Five Common Security Deposit Deductions Your Landlord Can Take

Five Common Security Deposit Deductions Your Landlord Can Take

Security deposits are among the more significant finances involved with renting your first apartment. These deposits cover any damage you cause to your apartment, and even the most careful tenants can easily cause minor damage to their first apartments. After you move out, your landlord will subtract the monetary equivalent of any damage you cause from your deposit.

That said, if you’re clean and careful with your apartment, If you know the below five common security deposit deductions your landlord can take, you’ll be in especially good shape.

1. General cleaning

Leaving your apartment dirty will result in your landlord deducting from your security deposit to cover cleaning costs. Even basic apartment-wide cleaning tasks can run a deduction into the double-digits. So to avoid being charged for excessive cleaning costs, keep up with your cleaning routine, and leave your apartment “broom clean.”

Five Common Security Deposit Deductions Your Landlord Can Take

It’s essential to leave your apartment in the same condition as when you moved in so you can receive your full deposit when you move out. After removing your belongings, use a broom, vacuum, mop, and other cleaning supplies of choice to achieve that squeaky-clean initial condition (or at least get your apartment as clean as it was when you first moved in).

2. General repairs

Surface-level repairs and maintenance, such as repainting or sealing holes in the wall, can cause a significant reduction in how much you receive from your security deposit. It’s best practice to fill any large holes you’ve created before you leave as well as smaller holes from nails, screws, and the like. Many people use spackling paste for this purpose. 

More in-depth repairs, such as plumbing and electric, can be costly to fix, causing your landlord to deduct a large fee from your deposit. Inform your landlord of any electric and plumbing issues as they arise during your residency to prevent yourself from being charged after you move out. Given the high costs of repair, it’s better to have these issues repaired before you leave instead of being blamed and charged for the damage after moving out.

3. Interior fixtures

Make sure to replace batteries for carbon monoxide and smoke detectors before you move out. Additionally, defective appliances should be fixed before moving out, whether you can do it yourself or you need to have your landlord bring in an expert. If damage occurs to a fixture or appliance in your apartment, ask your landlord to take care of it when the problem first appears instead of waiting – you’ll save more money this way.

4. Doors and windows

It’s important to replace faulty doorknobs, doors, and window panes. Perhaps you can’t do some of these replacements by yourself, but some door and window repairs may be easier than you think. Either you do it yourself or get your landlord to hire someone to repair the damage — again, don’t wait until you’ve moved out. 

5. Items left behind

Packing and moving everything you own may be a daunting task, but you shouldn’t leave anything behind. Leaving things in your apartment after you move out can be costly for your landlord because of the labor it takes to remove it. 

Some tenants leave mattresses and box springs behind, but doing so is ill-advised even if these objects are tough to move – your landlord can charge you high sums for these left-behind items in particular. If you need to get rid of large items, look into donating them to charity, hiring a junk hauling company, or selling them online.

The key takeaway: Fix faults as they happen

In general, if you want to receive your full deposit amount after you move out, you should always strive to repair damages right after they occur. Many people recommend taking a picture before you move in to keep track of any damages the apartment has when you first move in. Your landlord can fix issues while you’re living there instead of withholding money from your security deposit after you move out.

Do you have any advice to ensure that people receive their full security deposit after moving out of apartments? Sound off in the comments!

Published at Tue, 29 Sep 2020 22:42:32 +0000

5 Best Self Storage Facilities in Richmond, VA

5 Best Self Storage Facilities in Richmond, VA

Known for its great variety of activities in the open air, Richmond seems to be the epitome of the good life for all outdoor lovers, from water enthusiasts to avid cyclists or adventurous hikers. As we know how important it is to keep all that hobby gear in pristine condition, you might want to consider self storage as a solution for keeping it safe and protected. There are plenty of good storage spaces available in Richmond of all types and sizes; you just need to know what you plan to store. Smaller units can hold bicycles and ski equipment, for example, but bigger units, such as a 10×10, are needed to store more items, including gardening equipment, home appliances, or large pieces of furniture. Prices start as low as $30 per month, so you’ll have no trouble finding a suitable storage space that’s also within your budget.

Want to see what your options are right now? Here is a list of five of the best storage facilities in Richmond, chosen based on the amenities they provide as well as their popularity with customers:

This self storage facility is located in Richmond at 8025 Midlothian Turnpike. You can rent small, medium, and large climate-controlled or non-climate-controlled self storage units that range from 20 sq. ft. to 500 sq. ft. The facility has 24-hour drive-up access and parking that ensures you can easily collect or drop off your belongings. An onsite manager will help you with any potential issues that may arise and security cameras will ensure that your items are kept safe. The prices start at $40 and go up to over $300 for large, climate-controlled units.

If you’re looking for a storage unit to fit all your needs, this Richmond self storage facility located at 318 Cowardin Avenue could be the best choice. You can choose from small, medium, or large units that range from 20 sq. ft. to 300 sq. ft. The parking and the drive-up access offer an easy way in, while the onsite manager can help and guide you through the property. Security camera surveillance and entrance gate will ensure the safety of your belongings as well. Self storage prices at Mini Price Storage, 318 Cowardin Avenue, start as low as $30 and go up to $215  for a large storage unit.

