How to Source Cool Furniture on a Budget

Congratulations! You’ve landed your first apartment. The lease is signed, the deposits are paid, and you have some really awesome roommates. Now, comes the fun part … furnishing and decorating your new place. The problem is … you’ve spent all your money on deposits and moving … where are you going to find cool, good-quality furniture on a shoestring budget? If you don’t have the time, patience, or aptitude to assemble imported pieces, don’t despair. Here are some ideas for sourcing nice furniture that will last a long time and that you will be proud of.

Thrift stores, antique shops, and consignment stores

This is a fun way to explore a new city. Scouring thrift stores and antique shops can be a treasure hunt. Many times, people will donate their gently used furnishings instead of trying to sell them. You can find quality pieces for a fraction of what you’d pay retail. These are the places where you can find vintage and period pieces that you’re not going to find anyplace else. If you enjoy getting your hands dirty, some pieces could use some TLC and can usually be negotiated down in price.

Estate sales

Get on the email list for some of the local estate sales. You’ll receive a notice several days prior to the sale which will include photos and descriptions of all the merchandise. Since all items in the home will be sold together, this is a great opportunity to pick up dining rooms sets or matching sectionals for a common area in your apartment. Estate sales are also great for small kitchen appliances and dishes. Typically, with estate sales, the prices are reduced each day. If you wait until the last day, you run the risk of not finding what you need; OTOH, you could find some great bargains.

Garage/yard sales

Garage sale season starts around April and runs through the fall. People may be moving, remodeling, or just cleaning out their houses. In any case, you can find some steals as prices will be much lower than what you’d find in an antique shop or estate sale. People are eager to unload their “junk” on someone else and are willing to bargain. One tip is to hit the road early and make an entire day of it.

Dumpster diving

Don’t laugh. You would be surprised at what you will find sitting by the curbside. In fact, many times, people will set items on the curb or by their dumpster in hopes that somebody else will salvage them. As the old saying goes, “One man’s trash … “ Oftentimes, you can find furniture that’s in good shape but maybe needs a coat of paint or stain or other minor repairs. Give it a try.

Online

Do some searching and you can find websites where you can buy used or hand-crafted furniture. Etsy is one example. You can find unique, bespoke pieces that nobody else will own. The only drawback to sourcing furniture online will be the shipping costs; however, some vendors will ship for free. It’s worth looking into for that one item that will make people go “Wow!”

Get creative will your furniture shopping and have fun in the process. One tip is to get friendly with somebody who owns a truck or van who can haul your treasures home for you. You will save money and have a furnished apartment that will feel uniquely home.

Vision has move-in Ready Floorplans

At Vision Communities, our 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartment units are open, spacious, ready for new to you furniture. If you are looking for a great community, learn more about living in a Vision Community and explore our available floor plans near you. 

Is a “Roommate Agreement” a Good Idea?

How a Roommate Agreement Sets Boundaries

If you are starting out in your career or have relocated to a big city, or both, you are probably going to need one or more roommates to make living in a decent apartment affordable. If you’re lucky enough to have friends to share space with, great. If not, you’re going to be living with strangers. In either scenario, having a roommate agreement in place can make your living situation much easier. Solid friendships have been blown apart from living together and if you’re going to be living with people you don’t really know, it makes sense to come from a place of common understanding.

A roommate agreement is a written contract signed by all residents of the apartment before you move in together. It covers essentials such as paying the rent and utilities, cleaning, quiet hours, guest rules, etc. You can customize the content to meet you and your roommates’ needs and there are lots of templates online that you can easily download and customize. Here are some key points to address:

Rent

The most common solution is to have all roommates split the rent evenly. However, there may be circumstances where one person has a much larger bedroom, or one person may have to sleep on a fold-out sofa in the living room. In those cases, then the rent should be divided commensurate with the amount of space each person occupies.

Utilities

This is another expense that can be split evenly between roommates. Or you could take turns paying all the utilities each month. Using a “level pay” play can keep utility expenses affordable and predictable so nobody is taxed with paying huge energy bills during summer and winter peaks.

