Tips for Hiring Movers

Moving can be tedious. It can also be fun: when someone else does all the work.

If you’re considering hiring movers, it is important to stay informed on their moving policies and practices. Are they liable if your box of fragile glassware arrives in pieces? It’s also important to know about the business itself. ApartmentHomeLiving.Com provides helpful questions that ensure you or your stuff won’t be left in the dark.

Staying informed can be a chore. An estimate from a professional moving business requires, at times, complicated variables. What must be considered, and what you should ask about, is how long it will take to move your possessions and how they will be handled. Ask about previous experience, and what sort of challenges come with each move.

Before you pack up your stuff, you may want to visualize how you will arrange your things before you arrive. Don’t set unrealistic expectations for your movers. If your new home is a thousand miles away, don’t expect a rush, next-day delivery. And if you do get that rush delivery, you may have moved too fast.

Photo credit: Thad Zajdowicz via Foter.com / CC BY

Why You Should Rent

If you haven’t heard, renting is on the up-and-up. According to Appfolio.Com, “2 million new renter-occupied households were added in 2014, while the number of owner-occupied households decreased by more than 350,000.” But why?

The decision to rent or buy forces a common gridlock, “If I rent, I can move when the lease is over. But if I buy, then I can probably pay lower monthly payments.” Yet both renting and buying are more than monthly payments and lease dates.

For example, homeowners have the privilege of ownership. But with great privilege comes great responsibility. Maintenance is the homeowner’s duty, on top of home insurance, property taxes, and other home owner fees.  Sure, the monthly mortgage payments are low, but you’ll have many unexpected and inbuilt fees.

On the other hand, if you rent, you may have access to amenities that, as a home owner, you would not. You could have access to a 24 hour gym, bark park, and pool. Similarly, you won’t have to repair leaky faucets or clogged drains. Apartment complexes take care of maintenance. Another key advantage to renting is location. Most large cities don’t have room for houses. An apartment building fits the same lot space but, with tall, multi-unit designs, houses more people.

Renting has many appeals, from communal living to basically maintenance-free living. It is not accidental that rental properties are thriving: the numbers don’t lie.

2 Types of Renters

Not everything is black and white. Take newspapers for example. They get such a bad rap.

Renters, though, are of a more defined class. There are those that know what they want, know what they will miss if they don’t have it, and know what they can live without. And then there are those that don’t know a deductible from a deposit, let-alone the amount of stress added by a rental without dishwashers and in-unit laundry attachments. The first class of renter is the Grandmaster, whereas the second class is the Novice.

The Novice’s problem is simple. It is a problem of noticing how living arrangements determine the way you live.  In every apartment visited, the Novice envisions ways of utilizing space and coming to terms with no-too-obvious flaws without much effort. It’s not until after move-in the Novice realizes that ways of living are determined by the tools one has at one’s disposal. The water pressure happened to be different, for instance, and the Novice didn’t think to ask about that. Amenities like air-conditioning were also ignored.

Don’t be a Novice. Know what you need to live the way you want. That’s how you’ll put your best foot forward when choosing a new home. That’s how to be a renting Grandmaster.

Photo credit: Helgi Halldórsson/Freddi via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

How to Stop Cats from Scratching Furniture

Cat-lovers have taken over the Internet—aren’t they just toxoplasma zombies anyway? And many apartment units are feeling the love, allowing cats only: no dogs.

A common misconception is that cats keep to themselves, are generally low-maintenance. But many have found even cats can be destructive to property. When it comes to cats, let’s just say property destruction is inversely related to physical activity. When the yarn ball isn’t around, or the toy mouse doesn’t squirm around the floor, your cat is going to need some attention.

Whether you play with your cat or not, it needs to burn energy somehow. That may translate into plucked couches or torn curtains. This is an easy issue to fix. Consider purchasing a laser for it to chase. If your cat has claws, get a scratch post for them to use. Sometimes it is best to have a scratch post for each room. You can also purchase anti-scratch tape that cats dislike to touch. Whatever you do, make sure Oliver has an outlet for all that feline energy.

