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How To Decorate A Dorm Room; Send Your College Student Off In Style

in Decorating by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

My freshman dorm room was hardly something I bragged about. I slept on a shabby mattress, did my homework on a shabby desk and my idea of decorating included throwing up a couple of posters and having a decent bed set. As I recall, one of those posters had to be rather large to cover the huge stain on the wall above my bed.

3820949508_6e553d7776_bI could have been embarrassed by this dorm room, but I wasn’t, simply because they were almost all as bad as mine. Just don’t ask me about my really strange first roommate.

I have no idea what that dorm room looks like today, but I’m sure it’s safe to say the stain on the wall is gone (at least I hope it is) and I’m sure they changed out the mattress. One thing I do know for sure is that the pressure to have a nice dorm room is greater than ever.

With rapidly rising tuition costs, there isn’t always much room in the budget for fancy decor. Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a lot to make your student’s room both comfy and inviting.

Decorate to your student’s personality

Let your child’s personality flourish in their first place away from home, but to avoid conflict, take the roommate shopping so they can both agree on decisions. Use removable picture hangers to hang artwork. Buy some plants and knick-knacks, and of course, buy bedding that matches your child’s personality. A rug will make getting ready for those brutal 8:00 am classes in the winter just a little less brutal.

Some schools will let you loft beds. This can create a lot of room for a desk and even a futon.

Create entertainment space

Even if your child was a wallflower in high school, don’t assume they’ll be the same in college. It’s amazing how living in close proximity with people your own age can sometimes turn even the shyest people into near extroverts.

To create entertainment space, turn the bed into a day bed with lots of comfy pillows. The bed has to be up against the wall for this to work. If the dorm allows, purchase a small refrigerator and a small microwave for snacks. If your child drinks coffee, rather than having them blow their spending money at Starbucks, buy them a coffee maker or even an inexpensive espresso/cappuccino maker. Buy some decent external speakers for their computer, and viola, entertaining space.

You can also add seating with some multifunctional pieces like storage ottomans.

Create a comfortable study space

This is probably even more important than creating the entertainment space. Most dorm rooms come with desks, which is great. Rather than adding personality with clutter, let your student pick out a desk set that matches their personality. Don’t forget to add a plant, and if there’s room, perhaps a gold fish in a bowl. That’s one way to combat dreariness. Another is to move the desk near the window.

Avoid the roommate

If your child’s first roommate is anything like mine, you’ll want to create some private space. This can be done with a bookcase or even an old fashioned room divider.

Bring reminders from home

Being thrown into the lions’ den of college can be a bit of a culture shock for someone who’s never been on their own. Send your child with a couple of things from their bedroom at home and perhaps with some family pictures. Arrange the pictures as a collage on one wall. It will be both chic and comforting.

All The Best Ways To Keep In Touch With Your Old Friends; Some May Surprise You

in Advice, Long-Distance moving by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

In the age of social media, being able to keep in touch with old friends is easier than ever, but is it the best way?

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A few days ago, I was chatting with a friend (I’ll call her Amy) who’s a relatively new transplant to the area. Amy mentioned that she began friending most of her old friends and neighbors from 2,000 miles away. Surprisingly, she said, it depressed her because their posts only seemed to indicate how little her absence has changed their lives, while she feels like she is starting all over again.

I told Amy that people only tend to post happy moments on Facebook, so no matter how much they were missing her, it may not be evident on their Facebook profiles. So I began asking myself, what is a better way to keep in touch with old friends you may have left behind?

Social Media

Facebook is actually tailor made to keep in touch with old friends, but if you want to even try to mimic the feeling of being with your friends, it’s better to create a group rather than just follow their feeds. In the group, you can exchange memories and private jokes. You can get personal in a way that you never could on a public profile. Other social media platforms may allow you to have a group discussion, but I still prefer Facebook groups, for no other reason than that they are easier to follow.

Texting

Creating a text thread is less personal than a phone call, but it’s far easier to gather groups of friends. Drop them texts in real time as interesting things happen in your life.

