are considered “essential businesses” so they should be available during the pandemic and will have employee and customer safety protocols in place. (If not, swipe left!) If you can, try to move as much of your stuff as you can yourself. While the movers are there, wear your mask and try to stay out of their way as much as possible. They will appreciate not having you underfoot while they do their job, and it will be much faster

While moving to a new apartment during the pandemic isn’t impossible, COVID has definitely added a layer of complication to the process. If you can stand to stay put for a while longer, then do so. However, if you are determined to move, no matter what, the priority needs to be keeping yourself and those you interact with during the process, safe.

Vision Communities is committed to providing a safe environment for all of our community residents. If you are looking for a new 1-bedroom, 2- bedroom, or 3-bedroom apartment, check out one of our Central Ohio communities to learn more. If you have concerns about doing a tour in person, many of our communities feature virtual walkthroughs of our floorplans. 

Apartment Dwelling vs. Home Ownership

If you are getting ready to make a move, whether it is your first place or if you want to relocate, you are probably weighing the differences between leasing an apartment or purchasing a house. It’s a big decision and not one to be taken lightly as you are looking at a long-term financial commitment whichever way you go. You will need to consider your budget, lifestyle and level of responsibility you want to assume for maintaining your living space. Let’s take a look at some of the considerations.

  1. Lease or mortgage. Once you acquire a mortgage, you are locked in for decades unless of course, you sell your house. How quickly you can sell your home and whether you make money or take a hit will all depend on the housing market. Apartment leases usually run 12 months, but some communities have month-to-month options. It can difficult and expensive to break a lease and unless you have a compelling reason, you will be responsible for paying the remaining rent you owe.
  2. Household maintenance. If you are just starting out and want a house, then you will have to work within your budget, which usually means an older home (e.g., fixer-upper). If you have the money and knack for DIY, then this could be a good investment. You also have to pay for all repairs such as plumbing, HVAC, roofing, basement flooding, etc., yourself. If you live in an apartment, all of the maintenance is taking care of for you as it is factored into your monthly rent. The downside is that you may not have a say in what color the walls are or what type of fixtures and finishes are in the unit. Some apartments will let residents add their own fixtures, etc., but they remain in the apartment after you move out.
  3. Outdoor maintenance. If you own a home, you are responsible for all of the yard work such as mowing the lawn, raking the leaves, and shoveling the snow. If you enjoy those types of chores, then great!  If you live in an apartment, property maintenance and snow removal are taken care of for you. The same goes for trash removal. If you are a homeowner, you pay for that service; in an apartment, trash removal fees are usually included as part of the rent.
  4. Children and pets. If you have children, you may feel that it is better to live in a house with ample bedrooms for the kids and a location within a desirable school district. They will also have a yard to play in and other kids in the neighborhood to socialize with. In an apartment complex, opportunities to interact with other kids may be more limited and often, and there aren’t as many options for outdoor play activities at home. Being close to a good school is also important for apartment dwellers, and since many apartment communities are in suburban areas, it should not be an issue. If you own a home, pets are no problem. In an apartment, there may be breed and weight restrictions. Residents will also need to pay a pet deposit and in some cases, monthly rent for the animal, which averages around $25-$30 per month.
  5. Lifestyle. If you are young and single, an apartment community that facilitates an active social life would be a good fit. Larger complexes include amenities such as swimming pools and decks with firepits, clubhouses, movie theatres, coffee bars, and fitness centers. Outdoor enthusiasts can take advantage of sand volleyball courts, dog trails, and bike stations. Some apartment communities also host social events like happy hour, trivia night, or group volunteer activities. However, if you are an introvert and don’t enjoy group events, then you might not be very happy with “forced” social events. Homeowners might have neighborhood swimming pools, walking trails, and parks, but they must rely solely on their own network of friends, relatives, and neighbors for social interaction. Unless the HOA offers planned events, there is no centralized source for planned get-togethers.

As you can see, there are advantages and disadvantages to homeownership and apartment living. It all depends on your needs and resources. A young single person who is starting out in their career might be drawn to the hands-off maintenance and active social life an apartment community offers. If you have kids and pets, then owning a home with a yard and close proximity to a good school would be a better fit, especially if you like to host cozy family gatherings or playdates with the neighborhood kids.

While moving can be a hassle, Vision Communities features and locations that will meet your needs. Our facilities are top of the line, supported by our awesome property management staff.  If you weighing homeownership and apartment living, check out what Vision Communities has to offer. We have apartment communities throughout the Greater Columbus, Ohio, area with floorplans for studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments. Our communities offer first-class amenities and are conveniently located for an easy commute for work or play. Contact our office to schedule a tour and to inquire about floorplan availability.