Experts Share 23 Strategies for Working from Home with Kids in Online School

Experts Share 23 Strategies for Working from Home with Kids in Online School

This year, many parents around the world have faced an unprecedented situation: working from home along with their children. And, without access to babysitters, camps, school programs or playdates, many parents have had to find new ways to balance work and family life — as well as new ways to motivate their kids to engage in their education. 

If you’re one of the many Americans who are struggling with this new — and exhausting — paradigm, don’t worry. We asked eight parenting, education and time-management experts for actionable advice on how to plan efficiently, set boundaries, motivate kids and design engaging learning environments. Below are their answers to our most pressing questions on productivity and education during the pandemic:

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How to Balance Work & Family Life

1. Discuss, Plan & Divide Work & Childcare

If you have a two-parent household or you’re living with other adults who can pitch in, your first step in finding balance is getting to know each other’s schedules and planning your working and child care time together. 

Heather Nelson, four-time published author, recommends: First and foremost, parents should dialogue together on their respective work commitments. Determine what can flex, what can move and what absolutely must be addressed. After that, look for areas where you can each step into the lead with the kids and focus on what the kids need without distractions or split focus. Kids deserve that level of engagement and, with a little planning, it’s completely doable to both work and supervise your child’s education.”

That’s not to say that the childcare needs to be evenly divided. In many situations, one caregiver may have a more demanding job than the other. 

Lindsey Wander, founder and CEO at WorldWise Tutoring, explains that, Parents with more demanding jobs can correlate schedules with the other parent to get longer, uninterrupted stretches during critical times of the day. If both parents have demanding jobs, consider hiring help.” 

Of course, help needn’t come solely from your partner. You can also engage your larger network of family and friends when you need an extra hand.

2. Use Your Plan to Compartmentalize 

Once you’ve figured out your battle plan, balance working and family time by compartmentalizing. Wander expands on this point and stresses the importance of prioritization: 

With office and school closures, our private homes have also become a hub for working and learning. This has made our normal work-life balance topple over. To help remedy this, compartmentalize your brain to separate family time and work time. When you are with your kids, be fully present. Do not try to multitask by checking emails. Give your kids your full attention during their dedicated time. If something comes up while you are with your kids, first gauge [if] it is really urgent before acting. Most emergencies’ can wait. If it is urgent and needs your immediate attention, allow your kids 15 minutes of screen time while you address the issue. 

In the same way, be totally productive when you are working. Avoid social media or texting breaks, for example. You’ll find that when you cut out the time-wasting distractions, you don’t need eight hours a day dedicated to work to achieve the same productivity.”

How to Set Boundaries for Working Time  

3. Create & Settle Into a Rhythm

Productivity experts have written hundreds of books on habit-building for a reason. A routine allows everyone in the household to settle into productive time and off-time, as well as enable all of you to stick to schedules more easily.

My best advice for organizing your time during remote learning is to keep to a rhythm every day and every week that most closely aligns with your family’s natural rhythm. Children need order and predictability to feel safe and secure. Sticking to a rhythm means you can be intentional about what your priorities are. For instance, you can all have the same wake-up time and the same sleep time. Or, you can have one adult get up early and work 6 a.m. to noon so the other adult has time for him/herself and then dedicated time with the kids, and then switch. Whatever you choose, I recommend you follow your family’s natural rhythm and habits to make it as easy as possible,” Wander said.

4. Divide Time Into Blocks 

A routine everyone can stick to day in and day out sounds fantastic. But, the fact of the matter is that it’s probably unrealistic for most households. So, use time blocks to make sure you adhere to a rhythm as much as possible. 

Carolyn Garett, parenting expert at Teach.Work.Mom, recommends: Set time blocks. They will help you to stay productive without feeling like you are neglecting your kids. There will be a time to work and a time to give attention to your kids. Plan out your schedule and set blocks of time where you can take a break from work to spend with the kids. If you give them the needed attention, they will more likely respect your work time. Kids who interrupt you all day are kids that are starved for attention. Give them their time, and they will learn to respect your time.”

When it comes to establishing this schedule, Wander advises parents, Block off times for work and school meetings first, then add in time blocks for exercising, eating, relaxing quietly and fun (baking, games, swimming, crafts). When possible, add in extra cushion time’ for transitions that you know can sometimes be challenging, like leaving the house or getting ready for bed. The key is not the specific schedule; it’s just having one. You can flex as needed if something significant comes up, but with this in place, all of you will know what your days will generally look like. Consider referencing homeschool scheduling suggestions for remote learning.”

5. Communicate with Your Supervisors

Boundaries come much easier if everyone in your home and work life is informed of your schedule and the interruptions that might arise. To that end, Nelson suggests you communicate openly and clearly with your supervisors if the situation allows it: 

Open communication with both parents’ supervisors can go a long way. The pandemic has been global. Not a single, solitary soul can claim they haven’t been touched by it. Therefore, every supervisor can appreciate that parents need a little flexibility to accommodate healthy and robust education for their kids, at least on a basic level. Set realistic goals and manage those expectations. With a little give and take, work goals can be met and kids can be actively engaged in education at the same time.”

6. Plan Your Stop Time”

Letting yourself and your kids know when you’ll stop working is another crucial factor in balancing work and family during these unprecedented times. Alexis Haselberger, time management and leadership coach at Alexis Haselberger Coaching and Consulting, explains that stop times are essential for both your productivity at work, as well as your family time:  

It doesn’t have to be the same time every day, but I’ve found that deciding in advance what time I’ll stop working on any given day helps me stay productive. When you pick a stopping time, you apply the principle of Parkinson’s Law, which states that work expands to fill the time allotted. When we lack physical boundaries between work and home, it’s important to create this time boundary. Picking a stopping time ensures that a) my work doesn’t bleed into all aspects of my life, and b) that I’m more productive because I’ve given myself a defined period to get things done. I have a certain set of things I’m trying to accomplish on any given day, and now I am essentially trying to beat the clock, which kicks me into high gear.”

Likewise, technology can be a lifesaver when it comes to stop times. 

Haselberger adds, “As far as time is concerned, your tech can be your friend. Block out your unavailable’ hours on your calendar. Maybe this is 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. when your kids are at lunch and 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for family time. During times when you are not working, set your out-of-office reply and your away message on Slack to let people know when you’ll be back online and how to reach you in an emergency.”

7. Don’t Forget About Quality Time 

Setting boundaries can become much less of a hassle if your family knows how important they are to you and that they have time dedicated to them. For instance, Sarah Miller, teacher and educational blogger, notes that it’s best to set the tech aside when you’re spending time with your loved ones.

When work time is over, it’s important to turn off the technology — including work phones and computers — so that notifications won’t draw you back in to work. Parents should be intentional in planning quality activities for family time when they are not working. If kids see that they get their parents’ undivided attention when they are not working, it can be easier for them to understand that work needs to be the priority during working hours.”

How to Manage Interruptions During Working Hours 

8. Use Visual Signage

Even if you’re a pro at setting boundaries, interruptions will happen unless you creatively remind your kids of the rules.

Haselberger explains, Signage is key. If your kids are old enough to read, post a schedule outside your workspace clearly indicating when you can be interrupted and when you can’t. If you’ve got toddlers/preschoolers, use a sign that is red on one side and green on the other to indicate when you can be interrupted. This can be on the outside of your home office door or the back of your laptop. You just want them to see it before they see you.”