And don’t forget, give that cat a treat!

Photo credit: JamesCohen via Foter.com / CC BY

Prepare Your Clothes for Storage

Prepare Clothes for Storage

It’s time to put those summer clothes away for the season. Here are some tips to help prepare your clothes for storage.

Clean

You probably don’t want to pack away clothes with bad odors. But don’t forget your clothes might be stained too. And those stains will become permanent if you let them sit for half a year. Just be sure, wash all the clothes you plan to put in storage.

Pack

Everyone has boxes of some sort lying around. You’ll be tempted to use them. But purchase some plastic containers to store your clothes in. These containers secure your clothes from insects and rodents. And if you have clothes from the drycleaner, don’t just leave them in the drycleaner plastic. They could get water damaged.

If you use a storage facility, like Infinite Self Storage, you can purchase wardrobe boxes to hang up your clothes while they’re in storage. Then you won’t have to worry about creases or folds.

Label

You might think you can just throw everything together. And that’s fine, if you are just going to get everything out once spring arrives. But if you have a more variegated clothing selection, you’ll want to label your items by season or, even, activity. Then you can keep your harvest season clothes in storage while it’s planting season.

Store

Sure, it’s reasonable to think plastic bins will protect your clothes from temperature changes. But they won’t. In fact, they could compound the effects condensation has on your clothes. If you have an expensive wardrobe, invest in a temperature controlled storage unit to protect your clothes from condensation.

If you have any more questions about storing clothes, we encourage you to contact one of our professional storage team members. At Infinite Self Storage, we have solutions to all your storage problems.

Conquer the Toxic Dust Hidden in Your Home

Conquer the Toxic Dust Hidden in Your Home

Many of us don’t need a substantial push to swap harmful cleaning chemicals for less intrusive alternatives. Who likes dry, bleach-stained calloused hands anyway? As the dangers of indoor dust are well known, it’s becoming apparent the invisible, long term effects of our daily cleaning habits, and lack thereof, can amount to terrifying heights of harm. A recent study that “…analysed 26 peer-reviewed papers, as well as one unpublished dataset, from 1999 onwards to examine the chemical make-up of indoor dust…” found nearly 90% of dust samples contained particles linked to cancer and infertility, as reported by The Guardian. These findings were due in no part to small sample size: “The studies covered a wide range of indoor environments, from homes to schools and gymnasiums across 14 states.”

With the satisfactory appearance of Clorox’s clean glaze over countertops and the refreshing scent of Febreze floating like a lazy cloud from one room to the next, just when our homes seem cleanest, we may actually be most vulnerable. Altering what you buy, from harsh chemical cleaners to safer alternatives, isn’t the only thing you can do to curb indoor pollution, and doesn’t account for much of the problem. Your clean home houses hidden hazards.

The problem of indoor pollutants may appear at first glance counterintuitive. How could vanquishing bacteria, viruses, and who-knows-what-else from dirty floors and countertops, bathrooms and kitchens, ultimately harm us? Your everyday cleaners aren’t particularly handy for the real problem. The issue is that some chemicals in our couches and mattresses, our vinyl flooring and carpeting, contain flame retardants, known to cause cancer, affecting the reproductive and nervous systems, and phthalates, found in personal care products and food packaging, which “have been linked to developmental problems in babies, hormone disruption, and are also thought to affect the reproductive system.”

These chemicals, especially when imprisoned in a house on lock-down for the winter, can accumulate and mingle with dust in your home. “The researchers highlighted 45 toxic chemicals in indoor dust, 10 of which were present in 90% or more of the dust samples – these included flame retardants, fragrances and phenols.” As The Guardian points out, these chemicals, though banned in some products, like bottles and diapers, may not be banned in others, like walls and flooring.