Cleaning Schedule

Set up a roster of who will clean which areas and how often. There are even apps that will manage that for you. You can hash out loathed and preferred chores, so everybody is happy.

Common items

There are some items where it makes more sense to have a communal supply, instead of individual inventories.  Everybody can chip in to buy paper goods, spices, and cleaning supplies. You can find apps that will manage the financial side.

Kitchen time

Will you and your roommates cook and eat together? If not, then it makes sense to designate kitchen hours, so there’s no overlap. You will also need to negotiate refrigerator and cabinet space.

Noise

Discuss each roommate’s sleeping habits and work hours, especially if they work from home.  Then, designate hours where everybody will keep noise and activity to a minimum.

Pets

First, determine whether anybody living in the apartment is allergic to pets. Next, establish boundaries for areas in the apartment where the pet(s) is allowed, who is responsible for cleaning up messes, etc. The pet owner(s) should solely bear the cost of any deposits and monthly rent for pets.

Guests

This can be tricky. There need to be guidelines on having parties, as well as sleepovers. Most apartment residents aren’t comfortable with random hookups/complete strangers camping out in their space. Nor do they want to suffer through a raucous party if they are trying to work, sleep, or study.

Moving out

A roommate should give other roommates ample notice if they plan to move out. This will give everybody time to adjust and find a new roommate.

Once the roommate agreement is hammered out and signed by everybody, it’s a good idea to have regular meetings to talk about the housing situation and make any adjustments to the house rules. Have this document ready to refer to during these discussions as it reiterates what’s been agreed to and keeps communication flowing smoothly. A roommate agreement paves the way for a harmonious living arrangement with you and your fellow apartment dwellers. It will also go a long way towards keeping friendships intact.

Vision has Roommate-Friendly Floorplans

At Vision Communities, our 2 and 3 bedroom apartment units are designed to be shared with your roommates. If you and your crew are looking for a great community, learn more about living in a Vision Community and explore our available floor plans near you. 

Tips for Saving on Apartment Utilities

How to Save on Your Apartment Utilities

In today’s economic climate, everybody is keen on saving money. Add to that, the push to move towards a greener society. Combine the two and you can cut back on your utility bills and do your part in preserving our climate. Here are some ideas to help you save on your utilities without sacrificing convenience and comfort.

  1. Use energy-efficient light bulbs. These days, it’s harder to find incandescent light bulbs than LEDs. LED bulbs cost more, but they last forever. Spring for the initial outlay of cash, and you will be rewarded with longer-lasting, safer light, and lower electric bills.
  2. Control the temperature. This advice has been around forever. Turn the AC up when you leave for the day; likewise, turn down the thermostat during the winter. You can avoid that hassle by installing a smart thermostat. Most landlords will agree to make that swap. You can buy a smart thermostat or some energy companies will install them for free if you are willing to participate in their programs to have the AC and furnace automatically adjusted to correspond with peak energy hours, seasonal usage, etc.
  3. Unplug when not in use. Plugged-in appliances and devices are known as “energy vampires” as they use energy even when not in use. Make a habit of unplugging gadgets and appliances you’re not using and see your energy bills decline. You can also look into smart power strips that will automatically shut off if it detects unused devices or appliances.
  4. Keep your HVAC filters clean. Dust and debris that collect on furnace filters can impede airflow, which makes the unit work harder, thus consuming more energy. It should be the responsibility of your property management company to keep the filters changed, so ask them about their maintenance schedule.
  5. Conserve water. Resist the temptation to run partial loads of laundry or dishes. Only run these appliances when they are full. If you have dishes and cutlery you use over and over, consider washing them by hand. Another good tip is to keep the dryer free of lint. Lint buildup not only makes the dryer work harder and expend more energy, but it can also be a fire hazard.