9. Establish Interruption Systems

When interruptions do happen, they’re much easier to manage with a dedicated system. Elizabeth Malson, parenting expert and president of the U.S. Nanny Institute, explains how you can plan for the unexpected: 

Rather than managing interruptions one at a time, create and communicate a plan. Start by defining what an urgent issue is and what problems can wait. Go through the list and teach the children to ask themselves if the interruption is critical. Children may not think in terms of urgency, so it is important to give examples. Urgent interruptions include feeling sick, dropping a glass of water on the keyboard or a freezing computer screen. Information that can wait includes the dryer buzzing its completion, eating the last orange for a snack or their homework score on an assignment. 

After defining urgent issues, teach the children how to interrupt. If you are on a video call, can they come in without being seen on the screen? If you do not want them to come into the room, should they knock? 

The final step is to teach children how to remember the issue to talk about it later. This can mean writing a list or having them draw something to help remind them of the topic. Set aside a time of day — ideally lunch and dinnertime — to ask the children for their notes so you can discuss all the topics. Not only will this reduce interruptions, but it will also strengthen your relationship, as you dedicate time to hearing and discussing issues that are important to your children.”

10. Prevent as Much as You Manage

Miller notes, One of the best ways to manage interruptions is to try to prevent them. Make sure that your child has a comfortable work environment where they can focus on their school work. It’s also important to make sure that your child has the supplies they will need to complete assignments available. Check on your child periodically to make sure that they understand the directions for assignments or how to use the technology.”

Rebecca George, education consultant and founder at Teacher in Your Pocket, gets more specific when it comes to technology: 

Make sure that your child has the basics of managing their technology. While a 5th-grader can likely handle it all on their own, even kindergarten and pre-K students can become independent at most of the skills necessary. Ensure they know how to plug in headphones and adjust the volume, mute/unmute themselves, and teach them to plug in devices that need to charge at the end of the learning period so they will be charged and ready to go for the next day.”

How to Motivate Children in Online School

11. Find & Fix What’s Missing

If your kids struggle with motivation, the quickest fix is to observe them, find out why they’re having trouble and address the issue by filling in the blanks. 

Nelson says, As the pandemic has rolled on longer than anyone anticipated, motivation is something we’ve all struggled with. For kids, motivation can take many different forms. But, usually, whatever is lacking currently is what becomes the motivator. Had a long week of online lessons? The carrot might be some outdoor family time playing at a park or taking a hike. Had a frustrating week of rushed lunches in between meetings and deadlines? The motivation might be a fun family night making pizzas and playing games together. Ask your kids what they are missing most, and reward their efforts accordingly!”

12. Establish Reward Systems 

Wander says creative learning techniques and external rewards can help your children’s desire to learn: 

I suggest starting by finding an outlet your children enjoy, such as music, crafts or one-on-one time with you. Use these to supplement their traditional learning. You can also utilize extrinsic rewards for staying focused and completing work. For instance, maybe they can take some time off from schoolwork, play a game, watch a movie or cook — which all still provide learning opportunities and are very motivating to kids. 

However, to make sure your children are not just rushing through and putting out low-quality work just to get to the reward, remind them that you have to check their work first (and schedule that time into your day). Or, set boundaries so that these rewards cannot take place until a specific time of the day. And, if your child is just not feeling it one day, give extra hugs, take a longer break or maybe just skip some assignments to get back to neutral. Motivating kids can be a challenge while schooling at home, but with some planning, students can succeed.”

13. Engage in Non-Traditional Learning

Wander also explains how learning goes beyond what our kids study in school and how learning life skills can be a great motivator: 

Sometimes, you may just need to take a break from schooling at home to, well, learn. Kids innately love to learn, so that can be motivating in itself. Keep in mind that not all learning requires formal lessons. Being outside in nature allows for learning about math, science, inquiry and innovation. Movement and physical activity allows for learning about self-awareness, impulse control, nonverbal cues and personal strength. Hearing books read aloud provides learning about active listening, empathy, critical thinking and debate. Baking allows for learning math, social studies, geography and nutrition. Digging in the backyard allows for learning earth science and problem-solving. Raising animals allows for learning biology, empathy and responsibility. Gardening allows for learning about horticulture, ecosystems, life cycles and nutrition. Providing these non-traditional learning opportunities is a great way to motivate kids while schooling at home.

Create a task list for each child each day with categories like Self (meditation, journaling, etc.), Exercise (biking, running, etc.), Chores, Learning, Music, Create, [and] Connect (with someone outside of the house). Set minimum time limits for each. Have each child check off the tasks as they complete them in any order they want. This allows them autonomy and ownership.”

14. Use Different Techniques for Older Kids

For older children, lack of motivation may stem from difficulty with defining goals,” Wander explains. Students who do not see the point of an assignment will likely regard it as busy work,’ and kids who do not see the big picture will probably reject the steps to get there. 

Start by talking about goals. Help them identify something specific they want to accomplish that is meaningful to them. Suggest starting with something fairly simple and achievable — like saving money — before moving on to longer-term goals, like buying a car. Once you have helped them identify short- and long-term goals, encourage them to think about what they need to do to achieve them. Ask questions like: What skills need to be learned? and What are some problems that might arise? Then, break it down into weekly individual goals. 

At the end of each week, allow time to reflect on why they did or did not meet those goals. This encourages them to think deeply about their behaviors and abilities, and allows them to view struggle as an integral part of growth and learning. All of this will help them get into a goal-oriented mindset. 

When it comes to schoolwork, encourage your children to consider why’ they are asked to do certain tasks and how they matter. For instance, why was this assignment given and what can be gained from completing it? You can suggest that your children write down these big-picture reasons and goals where it can be easily referenced while they are working.” 

15. Start with the Most Challenging Topics 

For an easy solution that can have an immediate effect, George suggests starting with what the kids have the most trouble with. 

Motivation can be hard to sustain after months of online learning. If you have flexibility with your child’s schedule, I always suggest that students tackle subjects that are difficult first thing in the morning so that they still have the energy and stamina to complete them. Saving their preferred subjects or activities for the end of the day gives them something to look forward to and helps sustain that motivation throughout the day.”

 16. Ask Lots of Questions

Keep in mind your child feels the stress of the pandemic as well, and might get overwhelmed. 

Ask lots of questions. What are their interests? What do they want to learn about? Make certain to ask about their feelings during this time. Are they concerned? Do they have questions? Now is a good time to address their mental health. This time period will become their history at some point, just like 9/11 was for many of us. It’s best to keep them somewhat informed and not fearful.” George said. 

How to Create an Appropriate Learning Environment 

 17. Define a Dedicated Learning Space 

This should come as no surprise: Children need a structured, dedicated space to get in the right learning mindset. 

Miller explains, Parents should make sure that kids have a comfortable place to study that is quiet and free of distractions. If your kids participate in online video calls, they will need to access the correct technology and a distraction-free background behind their camera. Kids also need easy access to the supplies and materials they will need to complete their lessons. Having the right supplies on hand can help minimize distractions while they are working. Kids should also have access to a desk and chair that is sized correctly for them. This is especially important if they are learning to write. The desk should be a comfortable height so that their arm can rest on it while writing. About 1-2 inches higher than the child’s elbow is ideal. When a child is sitting in their chair, their feet should be able to rest on the floor.”

 18. Make the Learning Space Flexible 

Wander adds that online learning requires a bit of creativity when it comes to working spaces.

