Saturday, June 30, 2012

How to Save Money on Your Next Move

Looking to save money on moving to a new apartment?  Maybe you've done it before and know how much it costs?  Want to save that money for buying new decorations?  Then look no further, Apartment has you covered!

The first and best tip for saving money when moving is to get rid of anything you absolutely don't need.  Moving costs are almost always charged by the pound, so anything you can toss before you move will save you money.  As you're packing, go ahead and start a pile to give away and get busy on Craig's List, have a garage sale or donate to charity all that stuff that's just going to cost you money and keep you from a fresh start.

Most people use bubble wrap and newspaper to protect their breakables when they're moving.  But bubble wrap can get pricey.  A great alternative is to use your sheets, towels, bathrobes and comforters. As an extra bonus, you've gotten rid of a few heavy towel-filled boxes.

Becoming a AAA member is also a great idea.  This will provide insurance should you breakdown on the trip, but you also can get discounts at hotels, truck rental companies, etc.  If you're looking for a storage unit, you can use a free online service like Sparefoot to compare self-storage facilities and find the best priced and located one for your stuff.

If you move yourself rather than hiring movers, you're also going to save a ton of dough.  You can even find movers to just load and unload stuff if you need help with the heavy lifting.  Another great way to get help is to help friends when they move so that when the time comes for you to move, they'll return the favor!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sunscreen and Sun Protection Primer

Sunscreen and sun protection are a must, especially in summer in Central Texas.  But you may be confused by all the jargon on the bottles in the sunscreen aisle. helps decode the buzz words.

First of all, sunscreen is not only necessary in the summer.  You can get a sunburn any time of year and should wear sunscreen any time you go outdoors.  Even if there's cloud cover, eighty percent of UV rays still penetrate the clouds and you can still get a sunburn.  Although, sunlight is necessary for the body to make Vitamin D, you can get the necessary amount from less than 10 minutes of indirect exposure a day.  Also, Vitamin D is in a lot of fortified foods or you can take vitamins.  So you should still protect yourself and your loved ones from the sun.

The sun can cause skin cancer, and just one sunburn that's bad enough to cause blisters as a child or teen more than doubles a person's chances of getting melanoma when they get older.  Even people with darker skin or skin that tans need to wear sunscreen.  As Dr. Hill, a pediatric dermatologist, explains it, a tan is the skin crying for help, but once the skin is burned it can't cry anymore because the skin cells have died.

If your child gets a bad sunburn, you can put soothing lotion like Aquaphor or petroleum jelly on the burn.  But if your child has blisters, a sign of a second degree burn, you need to treat it more carefully.  Never pop the blister and give your child a cool bath or apply cool compresses to soothe the pain.  You can also give your child Advil and if the blister pops or the skin beneath it appears wet, take your child to the doctor to make sure there isn't an infection.

SPF stands for sun protection factor and indicates how long sunscreen adds to your skin's natural protection and what percentage of UV rays it blocks.  The experts interviewed for this story recommend a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30.  You also want to choose a broad spectrum sunscreen which means it protects against both UVA and UVB rays.  Also, if you'll be in the water or sweating, make sure to choose a water resistant formulation.

Finally, you need to know when, how often and how much sunscreen to apply.  Put on sunscreen 15 to 30 minutes before you go outside and reapply every hour to two hours.  If you are swimming, reapply every time you dry off.  An average size adult wearing a swim suit should use 1 ounce or a full shot glass of sunscreen each time.

Looking for an Austin Apartment where you can take refuge from the sun?  Apartment Specialists can help you find a cool new place!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Affordable Apartments

Are you afraid you can't afford an apartment?  When you first decide to look for a new place to rent, it's easy to worry about whether you'll be able to pay for the apartment of your dreams. will help you ease your fears and decide what you can afford.

First of all, don't let yourself be crippled by fear over the fact that you will be paying a lot towards your rent.  Paying for housing will take up the bulk of your income, whether you rent or own.  The rule of thumb is to spend no more than 33% of your income on rent.  However, some people choose to spend more so they can get the exact location they want or a bigger place, that's something you'll need to calculate for yourself.

