Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Austin Apartment Shortage Leads to Increased Rents


Occupancy rates in Austin are at about 97 percent, which while down a percentage from a year ago, are still creating high rents for Austinites.  I was recently interviewed by KVUE about the apartment shortage in Austin and how it is affecting renters.

A healthy market occupancy rate is 92 percent.  Once occupancy climbs above that, expensive rent becomes the norm.  Austin has seen rent climb since about 2009.

For those moving to Austin from other states, such as California, those rates seem like a steal.  But to longtime Austinites, the $1.15 per square foot market average can be over their budget.  A one-bedroom apartment is considered affordable if it costs $700 a month, although those rates tend to be at apartment communities on the edge of town.  A one-bedroom downtown apartment starts at $1,400 to $1,500 monthly, and the new apartments being built around the city and even in neighboring cities cost almost that much.

The market to purchase houses hasn't fared much better, with prices continuing to climb and increased competition.  Houses are often getting multiple offers in a matter of 48 hours, which keeps people who would like to own a home living in apartments longer than they would otherwise choose to.

The apartment market in Austin may seem scary, but let us help.  A Plus Apartments knows the rates, vacancies, and move in specials at the most desirable apartments across the city and can help you find a place that works within your budget, all for free.  Call us today at 512-231-1400.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Where to Eat in Austin on Christmas


Would you rather leave the cooking to someone else and eat at a restaurant on Christmas Day?  Well you're not limited to Chinese food like in "A Christmas Story", there are lots of great restaurants open in our fair Austin.  The Austinot gives us a round-up.

24 Diner is open 24 hours, 7 days a week, and they won't close just for the biggest holiday of the year!  They've got fancy comfort food from chicken and waffles to chicken and dumplings.  There are lots of gluten free options as well, so this is truly a choice that will please the entire family!

El Arroyo serves up their Tex Mex even on Christmas.  Enjoy an unconventional Christmas dinner of enchiladas and margaritas, and even your dogs can come with you!

The Driskill Hotel, which is one of the oldest hotels in the state,  will keep both its 1886 Cafe and upstairs bar open on Christmas.  The Cafe opens at 6:30am and the bar opens at noon.

Carmelo's, a classic Italian restaurant, is open on Christmas and offers traditional Italian fare like pasta and Tiramisu as well as a Christmas Buffet.  They also have vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options so everyone can find something they will enjoy.

Casino El Camino will also stay open on the big day and serve up their famous burgers.  A great destination if you're feeling a little Grinchy.

Sarovar Indian Cuisine is open on Christmas and is a great unconventional choice for Christmas Dinner.  You can even pick your spice level, so if Grandma gets the head sweats, she can ask for no heat in her curry.

Threadgill's will make you feel like you've gone home for the holidays with their classic Southern cooking.  Plus you don't have to worry about Mom giving you dirty looks for drinking a bloody mary or two.  

For the classic Christmas dinner out, Chinatown will be serving dim sum brunch from 11am to 2:30pm.  Dim Sum is like getting a bunch of little presents and all you have to do is point at the amazing dishes that the wait staff rolls past your table.

If you spent all your money on gifts, check out Crown and Anchor Pub's $5 basket of burger and fries.  They'll be open by campus from 2pm to 2am, and with most of the students home for the holidays, you should be able to shoot pool, throw darts, and drink a pint or two in peace.

Finally, nothing says Christmas like consuming copious amounts of Brazilian-cooked meat.  Estancia Churrascaria is happy to oblige!  They'll be open from 11am to 9pm.  

Going out because your apartment kitchen is way too small to cook?  Give A Plus Apartments a call at 512-231-1400 and get into a new apartment with a larger kitchen so you can stay in next year!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Unique Places to buy Holiday Gifts in Austin


Looking for that unique gift that will light up your loved one's face on Christmas?  Check out these local stores to get a meaningful gift that your recipient will cherish, while feeling good because you're shopping local!