But this isn’t a matter to just throw up our hands over, declaring all proactivity hopeless and ineffective. Singla, from the Environmental Science and Technology journal, writes there are steps we can take to reduce exposure to this toxic dust. One key is, when you are performing regular cleaning duties like wiping off the counters or sweeping, don’t tackle these tasks with dry brooms or paper towels. Use damp mops and cloths to reduce levels of dust. Whereas merely dry materials might kick the dust back in the air, damp materials will cause the dust to clump and aggregate. Also, vacuum regularly, as the suction disposes of the toxic dust in its container. And, of course, activism, to demand accountability, is the surest way to reduce exposure to these chemicals.

Although the problem of indoor pollution is extremely concerning, it’s in your power to reduce exposure. Besides changing the way you clean your home, you can also purchase plants, which help reduce indoor pollution by cleaning the air you breathe. And don’t be afraid to open up your windows when the days are brilliant, and the soft breeze of spring warmly soothes the plants and animals, blooming and bustling outside, stirred by the chance to enter your home like an old, visiting friend.

How to Break Old Habits and Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle

How to Break Old Habits and Adopt a Healthy Lifestyle

Now the holidays are over, and the New Year’s resolutions are kicking in, it’s time to think about sustainability. Whether you are resolved to eat healthier this year, exercise, or even learn a new instrument, you’ll have to think long and hard about how you’ll accomplish your by-the-end-of-the-year goals. The good thing is you’re not alone. Gaining traction on your New Year’s resolution is a matter of forming a new habit. So it’s important to understand how habits work.

Habits are like Cycles

In an interview with NPR, Charles Duhigg discusses his book The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life And Business. Everything we’ve made into a routine, from exercising to cooking, from brushing teeth to cleaning laundry, begins with the same “psychological pattern.” This is called a “habit loop.” It’s really simple, actually: every habit begins with a cue, proceeds by routine, and ends with a reward. That’s it!

Let’s look a little closer. A habit begins with “a cue, or trigger, that tells your brain to go into automatic mode and let a behavior unfold.” Then the routine occurs, which is the behavior itself, or the habit. Lastly, the reward is “something that your brain likes that helps it remember the ‘habit loop’ in the future.”

The interesting thing is habits are formed in the part of the brain that has a major influence on “emotions, memories and pattern recognition.” It’s called the basal ganglia. Why is this interesting? Because it’s a separate from the region of the brain responsible for decision making – the prefrontal cortex. And, as a result, when automation kicks in, when habit loops initiate, the prefrontal cortex goes into hibernation.

This is readily available knowledge, at least by quick reference to experience. Think about how difficult the very basics of reading and math once were. We learned by rote memory, by memorizing the alphabet and times tables, and this period of learning required intense concentration. But after a while these things became second nature. It’s because, like any other habit, our focus, determination, and persistence eventually formed habit loops.

Lessons from in the Loop

Because all habits begin with a cue and end with a reward, it’s important, especially if you have big plans for your health this year – to exercise three or four times a week, to cut out sugar from your diet, etc. – to figure out some sort of consistent pattern to follow when you eat, go to the gym, or whatever you may do.

Maybe before a trip to the gym you listen to music you really like as you prepare, and afterwards you treat yourself to some yogurt. When some people crave a sweet snack, they cut up some apples and eat those as substitutes instead.

With new habits, especially healthy habits, old habits are broken. And this means the power of the reward system established by the old habit loop becomes more and more powerless. As you exercise more, your desire to lay around all day will weaken. And as you stay away from sugar, your cravings will diminish.

For more information on habits and the science behind them, you might also be interested in Scientific American’s podcast episode where Dr. Art Markman discusses things like “How to know you have a habit,” “How to work in league with your psychology to from new habits,” and “How we are more likely to succeed when we view failure as part of the process.”

Conclusion

But, most importantly, remember that habits are like cycles: as you reinforce them, they eventually become as automatic and predictable as the sunrise in the morning. Don’t be discouraged by failure. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn, an opportunity to change, and an opportunity to become better at what you are trying to do.

