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Getting Your Rental Ready for the Holidays

Once the candle on the last jack-o-lantern goes out, it’s officially The Holiday Season. Are you ready?

We have tips for how to prep your rental home for guests and make your home a favorite spot for family and friends to gather over the holiday season.

Cold-weather cleaning
Spring isn’t the only time to give your place a thorough scrub. Before you play host or hostess for holiday gatherings, you’ll want your home to shine as brightly as the season’s lights. Wash windows to let in as much sunshine as possible, mop floors, and dust your home from top to bottom. If necessary, this is also a good time to steam-clean carpets, making floors a welcoming spot to play games and exchange gifts. Don’t forget to make your kitchen shine, too, in preparation for all those wonderful holiday treats and meals.

Preparing for guests
It’s never too early to get your guest accommodations in order. In the guest room, get everything ready for out-of-town visitors. Collect extra pillows and blankets, freshen bedding, clear space in the closet and have fresh towels at the ready. A suitcase stand, either purchased or made by you out of decoratively stacked, vintage suitcases, is a welcoming touch. Place high-quality toiletries in a decorative basket for your guests to enjoy.

Holiday decor
Whether you create yourself or purchase holiday home decor from your favorite catalog or home store, creating a holiday mood with garlands, greenery and other items will make visitors to your home feel welcome. Holiday plants and pine boughs can be found at your local home improvement shop or florist. If you have vintage ornaments that are wearing out or that have lost their hook holders, place them in a decorative bowl or glass candle holder to let them sparkle. Candles (battery-powered are safest) and small lights add a warm festive glow throughout your home.

Opening your home for the holidays makes the season even warmer. Begin preparing your place now so that it will feel truly welcoming for your seasonal guests!

How to Pack Your Moving Truck

After all the planning that goes into moving, packing your rental truck can feel like the final assault on a mountain.

Fear not! We’ve got tips to help you pack your moving truck carefully and securely — without breaking too much of a sweat!

Gather your equipment
Start by assembling the gear that will help you pack your moving truck effectively. Gather together your hand truck, straps for heavy items, blankets and pads. Keep your bubble wrap and tape handy, too, for items that might need some reinforcing. And always have your clipboard with moving inventory at the ready, so you can keep track of your boxes and other items using whichever “tracking” system you prefer — numbers, letters, or colors can all work to organize your boxed belongings.

Don’t be a super-mover
Along with the proper equipment, you’ll need the right amount of help to move your things. If you have heavy items to move, don’t try to do it alone. Line up family or friends as far in advance of your move as you can — enough of them so that you’re not shorthanded when it comes to getting all of your things safely and comfortably into the moving truck.

Store fragile & urgent items in the cab
Begin the move by placing especially fragile or valuable items you don’t want to lose track of into the cab of the moving truck. You’ll want to include your “first night” bag or box with everything you’ll need as soon as you arrive, as well, along with items for your pets. You can also put these things in the car of someone who is helping you move. Be sure to keep doors locked so that a thief doesn’t take advantage of an unguarded vehicle.

Prepare your furniture
To make the move faster, remove drawers from dressers, credenzas and entertainment units, which will lighten their load. Replace them once the furniture is on the truck and tape them shut for the trip. You can even pack items inside the drawers to conserve space.

Break down furniture as much as you can, unscrewing the legs of tables, sofas and tables. You can roll these legs up in carpets. Go ahead and cover or pad furniture as soon as it’s in the truck, before you lose the room to maneuver. Disassemble bed frames and any other furniture that can be made smaller. Gather all the screws together for a single piece, put them in a baggie and tape it to the underside of the furniture. Label the bag that identifies the pieces, in case bag and furniture get separated.

Heavy items on deck
Staging the contents of your moving truck in advance as carefully as possible will make the packing proceed much faster. You’ll want to place your heaviest items in the truck first, so they can use the support of the cab to keep from shifting during the trip. Make sure to centralize their weight to keep the truck balanced, with heavy boxes or furniture on other side to keep appliances (appropriately wrapped and padded before loading) from sliding. If you can set your largest, heaviest items out in the street around the rental truck before you start — without impeding traffic or bothering the neighbors! — you’ll have the best idea of how much you have to place and what to put in the truck next.

Fill in the gaps
Add long pieces next, along the sides of the truck. Place the remaining heavy boxes in the center and spread them out to distribute the weight evenly, stacking lighter boxes on top of appliances and furniture. Fill in the gaps underneath desks, chairs and tables and (carefully!) on top of sofas and seats. Fragile, lighter and awkward-shaped items go last, along with bags, secured into place alongside surrounding items so they won’t move around.

Careful packing starts even before you pull up the moving truck. Get the right help, equipment and strategy in place first, and the rest of your efforts will go more smoothly.

Moving Into a Rental With Your Pet

Moving is a chore all by itself, but making sure your pet fares well in the adventure requires extra planning.

Read on for what to consider when choosing a rental — and how to make the move as smooth as possible for your furry family member!