Skype, Facetime, etc.

Once again, thank technology for letting you see your friends, instead of just hearing their voices or reading their digital messages.

Letters

If you can’t remember the last time you wrote or received a letter, you’re not alone, but it’s a great way to spend time collecting your thoughts and it’s a great way to tell a friend that not only are you thinking about them, you’re willing to spend the time proving it.

Journaling

This one wasn’t my idea:

If you’re anything like me, you were obsessed with The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants in your middle school years. You know how the traveling journal works. If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s about four best friends who find a pair of jeans that fit all of them. To keep in touch, they wrote in a journal about their adventures while wearing the pants, then mailed the journal and the pants to each other. This is perhaps the most creative way to keep in touch long distance. Since it’s pretty unlikely that you’ll find one pair of pants that fits you and your friends, though, sticking to the traveling journal will work. Set an amount of time for each person in the group to keep the journal. When your time is up, mail it to the next person. You can write entries about your life in the journal, doodle, and write comments on other people’s entries!

Source: MissMillMag

Go On Vacation

A group vacation beats normal day-to-day interactions any day.

Visit

Of course.

How are you keeping in touch with your old friends?

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons.

Hilarious Moving Fails No Decent Mover Would Ever Make (VIDEO)

in Local moving, Long-Distance moving, Preparing for a move, Uncategorized by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

For most customers, moving nightmares might consist of being overcharged, having some items broken and *gasp* even having their furniture held hostage. Those are nightmares, but sometimes, the worst moves start with the best intentions.

The internet, the world’s repository for everything embarrassing, has compiled several hilarious (for those not experiencing them) moving fails. Most are do-it-yourselfers, trying to save a few bucks, but some are actual moving companies, and trust me, we’re embarrassed for all of them.

Of course, I’d be negligent in posting this hilarious video without offering a few words of advice. Number one, please never, ever try hoisting a piece of furniture out of (or into) a window without help from professionals who have the right equipment.

Even experienced movers are reluctant to hoist a piece of furniture through a window, without someone specifically trained in the science. Most movers can hoist furniture up one or maybe two floors, but it takes special ropes and equipment and it takes being very, very careful.

You’ll find very few in the moving industry who are against the idea of people moving themselves. Sometimes, it’s the least expensive and most practical way to get from point A to point B. Sometimes, though, people get in over their heads. If an item can’t make it through a door, rather than forcing it, take the door and frame off, with the proper tools, of course.

As for the people in this video who appeared to be pros, shame on them. Remember, a logo and a t-shirt doesn’t necessarily mean professionalism. Always be sure to check social media (Yelp, Facebook, Google) and review sites like Angie’s List before hiring a mover. You should also check licensing information.

Remember, if you’re moving yourself and you find yourself in a jam, there’s no shame in taking for help. You don’t want to be caught as one of these moving fails.

How To Decorate Your New Home On A Shoestring Budget

in Decorating, Posts, Your New Home by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Once you’ve shelled out for the down payment or security deposit on your new home and once you’ve paid for the movers, you might find you wallet feeling very light. A new home is no fun though, unless you can put your own personal touch on it. So how does one go about decorating a new home when they’re broke?

If you’re feeling particularly strapped after your move, it’s probably not the best time to tackle a major renovation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make your surroundings comfortable and completely you.

1. Paint — You probably already know that a fresh coat of paint can give a whole new feel to a room, for not a lot of money if you paint recruit your family. Neutrals, like light grays and creamy whites are appropriate for almost any room. For a pop of color, add an accent wall to complement your furniture and art work.

2. Throw Pillows — You might not have the budget to buy a new sofa, but new throw pillows can give a whole new look to an old sofa. Play with patterns and colors you’ve never thought of. If possible, bring one of the sofa cushions with you, just to be sure the new pillows don’t clash. Throw pillows are also a very low commitment option for people who are resistant to change or have color phobia.

