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0 In Remote Life/ Resources

Bang For Your Buck: The Lucid Mattress Review

lucid mattress as the base of the cuddle pit

Among the many things I did not expect to do during 2020, buying a Lucid Mattress from Amazon is right up there with moving and realizing my heart lived out on the Washington Coast. It went completely against my initial plan…

Okay, my plan was more “I have an outline of things I need to do, so let’s do this one thing and see how the rest works out” so maybe the appropriate word here is idea or outline?

The initial line-item was to purchase the Zinus Green Tea Mattress. Not because I had ever slept on one, because if ApartmentTherapy raved over it, and the 14,00+ reviews did also, surely I would rave over it myself. I even had my Amazon Credit Card (my vice) at the ready, but hit a stocking snag. 

The Queen-size mattresses were out of stock. They also wouldn’t be in stock until after I moved into my new flat. The daybed is the largest piece of furniture I own and with it practically in the middle of the living room, it needed a mattress the day I moved in.

Okay, time for an adjustment. I read through some of the Green Tea Mattress reviews and ended up getting a little squicked out by some of the negative reviews. But since it’s Amazon and there’s a lot of mattresses on there, I did some research on the budget best-sellers. I needed:

  • fast delivery
  • Comfort
  • something not terribly hot
  • under 300$
  • not be a complete suckfest

I also wasn’t going to use my first mattress. That was already slated for my bedroom, which is still odd to say after 2.5 years of living in 400 square feet.

Wait. What?

I already know what you’re going to ask and I can go ahead and answer that question. For the first time in a couple of years,I have a separate bedroom. 

In my excitement, I did purchase a Zinus bedframe (that review is online also), because now I can shut the door between my living room/kitchen and my bedroom. The Tuft & Needle Mattress will live back there, which I should go ahead and post a review for that as well since I’ve been sleeping on it near nightly for the almost-three years. I love my T&N mattress. I may purchase a King-size for my next move with the same, but larger bedframe.

The Lucid mattress would live in the Day Bed that sits in my living room and is affectionately referred to as the Cuddle Pit. It would be sat on, sometimes slept on, definitely lounged on, and should expect to hold at minimum one body, but in upwards of three or four bodies, so good edge support would be required.

I know the adage is, “you get what you pay for”, but sometimes, you get a great bang for your buck, and in this case, that bang would be my Lucid Mattress.

The Lucid Mattress Specs

Measurements: 60” x 80” x 10”

Firmness: Medium

Amazon Listing

Disclosures: I’m an Amazon Prime Member, so I received free shipping.

Price at time of Purchase: $231.99

Current Price: $290

Review Count at Time of Post: 18,865 (4.4 out of 5 stars)

Initial Thoughts

Oh, it arrived early. A week earlier than Amazon slated, so it lived in my foyer for a week because the painters needed to be in the hallway.

There were a couple of bleary ones after unpacking. I had started moving in around 2 am that morning and got around to unpacking the mattress about… 12 hours later. This was after Chris H’s husband, Adam helped me reassemble the daybed with only three “I can’t find the damn hole” comments. Why Adam and not Chris? Well, she was seven months pregnant. Her only project was to “sit her ass down and look pretty.”

The first? “Is it going to expand on the corners?”

This is also one of the biggest complaints in the reviews I saw. But given Adam and I sort of rolled it out of the package and flopped it on the floor while we waited and moved everything else into my flat, I wasn’t expecting very much. You get what you pay for, right?

I’m pleasantly surprised when I say “not quite.”

The second? “Wait, it’s bumpy on the bottom.”

The third and final initial thought? “I expected it to smell funnier.”

Lucid Mattress Pros

My first pleased comment: It’s squishy. It is memory foam and the biggest complaint across the board about memory foam mattresses?

They get hot.

This one doesn’t due to the gel-infused memory foam. But heavier bodies will sink into it if you concentrate your weight in one spot. Like I do, when I sit cross-legged on it. 

It’s also great for naps that accidentally turn into all-night sleep. I’ve accidentally woken myself up with a sunrise once or twice and sleeping in my living room was not how I planned to spend that night, but that also means that sometimes, I detest moving from one spot. It’s so comfortable! 

A bonus is the Lucid mattress’s soft but pleasant firmness even knocks my hyperactive bestie down for the count when she “accidentally” falls over. I just wake her up and hour and a half later. She needs all the sleep she can get.

One of my requirements was edge retention, which on this mattress is pretty amazing. I can leave a leg or two over the edge for hours, in upwards of eight, and once you get up, you just watch the mattress reshape itself as if you were never there.

I mentioned noticing the bottom was covered in silicone bumps, not unlike those house slippers with the textured bottoms. Unlike my T&N, the Lucid mattress, once in place, will not shift on you which is great because the daybed has bunky boards rather than an actual frame for the mattress. 

I purchased the ten-inch Lucid mattress as I have a 10” T&N and felt that between the daybed frame and the mattress, it was a great height for short legs. I stand by that decision, though my mattress slip could stand to have an extra inch or two of height to fill it out better.  

Lucid Mattress Cons

Just two and they’re somewhat tiny but enough that I feel the need to mention them.

