What to Look For in an Apartment: a Short Guide for First-Time Renters

It reaches a point where you no longer have or want to live in your parent’s house.

You now have to choose where to call home – your new home. Choosing your new home can be a daunting process. You have to make a difficult decision considering there are numerous places and factors to consider.

However, you don’t need to get overwhelmed. With a well-formulated plan, it gets easy and fun. As a first time renter, you might not know what to look for in an apartment. Learn the essentials of apartment searching in this short apartment guide.

What to Look for in an Apartment

Are you ready to start looking for your first apartment? This guide will help you know what to look for in an apartment before you embark on apartment shopping.

Set a Budget

When you set your budget, it helps to define your options. The first step is to establish what you can comfortably pay without stretching your budget. To help in setting your budget, allocate 30% of your salary for rent purposes.

It is also essential to know that costs have two aspects. They are divided into short term and long term costs. The former include application fees, initial deposits, and renters insurance. Long term costs are the monthly payments and utility bills.

You will also require some extra cash in your pocket. This will cater for moving expenses and any other unplanned spending that may come up.

Scan Your Neighborhood

Your safety is important. Walkthrough the neighborhood and see the lifestyle of those residing there. Make sure to check the neighborhood life at night as well as during the day. Are there nightclubs and bars around? If yes, will that be comfortable for you, or do you prefer a more peaceful environment?

Also, check for social amenities around the area. Check for clinics, gym, shops, restaurants, and schools. Consider the mode of transportation available and traffic in that area.

Tour the Apartment Community Before Moving

Pay a visit to the apartment community to learn the finer details. Walk around the property. Is this a place that you feel that you could call home?

What Should You Check?

  • Is the property well-kept?
  • Is there ample parking?
  • Is it fairly quiet or noisy?
  • What amenities do they have on-site and nearby?
  • Do you feel safe?

Finding an Apartment

Moving into your new apartment is a rewarding experience. The tips above offer a guide on what to look for in an apartment.

Evaluate your budget, your neighborhood, and tour your soon to be apartment community. Then, you are good to start a more responsible and enjoyable new life.

Next, check out our article about Unique Bedroom Storage Ideas for Your Rented Apartment.

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Breathing It In: 5 Outdoor Activities for Nature Lovers in Fort Wayne

Did you just move to Fort Wayne and you don’t know where to go for a run? Or maybe you made a 2019 resolution to get outside more (and you’re sticking with it!)? Whatever your motivation for seeking out nature, Fort Wayne Indiana has a plethora of outdoor activities for all ages and abilities.

Check out this list to see just five of the many ways you can get outside and enjoy all the nature Fort Wayne has to offer!

1. Take a Trail

Fort Wayne claims over 100 miles of trails. The city is extremely bike-friendly, so grab a helmet and get to exploring those bike trails.

The trails wind their way around the city of Fort Wayne, connecting you to parks, farms, and splash pads.

Biking the trails is a great way to work up a sweat, breathe some fresh air, and see the sights.

2. Splash in a River

Although most people don’t associate Indiana with water activities, Fort Wayne was built on three rivers. With the intersection of the Saint Joseph River, St. Mary’s River, and Maumee River as its backyard, Fort Wayne is definitely a river city.

You can boat, paddle, or splash your way around the three rivers.

Don’t have a kayak? Don’t worry. Fort Wayne has a rental companies that can provide you with paddle boats, boats, and pontoons for a day on the water.

3. Enjoy a Park Day

While you’re biking around the Fort Wayne trails, you’ll likely stumble upon one of the over 80 award-winning parks. There are sculpture parks, nature preserves, and promenades. With such diversity, there is a park for everyone.

Take the kids to Fort Wayne Children’s Zoo at Franke Park. Explore a wetlands preserve at Eagle Marsh. Check out the wildlife at Fox Island. And, the Doggie Beach at Fox Island is a big hit with the four-legged nature lovers!

4. Smell the Roses

Looking for a way to squeeze in some nature without leaving the city? Look no further than the Botanical Gardens.