Parts and Labour is located on South Congress and sells all handmade objects by Texas artists and makers.  From t-shirts to onesies to art to jewelry, there's something one-of-a-kind for everyone on your list at Parts and Labour.

Toy Joy in the Second Street District is a toy store that kids from 0 to 100 can enjoy!  They have totally out there toys for kids and adults and are an especially great place to find the perfect White Elephant gift that everyone will be fighting over!

Big Top Candy Shop, also on South Congress, has just about any type of candy you can think of.  This is a great place to find a rare type of candy, especially those that your Mom and Dad wax poetic about.  Take them back to their childhood with some sweet confections that will put a smile on their face.

Everyone loves to read, and Bookpeople is a locally-owned heaven on earth for book lovers.  If you don't know what to give someone, talk to Bookpeople's knowledgeable staff and get the perfect gift for the hard to shop for person on your list!

Running out of room to store all your Christmas presents in your too-small apartment?  Call A Plus Apartments at 512-231-1400 and let us help you find a new larger apartment for the new year!  

Friday, December 5, 2014

Decorate the Perfect Christmas Tree


Is this your first year as a real grown-up with your own Christmas Tree?  Or maybe you get frustrated every year that you aren't "doing it right".  Check out Apartment Therapy's tree tutorial and get a beautifully decorated tree!

First things first:  decide where you are going to put your tree.  If you have a large front window, that's always a great location because you can share the joy of a sparkly, lit up tree with the neighborhood.  Then measure the area to be sure your tree will fit, locate nearby outlets, and finally sweep or vacuum the area before bringing in the tree.

Next step is to spruce up your tree to make sure it looks its best.  If you have an artificial tree, you need to fluff up the branches and unfold any that have flattened during storage.  If you are going to have a real tree, examine it from every angle to find the best one.  Trim the branches if necessary to have it looking its best.

Allow plenty of time to trim your tree.  If you are rushed, you'll just be angry and turn what should be a fun activity into a chore.  Even if it means living with a bare tree for a couple of days, it's worth it.

Alright, time to turn on some Christmas music, grab a warm beverage, and get started!  First, lay out all your decorations, from ornaments to garlands to lights, to be sure that everything is in good order.  If anything needs repair set it aside.  Plug in all your lights and make sure they are working.  If not, now is the time to make a run to the store for more!

Lights are next if you don't have a pre-lit tree.  Plug all the lights together and plug them in the outlet.  This will make them much easier to work with.  If you can enlist a helper, stand on either side of the tree and pass off the string as you work.  Begin at the base of the tree and work upwards.  More lights are always better and use a sturdy stepstool to reach the top.

Add accessories like garland or ribbon next.  Use as much as you want, there is no such thing as too much when it comes to tree decorating!  

Now it's time for the ornaments, which should be evenly distributed top to bottom and around the tree.  Make sure you assess the overall look often.  The heaviest ornaments should be at the top where the branches are stronger.

Place a tree skirt or soft blanket at the base of the tree before you begin trimming so if an ornament falls, it will have a safe landing.

Once you're done, enjoy a cup of cocoa and bask in the light of your accomplishments!  Or get to decorating the rest of your apartment by covering it in lights!

Need help finding a new apartment where you can set up the perfect Christmas tree?  Give A Plus Apartments a call today at 512-231-1400!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Decorating a City Apartment on a Tight Budget


Are you on a tight budget but you still want to decorate your apartment and make it feel like a glamorous abode?  Apartment Therapy's tips, gleaned from their house tours, will help you decorate your city apartment even on a minuscule budget.

Adding color needn't cost a lot of dough, and it has a big impact on spaces.  If your landlord allows it, paint the walls or bring in color without painting by adding textiles in the form of curtains, rugs, blankets, or throw pillows.  You can even make your own curtains and throw pillows if you are on a really tight budget.

Make inherited furniture work with your decor so you don't have to buy lots of new furniture.  Recovering or even just putting a blanket or piece of fabric that covers the fraying parts of an old couch or chair will help you get more mileage out of it.

