6 Fun Ways to Decorate Your Apartment Without Violating Your Lease

If you’ve read your lease (and you definitely should), it more than likely contains a “Damages” provision. This nasty paragraph delineates how you can “modify” or decorate your new space. These provisions often have strict rules that, if violated, can give the landlord cause to withhold your security deposit. After reading that, most people give up on their *dream* of an apartment that represents their style.

There are plenty of ways you can decorate your apartment without violating your lease!

Get some green

Plants are a great way to add some color and culture to your apartment. Put them literally anywhere.

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Be creative with storage

Your storage (especially for my studio dwelling friends) must double as decoration. Paint an older piece of furniture a bright color or switch the drab (and ugly…) plastic storage bins out for sturdy cloth bins with cool fabrics (find some budget friendly ones here.) Better yet, raid an estate sale for some older antiques + #upcycle them.

Decorate with stickers

Many of us have lease restrictions on nails + screws in the walls. Which sucks. But, removable wall stickers have come SUCH a long way in recent years. These stickers (typically made of vinyl) can be great ways to add a little color and personality to your drab walls! Many of these companies also sell “gallery wall” strips + “frames” so you can add your favorite pictures and prints to the mix! You’ll find some amazing options here.

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Customize Your Countertops

I don’t know about you, but my countertops look like they are from the 1960s. They are a lovely (ha) off white plastic material that never looks clean. My solution? Countertop covers. These are basically the same as wall stickers but for your countertops. They are easy to clean and remove AND they leave no reside behind! Contact Paper and Washi Tape also make for rental friendly counter top reno- check out my favorite tutorial here.

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Mirrors

Mirrors are a great way to bring light to your space. They also make your apartment seem bigger than it is! Check out some fun ones here.772f024101ca978579f7656bb779ce06

Give your floor some love

Even if you lucked out + found a place with great floors, rugs are an amazing way to personalize your space and add some color. If you’re in a studio, rugs are the best way to organize your separate living spaces. You’ll find some great ones at a trading post/flea market + you can find some of my favorites here.

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If these idea’s aren’t working for you (or just are not in your budget), you can always revert to the old standbys: command strips and hooks, tapestries, hanging lanterns and lights. All of these will help make your space pop without doing any permanent damage to your place!

Happy decorating!

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Cheerfully Cheap Holiday Décor

Shout out to all my fellow procrastinators- you’re not alone and you’re not a bad person. But Christmas and New Year’s Eve are right around the corner, and considering they only come once a year, the time to put up decorations would be now! Whether your parents are paying a visit or you’re just feeling the holiday spirit, there are a few somewhat effortless and cheap ways to deck the halls in the knick of time.

Christmas Tree

Remember when you used to beg your parents for the biggest and baddest tree in the lot? Yeah, well, what we don’t remember is that that Douglas Fir was about 600 bucks. If spending rent money on a disposable tree isn’t really your thing, head to Vons or Home Depot for a mini version starting at just $24. You can then place it on your kitchen table or a spacious corner in the living room. If you wanna get a little extra creative and even cost-efficient, buy a cactus! It’s an interesting twist on the pine tradition, plus, you can have it on display year-round. And if you’re extra lazy, put some pine branches in a nice vase. As for ornaments, local drugstores and the 99 cents store should have a pretty decent selection.

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Put branches in a vase. | 21 Ways To Decorate A Small Space For The Holidays:

Lights

OK, so they might be a pain in the ass to put up but once you do you might not ever want to take them down. Multi-colors are fun and festive, while white lights are a bit more universal and wintery. Get a hammer and some nails and go to town. Here’s some Pinspo:

I would love to have a light like the one at the Intercontenital Hotel in Buckhead, Atlanta, GA. There's a switch by your bed that turns on the restroom light. Great for the hotel and ideal for the home!!: wine bottle lights. these are perfect for lining the top of the bar, instead of boring empty bottles: super cute idea.:

 

Advent Calendar

Starbucks and Lindt chocolates has one and that’s all you need to know 😀

Treat yo self

Mistletoe

Adventure time: Walk around your neighborhood and look for a pine tree. Once you’ve found said pine tree, steal a little cluster and be on your merry way. Go to a fabric store (Michael’s) and get some red ribbon. Nail the strand above a doorway and voila! You have your very own homemade mistletoe. Don’t get a room.

