Five Renter Resolutions for 2011–make this your most livable year yet

Nothing like New Year’s. There is so much hope and fresh energy in the air, and it won’t be too much longer until I can go golfing again. But it is also a time to reflect on the past and think about what improvements you hope to make in the year ahead. We asked our leasing agents what advice they’d give to help renters make it their most livable year yet. So renters everywhere, take heed! Before you start your apartment search this year, consider the following tips:

  1. Put the pressure on. The funny thing about human nature is sometimes we are too nice and timid for our own good. Don’t be afraid to turn on the shower and test water pressure in the new places you are scoping out. Go for it! Assuming you shower frequently, bad water pressure can really be an annoyance. By all means, test the shower, faucets and even the toilet to make sure everything is flowing as it should.
  2. Ditch your crappy roommates. There is little worse than a passive aggressive roommate. Well, maybe a disrespectful slob. Whatever variety of bad roommate you are suffering from, don’t put up with it any longer. Home matters and not having a place you enjoy being at can really drag your spirits down. According to Adam Perres, director of leasing at our Belmont leasing center, this issue is far too common. Consider a studio apartment or assess your network for potential roommates that better match your lifestyle. We know moving isn’t fun, but a few days of work could result in years of happier living.
  3. Stick with your budget. Poor money management afflicts many young adults but an apartment lease is not the time to be unrealistic about your cash flow. And believe it or not, that goes both ways. We’ve seen many people get an apartment on the cheap only to be desperate for an upgrade in a matter of weeks. Sit down and make a realistic budget about what you can afford. The proverbial “rule of thumb” is to spend no more than a quarter of your income on rent.
  4. Be open to new neighborhoods. I think this is the best tip we can give you and it comes from Andrew Croegaert from our State Street leasing center. Chicago is a big city with many great neighborhoods. Don’t be stuck on one of the more well-known places and you can find a gem of an apartment. Where ever you end up, you can be sure you’ll be near great restaurants, coffee shops, bars and green spaces. Be open to other neighborhoods and you will get more for your money.
  5. Build your credit score. For anyone that’s found their dream apartment only to feel at the mercy of the application process and whims of the property manager, this one will really hit home. According to Leasing Manager John Herriott of our Edgewater leasing center, if a property manager has several applications for an apartment, they may choose the applicant with the best credit. So it is in your interest to at least know what your score is and do anything you can to get it in better shape. Not everyone will be able to make quick fixes, but in some cases, a few adjustments can be enough to get your score up.
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Landed your dream internship? Find your dream summer housing to boot.

So you’ve busted your butt and landed your dream internship in downtown Chicago this summer. You should be able to relax now, right? Unfortunately for many, the greater challenge is just beginning. Finding a place to live short-term during this internship experience can be a huge headache and struggle.

The first response for many is often Craig’s list- the one stop shop for all things apartments. Craig’s list has the potential to work out great. But I’m sure you’ve heard the horror stories too- the ones about the drug-dealing roommate, missing belongings, or the roommate’s live in boyfriend. In a new city, this sense of uncertainty is often one most people would like to avoid. As an additional option, you could always crash on a relative’s couch, but that leaves little room for privacy and the growth experience that living on your own in Chicago can provide.

However, I am here to save the day (or the summer) and tell you that there are more choices than meets the eye. There are actually places in downtown Chicago that offer short-term leases specifically for students coming to intern over the summer. There are a few great options right downtown, but one viable one is The Buckingham. It is located right in the heart of Chicago just a few steps from tons of hot spots. The Buckingham offers three-month leases to students in fully furnished apartments. There is 24-hour security to put parents at ease about sending their kids off to the city for the first time. Also you can choose to live by yourself, with someone you know, or blind.

There are other great options too like the dorms at University of Chicago or the School of the Art Institute of Chicago that also offer great amenities. Hope that you can relieve yourself of some of the summer stress and sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. It’s sure to be a great experience!

Find Your Match!

Find your match!

Yes, what your mom told you is true-just because everyone is doing “it” doesn’t mean “it” is good for you. Whether it’s dying your hair pink, going to medical school, or the carb-free diet- doesn’t mean you should always follow the crowd. The same goes for finding an apartment in the city. Just because all of your friends live in Lincoln Park or Wriglyville, doesn’t mean it’s right for you. If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you jump, too? Now, that is not to say that living in Lincoln Park or Wriglyville is like jumping off a bridge. They are fantastic places to live. There are just so many other great neighborhoods with less notoriety that I want you to know about, too.

Instead of just going with the crowd and living where they live, I want you to be more educated on the 32 neighborhoods (yes, 32!) throughout the city of Chicago. With the help of my team, and some anecdotal data I have put together a short eight-question Facebook assessment to help you do just that. The assessment is only eight questions long and will match you up with your ideal neighborhood. It will even provide you with a few listings and prices of places in that neighborhood. You can try it out here: http://apps.facebook.com/chicago_quiz/?_fb_q=1 or directly on our site.

I would love to hear about your results and use them to help you find your new happy home in the place that’s ideal for you. Let me know what you think!

-Justin

Man Finds His Ideal Roommate in a Pillow. Find Yours in a Person.

Ah…the joy of roommates- someone to hang out with on the weekends, go the bar with, and to call and pretend your apartment is on fire when you’re out on an awful date. They can also mean piles of dirty dishes in the sink, hair in the shower, and late rent payments. But what if you had a roommate, or a significant other, who never left a single dirty pot, always put their things away, and never interrupted your phone calls? Sounds pretty appealing. Well 28-year-old Lee Gin-Gyu got all that and more (less is more these days, right?) when he married his current roommate and the woman of his dreams, a five foot two inch pillow.