Mixing expensive with bargain finds is another great way to make your place look chic without costing an arm and a leg.  Splurge on something you really love that will last forever like a high quality couch, and then use cheaper resources like IKEA and Craigslist to furnish the rest of the room.

Make furniture yourself from scratch, or makeover furniture you have with paint, stain, new knobs, etc. to make your apartment unique without costing a lot of money.  After all, if you make it yourself, you will truly have a one-of-a-kind piece that no one else can claim.

Artwork and accessories are a great way to personalize your home.  Maybe you can swap with artist friends or even make your own artwork.  You'd be amazed what you can do with a little painter's tape!

Ready to find a new apartment for the new year that you can really put your own personal stamp on?  Give A Plus Apartments a call today at 512-231-1400 to find the perfect apartment for you!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Austin Green Building Requirements



Austin has its own system rating how "green" apartments are.  Austin Energy assigns buildings one through five stars to show how much they adhere to green building standards.  The standards specific to apartments are called Multifamily and only apply to residential and mixed use developments six stories or less in height.  What exactly are those standards?  Read on for a quick primer on what Green Building means for apartments in Austin.

The city uses a scorecard to decide what a development's overall rating will be.  This scorecard is divided into different categories, each of which contribute to the overall score:  site, energy, water, indoor environmental quality, materials and resources, education and equity, and innovation.  

The site category encompasses environmental factors like environmental sensitivity, brownfield redevelopment (a site previously used for industrial or commercial purposes, that usually has some low level contamination), habitat restoration and protection, and heat island reduction.  It also covers transportation issues like density, diverse and walkable communities, bicycle storage, parking capacity, and public transportation.

The energy section is focused on the energy efficiency of the building and the systems inside, everything from heating and cooling systems to the lighting, both exterior and interior.  There is also a rating for using green energy and having on-site renewable energy. 

The water portion of the scorecard takes into account outdoor water use reduction, building water use reduction, water efficient appliances, and stormwater management.  

Indoor environmental quality covers indoor chemical and pollutant services, green housekeeping, use of natural sunlight to illuminate indoor spaces, and the use of low emitting construction materials as much as possible to reduce offgassing, aka that "new house smell". 

The section on materials and resources covers how the construction waste is managed, whether the amount of building materials used is reduced, durable floor materials, sustainably sourced materials, certified wood, and the use of PVCs and Phthalates, which have been shown in some studies to change hormone levels and cause birth defects.

Education and equity covers more quality of living type concerns such as housing affordability, access to information, car free living, accessibility (for mobility-impaired individuals), construction worker equity (paying them a fair wage), and educational outreach (using the building to educate others on green building techniques).

Finally, the section on innovation awards points to builders who go above and beyond the city-mandated requirements to build an even more energy efficient and earth-friendly building.  An example of this would be onsite composting, but really it is only limited by the imagination and resources of the builder.

Are you passionate about being green and want to live in a community that takes steps to do the same?  Talk to your apartment locator about green apartments in Austin and ask to see their Austin Energy Green Building Score Card. 
 Give A Plus Apartments a call today at 512-231-1400 for help finding apartment communities that share your passion.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Tips for Finding an Apartment in a Hot Market


Austin is an incredibly tight rental market, with occupancy rates at 94.8 percent.  To get an apartment in such a tight rental market, you need to have the inside track.  Check out Trulia's tips on finding an apartment in a hot market.

Landlords are most likely to rent to people who are in a strong financial position.  What this means for you is that you should go to an apartment hunt with proof that you aren't a financial risk.  Pay stubs, proof of renters' insurance, and your credit report all show potential landlords that renting to you is a no-brainer.  If you're renting your first apartment, don't have much savings or have a low income relative to rent, you may need to approach your parents or other relatives about co-signing your lease.  If you do have a poor credit score due to a lay-off or other financial disaster in the past, bring proof that your situation has recovered.

