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This Free Budget Spreadsheet Helped Me Save Hundreds of Dollars a Month

This Free Budget Spreadsheet Helped Me Save Hundreds of Dollars a Month

Here’s a question for you: Once your paycheck comes in and your bills are paid, do you know how much money you have left over at the end of the month?

Four months ago, I didn’t even have a guess as to the amount. I’d been (naively) floating through life without having a clear sense of my budget. And I somehow wasn’t freaking out about it — I had enough money to cover rent, my student loan payments were always deducted without an issue, and I never bought so much avocado toast that my numbers were in the red. Why, then, would I need something as scary-sounding as a budget spreadsheet?

I forced myself to take a cold, hard look at my finances when I was considering leaving my four-bedroom sublet and getting my own apartment. I couldn’t figure out how much I could realistically afford without crunching the numbers, so I turned to Google Sheets for help. 

I should note that I am a Google Drive evangelist. I organize my life in lists within Google Docs. I keep a log of the books I’ve read in Google Sheets. I even have all of my photos from the past 10 years stored in Google Photos. So when Google Sheets offered up a blank “Annual budget” spreadsheet template, I decided to give it a shot.

Reader, this extremely simple (and wonderfully free) template changed my life. It helped me take control of my finances in under an hour — and save hundreds of dollars per month.

Listen, I’m sure there are fancier downloadable spreadsheets out there with more sophisticated formulas and color coding. Maybe one day I’ll try using them — I love formulas and color-coding! But as a newbie to the world of budgeting, this clear-cut default version is a marvel. 

The way it works is pretty simple: In the expenses tab, you enter in how much money you spend in certain categories, like groceries, utility bills, loan payments, and insurance, per month. (You can customize all of these categories to your liking, of course.) Then, in a separate income tab, you detail your monthly income. The third tab offers a summary of both expenses and income, showing you how much money is flowing in and out of your bank accounts during the year. You can clearly see your net savings per month, as well as how this varies month to month, thanks to a handy bar chart. 

Once I started punching in my expenses and cross-referencing them with my bank statements, I realized I was spending a lot of money on Ubers, bar tabs, and comedy show tickets, among other things. I played around with how much money I might spend in a future month, allowing me to envision life without spending hundreds of dollars on extra stuff. Seeing that red expenses bar go down and my net savings number go up helped me set limits on the amount of money I was spending on entertainment and travel, effectively saving me money. All it took was sitting down for a moment to examine my spending: something I should’ve done a long time ago. The other thing this little spreadsheet gave me was a clearer picture of how much money I actually have — and how much I can have more of, if I choose to.

The annual budget spreadsheet template is much more helpful than Google Sheets’ monthly budget version, in my opinion. (It’s the only other budget template Google offers.) The monthly spreadsheet lets you compare and contrast how much you want to spend versus what you *actually* spend, and comes with a tab for inputting daily expenses. The annual budget, meanwhile, gives you a zoomed-out look at how much money you have and where exactly it’s going.

To make your own version of the annual budget spreadsheet, head to sheets.google.com, toggle over to the Template Gallery, and scroll down to the one titled “Annual budget.” Make a copy for yourself and voilà.

Madeline Bilis

Real Estate Editor

Madeline Bilis is a writer and editor with a soft spot for brutalist buildings. Her work has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Boston magazine, the Boston Globe, and other outlets. She has a degree in journalism from Emerson College and published her first book, 50 Hikes in Eastern Massachusetts, in August 2019.

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Published at Fri, 02 Apr 2021 12:00:00 +0000

One Spot in Every Bedroom That Doesn’t Get Cleaned Enough

If you need some creative ways to get dust bunnies out from tight spaces, try blowing them out with a hair dryer or leaf blower, wrapping some wrong-way-out tape around a broom handle to pick them up, or sending a robot vacuum on a spot-clean mission.

Published at Fri, 02 Apr 2021 11:00:14 +0000

You Only Need One Piece of Equipment for This 15-Minute Workout

You Only Need One Piece of Equipment for This 15-Minute Workout

You’re busy, you’re stressed, and you’re currently navigating how to make your home multi-task as a home, office, school, and any other number of spaces you need. The last thing you need is trip over bulky workout equipment you have no place to store or carve a full hour out of your day in order to get a quality sweat in — both of these hurdles add up to disaster, and might make you resent working out more than you’re inspired to do it.

Thankfully, the pros are here to dispel some key fitness myths: No, you don’t need a giant chunk of time to complete a solid workout, and no, you don’t need a lot of space or equipment to get the job done. Case in point: This simple (but deceptively challenging) 15-minute workout from Sweat trainer Kelsey Wells, which requires a yoga mat, a resistance band, and your body.

Resistance bands, which are often color-coded to approximate resistance intervals of regular free weights, are compact but mighty tools that will help you get stronger, no matter your current fitness level. Wells, who designs Sweat’s exclusive PWR and PWR at Home programs, is a fan herself: “They are also perfect for someone in an apartment or who doesn’t have a lot of space, as they are super easy to store and take up minimal space, which is a bonus,” she told Apartment Therapy.

The workout Wells designed exclusively for Apartment Therapy is easy enough to follow and features seven exercises that add up to a total-body workout. To complete one circuit, perform each exercise for 45 seconds, rest for 15 seconds, then move onto the next exercise. Rest for 60 seconds once you reach the end of the second, and repeat the circuit one more time. The resulting workout will challenge your muscles and is over in 15 minutes — though if you’re aching for more, Wells just premiered a new installment of her PWR at Home program through the Sweat app, so members can access 46 weeks of unique programming and corresponding guides.

Be sure to give yourself a few minutes to warm up — this stretching routine can help if you have tight hips from sitting at a desk all day long — then dive in. You’ll be done before you know it, and ready to take on the next task in your day.

Step 1: Extend both legs in front of you, flex your feet, wrap the resistance band around the bottom of your soles, and hold the ends in both hands. (“You can also press your feet against a sturdy object to keep the band in place,” Wells notes.) Draw your shoulder blades down and back to push your chest out, and extend your arms in front of you with palms facing down, also known as an overhand grip.

Step 2: Exhale, bend your elbows back, and pull your hands toward your ribcage. Make sure your arms don’t flare out too far from your torso. “You should feel a small squeeze between your shoulder blades,” Wells says.

Step 3: Inhale as you return your hands to their starting position. Repeat this move for 45 seconds.

Exercise Two: Glute Bridge and Opening

Step 1: Loop the resistance band around your lower thighs and tie as needed. Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your feet hip-width distance apart on the floor. Your arms should rest by your sides, and make sure to keep your spine in a neutral position.

Step 2: Exhale, and as Wells notes, “draw your ribs to your hips to engage your core.” Raise your pelvis off the mat by pushing down through your heels, not by lifting up from your waist.

Step 3: Inhale, and push your knees apart, continuing to press through the floor with your heels.

Step 4: Close your knees, exhale, and return your spine and pelvis to the floor. Repeat this move for 45 seconds.

Step 1: Extend both legs in front of you, flex your feet, wrap the resistance band around your soles, and hold the ends in both hands, with palms facing down. Draw your shoulder blades down and back to push your chest out, and extend your arms in front of you. Make sure there is tension on the band to start — Wells suggests holding the band at a spot closer to your feet or crisscrossing the band if you need to.

Step 2: Exhale, bend your elbows, and and pull your hands toward your chin, making sure to keep your shoulders down.

Step 3: Inhale, and return to your starting position. Repeat this move for 45 seconds.

Exercise 4: Straight-Leg Deadlift

Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and on top of the middle of the resistance band. Hold the ends of the resistance band in each hand, with palms facing inward in a neutral grip.

Step 2: Exhale, and hinge at the hips to push them back behind you (you’ll feel a pull in the muscle at the back of your legs, known as your hamstrings). Your arms should naturally extend down your legs and toward your ankle and your back should stay straight. Keep your arms locked into your shoulder sockets to reinforce this posture.

Step 3: Inhale, and return to your standing position by pushing through the bottom of your heels. Keep your hands close to your thighs throughout. Repeat this move for 45 seconds.

Exercise 5: Tricep Kickback

Step 1: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and on top of the middle of the resistance band. Hold the ends of the resistance band in each hand, with palms facing inward in a neutral grip. Bend your knees slightly, keep your back flat, and hinge from your hips so your torso is parallel to the floor. Keep your elbows at 90 degree angles so your fists are between your chest and thighs.

Step 2: Exhale and extend your arms behind you, keeping your arms close to your body.

Step 3: Inhale, and return to your starting position. Repeat this move for 45 seconds.

Step 1: Wrap the resistance band around your thighs by your knees, and kneel on your hands and knees Make sure your palms are directly under your shoulders and your hips are over your knees. Keep your spine in a neutral position.

Step 2: Exhale, and lift your right knee up and out. Keep your hips and shoulders parallel as you move, and try not to arch your back.

Step 3: Inhale, and return your knee to the mat. Repeat this move for 45 seconds, switching to the left leg halfway through.

