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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Make yourself at home with window treatments

When you first move into a place, one of your first steps in nesting should be to put up window treatments. They reduce echo, make a place look cared for and lived-in, and even make your home more energy efficient.

Window Treatments
Not all window treatments have to be exclusively for privacy and blocking out the sun. Even simple sheers can add a homey feel.

Lots of rentals don’t have blinds as a standard feature, so you’ll want to put up something in a hurry for privacy on that first night, but remember that this is a temporary stopgap. Unless you’re living in a college dorm, it’s just plain tacky to use a blanket or flag as a curtain, especially when decent window treatments aren’t that expensive.

  1. Start with is blinds. If you have a pet or a child, you’ll want to stay away from corded blinds to keep your loves safe. Also, you’ll want to know the rules about whether you’re even allowed to drill into the walls and window frames to mount blinds. Chances are, it’s not allowed or you’d have to pay the maintenance man to do it. Luckily, Redi Shade has your back! They make cordless blinds that you trim, peel, and stick. Now, we are a bit skeptical as to how long they stay put and how annoying it will be to clean the glue residue off the window frame once the blinds are removed, but color us intrigued!
  2. Next: drapes. If you’re lucky, you’re renting from a place like Alvern Gardens, where each window comes with its own curtain rod. If not, you’ll need to buy those. Luckily there are sturdy temporary options. If your window frame isn’t conducive to spring-loaded rods, you can use Command hooks to mount your rod instead. Now, you’ll want to measure your window not just for fitting the rod but for finding the right size curtains. Floor-to-ceiling drapes in a heavy fabric lend luxurious drama, but you don’t want the bottoms to drag across the floor.
  3. Finally, maintenance. Now that you have blinds and drapes, you’ll want to clean them regularly. Give blinds a good dusting every week or so, and take drapes down once or twice a year to wash them. We recommend taking drapes to a laundromat with commercial sized washers and dryers to get them fully and properly clean.

So you have a new home to fill: Where should you shop?

Moving into a new home can be daunting, especially if you’re also on the market for new furniture for that new home. The good news is that there are plenty of options for saving money, and those options just keep getting better.

guest bedroom/home office
We found this futon at Walmart. Its black faux leather is just the right look for extra seating in a home office. Plus, it lets the room double as a guest bedroom.
  • Ask around. Most people have stuff they don’t use. From surplus silverware and china to old dining sets, if you ask enough friends and relatives, you can cobble together almost an entire household. If you have a trustworthy source, you could go so far as to get a mattress for super cheap. (Maybe even for free!) Though you shouldn’t accept upholstery without first giving it a thorough inspection. After all, your Aunt Marge might have an old sofa that she’ll give you if you’ll just come pick it up, but you might show up for it and realize it smells worse than her ash tray.
  • Go thrifting first. Spend a weekend visiting garage and estate sales, check your local Goodwill, visit flea markets. Any place that sells used items is going to have at least some of what you need for cheaper than if you were to buy it new. But thrift smart. Haggle for a lower price when possible, and don’t buy anything that’s so worn out that it’ll cost more to fix it than to buy the same thing new.

    home office/guest bedroom
    This desk is from IKEA, and the chair–believe it or not–is from Costco!
  • Buy new upholstery. Yes, coffee tables and shelving units are easy to find on the cheap and easy to fix up if they’re a little worn, but couches are a different story. Just like you should always buy mattresses and box-springs new, it’s safer to buy upholstery new. If you’re buying a ratty old thing with plans of re-upholstering, forget it. Unless you know how to do it yourself or know someone who’ll do it for cheap or even free, re-upholstering won’t save you money. Besides, old upholstery is dusty, musty, hard to clean, and possibly full of bedbugs. Safer to buy new for sure.
  • Comparison shop. Where you find the cheapest version of what you’re looking for will depend on what it is you need. Walmart’s furniture selection has gotten trendier over the years, but they still don’t have much beyond futons. Places like Target and Bed Bath & Beyond regularly have sales, but you might have to wade past stuff aimed at college kids to find the classier items. Check TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and HomeGoods for smaller pieces like accent chairs and storage benches as well as decor to tie a room together. Amazon, Overstock.com, and Wayfair have competitive prices, but stick to free shipping to really keep that price low. IKEA is still an excellent place to get everything you need, especially if you browse their as-is section as well as the store itself.

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.

Top 5 things to do when moving

Because we have a lot of people moving into apartments in the next couple months, we decided now is the perfect time to offer our list of top 5 things to do when you move.