Listings go quickly, so be prepared to go see new ones as soon as they come up.  If your schedule is flexible enough to allow you to go during the day, that puts you at an advantage.  Start your search early, at least 90 days before your move-in date, and reach out to friends through social media and ask them to let you know if they hear of any apartments for rent.

Go into your search with realistic expectations:  you aren't going to get everything on your wish list.  In the most expensive markets, you may have to pay more than the recommended 30% of your annual income for rent, and look for other places to cut back.  Be flexible about what amenities you want, and be reasonable about what you really need. 
 You can live without a rooftop pool or a gym, but you need to live in a place where you feel safe and feel like your dwelling is properly maintained.

Overwhelmed by the lack of apartment listings in Austin?  Bad credit or a low income scaring you away from finding a new place to live?  A Plus Apartments' can help you find the perfect apartment, even if you have limitations or blemishes on your credit.  We know the up-to-the-minute vacancies and amenities so you don't have to waste time driving to apartment complexes without vacancies. Give us a call today at 512-231-1400 to take advantage of our free apartment locating services.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Apartments Across America Annual Conference


The Apartments Across America Annual Conference was recently held on October 23rd and 24th in Washington, DC.  A Plus Apartments is a member of this organization, which brings together the leading apartment finding agencies and brokerages focused on rentals from across the country.  At the conference, rental industry professionals are able to share their knowledge on marketing, acquiring and retaining talent, and technology with one another.

Some highlights from the conference specific to the Texas Apartment Market were that Austin sees the most rentals each year, but Houston has seen the most growth in development.  In Houston, there will another 12,000 luxury apartments added by the end of the year across the city.

I attended the conference and learned so much from these other industry leaders.  I was also proud to bring back the Best Website award for www.aplusapartments.com.  
  
The next Apartments Across America Annual Conference will be in October of next year in Chicago.  

Ready to find your own apartment in Austin's hot rental market?  Give A Plus Apartments a call today at 512-416-8100.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

An Abundance of Apartment Construction May Lead to Rent Relief


Austin's apartment market is still super hot, but with nearly 18,000 units under construction, rents could start to cool off soon.  It could also mean the return of incentives to get renters into apartments, as the Austin Business Journal reports.

The large number of apartments that will be flooding the market in the next two quarters, which are usually slow for the apartment business, will create some market competition leading to price adjustments, concessions, and locator incentives.

Market analysts are especially concerned about the 8,000 units that are going to begin construction in the next 180 days.

The most expensive sub-market in town is Austin's Central Business District with rent averaging $2.46 per square foot.  That's expected to go even higher when The Bowie opens, where rent is more than $9,100 a month for 3 bedroom units.  448 square foot studios start at $1,545 per month.

Occupancy rates are currently at 94.8 percent, down a percentage point from a year ago.  Average rent is up to $1,070, compared to $1,007 in 2013 and rental rates are $1.26 per square foot versus $1.18 last year.  

Need help navigating Austin's tight rental market?  A Plus Apartments can help you find the perfect apartment.  Give us a call today at 512-231-1400 to take advantage of our up to the minute knowledge of vacancies, amenities, and rates at all the best complexes in town!

Friday, October 24, 2014

Making More Space in a Tiny Kitchen



Just because you have a tiny kitchen in your apartment doesn't mean that you can't cook comfortably.  Apartment Therapy's tips for making the most out of a small kitchen will have you going gourmet no matter how diminutive your space!

Store things like baking sheets and cooling racks in your oven.  Just be sure you take them out before you start baking!
Put hooks everywhere!  By the sink for towels, on the side of your island for things like strainers and oven mitts, anywhere you can hang something.

Don't have a pantry?  No problem!  Use a wardrobe or cabinet and turn that into your pantry.  If you need more storage, get freestanding objects like baking racks or moveable islands to store stuff and provide additional counter space. You can take it with you when you move.