Party Favors

If you end up being the hostess you gotta at least try to have the mostest. It’s actually quite cheap and easy to add some flare to your party.

Find a shiny piece of fabric or tinsel from Party City and hang it on your wall for a photo backdrop:

Photo Backdrop - Top 32 Sparkling DIY Decoration Ideas For New Years Eve Party:

Provide your peeps with some cool hair pieces

DIY this star garland crown for New Year's Eve.:

Bitches love balloons

Gisele Bündchen ♥ Terry Richardson:

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8 Days of Jewish Guys | Crafting your DIY Men-orah

One afternoon I was casually stalking my girl crush Mindy Kaling on Instagram, and somehow ended up on her assistant’s profile (admit it, we have all been there). After scrolling about 40 weeks back, I came across the greatest Holiday DIY decoration… the MEN-orah. There was Mindy Kaling’s assistant, holding a collage of men on top of a picture of a menorah. Pure magic. Since my stalking took place in September, I took a screenshot and a mental note to recreate this incredible masterpiece in December.

As soon as December 1 rolled around, I whipped out my crayons and crafted my perfect men-orah. For all my Jewish ladies (and shiksas too), here are my instructions on how to create your very own men-orah. It’s a great Hanukkah arts-and-crafts activity to do with your girlfriends.

Decide on your 9 men. Now Mindy’s assistant included photos of non-Jewish men, but I wanted to make this men-orah kosher…so only men of the tribe made the cut. This was more difficult than I thought it would be, because there are actually a plethora of nice Jewish boys to choose from. I ultimately decided on Adam Levine, Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Drake, Jake Gyllenhal, James Franco, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Paul Rudd, and Skylar Astin.

Find the sweetest pics of your gents on Google and copy them to a word document. You’re also welcome to find pictures in magazines, but being a type A personality, I wanted all my photos to be roughly the same size. If you’re following my organized ways, crop and resize the photos to be about an inch wide. Print and cut the photos.

On a piece of paper, draw your menorah. I drew mine so it took up most of the page.

Glue those handsome fellows onto the candles.

VOILA! Customize as you please, but your men-orah is complete.

Here is a picture of my drool worthy men-orah. You don’t even need a lighter, this baby lights up the room on its own.FullSizeRender_8

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Subletting | DO’s and DON’Ts

Subletting, essentially, is renting part or all of your leased property to another person or entity. Legally speaking, this does not just mean having someone take over your lease when you leave town for a few months. Subleasing also applies when you add someone to your lease (i.e. a significant other or a new roommate). However, unless your lease contains specific subleasing information, then you need to first seek clarification from your landlord or else you could find yourself in a sticky legal situation. And let’s be real, how many twenty somethings can afford to keep an attorney on retainer? To save you money and paperwork, check out the list below!

Understand the Legality

When you sublease to someone, you are entering into an official legal relationship with them. Both of you are contractually bound to the terms of the sublease- so make sure you understand who and what parties and terms are involved.

Second, you are still bound by the terms of your lease to your landlord. Make sure the sublease does not violate these terms.

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Rates

If you are leaving town for a few months, it is pointless to switch utilities over to the [sub]leasee’s name. Make sure that the rent you are charging them covers the use of all utilities they will be using during their lease. Set up automatic payments and monitor the account for over usuage.

Research Your Tenant

I don’t care if you are subleasing to your best friend or your best friends mom, if you do not do a background check on this person you are putting all of your assets at risk. If said best friend has a crappy rental record and trashes your place, then you will be out a security deposit and have a tarnish on your rental record.

Get a Security Deposit

You must require a security deposit. The best option is to require the same amount [plus any fees required by your landlord] that you put down on the place.