This facility at 5500 Brook Road offers a variety of small, medium, and large self storage units that range from 25 sq. ft. to 200 sq. ft., with prices starting as low as $40. It offers its customers drive-up access as well as parking, with security cameras to make sure all the items are kept safe.

This Extra Space Storage facility is located at 5202 West Broad Street in Richmond, and it has units that range from 20 sq. ft. all the way up to 600 sq. ft. You can store your precious belongings here without any worry because the facility has security cameras and an onsite manager to supervise the building. The 24-hour drive-up access, the gate, and the parking will make your visit smooth and easy. The prices at Extra Space Storage, 5202 West Broad Street, vary from $38 for a small unit to $705 for a large 20×30 unit.

Another Richmond self storage facility that will most likely satisfy all your needs is this Extra Space Storage located on 1140 North Laburnum Avenue. You can choose small, medium, or large units with sizes that range from 16 sq. ft. to 540 sq. ft., and prices that start as low as $42. The facility offers 24-hour drive-up access as well as parking to ensure you’re able to access your belongings any time you want. The surveillance security ensures your items are kept safe until you’re ready to pick them up.

If these five properties we listed are not conveniently located for you, you can easily browse through all the other self storage facilities in Richmond and find one that suits all your needs!

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Published at Fri, 18 Sep 2020 09:11:50 +0000

10 Things to Know About Living in Dallas

10 Things to Know About Living in Dallas

Nicknamed “The Big D,” Dallas is the largest inland metropolitan area in the U.S. It’s also among the most diverse with a large-scale downtown area and laid-back living in the surrounding suburban neighborhoods.

Whether you enjoy finding new restaurant hot spots, going out to swanky bars or exploring the city’s culture, living in Dallas lends itself to an array of adventure. Here are the top 10 things to know about living in this big, beautiful city.

1. Dallas can be pricey, but worth it

Living in Dallas can cost you a pretty penny — 7.6 percent more than the national average when you factor in costs, such as groceries, housing, utilities, transportation and health care. Still, Dallas apartments alone can cost slightly less than elsewhere in the nation, averaging $1,544 for a one-bedroom apartment.

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Keep in mind, that figure can vary considerably depending on where you decide to plant your roots.

  • The average rent in upscale Uptown is about $2,020. But with its walkability to boutique shops, plentiful restaurants, retail salons and the Katy Trail, this picturesque and well-kept neighborhood can be well worth the price.
  • If you’re looking for somewhere a little more affordable, there’s trendy and hip Deep Ellum. This neighborhood is made up of large-scale street murals, artwork from local artists, live music venues and different breweries on almost every street corner. The average cost of rent for a one-bedroom is right around the national average at $1,686.
  • Meanwhile, Lakewood is a well-priced, highly desirable neighborhood due to bordering White Rock Lake and its accessibility to the Lower Greenville entertainment district. One of the best elementary schools in Dallas is in Lakewood, making this neighborhood attractive if you have kids. The average cost of rent for a one-bedroom is $1,534.

deep ellum dallas

2. Getting around is easy peasy

No matter where you live in Dallas, it’s easy to get around and explore different parts of the city. The highways are fairly clear of bumper-to-bumper traffic, besides rush hour. There also are toll roads, rideshares and the DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) system that runs from 5 a.m. to midnight to help get you from point A to point B, as needed.

3. We’re more outdoorsy than you might expect

When you think of Dallas, you might not think of outdoor activities or recreation. But, there are many beautiful lakes, parks and trails throughout the city. You can rent kayaks or a stand-up paddleboard on White Rock Lake, bike around Katy Trail and spend a day hiking at one of the many nature preserves.

4. It’s a foodie’s paradise

Everything is bigger in Texas and that includes the appetites in Dallas. This city is a foodie’s dream place to live. There are always different restaurant concepts and cool food trucks popping up. The drinking and dining scene buzzes with newness. Trinity Groves is a favorite place to head for diverse options within walking distance, not to mention views of the downtown Dallas skyline.

5. You’ll need a four-season wardrobe

Living in Dallas, you’ll experience scorching summers and mild, but tolerable, winters. During the summer, warm, dry winds will lend to an almost desert-like feel — there are days where it will feel hotter than a dry sauna. Temperatures rarely drop below freezing during the winter, but when they do, you’ll want to have at least one thick coat, a scarf and gloves in your closet.

dallas cowboys

6. Ever heard of “America’s Favorite Team?”

Dallas offers sports fanatics plenty of entertainment options, including the Dallas Cowboys. Dallas’s national football team may be the most iconic, but there’s also the Texas Rangers for baseball, Dallas Stars for hockey and Dallas Mavericks for basketball, to name a few. The games are enjoyable to attend whether you’re into sports or not. You can go to be entertained, enjoy a few overpriced stadium beers and feed off the overly energetic vibe of the fans.

7. No lack of shopping options

From shopping malls to antique stores, Dallas does not lack in the retail department. One of the best spots to shop like a local is Northpark Center, which is a 2-million-square-foot mall offering high-end designer stores to fast fashion. There are many open-air shopping centers around Dallas, too. Highland Park Village is in a ritzy part of town, so plan to spend some big bucks. On the flip side, you can score designer dupes and bargain items for less at Allen Premium Outlets about 25 minutes north of Dallas in Allen.