When deciding where to home items, put them where you use them. For example, putting all your dishes near your dishwasher allows you to unload clean dishes without a lot of wasted movement.

Have space on top of your cabinets?  Use it to store items that don't fit in your cabinets like stockpots.  You can always use a chair or stool to retrieve them.

Another must for small kitchens is to clean as you are cooking.  Otherwise, you wind up with a kitchen full of dirty cooking utensils and nowhere to work.

Finally, don't be afraid to use your bathtub to store dirty dishes in until after guests leave. Just pull the curtain and you can clean up later!

Ready to find an apartment with a bigger kitchen?  Give A Plus Apartments a call today at 512-231-1400.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Temporary Decorating Ideas for a Rental


Just because you rent doesn't meant you can't make some big changes to your space.  Check out Apartment Therapy's round up of easy decor ideas for a rental that you can take with you.

Change out the showerhead so you can get a shower with the amount of water pressure you want, not whatever the landlord installed 10 years ago.

Hang pegboard in the kitchen to put pots, pans, utensils and more on.  Try painting it for even more impact, and when you move, it's easy to take down and move to the next space. 

Temporary wallpaper is a great way to make a huge impact but get your deposit back.

If you hate the builder grade light fixture in your apartment, go ahead and change it out for one you love.  Just remember to keep the old one so you can replace it when you move.

Finally, trade out the kitchen knobs for some that make a big impact.  Just make sure your old hardware's easily accessible for when it's time to move on to the next apartment.

Ready to find a great apartment that you can put your personal touches on?  Give A Plus Apartments a call today at 512-231-1400.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How to Settle Into a New City



Recent Austin transplant?  Maybe you don't know a soul in town, but that's okay, you won't be a stranger for long with Apartment Therapy's tips for settling into a new city.

First of all, say yes to every invitation that comes your way.  You are not going to build friendships, or find romantic partners, without leaving your house.  So go to any event that someone invites you to.

Ask friends and family if they know people in your new city, and ask to be introduced to them.  Look through your social media contacts and find out who lives in your new town.

Join organized groups, whether it be sports groups or volunteering at a nonprofit. Even if you don't have a hobby, start one and get out there to find new friends!

For at least the first 6 months you live in your new city, live somewhere that feels comfortable to you.  That might mean spending a little more to live in an apartment in a neighborhood you feel safe in, or living with a friend or relative until you get acclimated.  

Give it at least a year before you give up.  You're guaranteed to get discouraged and feel like you made a mistake from time-to-time, but don't make any drastic decisions until you've given it at least a year.

Finally, don't forget your friends in your old city.  Call and visit often.

New to Austin and ready to find an apartment?  Give A Plus Apartments a call today at 512-231-1400.

Friday, October 3, 2014

5 Little Things That Give your Decor Wow


Sometimes it just takes one little thing to make your apartment stand out from the pack.  Check out Apartment Therapy's tips for small things that have a lot of impact.

A unique paint job, like painting a wall one bold color or even in a unique pattern will make your home unique.  Also, using multiples of one object makes it more interesting than using just one, whether it be rugs, tchokes or something else.  

Go big by investing in a large statement piece that will really wow visitors.  Spending a lot on one oversized piece of art or furniture often makes a bigger impact than a lot of smaller objects.

Bring the outdoors in with greenery to make your space look and feel fresh and calm.  If you are afraid you'll kill household plants (or your room doesn't get enough light), use fresh cut flowers.

Just because an object is supposed to be one thing doesn't mean you can't use it for something else!  Thinking creatively will help you come with decorations that are unusual and unique.

Ready to find an apartment where you can put your new ideas to work?  Give A Plus Apartments a call today at 512-231-1400.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Feng Shui



In decorating, Feng shui is an often used phrase.  Not sure how to Feng Shui your #apartment?  Check out About.com's tips! 