Step 1: Ground your feet in a split stance, with one foot slightly in front of the other, though not in a straight line (keeping your feet about hip distance apart in width will help you balance). Wrap the resistance band around your back and hold each end in both hands, with your palms facing down. Extend your arms in front of you, parallel to your shoulders.

Step 2: Inhale, and pull your elbows back so they are in line with your shoulders. Be careful not to let your shoulders creep up to your ears throughout this exercise. There should still be tension in the band when you retract your arms — Wells recommends wrapping the resistance band around your hands if you need to shorten the length.

Step 3: Exhale and return your arms to the starting position. Repeat this move for 45 seconds.

Rest for 60 seconds, then repeat the circuit one more time.

Ella Cerón

Lifestyle Editor

Ella Cerón is Apartment Therapy’s Lifestyle Editor, covering how to live your best life in the home you’ve made your own. She lives in New York with two black cats (and no, it’s not a bit).

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Published at Tue, 16 Mar 2021 12:00:07 +0000

It’s Time to Give These Forgotten Kitchen Surfaces Some Much-Needed Attention

Horizontal surfaces get all the attention. It’s hard to ignore a dusty shelf or the splatters dotted across a countertop. But I promise, those are not the only places in the kitchen getting hit with the collateral damage from your cooking.

Sure, you probably wipe off the backsplash when it gets hit with a glob of tomato sauce (or maybe you don’t — no judgement here). But the backsplash, walls, and cabinet fronts around your kitchen deserve some love too.

So for day two of this spring cleaning adventure — and day two of our five days in the kitchen — let’s focus on those vertical surfaces…

Day 2: Clean the walls, backsplash, and cabinets in the kitchen.

There’s no right or wrong way to clean your kitchen’s vertical surfaces. But if it helps to have a system, I’d recommend you work clockwise around the kitchen, from top to bottom. So grab your favorite all-purpose cleaner and a rag, step into the kitchen, turn to your left, look up, and go.

You’re looking at the vertical surfaces, so you might see a cabinet front, or a piece of the wall, or part of your backsplash. Whatever it is, spray and wipe. Then work your way down. You can tackle the entire surface, or work in arms-length sections. I’m really over-explaining this, I know. The goal is just to get you thinking about the surfaces you often ignore. Just stay focused and look around your kitchen, wiping every inch of vertical surface you can see.

Your cleaner and rag should be enough to tackle most of the dirt you encounter, but if anything is especially grimy, try using a scraper-type tool (I love a simple razor blade), or introducing dish soap (nothing is better at beating grease and grime).

More ways to participate in the Spring Cleaning Cure:

Taryn Williford

Lifestyle Director

Taryn is a homebody from Atlanta. She writes about cleaning and living well as the Lifestyle Director at Apartment Therapy. She might have helped you declutter your apartment through the magic of a well-paced email newsletter. Or maybe you know her from The Pickle Factory Loft on Instagram.

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Published at Tue, 16 Mar 2021 11:03:04 +0000

The Average Rent in Sacramento

The Average Rent in Sacramento

Sacramento, or “Sactown” as the locals call it, is the capital of California. Home to more than 500,000 people, Sacramento is a city full of life. Home to the original Pony Express, Sacramento was a central city during the California Gold Rush.

Sacramento enjoys a Mediterranean climate, meaning it’s usually very mild with lots of sunshine, but sometimes, the temperature can hit record highs of 115 degrees. Sacramento has a variety of activities for residents to do. From professional sports teams to the opera and ballet, there’s plenty of entertainment to enjoy. It’s also called the “Camellia capital of the world” for all the flowers that bloom there.

Because it’s such a bustling, lively city with so many things to do, Sacramento’s cost of living is pricier than some other areas in the United States.

What is the average rent in Sacramento?

California is notorious for its expensive cost of living. In fact, several California cities top the charts as the most expensive in the nation. The average rent in Sacramento is $2,064 for a one-bedroom apartment, which is a 21.88 percent increase year-over-year.

The average rent in Sacramento is more expensive than the national average, which is about $1,600 for a one-bedroom apartment. So, if you’re looking to live here, understand that Sacramento’s cost of living is more expensive than other places in the United States.


How much do I need to make to live in Sacramento?

If you’re looking to live in Sacramento and the average rent prices seem doable, let’s look into some more details about how much you need to earn to live comfortably in the City of Trees.

The average rent in Sacramento is $2,064 for a one-bedroom apartment. But you’ll need to make enough money to cover all your expenses and have enough left over to save money, too.

Financial experts recommend spending 30 percent of your pre-tax salary on housing. If the average rent in Sacramento will cost you more than 30 percent of your income, you may want to consider a different neighborhood or apartment complex because it’ll cut into your budget too much to stay comfortable.

To live comfortably in Sacramento, you’ll need to make at least $82,560 per year. Each year, you’ll spend an average of $24,768 on rent (based on the average rent price), which is 30 percent of the income listed above.

Can you afford to live in a Sacramento neighborhood? Check out this calculator to make sure you’re budgeting correctly for rent and the cost of living in Sacramento.

The cost of living in Sacramento

When you’re looking for a new apartment to rent, the monthly rent is the first thing you usually look into. But the cost of living includes much more than just rent. The average cost of rent in Sacrament is $2,064 for a one-bedroom apartment and the overall cost of living is 23.4 percent more expensive compared to the national average.

You need to consider the cost of rent, utilities, groceries, healthcare and transportation among other things. Below are some data points that show how Sacramento’s cost of living compares to the national average. Hint: it’s more expensive in every category.

  • Overall: The cost of living in Sacramento is 23.4 percent more than the national average
  • Groceries: The cost of groceries in Sacramento is 4 percent more than the national average
  • Housing: The cost of housing in Sacramento is 46.2 percent more than the national average
  • Utilities: The cost of utilities in Sacramento is 9.6 percent more than the national average
  • Transportation: The cost of transportation in Sacramento is 37.6 percent more than the national average
  • Healthcare: The cost of healthcare in Sacramento is 21.9 percent more than the national average
  • Miscellaneous goods and services: The cost of miscellaneous goods and services in Sacramento is 13.6 percent more than the national average


The most and least expensive neighborhoods in Sacramento

In any city, you can find a range of rent prices from most to least expensive. For instance, rent prices in Sacramento can range from as little as $1,300 a month to more than $3,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment.

Generally, neighborhoods that are in or near the heart of Sactown or located close to the Sacramento River are more expensive. That’s because they’re highly desirable and close to the city center. Neighborhoods that are further from the city center, like those to the east or west, have cheaper rent.

The most expensive Sacramento neighborhoods

The most expensive neighborhoods in Sacramento are all located relatively close to downtown, driving the rent prices up. However, most of the top 10 most expensive Sacramento neighborhoods have actually seen a downward trend in rent prices year-over-year.

Sacramento has a variety of places to live, and the most expensive neighborhoods all have large parks, lots of restaurants, bars and shops that are close to downtown. While rent is pricier, you’ll enjoy endless things to do.

The least expensive Sacramento neighborhoods

If you want to live in Sacramento but need a more affordable place to rent, there are several neighborhoods that are good options for you. The least expensive cities have more of a suburban vibe, hence the lower rent prices. While you’ll be living in a more residential area with less of a metro or urban vibe, you’ll still be close to downtown Sacramento with all its perks and features. Plus, you’ll save in rent each month.

Average rent prices in Sacramento neighborhoods

Sacramento is more than just the most and least expensive neighborhoods. There are several other areas within the city where you can rent. Check out all of the Sacramento areas and their average rent prices in the chart below.

Find your Sacramento neighborhood

Sacramento, the capital of California, is a great place to call home. Now it’s time to find an affordable apartment in the perfect neighborhood in Sacramento that fits your needs. You can check out available studios, one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartments in Sacramento by using our apartment finder tool.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. Data was pulled in December 2020 and goes back for one year. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
Neighborhoods with insufficient inventory were excluded.
Cost of living data comes from the Council for Community and Economic Research.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.



Published at Thu, 04 Feb 2021 14:00:33 +0000

10 Natural Ant Repellents to Keep Bugs Out

The ants go marching one by one hurrah, hurrah!

This is cute, animated children’s song but when you see ants marching through your own apartment, it’s suddenly not so much fun. If you notice that these pesky blank insects are a common occurrence in your apartment and are wondering how to get rid of ants, we’ve got some home remedies for ants ready for you to try.

Natural ant repellents to try at home

If you’re looking for a way to get rid of ants without using a pesticide or professional pest control services, here are 10 natural ant repellents and home remedies for ants that you can try.

You can make these natural ant repellents with things you have in your own home, so it’ll be an easy way for you to rid yourself of these pesky critters.

1. Mint


Peppermint essential oil is a simple home remedy for ants that you can make yourself.

Get some peppermint essential oil or peppermint leaves, mix it with water and spray around baseboards, doors and windows to deter ants. However, if you have pets, keep in mind that this ant solution is toxic to animals.

2. White vinegar

white vinegar

White vinegar is truly an all-purpose household product. From cleaning and disinfecting to getting rid of ants, white vinegar is a must-have product.