8. Markets happen all-year ’round

Shopping local is easy in Dallas, where you can find a multitude of handcrafted and fresh-picked products at the city’s popular markets. The Boho Market is one of Texas’s largest makers markets, popping up on weekends in different areas of the city. There’s also the Dallas Farmer’s Market, which offers fresh produce from regional farmers in an open-air shed downtown.

dallas yoga

9. There are endless free things to do

If you like freebies (and who doesn’t?), Dallas offers plenty for the picking. Downtown‘s Klyde Warren Park features 5.2 acres with free outdoor movie screenings and fitness classes like Zumba and yoga. You can also explore Uptown by way of the free hop-on-and-off McKinney Avenue Trolley. Or, head to the Arts District where you’ll find free entry at the Dallas Museum of Art, one of the largest art museums in America. There, you can spend a day admiring more than 22,000 works of art without reaching for your wallet.

10. Parties and parades are always going on

Living in Dallas can be very eventful. There are always parties, festivals, parades and even the Texas State Fair to look forward to. The Dallas St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Festival is the largest in the Southwest with close to 125,000 people gathering to experience food trucks, exhibitor booths, family-friendly activities and live entertainment.

Living in Dallas

Come join the excitement of living in Dallas! Explore great apartment options here and trust that you’re making the right decision to move to Dallas because it’s a beautiful, unique and ever-changing city.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. Data was pulled in September 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.
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.

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Published at Tue, 22 Sep 2020 13:00:32 +0000

Cast-Iron Skillet vs. Dutch Oven: Which Is Better for Your First Apartment?

Cast-Iron Skillet vs. Dutch Oven: Which Is Better for Your First Apartment?

Cooking at home saves you money, but you need the right kitchenware to do it. You may have noticed in many recipes that chefs call for Dutch ovens and cast iron skillets. Both can go from the stove to the oven, and they can evenly cook food better than traditional pots and pans. Additionally, both are great for cooking stews, chili, meats, and casseroles. But is one better for your kitchen? Below, explore the pros and cons of choosing a cast-iron skillet versus a Dutch oven for your first apartment.

Space

Thinking about kitchen storage before you buy your kitchenware is essential. Cast-iron skillets are usually easier to store even though some can be wider and require more horizontal space than a Dutch oven. They can be conveniently stacked with other skillets. 

Cast-Iron Skillet vs. Dutch Oven Which Is Better for Your First Apartment

Dutch ovens (usually made from cast-iron and sometimes with an enamel coating) come in a wide array of sizes, but standard five to seven-quart models can take up a bit of vertical space in cabinets and on countertops. They may even take up too much space if your kitchen is small and your apartment doesn’t offer much storage space. Depending on a Dutch oven’s size, it might not fit in your oven or on your shelves.

Weight

An advantage of cooking with a cast-iron skillet instead of a Dutch oven is its lighter weight, as Dutch ovens are significantly heavier than a skillet. Cast-iron skillets typically weigh around five pounds. Dutch ovens often weigh 14 pounds or more. , Food inside a Dutch oven can make it even heavier, which can make it especially tough to work with as you bring it to and from the oven. 

Use

Since most Dutch ovens are made of cast-iron and have tight lids, they retain very heat well. That’s why Dutch ovens are best used for foods that require extended periods of braising or stewing. They retain heat so effectively that if you’re not careful, you can burn your food if you cook it at too high a temperature. 

Additionally, Dutch ovens can be used for baking and campfire cooking because the lids tightly secure your food. The best foods to cook in a Dutch oven are chilis, soups, pastas, casseroles, breads, and multiple servings of meat.

Cast-iron skillets are also oven-proof, but their lids are typically not tight-fitting compared to Dutch ovens. However, skillets may be better for simmering, sauteing, and frying food. If you love breakfast dishes, vegetables, sauteing meat, and stove-top stir fry dishes, cast-iron skillets are more suitable to cook these foods.

Price

A cast-iron skillet is typically much more affordable than a Dutch oven. Cast-iron Dutch ovens are usually twice the price of a skillet (or even more). Enameled cast-iron Dutch ovens are more expensive than cast-iron Dutch ovens without an enamel coating. 

There are a couple of reasons you might want to spend more for an enameled cast-iron pot. Enameled pots don’t need to be seasoned before you use them, and they’re not prone to rust, unlike traditional cast iron.

Number of people you’re feeding

If you’re cooking for yourself or a small number of people in your first apartment, it’s best to purchase a smaller skillet or Dutch oven. A 10 to 13 inch skillet is perfect for cooking just a few servings of food. A Dutch oven under six quarts can also feed two to four people. If you regularly feed more than four people, a wider, deeper cast-iron skillet or Dutch oven will be more suitable for your needs.

If you like to quickly cook food for yourself and just a couple of other people, a cast-iron skillet might be the best kitchenware for you. They are more affordable and take up less space in a small kitchen in an apartment. On the other hand, Dutch ovens are best for serving food in larger quantities, and they are more suitable if you have more countertop and storage space.