Worried about accidentally spending the security deposit? Have them write a cashier’s check for you and hold said check for the entirety of their lease.

Above all, you must be able to trust the person you are sub-leasing to. If the person seems sketch, move on to the next tenant.

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15 Questions You Must Ask Your Landlord Before You Sign

In my experience, everyone thinks they know what to ask a landlord at the first meeting. However, most of those practical questions fly out the window the moment you step into a potential new place. Unfortunately, starry-eyed renters often get taken advantage of.

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To help you avoid this, I’ve come up with a list of questions you should ask a potential landlord the first time you meet them. Make sure you take this list with you and write the landlord’s answers down. It will be helpful in the future!

About rent

  • When is rent due?
  • And how much is it?
  • Are there penalties for late payments?

For example, in my building rent is due the 1st of the month. But it’s not considered late until the 3rd. After that, it’s a 10% late fee. If that fee isn’t paid with the rent, it gets fined an additional 15%. Which can add up quickly.

If the numbers don’t fit your budget, leave. This is not your new home.

  • How long is the lease?
  • What are the lease breaking fees?
  • Renewal Policy?

It’s also important to note the lease breaking fees. If you may be moving out of state or are looking at jobs out of state, make sure you sign for a place with low fees!

  • Is subletting allowed?
  • Are there fees involved?

Also of importance: Subletting. If its not allowed you could face eviction and/or civil charges depending on the zoning of your building.

Fees and utilities

  • What utilities are included in the rent?
  • What is the approximate cost for utilities that are not included in the rent?
  • Is there laundry on site?

These questions are important because it lets you see how you can fit the utilities into your budget. If laundry is not included, you may end up spending more on dry cleaning or other sources than you imagined. If this gets too close to your budget line, move on to the next property.

  • How is routine maintenance completed for the unit?

Be very very very (and I’ll say it again) very careful of places where there is no clear maintenance or policy.

  • Do you require renters insurance?

I don’t care if they do or not. You need renters insurance. Protect your shit. You’ll thank me later.

Pet Policy

  • Am I allowed to have pets?
  • If I don’t have one now, and I get one at a later date, will my lease change?

First, if you have a pet, don’t even consider looking at places that don’t take them. That’s just mean.

Secondly, make sure any and all pet fees fit within your budget. If they don’t, move on to the next property. You and Fido will be much happier. Trust me.

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PRO TIP: After you have your answers, do some research. First, find out who actually owns the property. Tax records are public + can be found on most county websites. Once you know who the owner is, look at the tax records + verify that they have been paid. It’s also helpful to look and see how many people/companies have owned the property in the past ten years. If the owner is an individual, do a background check. You can find them here. If the owner is a company, check your state’s Secretary of State Website to make sure that the company is registered correctly. If they are not, don’t sign a lease with them.

Happy Hunting!

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How to Get your Medical Marijuana Card in California, Hint: It’s Really Easy

Unless you live under a very large rock, you’ve likely caught whiff of California’s lax rules surrounding medical marijuana. You might have heard your dealer rambling about his plan to move to “the promise land,” or maybe you’ve seen a green cross sticker on your California cousin’s laptop. Either way, we know you’ve heard the rumors. We’re simply here to outline the rules and tell you how you, yes you, can smoke totally legally!

What do the rules say?

While the federal government still recognizes marijuana as a schedule 1 prohibited substance (grouped in the same category as cocaine and heroin), the feds have much bigger fish to fry and let states enforce their own rules on medical marijuana. In California, medical marijuana has been legal under Prop 215 and Senate Bill 420 since 1996. As a medical patient, you can buy weed in any California dispensary, carry up to 8 ounces on your person, and smoke legally on private property. Yes you heard it; you can smoke legally if you have your medical card.

Who can get a medical card?