The simplest way to explain Feng shui is that it is a way of decorating your home that will "create a vibrant feeling of joy and harmony."  Your goal in feng shui is to make your environment have the best energy for whatever activities will take place in your space.

Your first step will be to get rid of your clutter.  This allows the "old energy" to be cleared out so you can create a strong energy foundation.  After you've decluttered, you need to ensure your space has good quality air and light, which are absolutely necessary for good Chi.

Next, you need to make an energy map of your home, or bagua.  This will be the guide to what colors you use in which rooms, what pictures you should use in your home, and where your furniture should be placed to have the best energy flow.

Now it's time to determine what colors should be used in which rooms.  Each color represents one of the five feng shui elements:  fire, earth, metal, water and wood.  You will use your bagua to determine which elements should be in which area, which will then guide you to what colors to paint your walls, cover your furniture and to use for your decorative items.

Next you need to determine what good feng shui items your home needs.  Perhaps you already own them, or you may need to purchase a fountain, which will bring you money, or some lucky bamboo to be sure that you stay healthy.  Other items that may be missing from your new feng shui home is a statue or picture of Buddha to make sure you have harmony and spiritual growth or crystals to protect you, provide you with clarity or to make sure your love life stays on the up and up.

Lastly, you will need to decide how and where to place these decor items so they can fulfill their promise as powerful feng shui cures.  About.com has the complete and rather complex instructions on how to make sure you correctly execute each step of your Feng Shui home decorating odyssey for the best Chi in town!

Looking for your own little slice of nirvana?  A Plus Apartment Locators can help you find an Austin Apartment that gives you good vibrations!  Give us a call today at 512-231-1400.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Tips for Renting with Pets



Renting an apartment that will allow your dog can require a little more work, but it's definitely doable.  Even if a landlord has had bad experiences in the past with a tenant's dog, you have a chance to show them what a responsible pet owner looks like.  About.com gives you the lowdown on renting with a dog.

If you already own a dog and need to rent, be sure to mention your pet to potential landlords right off the bat.  There is no use wasting your time with buildings that don't allow pets if you already have one.  Once you think you've found the perfect place for you AND your dog, go over the pet policy portion of your lease with a fine toothed comb.  Make sure you know all about pet deposits, cleaning fees and any restrictions that exist on the size of your pet.

If you are already renting and decide you want to get a dog, check your lease to be sure pets are permitted.  Even if the lease doesn't allow pets, you might approach your landlord and ask, you never know.  If your landlord gives the go ahead, make sure to get more details.  What is the weight or size limit?  Are puppies allowed?  How much is the deposit and any additional monthly fees?  What are the rules about where a dog can be walked on the grounds of the apartments, leash-free areas, etc?  If your landlord says no, either don't get a dog or move to a rental that allows them.  Never try to hide your dog, both you and your dog are likely to wind up homeless!

Finally, if you do get a dog, make sure to be a responsible pet owner.  Don't leave your dog home alone for long periods of time so they start barking and destroying your house.  Clean up after your dog when they go outside and only let them off-leash in designated areas.  If your dog does tend to ruin your furniture and home when you leave them alone, crate training can save your belongings and  your deposit.

Looking for an apartment for you and Fido to live in peace?  Give A Plus Apartments a call today at 512-231-1400 for help finding an apartment that loves your pet as much as you do!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Asking Noisy Neighbors to Quiet Down


Noisy Neighbors can be a nightmare for anyone, but especially for apartment dwellers.  Shared walls, ceilings and floors can cause turn what might be a mere nuisance into a real hardship, especially if it affects your sleep or ability to live comfortably in your apartment.  Wisegeek.com has some tips on how to approach a noisy neighbor about turning it down.

First, talk to your neighbor.  Begin your statement with "I'm not sure you're aware", giving the neighbor the benefit of the doubt as to whether they realize they're being noisy or not.  Then briefly state the specific noise that is bothering you, when it occurs, and ask if they could please turn down the music/stop the dog from barking/stop holding parties until 3am.  Be sure to also ask your neighbor to let you know if any noise that comes from your apartment is bothering them and volunteer to change your behavior.