For organizing your space during remote learning, get creative with your workspaces. One mom said she found an ironing board makes a great adjustable-height surface for laptops when working on the couch. A small rectangular folding table with adjustable height can also create a makeshift workspace. If separate rooms are not an option, give everyone headphones with mics. Ensure each child has essential tools at his/her space: device, pencils, paper, water, relevant assignments/books, etc. Having a dedicated and equipped workspace minimizes your kids’ reasons for interrupting you. And, if your first attempt isn’t working, try another. Move from the kitchen counter to the couch, for instance. Keep experimenting until you find something that works.”

Teri Shepard, homeschooling expert at Rosetta Stone, also advises against rigidly modeling the classroom: 

You are providing education in your home. This can become confusing to younger children. A desk and chair aren’t always necessary. Try a bean bag, the kitchen table, the couch. I even had my children learn to do their math while running up and down the stairs and had spelling tests in the car.”

How to Help Your Children Become More Independent 

 19. Give Them an Increasing Amount of Space

The key to a healthy transition to independence is to provide your children with an increasing amount of space when they’re completing their schoolwork.

Miller advises, One of the best ways to help kids become more independent is to give them space and allow them to practice this vital skill. Parents can check in to make sure that kids understand what they are learning and the directions for their assignment, and then give their kids time to complete it. As long as the task is not too tricky, kids will start to build confidence and independence as they see that they can complete assignments independently. Parents will need to check on younger kids more often, but as kids get older and more used to working alone, parents can check in less frequently and transfer more responsibility for completing school work to their kids.”

 20. Plan Based on Your Kids’ Needs & Ages

Wander explains how you can give children the right amount of space for their needs and ages and that, sometimes, screen time is a good option for getting your child used to working independently.

Keep in mind that before the traditional school setting’ (which did not become a national norm until the 1960s), there were three main school options: home school, private tutoring or one-room schoolhouses. This worked because elementary content builds on information taught previously. That is, the concepts are repeated in more detail as the student gets older. So, a younger child who is sitting on your lap or laying on the floor as you work with your older child may not seem like they are paying attention and learning, but they are, and doing so will help them better grasp the content when it is their turn to learn it.

If older or special needs kids require more of your time during schooling at home, use learning-based entertainment to occupy the other children’s minds while you focus on the one. You can feel less guilt about screen time if you look at it as independent academic time. Or, allow your younger child to sit on your lap while you work with your older children. Even if it doesn’t seem like it, they are usually listening. So, being exposed to what they will be eventually learning makes it much easier for them when that time comes.”

 21. Teach Independence Through Household Responsibility

Another efficient way to teach kids to manage more of their schoolwork on their own is to show them how to become responsible in a more comfortable and more rewarding setting — at home.

Have your children help around the house with cleaning and cooking. This allows them to learn essential life skills that are not taught in schools. Remember: Life is learning and learning is life’ — not all lessons occur during designated school time. Furthermore, having responsibilities around the house also allows them to experience an immediate sense of pride for completing something meaningful. The praise you give — such as Wow, the floors are sparkling clean,’ or Yum, this dinner you made is delicious’ — builds within them an innate sense of self-worth not contingent on their grades or scores.” 

22. Use the First/Then System

Malson chimes in with an easy reward system to strengthen independence: 

Sometimes, you can encourage children to complete unliked tasks on their own by using [a] first/then’ statement. For example, if a child is reluctant to write their vocabulary words, you might say, First, write your vocab words, and then we will go on a bike ride.’ This lets the child know the unliked task is not up for negotiation and gives them something to anticipate when the task is completed. Remember, no one learns a new skill the first time and children will make mistakes. Parents and caregivers must remember that just because something is simple for them does not mean it is not challenging for a child. When a child completes a new task successfully, they should be praised. If a child makes a mistake, be patient and encourage them to try again.”

23. Celebrate the Wins!

Finally, make sure your child knows how proud you are of them. Break down the plan in daily chunks, set goals and celebrate every little accomplishment that works toward the final result. 

George advises, “Parents can start by celebrating the small wins each day, setting appropriate goals for the next day and showing their kids the improvement in their effort to be independent. Graphing and showing kids their progress is an excellent way to show their growth. For example, parents can say, Wow, today you worked for 10 minutes independently. Do you think you can try for 12 minutes tomorrow?’ Continuing this each day can slowly help build the stamina that kids need to be more independent.”  

And there you have it, the complete guide to working from home and managing your kids’ education during these unprecedented times. Do you have any tips and tricks when it comes to staying on top of it all while motivating yourself and your family? Let us know in the comments!

Looking for an awesome new place with plenty of space for working, schooling, and everything in between? Check out thousands of verified apartments near you and find your ideal home! 

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Published at Thu, 26 Nov 2020 09:27:25 +0000

Survival Tips for Moving to a Big City

Survival Tips for Moving to a Big City

A picture of a busy street in New York City, with old brick buildings and sleek skyscrapers

Big cities attract a variety of different people from all walks of life. This rich diversity is precisely what makes big cities so appealing to live in for many people. Some move to pursue their careers or to go to college, while others want a change of pace or to enjoy the vibrant culture of city life.

Whatever the reason, moving to a big city can be exciting and exhilarating, but it still presents its challenges. Life-changing events, including moving, can have serious effects on your mental and emotional health. Moving to a new town, in particular, can decrease your happiness and contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety.

This doesn’t mean that you should avoid making a big city move. However, it does mean that you should take steps to prepare yourself beforehand to make your move go as smoothly as possible. Whether you’re moving from a rural area or from one metropolis to another, here’s what you need to do to prepare yourself for a big city move:

Research the City in Advance

Before anything else, take some time to research the city you intend to move to. It’s important to learn about what you can expect from life in that area and dispel any myths or misconceptions you may have. Further, each big city is unique and has its own history and culture that will impact your life there.

Some things you should research include:

  • The weather and climate;
  • Cost of living, especially housing;
  • Local and state laws, policies, and regulations;
  • Employment statistics and resources;
  • City, county, and state maps;
  • And local attractions, entertainment, and recreation opportunities.

Additionally, you can research any concerns or issues specific to your needs. For instance, if you’re moving somewhere to go to college, you can look into resources or organizations for students. If you’re moving for work, you can research relocation benefits and perks offered by your company, your property manager, or living community. Although research doesn’t compare to living in a city, familiarizing yourself with these things in advance can help you shape your moving plans and allow you to prepare yourself for this new phase of your life.

Find Employment and Housing

Next, you need to figure out where you will work and live. These are, arguably, two of the most important things to consider before moving anywhere. If you’re moving for work or school, you may already have both housing and employment plans. Depending on your circumstances, though, you may need to make important decisions about employment and housing that will affect your daily life.

Starting out in a large city is significantly easier if you already have a job lined up before you move. Finding a job in a new city can take time, effort, and patience. Take some time to explore the job market, apply for jobs, or line up interviews before you move. You can also benefit from attending networking events, visiting career fairs, or making casual professional connections once you do move. Doing so can help you get your name out there and establish yourself in this community while you search.

Similarly, it’s best to secure housing before you move. Housing can also be more competitive in large cities, so take some time to begin hunting sooner rather than later. At the very least, this research can be useful in getting to know the housing marketing, as well as the city itself and its various neighborhoods. Depending on your finances and job situation, you may need to consider finding roommates or living outside the city itself so you can afford your new place. If you have a pet, you’ll also need to make sure you find a pet-friendly apartment or house to live in.

