Country Living’s tips for downsizing

We came across this Country Living article earlier this week and decided it’s a must-share. We’ve given lots of advice in the past about moving and how to make a smooth transition to a new home, but we’ve never shared anything about what to keep when you’re downsizing.

Alvern Gardens
Residents of Alvern Gardens have access to green space around the property for grilling, setting out patio furniture, and even planting their own small gardens, so moving here hardly feels like downsizing at all.

A fair number of our new residents are moving to apartments after living in houses for several years, and although they’re relieved that Alvern Gardens Apartments feature spacious layouts and included extra storage, there’s usually some stuff that has to go. Country Living advises putting special mementos, family heirlooms, and collections amassed over the years in storage rather than throwing them away. These are things that are important to you and your family, so they’re worth keeping in a safe space. For our part, we recommend buying plastic bins with tightly sealing lids to store those things securely. The article also notes the importance of wiping all personal information from electronics before getting rid of them, a key step that many people forget.

We also agree one hundred percent that important documents must be kept safe through a move. A small filing cabinet or even a filing box doesn’t take up much space and will help you keep your life organized.

Are you downsizing? Consider making Alvern Gardens your new home! We have a couple of three bedroom apartments available right now, and at 822 square feet with additional storage included in rent, we’re confident that you won’t have to compromise much on space. Call us at 412-561-4663 or email us at alverngardens@yahoo.com and be sure to ask about our move-in special.

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Looking for a new home? Check out Alvern Gardens!

Alvern Gardens is currently offering a special on pet friendly three bedroom apartments: second month’s free rent and no pet fee! There are only a few three bedroom apartments available, so if you’re interested, call 412-561-4663 today for a tour.

Alvern Gardens
Residents of Alvern Gardens have access to green space around the property for planting their own small gardens.

The on-site leasing office is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Thursday and 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Fridays. Walk-ins are welcome during these hours. If you’d like to schedule a tour outside of these hours, agents are available by appointment on weekday evenings and Saturday mornings.

The rent for the 822 sq ft three bedrooms is $815/month plus electric, all other utilities are included in rent, including heat, cooking gas, and hot water. All apartments are cable and internet ready (Comcast is the provider).

The spacious layout features separate living and dining rooms, a coat closet by the front door, and a linen closet by the bathroom. The apartments are equipped with brand new wall-to-wall carpeting, a full-size gas stove and refrigerator, ample cabinet space in the kitchen, and a ceiling fan in the dining room. Additional storage is included with each apartment.

Residents have full control over the radiator heat and are welcome to install as many window air conditioning units as they desire. All windows come with screens, locks, and stays, and are designed for easy ac installation.

Coin-operated laundry facilities are located in the basement. Four apartments share one facility, and there is a change machine in the on-site leasing office for the convenience of our residents.

The on-site dog park is open to residents and their pups during daylight hours. Plus, with pool season fast approaching, it’s worth noting that Alvern Gardens has a pool.

pool

Parking is on street, first come, first serve, with permit-only off street parking included with certain units. Garages are available for rent for $55/month.

Alvern Gardens is situated just a five minute walk from the St. Anne’s T stop, where both the Red and Blue Lines stop every five to twenty minutes. This quiet residential neighborhood is just minutes from shopping, restaurants and recreational areas such as the Ice Castle skating rink and South Park.

If Alvern Gardens sounds like the place for you, please call us at 412-561-4663 to inquire about the application process.

Apartment living: what your dog needs to know

Last week, we listed our picks for the best dog breeds for apartment living. We noted that some of the breeds, dachshunds for example, might need a little extra training to adjust them to close quarters. So this week, we figured we would go into detail about the kind of training a dog needs to do well in an apartment.