Take a mixture of hot water and vinegar and scrub your floor and countertops with it as a way to get rid of ants. While the smell is strong for an hour or so, it’ll rid your home of ants.

3. Cinnamon


Cinnamon smells and tastes good, but did you know it can also be used as a natural ant repellent? You can use either cinnamon essential oil or cinnamon powder to repel ants.

Take a cotton ball or Q-tip and dab it with cinnamon oil and then place it where you’ve seen ants. Or, sprinkle cinnamon powder along windowsills, baseboards or door entries to stop ants from entering.

4. Pepper


Pepper is another kitchen staple that everyone has and uses to season food. However, it can also be used as a home remedy for ants.

Sprinkle pepper wherever you have an ant problem. The smell will irritate them and they’ll go away. You can use cayenne or black pepper as your natural ant repellent.

5. Chalk line

chalk line

This natural ant repellent is somewhat mysterious. Ants use scent as a way to navigate. By drawing a line of chalk where you noticed ants, it seems to disturb the trail of smell and confuse ants. They won’t cross the line anymore and will go away.

6. Water line


Like the chalk line trick, you can also get your finger wet and draw a water line where you noticed ants last. This will also deter ants, disrupt the smell and help get rid of your ant problem.

7. Hand soap

hand soap

Take a pump of hand or dish soap and mix it with some hot water and put it into a spray bottle. You can use this concoction to spray down countertops, entryways or other areas you’ve noticed ants marching about.

Use this natural ant repellent as a way to rid your home of the ant problem while cleaning at the same time.

8. Tea tree oil

tea tree oil

Tea tree oil is another home remedy for ants. Like the other essential oil remedies, you can use tea tree oil mixed with water as a spray to repel ants or you can saturate cotton balls in tea tree oil and place those cotton balls around the house in high-trafficked ant areas.

Both remedies will work, but be careful to keep this away from pets if you’re a pet owner.

9. Coffee grounds

coffee grounds

Who doesn’t have a morning cup of Joe? Well, instead of throwing away your coffee grounds, you can use them to repel ants.

Simply sprinkle the coffee grounds around countertops, windowsills, doors, the pantry or any other area you’ve seen ants crawling around. This hack will rid you of ants and you’ll get more use out of your coffee each day.

10. Corn starch


This last approach on how to get rid of ants is a bit messier, but it’s effective.

Do you notice a large cluster of ants or a hive instead of just one or two? If you see a hive of ants, cover it with corn starch and then dump water on it. This will kill the hive entirely.

Preventing ant infestations upfront

These 10 natural ant repellent suggestions are great if you already have an ant problem. However, there are ways to prevent ants from entering your house upfront.

  1. Check your pantry: Ants love food and crumbs and they will feast in your pantry or cupboards. Make sure you seal all of your dry food in plastic containers so ants can’t get into the boxes of food stored in your pantry. Also, make sure to sweep or vacuum your pantry regularly and get all of those tasty crumbs off the floor.
  2. Clean often: Make sure you’re sweeping and mopping your floor daily, if not weekly. This will ensure that there are no crumbs on the floor that ants can snack on.
  3. Pest control: If you want to control ants or any type of insect or pest problem, you can consider hiring a pest control expert to spray your home.

Keeping bugs out

No matter where you live, you’ll likely see a bug or two in your apartment at some point. However, there are easy ways to rid your home of ants using home remedies and ingredients you already have on hand.



Published at Wed, 03 Feb 2021 14:00:15 +0000

Moving Company Quotes & Tips to Plan Your Move | MYMOVE

Moving Company Quotes & Tips to Plan Your Move | MYMOVE

What is MYMOVE?

MYMOVE is your one-stop-shop for all things moving. We know that moving can be stressful, and we’re here to help lighten the load.
As an authorized affiliate of the USPS®, we connect more than 5 million people each year to name-brand deals and expert resources that make moving easier. We bring everything you need for your move together, so you don’t have to manage it on your own.
With MYMOVE, you can say goodbye to moving stress and hello to tools that help you tackle your move.

How can I use MYMOVE’s resources to check off my moving to-dos?

We’re here to help you take control of your move.
Learn everything you need to know about your new area with our city guides and cost of living calculator. Organize all of your to-dos with our customizable moving checklist. Compare moving companies on our site to find the best moving services. Declutter before you pack, and we’ll help you find charities in your area that do free donation pickup. File an online change-of-address with USPS®, and we’ll make sure your mail moves with you.
No matter the moving task, we help you tackle it.

Latest updates and news:

Are you planning a move during COVID-19? You’re not the only one. 15.9 million people moved during the first six months of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent MYMOVE study. The study, which looked at USPS® mail forwarding requests from February to July, found that the total number of moves during coronavirus increased compared to the same period last year.

We also found that temporary moves increased by 27%, and people left large, densely populated cities like Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Chicago in unprecedented numbers. Read more about that study here.

If you have plans to move during the pandemic, take precautions to keep you and your family healthy. Follow our coronavirus safety guide to prevent the spread of the virus on Moving Day. If you’re a college student moving out of the dorms for winter break, here are some tips and resources to help lighten the load and keep you safe.

Winter months and the pandemic can add stress and anxiety if you’re experiencing housing instability. If you’re facing possible homelessness or are at risk of a lease ending during coronavirus, our guides connect you to resources and expert advice.

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10 Dreamy & Remote Cabins for a Break From Apartment Life

10 Dreamy & Remote Cabins for a Break From Apartment Life

With the cold season already upon us, there’s no better remedy than cozying up in a nice, lovely cabin somewhere surrounded by nature. Snuggling up next to the fireplace with a good book or maybe a mug of hot cocoa would probably sound pretty appealing to anyone. It’s the perfect way to relax and just enjoy the simple things in life.

In our hunt for that ideal spot in the U.S., we came across a myriad of stunning cabins, cottages and chalets across the country and while it was no easy feat selecting just 10 from the hundreds of absolutely gorgeous hideaways, we can guarantee that any one of these would be perfect for that getaway vacation you’ve been looking forward to. Without further ado, if you’re up for a virtual journey of the dreamiest vacation cabins out there, check them out below (in no particular order).

A Black A-Frame

Location: Kerhonkson, New York

Nestled in the Catskill Mountains, this pretty little A Black A-Frame is just gorgeous – both the inside and outside. Initially a hunting lodge built back in the 1960s, the cabin was modified in the early 1980s to include all of the necessary features for a lovely retreat in the mountains. It’s also just minutes away from the Ashokan Reservoir, Kingston, New Paltz and Minnewaska State park, so there’s plenty to explore around it.

The Vermont A-Frame

Location: Manchester, Vermont

Another stunning A-frame cabin not far from Vermont’s Bromley Mountain Ski Resort, The Vermont A-Frame is ideal for all of the ski enthusiasts out there. It’s got room for six people and boasts many attractive amenities such as a fully-equipped kitchen, a mini library, outdoor fire pit and more. The best part? It’s also pet friendly, so you can bring your furry friend along, too.

Stone City Treehouse

Location: Hardwick, Vermont

Not your typical tree house, the Stone City Treehouse looks like it was pulled straight out of the Harry Potter movies. Here, you can take in all the beautiful scenery and enjoy the wonders of nature – like a night sky full of stars or that satisfying feeling of crinkling leaves beneath your feet. There’s also a sparkling spring nearby and a firepit where you can relax by yourself or with friends.

Ashpine House

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

There’s nothing better to fight off the winter blues than a wooden cabin packed with lush plants and a shelf full of books. To that end, the retro urban elegance of the Ashpine House makes it a lovely and cozy place to spend at least a few days. And, if its location near the Middlesex Fells Reservation outside Boston doesn’t convince you, then the interior photos most likely will. Filled with many one-of-a-kind spaces, this cabin will be an experience that you’ll remember for years to come.

Olive Woods House

Location: Town of Olive, New York

An outdoor dining area, proximity to the Ashokan Reservoir, a firepit and other stunning features are available at the Olive Woods House. It’s easy to picture a lovely day here spending time around the fire, comfortably wrapped in a blanket and watching the sun set behind the Catskills Mountains.

Whiskey Ridge Chalet

Location: Big Bear, California

Everything about this chalet conveys coziness. From the color scheme to the comfortable chairs and wood-burning stove, it’s all you could want and more. Perfect for some quality time with family and friends, the Whiskey Ridge Chalet is also near the slopes, guaranteeing a really fun stay here.

Valley View Cabin Catskills

Location: Margaretville, New York

Here’s another great escape from the big city. Valley View Cabin is located in the Catskills and welcomes anyone longing for a breath of fresh air – pets included. Just 2.5 hours from New York City, this magical spot has some of the most amazing views of the mountains. Plus, if you’re the outdoorsy type, know that there’s also skiing and hiking nearby.

Sedwick Chalet

Location: Poconos Pines, Pennsylvania

Sit back, relax and enjoy the wonders that the lovely Sedwick Chalet has to offer. It’s right in the heart of the Poconos, and if the colorful interior doesn’t impress you, the piano and outside dining area surely will. It’s especially beautiful in the fall with all of the golden and brown leaves perfectly adorning its deck.