For the ceremony, Gin-Gyu organized to have a special priest and even made sure the pillow had the perfect wedding dress. Gin-Gyu’s wife goes on many special dates with him to the fair where she rides all the rides, and out to dinner where she gets her own meals. I doubt she has much to say on these outings or at home, but she is a very loyal companion and extremely easy to live with.

Sometimes, living with a roommate can often make us wish we had someone to do all the activities we wanted, pick up their dirty laundry, or who would just shut up and leave us alone. However, living with a roommate, one who talks and walks, and breathes (sorry Lee Gin-Gyu’s wife) can also have many advantages. Studies show that those who live with roommates or significant others are happier overall because they are provided with more social outlets and opportunities for activities. Many also feel safer knowing that there is another person living in their home, and feel comforted having someone to talk with after a long day. Having someone to share the rent and utility costs don’t hurt either. However, in choosing your potential roommate, there are a few things I suggest you consider:

1. Scheduling- Are you a morning person? A night owl who likes to stay up until all hours of the night? Are you in school part time and need it quiet for studying? Love having loud parties? It is best if you and your roommates are in the same stage of life and want similar things out of a living environment.

2. Cleanliness- If you are someone who is incredibly clean and notices every speck of dirt, it is important to live with someone who is on a similar wave length. Otherwise you will constantly be picking up after them and begin feeling resentful.

3. Personality type- This would not be an issue for couples living together. The fact that you are already dating/married would be a pretty good indication that your personalities are a fit. However, for others, it is important to try to live with someone with the same general personality set. A super easy going person would not pair well with a type-A personality.

Having these things in mind, I have no doubt you are well on your way to finding the perfect roommate for your new apartment. . Sure, nothing molds to your body more or can physically fit with you better than a life-sized pillow. But nothing makes for a happier home, than peace of mind with a great roommate!

A Rare Moral Lesson from Reality TV

This past Monday night America found itself in uproar as “The Bachelor’s” Jake Pavelka chose the girl America – along with the rest of the girls in the house – loved to hate, Vienna Giardi. Vienna is rough around the edges, often blunt, and as the tabloids have pointed out has anything but a squeaky clean past. Jake shockingly chose Viena over Tenley, the girl who is angelic, sweet, and someone that any guy would be happy to bring home to mom- the more obvious and sensible choice.

However, upon delving deeper into the circumstances, it seemed Jake had spent his life thus far making the safe and obvious choices. He would listen to those around him and tune out what he actually wanted causing him to end up unfulfilled and unhappy. Through “The Bachelor” Jake has said that he stopped learning to care what others wanted for him and started listening to himself. As much as I did not care for the image of Vienna portrayed on TV I say “bravo!” to Jake for finally trusting his own instincts.

Now, it is rare that pop culture will ever give us moral examples of what to do, but hear me out. Upon moving to Chicago, many often go straight for Lincoln Park, or Bucktown without actually knowing anything about these areas. It is simply that they have heard of them before or that their friends live there- so they make the “sensible” decision that it must be right for them, too. DON’T DO THIS!!! There are SO many great neighborhoods in Chicago. Many less obvious and less explored, and yes, even less popular choices but just as fantastic. Plus, you may just get more for your money.

When looking for your next place, don’t just go straight for the popular choice. Explore Chicago and try to find what neighborhood truly suits your personality- not what others tell you does. Who knows, you may even end up like Jake and discover your true love of Chicago in the process.

Happiness and an Igloo

Jim Grey, an unemployed guy in his mid-twenties, was stuck living with his parents and bored. Really, really bored. So he set out to find something to do. After a huge snowstorm hit his family’s yard in the Cleveland suburb of Chardon, he found his answer. While shoveling piles of snow in his parent’s backyard he was inspired to build an igloo.

Not just any igloo. A 625 square foot, four room igloo that would serve as his new home. It is equipped with a flat screen TV, cable, surround sound, and strobe lights (not so sure what you need those for, but whatever floats your boat). The igloo house, has 6-foot tall ceilings and Ohio State paraphernalia hanging from the ice walls. Grey says that he lights candles for ambience when friends come over, and never has to worry about the beer getting warm.

The moral of the story? Jim Grey was not thrilled to be bored and living with his parents so he set out to make his living situation one that he could be more comfortable and happy in. If Jim Grey can find happiness in an igloo, you can do it in an apartment. Put thought into your home.

As it blizzards (yes, it can be used as a verb)

All right, Chicago-

Here are two musings (more like tips) for this cold weather- which, by the way, doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. They’ll be sure to save you some money.

For starters- because it’s much darker in the winter and you will probably be home more, replace incandescent bulbs with EnergyStar compact fluorescent lights. In doing this, you will use less than one-third the energy. Replacing just 5 bulbs will save you $65 per year.

Also, insulate and weatherize! Air leaks are the BIGGEST contributor to energy loss, so this is important. While your landlord is not obligated to further modify the apartment after a lease is signed, it doesn’t hurt to ask! Hold your hand near windows and if you can feel cold air, you are losing money. Respectfully explain the issue to your landlord and ask if s/he can come out and caulk and weatherstrip. If they say no, ask for permission to do it yourself. Use removable rope caulk or shrink-film plastic on drafty windows and over in-wall air conditioning units. Removing window plastic sometimes takes paint with it so it’s important to get the owner’s permission.

Neither of these sound exciting, I know, but saving money does. Implementing these two pointers couldn’t take more than a few hours of your time, so give em a shot.

And use the extra money you’ll saving to buy a Jimmy Buffett CD, a floral shirt, and some pina colada mix….oh, and think warm thoughts.

WARMEST regards,

Justin