While medical marijuana has shown to help treat patients with serious physical illness such as cancer and glaucoma, California also recognizes marijuana’s medicinal benefits on a list of “illnesses” that almost every living person “has.” Let me just say that if you have any amount of anxiety, physical pain, trouble sleeping, high stress levels, or literally any persistent medical symptom that limits your ability to conduct major life activities (such as eating, sleeping, walking, etc.), you are eligible to smoke legally. If you can think of even one way that marijuana “helps” you live a better life, you are eligible. And no need to be picky, because California marijuana doctors certainly aren’t.tumblr_n6ceyuiMN81s15nabo1_500

How to get your card

Now for what you’ve been waiting for, how to actually get your card. Here’s what you need:

  • California State ID or Driver’s license
  • A brief excuse for why marijuana helps you
  • About $60 cash

First, let’s start with how to get the CA state ID or driver’s license. If you already have a CA state ID or drivers’ license, you can skip this step. This is the hardest part by far. You have two options here. If you choose to get a California driver’s license, you have to take the written driving test at a California DMV, prove residency, show a government issued ID (passport always works) and wait about 2 weeks for a driver’s license to show up at your door. I suggest however, that you go the easy route and apply for a CA state ID. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Visit a DMV office (make an appointment for faster service)
  • Complete application form DL 44 (An original DL 44 form must be submitted. Copies will not be accepted.)
  • Give a thumb print
  • Have your picture taken
  • Provide your SSN. It will be verified with the Social Security Administration while you are in the office.
  • Verify your birth date and legal presence (you may use your California driver license)
  • Pay the $21 application fee. There is no fee for a senior citizen ID card.

Once you’ve visited the DMV and have gotten either a California ID or drivers’ license, you are ready to visit a weed doctor! (Sometimes the DMV can take up to 3 weeks to mail your new ID, be patient!) There are hundreds of doctors in California that are licensed to recommend people for medical marijuana use, and if you are in any major California city, you’ll find it almost impossible to miss the big, green, “420 Doctor Recommendations Here!” signs sprinkled literally everywhere. Or you can always look up marijuana doctors on your favorite search engine and you will be sure to find a doctor within a short drive.

As soon as you settle on a doctor to visit, bring your California ID and a little cash with you and you are almost guaranteed to walk out of the doctor’s office with a laminated medical marijuana prescription recommendation. Just make sure to be honest about how marijuana has the ability to improve your life functions and almost no California medical doctor will deny you. Once you’ve gotten your ID, recommendation, and a little spending money, you are ready for the fun part… visiting your first marijuana dispensary! Stay tuned to The Daily Twenties to learn more about what the inside of a pot-shop actually looks like!

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Applying for a Student Loan for Grad School

When I decided to go to grad school my parents said “this one is on you.” AKA they weren’t going to help me figure out the elfish language that is student loans. They say it would be a learning experience, but I know its because they didn’t want me to move out.

Student loans for graduate school are completely different than for undergraduate degrees and my parents did that one for me so this was a completely new experience. Let me breakdown the process for you from beginning to end.

Get your taxes done

You are going to need this information when you fill out the FAFSA. It would be best to get them done early in January or February. Get TurboTax, take them to H&R Block, or have your friend do it.

Fill out the FAFSA

This is usually due the first few days in March. You have to fill it out before then. The FAFSA is pretty difficult to fill out, which is why you should have your tax return sitting in front of you while you do it. You can pretty much go line by line and plug in the numbers straight from there

Figure out which schools you are applying to

FUN FACT: You can apply for your loan before you’ve gotten into your university (I think everyone knew this but me). Once you fill out the FAFSA, the government will cross check with your university to make sure you actually applied there and aren’t just trying to get massive amounts of money.

Apply on studentloans.gov

Pretty straightforward after the FAFSA. They’re going to run a credit check on you and then you fill out the application, complete a Master Promissory Note and Entrance Counseling.

Know your loans: Subsidized, Unsubsidized, and PLUS

Subsidized loans are awesome because the U.S. government pays interest on them while you are in school. The not so awesome thing is that you can’t get a subsidized loan as a graduate student. However, this is good to know because you can defer the loans you have from your undergraduate degree while you are in grad school – LOANS ON LOANS ON LOANS. Unsubsidized loans begin accruing interest the moment it is disbursed to you. PLUS loans are the same but the interest rates are higher so you’ll want to take out an unsubsidized loan for as much as you can before you take out your PLUS loan.