If your neighbor behaves in a hostile or threatening manner, call the police the next time the noise occurs.  But if they simply do not comply with your request, draft a letter detailing when the noise occurs, including dates if it's something like a party.  Give the letter to your neighbor with a copy of any noise ordinances that may exist in your complex, HOA or city.  Nicely ask your neighbor to comply with these ordinances, and state that you will report them to the local authorities if they do not.

If your neighbor doesn't comply with your letter, report them to the HOA, complex or landlord and the local police if necessary.  Enlist neighbors who may also be bothered by the noise for support.  Make sure to record all requests and instances of noise in case you need to take your loud neighbor to court and present a history of the behavior.  Thankfully, most times neighbors will curb their behavior when they know the police will be called if they keep it up.

Ready to find a new apartment well-insulated against neighbor noise?  Give A Plus Apartments a call today at 512-231-1400!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Fitting a Home Office into a Living Room


When you live in a small apartment, it may seem impossible to have a home office, but Apartment Therapy has several inventive ways you can fit a home office into your living room.  

You can use your end table as your home office by organizing your office supplies into decorative boxes and then placing them on a shelving unit that you use as a side table.  Make sure to leave some space on the top so you can work on it! 
 Another option is to place your workspace on in a bookcase unit with adjustable shelves.  You can even use curtains or a panel on rails to hide your office when it's not in use.

A table placed behind the couch is another great option for a living room office.  Using a chair or stool that can tuck completely under the desk will maximize your available space.  Want to have your home office "out of sight, out of mind"?  Place a partition such as a screen, shutters or a curtain in front of your desk area.

If you live in a two-story townhome or loft, the area under an open staircase is a perfect spot to tuck a diminutive workspace and some shelves.  Armoires, hutches or secretary desks are perfect for housing a home office that you can close up when it's quitting time.  Lastly, if you have a closet that isn't needed, this can be a great place to tuck a workspace.

Need help finding an apartment with room for a home office?  Give A Plus Apartments a call today at 512-231-1400.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Keep Mosquitoes Away Using Plants


Keeping mosquitoes away using plants is a natural and less smelly alternative to DEET or citronella candles.  Apartment Therapy.com covers five plants that will keep the pesky pests from spoiling your outdoor plans.

Catnip not only attracts cats, but it also repels mosquitoes.  In experiments, researchers found that nepetalactone, the essential oil in catnip that gives the plant its characteristic odor, is about ten times more effective at repelling mosquitos than DEET, the compound used in most commercial insect repellents.  Apparently catnip also repels roaches, so for a pest free, cat filled balcony or yard, plant some catnip!

Rosemary also repels mosquitoes.  Not only does it smell heavenly, taste delicious and look beautiful because of its bright blue flowers, rosemary oil is a natural bug repellent.  You can crush the leaves and rub them all over you to keep the mosquitoes off leave you and smelling a lot better than stinky bug spray.

Marigolds keep those biting bloodsuckers away while their beautiful orange flowers will keep your garden colorful.  If you plant them near vegetables, they also keep away other bugs such as aphids that can ruin your plants.  Mosquito Plants and Citronella Grass are two other options if you would like to plant foliage that will keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Looking for an apartment with a great outdoor space where you can put your mosquito repelling plants?  Give A Plus Apartments a call today at 512-231-1400.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Scanning Important Documents with Your Phone


By scanning photos with your phone, you can get rid of a lot of paper clutter.  Suddenly, there's no need for a filing cabinet and all those piles of paper.  Apartment Therapy shows you how to scan papers with your phone and how to store them.

You can take a picture of anything you need to hold onto such as bills, paystubs, your lease, etc, with your phone and then shred and throw away the paper.  The best thing about using your phone is that it's always with you, as opposed to a scanner that you need to take that extra step of going to to save your papers.  Once you've taken the picture of your important stuff, you need a way to store it.