Warner’s Camp

Location: Upper Jay, New York

Rustic charm and retro vibes is what you’ll experience at Warner’s Camp in the Adirondacks. With Lake Placid, Whiteface Ski Resort and Keene looming nearby, adventure is never too far. Originally a fishing homestead, the historic guesthouse accommodates up to 12 people and was recently renovated to include a warm fireplace, four stunning bedrooms and an exterior barrel sauna.

The Hunter Barnhouse

Location: Jewett, New York

Take a moment to marvel at the lush greenery that adorns the interior of The Hunter Barnhouse. Built in 1845, this cabin is the definition of comfort and relaxation. With Kaaterskill Falls, North-South Lake and Colgate Lake nearby – as well as several hiking and skiing spots – you’ll never run out of activities here, regardless of the season.

With so many exciting options for escaping the city life (even for a little while), it’s hard to pick just one. However, we’re positive that no matter which one you choose, you’ll be sure to have a great vacation and a well-deserved break at one of the dreamy cabins on this list.

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Published at Mon, 16 Nov 2020 10:27:24 +0000

7 Easy DIY Pet Toys for Your Fluffy Roommate

Does your pet go through toys faster than you can get new ones? You’re not alone. Buying new toys every other week can be a hassle, so why not entertain your fluffy friend with some engaging, homemade toys? 

These seven DIY projects are quick, cheap and easy. Plus, most of them use items you can find around the house. So give them a try and your will pet love them just as much as the store-bought kind.

Cats: Gingerbread catnip toy

This gingerbread toy by DIY Blonde will keep your cat entertained for hours and is also an adorable addition to your home. To get started, you’ll just need some basic sewing supplies, card stock and catnip. Your cat will become obsessed with this one in no time!

Cats: Upcycled mouse 

This lovely little mouse is the result of a minimalist sewing project and also enables you to upcycle any piece of old clothing that you may have around the house. Soon enough, you’ll be making these sustainable presents for all of your cat-parent friends.

Cats: DIY Tent 

While toys will certainly keep your cat entertained, it’s no secret that the easiest way to a cat’s heart is to give them an excellent hiding spot. With that in mind, this cat tent hack does just that in the easiest way possible. You can even set one up in every room of your apartment!

Cats & Dogs: Braided toy 

These braided toys by Legacy Loop Crochet are perfect for a tug-of-war game with your pup. All you’ll need is an old T-shirt, some scissors, a ruler and a little patience. Or, if you want something sturdier, you can also use an old pair of jeans.

Dogs: Snuffle ball

Snuffle toys are all the rage this year, and for a good reason. They’re ingenious balls and mats which hide treats inside to stimulate your pup’s senses and work out its brain muscles. This guide is an excellent way to build your own using items you already have around the house. Sure, you can also buy them, but why would you when they’re so easy to make.

Dogs: Water bottle chew toy

If you’re looking for a no-sew, no-cut project, it really doesn’t get much simpler than this water bottle hack. Just grab a small water bottle, wrap it in an old sock and secure the end. Your dog will have the time of his life! Best of all, you can replicate this hack in a snap whenever the old one gets worn out.

Bunnies: Cardboard house & toys

Finally, if you’re a proud bunny parent, you’re in luck. These lovely cardboard toys are the perfect fit for these energetic little critters, and you can quickly build five different toys in a single session with this tutorial by Holland Loop Sisters. Just grab some carboard, string, and a few treats and get to work! 

Do you treat your furry friend with homemade toys? If so, let us know in the comments below and we might feature your hack on the list! 

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Published at Mon, 16 Nov 2020 08:20:17 +0000

Here are the Hottest and Coldest NYC Neighborhoods of 2020

Here are the Hottest and Coldest NYC Neighborhoods of 2020

As the pandemic continues to drastically change the New York City real estate landscape, we at RentHop wanted to explore how rent prices have been affected this past year. To do this, we analyzed rental price data from every neighborhood in the city and compared these prices to this same period last year. Our results shed light on the current dynamic of the market and uncovered the few neighborhoods that have surprisingly weathered the storm.

Summary of Findings

We compared 1-bedroom median net effective rent prices in each NYC neighborhood between Q3 2019 and Q3 2020.

  • Rent prices dropped an average of 6.25% across all neighborhoods we studied.
  • 86% of neighborhoods saw rent prices decrease over the year.
  • Only 11% of neighborhoods saw a rent increase; Inwood was the sole Manhattan neighborhood to see an appreciation.
  • Coney Island was the hottest neighborhood of the year, with prices increasing 7.78%.
  • Little Italy was the coldest, with prices decreasing 17.24%.
  • New York City renters have strong negotiating power, with many landlords doubling their concessions since last year.


Overall, our report painted a bleak picture for real estate across New York City over the past year. As landlords scrambled to drop rents and offer concessions to keep tenants during the pandemic, prices fell across the vast majority of New York neighborhoods. In fact, out of the 85 neighborhoods we looked at, only 11% saw rents increase. Inwood was the lone Manhattan neighborhood to see an appreciation.

On average, across every neighborhood we studied, rents dropped a significant 6.25%. This was an even steeper decline when compared to the 5% average decrease that we reported on in July.

While rent drops were widespread across the city, pricier areas in Manhattan were hit the hardest. Places like the Fort Greene also saw a modest 3.7% rise. Coney Island saw the most growth with a 7.8% increase, though much of this was due to the opening of 1 Ocean Drive, a 22-story, 211-unit luxury oceanfront rental building. This building launched in December 2019, driving median neighborhood rents upward.

NYC Renter’s Market

The current climate strongly dictates a renter’s market. Our dataset shows that landlords across the city have been open to dropping gross rent prices, offering considerable concessions like free rent or reduced deposits, and in some cases even both. In particular, many luxury high rise buildings have increased their incentive schemes, doubling concessions since pre-COVID times.

Renters in New York should know that they have increased negotiation power at this time, and should always consider their options.

Neighborhoods With the Largest Rent Increases
  1. Coney Island, Brooklyn — +7.78%
  2. Kew Gardens Hills, Queens — +5.35%
  3. Fort Greene, Brooklyn — +3.67%
  4. Bensonhurst, Brooklyn — +3.13%
  5. Briarwood, Queens — +2.75%
Neighborhoods With the Largest Rent Drops
  1. Little Italy, Manhattan — -17.24%
  2. Upper West Side, Manhattan — -16.67%
  3. Chelsea, Manhattan — -16.18%
  4. Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan — -16.16%
  5. Flatiron District, Manhattan — -15.79%


This report analyzed the New York City rental market using millions of rental listings drawn from the RentHop database during the third quarter of both 2019 and 2020 (July 1 – September 30, 2019 and July 1 – September 30, 2020). Median one bedroom rent prices for each year were then compared to calculate the yearly percentage change in price.

Data was gathered for every neighborhood in NYC, excluding those with fewer than 50 rental listings over the respective quarter. It should be noted that given the low listing density in Staten Island, neighborhoods from this borough were excluded as they did not meet the minimum 50 listing sample size criteria. Sub-neighborhoods, such as Koreatown and Rose Hill, were combined into larger neighborhoods to ensure consistent comparisons and listing counts.

For more information on our methodology, or to contact our data team, please email press@renthop.com.

Full Dataset


Published at Tue, 13 Oct 2020 12:37:25 +0000

Rodent Crisis is Getting Worse in Major U.S. Cities

Have you ever come across rats carrying bits and pieces of leftover food? Or maybe you’ve seen them in your kitchen and gone completely wild trying to kill them? It is known that rats are rampant in the city and live among us, taking refuge and shelter on the streets, and even sometimes in our homes. What’s worse is that rodents are a major public health problem, and more and more resources are invested in rodent inspection and prevention.

Each year, we at RentHop examine the data from major U.S. cities, hoping to help renters and homeowners make an informed decision when it comes to housing. This year, we again reviewed the rat sightings data, and what we discovered isn’t great. Our study this year includes Boston, Chicago, and Washington D.C., and unfortunately, all three cities saw a drastic increase in the number of rodent complaints.

Figure 1 below illustrates the number of rodent complaints from January through August in the past five years. In Boston, the number went up 33.5% to 3.42 rodent complaints/1,000 population. In D.C., the number is slightly worse. As of August 31, 2020, DC 311 has received 5,848 rodent complaints, or 8.29 complaints/1,000 population. This number is 30.7% higher than in 2019.

Chicago, a.k.a. the rat capital, not surprisingly, has had the greatest number of rat sightings/1,000 population among the cities included. The number reached its lowest in 2018 but has since been rising significantly. From January 2019 through August 2019, the city’s 311 reporting system received 28,249 rodent complaints or 10.5/1,000 population. This number since jumped to 34,501, or 12.8/1,000 population in 2020, a 22.1% increase.

Select one of the cities below to learn more:

Rodent complaints rose 33.5% in Boston

Founded in 1630 by the Puritans, Boston is one of the oldest cities in the United States and played a crucial part in our history. As we all know, old infrastructure often makes perfect habitats for rats. Rodents thrive in outdated subway systems, sewers, parks, and in foundations of old homes and buildings, and pose a threat to humans.

