Roundup: Most Popular Posts of 2015

On this, the first year of 2016, we’d like to take a look back on last year’s most popular posts. Happy New Year!

Pittsburgh First Night
Happy New Year!

45 Uses for Dryer Sheets This is post links to one of our favorite life hacking articles of 2015 featuring more uses fro dryer sheets than we could have ever dreamed of.

Farmers Markets in the South Hills of Pittsburgh This post is actually from 2014, but a popular post is a popular post (even if it’s not farmers market season right now). Keep these markets in mind come spring, and you’ll be enjoying fresh, local produce for as long as it’s in season.

Day trips and weekend getaways around Pittsburgh Though this post is from summer, it’s still relevant in January. Sure, Cedar Point’s out, but, Seven Springs as a year-round wonderland of fun for the whole family.

Snow is falling on Pittsburgh, are you prepared?

It’s been a pretty mild winter in the Pittsburgh area so far, but it’s finally gotten cold and snowy this week. If you live in a rental, you probably have the luxury of not needing to shovel or salt your sidewalks, but there are some other things you can—and should—do when snow hits.

  1. Optimize your heat for efficiency. For example,if you have radiator heat, move furniture away from the radiators so
    Prep for snow in Pittsburgh area
    We may not have had a white Christmas, but snow is finally falling on Pittsburgh. Make sure you’re prepared.

    the heat can, well, radiate into the room. Keep your windows closed tight, and if you feel a draft, invest in a window insulating kit. They’re cheap and easy to use. Energy efficient curtains are also a good investment (yes, they exist).

  2. Set your heat at a comfortable temperature, but don’t overdo it. It’s much more energy efficient to put on a sweater than to crank up the heat so you can stay in a t-shirt and shorts. If your heat is included in rent, don’t think of it as free. Instead, keep in mind that your rent pays for it, and if the heating costs are too high, your landlord will raise the rent to cover them.
  3. Don’t hesitate to speak up if you have issues with insulation around your windows and doors, or if your heat is malfunctioning. Rather than opening a window when the heat won’t respond to you turning the thermostat down, contact maintenance to get the heat fixed. On the flip side, don’t endure a cold apartment, let maintenance know if you’re freezing, too.

For extreme cold

It’s not due to get extremely cold yet, but temperatures might still drop at the end of winter. If they do, take precautions to protect your pipes from freezing: keep cabinet doors under sinks open to let warm air in, and let the water drip. This is especially important for kitchens and bathrooms where the plumbing is in an outside wall that doesn’t get much sunlight.

Considerations for your car

  • Is your car parked outside? If yes, now might be the time to invest in a garage. Several Prudential Realty communities rent garages as well as apartments, so residents can keep themselves and their cars warm and dry this winter.
  • Have emergency supplies in your car like a bag of rock salt or kitty litter in case you get stuck on ice and a tow rope for more serious emergencies.
  • If you don’t have a AAA membership already, it’s well worth it, especially since most local police departments, including Castle Shannon and Indiana, PA police, no longer offer assistance when you accidentally lock your keys in your car. Besides getting road-side assistance for a flat tire and towing services if your car breaks down, lots of places also offer AAA discounts if you show your membership card.
  • Perhaps the most important tip: if it looks nasty out, don’t drive anywhere unless you absolutely have to, and wait for the plow to come through your neighborhood before you do. Unless you have a medical emergency or are completely out of food, most things aren’t worth risking life and limb in poor driving conditions.

Adopt a pet

Yes, this seems like weird advice, but have you ever heard the phrase, “it’s a three dog night”? That means it’s so cold, that you need at least 3 pups in your bed to keep you toasty. While most apartments won’t let you have that many pets, places like Alvern Gardens do allow up to 2 pets per apartment: dogs under 40 lbs as well as cats are welcome. Having a fluffy companion to snuggle with warms body and soul.

Where should I park? A guide to parking from the apartment hunt to coming home

Finding parking in the city can be challenging and expensive, and if you’re new in town, the old Pittsburgh trick of reserving your spot with a chair looks downright outlandish. So what’s an apartment hunter to do?

First things first, when you schedule an appointment to tour an apartment or house, ask where you should park when you get there. While large complexes with private parking lots might have “Future Resident” parking, plenty of places don’t have the space to offer that convenience. So unless you’re visiting a gated community, you’ll probably have to park on the street.

Be warned: rules for street parking vary from one municipality to the next. Mt. Lebanon, for example, has permit parking zones, and violators will be ticketed. In adjacent Castle Shannon, however, street parking tends to be less restricted. While all of Sleepy Hollow Road is no parking, Vermont Avenue and Greenridge Road are fair game.

Find a place to park before winter hits
Steel City will be covered in a blanket of white soon enough. Do you have covered parking?

So this is why you ask where to park when you schedule your tour, to let the local experts steer you in the right direction.

If you arrive at your destination and feel confused about how the parking works, read any signs carefully and follow your gut. If a curb is yellow or you see a hydrant,  don’t park there. If you read a sign that says “Permit Parking Only,” don’t park there. Don’t be afraid to ask when you meet up with your appointment, “I parked over there, is that OK?” That’s always a good question to ask.

Questions about parking are among the most important to ask when looking for a new home. You might be dazzled by low rent, but don’t forget to consider any additional costs for a parking permit or covered parking. Survey the area and ask how hard it is to find a spot on the street. Ask where your guests are allowed to park. You might find that comparing parking situations can help you choose between prospective apartments. It’s also a good idea at this time to ask where you’d be allowed to park a moving van and for how long. In Castle Shannon, for example, street parking of trailers is prohibited.

Once you’re officially a resident in your new home, your landlord will most likely give you instructions for where to park. If not, be sure to ask for clarification. Always remember to follow the parking guidelines set out by your landlord and municipality. Breaking the rules could lead to tickets, tow trucks, and angry neighbors. Here are a few no-no’s to keep in mind:

  • Never block a dumpster
  • Don’t let your guests park in permit only spots
  • Never take a neighbor’s assigned spot
  • Don’t block in another car
  • Don’t block a driveway or garage

Additionally, if your landlord issued you a parking permit—even if it was free—keep it up-to-date. If you replace your car, make sure your landlord updates their records and gives you a new permit if necessary. If you get an additional vehicle, get that on file and permitted as well. If your landlord only issues one permit per apartment, find alternate parking for your second vehicle to avoid inconveniencing your neighbors and getting ticketed, or worse, towed.

Where to take your car for maintenance in the South Hills of Pittsburgh

When you’re new to the area, finding a good mechanic is a key part of getting settled in, so here is a little bit of info about the mechanics and body shops in the South Hills of Pittsburgh.

car maintenance
Keeping your tires and the rest of your car in good repair is easy in the South Hills, where there’s a mechanic on almost every street.
Source: Angie from Sawara, Chiba-ken, Japan, 27 April 2005, 16:25:29, on Flickr.

Luckily, the South Hills offers a huge variety of mechanics, body shops, and car dealerships for residents to choose from. It seems like there’s a Jiffy Lube or a Mr. Tire around every corner!

On Library Road (Route 88) alone, there is a Pep Boys Auto Service & Tire, a Monroe Muffler Brake & Service, and an Advanced Auto Parts for all you do-it-yourself-ers.

The cheapest place to get a tire patched is also on Library Road in Bethel Park: Bruce Brothers Tire is always bustling with customers, and they still get the job done quickly.

If you’d like to live almost walking distance from these mechanics’ shops, contact Prudential Realty for the current availability at their many South Hills locations.