Take Only What You Need

When you’ve found your new pad, you have to determine what, exactly, you will bring with you. Living in a big city may require downsizing or reducing the size of your living space. Further, apartment sizes have been shrinking over the years. One recent report discovered that the size of newly built apartments has decreased, on average, by 70 square feet in the largest 20 metropolitan areas in the U.S. Combined with higher housing prices in urban areas, this means that you may end up paying the same amount of money to rent a significantly smaller space.

Simply put, be mindful of what you bring with you on your move. If you don’t use it regularly or it won’t be useful in this new city, you may not want to bring it along. You can also consider renting a furnished apartment if you only want to bring your personal items or if you don’t want to worry about buying furniture. If you’ll be living with roommates, you can also ask them what things they already have so you don’t accidentally double-up on furniture, items, or amenities.

Budget for Big City Costs

The cost of living in big cities does vary, but it tends to be higher than in rural or less densely populated areas. Though your salary may also be higher, you’ll likely have to adjust your budget to account for big-city costs. Some expenses you should consider include:

  • Housing and utilities;
  • Taxes, including sales and income tax;
  • Tuition and school supplies, if you’re going to college;
  • Food and groceries;
  • And transportation, vehicle maintenance, and parking.

If you aren’t careful, these extra costs can add up quickly. Luckily, there are many ways you can reduce your spending and stretch your money further than expected. Consider creating a formal budget or using a budget app to better track your spending. You should also look for ways to reduce your largest expenses. For instance, you can focus on cooking at home rather than eating out to spend less on food, or using a bike-share or public transportation to avoid driving a car. Even making small changes to your daily habits, like taking a shorter shower or making coffee at home, can make a big difference in your budget.

Explore and Enjoy

Moving can be stressful and moving to a larger city can feel overwhelming. It can be difficult to move to a new place where you aren’t established or don’t know anyone. Think about the positive aspects of your move, rather than the negative ones. This move presents an opportunity to explore an entirely new place and enjoy new things.

Don’t be afraid to go out on your own and wander around your new home. If you want some guidance, try using an app to find hidden gems. You can also look online, from blog posts to social media, to discover favorite local spots. Once you have a job lined up and your living situation figured out, you can also ask coworkers, neighbors, or roommates for recommendations. No matter how you go about it, having new experiences and finding new hobbies is a great chance to learn more about yourself while having an exciting, unexpected adventure.

Make New Friends

As you explore, do your best to put yourself out there, meet more people, and make some friends. Building relationships after moving to a new place is crucial to avoid relocation depression, as well as to fully embrace the culture and lifestyle of your city. Get to know your neighbors and coworkers, join clubs or groups that share your interests, sign up for classes or other group activities — really, anything that interests you.

It can take time to forge new friendships and get connected to a new place, so be patient with yourself. Look for other ways to boost your happiness and take care of your emotional health. There are countless ways to spend your time in a big city, so do your best to take advantage of this chance to entertain yourself and enrich your life. After all, before you know it, this once unfamiliar and intimidating place will feel like home.

Published at Fri, 20 Nov 2020 21:37:15 +0000

Three Recipes for Two for Your Small Thanksgiving Dinner

Three Recipes for Two for Your Small Thanksgiving Dinner

Although you might think of large family gatherings when you think of Thanksgiving, you can still have a fulfilling Thanksgiving dinner for just yourself or with one other person. Of course, this might seem unusual to you, so maybe you need some help making small portions. With these three recipes adjusted for two people, you can easily cook and enjoy a small Thanksgiving dinner.

1. Bread and celery stuffing

Prepare a delicious bread and celery stuffing dish for two by using approximately one pound of white bread, sliced to air dry for one to two hours, then cut into cubes. In a Dutch oven, melt two tablespoons of butter or margarine over medium heat. Cook 1/4 of an onion and 3/4 of a chopped celery stalk until soft. Next, season your onion and celery with half a teaspoon of poultry seasoning, and your preferred amounts of salt and pepper. 

Three Recipes for Two for Your Small Thanksgiving Dinner

Stir in the bread cubes you made until evenly coated. Moisten your stuffing with three tablespoons and half a teaspoon of chicken broth. Then, thoroughly mix your stuffing and let it chill. Finally, bake the stuffing in a buttered casserole dish at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 40 minutes. Enjoy as a side dish to some turkey. See the full recipe here.

2. Thanksgiving Turkey for two

You don’t need to bake a whole turkey when you’re cooking for two. Place two turkey breast tenderloins in an 11-by-seven-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. In a small bowl, combine a quarter cup of wine, one tablespoon of melted butter, a quarter teaspoon of salt, a quarter teaspoon of tarragon, and a quarter teaspoon of paprika. Add your combination from the small bowl on top of the turkey tenderloins. Next, arrange half a cup of mushrooms around the tenderloins.

Bake your turkey dish uncovered at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 to 35 minutes or until a meat thermometer placed inside the turkey reads 170 degrees Fahrenheit. As you bake, it’s best to baste your turkey occasionally with its pan drippings. Let your turkey cool for five minutes before slicing it. Finally, enjoy a mouth-watering Thanksgiving turkey. See the full recipe here.

3. Lentil loaf

Follow this tasty vegetarian lentil loaf recipe for your two-person Thanksgiving dinner. Add one-quarter cup (plus an additional two tablespoons) of green lentils into three-quarters of water in a small saucepan. Bring the water to a boil, reduce heat, and let the water simmer until the lentils are tender, which should take approximately about 40 minutes. Next, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Then, grease a nine-by-five-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, mix two cups of cooked lentils, two slices of cut-up bread, one egg, 1/3 cup of broth, two teaspoons tomato paste, and one teaspoon of olive oil. Add a little bit of basil, garlic powder, black pepper, parsley, and dry soup mix. Spread your mixture into the prepared greased pan. 

Bake your lentil loaf for 40 minutes. Finally, sprinkle the top of your lentil loaf with dry bread crumbs, and put it back into the oven for another 10 minutes. Let your dish cool for approximately 10 minutes before serving and enjoy by yourself or with another person. See the full recipe here.

How would you celebrate a smaller Thanksgiving? Share your ideas in the comments!

Published at Mon, 16 Nov 2020 23:01:16 +0000

Here are the Hottest and Coldest NYC Neighborhoods of 2020

Here are the Hottest and Coldest NYC Neighborhoods of 2020

As the pandemic continues to drastically change the New York City real estate landscape, we at RentHop wanted to explore how rent prices have been affected this past year. To do this, we analyzed rental price data from every neighborhood in the city and compared these prices to this same period last year. Our results shed light on the current dynamic of the market and uncovered the few neighborhoods that have surprisingly weathered the storm.

Summary of Findings

We compared 1-bedroom median net effective rent prices in each NYC neighborhood between Q3 2019 and Q3 2020.

  • Rent prices dropped an average of 6.25% across all neighborhoods we studied.
  • 86% of neighborhoods saw rent prices decrease over the year.
  • Only 11% of neighborhoods saw a rent increase; Inwood was the sole Manhattan neighborhood to see an appreciation.
  • Coney Island was the hottest neighborhood of the year, with prices increasing 7.78%.
  • Little Italy was the coldest, with prices decreasing 17.24%.
  • New York City renters have strong negotiating power, with many landlords doubling their concessions since last year.