  1. The corners: I’m not sure what happened. I guess I didn’t let the mattress keep expanding, but the corners on this Lucid Mattress only expanded to about eight inches and not ten as advertised. This means sheets may fit a bit wonky since the corners aren’t filled out. This makes for a wibbly mattress slip, but nothing I can’t fix with mattress straps if it bothers me too much. It does look a bit weird though.
  2. Heat: Sometimes the Lucid Mattress gets warm. Which is great for the winter, but sucks for the summer.

The First Full-Sleep

Mind you, it was an accident. Because of the way I stage the Cuddlepit, a line of Euro pillows is my “sofa back” (technical term: scatterback). I am a firm believer in down/feather pillows because they have more depth to them, so we have seven pillows back there and that’s before I even start with the throw pillows, whose numbers vary because it really depends on my mood that week.

But I didn’t mean to fall asleep. I just meant to take a nap.

Which I wouldn’t advise to do at 11pm, but I was trying to be efficient with my time and wake up an hour and half later so I could go back to writing. Between the pillows and the mattress, and the warm embrace of a trusty blanket that lives in the cuddle pit (I clearly don’t need it elsewhere), I ended up sleeping for four hours.

I woke up to the sun being rude and shining in my eyes. Which was deliberate and why I put the day bed where I did, but semantics. But I also realized even with my sleep position, my back didn’t hurt. Which it does when I sleep on the other sofa by sheer accident.

Small win in my book.

Would You Buy the Lucid Mattress Again? 

Absolutely if I had a second guest room absolutely. If I had to give up my T&N for whatever reason, I’d consider it. There is another mattress I’d like to try also. I may even consider swapping my T&N and Lucid for a month to see how sleeping on it nightly fares.

Would I suggest the Lucid mattress to friends? Absolutely. Especially if they were looking for an inexpensive but good box mattress in a world of pretty expensive ones that don’t sleep well (looking at you, Casper).

So talk to me, have you played in the box mattress game yourself? If so, what mattress did you buy, and would you suggest it to others? Talk to me in the comments because I will rave for days about my Tuft & Needle mattress…

And I guess now I’ll also rave about the Lucid mattress too.

0 In Befores & Afters/ DIY/ Remote Life/ Resources

Death by Fluff: The Kotatsu Quilt Square

How to Kill Not One, But Two Sewing Machines

This post could easily be titled “More like how a kotatsu square quilt managed to damn near kill one sewing machine, made one metaphorically throw its hands in the air and give up on this project because it was too fluffy, and Natasha seriously contemplated an industrial sewing machine.”

I would have purchased one too if said industrial machines weren’t, you know, a cool $6,000 that I could be spending on everything else save a sewing machine for one project. Because oh, this quilt gave me fits.

Best part? It’s still not finished. My Heavy-Duty sewing machine decided to drop bobbin tension and gave up so I have the beautiful joy of hand stitching the last 20 inches.

</sarcasm>

So Why Did I Make the Kotatsu Quilt Square?

I didn’t HAVE to quilt a kotatsu square. But my god, I wanted to. Just to say I did. This was entirely a mess of my own making and I’m owning that.

However, let’s go back a few months to the day I’m on the Facebook Mobile Site (oh Zuck, why) and skimming over my local East Fremont Buy-Nothing group when I see one poster gifting an old kotatsu. He was no longer using it, it was just sitting in a closet and he had no real reason to use it anymore so he was gifting it to a new home.

Naturally, I took the topic to Twitter. Gimme’ that sweet, sweet dopamine hit, baby.

Do I Take the Free Kotatsu?

After the eighth “YES” – I hopped into the post with “if nobody else wants it, I can take it off of your hands.” I received the “when do you want to pick it up” DM about three hours later. Much to my complete delight.

That meant I had a bona fide mother hunking kotatsu and my little weeb heart was never happier.

A Natasha Thrilled with a Kotatsu

What IS a Kotatsu?

A kotatsu is a two-piece heated table hailing from Japan. In your average household, winters plus straw tatami mat floors made for some interesting times, because they burn easily. Really easily. Until someone came along, slapped a super weak heater under a table, dropped a blanket over it all, and smashed a heavy tabletop over it.

We can get into the laws of thermodynamics but that’s not my field and let’s just say the kotatsu is like a haven of warmth. It’s great! Just don’t fall asleep under one. I personally cannot fit under this one because I’m a fat American, but some folks can wedge their entire bodies under it without burning themselves. Your average kotatsu’s wattage would require a step-down generator, but since the previous owner wasn’t using one, I decided not to. Turns out, this particular kotatsu is American wattage-friendly.

He Just Gave It Away!

Wylder was happy (why, Wylder, why) to get it out of his flat. Even helped me put in my car. However, I’m pleased to announce, he now has regrets. I sent him the updated photos sometime before Halloween. Since he lived around the corner. Literally. I could have walked to his flat and carried the kotatsu home. But I had plans later that day, so the kotatsu lived in my car for a month. And then I moved, so it stayed in my backseat for a second month.

I brought it upstairs in early October, grabbed a forty-year-old quilt my great aunt, Juanita, made for my parents when they got married, threw it over the frame, set the tabletop over it, and well… 

…I hated it. It served its purpose just fine, but in my designed flat, it stuck out like a sore thumb. Which meant two things needed to happen:

kotatsu before a makeover
  1. The tabletop would need a makeover
  2. I would have to acquire a better quilt for it.