pet friendly apartments
For you and your dog to live comfortably in an apartment, he needs to be well behaved, friendly, and calm.
  • More church mouse than guard dog: Incessant barking is a problem no matter where you live with a dog, but it can cause serious issues when you live in an apartment. Your dog needs to be taught from day one to stay quiet when people knock on the door, come in and out of the apartment, and in and out of the building.
  • Professional walker: All dogs should be well trained when it comes to walking on a leash, but because apartment dwelling dogs stand to encounter a lot more traffic even in the hallways of their building, it’s extremely important that they heel properly.
  • Come when called: Even though most apartment buildings, Alvern Gardens included, have rules that dogs are not allowed off their leash outside of their own apartments, dogs should still be trained to come when they are called. Just in case they do sneak out the door, and for proper dog park etiquette as well.
  • No jumping: As we noted already, apartment dwelling dogs encounter a lot more people than house dwelling dogs. This means that they need to know how to behave when they run into strangers. A polite dog doesn’t jump up on every person he meets, and he certainly doesn’t bark or growl.
  • Friendly neighbors: Just as apartment dwelling dogs must be polite to their human neighbors, they must be polite to their fellow dogs. It’s unlikely that yours will be the only dog in a dog friendly building, so ideally your dog should know and be on good terms with all his canine neighbors as well as his human neighbors.
  • Crate training: Unless you plan to be home every time you need maintenance to enter your apartment, it’s important to train your dog to stay in a crate while you’re not home. Better yet, you could take him to doggie daycare, or hire a dog walker to come check on him while you’re at work. It’s safer for your dog and the maintenance man if your furry companion is kept out of the way. In fact, most maintenance men aren’t likely to enter an apartment if they aren’t sure the dog residing there is in a crate.

More tips on how to introduce a second cat

Francis the Cat
Is your cat lonely? The linked article will help you make the perfect introduction between your current cat and a new companion.

Two weeks ago, we wrote about how to introduce a second cat into your home. Now, just in time for Valentine’s Day, we have another excellent article for helping you make a furry love match.

Always remember to clear the introduction of a new pet with your landlord before moving forward with an adoption.

Looking for a pet friendly apartment community? Alvern Gardens welcomes cats and dogs under 40 lbs. Call us at 412-561-4663 or email alverngardens@yahoo.com for our current availability!

How to introduce a second cat into your home

We came across this article on adopting a second cat quite some time ago, and with some of our residents here at Alvern Gardens going through the pet adoption process, we thought we’d talk about this adventure.

Adopting animals together is probably the least stressful option for creating a multi pet home. In fact, there are plenty of pets in shelters that must be adopted as a pair because they are bonded to each other and can’t be separated. If, however, you already have a pet and would like to adopt a second (with your landlord’s permission, of course), then there are was to do it right.

goofy cat
if your cat is a high energy goofball, finding her a companion might be just the thing to burn off all that excess energy.

As the above linked article explains, you need to find a cat with a similar activity level and compatible personality traits to your cat. Once you have found a candidate, it’s a good idea to give it a trial run, which is something that, as the article states, many shelters offer. It’s never a good idea to commit to a pet from the outset, because you just never know how and whether it’ll truly work out. About a week or two is usually what it takes for a cat (or two) to establish a routine, so it should become apparent fairly soon whether the pairing is a good one.

The article points out that you need to have enough space in your home for the cats to get away from each other and enjoy some solitude. A home with multiple floors offers ideal levels of separation, but it can be managed in an apartment as well. Although a one bedroom might be a bit small, a two bedroom has potential as a wide enough territory to have a scattering of multiple litter boxes, water bowls, feeding stations, and hangout areas.

What the article doesn’t specify about having enough space is that the space also needs to be cat friendly. It’s not fair to confine one cat to a dark, windowless basement while the other cat shares the upstairs living space with the family. You also need to have at least one litter box per cat, plus one extra, so for two cats, you should have three litter boxes. These should be spread throughout your home rather than lined up side-by-side, and they should be far away from food stations (cats, like humans, don’t like to do their business in the same spot as where they eat). Speaking of food stations, each of your cats should have their own spots to eat and drink, at least until they get used to each other.

Cats mark their territory in several ways: urine spraying, cheek marking (which is what they’re doing when they rub their faces against things), and scratching. To protect your furniture from the dreaded scratching, place different types of scratching posts throughout your home, ideally one in every room. Feliway pheromone sprays and diffusers can help with scratching as well as urine marking, so stock up before bringing home your second cat.

Finally, multiple cats need multiple hangout spots, and vertical space is one of the best places to expand feline territory. You probably already have one cat tree and/or cat bed, so buy a second set for the second cat. When cats aren’t fighting for the window seat or otherwise eking out a spot to make their own in limited space, they’ll get along much better from the start. And happier cats make for happier cat owners.

Get organized: tips for your home filing cabinet

Even though the modern world is moving more and more to digital spaces, we still have a lot of paperwork to keep track of. Especially if you’re a renter, there are a few very important documents that you need to store in a safe place. So this week, we’re offering a few tips for getting—and staying—organized.

