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.

Advantages of Apartment Living

Advantages to Apartment Living

Choosing where to live is a big decision. Whether you are a new college graduate, recently relocated to a new city or are just ready for a change, the decision of where to live is one that should not be taken lightly. The big question is … do you want to live in a house or an apartment?

Home ownership has its advantages, such as tax deductions and complete decorating autonomy, having a yard and privacy. On the other hand, somebody (you) has to take care of that yard and shovel the driveway, as well as pay for home repairs – both major and minor.  If you have the skills, then a fixer-upper with plenty of DIY projects awaiting, might work. If you don’t have a green thumb and can barely screw in a lightbulb, an apartment would be a better fit.

While it is assumed that apartments attract a younger crowd, many older people gravitate to the size and low (no) maintenance apartment living offers, especially if they are empty nesters who are ready to downsize. It is not uncommon to find a mix of residents of all ages and ethnicities in today’s apartment complexes.

If you are still on the fence, here are some advantages to apartment living:

  1. Cost of Living. In most cases, monthly rent for an apartment is less than your typical mortgage. Utilities are also much less as they are consumed in a smaller space. In an apartment, the resident is usually responsible for electricity, gas and internet/cable service, while the complex pays for water and trash removal, but this will vary by property management company. Another benefit is that some apartments have month-to-month of short-term leases, so you are not stuck in a long-term commitment.

  2. Maintenance. This is a huge advantage when it comes to apartment living. If the toilet backs up or the A/C goes out, it is not your responsibility to have it fixed. It is the property manager’s responsibility, as well as a condition of your lease, to make any necessary repairs to your unit. Most apartment communities have a dedicated maintenance staff which make scheduled repairs that can be performed in a timely manner. Of course, you can attempt some minor repairs on your own, such as using a plunger on a stubborn sink, but if you choose not to, then just pick up the phone or submit a maintenance request online. Bonus: No lawn mowing or snow shoveling.

  3. Security. Most apartment complexes have some type of security system in place. Some are gated communities that require a passcode and some larger properties even have full-time security guards. Other means of security include locked security doors and cameras. Having neighbors in your building can add an extra layer of protection as you can look out for each other. Depending on your lease, you may be able to add your own personal security system, such as a doorbell/camera.

  4. Amenities. Today’s apartment complexes offer a variety of amenities to attract residents. The most common include swimming pools, community rooms and fitness centers. You can also find coffee bars, dog parks, valet trash service and housekeeping services. This allows you to save money on a separate gym or pool membership by taking advantage of the facilities offered at your apartment complex.

  5. Social. Even the most introverted person in the world craves company now and then! Living in apartment comes with built-in neighbors and like everything else, some will suit you while you may prefer to not interact with others. Living in close proximity means that residents look out for each other. Additionally, swimming pools, coffee bars and clubhouses draw people together and more and more apartment communities have planned social events like happy hour or volunteer days. (During safer times, of course.)



As you see, there are many benefits to apartment living versus home ownership. It really boils down to your personal preferences and what you can afford. Apartment living is great if you are just starting out living on your own and want to save money for a down payment on a house. It also is beneficial if you have a job where you travel a lot and don’t want to have to worry about an unattended house. Retirees can enjoy their golden years free from the responsibilities of home ownership.  

Live Your Best Life in a Vision Community

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.

Packing up your apartment

Tips for Moving Out of Your Apartment

The beauty of living in an apartment is that it is temporary. You can really move more easily than if you home a home, which comes with a mortgage and requires the sale of your house.  When it is time to move on, whether to your first house or upgrading to a new apartment community, there are some things you need to consider. While most renters’ primary concern is getting their security deposit back, they overlook small, but crucial details in the process.

Here are some tips to ensure that your relocation is as smooth as possible.

  1. Give notice. This is the most important step. Review your lease to see how much notice you need to give your apartment manager. The rule of thumb is that residents usually have to give 30 days’ notice, however, this can vary, depending on the terms of your lease. Failure to give adequate notice could result in financial penalties, such as owing the next month’s rent after you move out.

  2. Transfer your utilities. Make sure you close out your account at your apartment and transfer all utilities to your future address. Usually, this is as simple as placing a few phone calls or making the switch online. If you live in an all utilities paid complex, it might be a little more complicated as you may have to open all new accounts in your name at your new residence.