It’s scary and not very fun and overwhelming to think about how much money you’re going to owe at the end of it. The thing that keeps me sane is that the end of the world will probably come before I pay it back, so I’m all good!

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Stylish Houseplants to Spice Up Your Boring Apartment

Plants are one of the greatest gifts of nature. They purify the air, are a source of nutrition, and give aesthetic pleasure to mankind. If you’re looking to add some vitality to your naked apartment, getting a houseplant is a great way to start. Look at it this way- would you rather spend $400 at Ikea buying piece of shit rugs, throw pillows, and a canvas print of some street in Paris, or spend $30 or less on a beautiful, everlasting plant?

The best places to find cool plants at reasonable prices are local garden centers and flea markets. Avoid trendy floral shops as they significantly mark up their prices. Mini succulents and cacti should be in the $3-$5 range, whereas larger houseplants can go up to $50 depending on the size.

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Photos taken by me at the Melrose Flea Market

Plants are like pets- they need TLC! So before you go out and buy your first baby, figure out where in your home it will grow best. Place smaller plants on a sunny windowsill, like in your bedroom or kitchen. This will give them the perfect amount of indirect sunlight. If you want to place them outdoors, make sure it gets enough shade during the day, because too much direct sunlight can be detrimental to the plant.unnamed

In addition to their daily dose of Vitamin D, water is crucial to a plant’s lifespan. However, every plant is different. For example, succulents and cacti retain moisture because they have evolved to survive in dry deserts. Therefore, they do not require as much water as, say, a fern. So Dr. Greenthumb, meet Dr. Google. Find out exactly what type of plant you have and do some research- some plants have more specific care requirements than others. You wouldn’t want this to go down the toilet like your beta fish Theodore did last month. 🙁

All technicalities aside, have fun and get creative with your plants! There are tons of different ways to hang and pot your plant. Go to Color Me Mine and make a custom cactus pot. Buy a trough or bowl so you can grow multiple succulents at a time. Get some fishing wire and a drill and hang one from the ceiling in your living room! For more ideas, check out all of the plant-inspo on Pinterest.

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Finding the Perfect Place: Websites and Apps

So you’ve got your credit in order and you know what neighborhood you want to live in, now you just need to find your new place. There are hundreds of apartment search websites out there. Some are good…and others are…

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Creepy af. To avoid becoming part of a slasher flick and/or wasting your precious time, check out the list below:

Craigslist

We all know Craiglist is sketchy. If you didn’t know, now you do. So my first piece of advice is be cautious.

If you see an ad that shows a property that is hundreds less than the area is known for it’s is too good to be true.

The posters typically send you an email asking for you to go online and pay $35 for a background check following “X” link. Seems easy enough right?

WRONG. The “landlord” gets a cut of the amount you pay for the background check and these websites have been known to hack your email and rip you off. Which, given the onset of Apple Pay + the amount of personal info we keep in our emails, makes this entire situation a disaster in the making.

I can’t count how many of my friends have fallen prey to this scam – take my advice and stay far far away.

Facebook

In case you have forgotten, Facebook groups are still a thing. And they can be incredibly useful when trying to find an apartment and/or a roommate.

If you search your Facebook for “[Insert City] Housing/Roommate Search”, almost all of you will find a group to join. Unlike other housing search options, Facebook requires that you put yourself out there with the knowledge that a potential landlord or roomie is going to creep on you and your social media.

Once you can get over that awkward factor, these groups can be a great way to connect with young professionals in your area and meet potential landlords. Also, because they are social media based, you often don’t have the obvious creep factor that comes with Craigslist.

PadMapper

This site seems great in theory- you can search by neighborhood, home style, roommate situation and price. However, the site managers do not verify postings and many are out of date. In my personal research, I have found that this website is great for discovering what apartment buildings are in the area, but it’s not so great at listing accurate prices. Overall, it’s an excellent start. Just make sure you do your homework.