The Foellinger-Freimann Botanical Conservatory is located in the heart of Fort Wayne. With workshops, classes and an annual butterfly exhibit, the Botanical Conservatory is a breath of fresh air.

With indoor and outdoor gardens, this is a year-round escape to nature. Retirees and grandkids alike will find hours worth of entertainment at the Botanical Conservatory.

5. Take in the Farm

Located just north of Fort Wayne, the Saloman Farm is a unique way to commune with 1930s farm life.

Accessible by bike or car, the Farm offers the chance to learn from a real-life farming community with a historical perspective. Attend the Farm Camp or wander the property looking for rare bird species.

Endless Outdoor Activities

Whether you like to walk, bike, paddle, or explore, Fort Wayne has all the outdoor activities a nature lover could ask for.

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7 Best Budgeting Books to Help You Save for Your Ultimate Vacation

best budgeting books

When we think about the best way to save money it is easy to think about having to struggle inside our homes, either shivering with the heating turned off or boiling alive with the no air conditioning. But in fact, saving money is as much about the way you think about money and your life as it is restricting your finances.

Perhaps you want to take a dream vacation or you’re contemplating setting up a business, or maybe you want money to spend on a bigger apartment. There are thousands of money management books which can help you get a handle on your finances. But with so many choices, which do you choose? Here are 3 of the best budgeting books to help you save.

1. The Richest Man in Babylon (George S. Clayson)

This book was first published in 1928. Whilst that might seem like an eternity ago – indeed this was before the Wall Street Crash or the decade long depression that defined the way future generations would think about economics – it’s lessons are timeless. It is considered one of the best personal finance books of all time.

It’s written in the style of a biblical lesson from the era of Babylon, the middle eastern city at the center of the ancient world, in modern day Iraq. The lessons are simple. Try to increase the opportunities you have to increase your money, roll back on the spending and try to find a way to get some compound interest on your savings.

2.  The Simple Path to Wealth (J.L. Collins)

This book says what it does on the cover. It sets out simply what you need to earn a lot of money. It centers around letters Collins wrote to his daughter about how she can make the most from her investments.

Ultimately the book serves as a case study or life lesson that can be implemented in real life. The book is not just about financial freedom though, it’s also about how getting better at saving money can help make your life, in general, feel freer.

3. A Random Walk Down Wall Street (Burton G.Malkiel)

This book is great if you are looking to make some investment decisions but don’t know where to begin. Malkiel explains an efficient market hypothesis and offers some useful advice on how to play the Wall Street game.

The book is an investment strategy with some tried and tested techniques. Malkiel tells you how to create a strong portfolio that – over a number of years – might make you rich.

The Best Budgeting Books Will Change How You Think About Money

The best budgeting books are not the ones that give you straight up advice or a list of companies in which to invest. In fact, the most powerful books are the ones which change your mindset.

Money affects so much of our daily lives and is often the reason for our behavior in regards to budgeting and the amount we spend and earn comes down to decisions we make without thinking about it.

Want more tips? Read this article to learn how clearing out clutter can be a great way of earning some extra cash and freeing up some space.

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Your Label-Maker’s Dream: 4 Tips for Organizing Small Apartments

Whether you’re living in a large or small apartment, it can be hard to keep it organized if you’ve got a decent amount of stuff. It is integral, however, to keep things in order if you’re going to live in a clutter-free environment. In this post, we’re going to give you 4 tips for organizing small apartments. It may not be fun, but it’s necessary.

1. Purge Occasionally

Okay, let’s start here. Instead of hanging on to things that you don’t need, do some occasional purges. If you haven’t put a sweater on in 3 years or if you’ve never read that one book you’ve been meaning to read, just get rid of them. If you haven’t used it by now, there’s a good chance you never will.

It’s hard to decide what needs to go, but that’s the best way to minimize clutter in your small apartment without renting a storage space.

2. Multi-Functional Furniture, Etc.

Having furniture and accessories that do more than one thing is a good organizational tactic. Things like antique chests will work as a coffee table, but you can put whatever you want in it.