 

Other commonsense suggestions include turning off lights and fans when you are not home and using window treatments to add warmth or cooling to your apartment when needed. You can also save money by not using electricity during peak hours which usually are in the middle of the day, but your local utility company can give you the most accurate information for your location. Every little bit counts and by doing your part, you can save money and actively participate in green living which contributes to the greater good.

Vision Energy Efficient Floorplans

At Vision Communities, our apartment units are designed with energy savings in mind, from efficient designs to Energy Star-rated appliances in each apartment. Learn more about living in a Vision Community and explore our available floor plans near you. 

Tips for Splitting Rent with Roommates

Ideas for Splitting Rent

Living with roommates makes sense, especially when you are starting out and trying to save money. Besides, it’s also nice to have somebody to talk to and spend time with. Typically, you’d think about splitting the rent evenly between all the roommates. However, in certain circumstances, that is not always the best solution, especially if you aren’t well-acquainted with the people you’re sharing the apartment with or one roommate makes a lot more money than the others. Let’s explore some alternate solutions for equitable rent splitting between roommates.

  1. Splitting the rent evenly. This situation works best when you and your roommates are close friends. It is the simplest solution to have each person pay an equal share of the rent. Just make sure that everybody agrees to this and there is no resentment if somebody has a larger bedroom, their own bathroom, or other amenities.
  2. Splitting the rent by income. This solution makes sense when there are drastic income inequities between roommates. Each person should determine what percentage of their net income they can afford for rent and have them contribute that amount.
  3. Splitting the rent by space. If you don’t know your roommates well, this idea works. You determine how much space is allocated to each person, which would be their bedroom and bathroom (private or shared). Leave out common areas. Divide that amount by the total square footage of the apartment to arrive at a percentage.
  4. Splitting the rent by calculator. Many online calculators will do the number-crunching for you and your roommates. Just follow the prompts to enter information such as income, square space, etc.
  5. Other rent splitting ideas. If one roommate has the primary suite that’s a larger bedroom with an en suite, should they pay more rent than the others? If the rent and total utilities are roughly the same, could one roommate pay the rent and the other pay the utilities? Maybe one roommate could get a break on their rent if they take responsibility for dealing with the landlord and maintenance. There are endless options.

As you can see, there are many options for sharing the rent in your apartment. Do some research and get creative, especially if you are living with roommates you aren’t particularly close to. On the other hand, if you’re living with your best buds, splitting the rent evenly may be the best way to preserve your friendships. Whatever the scenario, frequent open communication is the key to making these arrangements successful.

Vision Communities loves roommates!

At Vision Communities, roommates are welcome…just as long as they’re on the lease. Our spacious 2 bedroom and 3 bedroom apartment layouts are designed to give you your own space while providing common areas for you to hang out with your roommate(s). Check out our luxurious apartment floorplans in one of our communities to enjoy life at the VC. 

Floorplan Friday: The Judd

2 Bedroom Townhome in Ashland

If you are looking for the amenities of a house without the maintenance hassles, then head to the Judd. The Judd is a two-story townhouse with three bedrooms and three bathrooms in 1,982 square feet. The main floor is designed with a contemporary open concept floorplan that seamlessly connects the kitchen, living, and dining areas. This is ideal for entertaining or keeping an eye on the kids while cooking.

The master suite is located in the loft and each bedroom has a roomy walk-in closet. A bonus room on the second floor can be used as a home office, playroom, or guest room. Each bathroom is full-sized with a tub and shower; water features throughout the entire unit are low consumption to conserve energy. All kitchen appliances are Energy Star-rated and have a stainless steel finish. The Judd also includes a washer and dryer and a sunny patio. And don’t forget that your pets are welcome here.

The Judd is located at District in Ashland, a community where you will find a full range of recreational and social activities. You are a short drive away from work or school, as well as shops, restaurants, and bars.