First of all, you’ll need a filing cabinet or a file drawer inside a desk. If you’re tight on space and don’t have many documents to organize and store, consider picking up a filing box. There are a variety of styles of varying size, portability, and durability, so pick what’s right for your needs. An office supply store will have the biggest selection, but places like Walmart and Target have what you need as well. While you’re at the store, you’ll need to buy some hanging folders and file folders to fill your new box. You can go as colorful and decorative as you want, and sometimes color-coding can be a fun, simple way to further organize your papers. Ideally, you’ll want to get a box and folders that fit legal size paper so you don’t have to fold and cram to make stuff fit.

Once you’ve brought home all your supplies, it’s time to categorize your papers and label your folders. How you choose to organize the individual folders is up to you, but alphabetizing or placing things in order of importance are the two simplest ways to do it.

For example, you might label your first hanging folder “Home” and fill it with file folders that contain your lease, records of rent and utility payments, your renters’ insurance policy, pictures you’ve taken of your apartment pre-move-in as well as all your personal belongings, and any correspondences from your landlord.

Your next folder might be for your kids’ documents (birth certificates, passports, school and medical records, etc.).

If you’re a renter and pet owner, it’s also important to keep your pet’s records organized. For example, if you have any additional paperwork with your landlord permitting your pet in the rented property, you’ll want to save that either with your lease or with your pet’s vet records (or make a copy and save it in both places to be extra thorough).

The rest of the things you should file away are either pretty obvious (work papers, financial records, etc.) or unusual. By unusual we mean the instructions and manuals that come with electronics, appliances, and furniture. Why file these things? Because when you move, you’ll want to have the instructions handy for dis-assembly and reassembly of bulky furniture. Just think: you brought that entertainment center into the apartment in pieces, and if it won’t fit through the door fully assembled, you’ll kick yourself if you’ve lost the instructions in the shuffle.

Any papers that seem even a little bit important should be filed away for safekeeping. When spring cleaning time comes around, you can go back through your files and get rid of anything you definitely don’t need anymore. Just remember to shred documents that contain personal information before recycling them.

Know the rules, don’t get burned

When you rent an apartment, you enter into a contract with your landlord, so it’s important that you understand all the terms and conditions of that contract.

Your landlord or an agent of your landlord will likely go over your lease with you at the time of your signing or have you read it before you sign. This is the best time to ask for clarification if there’s anything you’re not sure about. But this should not be the last time you ever look at your lease.

security deposit, lease
Knowing the ins and outs of your lease is key to saving you money and aggravation if any issues should arise.

You will receive a copy of your lease that, of course, you should keep on file in a safe place. When you first receive that copy, you should look it over and refresh yourself on the important points:

  • The amount of your rent, when it’s due, and how you are to pay and where you should send/bring it
  • Late fees, fees for bad checks, and other charges you could incur
  • What utilities are included in rent and what you need to pay yourself
  • The duration of the lease, especially the exact end date
  • Rules about renewing your lease and when you can expect to receive a renewal notice
  • Rules about ending your lease early in the event of a job transfer or other situation
  • Parking regulations
  • How to report maintenance issues and other concerns
  • What, if anything, your are responsible for by way of repairs (most commonly, renters are responsible for changing light bulbs and batteries in smoke detectors)
  • Your landlord’s contact information
  • Your exact address
  • Stipulations regarding your security deposit (when will it be returned, and what do you have to do when you move out to ensure its return)

Yes, some of these points are basic, but you’d be surprised what can slip your mind amidst the chaos of moving. Plus, if you give everything a second look right away, you’ll be more likely to remember it later on when things like renewing your lease become a more immediate concern. When you come across phone numbers for maintenance and your landlord’s office, save them in your phone and also write them down in an address book or save them in some other secondary location.

If you have a question for your landlord about something, take a moment to pull your lease out of its safe spot and see if anything written in it answers your question. If not, call your landlord and ask. If you’re even the least bit unsure about what your lease states about a certain issue, such as under what conditions you would be allowed to end the lease early, call your landlord for clarification and write yourself a note to attach to the lease for future reference. When you’re done, remember to put the lease back in its safe spot.

Knowing your lease is the key to having a good experience renting, so if it’s been a while since you looked at yours and you’re fuzzy on the terms, pull it out and give it a read.