Which do you prefer: a cast-iron skillet or a Dutch oven? Sound off in the comments!

Published at Mon, 21 Sep 2020 22:53:39 +0000

A September State of Mind

A September State of Mind

Hi friends. So sorry to go completely MIA on you. Between attempting online school with a five-year-old, much of California burning to the ground, and the general state total chaos in which we find ourselves, getting to the computer for any length of time has been a bit of challenge, to put it mildly. And then I blinked and summer is officially over.

But I had to finally get on here as I have big news for you!

They say you shouldn’t make major life decisions during times of extreme stress, right? Well, we decided to throw all caution to the wind and instead have purchased a coastal cottage in Washington State! Apparently a global pandemic, homeschooling a kindergartner and the most consequential presidential election of our lifetime wasn’t enough to keep me busy.

coastal cottage mood board on Apartment 34

In all seriousness, if the past seven months of Covid have taught us anything, it’s the importance of friends and family and so we decided to create a gathering place that can bring together those we love most for years to come. Nestled within the myriad of inlets and islands that dot the Puget Sound north of Seattle, the cottage enjoys sweeping views of the Olympic mountains and Hood Canal. I consider it my official respite from the impending doom. Sadly it looks nothing like the inspiration images I’ve collected here.

Instead, it is going to take a LOT of work to get our little coastal cottage visitor ready – and in a very short period of time. Over the coming weeks, I plan to take you along on the entire design journey. I will be sharing everything with you – from the cottage’s current state, to all of my design inspiration and through the remodel process. If all goes according to plan, I’ll share a major before and after reveal in time to spend the holiday season with our family rather than more than 800 miles away.

coastal cottage mood board on Apartment 34

Trust me, we’re going to have plenty to discuss, as I have to pick an entire household’s worth of things – from paint colors and kitchen cabinets down to dishware, bedding and everything in between. No design decision will be left unturned. It’s both exhilarating and incredibly daunting. These mood boards are just part my first ideation session for my dream vibe.

I’m hopeful sharing this process with you will offer you some fresh design ideas and positive inspiration as we all hunker down to weather what will undoubtedly be a stormy fall – be it literally or just politically. It’s been a rather dark year and I feel like this might be a way to share a little bit of light. I know I am very happy for the creative distraction. I hope you are too.

I can’t wait to share more very soon!

Published at Tue, 08 Sep 2020 06:00:09 +0000

Idea to Steal: Wall-to-Wall Headboards

Idea to Steal: Wall-to-Wall Headboards

Oh hi friend, just popping up for air between homeschooling and well, I guess I’m not getting air because the entire west coast is on fire and the air quality is some of the worst in the world. Did you hear that the presidential election is now less than 50 days away. Have you registered to vote? Ensured you’ll receive your mail-in ballot? Have a voting plan? CLICK HERE if not.

Idea to Steal: Wall-to-Wall Headboards

But I digress. As you might have seen last week, I have new project that is distracting me from impending doom – the Hood Canal Coastal Cottage and I have been diving deeeeep in design this past week as our timeline to get this baby done is mega short. Like six weeks short. But I’ll dig into all those details once we actually close and I can walk you through everything.

For now, let’s have a convo about bedrooms, shall we? We spend a lot of time in them right? I tend to work from mine late into the wee hours. One of the biggest trouble spots I’m running into with the Coastal Cottage are the bedrooms. I think bedrooms are my achilles heel (as was evidenced by our guest room in This Old Victorian. And the main bedroom. But who’s counting.) It just feels impossible to come up with something that seems interesting (without resorting to majorly expensive finishes or design elements and we are on a budget here people! More on that discussion to come as well).

Living spaces are my jam. I can walk into any type of living space and visualize what it needs almost instantly. Maybe it’s because bedrooms are usually just a box, and often a pretty small one that limits my thinking. I just have the hardest time coming up with innovative solutions for bedroom design. But one idea has been catching my eye in all my late-night scrolling – so much so that I just had to whip up this post for you.

My latest Idea to Steal (and the one I’m trying to convince the husband to let me do in the Coastal Cottage) is wall-to-wall headboards.

Idea to Steal: Wall-to-Wall Headboards on Apartment34Idea to Steal: Wall-to-Wall Headboards on Apartment34Idea to Steal: Wall-to-Wall Headboards on Apartment34Idea to Steal: Wall-to-Wall Headboards on Apartment34

You might also call this look a bed ledge. The utility of wall-to-wall headboards are endless. It’s an easy way to inject another color, wood tone or texture to your bedroom. You can also use the wall-to-wall headboard to house bedside tables and lighting, saving floor space and keeping things minimal.

But I also love that the bed ledge offers the perfect spot to display pieces you love. From artwork to plants, vases or ceramics – you have a spot to add life and personality to your space without adding additional furniture to your room.

The challenge is with the wall-to-wall headboard is actually creating one. This isn’t an off the shelf solution. You’ll likely need to employ a carpenter or be very industrious with your DIYs to create something that works. I’ve seen very simple pine and even particle board versions that don’t seem too intimidating. But slatted wall-to-wall headboards or versions with more design detail could require a pro. I would argue the investment is worth it.