  3. Clean up the place. While it is tempting to just pack up and go, you need to leave your apartment in as close to move-in condition as possible. Even though you know that the unit will be rehabbed before new residents move in, leaving the place a mess can cost you. You might have penalties deducted from your security deposit. Additionally, this can earn you a negative reference from your landlord in the event you need to rent a new place in the future. Splurge on a professional cleaning service if you don’t have time or want to do it yourself.

  4. Change your address. You can do this online at the USPS website and provide updated address information where you mail will be forwarded and where you will receive your new mail. A lot of times, this step gets overlooked and it can be problematic in the long term as the Post Office only forwards mail for 12 months and periodicals for 60 days. If you still receive bills by mail, they could show up late or not at all, which brings on a host of new problems.

  5. Get your security deposit back. This is the time to review your lease one more time to make sure you fulfilled all the conditions to receive all or a portion of your security deposit back. What usually happens is that once your have vacated your apartment, the apartment manager will conduct an inspection of the unit. They should compare it to the punch list from when you moved in, to make sure there is no new damage. Your deposit will be mailed back to you once the inspection has been completed and you will also receive a letter noting any deductions for damages. So, don’t forget to leave your forwarding address with your (former) apartment manager.



Moving also is a great opportunity to donate. As you are packing, separate clothes, shoes, outerwear and any household items you are no longer using and donate them to a local charity. Many places will even come and pick your stuff up. Likewise, when you are packing up the kitchen, any unused canned goods can go to a food bank; many grocery stores have drop-off barrels for non-perishable goods.

While moving can be a hassle, once the process is over, you can settle to your new apartment and turn it into your home. If you are thinking about changing apartments, we would invite you to check out Vision Communities. We have apartment communities through out 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.

Apartment living with cats

The Best Cats for Apartment Living

Bringing Your Feline Friends to Your Apartment

There has been a surge of pet adoptions since the pandemic hit last year. People who were stuck at home decided that a new fur baby would be the perfect companion to shelter in place and ride out the pandemic. Cats are great pets, and most cats are ideally suited for apartment living. They can adapt to the smaller environment of an apartment and most breeds are perfectly content to live indoors all the time.

Some traits to look for when choosing a cat include:

  • Content to be left along for long periods of time
  • Easy-going
  • Not overly territorial
  • Quiet
  • Sociable
  • Can entertain itself

If you are adopting a cat, there might not be a great selection of purebreds. It is more important to look for personality traits and you should spend some time with the cats you are interested in. Most animal shelters have socialization areas where cats and prospective owners can meet and check each other out.

Domestic shorthair. This is the most common breed of cat and they are solid color, striped (tabby) or have a mottled coat (tortie). Some of these cats also have medium or long hair. They have a friendly disposition and many like to cuddle.

Maine coon. These are large cats (up to 20 lbs.) that have long, thick, extravagant coats. They are known for their gentle and docile behavior. The only downside is to expect to spend a lot of time vacuuming cat hair off the floors and furniture when these cats shed.

Persian. Like Maine coons, Persians have long luxurious hair, and a characteristic “smushed up” face. Persians are very laid back, calm and low energy, but you have to be dedicated to frequent grooming and cleaning up cat hair.

Siamese. Siamese cats are known for their piercing blue eyes. They have a short-haired coat and distinctive markings on their ears, tails and paws. Siamese cats tend to be very loyal to one special family member. The only drawback is that these cats are very vocal and their meows are loud.

Apartment living with a cat

There are pros and cons to having a cat. For example, dogs need to be walked several times a day. You don’t have to walk your cat, although some cats like to wear a leash and harness and go for walks outside. On the downside, with a cat comes a litterbox. Fortunately, the quality of cat litter keeps improving, so you can choose a brand that doesn’t stir up a lot of dust and has enhanced odor absorbing additives. You can also buy covered litterboxes or self-cleaning models.  Remember to keep your cat’s litterbox in a quiet private place where they can do their business undisturbed.