The pet-friendly rental
Finding a rental that take pets is your first step in securing happy housing for you and your dog or cat. You’ll want your new landlord to welcome you both with open arms, so be up front with the fact that you have a pet. You can go one further by having a pet resume at the ready. This is a document that includes vaccination and spayed or neutered information (with supporting documents), references from past landlords, neighbors, your veterinarian, obedience trainers and any other positive information that will make your pet shine.

Look for housing, ideally, with a fenced yard, in a neighborhood which offers plenty of walking options and perhaps a dog park. If you worry about your dog or cat roaming loose, consider renting a house on a street that’s removed from a heavily-trafficked road.

Planning the move
Depending on how far you have to go and how you’re getting there, you may be using a pet carrier to transport your animal. If so, start getting your pet used to the carrier as soon as possible, making it readily available with a favorite toy or blanket inside. Once your pet sees the carrier as a safe haven, traveling in it on the big day won’t seem as traumatic.

If traveling by plane, check pet travel policies on your airline of choice to see what restrictions they have and to find out what paperwork and evidence of vaccinations you must provide — before making reservations.

Talk to your vet about whether your pet may need a sedative for more comfortable travel. Also, consider getting your dog or cat groomed just before the trip so that nails are trimmed for the event.

Moving day
The day of the move is usually stressful for everyone involved, and your pet can pick up on all the expectant energy in the air. Be sure to keep your routine as normal as possible, while keeping your voice and body language as calm as you can. Plenty of affection and praise will assure your pet that nothing bad is happening.

Moving days also offer the opportunity for anxious pets to bolt out an open door. Choose a room in the home you’re leaving and make it your pet’s base while everything is moved out. Make sure to keep the door closed (warn friends and family members to do the same) and to supply your pet with food, water, a favorite toy and the crate, if you’re using one.

Depending on the size and duration of your move, you might want to board your dog at a kennel during the tumult, and pick her up in time to get in the car or plane, en route to your new rental home.

When you arrive
Getting used to a new home can be as unsettling to a pet as leaving the old one. Keep your pet in his crate or in a closed room until everything is moved in, and you can begin to create order. As with your exit strategy, supply your pet with everything she will need upon arrival—familiar food/water bowls and favorite toys. Now your pet can begin the process of exploring this new territory comfortably.

As you plan your move, begin making arrangements for your pet, too. Thoughtful preparation will make the experience easier on the two of you and help ensure a happy move into your new home

Meeting Your Neighbors

They say ‘no man is an island,’ and when it comes to building your community, it’s definitely true. Whether in friendship or foul weather, knowing your neighbors is the key to a network of fun and practical relationships.

How to meet the neighbors
Meeting your neighbors isn’t always easy, especially if you all work away from home. Be sure to take the opportunities you have and make use of them. Whether you’re walking the dog, trimming the hedges or taking out the garbage, say hello to your neighbors who are out and about. It only takes a few seconds to exchange names and establish the beginnings of a new connection.

Becoming visible
When you get to know those who live around you, you become visible and vital — not just another closed door with a question mark behind it. You go from being “the person next door” to “my neighbor” to those living near you. Knowing your neighbors’ names, occupations and families makes you more than just someone to occasionally nod to when you pass each other on the street — you’re connected! And with that connection comes a host of ways to enjoy each other’s company — and to get and give help when it’s needed.

Both a borrower and a lender be
Interacting with your neighbors also opens the door to sharing resources. You don’t need a pressure washer if you can borrow the one from the Jones family. Similarly, you can loan them your lawnmower if theirs breaks down. Of course, you all save money when you can share more expensive equipment, but you can benefit from the small gestures too, such as an egg here or cup of sugar there.

Increase your safety
Talking to your neighbors is a great way to keep up with all kinds of neighborhood information. In fact, joining or organizing a Neighborhood Watch is an excellent way to get to know those around you. When you know your neighbors you also have people who can watch your house and get in your mail while you’re gone. And you, of course, get to do the same for them.

Stay organized
Whether you want to start a community garden or stay abreast of plans that might affect your neighborhood, knowing people around you is the one sure way to organize efforts. It could start with a flyer or a call for a meeting via your Neighborhood Watch group, but the more neighbors in your personal network, the faster you can bring people together around important issues.

Like your family, you can’t choose your neighbors, but you can create a meaningful connection with them. Life is easier and more satisfying when you have people around you that you can count on and who know will return the favor. It just takes a few folks!

Make Your Rental Feel Like a Home

Even if your home sweet rental home isn’t 100% your own, you can still make it feel like home by adding some personal touches to your decorating.

Read on to make your rental house more “you” in minutes!

It’s a good idea, of course, to check your lease or consult with your landlord or community manager before you make any permanent changes to your rental home.