How about you? Maybe if this post gets enough comments, my husband will be convinced!

For our entire Idea to Steal archive CLICK HERE.

images the local project / leibalstudiomk27 / barnabylane, cultiver

Published at Tue, 15 Sep 2020 17:03:07 +0000

You Have a Rare Chance of Spotting Neptune In the Sky This Week

You Have a Rare Chance of Spotting Neptune In the Sky This Week

Nicoletta Richardson

Senior Associate Editor, News and Culture

In her spare time, Nicoletta loves scrolling through Airbnb, doing at-home workouts, and nurturing her plant babies. Her work has appeared in Women’s Health, AFAR, Tasting Table, and Travel + Leisure, among others. A graduate from Fairfield University, Nicoletta majored in English and minored in Art History and Anthropology, and she not-so-secretly dreams of exploring her family lineage in Greece one day.

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Published at Thu, 10 Sep 2020 22:17:04 +0000

5 Things I Had to Google While Refinancing My Home

5 Things I Had to Google While Refinancing My Home

Buying a home for the first time was confusing enough. But then the Coronavirus pandemic hit and interest rates dropped to record lows. I started seeing headline after headline about refinancing. “Is this something I should be doing?” I thought to myself. I’d purchased my home in Colorado just a year before, was it too soon to refinance? 

As it turns out, refinancing did make sense for my situation—something I only learned after some pretty extensive research. Even after I decided to move forward, I kept on researching, largely because my lender talked a mile a minute and threw out tons of acronyms that whizzed right over my head.

If you’re as perplexed about refinancing as I was, allow me to help—here are a few of the things I had to Google before, during, and after the process.

Who are Fannie and Freddie?

I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I really had no idea who Fannie and Freddie were (oops!). But I have a feeling I’m not alone in this one. 

Here’s the scoop. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are government-sponsored enterprises that help keep the U.S. housing market running smoothly by buying mortgages from banks and lenders on the so-called secondary market. In essence, Fannie and Freddie make sure banks have enough cash in order to be able to offer you an affordable mortgage. They either hold onto the mortgages themselves or package them together into mortgage-backed securities, which investors can buy. Fannie tends to buy mortgages from large banks, while Freddie buys them from smaller lenders.

What is an appraisal waiver?

Here’s another term that threw me for a loop: An appraisal waiver. Rather than ordering a traditional appraisal to determine the market value of my home, my lender offered to waive the appraisal and instead calculated the value of my home using available data. 

Appraisal waivers, also known as property inspection waivers, have become more common during the coronavirus pandemic, since it’s not very safe to have an appraiser enter multiple homes on the same day. An appraisal waiver can save you money since you’re not paying for an appraisal ($625 in my case) and help speed up your closing.

Refinancing involves replacing your existing home loan with a brand new one, ideally with better terms. As part of that process, your new lender will pay off your old loan—literally, write a check for the remaining balance on your mortgage. This is what’s known as a loan payoff, and it happens just before you close on your new loan. It’s confusing because, for a few days, you’re sort of in mortgage limbo while you transition from one loan to the next. But it’s all just a normal part of the refinancing process. Once your old loan is paid off, you can start fresh with your new loan and start taking advantage of the better terms.

What is a demand feature?

While scanning the billions of pages of documents associated with my refinance (OK, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit here!), I saw the phrase “demand feature” with a box checked “no” next to it. What does this mean? 

A mortgage with a demand feature means that your lender can require you to repay the loan for any reason, at any time. As you can imagine, that’s a pretty scary concept—not very many people have hundreds of thousands of dollars just lying around. Fortunately, demand features are not all that common, but this is a good reminder to read all of the documents your lender sends you very carefully—you want to be extra sure you don’t accidentally overlook something.

What is a notary signing agent?

Because I closed on my new loan during the pandemic, there wasn’t a big closing meeting around a conference table with lots of people. Instead, a notary signing agent came to my house—it was just the two of us. We sat at my kitchen counter and she explained all of the various closing documents to me before I signed them. 

But what’s a notary signing agent, anyway? You’ve probably heard the term “notary public” before. This is a person given authority, often by your state government, to serve as an impartial witness for important moments that involve signing documents. A notary signing agent is a more specific type of notary, one who understands the ins and outs of real estate transactions. And they play an important role during closing, too. These independent agents verify your identity, make sure you understand what you’re signing, and ensure that you’re signing of your own free will.

Published at Sun, 06 Sep 2020 14:00:06 +0000

The Best Music for Working from Home

The Best Music for Working from Home

Among the many side effects of physical offices closing during the coronavirus crisis is the massive increase in people working from home.

As of this summer, a whopping 42 percent of everyone in the workforce is telecommuting full time. And both for those who have been working in a home office for a long time and those for whom this is a brand new experience, making your home office a place for productivity is a challenge.

With all the distractions — both physical and emotional — of working from your living room or home office, what better way to make your space your own than creating your own soundtrack to work to. But what’s the best music for working from home? Why is listening to music beneficial to your WFH life, and what genres best promote continued quality work?

person listening to music

The benefits of music while working

Why should you listen to music while working from home? Because music can help you be more productive, more creative or just happier. A silent room can be just as distracting as an over-stimulated environment. It can also drown out the sounds of your partner working in the other room, a cranky baby, a needy puppy, noisy neighbors or the sounds of the city.