Cats also like to claw on the furniture, carpet and any other surface they can use to sharpen their claws. There are several ways to curtail that behavior and one is to buy your cat a scratching pad that they can claw away at. You can also use special double-sided sticky tape to put on your furniture to discourage clawing. The tape is transparent so it isn’t too visible. You should also get in the habit of trimming your cat’s claws at least once a month. Get them used to it gradually.  Ask your vet tech to show you how to do it safely at home with special trimmers specially designed for cats. If your cat won’t go for that, you can always take them to a groomer for a claw trim, which is inexpensive.

Also provide your cat with some toys so you can interact with them or they can entertain themselves during the day. Cats also love windows, so if you apartment has wide windowsills, your cat will happily spend their time sunning and watching birds, squirrels and other wildlife.  

Lastly, consider the age of the cat. Kittens are adorable, but very energetic and destructive. They require a lot of time and attention. You might consider an older cat that is more sedate and better behaved.

No matter what type of cat you adopt, you will find the purr-fect companion to keep you company and show you unconditional love. Many shelters have adoption specials during the holidays, so it would be a great time to look for your new best friend.

Vision Communities is Pet Friendly

At Vision Communities, we are committed to creating the best apartment communities for you, your family and your pets. 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.

Living with a COVID positive roommate

Tips for Dealing with a COVID Positive Roommate

What to Do if a Roommate Tests Positive for COVID-19

Despite everybody’s best efforts, it happened. One of your roommates has tested positive for COVID-19. The first thing to do is not panic. By employing safety measures and following the rules for your city, state or county can help you and the rest of your household stay safe.  First of all, there are two terms related to COVID-19 exposure that frequently get confused because there is some overlap. Isolation is when a person has been infected and is sick and must stay away from others in the residence.  Quarantine is for anybody who believes they have been exposed or have been in contact with someone who may be infected or have been exposed.  So, if one of your roommates has COVID, then you need to quarantine, while they need to isolate.

CDC guidelines recommend that quarantine periods last for at least 14 days after you believe you have been exposed, and the caveat is that if no symptoms appear. If you start showing symptoms, then go get tested. If you test positive and become ill, you should remain in isolation for at least 10 days after the symptoms first appeared and 24 hours after there is no incidence of fever — without taking OTC medication.

The person who has tested positive should stay isolated from their other roommates as much as possible, which usually means that they need to stay in their bedroom. It doesn’t matter if they feel just fine; they are still highly contagious. If you must have contact with your sick roommate, both of you must wear masks. Limit interaction and maintain a distance of at least six feet, if at all possible.

While this may be difficult in an apartment, reserve one bathroom solely for the sick person to use. If your apartment only has one bathroom, then it needs to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after the person with COVID uses it. Do not share towels, drinking cups, eating utensils or dishware. Take food and snacks to your ailing roommate on a tray and leave it outside their bedroom door. Clean, clean and clean all common surfaces in the apartment to prevent spread of the virus.

Keep track of your sick roommate’s symptoms and watch for them in household members who have been exposed and haven’t gotten sick (yet). The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include: fever, dry cough, extreme fatigue and loss of taste and smell. More severe symptoms include shortness of breath, confusion and bluish tint to the face and lips, in which case, you should call 911.  There are many symptom checkers online that will assess symptoms and recommend whether you need testing or to contact your doctor. Many doctors are now offering telehealth visits so you can avoid going to the doctor’s office and increasing risk for yourself and others.

In the meantime, while everybody in your apartment is in some stage of COVID, do the best that you can. Reach out for support online. You can connect with family and friends or community sites where you can share your feelings and get advice. Take advantage of food delivery by restaurants and grocery stores. 

Remember, you can’t help others if you aren’t feeling well yourself. Wear a mask, social distance and take good care of yourself — mentally and physically. 

During this season of COVID-19, the property management teams at Vision Communities are committed to keeping our residence healthy and safe. We have instituted social distancing and masks guidelines throughout the Vision communities, and we are looking forward to launching a full calendar of events for our residents when things return to normal.

If you are looking for an apartment in the Columbus area or in Akron/Canton, contact our team for availability.

Soundproof Decorating Tips

Decorating That Doubles as Soundproofing

One of the few drawbacks about apartment living is that it can be noisy, whether it’s from a crying baby, barking dog or neighbors who are playing their music too loud. On the flip side, despite your best efforts to keep noise levels down, other residents can also hear you.  So without alienating your neighbors, there are some easy decorating tips you can try that will spruce up your living area and double as soundproofing. As a plus, many of these ideas will also help you keep your apartment warm during the rapidly approaching winter months.