Overall, our report painted a bleak picture for real estate across New York City over the past year. As landlords scrambled to drop rents and offer concessions to keep tenants during the pandemic, prices fell across the vast majority of New York neighborhoods. In fact, out of the 85 neighborhoods we looked at, only 11% saw rents increase. Inwood was the lone Manhattan neighborhood to see an appreciation.

On average, across every neighborhood we studied, rents dropped a significant 6.25%. This was an even steeper decline when compared to the 5% average decrease that we reported on in July.

While rent drops were widespread across the city, pricier areas in Manhattan were hit the hardest. Places like the Fort Greene also saw a modest 3.7% rise. Coney Island saw the most growth with a 7.8% increase, though much of this was due to the opening of 1 Ocean Drive, a 22-story, 211-unit luxury oceanfront rental building. This building launched in December 2019, driving median neighborhood rents upward.

NYC Renter’s Market

The current climate strongly dictates a renter’s market. Our dataset shows that landlords across the city have been open to dropping gross rent prices, offering considerable concessions like free rent or reduced deposits, and in some cases even both. In particular, many luxury high rise buildings have increased their incentive schemes, doubling concessions since pre-COVID times.

Renters in New York should know that they have increased negotiation power at this time, and should always consider their options.

Neighborhoods With the Largest Rent Increases
  1. Coney Island, Brooklyn — +7.78%
  2. Kew Gardens Hills, Queens — +5.35%
  3. Fort Greene, Brooklyn — +3.67%
  4. Bensonhurst, Brooklyn — +3.13%
  5. Briarwood, Queens — +2.75%
Neighborhoods With the Largest Rent Drops
  1. Little Italy, Manhattan — -17.24%
  2. Upper West Side, Manhattan — -16.67%
  3. Chelsea, Manhattan — -16.18%
  4. Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan — -16.16%
  5. Flatiron District, Manhattan — -15.79%


This report analyzed the New York City rental market using millions of rental listings drawn from the RentHop database during the third quarter of both 2019 and 2020 (July 1 – September 30, 2019 and July 1 – September 30, 2020). Median one bedroom rent prices for each year were then compared to calculate the yearly percentage change in price.

Data was gathered for every neighborhood in NYC, excluding those with fewer than 50 rental listings over the respective quarter. It should be noted that given the low listing density in Staten Island, neighborhoods from this borough were excluded as they did not meet the minimum 50 listing sample size criteria. Sub-neighborhoods, such as Koreatown and Rose Hill, were combined into larger neighborhoods to ensure consistent comparisons and listing counts.

For more information on our methodology, or to contact our data team, please email

Full Dataset


Published at Tue, 13 Oct 2020 12:37:25 +0000

The Calm Before the Storm

The Calm Before the Storm

It feels extremely odd to focus on design this week, but I’m considering it a form of self-preservation today. We all need to do what calms us as we prepare for the inevitable storm ahead. Please tell me you’re voting today or tomorrow if you haven’t already. Click here to find your polling place. Every single vote matters – even if you think your vote won’t make a difference where you live – I promise you it will. Please please please vote.

While we all await our fate, please enjoy this stunning project designed by my go-to gal Lauren Nelson. It is incredibly soothing.

I have major entry envy.

Both a guest house and private tasting room for Petrichor Vineyards in Santa Rosa, CA, Lauren put her magic touch of approachable sophistication mixed with laid-back elegance in every single space she touched. Subtle Morrocan vibes, classic well-made pieces, and a muted yet saturated color palette work beautifully. I particularly love the use of the deep, rich blue tones in the updated kitchen. All the natural light and vaulted ceilings keep the space feeling open and bright despite the darker hues.

Lauren is the queen at beautifully impactful simple moments. This vintage chair and stunning cabinet make me feel like I’m somewhere in Italy.

Even though we’re in the heart of wine country, I am loving the Moroccan vibes peppered throughout the home.

This bedroom has such a mix of textures and styles, yet everything, from the rug to the bed to the curtains to the sconces all play harmoniously.

This officially might be my favorite bathroom vanity of all time. The counter top sink, the sconces, that faucet and yummy texture on the walls…it’s all delicious.

This space is going to serve as my moment of zen – I plan on revisiting it regularly between now and the end of the election day – whenever that may be. I hope this home tour brings you both some calm and some hope. I truly believe we have the capacity to bring ourselves back from the brink. We just have to show up and make our voices heard.

photos by bess friday courtesy of lauren nelson design

Published at Mon, 02 Nov 2020 17:31:23 +0000

A Cozy New Rug Collection

A Cozy New Rug Collection

Hello friends! Praise be, the election is over and I just marked my birthday over the weekend – my official holiday season milestone. Whenever the calendar passes November 8, I feel like I can finally turn 100% of my attention to all things holiday. Obviously, the holidays are going to look and feel very different than years past. Perhaps instead of the holiday season, we should start referring to the next few months as the hunker down season. Because that’s what holidays in the time of Covid are going to require of us. But I’m not entirely mad about the idea of holing up at home. I’ll take a very valid excuse to look for ways to make my home as cozy, comforting, and beautiful as possible.

Enter the new rug collection from Beni Rugs, designed by my style soul twin, Colin King.

A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34

Called the Shape of Color, this new rug collection offers eleven Moroccan style rugs. Each rug features shocks of color inspired by Tangier and Marrakech. The hues are deeply saturated in simple geometric shapes or big bold stripes.

A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34

While I typically eschew color, rugs are a wonderful spot to inject something fresh into a room. I used a bold colored rug in my own living room. The particularly nice thing about a rug – it’s an easy way to reenergize a space without really having to change anything else.

A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34 A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34 A Cozy New Rug Collection on Apartment 34

There are a few secrets to picking out a rug. First, you want to think about size. A common mistake is getting a rug that is too small. You want all (or nearly all) your furniture in a space to sit on your rug. That helps a room feel anchored and like everything is working together. A too-small rug will actually make a small space feel even smaller!

Next, you want to think about foot traffic. If you’re looking to put a rug in a high foot traffic area, you’ll want to ensure any rug you select will withstand an onslaught of dirt and use.

Finally, when adding a colorful rug to your space you don’t need to “match your decor. You just want to keep everything in the same design family. Do you decorate with mostly warm colors or cooler tones? That will help you pick your colors.


If you’re looking to upgrade the coziness of your home before the holidays hit, I definitely think one of these rugs would be a great way to do it. I’m already debating which one I might add to our house. I do have a home office refresh in the works! If I pick out one of these rugs – I’ll be sure to share.

How are you planning on sprucing up your spaces for the holidays?

images c/o beni rugs

Published at Tue, 10 Nov 2020 20:10:40 +0000

Moving to Seattle: Everything You Need to Know

Moving to Seattle: Everything You Need to Know

Every year, Seattle attracts hundreds of thousands of people looking to call the Emerald City their new home.

If you’re thinking of moving to Seattle, you’re not alone. The Emerald City has been named one of the most rapidly growing major cities in the United States. Approximately 55,000 people have relocated here in 2020 alone.

Seattle’s appeal makes a lot of sense considering all the Pacific Northwest city has to offer. From the luxurious greenery and unbeatable vistas to the job opportunities and lack of state income tax, there are many reasons why people are falling head over heels in love with Seattle.


Seattle overview

Before you move somewhere new, it’s wise to conduct a casual investigation into the details of your potential future city. Some of the most important aspects to consider are population size, overall density, median income rates and average rental costs.