OR

I could just do it all myself.

Let’s Start with the Makeover

Going in, I knew the kotatsu was showing its age. The plastic top was discoloring from red to pink, the felt under the tabletop was discoloring also, and it was starting to fray around the edges. The plastic edge trim was cracked and taped into place and honestly, it would have been super cute in its heyday.

Right then, it looked tired.

I had a ton of butcher-block contact paper scraps from the bookcase project and pattern-matching wouldn’t be a concern or issue. The paper would hold up to the heater and oh, I could always change the pattern out if I got bored or damaged the contact paper in any way.

Supplies Needed?

  • A knife (I used my ever-handy box cutter)
  • Contact Paper
  • Patience
  • Flat edge – remember the cardboard I used in the bookcase project? I used that here because it was within arm’s reach.

The Tabletop Process

  1. Start in the Center of the tabletop: Lay down your largest piece of contact paper so it covers the middle. If it doesn’t reach from end to end – no big deal, it’s why you have multiple remnants.
  2. Go side to side. Finish laying the paper along the middle. This is how you’ll match your patterns once you start working on the edges.
  3. Oh look, you have gaps. That’s going to happen when you work with scraps. Start in the middle of the edge and lay down another piece of contact paper. You can match the pattern if you’re feeling froggy. If there’s excess, cut it off once the entire side is finished. Do the same on the opposite side of the tabletop.

The Tabletop Corner Edition:

  1. Corner time: Grab more remnants. Pattern-match to the best of your ability. I gave up and hoped for the best.
  2. The corners themselves will need a little more attention. Get those bubbles out to the pattern to the best of your ability and use a thumbnail or your razor (gently) to smooth those corners out. The sharp edge of your nail will go through the vinyl for a smooth curve. Warning: It’s Sexy and sort of distracting. Your mileage may vary.
  3. Just the tip: you’ll need the tip of your razor blade and run it along the edging trim slowly and gently, cutting away the excess paper and leaving a gorgeous surface behind.
  4. Ta-da!

And It was Fine… sort of

Honestly, it was fine for a while. But I had started to tear and rip my quilt in odd places because it was so threadbare – the quilt itself was in its 40s, okay? Fabric doesn’t age that well when you’re constantly using it.

But something else was needed. I needed more pop and something to hold the heat in better. I needed one of those quilts I saw in the anime that were super fluffy and I could just design the damn thing.

So I did, from scratch. Remember, I created this mess all on my own. I’d do it again too, just with a heftier sewing machine.

The Kotatsu Quilt Square: Initial Phase

  1. Decide how the square will look. Mine was a teahouse tatami-esque pattern with a wide edge. I wanted the edge to be white because quilt sheeting is 118” wide, came in two colors of white and eggshell, and I was going to soak the entire thing in fabric protectant. Because lugging this thing downstairs to wash on the regular – no thank you.
    
  2. Draw it up! This is where I decided how big the square was going to be (85” x 85”). How fluffy would it be? Very fluffy, what materials would I use, etc.
    
  3. Order the materials: in this case, I only ordered the quilt sheeting. The rest of my supplies were either around my apartment or oh no, a trip to IKEA to buy things. Heavens. Whatever would I do? (I bought 6 of those comforters.)

The Kotatsu Quilt Square Supply Breakdown:

  • Gray velvet: leftover from headboard project
  • Hunter green broadcloth: initially slated for a duvet cover, but I had a 3-yrd piece because fabric comes in 22yrd bundles.
  • Hunter green velvet: leftover from a February 2020 sofa project
  • Stuffing: 3 IKEA comforters
  • Quilt Sheeting: Ordered from FabricWholeSaleDirect.
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Patience
  • A Sewing Machine capable of handling 15 layers of fabric. (It doesn’t exist on the consumer market.)
  • More patience
  • You thought I was kidding about patience?

The Kotatsu Quilt Square Process Part 1:

  1. Wash the sheeting: It’s 100% cotton, it would shrink in the wash. Pre-shrink it first.
    
  2. Iron everything. Which meant spending some quality time ironing 108” of 118” wide fabric. I wasn’t looking for pristine flat fabric, but I needed to iron the bigger wrinkles out.
    
  3. Cut your fabric to size.
    
  4. Assemble the top layer. My first sewing machine handled this part perfectly.
    
  5. Assemble your fluff – sew three comforters so they’re one squishy fluffy sandwich. Leave 20 inches free on one side so you can flip them inside out into one big puffy cloud. Don’t worry about sewing this part shut – you won’t see it once the quilt is assembled.

The Kotatsu Quilt Square Process Part 2:

  1. Assemble your quilt: Lay your quilt sheeting down on the floor > fluff > top layer.
    
  2. Fold up your edges and tack into place with a needle and thread. The corners will need to be faux mitered.
    
  3. Faux miter your corners – we’re not actually mitering the corners. They’re too fluffy. But we can fake it! Flip your corners over to cover the fluffy bits. Now fold in your straight edges so it looks like you painstakingly mitered the corner. Tack into place with needle and thread. If it just happens to look like an uncut penis, well, it’s because this author is mentally a 12-year kid and I can’t unsee it.
    