How Millennials are Happy and Productive in the Workplace

How Millennials are Happy and Productive in the Workplace

“67% of millennials are likely to share personal details [at work]…while only one-third of baby boomers do the same,” found a 2014 study by LinkedIn.

The work/life balance is an unspoken rule among working people. What happens at home shouldn’t be brought to work, and vice versa. This has long been the idea undergirding “professionalism.” But millennials have challenged this distinction in a very simple but powerful way.

It goes without saying: there are many reasons to keep the work/life distinction afloat. The workplace is not home. And a certain level of professionalism is required to maintain an efficient organization. This is true without qualification.

But what millennials have done, writes Sarah Landrum of Forbes, is widened their investment in the workplace. Work isn’t just an investment of time for them; it’s also an emotional investment. And this isn’t a bad thing. The attempt to roadblock the emotional aspect is not only a misunderstanding of science (the brain is interconnected in unimaginably complex ways), but a recipe for unproductive habits.

How Work + Happiness = Productivity

Many of you, like myself, may think making friends at work would impede upon productivity. But friendships at work aren’t like friendships at home. They don’t involve hanging out, but are held together and formed by self-disclosures in conversations. What does this mean? Simply put: it’s talking about how you feel about what you do, about how the weather is, about your weekend, more than about what you do, Landrum points out.

In Psych 101 you might have learned the simple difference between an acquaintance and a friend. Acquaintances talk about facts. They say to each other, “It’s sunny out. It’s a nice day. I have work to do.” But they don’t go further by disclosing any information about themselves like, “It’s sunny out, I think I’ll go to the park after work because there’s a good area to fish.”

Just to understand this from a millennial’s perspective, think about it this way: If you’re not self-disclosing sometimes to people you talk with every day, you’re basically working with acquaintances. And that means you never learn more about anyone, even after 20 years of work.

In 2014 Censuswide and LinkedIn joined to conduct a survey on 11,500 working professional that spanned 14 countries. They found that “57% of respondents indicated having friends at work made them more productive.”

Conclusion

Millennials get the most out of work by relating to those around them. This doesn’t keep them from being productive. In fact, it makes them more productive. And one reason just might be because they don’t feel like they are working in a world of acquaintances. The emotional investment is a powerful piece to the overall work experience. And it might be the key to productivity in a world where everyone is more and more alienated by technology.

And there’s another benefit. Apparently friendships at the workplace make companies more valuable to employees. As Landrum reports, “When asked whether they’d swap camaraderie for a larger paycheck at a different employer, 58% of men indicated they wouldn’t make the trade. A whopping 74% of female professionals concurred.”

The work/life distinction has a valuable place in a professional setting. But it doesn’t necessarily deny the possibility of self-disclosure. And self-disclosure just may be the key to happiness and productivity in the workplace.

Why Renting is the Better Choice for Millennials

Why Renting is the Better Choice for Millennials

You’ve probably heard: student debt is over $1.3 trillion. And, according to a report by CNBC, it’s “growing faster than the average salaries for recent graduates.”

For a borrower aged 20-30, the average monthly student loan payment is $351. That’s quite a bit, especially when the median income for millennials remains relatively low. As reported by BusinessInsider.com, “In 2013, the median annual earnings for millennial women working full-time, year-round were $30,000,” states the report, “compared with $35,000 for their male counterparts.” A $351 payment can seem steep, since it accounts for about 12% of income for males and 14% of income for women.

Coupled with other expenses, from car loans to credit card debt, from housing costs to food, student loans are a heavy burden for many millennials trying to scrape by.

So, if you’re a millennial with a lot of debt, listen up. The following are things to consider before you buy a house. Like many others, you might find renting the better path.

Stability

Houses are sought for their stability. Even as markets change, a locked-in mortgage rate won’t. But the stability of a mortgage requires stability in life. Before you house-hunt, begin at step one. Think seriously about how stable your job is, your relationships, and career path. Are you expecting a promotion, or a change of scenery? Do you see yourself in the same job or relationship in five years? If not, a house probably isn’t your best bet.