Some couches have pullout beds in them, some even have storage units built in. It’ll streamline your apartment to keep items you don’t typically use tucked away in these things so you can use your floor space for living in.

3. Use Surfaces You Normally Wouldn’t

Using the backs of cabinet doors and the sides of shelves to hang things will save you a lot of space. And, your stuff will be out in the open, so you’ll be able to see where everything is at all times.

Make use of your wall space. Put shelves up everywhere. If you’ve got a lot of books, this is important so that you don’t have to have clunky bookcases taking up valuable floor space.

4. Hide Things in Plain Sight

Hidden storage is all the rage nowadays. Most places will sell small storage units in different sizes that can fit underneath things. This way, you can hide your clothes, shoes, old documents, and toys (if you’ve got kids) in plain sight.

Check online to find bins and containers that’ll fit underneath beds and couches, and in all the nooks and crannies of the apartment that you don’t use.

Maximizing Small Apartments

If your apartment is small, then you’ve got to keep everything else smaller too. Just keep the essentials and use these tips to keep those things organized; you’ll be living in a clutter-free environment.

To learn more about apartment living, visit the Montrose Square Apartments blog.

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Meet our New Property Manager

meet the apartment fort wayne team

If you’ve been to the leasing office in the past couple of weeks you may have noticed a new face. We’re excited to welcome the new property manager, Michele West. As the property manager, Michele will help address any resident issues and make sure that our community is well maintained and a great place to live.

Michele has been in the apartment industry for over 21 years and is excited to bring her experience to Montrose Square and to get to know our residents.

Learn more about Michele.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I was raised in Fort Wayne and attended St. Peter’s, Blackhawk Middle School, and Snider High School. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in Accounting from the University of Akron. I left Fort Wayne and moved around the country with my family. We have lived in Indiana, Alabama, Texas, New York, New Jersey, and Ohio.  I have 3 children — 2 daughters and 1 son as well as 4 grandchildren that live in Ohio. In 2010 I moved back to Fort Wayne to be closer to my family.

What’s your personal motto?

Life is too short to not be happy.

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be?

Molly Weasley. She had a large family that would do anything for each other and being a witch with the ability to clean up with a flick of a wand is not bad either.

If you were stranded on a desert island, what one item would you want with you?

Some kind of nut plant that I could grow nuts to make sure I could eat.

What is the happiest moment that you’ve experienced in your life?

When my children were born.

Please join us in welcoming Michele to the Montrose Square Apartments team!

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Delicious Downsizing: How to Expertly Use Your Kitchen Countertop Storage

Moving into a new apartment is an exciting step, but it can be stressful too. There are so many benefits to having an organized space, but that’s not always easy to achieve. When you are first moving in, you are probably desperate to get unpacked and organization is not always the top priority.

The kitchen, in particular, is one of the hardest rooms to keep organized, especially if your kitchen is on the smaller side. But that’s when it’s most important. When your counter space is at a premium, being organized will help you make the most of every inch.

This year, make a commitment to get rid of clutter. If you start off with organized counter spaces, you’ll be more motivated to keep them that way.

Below, we’re sharing five tips on kitchen countertop storage to get you started. Read on!

1. Add Shelves

Trying to fit a lot of appliances, bakeware, and other cooking necessities into a tiny cooking space can be a challenge. There’s not always room to store everything on your counters or in your cabinets.

A kitchen countertop shelf is a good storage solution because it allows you to store things vertically. Placing it on your counters won’t take up a lot of room and the space you gain will be worth it. Use it for things that you reach for all the time, like favorite spices or multi-purpose bowls.

2. Keep It Out in the Open

You don’t have to keep all of your cookware tucked away in cabinets. If you’re working with limited storage space, that may be impossible anyway. Fortunately, pretty cookware doubles as a great kitchen decoration.

If you have a colorful Dutch oven or casserole dish, leave it out on one of your oven burners. It will save you space and look great.

