How to Make Your Apartment Spotless

Find your inner Monica Geller because it’s cleaning time! Here is my easy to follow, mom-approved cleaning checklist.

Daily

  • Make your bed and pick up after yourself. If you clean up after yourself as you go, your weekly cleaning should take less than an hour total.
  • Take out the garbage as needed.
  • Clean your dishes after meals. I know it sucks but 3-4 minutes after dinner will be easier than 45 minutes at the end of the week when you have the rest of your apartment to clean.
  • Hang up your towel and let that air dry. Don’t throw it in the bottom of your hamper; it will be all moldy and gross if its wet for a week.
  • Clean up countertops after dinner. If you’re leaving out scraps of food and crumbs, expect ants.
  • Clothes go back in the closet, not on the floor.

Weekly

Bathroom

  • Clean mirrors with windex.
  • Clean sink with bleach/sink cleaner.
  • Wipe down surfaces with a rag and 409.
  • Clean toilet (use one of those toilet wands, so easy and not gross at all)
  • Clean floors with Swiffer, get both the Swiffer Sweeper and Wet Jet.
  • Clean shower and check for mold! (Even the cleanest showers are susceptible to mold. If you find some, buy shower mold cleaner. You just spray it on the mold, let it sit for 10 minutes, and wash it off)
  • Wash towels either every week or every other week.

Kitchen

  • Run the dishwasher
  • Clean kitchen counters
  • Clean kitchen appliances: lift up microwave and clean under, clean microwave, wash outside of refrigerator.
  • Clean kitchen sink.
  • Clean floors with Swiffer.
  • Clean out refrigerator and throw out any spoiled food.

Mother Tip: Keep open baking powder in fridge to eliminate any odors

Living Spaces

  • Dust furniture, inside and underneath bookshelves and other nooks like around your bed and behind artwork. Dust is everywhere.
  • Clean TV and computer screens with surface cleaner
  • Clean doorknobs
  • Wipe down all surfaces
  • Clean all floors either with either a vacuum and/or Swiffer, get under rugs.
  • Laundry. Do it. Don’t wait.
  • Remake your bed with fresh sheets.
  • Sweep outside in front of your door.

Monthly

  • Wipe inside bathroom drawers
  • Dust baseboards
  • Clean windowsills
  • Clean windows
  • Clean inside fridge

Mother Tip: A cheap but effective cleaner is white vinegar and water. Cleans everything!

Some of you may want to complete your weekly cleaning all on the weekend, while others may want to break it up each day. Happy cleaning!

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Guide to Moving Out of Your Apartment

Now that you’ve procured an awesome new studio on the Westside, there’s another aspect to getting a new place. Moving out of your apartment doesn’t just consist of renting a van and throwing shit in the back of your truck. You have to be organized and methodical about the entire process, from dealing with your landlords, calculating truck size and space to save money, to packing things carefully so you don’t smash your microwave when you unload. And because Mum’s not always going to be there to help organize and label everything, we’ll try to fill in the gaps with these tips.

Dealing with landlords

Beware! They are the lords of the land. The last thing you want to do is end up on Judge Judy countersuing a landlord over a few grand. Be as transparent and easy as possible. Breaking leases or moving out on short notice is a headache for them, especially when they have only a few days to get it up on craigslist, start showing the apartment, and finally signing another deal with another bonehead like you. It’s a vicious cycle. So if you approach them with some gratitude and lightness, you’ll get a lot farther. My old man always says,

You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

…Or something like that. What he means is that, it’s easier to get what you want by flattering people and being polite to them than by making demands and being a prick. They deal with that on a daily basis; throw a wrench in their day, but for the better. I’m not saying be a pushover and lay down, but there are ways to get what you want than don’t involve losing your head. Here are some things you can avoid when moving out.

Remember to turn off all utilities

Remember the process it took just to get water, gas, and cable set up in your 40 x 40 sqft studio? Yeah, you have to do it again. Make sure you hop online and discontinue auto-pay and find out when Time Warner (or whoever) will come to get their equipment. You don’t want to be paying for power you don’t use Oh, also don’t forget to redirect your mail, I’m probably certain the new tenant won’t want your monthly subscription to Sluts magazine.