  4. Tack your inner square down to the bottom sheeting. We could pin everything, but there’s too much fluff. The average quilting pins are not up for the job. Guess how I know? Go on. I’ll wait.
    
  5. Slowly sew your quilt. Start on the straight sides. I used black thread here. I say slowly because there’s a lot of fluff involved and your machine may not quite be able to handle it. It’ll try. My 20-year-old Brother was not up for the task. My Heavy-Duty Singer sort of gave up when I had to reset the bobbin.
    
  6. Give up on using the machine and hand-stitch the rest.

Next Steps

  1. Soak in Fabric Protectant and Waterproofing solution. Ignore how the green bleeds into the white underneath. It’s FINE. (Warning: Pomegranate seeds will test this. Why did we use white? BLEACH.)
  2. Toss over kotatsu frame
  3. Smash tabletop into place
  4. Enjoy!

Final Lessons Learned

First Lesson

Not even a 20-year old Brother sewing machine that could and had handled eight layers of upholstery velvet without blinking, couldn’t handle this project.

Second Lesson

Humans will packbond to anything. My mother heard me in tears over the phone because I was begging my Brother Machine to not hate me because I purchased a second machine.

“Natasha, are you apologizing to a sewing machine?” 

“Shut up, Mom!”

Third Lesson

My HD Singer tried to handle it and lost bobbin tension with 20 inches left. Consumer heavy-duty machines are not quite up for the task of a quilt this fluffy. Death by fluff, RIP sewing machines everywhere.

Final Lesson

Pomegranate seeds are the bane of my existence. That wasn’t the lesson I learned though. The actual lesson was this would have been a hell of a lot cheaper if I had just bought a kotatsu square on Amazon or something. It wouldn’t have been as fluffy and probably would have been uglier but this square is luxury-level cost, effort, and has velvet on it and we are in love. 

Initial Quilt Cost:

Comforters: 30$

Sheeting: 27$

Stain Solution: $12

Fabric: Free

And then I was forced to upgrade my machine. So…

Final Cost: $400

0 In Befores & Afters/ DIY/ Resources

IKEA EXPEDIT MAKEOVER

The Grand IKEA EXPEDIT Makeover. Also known as an IKEA Expedit shakes off two dusty previous owners and earns its sexy butcher-block makeover.

OR.

Ed gave me his old EXPEDIT 2×4. It’s your standard dark brown wood veneer affair and he was owner number 2. Part of his flat renovations included a kitchen bar, which meant he no longer had room for the shelf unit and I now had plenty of space for additional future. 

Fortunately, my landlord knows I have an affinity for “making things pretty”, Yvonne did not (she now stands corrected) and mentioned the unit didn’t quite fit my aesthetic.

Ed: “Don’t worry, she has an idea.”

Nat: “Oh, I have like eight ideas.”

– When I was signing my lease

This is true and I had like eight ideas off the top of my bed before I finished reading and signing my lease. I think I flipped through six or seven ideas and settled on the GRAND IKEA EXPEDIT MAKEOVER.

But you know those projects where you have high hopes and think you don’t need as much material as you think you do?

This is one of those projects. Half of the reason it took so long because I kept thinking “oh, six rolls of contact paper will be PLENTY!”

Narrator: That was incorrect.

The Contact Paper

I have a small one-sided love affair with DC-Fix Contact paper. Every variety I’ve used has this gorgeous, thick finish and that’s understandable, it’s meant to be used on countertops. I redid my Helmer Drawer units in the white-gray marble paper (which I think I need to redo).

It’s also staticky as hell. A sharp straight edge is required to get rid of the bubbles and in some cases, I just embraced the bubbles because they were happening whether I liked it or not. I decided to match my bamboo picture ledges (yay, IKEA), therefore I chose to use the butcher block colorway. 

Supply List

The IKEA Makeover Process:

  1. Measure: Every single surface. 
    • Your shelves from front to back, side to side. Rinse and repeat for the entire unit. Yes, even the little transition pieces. Measure it ALL! 
    • Write those measurements down. 
    • Go measure again. I’m serious. You probably measured wrong.
    • Confirm your first measurements were correct. Bet you measured wrong, didn’t you?
  2. Mark: With your pen and ruler, unroll your first roll of paper and with the helpful grid on the backside, mark out your pieces. I started with the interior pieces, knowing my external sides would take up the most paper. Work carefully here, because you’ll want to puzzle together as much on one roll as you can actively get away with.
  3. Cut: Now carefully, cut your pieces from that roll. GO SLOW. Use your straight edge or in my case, an acrylic ruler to make sure I stayed on my lines and cut slowly.
  4. Save: See how much you’re cutting away as scrap? Don’t throw it away, reroll it. I found two other projects to use and I have 3 more on the way. The waste will get used. Calm down.
  5. Peel: Once a piece is cut, carefully peel an edge away and set that edge into place. Use your straight edge as you peel away the backing paper.
  6. Press: Once your paper is set, use your straight edge or thumbnail to press the opposite edge into place. If you have excess hanging over your edge, use your razor blade to cut off the bits.
  7. Do It Again: Only 35 more surfaces left! This project took ME about two weeks at 6hours at a time, but also because I kept running out of paper. Be patient.