Window Treatments

Heavy lined drapes will provide a wall of protection against outdoor sounds as well as provide a layer of insulation. You will need to choose a heavy fabric like velvet or a thick polyester blend; lightweight cotton or linen just won’t work. If you won’t want to spring for brand new drapes, you can trim and hang a shower curtain behind your drapes. The plastic or vinyl will provide some noise reduction. Another idea is to choose pleated drapes as the folds will offer some depth and dimension to block sound. Many of the Vision Communities 1BR, 2BR and 3BR apartment layouts feature lots of natural light, so be sure to plan out your window treatments for the floorplan you choose.

Area Rugs

Your apartment is probably already carpeted, but adding area rugs will help block noise, especially if you live above another apartment. Get creative and choose rugs that reflect your personality — patterned, solid, Oriental, or a blast from the past with shag! Having a cozy rug underfoot will be enjoyed during the winter when you need to ward off the chill. You can add throw rugs to every room of your apartment to add a touch of color and minimize sound.

Wall Hangings

Hanging canvas prints or interesting textiles on your walls will add a decorate touch and provide a barrier to sound. Beautiful tribal patterns or geometric prints bring drama to the room and can serve as a focal point. Nostalgic folk art and quilts are popular right now; the layers of the quilt will insulate against sound. If you don’t have any heirloom quilts, you can seek them out at state/county fairs or online. While you’re at it, buy extras to cuddle in during the colder months. Some creative people hang moving blankets over their windows or on the walls to block sound. If your decorate leans towards the eclectic side, this might be a good solution.

Weatherstripping and Door Stoppers

Gaps between the window and frame can leak sound as well as let in cold air. This is an issue that your apartment should address, if not, it is an easy DIY project. You can find weatherstripping at the hardware store; simply cut it and press it into place. You can also apply weatherstripping to the bottom of your front door and to balcony or patio doors. This will keep the noise in and cold air out. You can also opt for a soft door blocker. You’ve seen these. They are made of fabric and you push them up against the bottom of your door. They come in all prints and patterns; some are whimsical in the shape of animals or insects and some have clever sayings on them. Have fun with your sound proofing!

Creating a Place to Come Home to

At Vision Community, we want you to live your best life and enjoy your experience in our apartment communities. With all of the noise of life, we want you to feel comfortable in your Vision Communities home. These tips are just a few ways to make your space your own and create a quiet place that you can retreat to each evening.  If you are in the process of hunting for an apartment, consider the Vision Community floor plans and communities located in Central Ohio.

 

Staying Healthy this Winter

Tips for Staying Healthy This Winter

Winter has already made its debut in some areas of the country, and there is no time like the present to start planning how you are going to protect yourself and stay healthy. Leading health experts have predicted that the U.S. is going to be in for a tough winter; with the pandemic still peaking in some parts of the country, plus a projected brutal flu season in store. Your exposure may be reduced if you are working at home, but you are still susceptible to the colds and viruses that make the rounds from October through March.  Here are some tips to protect yourself from the ravages of winter and the illnesses that accompany them.

Get a flu shot

This is a no-brainer. Symptoms of the common cold, the flu and COVID all have similarities, and if you want to know the difference, there are plenty of resources online you can refer to. You can get a flu shot practically anywhere and many pharmacies offer a drive-thru option. Most insurance companies will cover the full cost of a flu shot. If you are uninsured, check out your local health department.

Eat properly

Cold weather and the stress of uncertainly trigger our cravings for comfort foods. The holidays are also a time to load up on carbs, sugar and booze. While it’s important to be good to yourself right now and have some fun, strive to maintain a healthy balance. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, lean protein, and whole grains and if necessary, take a multivitamin supplement. Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially with indoor heating.

Get plenty of sleep

The uncertain times we are in right now can increase stress, anxiety and sleepless nights. Try to maintain a bedtime routine by turning in at the same time every night. Also, avoid reading or watching upsetting news before you go to sleep; your brain will continue to process the information while you are trying to get some shut-eye. Warm milk or soothing herbal teas can help relax you before bed, as well as a warm (not hot) bath. If all of these remedies fair, talk to your doctor about possibly taking a short-term sleeping medication.