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Planning the move

Where are you going and what are you taking? Sometimes if you move into a smaller place, your skis that you used once in college are going to have to go. Can you ditch some stuff and get your buddies pick-up truck or does this job require a Uhaul? Let’s face it, it probably requires a Uhaul because you have so much shit that has sentimental value you just can’t let it go. Whoever thought having regular people self-pack and transport their belongings is a good idea is a real fucker. The only rooms I packed and unpacked were my college dorms, and even then I packed my clothes in trash bags, and threw shit underneath the bed or out the window if I didn’t know what to do with it.

So making a reservation at Uhaul requires some inquiry and patience. See, the $19.99 price on the side of the truck really doesn’t mean much because you’re going to have to pay a lot more than $19.99. That just covers the rental of the truck, it costs to drive the sucker too. It’s upwards of 89 cents/mile, so make sure you calculate your mileage and if you want to add any hazard insurance or some furniture cloth that eerily reminds me of what the smallpox blankets white settlers gave to Native Americans might have looked like, that’ll be a bit extra, partner. C’mon, that was funny.

Calculate how much truck space you need because You don’t want to pay for more space than you want. Start eyeing your furniture to see how things might fit together. Grab a tape measure and start measuring the width of things. A 10ft uhaul will usually fit a studio apartment. But if you have a buddy who will do this for you, that works too.

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Pro-tip: don’t forget to buy a padlock. The trucks don’t have locks, you need your own if you want to leave it overnight. I don’t know about you, but I’m more afraid of finding a homeless guy in there than getting my stuff stolen.

Box it up, carefully

For a one bedroom you’ll probably need about 5 or six medium size boxes. It’s important you also bring a Sharpie to label each box before you pack it. It’s hard to draw on the side when it’s already packed. If you need help, here’s a video on how to make a strong and sturdy box.

Move from one side of the room to the other in one fell swoop; don’t jump around. Each space should have it’s own box. Keep a trashcan in the middle of the room to throw away junk you don’t need. This time can also double as spring cleaning. If you have artwork that you’re awesome friend Sadie made you, be sure to wrap it in a t-shirt and even some bubble wrap. The idea is to make sure you know where you put everything! You know what’s worse that packing? Unpacking. No I just made that up; they both suck.

Remember to not pack all of your cleaning supplies. You will need a swiffer, a vacuum, 409, paper towels, a duster.

Grab a buddy and be grateful

Carrying a bed is hard. It’s one of those appliances that are literally only good for what they are designed to do. You at least need your strong neighbor to help you. Make sure you give them all the information about where to be at what time and don’t forget to compensate them for helping you. It’s not fun getting up early on your day off to lift some heavy shit in the sun. Offer to buy them lunch or a 6 pack; it doesn’t hurt if you’re cute. It also doesn’t hurt if you have another friend on-call as back-up in case the first guy get’s sick or can’t make it.

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Concurrently, communication about your moving out date needs to be addressed with your landlord. If you’re subleasing, make sure they know what’s going on with the contracts and cash flow. That’s all anybody ever cares about; the name of the game is to not get fu*ked. Talk to them about where to leave the final check and keys and how you will receive your security deposit back.

Clean clean clean

Now that everything is packed and in the truck, it’s time to clean that thing like if Dexter and Monk had a baby (serial killer/OCD spotless). The apartment should look exactly how you found it. Part of that security deposit goes to cleaning the place for the next tenant, spend an hour making that thing look great and it’ll pay off. Dust all the windows, blinds, and high surfaces, clean the sink and countertops, vacuum everything even the ceilings and closets, then sweep, then swiffer (wet kind) all the floors, and as any good college kid knows, soak that place in Febreeze.

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You’re done!

Make sure you have somebody to receive you on the other end and help you unload. Return the truck with the same amount of gas you started with, or they’ll charge you.