Feature your friends
There’s no easier way to personalize your rental house than by putting up a boatload of photos of your friends and family. Why not try a new framing technique like getting photos printed on canvas with an easy service like CanvasPop or inviting your best buds to help you create handcrafted artwork? Painting parties like Social Artworking are a fun way to include your friends in your home decorating and a great excuse to get together. Combine your art party with your housewarming party to kill two creative birds with one stone!

Personalize with plants

Adding a living, breathing element to your rental home will make it feel homier in an instant. Incorporate your favorite plants into your decor to add a nice personal touch. Plus, you can enjoy watching your plants grow as you get settled into your new space. While indoor plants bring a pop of color to your interior, consider adding container plants to your porch, patio or window box. Creating a beautiful containercan be a fun project that will make you smile every time you come home.

Get creative with camouflage

So far we’ve talked about adding your own personal touch to your rental house decor, but what if your new home is a little less attractive on the surface? Not to worry, just cover it up! If there is a spot you don’t like, camouflage it with something you really like. Create a temporary countertop cover with a pretty oilcloth, for instance.

When you see an area that is unappealing to you, get creative with your solutions to cover it up. If there’s a wall you’d like to dress up, try a little disguise with panel curtains. (You don’t need a real window, just pretend.) Panel curtains can actually solve a lot of problems, like unsightly closet doors. Removable wall decals are another non-permanent option.

Unstick the style

We’ll admit that sometimes there are situations that you can’t cover up. In cases like these, you need to unstick the style by adding your own flavor to it. Light fixtures can make a room look dated, but they are fairly easy to replace. Just remember to keep the old fixtures so you can put them back in place before you move! Often, if you are willing to foot the bill, your property manager might even appreciate you making a fixture fix-up.

Before you write off an outdated style, think of ways you can make it retro cool. Are you faced with an avocado green bathtub or appliances? Balance these shades with neutral tones. Try taupe bath towels, kitchen towels and other accessories. If you add enough of a color you like, you’ll barely notice the offender.

Little things matter

Finally, here’s one simple purchase that can make your rental home feel like your happy place: a welcome mat that shows off your style. A personalizedfunny or pretty doormat will have a positive impact on everyone who crosses the threshold, including you!

Moving In Safely to Your New Rental

Summer is in full swing and lots of renters move during this time. Moving into a rental home can be challenging and hard on your body, if you’re not careful.

Treat yourself right and prepare to move safely and a bit more easily by planning ahead.

Follow these tips to make the move into your rental home a safer one.

Pack light
Make sure when you are packing that each box is light enough to be carried. Keep in mind that over-packing boxes can cause back strain or other injuries. You might have more boxes to place on the moving truck, but your back will thank you for keeping the weight of each one down.

Limber up
You don’t want to pull a muscle during your move. Some basic stretching exercises at the start of moving day will help prevent injury and keep you from feeling overly sore the next day.

Mind your back
Be aware of how you move when you are moving to protect your back. Lift boxes with your legs and not with your back. Avoid sudden twisting and jerking that can cause pain. Turn with your whole body and not just from your waist. Keeping these tips in mind could keep you from throwing out your back.

Use the proper tools
Renting a dolly or hand truck can save you the strain of carrying boxes and make your move go much faster. For large appliances, use an appliance dolly to aid your move, for instance.

Hire professionals for specialty items
If you have a large or awkward item to move, such as a piano or a large antique, don’t try to move it on your own. Hire a professional mover that specializes in such items to make sure the item does not get damaged.

Take a walk around the property
The day before you move, walk around the rental home and evaluate any tricky areas. These may include uneven sidewalks or steps. Make sure everyone in your moving party knows about these patchy spots. Also clear any obstacles that might get in your way during the move, such as overgrown bushes or fallen tree limbs.

Dress appropriately
Make sure you dress comfortably in clothes that are appropriate for the weather and easy to move around in. Avoid loose-fitting clothes with hanging sleeves or shirttails which might get caught while moving.

Wear sturdy, slip-resistant shoes that will protect your feet if you accidently drop something. It is also a good idea to have a pair of work gloves handy in case you need to handle rough items or items with sharp corners.

Have a first aid kit ready
You don’t know what might happen during the move, and it’s a good idea to play it safe. Keep a basic first aid kit on hand filled with items such as band aids, Neosporin, Ibuprofen, and the like. Also keep a charged cell phone with you in case you have to make an emergency call.

Fuel your body
The last thing you want during your move is to feel dizzy or light-headed. Be sure to stay well-hydrated and keep plenty of nutritious snacks available to energize you and your fellow movers.

Keep kids and pets safely out of the way
Little ones — whether they have two feet or four! — can get underfoot during a move. Arrange for a sitter at a separate location, if possible, or block off an area of the rental home to be a kid- or pet-safe zone for the duration of the move.

Go at your own pace
Your move is not a race. Don’t attempt to set a land-speed record for fastest move! Take it slow and steady, stopping for breaks when you need them.

A safe and healthy move is within your grasp if you plan ahead and follow the safety tips mentioned here. After all, you want to be healthy enough to enjoy your new rental home!