The Final Result?

Ta-da! The unit now sits in my bedroom under a set of picture ledges. I originally had plans to set up a pole in the bedroom, but now that I look at my budget, I think it’s a project I may cut for future reasons. 

So now your chance. Tell me about your favorite IKEA makeovers or the ones you wish you could do. Let’s share the makeover fun!

IKEA EXPEDIT Makeover Final Result - butcher-block contact paper covered shelf unit sits on the long side under a set of bamboo picture ledges against a light gray wall
0 In Affiliate Post/ Finances/ Life Lessons/ Resources

In Credit-Card Debt Up To My Ears

Credit-card debt is scary. They* say that the first step in handling your debt is to identify it. All of it!

I’m doing so via this post. As the debt decreases – I’ll update things here. I’m also tracking my credit-card debt in the sidebar because I’m long past the point where I need to get serious about it.

Which means I go public!

The first focus is on my smallest credit-card, my Amazon Prime Card. I’ll eventually work my way down with the current plan to conquer each amount. Snowballing (adding the previous amount to the debt’s minimum payment) as I work through the list. You can see how the debts will be treated in the infographic below.

*Go ahead and google “financial steps”. I’ll wait.

The Credit Card Debt List

Amazon Prime Card: $1654.59

Limiting my Amazon purchases is the first step I’m taking to pay off this card. My next step is to stop using the card and making those purchases on bank card #1 instead (I’m in the middle of a bank switch). Payments will be $190 twice a month (self-imposed) until the debt is paid off in November 2019.

Capital One Platinum Card: $2551.59

This card was my first credit card and helped me pay for a new transmission. That said, now it goes unused and is now just being paid off. Payments are $80 until Amazon is paid off, at that point the payments will be $270 twice a month until the debt is paid off hopefully by January 2020.

PAID! Auto Loan: $9,169.65

There’s a reason I’m including this one in the breakdown – as it’s a debt, but I’d like to pay it off earlier than intended just to prove to myself that I can. Will I finance a new car afterward? I doubt it because I barely drive the one I have!

The current minimum payment is $482.68. I added extra to bring it up to around $500 a month that I am now sick of paying. I’m going to bump the payment up to $570 to attack my monthly interest until it’s ready to have the snowball thrown at it. With the snowball in effect, the payment will be $840 until that load is paid off by September 2020.

Capital One Journey Card: $8389.85

My third oldest credit card that was approved just as my car’s second transmission died (it was used – but had a weird quirk nobody was ready for) and I needed the cash to pay for a new transmission fast. Capital One pulled through for me when my own bank wouldn’t. The minimum payment on this one is hefty at $265, but once the other debts are paid in full, the payment will skyrocket to $1,105 to effectively erase this one by January 2021. It helps that I rarely use this card. So far, it’s primary use has been for business reasons – and it will continue to be used on a smaller scale for business reasons that I can pay off the next week.

US Bank Card: $8,632.86

My second oldest credit card and once I conquer this one, I will close out my accounts with US Bank and transfer this card over to my new Credit Union account. The minimum payment on this one isn’t as heavy as my Capital One Journey’s payment, but it’s still $232. Once the snowball has been hurled at it, it will be $1,337 until May 2021 when I have it paid in full.

Personal Loan List

The two below loans are special to me because of how fast I was able to acquire them and everything they’ve allowed me to do with my life. I’m super grateful to Sofi for not giving me the run around most financial companies do. They even overlooked my most popular reason for high-interest rates:

“Your money moves too fast.”

Yes, that was an actual rejection reason.

Sofi Personal Loan #1: $10,788.96

I’m almost two-thirds of the way paid off with my first SoFi loan. It’s currently set for auto-payment at $435.32. The final payment will be in June 2021 with $1,209.5. There will be no need for an actual snowball plan for this one since it’s so far down the line!

Sofi Personal Loan #2: $19,003.62

This loan got me to Seattle. I don’t regret this move either as it was a great boost to raise my credit limit, criteria I didn’t know I would need until I was elbow-deep into looking for an apartment here in Washington. Also set up for auto-pay, the payment is currently $377.52 each month. The snowball payment will be $2,149.95 when it’s all said and done. I’m hoping to have it paid off by December 2021.

Some Income Numbers

Now, Natasha, you ask, where is this income coming from?! Well, I’m paid pretty handsomely by Day Job, and two paychecks a month ring in at $5,180.12 gross. Insurance and stock are taken out before I even see it, so it’s one less thing I actively worry about as long as I’m employed by a corporation.

My current outgoing income is a little scarier than I’d like, but that’s why I’m creating this post! I’m looking at $3,884.45 in Debt alone, and I’m hoping that in 6 months, that number moves a little!

All in all, my financial health doesn’t suck. I can still pay for food, insurance, gas, and have some semblance of a social life that will be curtailed in about 8 months due to a new project I’m getting ready to launch. I also plan to increase my income with freelance projects and side items that I know are pretty lucrative.