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Grown-up Things | Moving in Together

Maybe it’s been months, or even years that you’ve contemplated moving in with your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner. But there’s a whole range of reasons and fears that prevent you from doing so. Your parents, friends and colleagues think you’re too young. Or maybe you’re just not ready to give up all of your gross habits. I am twenty-one and have been living happily with my boyfriend for almost two years. We both have busy schedules, so sharing an apartment makes it easier to hang out. If the thought of moving in with your significant other feels exciting, and even a little scary, go for it! Our culture makes this seem like such a grown-up marriage thing, but it really doesn’t have to be. We all need a home. Here’s what you should consider before making the move:

Observe their current living habits

I know you might be unconditionally in love with this person, but you have to treat them like a roommate for a second. If you’re a neat and tidy person and your partner is not, this will cause serious issues. You’ll end up resenting them for never washing the dishes and may take this frustration out in other damaging ways. Harmony in habit = harmony in the relationship.

Splitting up rent & other expenses

Figure out how much income is being made between the two of you and decide on a proportional rent budget. It’s best to make things as fair as possible. If your partner makes more money than you do per month, they should pay more rent. Then look at other expenses, like water & gas, internet, and electricity. Split the most expensive one and divide the others. Do your grocery shopping together – it’s fun and cheap(ish)! You can split the bill according to your grocery budgets.

You will share literally EVERYTHING

You’re going to sleep in the same bed, share all your groceries, use the same shower products, pee in the same toilet, you name it! Unless of course you buy something ridiculously expensive and/or personal and want it all for yourself, which is totally understandable. You’re also going to be sharing emotions. We all have our fluctuations of happy and sad, and you might see a side to each other you never knew before. But if you create a support system and separate the effects of the day-to-day grind from your love life, the relationship will prosper.

Credit: http://bit.ly/1k0hlY5

Have a life outside the home/relationship

Let’s be real – we all get annoyed with each other eventually. She hates the way you talk to her, and the way you cut your hair. You hate the way she drives your car, and you hate it when she stares. But 99% of the time, you both just need some space. It’s healthy to miss each other every once in a while. Go to the club with your girlfriends, sing-a-long with Taylor Swift, talk shit. Wake n’ bake with the bros and play FIFA all day. Whatever. By the end of the day you won’t care that she forgot to get quarters for laundry. Again.

Credit: 10 Things I Hate About You

Clarify your intentions

Moving in with your significant other means different things to different people. For some, it is very serious and considered a pre-marriage step. For others, it can be fun and casual. Communicate why you want to live together. However, if you are considering the move strictly for financial benefit, I would suggest holding off for a while. This next step in your relationship should be based on the love and passion you have for each other, not temporary financial convenience. It is also important to note that uncertainty about the future is ok. We are young, and most of the time life does not go according to plan. Just make sure you communicate a mutual openness to the changes that will come.

Have a plan for when shit hits the fan

You made an adult decision to move in together, so you have to act like adults if you break up. Put both names on the lease so that you are equally responsible for rent. That way neither of you will get screwed over with all the costs later on. Have a back-up place to stay while figuring out your next move, otherwise it’s going to be pretty awkward sharing the same bathroom and kitchen with your ex. Also, be aware of who paid for what possessions so that you can take what is rightfully yours upon moving out.

Living with your sig. other will be tough at times, but mostly (hopefully) it will be a blast! There’s nothing better than creating unforgettable memories with someone you love, and sharing a home is just an extension of that.

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, and difficulty.”                  – Theodore Roosevelt

Getting Approved: Ways Around Rental Red Flags

So, you know about what the landlords are looking for when weeding out the tenant pool. For some of you, that list may have been a stress reliever. For others, it may have been slightly panic inducing (sorry…).

If any of the red flags I mentioned earlier apply to you, take a breath.

There is a way around them.

Money

swag animated GIF Most landlords will agree to accept a larger security deposit (think 2-3 months rent) as a means of approval to cover a wide variety of potential issues.

Low Credit Score

The golden number for approval is 620. If your credit score is below this line, be upfront with the landlord and be ready to explain the low score. Ask the landlord ahead of time if they allow NRGs [Non Resident Guarantors] and ask a family member with a higher score if they will co-sign the lease with you.

No Credit or Rental History

Get a credit card. Start with a low limit + pay it off every month. A year long history of on-time payments will boost your score and give you the credit history you need to rent. No rental history? Use your dorm address[es] and list your campus Residence Life as your landlord.