Creates positive emotions

A happy worker is a productive worker. For many people, working from home is a new phenomenon and can cause worry about being distanced from co-workers and friends and falling into a poor mood which will affect the work.

It should be no surprise that the right music can make you happy. We all have that one song or one band that puts us in a good mood. And studies predictably confirm that happy employees are more productive and more efficient. In fact, more research shows that people who listen to music are happier than those who don’t. And who doesn’t want to be happy at work, even at home?

Brings the upbeat vibes

Music can also bounce out that 2:30 feeling, those times during the workday where you need a pick me up. In a normal world, that may have been a trip over to the office kitchen for a snack and/or gossip and a few moments away from your desk.

But when working from home, that midday lull can be alleviated with some upbeat tunes to kickstart yourself. Happy, uplifting music can also assuage the boredom of a particularly mundane or repetitive task and turn that project you were dreading into something much more appealing.

Drowns out distracting noises

The most practical use of music for working from home is lessening distractions. Back in the office, you were surrounded by people holding too-loud conversations, clacking away on keyboards or drowning you in the sounds of cold and flu season. Tossing on the earbuds took you away to a different place to concentrate on your tasks at hand.

At home, it’s the same thing, just different distractions. From barking dogs to kids in Zoom school to your neighbors running the vacuum way too often, a solid work-from-home playlist will keep you focused and on task.

Improves memory and cognition

It’s not just productivity that music heightens, but your memory and actual work performance. Sure, a great work-from-home playlist will get you excited and moving on that new project, but music can actually make your work better.

Recent studies have shown that listening to background music enhances episodic memory and improves your cognitive performance. Just imagine what the right background music can do to the quality of your work with better memory and optimizing your executive functions.

classical music

The best music for working from home

There are a lot of choices of music to listen to. Spotify alone defines nearly 2,500 different genres. But not every one of them is the perfect music for working from home for every person. You may be into melodic metalcore or Canadian indie or LGBT hip hop, but some genres promote productivity, creativity and concentration more than others.

Here are some of the best musical genres for working from home and keeping your day up and running between your morning coffee and your end of the day wrap up. And for each, we’ve provided some great work from home playlists to get you started.

1. Classical

Talk about staying power. Classical music dates back 500 years but remains popular today. Upwards of 35 percent of adults listen to classical, making it the fourth-most-popular genre — and the perfect background noise for your work from home. Classical music is many things at once: uplifting, moody, aural, familiar, mellow, inspiring — sometimes all within the confines of one piece or movement. And it’s a great WFH soundtrack.

The “Mozart Effect” theory says classical music makes you smarter, that it’s good for test-taking, studying and working, particularly creative work. Other studies have shown that classical music can boost your mood, increase productivity and even improve the quality of your work.

But classical music is a very broad genre spanning some 50 decades, so where to begin? One survey found that the Baroque period — think Bach, Vivaldi and Handel — fostered an increase in positive disposition and concentration.

Classical work-from-home playlists

rock concert

2. Epic and anthemic music

Soaring. Moving. Epic. Anthemic music is a style that crosses genres from the biggest arena rock bands and ’90s modern rockers to country storytellers and jock jams. It’s music that gets you on your feet, powerful celebratory songs with memorable choruses that project triumph.

It’s music that makes you feel like you can take on the world and accomplish anything. Even finishing that spreadsheet or submitting that HR project right on time.

Anthemic or epic music can inspire grandiosity and motivate you to get through that tough assignment or meet that goal. It’s sports anthems like “We Will Rock You” or “Takin’ Care of Business.” Soaring contemporary classical pieces like “Fanfare For The Common Man.” Inspiring heart-pumpers like “The Rising” or “Born This Way.” Or genre-defining hip-hop like “Fight The Power” and “It Was a Good Day.”

Like athletes getting off the bus, focused and Beats headphones on, anthemic music makes you feel uplifted, empowered and ready for game time. Is it music you should spend all day listening to while you work? Probably not. But if you’re feeling tired, beaten or simply unmotivated, high-powered anthems might just be the answer to sitting up straight and showing your boss who is boss.

Epic and anthemic work-from-home playlists

3. Ambient music

Ambient music may have a reputation as just elevator music or random soundscapes, but it’s so much more. It could be a colorful house or techno playlist. World music or indie shoegaze. Synths or space rock. But no matter what the subgenre, ambient music makes for a distraction-free backdrop to your workday.

The pioneer of ambient music and the iconic artist-producer Brian Eno, who created the ambient music masterwork “Music for Airports,” described the genre as, “able to accommodate many levels of listening attention without enforcing one in particular, as ignorable as it is interesting.” Music that won’t steal your attention yet fills the silence while you’re working may be the genre for you.

There are as many exciting artists as there are classifications of ambient music. Sample the spacey sounds of Enya and Enigma, electronica of Aphex Twin, old school prog Pink Floyd and Moody Blues, ambient pop of Talk Talk or Nick Cave, downtempo chillwave of Kygo or Toro y Moi or atmospheric dream pop of Dizzy and The XX.