Apartments.com

Apartments.com may be my favorite of all of these sites. Mainly, because of its creative search tools, contests, reviews from other renters and reliability. When I was searching for a place, I found that Apartments.com did a great job at verifying renters and reviewers of the various properties. In addition, they give away free rent [YES] and other perks throughout the year.

ApartmentFinder

ApartmentFinder is also an excellent resource. They are one of the oldest national searching chains and have come a long way in their customer service. My only complaint is the over emailing [it never ends] and the fact that the reviews are not as reliable as other websites. Additionally, ApartmentFinder is best used if you have a higher budget.

Trulia

While Trulia’s focus is on properties that are for sale, they still have a great reputation with apartments and rental homes. Trulia also allows you to sort through both and has an easy to use app and search tool where you can narrow your results down to minute details. Trulia offers (among other things): price-reduction dates, dollar amount price per SF, Transit Score, number of photos and popularity. Overall, Trulia is a great resource for those of you who want to rent a home and not an apartment.

Zillow

Zillow is, essentially, the paired down version of Trulia. In comparison, Zillow offers: year built, lot area, Zestimate (mortgage rate). Overall, while it is a good resource, I would skip this one and look at another option.

Pro Tip: Use multiple sources for your apartment search. Comparing the same property on different websites might even get you cheaper rent

Happy Hunting!
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Checklist for Choosing the Right Neighborhood To Live In

So, now you know how to avoid rental red flags. The next most important step in the apartment search is figuring out where you want to live. A wonderful apartment in the section of town that you hate will not do you any favors. Trust me.

Think about everything

Ask yourself: what am I missing in my current place? Why do I want to move to a new area? Asking this first will help you narrow down your “Must Haves” for your new home and neighborhood.

How long are you willing to commute?

Take a map (google your office/city by neighborhood and print one out) and draw a circle roughly 10-15 miles around with your office in the center. That is your “safe zone” assuming you drive your own car to work. Any farther then that you’ll end up spending way more on gas than you should.

Is there easy to access (and safe) public transit in your city? Yes? Expand the circle out a little farther!

The neighborhood

Do you have kids? Or see yourself having them during the term of your lease? If so, places with good schools or easy access to daycare AND work are going to be a must. Regardless of whether or not you have kids, pulling school information will give you a better sense of the neighborhood. Higher ranking schools often mean better (and more expensive) places to rent. Better school zones also mean more competition in the housing market.

Preference, place and price

What kind of place do you want to rent? A house? Townhome? Apartment? These distinctions are important as not every neighborhood caters to all three.

What do you like to do? If you like dive bars and a casual feel, check out the residential areas near those spots. If you love clubs and dressing to the nines each weekend, look for places in that part of town. If you like the low-key life, look for calmer, family friendly areas. Outdoorsy? Look for neighborhoods with easy access to parks and trails.

Have a significant other? Put their place on the map. There is nothing worse than finding a perfect place only to realize it’s an hour from your BF’s house (trust me on this one).

Can you afford it?

Above preference, it has to financially make sense.How much of your paycheck is going towards rent?You live according to the money you make, so make sure your bitchin’ bachelor pad isn’t just for show and you actually have the means to afford it. Calculate your expenses and see what you can manage.

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Grand Theft Auto: YOU

Once you have the general area narrowed down, you need to get a crime report. Living someplace with high crime may equal lower rent, but it also means your car could get stolen. You decide.

Lastly

Spend some time driving around and “living” in the community. If you have friends nearby, ask if you can stay there for a night or splurge and rent a hotel in the area to get a feel for the place.It is important to look at the shops and places you could be spending time outside the house to make sure they fit with your lifestyle.

For example: Have a dog and love going to dog parks? Love LA FITNESS? Love SoulCycle? What if these are not near you? What are you willing to give up? (hopefully none!)

Once you have your neighborhood down, you are so close to finding the perfect place. Stay tuned for more on the best ways to apartment hunt!

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