Income Rank

If your income does not meet requirements, you need to look for a cheaper place. Pay check to pay check living is terrifying. Trust me on this one.

(I know, I said I had solutions to every red flag. You’ll thank me later when you have $$ to buy a house one day)

Cashable Assets

If you don’t have a lot saved up, you have two options:

Option A: Wait until you have more money

Option B: Ask your boss to write a letter saying that you are a good employee and that they have no desire to let you go in the foreseeable future (think 6 months). Most landlords will accept that (with a larger deposit) and agree to lease to you.

Move History

Explain. Have detailed reasons why you left and references to back them up. Old place was infested with bugs? You’ll need pictures, emails and receipts to prove it.

Employment History­­

Again, reference letters are your best bet. The “promise of employment” letter I mentioned earlier will also help you here. Still in college? Get a professor and/or an advisor to write a letter about what a great student you are and what you plan to do in the future.

Criminal Record

This is one you definitely must be up front about. The best way to get ahead is to do a background check on yourself here or here. Whatever shows up on this record, will show up on your landlord’s search. Be honest + explain what happened. If possible, provide a reference letter from someone involved in your court process. As long as you have a non-violent record and the arrest/citation is over a year old, you should be clear to rent after talking to the landlord.

Overall, honesty is the best policy. A good landlord will be appreciative of your willingness to be upfront and honest about your past. They may still charge you more for a lease, but hey – at least you’ll get approved.

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Red Flags Landlords Look For in Renters

This article is in a series of articles that cover the basics of what you need to know about apartment living. 

If you have ever been turned down by a landlord because of a clearance issue, I feel for you. It sucks. It’s stressful and the thought of moving back (or staying) with your parents is driving you nuts. It seems like everyone is keeping vital renting information from you.

Well, they’re not. They more than likely had to learn about the rental process the hard way too.

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I work in real estate. I know from experience how frustrating it can be when you are looking for a new place AND how irritating it is when a potential renter or buyer is unprepared for the process.

Now, (most) landlords are not looking to screw you over. They have a building and they want to fill it. If their building is empty, then they don’t get paid. Landlords are, however, easily frustrated when they have to waste time on an unqualified applicant. Time is money. And in real estate, money is all that matters.

To help make this experience as pleasant as possible for you and your potential landlord, check out these 6 things that you need to know before you even start looking for an apartment:

Your Credit Score

The golden number for renting a new place is 620 (and that’s the lowest of the low). Below that, you are considered HRD (high risk to default) and most landlords will not lease to you. Landlords who rent to individuals with low credit scores often charge more for less desirable places (FYI- these complexes also tend to be sketch af).

Income Rank

Landlords measure your income against your rent on a scale. In most large cities, your monthly take home income needs to be 3x’s your monthly rent. In places like NYC and LA, this may increase to 4 or even 5x’s. Example: You must take home $2,100/month after taxes to afford a $700/month apartment.

Cashable Assets

Landlords may ask to see your bank statements to prove you have savings just in case the worst happens. Many even require proof of 3 months’ worth of savings to rent. They may also ask for additional assets you could use to pay rent (ie a car with no loan payment) if you were to lose your job.

Criminal Record

If you have ever spent time in a drunk tank or have been arrested and/or cited for any other reason, it will show up on tenant background checks. In addition, outstanding warrants (ex: unpaid traffic or parking tickets) may show up as well. If you’ve been implicated in a domestic violence situation, have more than 2 traffic stops in the last 12 months or have more than 3 arrests on your record, then you will not be qualified to rent from most landlords.

Move History

For my former company, if you were not a student or military and moved in the same state more than 2 times in the past 5 years, you were automatically flagged as a potential lease breaker. Be prepared to convince the landlord that you are not and you just wanted a change of environment or that your past landlord was a weirdo.

Employment History

If you constantly change jobs or the landlord can’t tell on paper where your career is going, then you will be flagged as a risky renter. Landlords want to be sure that their tenants have stable employment so they don’t get stiffed on rent.

If you can check off these boxes, then you should be able to get approval wherever you want to rent!   If you don’t, don’t worry. There are things you can do to circumvent these issues. That information is coming very soon.

But for now!

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