  • Population: 753,675 people
  • Population density (people per square mile): 7,250.9
  • Median income: $93,481
  • Average studio rent: $1,734
  • Average one-bedroom rent: $2,468
  • Average two-bedroom rent: $3,767
  • Cost of living index: 156.7

capitol hill seattle

Popular neighborhoods in Seattle

Moving to Seattle is one thing, but choosing a neighborhood to live in is quite another story. From the hustle and bustle of Downtown to the laid back and quiet aura of Queen Anne, there’s a lot of diversity across Seattle neighborhoods. Here are five other communities to consider.

  • Capitol Hill: A popular neighborhood among college students and young spirits, Capitol Hill offers an exciting nightlife and music scene.
  • Central District: Located in the eastern part of the city, the Central District is home to the greatest variety of racially and ethnically diverse communities.
  • Beacon Hill: Situated near Downtown Seattle, the neighborhood of Beacon Hill offers a quiet getaway from the high energy of the downtown area. The community is rich in Asian and African cultures.
  • Green Lake: Named after the northern Seattle lake, which serves as its centerpiece, Green Lake sits near Phinney Ridge, Wallingford and Woodland Park.
  • Wallingford: Wallingford is one of the many Seattle neighborhoods that are ideal for raising a family. It’s full of restaurants, grocery stores, cute coffee shops and quaint bakeries.


The pros of moving to Seattle

If you’re moving to Seattle, you must already find many things attractive about the Rainy City. Here are three more reasons to move to Seattle.

The scenery is mesmerizing

With views of the Puget Sound and heights that allow you to see the skyline, Seattle is one of the most beautiful Pacific Northwest cities. The city serves up an abundance of natural treasures ranging from lakes and beaches to parks and grasslands. Plus, the Cascade Mountain Range is only a short trip away.

Prime public transit and walkability

Seattle ranked No. 1 for best public transportation in a 2019 report from WalletHub. There are multiple ways to get around town, from busses and streetcars to rentable bikes and a monorail. If you prefer to walk, you’re in luck because Seattle is also a very pedestrian-friendly city. Walkscore has scored it 99 out of 100 for walkability.

The coffee culture is unbeatable

Ask any Seattleite if they drink coffee, and their jaw will likely drop in response. It’s less a question of “Do you drink coffee?” and more “How much coffee do you drink?” Not only is there at least one Starbucks store in nearly every Seattle neighborhood, but there’s also a plethora of locally-owned coffee houses scattered around the city.

rainy seattle weather

The cons of moving to Seattle

As much as we would love to tell you that living in Seattle is all sunshine and rainbows, this is simply not the case. Just like everywhere else in the world, there are drawbacks to calling Seattle home. Whether or not these cons are deal breakers is a personal decision for you to make.

Seattleites are not the most welcoming bunch

The first con that we feel is important to mention is something known as the Seattle Freeze. While this may sound like a weather-related concern, it actually refers to a social phenomenon. People who are native to Seattle tend to give off a cold shoulder vibe. Seattleites are not necessarily unfriendly, but they certainly do keep to themselves. As a result, it can be challenging for new residents to make friends.

Overpopulation is an issue

With major tech giants Facebook, Google, Amazon and Tableau ruling the downtown area, the city is quite a bustling place to be. While the influx of big companies and major corporations has benefitted Seattle’s economy, it has, unfortunately, created an unavoidable overpopulation issue.

As more and more businesses started opening offices in Seattle, job opportunities began popping up left and right, attracting new people to the city. This resulted in a significant spike in the population, especially between 2014 and 2019, when the city experienced an annualized growth rate of 2.38 percent — the third-highest in the nation among cities larger than 250,000 residents, according to AdvisorSmith.

Housing costs an arm and a leg

The cost of living in Seattle is 156.7, meaning housing is 56.7 percent more expensive in Seattle than anywhere else in the United States. The main reason for this high cost of living is the influx of job opportunities.

With so many people eager to move to Seattle, landlords recognized that they could charge more for properties and rentals because people are willing to pay these higher rates. Still, there are some deals to be found if you’re diligent in your search.

How to get started on your move to Seattle

Once you decide that Seattle is the place for you, it’s time to start planning your move. If you’re searching for free moving quotes and additional information about moving to Seattle, come check out our online Moving Center.

All you have to do is let us know where you’re moving from, when you plan to move and how much you are taking with you. We’ll walk you through the rest.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. Data was pulled in October 2020 and goes back for one year. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
Population and income numbers are from the U.S. Census Bureau. Cost of living data comes from the Council for Community and Economic Research.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

Published at Thu, 29 Oct 2020 13:00:33 +0000

Downtown Austin – High-end Living in the Heart of the Action

Downtown Austin – High-end Living in the Heart of the Action

If you’re looking for a combination of high-tech industry, exciting dining and entertainment options, and a sprinkling of the great outdoors, you can’t do better than living downtown Austin. This vibrant city center has it all — shopping, live music, great food and plenty of outdoor space. And it all comes with 300 days of sun each year. 

Where is Downtown Austin? 

Located at the heart of a sprawling (and growing!) metropolitan area, downtown Austin has all the amenities of a large city in a tidy little package. 

This 1.8 square mile neighborhood is nestled between Lamar Blvd to the west and I-35 to the east — two major north/south arteries. Martin Luther King Jr Blvd to the north separates downtown from the UT campus. And Lady Bird Lake creates a natural tree-lined southern border. 


Although Austin has been Texas’ capital for over 180 years, it wasn’t always the buzzing city it is today. The first hundred years saw slow growth for the city, despite the booming university and local government.

Things changed in the 1950s when a group of locals sought to attract high-tech companies, citing the lower cost of living and quality of life in the area. Their campaign worked, luring companies like IBM, Motorola and Dell into the Lone Star State. And with those companies came bright young people and cultural diversity that still influence Austin to this day. 

Life in Downtown Austin 

The real reason to pay for downtown Austin rents is for the downtown Austin lifestyle. The city center is surrounded by entertainment districts, live music venues, restaurants and bars. 

On the west side of downtown, Whole Foods’ flagship store provides residents with all their grocery needs. Brunch goers can visit Irene’s for Instagram-worthy eats and gallons of frosé. Then take in a film at the Violet Crown, an indie arthouse movie theater. 

Connect with “old Austin” by touring the state capitol located right at the city center. It was billed as the 7th largest building in the world when it was built in 1888. Or visit the Romanesque Driskill Hotel on East 6th St. This historic hotel has been the site of gubernatorial inaugural balls, and it’s where Lyndon B. Johnson had his first date with his future wife, Lady Bird.

Just down the street from the capitol building, Fareground redefines the food hall concept. Satellites of some of Austin’s best restaurants like Dai Due, Ni-Kome, and Contigo are all available here in one luxe, modern space. Sit inside or on the patio, and get a glass of wine from the bar to accompany your meal. 

Walk off that lunch with a tour down the scenic hike-and-bike trail along Lady Bird Lake, downtown Austin’s southern border. This loop offers unparalleled views of the downtown stretch of the Colorado River and the city skyline. 

Austin’s stunning 6-story library is a recent addition to the downtown attractions. Located on the lake’s shores, the rooftop garden offers a peaceful place to read or sip a cup of coffee from the on-site café. This ultra-modern space is welcoming to children, students and adults who just want a little peace and quiet.

But if it’s noise you want, look no further than the Red River Entertainment District. Dive bars and music venues line this street, welcoming both local and national acts to the Live Music Capital of the World. 