Practice good hygiene and take care of yourself

Now more than ever, it’s important to wash your hands as frequently as possible and carry hand sanitizer with you. Wipe down your cellphone, shared surfaces like doorknobs, and the interior of your car. Have a supply of clean masks and keep a spare in your car. Be good to yourself. Meditate, treat yourself to a luxurious body lotion, your favorite snack, a Zoom call with family or friends. If everything gets overwhelming, there are many mental health resources you can tap into for support. You are not alone!

If you follow these simple tips and practice good self-care, you greatly increase your chances of not getting sick during the winter. Continue to follow the guidelines for social distancing, mask-wearing and practicing good hygiene to protect yourself and those around you.

Vision Communities Commitment to Health & Safety

At Vision Communities, we are working hard to keep our apartment communities healthy and safe. To learn more about how we are managing around COVID-19, contact our office with questions.   

Find out how much rent you can afford on Vision Communities blog.

How Much Rent You Can Afford?

Renting your first apartment or relocating to a new city are very exciting milestones. Your head is probably full of plans about living near the city’s nightlife or furnishing your new place with the very latest from Pottery Barn. Hold those thoughts … at least just for a minute. There will be plenty of time for all the fun stuff, but first, you need to take a hard look at your finances and see what type of apartment you can afford. Here are some practical guidelines when planning your budget.

  1. Think 50/30/20. This ratio is a bit more realistic than the outdated 30 percent rule, as it takes into account all of your monthly expenses, not just rent. Fifty percent of your net income should go to essentials such as rent, food, transportation and utilities. Thirty percent is for your fun stuff like subscriptions, entertainment, memberships, clothes, etc. The remaining 20 percent should go towards savings and paying down debt such as student loans or credit cards.
  2. Watch for extra deposits and fees. Moving into a new apartment is more than just paying rent. In the beginning, be prepared to pay an application fee and for the leasing company to run a credit check. The good news is that these are pretty nominal, usually ranging from $20-$35. There will also be a security deposit and if this is the first time establishing utilities in your name, you may need to pay deposits for those. These days, more apartment complexes require a pet deposit and a small monthly pet rental fee.

If you are relocating, there will be moving expenses, if your company won’t cover them. Lastly, most apartments raise rental rates at least once a year. These can vary from $15-$250+. Usually, they cover increased property taxes and maintenance fees, but amounts at the higher end could be expected if the apartments underwent some major upgrades or renovations. Don’t be caught by surprise, so plan accordingly.

  1. Location. Location. Location. If you are moving for a new job or just uprooting in general, think carefully about the cost of living in the area you’re moving to. A tiny studio apartment in New York City is going to be 2-3 (or more) times more expensive than a two-bedroom in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Rental rates can also vary widely within the same city. An apartment on the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri, will cost 2-3 times as much a larger place 1 mile away in Midtown.
  2. What are you paying for? Many rental rates factor in any amenities such as a swimming pool, on-site health club, coffee bar, dog park, community clubhouse, covered parking and more. Think carefully about which of these extras you will actually use. If you belong to a gym, you can cancel your membership and work out at the apartment complex, which should save you some money or at least break even.

Washers and dryers save money on laundromats (and those annoying quarters!) and time as you can do your laundry at home. If social events aren’t of interest to you, steer clear of places that focus heavily on resident activities. Your commute to work should be another consideration. You might pay a lot more to live closer to your job or if you like public transportation, how close is the apartment to a bus stop or train station? Working from home may require a second bedroom.

There is a lot to consider when renting an apartment, but hopefully these tips will help prepare you for planning your budget for the big move. Once you are settled in a place you can comfortably afford, it’s time to get into the fun stuff like outfitting the apartment with furnishings and other decorative and personal items that make your new home uniquely yours!

Tips for safely heating your apartment

Safe Ways to Heat Your Apartment

Fall and winter aren’t that far off, so now is a good time to start preparing your apartment for the colder months ahead. Ohio winters are harsh and even if your apartment has a good central heating system, oftentimes, it’s not enough to keep the frigid temperatures at bay. Soothe yourself with warm sweaters, cozy blankets and hot beverages, but if you need some extra ways to keep your apartment warm during the winter, here are some easy and inexpensive tips.