And this summer, Boston has to deal with a serious rodent crisis.

As of August 31, Boston 311 has received 2,368 rodent complaints in 2020, which translates to 3.4 complaints per 1,000 population. Now, while it might seem very few compared to Chicago or DC, this number, however, is 33.5% higher than the same period in 2019.

The CDC attributed such an increase to the coronavirus lockdown. The agency warned that a possible increase in rodent sightings as restaurants and other sources of food shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is worth noting, however, that the number had been increasing since January 2020, way before the first confirmed COVID-19 case and lockdown were announced in Boston. The rats were particularly active this past summer. August 2020 marked the worst month in the past five years, with a total of 530 rodent complaints filed to the city’s 311 reporting system. Could it be the warm weather? After all, winter 2019-2020 ended over 2°F above the twentieth-century average, making it one of the warmest winters on record.

Which neighborhoods are run by rats this year?

According to the city’s Inspectional Services Department, it is launching a campaign to reduce the rodent population that has been running wild around neighborhoods. Do you know if your neighborhood will be one of the firsts visited by the agency? Well, let’s find out!

The interactive map below indicates the concentration of rodent complaints in Boston. Neighborhoods in darker shades have a higher concentration of rodent complaints in 2020. It is highly possible that larger neighborhoods receive more complaints than smaller neighborhoods, and so we normalized the number of rodent complaints by land size. You can click on the polygons to learn more about each neighborhood.

The ISD will most likely show up in these neighborhoods
  • Downtown – 312 complaints in 2020, 502.3 complaints/sq mi
  • North End – 55 complaints in 2020, 277.4 complaints /sq mi
  • South End – 153 complaints in 2020, 207.6 complaints /sq mi
  • Beacon Hill – 56 complaints in 2020, 179 complaints /sq mi
  • Back Bay – 107 complaints in 2020, 171.5 complaints /sq mi
Rodent complaints spiked in these neighborhoods
  • South Boston Waterfront – 1 complaints in 2019, 7 in 2020 (+600%)
  • Allston – 75 complaints in 2019, 189 in 2020 (+152%)
  • Brighton – 99 complaints in 2019, 213 in 2020 (+115.2%)
  • Back Bay – 55 complaints in 2019, 107 in 2020 (+94.5%)
  • Mattapan – 23 complaints in 2019, 41 in 2020 (+78.3%)
Rodent complaints dropped in these neighborhoods
  • Longwood – 2 complaints in 2019, 0 in 2020
  • Chinatown – 29 complaints in 2019, 10 in 2020 (-65.5%)
  • Leather District – 8 complaints in 2019, 4 in 2020 (-50%)
  • Mission Hill – 40 complaints in 2019, 20 in 2020 (-50%)
  • West End – 3 complaints in 2019, 2 in 2020 (-33.3%)

Chicago wins the title of “Rat Capital”, yet again.

In our study from last year, Chicago ranked #1 as the “rat capital” in the country. The abundance of garbage and buildings in the Windy City makes it a great location for rats to seek shelter and food for survival. In 2019, Chicago 311 received in total 42,864 rodent complaints, or 15.9 per 1,000 Chicagoans, 10.2% more than in 2018.

And this year, rodents are once again on the rise.

As of August 2020, the Windy City has scored 34,501 rat sighting reports, 22.1% more than the same period in 2019. Indeed, the uptick in rodent sightings might be related to restaurants and other sources of food shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is worth noting, however, that the number had been increasing since January 2020, way before the food establishments were forced to close their doors.

May 2020 marked the worst month of May in the past five years, with a total of 5,203 rat sightings reported to the city’s 311 system, 131.7% higher than May 2019. The number continued trending upward throughout the summer, with 6,863 rodent complaints logged in July 2020 – that’s over 200 complaints per day!

Which neighborhoods are run by rats this year?

The interactive map below indicates the concentration of rodent complaints in Chicago. Neighborhoods in darker shades have a higher concentration of rodent complaints. It is possible that larger neighborhoods receive more complaints than smaller neighborhoods, and so we normalized the number of rodent complaints by land size. You can click on the polygons to learn more about each neighborhood.

Rats are roaming around in these neighborhoods
  • Grand Boulevard – 257 complaints in 2020, 147.8 complaints/sq mi
  • Printers Row – 5 complaints in 2020, 64.5 complaints/sq mi
  • United Center – 124 complaints in 2020, 106.3 complaints/sq mi
  • Sheffield & DePaul – 99 complaints in 2020, 263.3 complaints/sq mi
  • Humboldt Park – 1039 complaints in 2020, 231.7 complaints/sq mi
Rat sightings spiked in these neighborhoods
  • Greektown – 1 complaints in 2019, 12 in 2020 (1100%)
  • West Pullman – 191 complaints in 2019, 793 in 2020 (315.2%)
  • Gold Coast – 15 complaints in 2019, 47 in 2020 (213.3%)
  • Hegewisch – 10 complaints in 2019, 31 in 2020 (210%)
  • O’Hare – 2 complaints in 2019, 6 in 2020 (200%)
Rats are migrating out from these neighborhoods
  • Jackson Park – 2 complaints in 2019, 0 in 2020
  • Grant Park – 6 complaints in 2019, 1 in 2020 (-83.3%)
  • Printers Row – 17 complaints in 2019, 5 in 2020 (-70.6%)
  • Burnside – 30 complaints in 2019, 14 in 2020 (-53.3%)
  • Millennium Park – 2 complaints in 2019, 1 in 2020 (-50%)

Rodent complaints are up 31% this year in Washington D.C.

Washington D.C. is known for many things. It is the capital of the United States of America; it is a cultural center with many monuments and museums, such as the Smithsonian Institution; and it is a walkable and bike-friendly city with many bike lanes in the downtown area. What you probably don’t know about D.C. is that not only our president and government officials reside there, many, many rats also call it home, and this year, the District has seen a spike in rat complaints.

The number of rodent complaints has been trending upward in D.C. since 2016, but 2020 is by far the worst year. By the end of August 2020, D.C.’s 311 reporting system has received a total of 5,848 rodent complaints, 30.7% more than the same period in 2019.

The past summer was particularly bad for D.C. June 2020 marked the worst month since January 2016, with a total of 985 unique complaints made to D.C. 311 by Washingtonians. 37.2% more than June 2019. Could it be that people are more likely to spot rats when they are working from home? Or maybe as the restaurants closed due to COVID-19, these furry critters are forced to invade people’s homes? No one knows for sure. But what we do know is that some neighborhoods are seeing more rodents than others, and that’s bad news for the residents. Now, check out the map and see if your neighborhood is one of them.

Which neighborhoods are run by rats this year?

The interactive map below indicates the concentration of rodent complaints Washington D.C. Neighborhoods in darker shades have a higher concentration of rat sightings. It is possible that larger neighborhoods receive more complaints than smaller neighborhoods, and so we normalized the number of rodent complaints by land size. You can click on the polygons to learn more about each neighborhood.

These neighborhoods are run by rats this year
  • Columbia Heights, Mt. Pleasant, Pleasant Plains, Park View – 691 complaints in 2020, 526.3 complaints/sq mi
  • Shaw, Logan Circle – 213 complaints in 2020, 376.8 complaints/sq mi
  • Brightwood Park, Crestwood, Petworth – 847 complaints in 2020, 337.6 complaints/sq mi
  • Howard University, Le Droit Park, Cardozo/Shaw – 214 complaints in 2020, 297.9 complaints/sq mi
  • Union Station, Stanton Park, Kingman Park – 461 complaints in 2020, 287.7 complaints/sq mi
Rodent complaints surged in these neighborhoods
  • National Mall, Potomac River – 6 complaints in 2019, 35 in 2020 (+483.3%)
  • Woodland/Fort Stanton, Garfield Heights, Knox Hill – 3 complaints in 2019, 10 in 2020 (+233.3%)
  • Fairfax Village, Naylor Gardens, Hillcrest, Summit Park – 3 complaints in 2019, 9 in 2020 (+200%)
  • Cleveland Park, Woodley Park, Massachusetts Avenue Heights, Woodland-Normanstone Terrace – 22 complaints in 2019, 62 in 2020 (+181.8%)
  • Colonial Village, Shepherd Park, North Portal Estates – 4 complaints in 2019, 9 in 2020 (+125%)
Rodent complaints dropped in these neighborhoods
  • North Cleveland Park, Forest Hills, Van Ness – 4 complaints in 2019, 1 in 2020 (-75%)
  • Eastland Gardens, Kenilworth – 3 complaints in 2019, 1 in 2020 (-66.7%)
  • Saint Elizabeths – 10 complaints in 2019, 4 in 2020 (-60%)
  • Downtown, Chinatown, Penn Quarters, Mount Vernon Square, North Capitol Street – 89 complaints in 2019, 50 in 2020 (-43.8%)
  • Douglas, Shipley Terrace – 27 complaints in 2019, 16 in 2020 (-40.7%)


This study examines the rodent crisis in major U.S. cities, including Boston, Chicago, and Washington D.C. The rodent complaint data was retrieved from each city’s open data portal, and the population data was collected via U.S. Census Bureau. For this study, we limited the research time frame to January 2016 through August 31, 2020. We then geocoded the complaints using each city’s neighborhood shape file and normalized the complaint count by land size. This allows us to fairly rank each neighborhood and provide better insights.