Especially if you don’t plan to stay in a house long term, you should consider the payoff of picking up and relocating that an apartment provides. The assumption of many homeowners is they’ll be able to sell whenever they want. That, tops, it’ll take maybe a few months to close a deal. But as many learned during the housing crisis of ’08, when interest rates skyrocket, the equity of your house diminishes. The stability of a mortgage is a double-edged sword. There’s nothing to protect your home from future devaluation by the market. This isn’t a decision you should rush into.

Cost

Unexpected losses aren’t just restricted to market change. Other costs to home owning can also set you back significantly. The best thing to do is create a hypothetical budget. As HousingWire.com suggests, “Aim to keep total rent or mortgage payments plus utilities to less than 25% to 30% of your gross monthly income.”

To place the costs of owning in further perspective, imagine that, after you budget, you have $500 every pay period left over. One day you notice your refrigerator isn’t working. You have to buy a new one. You get the new refrigerator and it turns out that the issue is with the electrical wiring going to the refrigerator. You have to pay an electrician to come out, and it turns out your entire kitchen was poorly wired and needs updated. If you don’t have deep savings or a friend who happens to be an electrician, your bills can become, very quickly, too large for a budget with little room for error.

Conclusion

When it comes to renting, however, apartment complexes take care of all major maintenance issues, and many minor issues as well. And, though rent prices might be higher than mortgage prices in some areas, apartment complexes provide amenities that you’d usually have to pay for if you own a house: pools, weight rooms, clubhouses, etc.

If you’ve acquired large amounts of student or credit card debt, it might be a wiser choice to rent an apartment for a few years while you climb out of debt, and stash away some money in savings in the meantime. That way, if you get a house, you’ll be ready for unexpected issues and they won’t break your budget.

Begin Exercising at Your Apartment

Begin Exercising at Your Apartment

The best deals are those that involve getting the same product or service for a lower price. This is why exercising at home is best. No more gym rats. No more sweat-infused-axe-spray nausea. No more machine hogs.

Think about how much less effort you’ll have to put into preparation for the gym. Let’s talk about getting your apartment ready for exercising.

Goals

Obviously, if your goals aren’t similar to the outcomes desired by body builders, then you won’t need as much equipment as a typical gym. You just want to do cardio? Maybe, then, all you’ll need is a space for a yoga mat. Want to get really buff? The nice thing is, your apartment most likely has a fitness center that already includes some equipment. You’ll only have to make space for what the fitness center doesn’t have.

And don’t just brush off using the fitness center all at once. Research has shown it’s actually easier to form habits, like going to the gym, if you begin with small goals first. Maybe your first time lifting weights shouldn’t be at LA Fitness. Not only might you get discouraged, but missing a few days can turn into a few weeks and then you’ll be back at square one again.

If you want to build muscle, just begin with the basics: a quick ten-minute warm-up, followed by a period of strength training (pushups, pullups, squats), followed by a ten-minute cool down period. As simple as it is, beginning with this kind of routine will prepare your tendons and joints for heavier loads. And it has the added bonus of pushing you to form new habits.

Organization

The only other thing you’ll have to think about is how to store what you need. If you’re just getting a jump rope, you won’t have much of a problem. But if you need a bench press, for instance, you might have to get a little creative if you’re living in an apartment. Pick a space to use your equipment in. But this space doesn’t necessarily have to be used to store your equipment.

Another thing you can do is think about ways in which the storage space for your equipment can be used for other things. For instance, maybe your bench press can hold your plants. Maybe your bars can double as a coat hanger. There’s really no limit on what kind of uses you can put these things to.

Conclusion

If you want to begin exercising, just start at your apartment. Maybe use the fitness center, if your apartment has one. But if not, no big deal. Form the habit of exercising before you make lofty goals for yourself. That way, when the time comes to lift big weights, not only will your tendons be ready, but your mind will be ready too.

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