Also, it's helpful to get a grip on what other costs will be associated with living in your apartment.  Security deposits, first and last month's rent, monthly utility payments, and renter's insurance can all surprise you if you aren't prepared. Read your lease carefully and do a little research to be sure you have a firm grasp of what costs you'll be responsible for above and beyond your rent.

Speaking of renter's insurance, consider buying a policy.  It covers you if your belongings are damaged, destroyed or even stolen.  Your landlord's insurance doesn't cover your personal belongings.  Also, it's a great idea to create a budget so you know exactly what you can afford before you start the apartment search.

Finally, if you have done all your math and discover you just can't afford an apartment, consider low-income apartments.  These are apartments specially set aside for people who make a lower income and are subsidized by the government.  An apartment finder can help you locate these apartments and let you know whether you qualify for them.  If you don't qualify, they can also help you find apartments in your price range.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Apartments Deemed Unsafe Twice

When a walkway collapsed at the Wood Ridge apartments last month, it opened a can of worms of unsafe conditions at the complex.  It also turned out to recall a raid by code inspectors on the same complex fifteen years ago, when conditions were discovered to be even more deplorable. investigates a problem that appears to never have been solved.
In June 1997, the apartments at 1900 Burton Drive were known as the Hilltop Apartments and were the site of falling down balconies, doors that didn't have working locks, and huge holes in tenants' ceilings from water leaks.  Mold abounded, some residents hadn't had hot water in a year and the gas had been turned off for up to six week stretches.  On top of this, crime was rampant with drug dealers and evidence of drug use in and around the apartments.

After code inspectors and police raided the Hilltop Apartments that time, the California tax attorney who owned the property was given until the end of the year to clean up his property.  By February 1998, the work still had not been done and a week later, the owner filed for bankruptancy in California.  Tenants won a lawsuit in 1998 and each received a $5,000 check.  The property was sold and living conditions seemed to have improved, at least based on the fact that housing advocates received less complaint calls.

However, after the walkways collapsed this May, investigators found out that the construction was never inspected, a process that would have revealed the improper design and construction that eventually caused their collapse.  While almost 90 building permits were requested between 1998 and 2007, those permits were never inspected or finalized.

The current owners of 1900 Burton Drive have been given 75 days to make the needed repairs, but have asked for an extension to 120 days.  Time will tell whether the infamous address will finally be fixed properly, or whether future residents, many of whom are afraid to speak out because it is so difficult to find affordable housing in central Austin or for fear of deportation, will continue to have to live in deplorable conditions.

An apartment locator knows what complexes are well maintained and which landlords respect their tenants.  Call Apartment Specialists today and let us help you find an apartment you will love to call home.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Relocating to Austin

Moving to Austin can be exciting, as we so humbly think we are the best city in the universe, but it also can be confusing due to the sheer number of choices for housing.  Austin Relocation has a great overview on how to make your dream of becoming an Austinite reality!

When you're new to a city, especially one as diverse as Austin, finding a place to live can be overwhelming.  What is the right area for you?  What is the right apartment complex or neighborhood for you?  Austin is a tech hub, a higher education hub, boasts a vibrant arts and entertainment scene, and yet has lots of affordable housing AND a growing population.  An apartment locator or realtor, depending on whether you are renting or buying, can help you find the perfect home in the perfect location for you.

Austin residents consider education to be top priority, and Forbes magazine has taken notice by ranking us as one of the "top five intellectual capitals" in the nation as well as one of the top five cities in the magazine's "Best Place for Business and Careers" ranking due greatly to our highly educated workforce.  Also, the Austin Independent School District's fourth and eighth-graders ranked higher in science skills than other urban districts in the US according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress.

If you're looking for a city where you can have endless options for what to do with your free time, Austin is a great choice.  We've got museums such as the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum, where you can learn all about the history of Texas, unique shopping destinations such as The Drag or SoCo, sports at the University of Texas or Round Rock Express Games and great outdoor activities at Lady Bird Lake, the Greenbelt or Lake Travis.  Then there's all the day trips that can be had, both in the Hill Country and to other Texas cities such as Houston, Dallas or San Antonio.  You could spend a lifetime of weekends in Austin and never run out of things to do!