Ambient work-from-home playlists

4. Feel-good music

Ever walked into a dentist’s office and the local hot adult contemporary station is playing over the intercom? Of course. Because feel-good music makes you… feel good. No one loves the dentist’s office, but maybe you’ll feel a little better if Hall & Oates or Britney Spears is playing. Songs that bring a smile to your face and make you move your feet a little (but not too much).

Pop music designed to make you feel happy even while you’re toiling away at work is perfect for working from home. It’s possible your old office even had this pumping through the hallways or in the kitchen. Because feel-good pop can make the day go by a little faster.

As you’re rushing towards deadlines or unburying yourself from an email avalanche – or even if the boss has just been on your tail all day — sometimes you need to do a little walking on sunshine to bring your motivation back. None of this is meant to be deep and thought-provoking. Feel good music is supposed to be like a snack break or a candy bar, to stimulate the happiness centers of your brain and release that hit of dopamine to get you onto the next task.

But take care to avoid songs with narrative lyrics or story songs, as music that tells a linear story has been shown to be distracting to cognitive work. So, blast the Pharrell or Barenaked Ladies, but stay away from the Don McLean, Gordon Lightfoot and Harry Chapin.

Feel-good work-from-home playlists

chill vibe music

5. Chill vibes music

Not every work situation calls for music that makes you move. Reading heavy text or concentrating on a difficult task might take something to ease the nerves and keep you relaxed. Some chill music — folk rock, smooth country or just good old classic acoustic rock — might be just what you need certain times during the day.

Acoustic or muted guitar, smooth vocals, light instrumentation and an uncomplicated beat is just the soundtrack for a stressful job or project. Cue up indie-folk jammers like Hozier, Dan Mangan, Phoebe Bridgers or Vance Joy, chill crooners including Ed Sheeran, Ingrid Michaelson or John Mayer, acoustic old-schoolers such as James Taylor, Cat Stevens or Rickie Lee Jones or just a great album of acoustic hits like Arkells’ “Campfire Chords” or something moody like “Folklore” from Taylor Swift.

But be wary of playlists heavy with your favorite songs. A study has shown listening to tracks with lyrics you know by heart, or “familiar vocal music,” can decrease your performance through distraction while you fight the urge to sing along, even in your head. Sounds like the perfect time to catch up on some new music you aren’t familiar with.

Chill vibes work-from-home playlists

6. Video game soundtracks

If you’re over a certain age, this category is going to make very little sense. But one of the best choices for music for working at home are video game songs. We’re not talking about 8-bit Atari beebop or Nintendo chiptunes. This is thematic, pointed and often soaring music specifically designed to enhance the video game experience.

Video game music is a marketing tool, designed to enhance your gaming experience. If you’re winding your way through a fantasy landscape or dodging enemy fire as you infiltrate enemy hordes, video game music can help you focus, keep your energy levels up or even just keep you playing. The same can be done with those soundtracks while you work alone in the living room.

These are compositions to encourage you to reach for that next level, whether it be in your first-person shooter, your epic fantasy adventure or your latest work project. It can help you avoid obstacles and collaborate with your friends, in the game or in the work huddle. This is the strategic music you’ll find in games like Bastion, SimCity, Thumper, Doom, Final Fantasy, Journey and Legend of Zelda.

Video game work-from-home playlists

7. Instrumental music

A study by two researchers at Middle Tennessee State University found students who listened to instrumental music scored higher on tests than those that listened to lyrical music. Logically, it makes sense. For some, a song with lyrics is akin to someone standing behind you talking while you’re working. In fact, an NIH paper showed that music needs to be lyric-free for it to promote productivity.

The great thing about instrumental music is it can literally be any music devoid of lyrics or words. Instrumentals exist in every single genre (well, maybe not a cappella or barbershop). No matter what music you enjoy, you can type away and crunch those numbers with soothing or inspiring music-only tracks bereft of those pesky words. Country, indie, classical, power ballads, skiffle, trip-hop — every genre has perfect instrumental music to fit your needs.

Instrumental work-from-home playlists

nature sounds

8. Nature and real-world sounds

Sometimes the soundtrack to your day doesn’t even have to be music. Filling your living room or home office with the sounds of nature can put you in a variety of moods, from motivated and amped to relaxed and attentive. The choices are endless and only limited by your tastes. Choose from classics like waterfalls, an afternoon thunderstorm, rustling leaves, a crashing surf, morning birds chirping or a crackling campfire.

The most useful noises don’t even have to be of the natural variety. Try something out of the box like rain hitting the roof of a car, an oscillating fan, a clacking train or a running washing machine. Are you really missing the office? Why not fill the silence with the actual background sounds of an office.

Is this still too disruptive? Help block out distractions with the neutral sounds of white noise. Just ask your smart speaker to play some.

Nature work-from-home playlists

Picking the right music for you

No one genre or music type is going to be exactly what you need every minute of the day. Take a cue from a music therapy concept called the Iso Principle. This technique calls for starting with music that mirrors your current mood and gradually ramping up to songs that match the mood you want to be in.