Amenities include:

  • Heated pool with sun deck
  • Fenced-in dog park
  • Social events
  • Online rent payment
  • 24/7 emergency maintenance
  • Outdoor recreation areas include a fire pit, grilling pavilion, sand volleyball court, and plenty of outdoor seating
  • Smoke-free living
  • On-site management

We would love to have you join our community at District at Ashland. If Judd looks like a place you’d like to call home, reach out to us to arrange a tour. You can also submit your application online. We look forward to meeting you!

The District at Ashland is an apartment community located in Ashland, Ohio. Our newly constructed apartment community offers a quiet retreat and access to social life. Reach out today to schedule a tour of the Judd. We would love to welcome you to our Ashland community!

 

 

Closet Organization Ideas

Tips for Organizing Your Apartment Closet

Since sweater weather is here, now is a good time to think about reorganizing your closet so you can swap out your seasonal wardrobe. It also presents an opportunity to take inventory of your clothes, shoes, and accessories. If you are one of the few people who can say they don’t have too many clothes, pat yourself on the back. However, if you are like most people, you probably have garments, shoes, and accessories taking up space in your closet that you rarely or never wear. The general rule is that if you haven’t worn an item for one year, get rid of it. Donate it or consider selling it on one of the many gently used clothing sites. For the stuff you want to keep, here are some solutions for maximizing your closet space and keeping your clothes in tip-top shape.

Store away your seasonal items

There are two recommended ways to do this. You can buy plastic vacuum bags. Fold and place your clothes into the bags and vacuum seal them. You can stash the bags under your bed until it’s time to wear them again. Another idea is to use plastic storage containers. You can buy these almost anywhere, and they can hold a lot. They come in a multitude of colors, and you can label them, or choose clear plastic so you can quickly identify the contents.

Use shoe racks

Shoe racks fit into the bottom of your closet and can hold several rows of shoes. These are great options for sneakers, flats, and Oxfords. Some shoe racks have adjustable widths. Just fit them to the right size and put them on the closet floor.

Use the closet door as a hanger

You can buy plastic storage bags that have multiple separate compartments and hang over the back of the closet door. These are great for shoes, sunglasses, and small accessories. They are usually made of clear heavy-duty plastic, so you can easily find what you’re looking for.

Coat racks are stylish

You can use a coat rack to hang heavy coats, jackets and other bulky outwear that take up a lot of closet real estate. Having a loaded coat rack in the corner can actually add a touch of cozy charm to your entryway or living space.

Add another hanging rod

You can create two rows for hangers by adding a second rod. The second rod hangs off the upper rod and is suitable for hanging folded pants, tops, and other shorter pieces of clothing. Another tip is to use velvet hangers so clothes don’t slip off and fall on the closet floor or on top of other items.

Shelf dividers

Vertical shelf dividers can keep your sweaters and other folded items neat and in place so they don’t tumble over. Shelf dividers can also be used for handbags, hats, and other clothes and accessories that you don’t want to get wrinkled or crushed.

Hang belts and scarves

You can buy special belt hangers that are round or semi-circular. Keep your belts neat, organized, and within easy reach. These hangers are also suitable for scarves and tank tops/sports bras. Thread a round shower curtain hanger through the garment’s straps and hang it over the belt hanger.

You’ll Love Our Closets

If you are looking for a new apartment community – with lots of closet space, check out Vision Communities. 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. 

Floorplan Friday: The Rutherford

Large Two-Bedroom with Balcony

The Rutherford is a two-bedroom, two-bath apartment that features a large living space that’s ideal for spending cozy evenings in front of the TV or having a few friends over for drinks. You can enjoy your drinks or coffee on the large balcony that lets you feel the city vibe without leaving your apartment. Add some lights, plants and outdoor furniture and you’re set!

Indoors, the open space floorplan combines the kitchen, living, and dining area, which give the area a spacious, airy feeling. The eat-in kitchen has granite countertops and Energy Star-rated stainless steel appliances. The cabinetry is crafted from reclaimed wood products which give the space a rustic appeal. The unique layout of this unit adds to its charm.