RentHop is all about data and facts. Our data science team does annual studies on rental data as well as 311 complaints across major U.S. cities. To get to know the city you live in, take a look at our previous studies on rodent complaints, human/animal waste complaints, noise complaints, and more.

Published at Wed, 23 Sep 2020 03:41:24 +0000

9 Luxury Sheet Sets That Are Totally Worth the Splurge

9 Luxury Sheet Sets That Are Totally Worth the Splurge

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.

We spend roughly one-third of our lives in bed, so when it comes to self-care, splurging on a set of luxurious sheets is a must. Let’s face it: When it’s cold outside, is there anything better than feeling cozy under the covers while reading in bed? Or maybe you need to get a great night’s sleep to wake up rested and refreshed for that early AM Zoom meeting? Bottom line: It’s time to upgrade your bedding. High-quality sheets come in many styles and fabrics, which makes choosing the material just as fun as picking the color. If you like a warm bed, then flannel is a good choice, while sateen is ideal for sleepers who prefer silky, soft material. Or, if your focus is eco-friendliness, choose bamboo. No matter your style, check out these nine perfect options to gift yourself or a loved one.

Published at Mon, 02 Nov 2020 21:47:04 +0000

Before and After: A Stuck-in-the-’70s Bedroom Gets a Cozy £2,000 Upgrade

We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission.

Take Elle Hervin’s (@elle_the_home_bird‘s) UK bedroom, which should have boasted its original 1930s prettiness but instead felt like it had gotten stuck in the 1970s (and not in a good way). “The bedroom in its ‘before’ state was quite an assault on the senses!” Elle says. “It hadn’t been updated in around 45 years and you could tell from every corner of the room, from the ’70s wallpaper to the built-in, utility-style cupboards, and the clashing patterns. And don’t get me started on the carpet!”

Unfortunately, Elle couldn’t really salvage much of the room. “The sheer level of neglect in the bedroom meant that it wasn’t possible to use or even ‘make do’ for a while,” she explains. “It was smelly, dirty, and crying out for an entire makeover. In order to make it beautiful once again, the entire room needed to be ripped apart so we could start from the beginning.”

So she and her husband got to work tearing out the carpet, the built-ins, and layer after layer of old wallpaper.

In order to install a cozy fireplace as a centerpiece of the room, they knocked out plaster, “which was hiding the ‘hole’ where a bedroom fireplace would once have been,” Elle explains, and cleaned up the brickwork. The couple also made a sweet find on Facebook Marketplace, nabbing an original bedroom fireplace that they restored and installed.

“We then called in a plasterer to re-plaster the walls before sanding down the original floorboards and restoring them back to their former glory,” Elle says.

For the new and improved walls, Elle (in a funny coincidence) chose the peachy pink Farrow & Ball color “Setting Plaster,” knowing that it would brighten up a North-facing room. “It works so well against the black of the fireplace and complements the warm tones of the original wooden floorboards,” she says.

For decor, Elle went for “a vintage-modern feel” by incorporating both more traditional furniture and accessories—like an H&M Home pink rug—and more modern ones, like the large round mirror above the fireplace from The Cotswold Company.

If she were to redo the entire process, the only thing Elle might consider adding is “some paneling for that extra touch of grandeur!” But she loves the result, which she says cost around £2,000.

That success is all thanks to a bunch of successful research and planning. “Check out costings of plastering, floorboard restoration, and reinstating original fireplaces before you start pulling anything apart,” Elle advises. “Know how the light works in your room! When is it sunny and how long does the room get sunlight for? Pick colors and tones that work with the aspect of your room. And finally, create a mood board so that you can see how your chosen colors will work with your furniture and accessories before you spend any money.”

Published at Mon, 02 Nov 2020 21:30:06 +0000

10 Things to Know About Living in Philadelphia

10 Things to Know About Living in Philadelphia

Wedged between New York and D.C., Philadelphia has long been one of America’s most overlooked and underrated cities. The Birthplace of America, Philly is the nation’s sixth-largest city and one of its top cultural, culinary, employment, sports, music and education destinations. It’s a fresh, cosmopolitan city, and living in Philadelphia means you have nearly anything you could imagine to do, eat, visit, see and cheer for.

Philadelphia is a unique and diverse city, much more than the Liberty Bell, cheesesteaks and Rocky. It’s an inviting, connected community compromised of nearly 100 distinct neighborhoods from the gleaming skyscrapers of Center City to the rowhouses of South Philly to the rolling estates of Chestnut Hill. Whether you’re packing up for your move to Philly or just considering a relocation to the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, there are many wonderful things you need to know about living in Philadelphia.

1. Philly has a great climate if you like having four seasons

No matter which season you enjoy frolicking in, Philly is the perfect climate to experience all four seasons. Philadelphia is a temperate Mid-Atlantic city with the best of all worlds, just 50 miles from the Jersey shore and 70 from the Pocono Mountains.

Summers in Philly can be hot and muggy at the peak of the season, with average highs just under 90 during July. Winters are cold but not bitterly, with daily temps during the holiday season straddling the freezing line. Rain can be expected a quarter-to-third of the days each month, with about 20 inches of snow each winter.

septa train philadelphia

2. Commuting is relatively easy by car or public transit

Philly commuting is convenient compared to most of its Northeast Corridor counterparts. The average one-way work travel time is just more than half an hour, with more than 20 percent using public transportation.

For automotive commuters, Philly’s transportation network couldn’t be simpler. Interstate 95 lines the eastern edge of the city, the I-76 Schuylkill Expressway divides West Philly from the rest of Philly and I-676 (Vine Street Expressway) and US Route 1 (Roosevelt Boulevard/Expressway) run east/west through the city. Broad Street, America’s longest straight boulevard, forms Philly’s north/south backbone.

SEPTA operates a convenient public transit system, which includes a number of commuting modes. This includes the Broad Street Line subway and Market-Frankford elevated train, which travels north/south and east/west, respectively, 131 bus lines and eight light rail and trolley routes.

3. You have to learn how to talk Philly to live here

Every city in America has its own dialect quirks, but Philly has a language all its own every newcomer must eventually absorb. From your first “yo,” you’ll quickly learn every jawn (which can literally mean any person, place or thing).

“Jeet?” is what you’ll be asked if someone wants to know if you’ve eaten yet. They may want to share a hoagie (don’t ever say “sub”), grab pasta with gravy (tomato sauce) or a cheesesteak “whiz wit” (covered in melted cheese and fried onions). Wash it down with some wooder (what comes out of the sink) or a lager (ask for that and you’ll get a Yuengling beer).

Where are you going to go? Maybe “down the shore” to the Jersey beaches, out to Delco (Delaware County) or to Center City (never call it “downtown”) on the El (the elevated train). That’s where yiz (plural “you”) are headed.

And everyone loves talking about the “Iggles” (or “the Birds,”) the championship football team.

4. Philly is the City of Museums

More than any city in America, history lies down every street, many of which the Founding Fathers once walked. Independence National Historical Park, the most historic square mile in the nation, includes important sites like Independence Hall, Liberty Bell, City Tavern, Christ Church, Franklin Court and more.

Nearby in Old City are the National Constitution Center, Museum of the American Revolution, Betsy Ross House, the first U.S. Mint, Elfreth’s Alley and National Museum of American Jewish History.

But Philly offers so much more, including world-class museums dedicated to art, culture, science and education. In the Parkway Museum District, must-visit attractions include the Philadelphia Museum of Art (and the Rocky steps), Franklin Institute Science Museum, Barnes Foundation and Rodin Museum.

Elsewhere around the city are amazing spots, including the Mummers Museum, Academy of Natural Sciences, Magic Gardens urban mosaic, Mütter Museum of medical oddities, Eastern State Penitentiary and even the Museum of Pizza Culture.

Philly cheesesteak

Photo courtesy of Michael Hochman

5. Philly cuisine is much more than cheesesteaks

Sure, everyone loves cheesesteaks and every Philadelphian has their favorite steak joint. But Philly also claims a slew of other iconic dishes.

Hoagies are a party staple, but many swear by the roast pork sandwich, with provolone and sautéed broccoli rabe, as the city’s signature sandwich. Philadelphians eat 12 times as many pretzels as the average American and you’ll find soft pretzels in the Philly figure-eight style on every corner.

Breakfasts wouldn’t be Philly without scrapple or pork roll, two pan-fried pork-based dishes. And dinner can include tomato pie (cheeseless rectangle pizza on focaccia served at room temperature), Old Bay-flavored crinkle-cut crab fries or snapper soup, which is exactly what you think it is.

For dessert, grab a “wooder ice” (kind of like Italian ice but not) or a Tastykake (more of a lifestyle than a snack food line).