Start the morning with something slow that can ease you into your day without forcing you to be productive. Then, transition into some power jams that will increase your performance and get you pumped for finishing that big project or the day’s task.

Looking for a sweet spot to feed your day? One research report concluded that music clocking in at about 121 beats per minute was optimal for productivity. Think songs like “December” by Collective Soul, The Bangles’ “Manic Monday” or “My People” from Missy Elliott.

But no matter what genre you decide on, the only goal is to find what’s best for you. Studies show that while listening to music does aid in completing tasks quicker and improving cognitive thinking, how much it actually helps you concentrate depends on how much you actually like the music being played. So, find your jam, and get it done.

Published at Thu, 03 Sep 2020 13:00:05 +0000

Abundant in Entertainment and Great Food, Fishtown Is Philly’s Hottest Neighborhood

Abundant in Entertainment and Great Food, Fishtown Is Philly’s Hottest Neighborhood

The Fishtown neighborhood has been named a lot of things: New York City’s 6th borough, the hottest neighborhood in the country, the hipster heaven. Whatever you call it, one thing is true, Fishtown is booming right now. Its location, further out from Center City yet still connected, appeals to young families and professionals tired of the hustle and bustle but who still want the urban lifestyle. It’s boasting an eclectic mix of art and culture alongside one of the best food and nightlife scenes in the city.

Where is Fishtown?

Fishtown is a small neighborhood located directly north of Northern Liberties, next to Olde Kensington and just below Olde Richmond. Its eastern edge hugs the Delaware River, where many tall, modern buildings are fighting to capitalize on the expansive views of this up-and-coming neighborhood. It’s somewhat of a border or a transition area, where this part of Philly shifts from urban (Fishtown) to more residential (Olde Richmond). Due to its location right on top of it, a similar price point, and the shared, more hipster vibe, Fishtown often gets lumped in with Northern Liberties, but they are two distinct neighborhoods.

History

Ask any of the locals and they’ll say the same thing about Fishtown: it has changed a lot in recent years. It has been labeled the hottest neighborhood in America at points, which is perhaps surprising to those who have been there for generations.

Originally, Fishtown was part of a network of mostly working-class neighborhoods where much of the citiy’s blue-collar European immigrant population lived. Now, it is the sparkling hub of Philadelphia, a nod to the development that has been sweeping the city for decades. Yet still, to this day, Fishtown has the largest number of historical (not designated) buildings in the city.

Developments spring up almost nightly, it feels like, with everyone wanting to get in on this booming market. Real estate prices have multiplied every decade while still offering bargains, a developer’s dream scenario. The result has been new buildings and a shift in the entire neighborhood to a younger, more lively area.

Lifestyle

What to do

Fishtown is the best of both worlds, an urban environment with fun bars and delicious restaurants mixed in with winding, residential streets and modern apartment buildings.

One of Philly’s casinos is down on the waterfront here as is Penn Treaty Park which provides seven acres of green space for local families, dogs, and residents to enjoy. Lokal Hotel’s Fishtown location offers a quaint, boutique spot to spend the night.

With awards for restaurants and businesses pouring in and developers itching to get their fingers on a piece of it all, Fishtown has become arguably the hippest place in Philly. Yet amazingly, the rental prices are still somewhat affordable on average when compared to the rest of the city. Or at least, not wildly expensive.

Where to eat & drink

One of them is Suraya, a Lebanese eatery that has dominated Philly’s food media coverage for the past couple of years since it opened. Nearby Philly Style Bagels took home the award for the best sandwich a few years back (not in Philly, in the country).

The neighborhood has a thriving party scene, bolstered by spots like Barcade and Frankford Hall, while also hosting some of the best-known restaurants in Philadelphia.

Evil Genius has become one of Philadelphia’s best loved beers, and it brews right from Fishtown. Their rotating mix of homemade beers is served up in a small indoor bar or cozy outdoor garden.

Moving to Fishtown

Real Estate Snapshot

Rent in Fishtown is a bit higher than the city’s average but certainly not the most expensive in Philly. Apartments in Fishtown average at $1,770 a month, higher than Philly’s $1,652 and roughly the same as neighboring Northern Liberties. It’s more affordable than the other neighbor’s averages, with Olde Richmond beating it out by more than $100 a month.

Transportation

Fishtown is served by the Market-Frankford, one of the two rapid travel septa lines that goes all the way back to Center City in under 10 minutes. A light rail also travels from Girard Station further into Fishtown. If you’d rather skip public transit, Fishtown is an easy 2- or 3-mile drive (or a long walk for those inclined to a bit of exercise) back into Center City.

Schools & Employment

Public schools in Fishtown are not as highly graded as others in the city, but Kensington Creative & Performing Arts High School is a well-regarded specialty high school in the neighborhood. There are private options, though, such as St. Laurentius Catholic School. Temple University’s main campus is in nearby North Philly, but not directly in Fishtown.

Most residents in Fishtown either commute into the city or work in one of the area’s small businesses. There isn’t a lot of “industry” or corporate outposts in this part of the city, but many locals have tried out entrepreneurship by opening up a small shop or restaurant.

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Published at Tue, 01 Sep 2020 13:44:51 +0000