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3. Plants — Nothing brightens and freshens a house like a little greenery. A few plants can make your home seem warmer in the winter, cooler in the summer and even cleaner. In fact, plants do a wonderful job of cleaning the air. Stores like Trader Joe’s and Home Depot have budget friendly plants, but you might find that friends and neighbors might have cuttings. All you would have to buy is soil and containers.

nature-flowers-white-plants

4. Area Rugs — Area rugs can be very expensive, but through sites like eSaleRugs (no, they are not paying me), you can buy new and gently used rugs for a fraction of the price. Area rugs can be a great way to add color, add warmth to wood or tile or cover flaws on your floor.

Featured image via Julian Fong/Flickr.

Featured image via Julian Fong/Flickr.

5. Thrift stores — Thrift stores can be full of treasures for your new home. You can find art (sometimes original), furniture, kitchen items, knick-knacks, area rugs, lighting and sometimes even brand new, never opened bed and bath linens. No one will ever know you cheaped out.

San Jose Named Most Unaffordable City; What That Actually Means

in Bay Area Real Estate by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

It might surprise you somewhat, or it might not, that the most unaffordable city in the United States is right in our backyard, literally. The most unaffordable city is San Jose.

So what does your money buy you in San Jose?

Well, let’s start with the least expensive single family home. The good news is that there are some homes that are listed for sale at less than $500,000. That, of course, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll sell for under half a mil, but it’s a starting point.

The least expensive single family home is listed at just $349,000. It has four bedrooms and two baths and is described as a “contractor’s special,” which means it needs a lot of work.

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For something a bit more move in ready, there’s this four bedroom, one bath, which is listed at just $459,999.

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 6.04.22 PM

This one bedroom, one bath condo is listed at just under $300,000. It’s small, but a bargain at today’s prices.

The most expensive single family home is a modern, light-filled six bedroom, 10 bath property on what is described as one of the Bay Area’s most prestigious streets. According to Realtor.com:

Located on one of the most prestigious streets in the Bay Area, Dry Creek Estate is simply a work of Modern Art. The to be built new construction will stand in at 6 Beds, 10 Baths, 6,600+ SQFT, and fit for modern royalty. The gracious floor plan includes 2 Masters on the 3300+ SQFT 1st Floor & 2 Masters on the 3300+ SQFT 2nd Floor. 6,000+ SQFT underground garage is an automobile aficionado treasure chest. The sun soaked 3,000+ SQFT Rooftop Deck features a Hot Tub & Views. The bells & whistles continues to impress including a Lap Pool, Wine Cellar, Rec Room, Pro Gym, Home Theater, Chefs Kitchen, & so much more. The Glass Elevator takes you from your Ferrari to your Roof Deck. Its the Hollywood Hills in Silicon Valley. Architect Maurice Camargo expands dreams & expectations into breathtaking spaces. This 21st Century luxury marvel is a visionary masterpiece designed for the modern Silicon Valley homeowner.

Screen Shot 2017-07-19 at 6.12.06 PM

While the media likes to portray the Bay Area, and now specifically San Jose as out of reach for most Americans, there are still some bargains to be found — if you’re willing to do some work.

Featured image via David Sawyer/Flickr.

When NOT To Move With A Moving Company – Even When You May Want To

in Advice, Local moving, Posts by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

It might sound weird to talk about not moving with a moving company — on a moving company’s blog — but for some people, moving with a moving company may not be the best choice.

When not to hire a moving company.

For the vast majority of people, hiring a moving company saves time, money (your time is worth money) and backs, but for a handful of people, moving yourself is the answer.

If you’re young and your best piece of furniture is an IKEA hand-me-down (not that there’s anything wrong with IKEA), it may not be worth paying professionals to move it.

If you just have a few boxes to ship, don’t hire a mover. Ship them through the Post Office, especially if those boxes contain books. The books may take a few weeks to arrive, but since many movers charge by weight for long-distance moves, you will save a lot of money if you have a lot of books. If there are books you need right away, take them with you.