For a nightcap, head over to Midnight Cowboy on the infamous 6th Street. This reservation-only speakeasy makes cocktails table-side, on a rolling cart, for a delicious and visual experience. 

Moving to Downtown Austin

Real Estate Snapshot

The perks of living in this central, vibrant area come at a cost, as the average rent for apartments in downtown Austin ($2,668) is higher than the national average.

Also, if you want to rent a high-end unit in one of the district’s more upscale communities, you’re going to have to shell out a pretty penny since these apartments go for $2,736 on average. Almost half (45%) of the neighborhood’s residents are renters. 


Austin is a driving city, with north/south and east/west highways connecting the downtown area with the outer city. While downtown parking can be limited, most apartment buildings include parking garages for residents.

For a night on the town, Uber, Lyft and local rideshare RideAustin are all available for travel. There’s also a commuter rail system that connects the downtown area to northern suburbs like Pflugerville and Cedar Park.

Schools & Employment

There are no public schools within the 1.8 square miles of downtown Austin, but residents don’t have to go far to find them. Mathews Elementary School to the west and Zavala Elementary to the east are each minutes away from the downtown neighborhood. 

For older students, Austin High School is just southwest of downtown, located on the banks of Lady Bird Lake. 

There are also private schools in the area, like Headwaters School that serves pre-k through high school students. 

As the local government’s seat, the city, county and state are all significant employers in this area. Other significant employers include software companies like Facebook, Google and Indeed. 

Looking for the perfect new place in this diverse and vibrant neighborhood? Browse through thousands of verified apartments in downtown Austin and find your ideal home in a snap.

Discover Apartments Near You

At, the perfect apartment nearby is just a click away.


Published at Fri, 23 Oct 2020 09:47:28 +0000

9 Things to Know About Living in New York

9 Things to Know About Living in New York

There’s a lot to love about living in New York.

There’s art and culture. There’s the allure of making your way in a city of 8 million. There are the bagels, pizza, calzones, pastries — basically, if you eat carbs, New York is a city for you.

Don’t worry. You’ll get all the exercise you need walking the streets of the largest metropolis in the country.

It’s a city with almost as many clichés as people. But this isn’t a town for the faint of heart. It takes a special kind of person to make a life for themselves in a city like New York. It takes an understanding of how to navigate the city, figuratively and literally.

1. It’s more expensive than you think…way more expensive

You already knew this when you clicked on the article. You can build a happy and deeply satisfying life for yourself in New York City, but you need money to do it. On average, the cost of living here is about 145 percent higher than the national average.

That includes groceries, which are 44 percent higher. And housing is almost five times the average rent for the rest of the country. So, unless you’re making a comfortable salary with multiple commas, you should probably start looking for roommates before you start loading up the moving van.

new york in spring

2. It’s a city with four distinct seasons, and one can be brutal

There are few things greater than spring in New York, except maybe autumn in New York. Summers in the city can be pretty great, too (especially when everyone leaves for the Hamptons or the Jersey Shore).

But winters in New York can be especially difficult. Depending on the year, you can experience Chicago-level wind chill, the snowfall totals of Boston and the snowplow response times of Atlanta. In short, winters in New York are notoriously difficult, especially when you don’t have the amenities you’d have living in other cities.

Odds are, you won’t have a car and you’ll rely on public transportation. That means the money you’d otherwise spend on gas for your truck will instead go towards gloves, scarves, heavy coats, thermal underwear and anything else you’ll need to brave the elements to get to your bus stop or subway station.

And if you like to spend so much time outdoors, as in you like to think of yourself as “solar-powered,” you’ll also need to stock up on smart light bulbs and Vitamin D supplements. The greatest city in the world is also one of the grayest cities in the world, averaging only about 107 days of sunshine a year.

3. You have plenty of top-notch sports options…and the Jets

You may pay a premium for living here, but if you’re a sports fan, this city is second to none. The Mets and Yankees, The Giants and Jets, The Knicks and the Nets, Rangers and Islanders, the Red Bulls and the New York City Football Club are all a train ride away. If you live for the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, you’ll never be bored living in New York.

And each team’s home has a different appeal to fans of all stripes. Yankee Stadium in the Bronx is a monument to history, while CitiField in Queens has a more neighborhood ballpark feel to it. The legendary Madison Square Garden is home to the New York Knicks and the Rangers, but head down to the LIRR terminal and you can hop on a train to Nassau Coliseum to catch an Islanders game (until their new Belmont Park digs opens in 2021-2022) or head across the river to Brooklyn to catch the Nets.

But while there’s no greater city (and no greater fans) for sports in The Big Apple, you may want to sit in the cheap seats. Because if you enjoy a tall frosty beverage while you root root root for the home team, expect to spend more than you would elsewhere. A 12-ounce beer at Barclay’s Arena, home of the Brooklyn Nets, live music and more will set you back 10 bucks.

4. You can feel crowded and isolated at the same time

It sounds weird to say that the largest city in America can start to feel small, but it’s the truth. If you’re living here, odds are you’ll have roommates. And if you’re lucky enough to live alone, your apartment will be a little cramped. And outside your apartment, the constant crush of people everywhere can not only lose its luster rather quickly, but it can start to feel claustrophobic.

It can also be isolating for the same reasons. It sounds counterintuitive to say you can feel lonely when you’re surrounded by people every hour of every day.

Luckily, the answer to both concerns is one and the same. Think about the things you enjoy and actively seek them out. Do you like playing pickup basketball on the weekends? Maybe you’re more into museum tours? Stand up or improv comedy? One of the greatest things about New York is that there’s something to appeal to everyone.

Friends are the family we choose, so find your New York family and start feeling at home. Long-term happiness is as much about finding a good support system as it is about your career or financial security or any of the other things that concern us when we’re first starting out.

subway in new york city

5. No car? No problem

You’ll never need a car living in New York City. In fact, after just a couple of weeks here, you’ll question whether you’ll ever want a car again. Either above ground or below ground, uptown or down, there will always be a bus or train or cab or rideshare heading in your direction.

And if there isn’t, you can rent a Citibike almost anywhere in the city to help get you where you need to go. But once you get your Metrocard and get comfortable navigating the subways, you’ll be unstoppable — unless your train stops randomly in the tunnel. That can happen sometimes.

Important things to remember: download the MTA app on your phone, so you’ll always know how far away you are from your stop and how long you’ll have to wait for your train to arrive. Once you’re on the train, don’t be afraid to look at the maps. You won’t look like an out-of-towner. Everyone uses them. It’s what they’re there for.

If you’re in Manhattan, don’t try to hail a green taxi if you’re staying on the island. Green taxis are exclusively to bring riders from Manhattan to the outer boroughs. If you’re staying in Manhattan, get a yellow cab. You don’t need cash to take a cab now, as all TLC taxis are now outfitted with credit card readers, as well as digital NFC payment like Apple and Google Pay.

And depending on the time of day and where you’re headed, taking the bus will save you steps, but not necessarily time. Remember, busses have their own lanes, but can still get stuck in the same traffic as everyone else. And if you do decide to get a Citibike to get to your destination, remember to wear a helmet!

6. You’ll never go hungry

It’s almost irrelevant what you’re in the mood for. Far and away the best thing about New York is the food. Your favorite food. Your new favorite food. Every kind of food, from every ethnicity, from almost every country on the planet.

As the first American city for millions of immigrants from every corner of the world for hundreds of years, this city will never lack options. In fact, there are so many restaurants in New York you could eat out once a day, every day for 22 years and never eat at the same spot twice.