And Philadelphia isn’t just for casual eats — some of America’s greatest restaurants live here. Israeli spot Zahav was named Best Restaurant in the country, and Pizzeria Beddia the Best Pizza in America. Other award-winning spots abound, including South Philly Barbacoa, vegetarian destination Vedge and 20 restaurants citywide from decorated chef Stephen Starr.

But all cross-sections of Philadelphians can agree on one thing — everyone loves Wawa, more of a culture than a convenience store, with more than 40 locations throughout the city.

6. Philly is the best music city on the East Coast

There would be no American music without Philadelphia. The city is home to one of the nation’s greatest music histories as the birthplace of Philadelphia soul, American Bandstand, Gamble & Huff and “Rock Around The Clock.” Artists hailing from Philly span the spectrum from Hall & Oates, Chubby Checker, Patty LaBelle, Boyz II Men and Will Smith to The Roots, Meek Mill, Diplo, Dr. Dog, War On Drugs, Kurt Vile, Dead Milkmen and Joan Jett.

Philly is also one of the best cities in America to see and hear live music, with a slew of iconic music venues of every size. Music pours nightly out of legendary clubs, such as Milkboy, Johnny Brenda’s, Boot & Saddle and Kung Fu Necktie, concert halls like The Fillmore, Union Transfer, Theater of Living Arts and Tower Theater and outdoor amphitheaters with stunning vistas BB&T Pavilion and Mann Center.

7. Philly is one of America’s great college towns

Philadelphia is one giant college town. There are more than 340,000 college students living in Philly spread across nearly two dozen four-year campuses. Thanks to college sports, Philly’s top five major universities (that make up the Big Five) are nationally known and include Temple, St. Joseph’s, La Salle, the University of Pennsylvania and Villanova (which actually sits outside the city).

University City in West Philly is home to Penn, as well as Drexel and the University of the Sciences. And scattered elsewhere around the city are historically-black Lincoln University, Chestnut Hill College, Thomas Jefferson University (on two campuses), Pierce College and Holy Family.

There are also a number of creative and performing arts schools in Philadelphia, including the University of the Arts, Art Institute of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and Curtis Institute of Music.


Photo courtesy of Michael Hochman

8. Sports are life in Philly even if we like to boo

You may have heard. In Philadelphia, we love sports. Unlike cities like New York or L.A., Philly has just one team in each of the major sports, so every fan is on the same page. Except for college basketball where the city is divided among a half-dozen Division I programs.

Philadelphians bleed team colors and everyone from every walk of life pays attention. Often, the city’s collective mood is based on yesterday’s result. So, if you want to walk into nearly any conversation in Philly, be sure to know the Birds’ playoff chances or who your favorite Flyer is. But Philly fans don’t take lack of hustle or effort lightly, and a subpar performance will bring out the notorious boo-birds.

9. The cost of living in Philly is pretty good

As the sixth-largest city in the nation and keystone of the Northeast Corridor, you’d expect Philly to be expensive. Actually, it’s pretty average. The overall cost of living in Philadelphia (as of Q1 2020) is just 110 percent of the national composite. Compare that to its neighbors like New York (246 percent), D.C. (160 percent) and Boston (148 percent). In fact, Philadelphia’s cost of living is cheaper than many major cities like Denver, New Orleans, Miami, San Diego and Baltimore.

The same goes for housing, as well. Philadelphia is only 13 percent over the national index average for housing costs, much more affordable than other East Coast cities and metropolises around the country like Phoenix, Dallas and Portland. For renters, an average Philly one-bedroom leases for just $2,127 a month (compared to the national average of $1,621), just a pleasantly-surprising 17th most-expensive in the nation, cheaper than Sacramento, Boston, Seattle or Oakland.

10. Philadelphia is one of the great American cities

Philadelphia is a beautiful, friendly, progressive city for anyone moving here or just thinking about it. It’s a hub for technology and finance and home to a dozen Fortune 500 corporations.

It’s a retail center with high-end city malls, vintage and boutique shopping corridors and Jewelers’ Row, the oldest diamond district in the nation. It’s a haven for those seeking outdoor adventure, including massive Wissahickon Valley and Fairmount Parks. And a destination for family fun at spots like the Please Touch Museum and America’s oldest zoo. It’s even one of America’s most walkable cities.

Living in Philadelphia

Philly is a great place for lovers of music, beer, history, shopping, sports, theater, coffee, biking, art, dining and more. Whatever your passion, you’ll find it living in Philadelphia.

And with a head start on what’s listed here, you’ll be welcomed with open arms and find out quickly why we’re known as The City that Loves You Back.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments. Data was pulled in October 2020 and goes back for one year. We use a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
Population and income numbers are from the U.S. Census Bureau. Cost of living data comes from the Council for Community and Economic Research.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.
Header image courtesy of Michael Hochman.



Published at Tue, 27 Oct 2020 13:00:46 +0000

How to Reheat Steak Like a Master Chef

We’ve all been there: You wake up the day after an amazing night out or a well-executed dinner party, thinking longing thoughts about the leftover steak in the fridge.

But how does one go about restoring the tantalizing tenderloin to its former glory without inadvertently turning it into a disappointing and rubbery throw-away? The answer is that there isn’t just one way. Depending on what equipment and time you have at your disposal, there are several ways to achieve a satisfying and restorative effect.

The best methods for reheating steak

Before jumping in to reheating steak, it’s important to consider what different cooking methods do to your food.

The oven, for instance, leverages dry, hot, moving air to heat your food from the outside in. This, of course, runs the risk of dehydrating the food in the process.

The microwave, by contrast, uses radiation to heat your food from the inside out by exciting the water molecules that keep your food moist to begin with. This, too, comes with the risk of irreparably altering the texture of your meal.

Finally, contact heating, as in a pan, uses a single, hot surface to heat your food quickly from the outside in. But the single surface often lends itself to uneven heating. This should not discourage but inform your process. It’s far simpler than it seems to work with these particularities to achieve a truly optimal and delicious effect.

How to reheat steak in the oven

reheating steak in oven

Again, remember that the oven tends to dehydrate easily. Thus, it’s important to use a “low and slow” approach. Reheat the steak at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. This will ensure moisture retention and even heating.

  1. Preheat your oven to a low temperature like 250 to 275 degrees
  2. Place your steak on an elevated rack inside of a baking sheet to allow the air to move around all sides of the steak
  3. Place the tray in the oven and let the steak warm until it reaches an internal temperature of 110 to 130 degrees, about 20 to 30 minutes
  4. This should be perfect, but if you want the crust to feel crispy again, feel free to quickly sear the steak in a grill pan over high heat for about 30 seconds per side

How to reheat steak in a frying pan

reheating steak in frying fan

Pans are great at heating food one side at a time. But if you’re trying to get ready for your lunch break in a hurry, you don’t have time to flip and wait.

  1. Start by using a large pan with enough room to add your steak with plenty of real estate to spare
  2. Scoot the steak over so that it’s touching the wall of the pan, then scoot the pan over so that the part of its bottom that the steak is sitting on is not directly under the burner. This will make sense soon.
  3. Add about one-quarter cup water to the opposite side of the pan, the side over the burner, making sure not to let water pool under the steak
  4. Crank the stovetop up to medium, cover the pan and let the steak cook for about 10 minutes, flipping once
  5. This will avoid heating one side of the steak and will instead encourage a gentle heating of all surfaces of the steak
  6. If you desire a crispier surface, feel free to quick sear the steak afterwards using the same method as is listed above

How to reheat steak in an air fryer

reheating steak in air fryer

With the advent of new kitchen tech comes new means by which to cook and re-cook everything under the sun. An air fryer, for instance, uses the same basic premise as a convection oven (hot, moving air) to cook your food in a manner that produces a similarly crispy texture to frying but without all that oil.

  1. Since we’re talking hot, fast air, cooking quickly to avoid dehydration is a must
  2. Pop your steak in the frying tray, and set the fryer to 370 degrees
  3. “Fry” your steak at that temperature in three-minute sprints until the internal temperature of the steak reads 110 to 130. This will ensure food safety and a nice medium-rare to medium doneness.
  4. No re-searing necessary

How to reheat steak in the microwave

reheating steak in microwave

We would be remiss if we did not note that cooking steak in the microwave, even the second time around, is truly sacrilege. But if you insist, just know that you’ll likely sacrifice a little bit of tenderness in the service of convenience.

  1. Start by slicing your steak into uniform slices or portions to ensure even heating
  2. Place your steak on a microwave-safe dish, and sprinkle a little bit of water on the plate
  3. Cover the plate with plastic wrap
  4. Set the microwave to medium power. This will ensure the steak doesn’t turn to jerky on the outside before the inside is even warm.
  5. Medium power will require a slightly longer cook time so nuke it in minute-long sprints until the internal temperature of the steak reads 110 to 130 degrees.
  6. Feel free to re-sear for texture

Select your method and dig in!

Ultimately, there’s no such thing as a truly bad steak. No matter how you choose to reheat steak, take into consideration what your cooking method means for the heat and texture of your finished product. Otherwise, you can’t go wrong. Warm up some mashed potatoes as a side and dig in!