To wrap this all up, I’m using Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball to conquer my own credit-card debt and take control of my finances. If I play my cards right, I will be debt-free by the end of 2021 and I’m super excited about it! I’ll update this post when I hit my debt milestones and I encourage you to leave your own debt-control plans in the comments below. Let’s celebrate together!

0 In DIY/ Mental Health/ Resources

The Importance of Natural Light (and when to Fake It)

Full Disclosure: My studio has a Southwestern exposure. It gets natural light all day. Sometimes enough to facilitate the need for blackout curtains in the summer. My first summer in Wallingford came with a very warm surprise – once the mercury rises above 80 degrees (26 degrees for my Metric folks) – my flat bakes.

But I’m lucky.

For those who didn’t luck out like me, you have to tease the natural light into your apartment or fake it until it looks like you do.

Below is a picture of my studio with full sun. I use sheer curtains these days mainly for privacy. Sheers also filter the daylight (pictured below) to a more manageable level during the evenings.

Now, hold on, you’re probably thinking. Why would you show us pictures like that last one? Everything else had been so pretty up to now!

I’m not apologizing for it. Images like this are what happens when Depression hits hard. That was when the thought of cleaning overwhelmed me enough to cry over it.

But was I kidding about the light?

Nope.

When the sun goes down in the evenings, the apartment is dark.

Fake It Until You Fool Everyone (including yourself)

Lighting a little slim in your space?

Bring in more of the powered variety.

When evening falls, I turn on the lights, mainly because I hate walking through dark spaces, but it came in handy for the gloomy Seattle winter I wasn’t prepared for, at all.

I thought I was.

Oh, I was so wrong.

If you were to stand in my living space right now, there are 11 sources of light in my apartment:

  1. LED Spotlights by my closet doors to reflect light into the room (seldom used)
  2. Two mosaic table lamps surrounding my new sofa.
  3. Small frosted IKEA GRONO lamps on my dresser.
  4. A selenite lamp picked up at a Gem show a few years ago, which is a cool, soothing light that I leave on when I leave the apartment so I’m not completely blind.
  5. The ceiling fan light (I hate this light so I leave it off)
  6. An amethyst lamp that I leave on for the same reasons as the selenite tower. It sits on a drawer unit with one of the mosaic lamps.
  7. My corner pendant lights (pictured), which would be great once I can figure out the wireless outlets (so I’m not bending over my bed to plug them in) and turn them on with my phone.
  8. Battery-operated LED candles on a picture ledge near my bed. They’re super handy during power outages.
  9. Candles – because watching one or four helps me focus during working hours.
  10. Fairy lights (pictured below) a more recent addition that was the product of a pure whim. I love the light they provide and since I already had them prior to the move (they lived on the patio at the previous apartment), they were also free!

Why is light so important?

  1. For folks with working retinas – being able to see where you are going is a good factor.
  2. For my health: Lights that are too bright hurt our eyes, but lights that are too low also hurt our eyes. Too much blue light before bed screws up sleep cycles (guilty) and zaps melatonin levels. But primarily…
  3. It lifts my mood. I love the way the spotlights reflecting off of my closet make my skin look when I’m attempting to take a selfie. I adore how bright the fairy lights make my entire wall when they’re on. I marvel at how sleepy I get when I’m watching the glow of the LED candles before I go to bed. If I need an instant pick-me-up that may not clear a depressive fog but will help knock it back a few feet, I turn on my pendant lamps.

So do me a favor?

Look around your space right now and see how your light is looking. Is it flattering? Does it make you feel good? Is it soothing or cozy? Tell me about your space in the comments and if you haven’t figured out how to coax in your own space’s light, let’s help make it work for you!

0 In Befores & Afters/ DIY/ Resources

Decorating a Studio Apartment

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This entry will be long.

This entry is necessary because it’s a journey that’s taken me at least a year to be content with my space. And I’m still changing it.

Decorating my studio began before I even moved in, so let’s break the process down into bits for easier consumption, shall we?

To decorate a studio apartment you need the below:

  1. Ideas and Resources
  2. Budget
  3. Room dimensions & Tape Measure
  4. Your own style & Color Scheme
  5. A least a second set of hands – or White Glove Delivery so somebody else can do it
  6. Patience
  7. More patience.
  8. A Buy Nothing Group when you give up on attempting returns.

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When your living room and bedroom all together are 17′ x 10′, you better consult every Google Search for “Small Space Ideas”, and every pinterest board so you have an idea of what you can get away with.

And then what you can afford.

In my case, I had the luck of growing up in a bedroom that as an introvert, I practically lived in with the measurements of 17′ x 10′. That was consequently how I knew my studio was going to be mine. I grew up knowing just how to turn a room into 3 micro-spaces. One for sleeping, dressing, and living. For this part of your journey, you will want to hit up sites like Pinterest, Apartment Therapy, and DesignSponge, where you can view room tours to see what speaks to you.

Or just stick around this website.

The resources I used were primarily:

  1. Ikea
  2. Amazon
  3. Tuft & Needle
  4. Pottery Barn Teen (I wanted a Queen-size daybed with mattress and I couldn’t afford Restoration Hardware if my life depended on it)
  5. Urban Outfitters
  6. Target’s Opalhouse line
  7. Locally-sourced Art
  8. Vintage/yard sales
  9. My local hardware store
  10. Home Goods

The entire source list can be found on the Resources Page just in case you wanted to purchase anything you see on the blog for yourself. Except for those steamer trunks. I’ve had those for two decades.
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For most people, the act of moving is enough to kill any budget, much less have funds left over to also purchase furniture.