If you have a single piece of furniture or two, call movers, but know that with most, it will not be cost effective. Some may have a few cubic feet of space that needs to be filled, and coincidentally, may be going to your area. They might be able to make you a good deal, but for most, it would be cost prohibitive to move just a couple of pieces of furniture, unless, of course, they are valuable and need special protection. If so, by all means, call a mover.

If you are clearing a home from a hoarder, don’t call a moving company until the home is cleared. Movers must have a safe place to work and when movers are contracted to pack, they pack everything they see. Sure, you could pay movers to help sort, but there are companies that specialize in hoarding situations. Any moving company would be happy to help once everything is at least somewhat organized.

Why Does It Take So Long For You To Deliver My Goods To Another State?

in Long-Distance moving, Moving Costs by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Perhaps the biggest complaint movers get (other than about dishonest scam artists ripping people off) is that it can take weeks and sometimes more than a month for goods to be delivered across country.

It makes sense. You could drive across country in a matter of days. Moving trucks aren’t exploring the sights. They aren’t stopping at cool restaurants and they don’t have time to admire the world’s largest ball of yarn.

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So why does it take so long for your goods to be delivered? Well, it’s a bit complicated.

I’m sure you’ve driven behind a semi-truck on the highway, only to be frustrated at having to go so slow. While most can go a lot faster (and many do), it’s unsafe and driving too fast can cause rollovers and worse. Isn’t it better that your furniture arrive safely than not at all?

Drivers are restricted by the numbers of hours they can drive. It’s a confusing formula (drivers can drive 11 hours in a 14 hour period following 10 hours of being off duty), but let’s just say they are legally only allowed to drive about 11 hours a day.

Semi-trucks are more susceptible to weather. While most are equipped with chains in case of icy roads, under many circumstances, it’s simply dangerous for a semi-truck to be on the road. A large snowstorm could delay them by hours or days.

Road conditions and speed are just a tiny portion of it, though. The main reason your truck may take days or weeks is that your shipment will likely not be the only one on it. A semi-truck will hold the equivalent of about three two-bedroom homes. More if the homes are smaller and less if they are bigger. Let’s say you are moving to Florida. There might also be a shipment that’s being dropped off in Arizona and another in Texas. They might pick up a load or two in the Carolinas.

There is a way to ensure that your shipment will get there sooner, and it’s to pay more — often a lot more. Most movers will offer you the option of an exclusive shipment, but that means regardless of the size of your shipment, you will have to pay as if it takes up the entire truck.

Featured image via Wikimedia.

Are You Ready To Move Into A Tiny Home?

in Bay Area Real Estate by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

If you spend any time watching home channels on TV, you probably think the tiny house movement is the rage. On one level, it makes a lot of sense. Tiny houses are cute as all get out and with the cost of housing in the Bay Area, going small could mean the difference between having a place to live and not.

Image via <a href=

Ben Chun/Flickr” width=”960″ height=”643″ class=”size-large wp-image-10167″ /> Image via Ben Chun/Flickr

Tiny home owners typically go in with a budget ranging from $20,000 to $60,000, but for that, people don’t get much and they don’t get the land. According to Forbes, the average per square foot cost ranges from $200 to $400, which is a bargain when you consider that Bay Area home prices can go for upwards of $1,000 a square foot. The only problem is that the tiny houses rarely come with land.

Still, if you are looking to minimize your environmental footprint or if you want portability, a tiny home might be perfect for you — as long as you go into it with your eyes wide open.

There is no track record on tiny homes, so don’t look at a tiny home as an investment. The resale value might hold, but it might not.

Every tiny home buyer knows that they have to downsize to fit into a tiny home, but they may not know to what degree. For many tiny homes, there is no closet space for even dresses (they are often too long for the miniature closets). Big shoe collections have to go and while many who are drawn to tiny homes are outdoorsy, there’s very little room for skis, rock climbing equipment, surf boards and other outdoor gear. Storage units across the country are filled with not-quite-ready-to-be-thrown-away belongings of tiny house owners.