  1. Curtains. You can find insulated curtains anywhere. Many of the big box stores sell them and you can also order them online. Curtain panels are available in all colors and sizes and are reasonably priced. Another idea is to use shower curtains. They are even cheaper and you can use the liners as an additional layer of insulation. Keep the drapes open during the day on windows that face the south and west to let in as much sunlight as possible
  2. Draft “Snakes.” These are narrow fabric tubes that are filled with materials such as batting or small pellets to make them flexible enough to mold against windowsills or in the area between the bottom of the door and the floor. You can find these in many styles — whimsical animal shapes, emblazoned with funny sayings, etc. Add some inexpensive fun décor to your apartment while shutting out drafts.
  3. Rugs and carpets. If your apartment has hardwood or linoleum floors, throw rugs or small carpets can add a pop up color as well as extra warmth. You can find carpet samples or area rugs practically anywhere and in prices to fit any budget.
  4. Weather stripping. You can find easy-to-apply weather stripping at any hardware or home improvement store. It comes in many varieties to conform to the needs of your apartment. You can apply the weather stripping to windows and doors and remove it in the spring.
  5. Plastic film. Your hardware or home improvement stores are also good places to find plastic film to apply to your windows and balcony or patio doors. The film comes in all sizes and it easy to apply using tape and a blow dryer. The film not only keeps in heat in the winter but can help keep your apartment cool during warmer months.
  6. Programmable thermostat. If your apartment doesn’t have a programmable thermostat, ask your property manager about installing one. Some utility companies will even give them away for free or at a greatly reduced cost.
  7. Fireplace. If your apartment has a wood-burning or gas fireplace, it will really help keep the place warm. Just use it prudently and close the damper when not in use.
  8. Space heaters. Space heaters can be a great way to supplement heat during cold months, but they also are the cause of the majority of wintertime house fires. Use space heaters cautiously. Never place a space heater near combustible materials like paper, blankets, furniture or drapes. Keep children and pets away from the space heater; never leave your space heater unattended and turn it off when you aren’t going to be home.

Hopefully, you can take some of these ideas and use them during the winter if your apartment feels drafty and cold. You don’t need to spend a lot of money to achieve extra warmth and you can use your ingenuity to add a creative, cozy touch to your apartment during the long winter months.

Learn how to be a good neighbor during the COVID-19 pandemic on the Vision Communities blog.

Being a Good Neighbor During COVID

The COVID pandemic has been rough on everybody, whether or not you or a loved one were infected with the virus. It’s been difficult adjusting to a “new normal,” and it’s particularly challenging if you have been cooped up for months with your roommates in your apartment. Here are some ideas for keeping your sanity and maintaining friendships and relationships inside and outside of your apartment community.

  1. Social distancing. That’s next to impossible when you all share common the same space but try to do your best by working from home in your bedroom. You can social distance in the common areas of your apartment complex like the hallways, elevators, mailboxes and laundry room. Wear a mask when you go outside your apartment, even if it is only for a few moments. You don’t know who has just been out there, their state of health and what type of PPE they were using.
  2. Be mindful of noise. The neighbors above, below or on either side of you are staying at home, too. Keep the noise down. You never know if a neighbor works night shift or needs to sleep during daytime hours.
  3. Be patient. Everyone is coping differently with the pandemic; some people may be terrified of contracting the virus, whereas others may have a more cavalier attitude. Tempers might be short; people might be tired or emotional. Be mindful of people you encounter out in public, as well as your roommates. 
  4. Buy only what you need. With the exception of disinfecting wipes, the supply chain has stabilized since the empty-shelf days of March and April. Unless there are extenuating circumstances in your community, there is no need to hoard supplies. Leave some for other shoppers.
  5. Volunteer. If you have older neighbors or other neighbors who are high-risk, offer to help. Can you pick up a few groceries? Take out their trash for them? Walk their dog? A little kindness goes a long way.

 

Lastly, take good care of yourself. If you feel sick, stay home and away from your roommates and neighbors. Practice good self-care. Immerse yourself in a good book or show on Netflix or Hulu. Meditate, journal or take up a new (or old) hobby. Talk to people. Eat a healthy diet and exercise. You know all of this stuff. Being the best you that you can be right now will help you keep peace of mind and relieve the stress of navigating this journey we’re all on together.