Each bedroom has a full en suite and low-consumption water features, which underscore the AVE’s commitment to sustainable living. The bedrooms have spacious walk-in closets and oversized windows that let in plenty of natural light.

Your pet is welcome at the AVE and we even have a fenced dog park on the property. Contact us today to tour this 1160-square-foot unit; you can apply only. We look forward to welcoming you to the AVE community.

Other amenities:

  • Heated Pool
  • Clubhouse with Pool Table
  • Planned Social Events
  • 24-Hour Fitness Center w/ Classes
  • Volleyball Court
  • 24/7 Starbucks Coffee Machine
  • Fenced-in Dog Park

The AVE is a luxury apartment community located in Clintonville — a hub of commerce, culture, and nightlife. Don’t miss out on all that this area of town and The AVE have to offer; reach out today to schedule a tour of the Rutherford. We would love to welcome you to the community!

 

 

Dealing with Maintenance Emergencies

Apartment Maintenance Emergencies

Sometimes, life happens and you experience an emergency in your apartment after regular office hours. While apartment management wants to provide the best maintenance service possible, sometimes what a tenant considers an “emergency” isn’t. Basically, an emergency is a situation that if not immediately remedied, can cause injury, threaten health or damage the property. Your property manager may have after-hours guidelines listed in your lease or on their website. In any case, here are some scenarios where it’s appropriate to contact after-hours maintenance.

Fire or Smoke

If there is a fire in your apartment, evacuate immediately, then call 911. Notify your apartment manager as soon as possible.

Smelling Gas

If you smell gas (the odor of rotten eggs), leave your apartment right away. Call 911 once you are safely outside.

Carbon Monoxide

Carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless, so it is difficult to detect. These days, most apartments have carbon monoxide monitors and if yours goes off, leave the unit and call 911 and maintenance.

Apartment is Flooded

If your apartment is flooding, that is considered a maintenance emergency and you should call it in, no matter what time of day at night. If you can shut off the water, do so. Flooding can seriously damage your property and the building.

The following situations are not always considered after-hours emergencies:

No Heat in the Apartment

Typically, this is not considered an emergency unless it is during extremely cold weather. It will depend on the climate where you live. However, let your apartment manager know the next business day.

Air Conditioning is Out

This is also not an emergency unless it is during a heatwave or you live in a hot climate. Again, report it to your apartment manager the next business day.

No Electricity

First, make sure to check that there is not a fuse blown or that a breaker has tripped. If neither one is the problem, then call the electric company. Most likely, there is a regional outage. However, if the problem persists, contact maintenance.

No Hot Water in your Apartment

This may be considered an emergency ONLY if there has been no hot water for an extended time: days not hours. In the event of no hot water, and it is not during a contractor’s normal business hours, we may be unable to repair the problem in as timely a manner as we would like, so be resourceful in the meantime.

Clogged or Backed Up Toilet

This is considered an emergency when there is only one toilet in the apartment. You can try your best to dislodge the clog yourself with a plunger. If that doesn’t work, then call maintenance.

Getting Locked Out

Check your property management company’s policy on lockouts. In most cases, they will ask you to contact a locksmith to let you back into your unit. Most apartments now issue key fobs, which are easier to deal with than regular keys.

Living in a Vision Community

While no one likes to deal with inconveniences in their apartment, they happen. However, knowing in advance what constitutes an emergency and when to call after-hours maintenance will go a long way towards realistic expectations and minimizing frustrations. The property managers at Vision Communities are committed to creating a safe and properly functioning apartment and providing the most efficient maintenance possible. Open communication … with a side of patience … can go a long way towards reaching this goal.

If you are looking for a new apartment community, check out Vision Communities. 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. 

Bathroom Cleaning Hacks

Bathroom Cleaning Hacks for your Apartment

It’s the smallest room in the apartment, the most used and the grungiest to clean … the bathroom! There are plenty of cleaning products you can pick up anywhere, but here are some quick hacks you can use between deep cleanings. A lot of the stuff you probably already have on hand or can source the next time you do a store run. So, get ready to raid the pantry, roll up your sleeves and get to work!