3. Use Your Windowsill

Windows are a great addition to any tiny cooking space. They let in natural light, of course, but they can also save you counter space. Use your windowsill to store stacked up bowls, pots of fresh herbs, or other small items. Be sure to avoid storing oils on your windowsill, as light can cause them to spoil faster.

4. Contain Your Utensils

Having loose cooking utensils–like spatulas, wooden spoons, or whisks–scattered throughout the drawers in your kitchen can be a recipe for disaster. Kitchen drawers get cluttered easily, making it harder for you to find what you need when you need it.

A stylish canister or pitcher on your counter space is a better solution. It’ll keep all your go-to tools within easy reach.

5. Hang It Up

Adding Command hooks to your wall is a good trick for keeping your counter spaces clear of pots and pans and they’re easily removable and won’t damage the walls. Stacking pots and pans on top of each other also makes it hard to get the one you need if it’s not on top.

With Command hooks, you can hang these items by their handles on the wall. Organize them by size, so you can easily identify the one you need at any given time.

Ready to Move Forward with Kitchen Countertop Storage?

The kitchen is one of the most popular rooms in any home, and the time you spend there should be enjoyable. The more kitchen countertop storage solutions you can incorporate into your tiny cooking space, the happier you’ll be.

For more tips on moving into a new apartment, please contact us at any time.

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5 Tips on Decorating Your Apartment for Spring

It might be a little cool to switch over your wardrobe to your spring clothes, but there’s nothing stopping you from putting up your favorite spring decor. The way your home looks can have a huge impact on your mood. Let go of the drab colors of winter and liven things up with bright spring hues. Make a day of it and invited some friends over. Read on for tips and tricks to get started.

1. Change Out Throws and Blankets

Your home is a wild ecosystem full of bacteria and other potential threats. Throws and blankets that are left out all year long can carry bacteria that could cause illness. It’s important to wash your throws and blankets often. But also, consider changing them out periodically. Changing every season also allows you to get a blanket that is the perfect weight so you’ll never be too hot or too cold.

2. Add Plants and Flowers for Spring Decor

Spring is the season of renewal and one of the most beautiful places that is represented is in nature with the blossoming of flowers. Why not bring some of those beautiful blooms indoors to brighten up your space? Or, purchase some succulents for your home if you want something more easy to grow.

3. Create an Air of Spring

When you think of spring, you think of fresh air, clean linens, and a refreshing breeze. To create an air of spring in your home, you will need to invest in candles or essential oils that carry a bouquet of spring fragrance. 

You can also buy lightweight curtains and rugs to make the space feel fresher. It’s time to go shopping for some fun throw rugs.

4. Declutter and Organize

Spring is a time for downsizing, decluttering and organization. After a long winter, it’s time to get rid of all of the stuff exploding out of your closets. Start by getting rid of all of the winter clothes you didn’t wear that year. If you didn’t find time to wear it all season, it’s not likely that you will wear it next year.

5. Add Pops of Color

Spring is all about bright, sunny colors. Think about your home’s color palette and what colors would mix in well. You don’t have to go as far as painting a wall to add in an accent color. Even small choices like adding a colorful bowl of fruit can make a huge difference in the feel of your home.

Or you could purchase and refinish a small table in a fun color to brighten up your space without spending a lot of money. Put a few photos on top of it and you have a fun spring display.

Where to Find a Great Apartment

Decorating your place with spring decor is a great way to welcome the season. But if you’re stuck in a drab apartment with low light, it’s hard to create the air and energy of spring.

Check out our blog for more helpful articles. And if you’re looking for an apartment in the Fort Wayne area, check out some of our listings of bright spaces you could call home.

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Damage-Free Decorating: 5 Command Hook Hacks Perfect for Apartment Living

Over 43 million households are renter occupied. Many renters don’t personalize their living space for fear they’ll damage the walls. If you’re a renter, take heart. You can decorate damage free! All you need are Command damage-free hooks.

Command hooks are also great space savers. They’ll make your apartment tidy and efficient. Live in style with these Command hook hacks. And no more worries about damaging the walls.