That’s not to say going tiny is a bad thing. If I were single, I would consider it. I love cozy surroundings and I love the idea of being able to afford a home that’s completely renovated and made to look exactly the way I want. With a husband, two dogs, a cat and a lifetime of belongings though, it would be a big mistake.

It’s Time To Move Out Of Your Apartment; How To Get Your Security Deposit Back

in Articles, Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

Whether you’ve lived in your apartment six months or six years, there’s sure to be some signs that yes, someone has lived there. Perhaps the carpet is a bit worn, perhaps there is a small stain on the hardwood floor or some holes in the wall. While a landlord legally needs to expect some wear and tear, it’s sometimes a struggle getting them to accept that fact. The best way to guarantee you’ll get your deposit back, other than abiding by the terms of the lease, is if you leave your apartment in the best condition possible — and that means cleaning.

The last thing you want to think about as you’re about to enter your next life adventure is cleaning the place you’re leaving behind, but for the cash, it’s definitely worth it. Fortunately, the American Apartment Owners Association has released a checklist for getting your apartment in shipshape. Frankly, it’s a helpful list for your spring cleaning as well.

moving-checklist
You can download the list for free here.

This isn’t the time to cut corners. One in four renters never get their security deposits back. Interestingly, it seems there is more pressure for women to keep a clean place than there is for men. While many lost their deposits for reasons like breaking the lease, many lost theirs for inexplicable reasons.

The biggest reason for landlords withholding security deposits was a tenant moving out early, according to the survey. Almost half — 44 percent — of renters ages 18 to 24 and 33 percent of men who responded to the survey cited breaking the lease agreement as the reason they didn’t get their security deposits back. Nine percent of women and 3 percent of men in the survey of 1,000 respondents said that they lost their security deposits because of pet damage.

But the most alarming statistic: 36 percent of respondents said that their landlords offered no explanation at all for why they were withholding security deposits.

moving-checklist

Fortunately for renters, California laws are pretty much on their side, with some exceptions, and cleaning is one of them.

In California, there are only four reasons why a landlord may withhold a security deposit: to cover unpaid rent, to clean the rental when a tenant moves out, to repair damages caused by the renter, or to replace furnishings (only if the lease agreement explicitly states that this is allowable).

With our exorbitant rents, it’s definitely worth it to spend a few additional hours, even if you have to hire someone, so you get back what’s rightfully yours.

Featured image via Pixnio.

Where To Find Free (Or Almost Free) Boxes

in Posts, Preparing for a move by Wendy Gittleson Leave a comment

If it’s been a while since you’ve moved, you might have forgotten to factor in one major cost, the boxes that protect and organize everything you own.

Now, if the movers are packing for you, the cost of the boxes will automatically be calculated into the estimate, as long as you’ve chosen a reputable company. If you are packing for yourself, though, the movers may or may not mention packing materials (which include paper, tape and markers) but you have choices:

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Where can I get free or inexpensive boxes?

1. Buy them from the movers – This is definitely the easiest way, but it may not be the cheapest. Advantage, the movers will deliver them to you for free, and yes, they take up a lot of room in a car.

2. Ask the movers if they have any used packing material – Used boxes can be risky. They often come damaged, but generally, the used boxes you get from moving companies will only be sold (or sometimes given) to you if they are in good condition. Still, with any used boxes, check for damage, including water damage, tears and cleanliness.

3. Check sites like Craigslist or Nextdoor – They usually have free boxes, but again, be careful of the condition.

4. Home Improvement Stores – Home improvement stores like Home Depot have a lot of packing supplies and at reasonable prices.

Whatever you do, do not get used boxes from the grocery store. Even if you can find some that have lids (most don’t these days), they are likely damaged and have been at least damp if not downright wet.

As for the quantity of packing materials you need, your mover will be happy to help you, but Moving.com has a handy calculator that is a great place to start. Who knows? If you ask your mover, they might also be able to get you a great deal.

Featured image via Nicolas Huk/Getty Images.

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