Clean your shower with vinegar

Vinegar has natural antibacterial and antifungal properties. Heat some in the microwave and spray it in the shower. Rinse with water. While you’re cleaning the shower area, soak the showerhead in vinegar. Vinegar will get rid of mineral scale and calcium deposits caused by hard water.   

Remove soap scum with dryer sheets

Everybody has dryer sheets. Put a few drops of water on a dryer sheet and buff away the soap scrum. Rinse with water.  You can also use dryer sheets to clean up the faucets in the sink and shower.

Use a denture tablet to clean your toilet

Now, this is something you probably don’t have lying around the apartment, but it’s worth buying a box. Between scrubbings, you can keep your toilet bowl clean by dropping in a denture tablet. After the bubbles and foam have subsided, flush. It’s great for removing stains and rust.

Air-dry the toilet brush

The next time you scrub the toilet the old-fashioned way, air dry the brush. The water that builds up in the bottom of the toilet brush holder is just nasty. Sandwich the toilet brush between the toilet lid and bowl and let it air dry.

Try black tea to clean mirrors

Brew some strong black tea and use a soft lint-free cloth to wipe the mirrors. The tannic acid does the work. Dry the mirror with a clean cloth. Black tea is a natural alternative to ammonia-based spray products.

Hopefully, these hacks will help you when you need to quickly clean the bathroom. Who knows?  Maybe your parents are dropping by, or you’ve been nominated on the fly to host tonight’s watch party. By using products you have on hand, you will save time and money and keep the bathroom presentable between cleanings.

A Bathroom You’ll Love

At Vision Communities, we welcome you to explore our communities, floor plans, amenities and of course, our bathrooms. Many of our floorplans feature single or multiple bathrooms to clean, but with these tips, you’ll love walking into a clean, fresh bathroom. 

If you are looking for a new apartment community, check out Vision Communities. 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. 

Mixed Use community - Makley Place

Living in a Mixed-Use Community

The Benefits of a Mixed-Use Community

How would you like to live where you can walk to work (even if it’s just from the bedroom to the living room), or go out for coffee, grab a bite to eat, shop for groceries and take in an art gallery, live music or farmers’ market — without having to drive anywhere? Sounds pretty appealing, doesn’t it? You will find all of that in a mixed-use community. Mixed-use communities are the newest development in sustainable community living. Based in primarily centralized urban areas, mixed-use communities combine logistical convenience with the social connections that people crave — especially during these trying times. These developments combine residential space and commercial/retail with an area’s cultural amenities to create an all-in-one living experience.

If you live in a mixed-use community, you’ll drive less. In fact, you may not even need to own a car, especially if there are reliable public transportation options in the area. Not only will you save on car payments, insurance and gas, but you’ll also get more exercise and do your part in reducing emissions. By patronizing area local businesses, you’ll boost the economy, which is especially beneficial to small businesses that have been hit hard by the pandemic.

Mixed-Use Development Communities

Most mixed-use communities are new developments, which means that they were retrofitted or new builds that embrace energy-saving practices such as solar panels and recycling, and include among their amenities, community gardens. Community gardens are a great way to know where your food is coming from and to connect with your neighbors. And there is nothing like an outdoor concert or art opening to draw like-minded people together.

Safety is another benefit to mixed-use communities. The apartments, condos, and commercial properties are equipped with safety features such as doorbell cameras, hard-wired smoke detectors, and security systems. Neighbors also look out for one another and it has been demonstrated that crime rates have dropped in mixed-use communities. Being in a centralized location also means in most cases, closer proximity to police, fire, and EMT services.

If mixed-used community living sounds promising to you, give us a call. Makley Place offers luxury condominiums and apartments located on the northern edge of Columbus’ Short North Art District. We combine ease of living with vibrant cultural experiences and social life — with local commercial space thrown into the mix. We are leasing now, so contact us for more information and to arrange a tour.