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How Much Should I Spend on Housing?

Money and HousingHousing is one of the largest expenses that people fork out a month.  Whether you rent or own, your mortgage or rent can leave you strapped for cash.  You should always determine how much you can afford before you decide where you are going to live.  But how much should you be spending on housing a month?  Below are 5 things to consider when determining how much you should and can be spending on housing each month.

The 30% Rule

A general rule of thumb is to spend no more than 30% of your income on rent.  So if you are making $2,000/month you should be paying about $600 for rent.  Of course, if you only need one bedroom and you don’t mind sharing with roommates, you can spend less than that a month.  If you have a small family and you need a couple of bedrooms, you might be paying more.

Remember Other Expenses

Depending on your other debts and bills, the amount that you can afford might be less than 30% of your income.  Make sure that you factor in all of your monthly costs as you determine how much you can spend on housing each month.

Decide What is Important

Housing prices differ drastically based on factors such as space, amount of bathrooms, neighborhood, distance from the freeway, surrounding shopping centers, how close public transportation is, quality of apartment, etc.  Decide which of these factors is most important to you and which ones you are willing to sacrifice on.  For example, apartments that are a little bit further away from freeways and public transportation can be as much as $50 less than their next-to-the-freeway counterparts.  Also, ask yourself how much quality are you willing to sacrifice for cost?

Factor In Cost of Living

When you are deciding where to live based on your budget, make sure that you factor in cost of living.  Groceries and fuel will be more expensive closer to city hubs than it will be in suburban areas.  If you work downtown, is the extra 30 minute commute worth paying less on necessities every month?

Think About Utilities

When you are calculating how much you can afford on housing, make sure that you think about utilities as well.  The more space you have, the more you will have to pay to heat or cool the area.  Of course you can save on utilities by turning down the thermostat and making sure that you keep the lights off, not paying for premium cable, or internet, etc.

 

Apartment Cleaning Tips

Cleaning If you are about to move out of your apartment, it is important to make it clean to maximize the amount that you will get back from your deposit. Read on for six tips and tricks to make your apartment look spotless.

Plan Time

Doing a deep clean on your apartment will take more time than you think it will, so make sure that you give yourself plenty of time. Plan on spending 2-3 hours per room.  Yes, it will take that long.

Clean The Walls

After you move your furniture, the walls of your apartment will look dirty and like they will need a paint job.  Some landlords charge you to do that, so instead of forking out hundreds on new paint, clean the walls.  Use a trisodium phosphate substitute (a substance used to prep walls for new paint) like a magic eraser to get rid of the scuffs and dirt.  If you need to, patch any holes and paint over them.

Get Down

Baseboards collect a lot of dirt and dust, making a room look infinitely dirtier than it is.  Wipe down all of the baseboards in your apartment with a wet rag.  To get the hard to reach spots, use a credit card covered by a wet rag.  Magic erasers work well for this too.  As you are cleaning the floor, get down to look for spots.  You will see them better if you are closer, making sure that you scrub them before your landlord notices them.

Look Up

Ceiling fans and other light fixtures are often overlooked by tenants but are always noticed by landlords.  Dust them off with a gentle cloth, and remove light covers to clean out any dirt and bugs that might have been trapped inside.  Also make sure that you get rid of any cobwebs or dust on ledges.

Go To Your Move Out Inspection

If you have time, walk through the apartment with your landlord and ask what he is marking off on his checklist.  Ask if there is anything that you missed that you could fix or clean quick so that you won’t be docked.  Keep a copy of the inspection checklist for your records.

Move Furniture

If you have any furniture or appliances that were provided as part of the apartment (fridges, couches, microwaves,etc.) move them away from the wall so that you can properly clean under and around them.  Make sure that you properly clean the inside of the appliances or furniture as well.

Getting Your Deposit Back

Handshake with moneyGetting back a security deposit can be a stressful experience.  It is just one more thing to worry about as you move, and some landlords are very reluctant to part with the money that is rightfully yours.  Read below for 5 tips to secure your security deposit.   (more…)

Saving Up For a Deposit

Saving MoneyMoving can be quite expensive.  You have to get enough boxes for your things, rent a truck (if necessary), hire people to help you move or enlist friends, and of course, pay a deposit and first and last month’s rent at your new place.  Trying to pay for all of the expenses can be quite difficult – especially  when you have to factor inpaying the deposit and first and last month’s rent.  If you are looking to move but are not sure that you can afford the deposit, read below for 5 tips to help you save money so that you can afford it. (more…)

Ways to Improve Resident Retention

A high rise apartment building with big windows and balconies towers over the camera.The most successful residential properties are the ones that don’t have to cycle through waves and waves of new residents every time a batch of leases is up. Indeed, one of the most important numbers to pay attention to when running a property is the rate of resident retention. Having a low retention rate means constantly needed to use resources to try to find new residents. Instead of getting stuck in that mess, it is often much more productive to simply find a way to make your residents happy enough to stay. Naturally, you will always have people who need to move after their leases are up, but it’s better if this number stays on the low side. Here’s some ideas on how to improve resident retention.

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Benefits of Renters Insurance

A smiling man is illustrated holding an umbrella that says "insurance" across it. It is raining.Sometimes, it can be stressful to rent property when you afraid that you could be held legally and financially accountable to many of the inadvertent disasters that can happen to your home. This is certainly understandable! However, there is a solution that can help renters have a little peace of mind during the duration of their lease. That solution is renters insurance. Most places that rent property to live in will offer renters insurance to their residents. Here’s some of the benefits that renters insurance is able to provide… (more…)

Necessary Expenses for Landlords in Winter

A man in blue jeans and boots uses a black snow shovel to clear the snow off of a sidewalk.Winter, while bringing along wonderful things like the holidays and good spirits, can also bring about a few negative factors, such as increased expenses for landlords. While tenants can pay things like increased energy costs, there are definitely several expenses that will have to come from whoever is managing the property. Here’s a list of some of the costs that winter brings to landlords… (more…)

Breaking Your Lease

A lease agreement sits on a blue clipboard. Someone's key and glasses sit alongside it.There are many different reasons why someone might want to break their lease, and very few of them aren’t born of circumstance. There are many situations, however, that can make this a difficult process. This is why it is very important to figure out a plan for breaking a lease as early as you can. At the very least, having a good reason for it will make your landlord more likely to work with you. Here’s some tips on the process of breaking your lease… (more…)

Rental, Sweet Rental: Making a Rental a Home

nice kitchenSo, you’re renting an apartment or townhome, and you want to make it feel more like a home. Renting property is extremely convenient for those who are always on the move and for those who are waiting to buy a home, but one major downside to renting is how it can put restrictions on how you decorate. The good news? There is almost always a workaround, and your rental can feel like a home. Here are some tips to organizing and decorating your rental space so that it is truly a place that you can call home. (more…)

Displaying Artwork without Putting Holes in Your Walls

artwork leaning against wallOne of the most frustrating things about living in a rental home has got to be not being able to put holes in the walls. The good news, however, is that you can do a lot more with rental walls than you may think; all you need are the right tools and a few tips to keep in mind. Looking to make your rental walls a little more decorative? Here are five essential tips for sprucing up your rental walls. (more…)