Spend more than a week here and it’ll only be a matter of time before you too develop your own VERY strong opinions about where to find the best bagel in the city, or the best pizza in Bensonhurst, the best bahn mi in Queens, or the only place to go in The Bronx if you’re in the mood for a chopped cheese. Don’t know what a chopped cheese is? You will.

7. You’ll quickly find your favorite neighborhood

One thing you’ll learn to love about the city (that’s what we call it, just “the city”) is how you’ll stumble upon these fun little neighborhoods and parts of town you never knew existed. It’s more than areas with good restaurants. You won’t have trouble finding those, remember?

Get out of your apartment often enough and you’ll find yourself in parts of the city you don’t normally go to. Maybe you’ll find a coffee shop or a small indie record store. These places and the memories of discovering them will make your time starting here much more pleasant. And it will take a lot of the pressure and stress out of your early years here.

So, go ahead. Savor the moment. You may never find yourself in that part of town again. Seriously.

times square

8. Live music! Live comedy! Live everything!

One of the greatest and most famous symphony orchestras in the world. Ballet. Rock clubs. Dance clubs. Jazz clubs. Comedy clubs. Talk shows. And of course, Broadway. No, not everything you’ll see onstage here is “Hamilton.” But with ticket prices like those, maybe that isn’t such a bad thing.

New York is a premier destination for comedians and bands and anyone else you’ve ever wanted to see live. But limiting yourself to the marquee names will severely limit the fun you’ll have at indie band shows or open mics. It’s a big city with a ton of talent if you’re willing to go out and look for it. And the best part is you won’t have to look that hard.

9. It’s OK to leave

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. And that’s also true of life in The Big Apple. So, as much as you’ll enjoy living in New York, remember the world doesn’t begin at the West Side Highway and end at FDR Drive. We have two airports. One of them is pretty good. The other is LaGuardia. Either one will get you to different places across the country or on the other side of the world.

Yes, New York is special. But at the end of the day, it’s a city like any other. And if your life here is no longer serving you, you have the option to leave and go somewhere else. It doesn’t mean you’re a failure or you couldn’t hack it.

If you have the chance to get ahead in life, but it means getting away from New York, that’s OK. But don’t stay here just because you think you have to in order to be happy or feel fulfilled. Allow yourself to be open to different paths. If one of them leads you to New York, follow it. And if another path offers you something more, take that one.

Because if you can make it here…



Published at Fri, 23 Oct 2020 13:00:18 +0000

Welcome Fall in Style with an EPIC $7.5K Giveaway

Welcome Fall in Style with an EPIC $7.5K Giveaway

After six months of cooking nearly every meal at home, I’m the first to admit that my rotation of go-to recipes have gotten a little….tired to say the least. I can’t actually tell if my family is more tired of eating them or I’m more tired of making them. But with Covid showing no signs of taking leave and a new season upon us, it’s the ideal time to kick your home cooking repertoire up a notch. I think trying to make even the smallest moments a bit more special is going to help us ride this out.

To assist you in doing that, I have an incredible giveaway all about entertaining. The Weston Table $7.5K Social Grilling Giveaway features the incredible wood-fired OFYR Grill, a bevy of cooking tools and six months of insane goodies – like lobster and wagyu beef – delivered right to your front door. You’re going to want to enter, I promise.

Welcome Fall in Style with an EPIC OFYR $7.5K Giveaway on Apt34

When experiencing a real life version of Groundhog’s Day, it can be a little challenging to differentiate one moment from another. But I’ve realized if you take a little time to make the effort, you can create joyous memories even in the darkest of times.

Case in point, I don’t know why I waited so long to enjoy oysters during Stay At Home. I won’t be making the same mistake again. So go now, get whatever special treat food you love and enjoy it this instant. There’s a Youtube video on how to do virtually anything (although I won’t sugar coat it – it took more than a hot second to get the hang of shucking oysters). But all good things are truly worth the effort.

Welcome Fall in Style with an EPIC OFYR $7.5K Giveaway on Apt34Welcome Fall in Style with an EPIC OFYR $7.5K Giveaway on Apt34

But let’s have a convo about the OFYR Grill. Cooking on the OFYR Grill is entirely new experience – but oh so fun. Since it is wood fired, the OFYR is the perfect addition to your outdoor space as we move into colder weather. It’s a fire pit and grill all rolled into one. And with a grill plate that measures a full 39″ in diameter, it has social distancing built right in! So go ahead, invite members of your pandemic pod over and enjoy an evening outside (with masks of course!).

Inspired by the historically communal nature of cooking, the grill itself has this amazing, deep flat rim that allows for cooking at different temperatures all at once – so you really can whip up a feast. I got really ambitious and made a pot of clams, grilled both oysters and lobster, steak, smashed potatoes, corn on the cob and at the last second threw on other veggies just for fun. I even cooked an eggplant in the open flame! Pro-tip: watch the newest season of Chef’s Table that just came out. It is all about BBQ and fire-based cooking – it’s the ultimate motivator.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that Weston Table has been kind enough to offer Apartment34 readers an exclusive $100 OFF the OFYR Grill with the code WTAPT34 at checkout. CLICK HERE to shop.

Welcome Fall in Style with an EPIC OFYR $7.5K Giveaway on Apt34 Welcome Fall in Style with an EPIC OFYR $7.5K Giveaway on Apt34

Enjoying a meal in your outside space is one of the easiest ways to shake up a monotonous routine. And it doesn’t matter if you have an expansive backyard or a teeny tiny balcony. You can throw down blankets and enjoy a intimate picnic or set a beautiful table. Whatever feels special to you. I like to bring out some nice dishware – something different from what we use everyday – light a few candles and open a bottle of wine to make everything feel a little more fun. Serving butter-soaked lobster tail also helps!

Welcome Fall in Style with an EPIC OFYR $7.5K Giveaway on Apt34 Welcome Fall in Style with an EPIC OFYR $7.5K Giveaway on Apt34 Welcome Fall in Style with an EPIC OFYR $7.5K Giveaway on Apt34

While I’ll have to wait to throw my dream backyard BBQ with my OFYR Grill until we can kick this pandemic to the curb, I can already envision the massive party we’re going to have when this is all over. For now, I’m planning on grilling up tasty treats for a few epic at-home date nights. Now for deets on the giveaway!

• OFYR Classic 100 Grill. The winner may choose which color they prefer (Corten or Black)
• OFYR Spatula PRO
• Staub Cast Iron Cookware Package curated for the OFYR Grill including an Oval Fish Pan, 7.5” Round Gratin, Rectangular Tray, 4 Quart Round Cocotte, and 13” Double Handled Fry Pan
• Tournant eCookbook Farm to Fire Cooking with the Seasons
• 6-month subscriptions to Snake River Farms Wagyu Beef Subscription Box, the Lobster Shop 6-Month Lobster & Assorted Seafood Subscription Box and Hama Hama 6-Month Oysters Subscription Box (delivered every other month for one year)

ENTER TO WIN: Follow @weston_table on Instagram HERE and sign up HERE to be qualified to win!

And don’t forget, if you can’t wait to find out if you’re the big Weston Table Social Grilling Giveaway winner, I have an exclusive code for $100 off an OFYR Grill and 10% off at for you. CLICK HERE to shop and be sure to use the code WTAPT34 when you check out.

original photography for apartment34 by andrea posasdas creative

Published at Thu, 01 Oct 2020 16:30:21 +0000