Published at Mon, 26 Oct 2020 13:00:48 +0000

The Must-See Room in the San Francisco Decorator’s Showcase

The Must-See Room in the San Francisco Decorator’s Showcase

How’s everyone doing out there? It’s been another hot minute. How are you holding up? So much is coming at us seemingly every second – it can be hard to keep the day of the week straight. I don’t know about you, but I’m grateful to design for being a welcome distraction when I just need a moment. Even if it takes me three weeks to finally write about it.

Case in point, the San Francisco Decorator’s Showcase. It is one of my favorite design events of the year. I mean what’s not to love? You get to tour a mega-mansion in the city’s famed Pacific Heights neighborhood that’s been newly transformed by extremely talented designers who heap reams of creativity into their rooms.

The Showcase house is a go-to source for major design mojo and truly over the top ideas. After a six month delay, the 2020 Showcase is happening right now – just entirely virtual! While it’s sad to not get to physically walk through the space, the bonus of an online Showcase is anyone can see it.

But I do wish I could experience this beautiful kitchen in person. Designed by Regan Baker, this room showcases a unique mix of color choice and contrasting materials to create a light, airy – dare I say cheerful – kitchen. We could all use a little cheerfulness these days!

As you move through the expansive kitchen – the complete space actually includes two entry points, a built-in breakfast nook and a walk-in pantry – there is a truly unique mix of materials that juxtaposes warm and cool, light and dark, raw and honed yet they all play nicely together.

One such moment of dramatic contrast is the range area you see above. Everything comes into play here from the marble countertops to the custom ceramic backsplash created by local Bay Area artist Linda Fahey (whose store Yonder Shop was one of my mainstays pre-pandemic). All that is mixed with deep warm cabinets displaying spices and oils, while the brass hardware acts like jewelry. The disparate elements balance one another nicely.

A second moment of dramatic contrast is the placement of this custom black hutch. The hutch’s curved top plays off of other curved lines you find in the room, from an arched entryway to the rounded back of the dining sofa and even the beveled edge of the counters. I’m a big fan of furniture pieces that incorporate both closed storage but also room to display prized pieces. I spy lots of Tina Frey and Heath Ceramics in this hutch!

The dining nook continues the juxtaposition theme – pairing multiple wood tones with a custom dining sofa clad in periwinkle boucle. The black table and my favorite U-candle from Glaze also in black add drama and tie in the black hutch. It’s a truly unique mix.

As you move into the pantry the vibe shifts slightly. Gone are any pastel hues. While this is still a very elevated space, it has a more utilitarian look sticking with a consistent palette of warm wood, brass and marble. A built-in coffee station with Heath Ceramic mugs is always a good choice.

Aware of the fact that people of color have long been under-represented in the design industry, Regan Baker Design committed to doing the work to being part of the change.

Regan chose to use her platform to highlight the work of Black female artists throughout her Showcase space. Through the process of discovery and curation, the artists whose work and stories resonated with Regan and her team were Christa David, Marie Alexander, Lauren Pearce, and Tawny Chatmon.

Showcasing different art styes from portraiture to collage, these pieces add another beautiful layer of storytelling to Regan’s already wonderfully layered space. Scroll to see their pieces and be sure to watch the video of interviews with the artists at the end of this post!

design by regan baker, photography by suzanna scott, styling rosy friedman

Published at Tue, 29 Sep 2020 23:22:17 +0000

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Seven Questions About Apartment Space That Aren’t Square Footage

Seven Questions About Apartment Space That Aren’t Square Footage

Based on your preferences and lifestyle, you will need a certain amount of space in your apartment. While hunting for your new apartment, you might wonder just how much (or how little) square footage you’ll need. But sometimes, it’s not all about the amount of space you have. Here are seven questions about apartment space that aren’t about square footage.

1. Do I need a workspace?

If you work from home, you might want a separate room for your office. Having a separate office improves productivity because you can focus better when you regularly work in the same environment. However, if you are looking at a studio apartment, you probably won’t have a separate office, but you can always use a section of your room as an office space. 

Seven Questions About Apartment Space That Aren't Square Footage

2. Is there a dining area or dining room?

Some apartments have dining areas and dining rooms, whereas others might barely have a kitchenette. In smaller apartments with less space for eating and preparing food, you’ll need to make the best of the space you do have. For example, some tables can be used to work and eat, or if you don’t have an office, a dining room can also serve as your office if you have the right table and seating.

3. Do I have friends over a lot?

When you invite more than one friend to your apartment, you might struggle to fit everyone in your living room. That’s why your living room furniture arrangement is essential to consider if you often have multiple people over. On the other hand, if you don’t invite many people over or you have a small living room, minimal furniture such as a couch and coffee table may suffice. 

4. Do I have large items to store or place?

If you have extra square footage in your apartment, fitting bulkier furniture might not be an issue. And bulkier furniture isn’t just decorative – larger furniture provides some soundproofing from the outside world by minimizing the amount of sound that travels into your apartment. On the other hand, if you are interested in a smaller space, there are various multifunctional, space-saving furniture items you can use.

5. How big of a bed do I need?

Picking the right bed is a key apartment decision. Some people decide to sleep on an extra-long twin-size bed to save space, but with more apartment space, you can choose a wider bed so you have more room to move around. If you need more space than a twin-size bed or if you have a partner who often sleeps in your bed with you, a full-size or queen-size bed may be better for you.

6. What is my new furniture budget?

If you upgrade to a bigger space but don’t have furniture to fill it, can you afford to spend money to do so? Perhaps you have some money to buy a few pieces of furniture, but not a ton, and in that case, you can use thrifting apps to buy affordable furniture in good condition. If you don’t have enough money to buy any new furniture, moving to a smaller apartment you don’t have to fill with furniture may be a more budget-savvy move.

7. How big is the average apartment?

To know how your options compare with others, know the average size of an apartment. In 2019, the average U.S. apartment size was less than 900 square feet, and Seattle has the country’s smallest apartments, with an average size of approximately 711 square feet. Manhattan and Chicago’s apartments are second-smallest at approximately 733 square feet each.

Whether you’re looking for a large apartment or a smaller one, square footage isn’t the only factor to keep in mind. You can find the best apartment based on your furniture preferences and lifestyle – you can make your apartment hunt easier.

Published at Mon, 19 Oct 2020 17:25:46 +0000

Sustainable Living: Shopping Bulk with Reusable Containers

In our Sustainable Living series, we look at how tenants and homeowners are changing their apartments to be more sustainable.

Bulk items, such as loose oats and nuts, are often packaged in thin single-user plastic. Like all plastics, this packaging is not biodegradable and usually takes 400 years or more to break down. Additionally, plastics decompose into toxic particles, and microplastics travel in the air and are deposited in ways that harm the environment.

How can you reduce your plastic usage and move closer to a zero-waste, eco-friendly lifestyle? Here are some tips for shopping with reusable containers to reduce your plastic packaging waste.

Wide-mouthed storage jars

When going to the grocery store, bring some weck jars with you. Weck jars have wide-mouth openings, rubber seals, and glass lids. They come in various sizes, and their shape makes placing your goods into them while shopping super convenient. Weck jars are also suitable for storing and freezing liquids.

Other storage jars

Wide-mouth Mason jars are also handy to store your food while grocery shopping. They can hold many kinds of items and keep a tight seal. They can also withstand being heated and sterilized repeatedly without damage, and their glass can be easily cleaned. You can remove loose ingredients like grains from their original packaging and pour them into clear Mason jars. 


Although you’ve brought your containers to the grocery store, how do you get your bulk food into them without making a mess? Bring a set of funnels with you to prevent your goods from spilling all over the supermarket aisle (and perhaps yourself) when you transfer them to your containers.

Cloth reusable bags

Canvas, polyester, or nylon cloth bags are eco-friendly and hold more items than regular grocery store plastic and paper bags (which are usually flimsier than reusable bags). They’re also much more comfortable to carry, so you can more easily transport your goods without worrying about your bags coming apart and your bulk goods spilling. Your supermarket might sell them, and you can find many reusable cloth bags online.

When shopping for a reusable cloth bag, look for washable bags. You should wash your bags regularly for basic hygienic purposes – they carry a lot of food, which means microorganisms can grow in them without regular cleaning. You may also want a bag with a drawstring or something to tie it closed, as food can occasionally spill out of unsealed bags. 

Use additional plastic bags you already have to take everything home

After getting your first reusable bulk food containers, you may still have many plastic bags from your previous grocery runs at home. Don’t throw them out if they’re not damaged; reuse them. Bring additional plastic bags to fit all your groceries on large grocery runs. If you’re transporting heavy grocery items, then thicker, large plastic shopping bags are better.

Can I use these bulk storage items for fruits?

You might struggle to fit fruits into jars and cloth bags, but they should be fine in your plastic bags. Alternatively, fine-weave or mesh bags can be great for fruits. Choose containers that both suit your food and the environment to work toward the zero-waste lifestyle you seek.

Published at Thu, 15 Oct 2020 07:30:37 +0000

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