In my case, I took out a personal loan to make the move, purchase furniture, AND pay off credit cards in the process. So I gave myself a budget of $3,000. I must admit, my bed/mattress took up a good portion of that, so I got super creative with the rest of my furniture. For those with smaller budgets though, don’t leave me quite yet. Because rest of my things either came with me, were freecycled, or are DIY projects. I’ve got you.
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If you don’t have access to a blueprint or floor plan with dimensions, ask your landlord/property manager for your room dimensions. Bring a tape measure to help measure your doors – because you WILL need to know how wide your furniture is…

…So you can get it through the door! Bring your measuring tape with you when you go furniture shopping also. Because it’s one thing to “guesstimate” how large something is – it’s another thing to be armed with actual numbers.
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Please keep in mind, I’m in my 30s. I’ve had a long time to figure out just how I like to decorate my spaces, but this came with time.

A lot of time.

I was 13 when I first decorated my 17′ x 10′ bedroom with ribbon yellow wall paint and bees.

I was 19 when I divided that space up into “micro-spaces”: where I crafted, read/wrote, and slept, leaning heavily into Gem tones that would later dominate my entire style.

I was 26 when I moved into my first apartment, opting for a broke!glamorous approach that was more Goodwill and hand-me-downs then it was actually “me”, but it was my first apartment and I loved it none the less.

I was 27 when I moved in with James, whose style skewed neutral tans, browns, and if the place had enough sunlight to support plants, we would have had them.

That apartment was where I painted my small bedroom a deep dark purple-gray (Sherwin Williams Special Gray) and leaned into Glitter/Shiny.

I was 33 when I moved to Seattle in an apartment that I can’t paint. One wall is a deep mocha brown, another tan, one eggshell yellow and my brightest window wall is white. I chose my color scheme not only out of a way to play well with all of my “neutral” colors but also because I was 32 when I dyed my hair teal.

You read that right. I typed teal. I knew I wanted white to be my main focus, but the teal came when I found out that teal hair dye bleeds onto EVERYTHING. All of the time. So to hide any accidental dye bleed, I opted to for teal as one of my main apartment Colors.

There’s a hefty dose of silver and crystal in there as well if it shimmers, it has a place in my studio. I wanted to keep my dark colors to operate as pops of color because the studio is indeed little, but it receives amazing daylight from two exposures.

But not everyone is so lucky, so you’ll want to hone your scheme (or go for full chaos, it’s your life) to help chase out whatever light you can get. Complexes like tucking the studios on the first or basement floors, so you will want to decorate in a way that doesn’t turn your space into a cave.

Unless you like caves. Who am I to judge? You do you.


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Chances are, it’s just you moving into a studio and carrying things is great if you’re strong. But add in a loaded steamer trunk and pulling it up a set of stairs or three sounds like a great weight-lifting day at the gym.

And hell on your arms, legs, and core.

Now I know it may feel like you’d rather do anything, like go buy a drink, find a coffee shop, or chew glass then asking for help, but in this case, it’s pretty necessary.

Help usually comes with moving blankets and dollies of their own that you don’t have to store in your super tiny space.

I had a delivery company deliver my big furniture for me, mindful of my buildings angles and I’d rather guide someone to my space than bring up the furniture myself. My chairs were from Amazon, so my neighbor slid those over one day while I was passed out in bed (I didn’t hear him come in at all).

But my bed – I leaned into the Pottery Barn schtick and leaned into White Glove Delivery and Assembly. Which meant I told the crew where to put the bed; they unpacked it, assembled it, threw on the slip-cover and even put the mattress slip on so I wouldn’t have to maneuver it myself. I was already paying top dollar for a PB Teen daybed, but the White-Glove delivery meant I didn’t have to deal with packaging and box disposal either – because they took it with them.

So if you find yourself completely overwhelmed with boxes, don’t be afraid to ask for help, or pay for it. It’s worth not just your peace of mind, but your back, arms, and brain will thank you later.

Why brain?

Moving is traumatic enough. The idea of carrying my daybed parts up the stairs and figuring out my hallway – that makes me panic just thinking about it. Just remember to be patient with yourself and respect your limits.


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You’ve probably figured this out already, but you’re going to need to give yourself time to put together your studio or itty, bitty one bedroom place.

Don’t be fooled by the pins you see, the Instagram posts that promise fast results in days (usually in exchange for thousands of dollars), your space and you need some time to get to know each other.

Which means you’re going to have to be patient.

I know, I know, hearing that sucks. But sometimes you need months to figure out how to make your apartment work for you and with you. Layouts will change, furniture may change, just remember that if you don’t like the way something looks – you literally have the internet at your disposal to help you change it!

Don’t be afraid to get a little dirty when you do. My dresser took me nine months to figure out just how I wanted it.


