Monday, March 27, 2017

Apartment Hunting? I Made These Mistakes So You Won't Have To (+ Downloadable)

Apartment hunting is seemingly easy enough, right? You just do a little searching, sign some papers, wait to get approved, and then move into your new home.

Well... no, not quite. And sadly, my roommate and I learned this the hard way when trying to find our first apartment in New York City about a year ago. In fact, we learned that there are a ton of things you should and should not do before and during your search.

Here are some of the steps that will be most helpful for you to follow so you can avoid what I did (and didn't) do to help save you 1) time, 2) money, and 3) your sanity:
☐ Decide whether or not you want a roommate or roommates
☐ Set a budget
☐ Have all your paperwork together
— Different apartments sometimes require different paperwork, but you should keep a folder of the following essentials: 1) Employment letter on company head, 2) Recent pay stubs, 3) Bank statements from the last 2-3 months, 4) Recent W2 tax form, and 5) Copy of photo ID.
☐ Find a guarantor or co-signer if necessary
— If you are unemployed or do not make X amount times your rent, the building or property manager will likely require you to have a co-signer or guarantor. If this may be the case for you, make sure you have someone in mind to sign onto your lease and submit the above paperwork for said person.
☐ Make a list of wants and needs
☐ Do a thorough search on your own
— The best way to find out about open apartments is through your network. Your friends or family members may know someone who is leaving his/her apartment or another who needs a subletter or new roommate. So ask! See if your friends know of anyone moving out soon or if their building managers have other buildings available where you can look. The easiest thing is to hear from a friend (or friend of a friend, or friend of a friend of a friend, et cetera) that they have an option for you. If after asking around absolutely no one knows of anything open or anyone who needs a roommate, get on Google. Need help online? Try one of these sites as recommended by BuzzFeed, just don't get roped into letting people you contact help you out, they'll likely charge high fees. If all else fails, pay a company to help you out.
To break this down:
Step 1: Ask your network
Step 2: Search online
Step 3: Turn to professionals


☐ Settle on the first apartment you see
— View at least a few options before applying to any apartments. You can always go back and apply to the first one if that ends up being the one you want.
☐ Use a broker without learning about him/her, his/her company, or his/her/its costs
— Brokers can be very pricey, especially in New York City and some buildings even have their own brokers, so if you don't do your research, you can really end up spending a lot more than you originally planned. Brokers fees can be anywhere from 6-17% of the year's rent while some apartments have no fees at all. Either way, determine what you are willing to pay before you even look at an apartment and research what each place will charge so you are not dreaming too big. Keep it in your budget so moving in doesn't have the burden of extra expenses.
☐ Leave without asking questions
— Ask all of your questions and then some. Important questions to ask: How safe is the surrounding area? Where is the nearest grocery store/pharmacy/doctor's office/etc? What's the best mode of transportation? Remember: certain building managers cannot and/or will not answer some questions so doing extensive research afterwards is extremely important.

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

6 Ways To Stay Inspired When You Are In A Slump

It's only natural to get in a slump sometimes. Whether you are a writer, an artist, a musician, or have just had those days/weeks where things did not feel like they were coming as naturally, it's normal.

It is only human to make mistakes, have flaws, and experience moments of uncertainty and if I am being entirely honest, this moment of uncertainty happened for me... last week.

For one whole week I was completely unable to think of a blog post concept and even yesterday when I sat down to write this post on staying inspired, I couldn't find the words.

While I can't quite put my finger on why, I just didn't feel myself, my creative juices were pretty much stagnant, and I felt extra exhausted every day despite getting 7+ hours of sleep a night.

But, when you do something every day and put pressure on yourself to always give it your all and make it the best you can, it makes sense to have "those days" or those "weeks." So I kept telling myself that, because it really is okay.

Here are a few of the things I have learned to do when I have one of those moments:

1. Give myself a day or few days off.

Sometimes I will sit down to write a blog post and it just won't happen. Either I have the idea, but the words won't come or the idea flops. In this situation there are sadly only two options: 1. Write a bogus post that will not be helpful, exciting, or fun or 2. Take a day off... or as much time as you need. When the pressure is off, often my ideas start flowing again. Last week, I was pretty much out of solid ideas and now, Tuesday of the following week, it is finally coming to fruition. Time off often is the only answer. No, I am not suggesting you take a week off from your job or school because you are in a slump. I am simply saying that if you need a day or two to slow yourself down, you can do so without forgetting your priorities.

2. Take a break and come back to it.

Sometimes I don't need a full day to get back at it, I just need a few minutes or hours. If I am midway through a post and I start to slow down or I get tired, I'll take a break and leave it for later in the day. Breaks, whether short or long, make the world of a difference.

3. Think outside the box.

This actually seems so obvious and sort of ridiculous because if you can't find inspiration, "thinking outside the box" is not really possible. But hear me out! Sometimes if I am completely lost, I think about all of the things I would want to read that I have not read online or can write about in a different way. In this case, thinking outside the box means thinking outside of what everyone else is writing. One of the only ways to do that is to make personal posts. Yikes! Sometimes this idea can be daunting, but the truth is, only you can tell YOUR story. Frequently people get their inspiration from others, but some of the best ideas come from your own lived experiences. I always consider my personal struggles and/or successes from the week before, things I have recently done, or things I look forward to doing in the future to create posts that can be unique to me. (This blog post, for example, is entirely based off of something I went through last week).

4. Quality over quantity.

For me, ensuring that I get a weekly post published is not as important as making sure they are posts of which I can be proud. I think recently I have come to the realization that taking off the pressure to post every week and instead focusing on what I want to post when I can is entirely acceptable.

5. Brainstorm with others.

Do you ever have those moments throughout the day when you are like "someone should make a movie about this" or "someone should totally write something about this"? My answer: frequently. And, believe it or not, people do all the time. Ask those around you if there is something they have thought about recently — is there something new that interests them? Do they have any struggles they are going through that you could write about for your followers to relate? Successes? Do they want to contribute any of their ideas as a guest blogger? Friends and family may actually be your best inspiration for new ideas.

6. Find an alternate motivator

Having more than one hobby and/or outlet is key to finding inspiration, even if it's simply going to the gym to get your endorphins flowing when you are feeling uninspired. Does something outside of your main passion motivate you and help you relax? I like to try focusing on my other hobbies when I can't think of things to write so as to not get frustrated.