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Apartment Renting and Raving

Locating and loving your perfect apartment | Sponsored Content

No Gym? No Problem! Planning a Workout if Your Community Has No Gym

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DIY Apartment Maintenance: When to Take the Reins, and When to Call Management

Maintenance technicians at apartment communities tend to be sorely overworked and grossly underpaid. To get faster response times on the biggies like leaks and air conditioning repairs, you'll need to help take the smaller tasks off their plates. A lot of times, it's faster and easier to do the small stuff yourself.

Before you go on a fix-it crusade, it might be worth checking in with management. Most of the apartment communities that I managed gave out free supplies for the easier tasks whenever requested, so residents could keep a few backup supplies on hand for when things in the apartment broke down. You may also want to ask if there are any repairs in particular they would prefer you not take on, for warranty preservation or other reasons you may not be aware of. The last thing you want to do is botch a repair and end up costing yourself or the community money. …

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Protecting Your Apartment When You Go Out of Town

Now that you've found that perfect loft apartment in Tampa Bay, you have to find a way to protect it and the belongings you hold inside. The best idea is to get a trusted friend to housesit, but that's not always possible. If you have a trip coming up and no house sitter at the ready, the tips below will help you to fend for yourself:

And don't underestimate the value of renter's insurance. Nothing can guarantee you against a break-in, but at least renter's insurance can guarantee you against its aftermath. Policies are way cheaper than replacing your stuff!

What tricks do you use to protect your apartment when you go out of town?

About the Author

Tiffany Turpin Johnson is a former property manager and current writeographer represented by Annie Bomke Literary Agency. She is the founder of TJ Writeography, a freelance writing, editing, and photography service. Find her at Fictiffous and on Twitter at @Fictiffous.

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Reserving an Apartment in Uncertain Circumstances

Something great is coming. An offer letter for a great new job, or that school acceptance letter you've been waiting for. And when it arrives, you'll have to pick up and move across state-maybe even across country-at the drop of a hat, so you have to be ready. But how do you prepare for a future that hasn't even arrived yet? Apartment hunting for an uncertain future is certainly a gamble, but it's not impossible. If you're fairly certain you'll be getting good news, it might be better to get your new home lined up than to be left homeless when the letter arrives. Below are some tips to get you going:

Cancelling before move-in:

But what if there's no cancellation policy? Most property managers are just concerned about heads on beds. They want to make their budget, and they can't do it with apartments vacant. If you can't move into the apartment yourself, but there's no cancellation policy written into the lease, all hope may not be lost. Talk to the manager about these alternative options: …

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Navigating the School Zone of Your Apartment Home

 

If you're a parent, an apartment community's school zone will certainly top the list of search criteria for your next Tampa Bay apartment. Maybe you don't like the school for which you're currently zoned, or maybe you're researching schools in areas you're looking to move. Either way, you can broaden your search further than you thought. You're no longer stuck with the school zone you live in.

 

You may already have a desired school in mind and plan to only apartment hunt within that school's zone boundaries. Or you may have a range of acceptable schools and plan to cross off any communities that don't fall within those schools' zones. But that sprawling townhome you love so much-zoned for the district you less than love-may not be a lost cause, after all. Even if you can't afford private school tuition, many counties offer a short window each year for students to request transfers to other (possibly better-performing) county public schools, as long as there's space available. For example, Hillsborough County offers a wide variety of options through their Hillsborough Choice Options program, which even includes a virtual school possibility.

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Picking a Pet Friendly Property

For most people, pets are furry little family members. If that's true for you, don't forget to consider your pets when looking for your next apartment.

Pet Amenities

Some communities are naturally more pet-friendly than others. If the community has an onsite dog park or a fenced area for walks, or hosts pet-oriented events (such as puppy playdates or treat-‘n'-greets), you can feel pretty confident that management will be happy to have your four-legged family member move in.

But don't assume an absence of such amenities indicates an anti-pet policy. Smaller or family-owned communities may not have the space or budget for dog parks or pet events, but the attitudes of the office staff about pets go just as far toward a home's overall pet friendliness as its sparkly pet amenities (or lack thereof). My favorite apartment in Tampa Bay barely had enough parking spaces, much less a dog park, but they knew my dog's name and always had a treat ready for him in the office, and that kept both of us happy.

Stairs …

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Easy Ways to Lower Your Utility Bills in Warmer Months

Living in Florida has a lot of perks, like the ability to sunbathe in the middle of winter. But summers in Florida are brutal. If you're not careful, the utility bills in your Tampa Bay apartment can quadruple in the summer months. Unfortunately, the big replacements you can make in a house-energy-efficient appliances, insulated windows and doors-just aren't possible in a rental. But there are simple changes you can make that might add up to savings on your bills.

Electric

Electric bills are likely your opportunity to make the biggest difference. First you'll need to request an energy usage report from your property management team. They may already have one available, but if not, they should have the tools on hand to cobble one together. That way, you'll know which appliances in your apartment use the most electricity, and can conserve accordingly. Most people assume their air conditioning unit uses the most, which tends to be true, but you might be surprised how much power appliances like ovens, washers, and dryers use.

Gas

Many apartments no longer use gas, but if yours does, there are a couple of small changes you can make.

 

Water

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Apartment Hunting for Allergy Sufferers

 

Looking for your next apartment home can be stressful. If you have severe allergies, it can be extremely stressful. But it doesn't have to be. If you know what to look for, you can more easily narrow down your list. Use the tips below to tweak your search criteria and find your next anti-allergen apartment in Tampa Bay.

 

Flooring. Look for hardwood and/or linoleum. If you can't avoid carpet, look for low-pile varieties, and ask how recently it's been replaced. Brand new is best, even worth paying a premium for, but if you can't get new, the carpet should at least get a deep cleaning before you move in.

 

Ventilation. Air vents throughout the apartment should be free of dust and debris. Bathrooms should have exhaust fans to prevent mold growth. Air filters should be changed by maintenance staff at least every two months. Ask if HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters are provided. Many management companies will provide these special filters for allergy sufferers upon request.

 

Furniture. If you're getting a furnished apartment, go for varieties that don't use fabric upholstery. Metal, wood, and leather are good materials.

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Get the Best Bang for Your Buck: Four Areas for Thinking Beyond Rent and Fees in Selecting an Apartment You Can Afford

When thinking about apartment affordability, the most obvious considerations are the monthly rent amount and the upfront fees and deposits required for move-in. But rent and fees are far from being the only factors to consider. To fully appreciate how much an apartment will cost, you'll need to weigh the costs and benefits of each space you're considering. There are lots of elements that can affect your bottom line each month, so before you sign a lease, take these less-obvious potential costs and savings into account.

Services

Rent usually only covers the privilege of occupying a space. There are lots of other monthly fees for various items that can add up and push you over your living expenses budget, so be sure to think about each of these typical services in calculating your final cost.

Energy

Electric and gas bills vary greatly between communities and can quickly catapult a reasonable base rent into an unaffordable apartment.

Heat and A/C

Because the central heating and air conditioning system is generally the biggest energy sucker in an apartment, it deserves its own section. Below are some things to look for if you want to save big on your electric and/or gas bills.

Intangibles …

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