  1. Measure everything including your furniture, the spaces you have to fit it through to move it out of your old place, and everything in your new place. Measure the width and height of every door and hallway you’ll be maneuvering through. Measure the dimensions of each room. Make sure your furniture will clear all light fixtures, not just the ceiling. Measure all of your new windows for window treatments. Never assume that all the doors in your new place have the same dimensions—interior doors are often narrower than entryway doors.
  2. Pack the essentials conveniently so you have immediate access when you get to the new place. What’s essential? Here’s a brief list:
    – Toilet paper
    – Towels
    – Shower Curtain
    – Bathroom floor mat
    – Pillows and bedding
    – Drinking water or a filter for tap water
    – ID and other important paperwork
    – Checkbook and other things you’ll need for lease signing
  3. Manage your utilities and make sure all accounts are in your name that should be. Know when to expect your first bill and contact the company if it doesn’t arrive when expected as this could be a sign that something went wrong or didn’t get done.
  4. Know the rules about parking at your new place. If you need a parking permit, get that right away. If you have a big moving truck, make sure you’re parking it legally. Heed all signs in the neighborhood and on the property, and check with your landlord on where it’s safe to park for unloading large items as well as what to do until you get your permit.
  5. Bring plenty of water for your and your moving crew. Even if it’s a mild day, you’ll get hot and sweaty while you move, so make sure you have drinking water handy to keep you hydrated, energized, and happy. While you’re at it, pack some healthy snacks.

Have some moving tips of your own? Comment with your own top 5 below!

Moving, or looking for a new place to move to? Contact Prudential Realty Company for our current availability on apartments and townhouses throughout the Pittsburgh area.

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Moving? Here are 10 tips for a smooth transition

Moving is a hassle, yes, but if you’re organized and plan ahead, you’ll save yourself plenty of headaches. Here are 10 tips for a successful, less stressful move.

  1. Measure twice, move once. Not only should you know the dimensions of the rooms in your new place, you should know the size of the doorways and hallways that you’ll have to maneuver furniture through. Plus, you’ll need to know the dimensions of your furniture.

    moving tips
    A couch like this one might not come apart, but IKEA furniture (like the tables and chair pictured here) is designed for simple assembly–and dis-assembly.
  2. Make check lists and use them. Go through your old place room by room and list all the items you need to pack up and move. Check off items as you move them onto the moving van, and check them off again as you unload them at your new place. This way, nothing will get lost or left behind.
  3. Label your boxes. This might strike you as a no-brainer, but it’s such a quick, simple step that it might easily slip your mind. Unpacking in your new place really will be much easier if you know what each box contains without having to look inside.
  4. If it comes apart, take it apart. It might seem easier to move with intact furniture, but it’s actually much simpler to break down everything into manageable pieces. Pull the drawers out of dressers (you could leave items in removed drawers in lieu of boxes) to lighten the load. Take apart your sectional and reassemble it in its new home. Unscrew the legs from you dining room table for flatter transport and an easier time fitting it, piece by piece, into the allotted space.
  5. Wrap it up. This might sound goofy, but cellophane is your friend when it comes time for moving. If you already have all your silverware inside a drawer organizer, all you have to do is wrap that in cellophane and it’s ready to move. Remember those drawers you pulled out of your dresser? Wrap them in cellophane to secure the items inside, no boxes needed! Buy the cheap stuff and wrap up your whole mattress and box-spring to protect them during the move and make it easy to slide them across carpeted floors.
  6. Clean your trash cans and use them for storage. You can even nest a small bathroom can inside your bigger kitchen can and then store stuff inside. Suddenly, you have a box or two fewer to lug from place to place.
  7. Use your Tetris skills and leave no space unused inside boxes or inside the moving van.
  8. Know where you can park. If you have a large moving truck, make sure you know the neighborhood’s rules and the borough’s ordinances about where you’re allowed to park it and for how long. The last thing you want is your truck full of all your possessions getting towed. Your present and future landlords are likely in the know about this stuff, so ask them where you can pull up as you vacate and later as you move in.
  9. Take pictures. After you’ve vacated your old place, take pictures of everything as evidence that you cleaned up and took everything with you. It’s a good way to go through one last time and make sure you didn’t forget anything. Before you start moving into your new place, take pictures of everything exactly how you find it. The pictures of your old and new places will be important when it comes time to get your security deposit back. Once you’re done moving in, take pictures of everything in its place to keep on record in case you need it for insurance purposes. If you decide to feng shui later, take more pictures. While you’re at it, take some pictures for your scrapbook to preserve the memories.
  10. Remember how you handled the move. There’s a fair chance that you’ll be moving again in the future, so after the move is complete, sit down and think about what went well and what could have gone better. It’s probably a good idea to write this reflection down for future reference. At the very least, you should recall the size moving van you rented, how you got everything into the apartment, and how you got it all to fit in said moving van. You’ve already solved the puzzle once, so save your future self the headache of having to do it all over again.

Do you have your own moving tips? Share them in the comments below.

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