1. Kitchen Hacks

Many apartments are short on kitchen counter space. If that’s true for your kitchen, try this easy hack. Use various-size Command hooks. Hang pans, strainers, and other cooking tools on the wall. It works even if the walls are tiled.

And don’t waste the space on the inside of the cabinet doors. Hang small hooks for measuring spoons and mixer attachments. Get creative for extra kitchen storage space.

2. Home Office Space Hacks

If you’re in an apartment, you might not have a dedicated office or craft room. No problem! Carve out a small work area using Command hooks.

Keep your smartphone in a clear Command caddy. Use another clear caddy for paperclips, pens, pencils, and rubber bands. Place two hooks with a dowel between them. Slide wrapping paper onto the dowel. Hang tape and scissors from the wall.

Using the walls saves floor and closet space and makes your room versatile.

3. Best Bathroom Hacks

There’s a Command hook for almost everything, including your hair dryer. If you need help in your tub, there are hooks with weight capacity up to 5 pounds.

Many apartment showers and tubs are small with nowhere to set your stuff except the floor. That makes cleaning a pain. But Command hooks work even in wet environments. Get your soap and other shower products off the floor. Command hooks stick to tile, fiberglass, and painted surfaces.

Use small hooks and turn them sideways on the inside of the sink cabinet door. Now you’ve got the perfect toothbrush holders. This keeps your toothbrushes clean and out of the way.

4. Two-For-One Hacks

Not sure what to do with all those necklaces and earrings? Use Command hooks! You’ll get a two-for-one hack when you hang your jewelry. No more tangled necklaces, and you get beautiful wall decor.

Do you have a gorgeous scarf collection? Place two hooks with a dowel between them. Hang your scarves on the dowel. This saves you closet space and looks great on the wall.

5. Entryway Hacks

Have a small entryway with no floor space? Use the walls without worry. Combine function and beauty using damage-free hooks.

Use Command picture-hanging hooks and hang your favorite poster or photo. Add a key rail so you’ll never lose your keys again. Throw in a picture ledge for mail and a small art piece.

And of course, don’t forget some large hooks for scarves, hats, and jackets.

Command Hook Hacks for the Perfect Apartment

Maximize space and show your style with these great Command hook hacks. You’ll have peace of mind knowing you’ve got your leasing office’s approval.

No more worrying about damaged walls and unreturned security deposits. Best of all, it’s easy and fun. Don’t live in a bland space. Express yourself!

Are you looking for a great new apartment? Find one here.

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How to Save Some Dough: How to Lower Your Electric Bill This Winter

The average Hoosier’s electric bill is $115 monthly. Indiana residents have the 22nd highest electric bills. While it could be worse, think of all the extra money you could have in your wallet with a smaller electric bill. 

Now that we’re in the thick of winter, don’t blow all your money trying to heat your home. Check out these tips to lower your electric bill this winter.

1. Insulate Doors and Windows

Renting an apartment is affordable, especially if you implement winter energy saving tips. One of the best tips to save money is insulating your apartment’s doors and windows. For your main apartment door, invest in a door sweep or install a door draft stopper. These items prevent cold air from entering your apartment through any gaps in your door frame. 

If your apartment windows tend to let in cool air, insulate them with plastic coverings. If you don’t want to take the plastic route, heavy curtains can help block cold air. 

2. Lower Your Thermostat

Wondering how to lower electric bill in winter? It’s as simple as lowering your thermostat. 

You can save up to 10 percent on your electricity bills by lowering your thermostat by a few degrees when you are at work or sleeping. When you aren’t home, there’s no need to heat an empty apartment. 

When you do come home to your apartment, challenge yourself to keep the temperature lower than you usually would. Instead, layer up your clothing and use an extra blanket. Your budget will thank you for your sacrifice. 

3. Reverse Ceiling Fans

One solution to how to save on heating bills is to reverse your ceiling fans. 

Did you know that you should be reversing your ceiling fans when the temperatures switch? During the warmer months, your ceiling fan blades should be turning counterclockwise. This direction moves cooler air downwards. 

But in the winter, remember to switch your blades to turn clockwise. Warm air naturally rises, and this movement causes the warm air to return down to your living space. 