The best way to store your stuff is "in the cloud" so you can access it wherever you need it.  Dropbox is a great program for organizing and saving stuff on the net.  You simply download the program for free, then you can store all your important files.  Inside your Dropbox folder, make a folder only for important documents.  Then you can make sub-folders for anything that you need to be able to find on a regular basis, such as bills, receipts, work, or however else it makes sense for you to organize them.

Another great tool for scanning and keeping images with your phone is TurboScan.  It's only $1.99 and it takes images you've taken with your iPhone and adjusts the lighting and contrast of the image to make sure the text is completely readable.  It also lets you save files in PDF format, e-mail them or save them to Dropbox.  You can then open your files in any application that will open PDFs, even apps like Dropbox and Evernote.

The most important part of this process is to actually scan all those little pieces of paper you have lying around.  Of course, you may not be able to get through the backlog, but go ahead and scan your most important stuff and anything new that comes through.  Enjoy your new paperless existence!

Need help finding an apartment that fits your new paperless lifestyle?  Give A Plus Apartments a call today at 512-231-1400!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Thaw Frozen Foods Safely


Thawing frozen foods must be done safely, or you can make yourself sick.  While freezing food does put microorganisms that can cause disease in "suspended animation", once food is warmed up to above 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the bacteria can start multiplying.  Apartment Therapy helps you thaw that food without worrying about getting sick.

The simplest way to get that food from frozen solid to ready to eat is to thaw it in the refrigerator.  It does have the longest lead time, however, so you have to plan ahead.  Some of the reasons why this is a great method include the fact that you don't have to actively be involved in the thawing process and the refrigerator makes sure your food remains at a safe temperature.  You can thaw dinner while you're away at work, and if you change your mind about using the food, it can be eaten later or refrozen safely.

Another method is using cold water.  Place the sealed package of food in a bowl, pot or sink and drain and refill the water every half hour until the item is no longer frozen.  Or you can thaw your meat under cold running water.  You can also use the microwave, but this method can cause the food to thaw unevenly, resulting in not very tasty food or even bacteria.  Only use this method if you plan to cook the food, or for frozen fruits that will be served immediately.

You can set out frozen pastries, breads and fruits on the counter and allow them to thaw at room temperature for 2-4 hours.  Never use this method for meat, fish and vegetables, however, to avoid getting sick.

A Plus Apartment Locators can help you find a great apartment to thaw your food in, no matter what your method!  Give us a call today at 512-231-1400.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Protecting Your Eyes at the Computer


Preventing Ey
e Strain from sitting in front of a computer is important because most of us spend eight hours a day or more in front of the bright glare of the screen.  Whether you're working or just surfing the web, Apartment Therapy.com has some tips to keep your eyes healthy and happy. 

Remember when your Moms nagged you not to sit too close to the tv or you'd ruin our eyesight?  The same is true for how close you sit to your computer monitor.  If you sit too close, you may not go blind, but it will discourage you from blinking frequently enough which eventually leads to eye dryness.  Your monitor should be at eye level and you should be seated about 20 to 26 inches away from it.

Another tip for preventing eye dryness is to keep a bottle of eye drops at your desk.  When your eyes start to feel tired or dry, take a quick break and give them a couple of drops of rewetting solution.  Also, pay close attention to the lighting in your office, whether it be at work or in your house or apartment.  Overhead florescents and bright overall light can create glare and make your eyes have trouble focusing.  Instead, use a lamp focused towards the wall beside your work area and switch out bright fluorescent bulbs for ones with a soft and natural glow. 

Finally, if your eyes are still feeling the strain after following all this advice, it might be time to look into computer reading glasses.  These glasses are specially designed to reduce glare and just slightly magnify what you are reading on the screen to give your eyeballs a break.

Need help finding an apartment with room for a home office where you can try out your new eye strain tricks?  Give A Plus Apartments a call today at 512-241-1111!