4. Unplug, Unplug, Unplug

Look around your apartment for a second. How many appliances and devices do you have plugged in that aren’t currently in use?  Many of those devices still draw power even if they are turned off or in a sleep mode. Taking a few seconds to unplug your devices when they aren’t in use can save you some change on your electric bill. And, the more devices you unplug, the more money you save. 

If unplugging each device sounds like a lot of work, invest in a few power strips. You can then turn one switch off on the power strip and it will prevent all appliances plugged into it to stop drawing power.

The best part about this trick? It saves you money on your electric bill during all seasons! 

Beyond Ways to Lower Your Electric Bill

Now that you know more about helpful ways to lower your electric bill, you can start saving cash this winter. 

You’ll be amazed at all the money you can save by implementing just one or all of these tips. Start small by lowering your thermostat, reversing your ceiling fans and unplugging appliances. Once you’ve adjusted to those changes, consider insulating your apartment’s doors and windows. 

Interested in more apartment-living tips? Check out our blog!

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New Year, Less Stuff: How To Get Rid of Clutter in 2019

It’s a new year! And maybe you, like many others, have made the goal to declutter your apartment. If you’re not sure where to begin or how to make the cleanliness last, read on for the top 3 professional tips on how to get rid of clutter for good. 

1. Organizing Clothing

Clothing is best organized by the owner in one sitting. So we recommend setting aside an hour to organize it.

Grab a few garbage bags. You’ll want one for clothing that you can donate, and one for other clothing that isn’t donatable (used underwear, damaged clothing) that you can recycle through a fabric recycling program. In the U.S. over 13 million tons of fabric ends up in landfills each year, so no matter what condition it’s in, recycle it!

If you live in a place where you experience seasonal changes, then it’s also a good idea to have a large, clear Tupperware container and lid with you.

Start by putting all your clothing on your bed. Take each item of clothing and ask these question (or some like them):

  • Does this item of clothing bring me joy?
  • Does this item of clothing provide me peace? 
  • Have I worn it in the past 12 months?

If the answer to any of those questions is “no” then you place it in either your donation or recycling bags. 

If you come across clothes for another season than the current one that you’re keeping, fold them neatly and place them in the Tupperware container. When the appropriate season comes again, you can place the passing season’s clothes inside.

2. How to Get Rid of Clutter

Many people express before beginning a decluttering mission that their space is overwhelming. And it’s hard to know where to start. If you feel this way, then we’ve got a trick for you. It’s called the 10-minute trash routine. Get 2 trash bags (one for garbage, one for donated items) and start at one end or corner of a room. Set a timer for 10 minutes and spend the entire 10 minutes sorting items into one of the trash bags or a keep pile.

After your timer goes off, immediately take out your bag of garbage. And place your donation bag in the room you’re decluttering. You can continue to use that for donation items through the week.

Before you leave the room, take the items in your “keep pile” and put them away in their designated spots.

Repeat this routine at least once a day. Pick a day of the week to deliver your donatable items to Goodwill, a local charity, or another thrift store. Continue to donate items once a week.

Making the 10-minute trash a routine is a small way to make a big impact on your overall cleanliness.

3. Go Paperless

A lot of clutter that happens around the house is a result of mail, bills, and other miscellaneous papers. A pro decluttering tip is to switch to paperless bills, statements, etc. Think through your property utilities like rent or mortgage, water, garbage, gas, electricity, sewage, etc. Find out which of these you can manage through auto pay and paperless billing. 

Next think of other reoccurring expenses like a phone bill, loans, internet, credit card payments, car payments, streaming services, etc. All of these bills should allow for paperless billing.

Set up an email account that’s exclusively for paperless billing emails so you don’t miss any payments.

With less paper clutter in the house, it’ll be easy to sort through junk mail and send it straight to the recycling bin.

Now What

Now that you know how to get rid of clutter, it’s time to get started. Choose one of these ideas to start with today!

Need more help decluttering your apartment? Check out this article on unique bedroom storage ideas.

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