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Just in case you missed it the first time. You’re going to need to be patient with yourself. Nobody is expecting an Instagram-worthy space here. But if that’s your life, by all means, go nuts.
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Sometimes, something you purchase for your space just does NOT work. It could be too small, too large, different style that doesn’t flow well, or it just isn’t what you were looking for.

All of which are valid reasons to either:

  • Return/Exchange the item. Which I’m terrible at doing, so I do a lot of the following – because while it may not work for me, it may very well work for somebody else.
  • Give it away. Except I’m not donating anything to Goodwill/Value Village here. Oh no, this is where the West Wallingford Buy Nothing group comes in.

Did you know these groups exist? Think the Craigslist free section except they’re your neighbors and they’re much less creepy when you can meet them on a nearby block corner rather than you know, letting said stranger into your apartment.

The gist of the group well… it is exactly what it says on the tin. You buy nothing in the group, but you’re freecycling everything and you usually have a response within minutes of posting. You can either offer a porch pick-up so you don’t actually have to see anyone, or be adventurous and go meet your neighbors. The best part is that you don’t actually HAVE to keep anything. If someone needs to borrow a tool or an item, I’ve seen them reach out to the Buy Nothing Group first.

And somebody will have that item. It’s pretty wild. My first items to the Buy Nothing group in my neighborhood was:

  1. Curtain rods (I ended up purchasing a blackout set from Amazon)
  2. A bed frame (my bed came in and I needed the closet space)
  3. A cube shelf
  4. A towel shelf that just wasn’t working for me
  5. Clothing
  6. Lights that I no longer had a need for
  7. My orbital sander. Well, I didn’t give that one away, but I did help someone learn how to use it safely so she could redo her bathroom. It came back too.

To learn more about the project, you can check it out over at https://buynothingproject.org.
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0 In Finances/ Relocation/ Resources

Why a Studio Apartment?

Why did I go with a studio apartment?

I’m in debt. A studio apartment was the cheapest option I could afford and not be super house-poor or have roommates. One of the many reasons I moved away from Ohio was to get away from having a roommate. During my search, I had the following options:

  • A micro-suite in Ballard because I wanted to have all utilities included.
  • A studio apartment in Wallingford near a Pole Dance Studio I really wanted to check out.
  • A 1-bedroom up in Shoreline
  • Or a house further up North.

I wanted to be close to Downtown Seattle, without being in Downtown Seattle. But one-bedroom apartments around here start around $1,400 a month. I wanted to keep things under $1350 if it meant I had to eat utilities. Because I do like having somewhat decent credit and to keep it somewhat decent means paying my bills on time all of the time.

After hearing a friend’s struggles living in a microsuite for a year over in Capitol Hill, I decided having a full kitchen and separate bathroom were a better idea since I work from home. Proximity to a walking-friendly neighborhood would be a worthwhile investment.

I also knew I could get away with a studio, because after spending $650 a month back in Cincinnati on a 2-bedroom apartment, where I pretty much ignored every room save the kitchen, my bedroom, and the bathroom, I knew going in that I honestly didn’t need 1,000 sq. ft. to myself.

Which left me with a studio.

Challenges of a Studio Apartment

That’s not to say that there aren’t challenges to living in a studio apartment. There are plenty!  I’ll share just how I manage and still stay sane.

Space (or Lack Thereof)

I’m careful about who visits me because I live in 400 sq. ft. If there’s an argument, there is no place to run and hide.  One door separates my sleeping/living space from the kitchen leaving my bathroom as another place to pout. So unless I physically leave my apartment, visitors are trusted friends who are on my level of woo-woo, glittery bullshit**. (I say this with love.)

Stuff Management

There, I said it. I don’t have a lot of stuff in the studio. Art has its place, but unless I have a designated spot for something, it does not come home with me because I don’t have space. If I want new clothes – old clothes are sent to the neighborhood Buy Nothing Group or Goodwill because this bares repeating, I don’t have space for them. There are some sacrifices, but I will go pretty damn far to maintain a beautiful space.

Working from Home

Space isn’t the challenge here. Having a dedicated place to work isn’t a challenge either. My studio apartment has a bar in the kitchen where I have a small corner to work. In my main living space, I can be found curled up in a chair with a lap desk. The true challenge is being lonely. I could go for days without seeing a soul and it gets old.

Parties

I don’t have them. My building has small get-togethers in the upstairs apartment whenever the Landlord calls for one, but the largest number of people I’ve had in this space has been… four people. I’m hoping to rectify this one with a small cocktail party in the Spring of 2019. We’ll see if it actually happens.

August 2019 Edit: It did not happen.

Lease Agreement for Visitors

One of my lease conditions states overnight visitors can stay up to 5 nights during a month. It took about a year for me to suss out the actual legal reasons for this. Now why only up to 5 nights during a month?

  1. My utilities are included in my rent. The overage has to be paid off by somebody and it will fall to me. Also, because any longer over a month and by Seattle law, the visitor is now someone who lives there.
  2. Seattle Housing Laws: Dictate that only 5 people not related to the owner of the home can live with the homeowner. The house is currently at that limit with the addition of an infant.

Benefits of a Studio Apartment

Easily Accessible Humans

My building is a house split up into 4 units. The landlord lives downstairs. My floor neighbor is across the hall and a super sweet couple lives upstairs. I’ve been encouraged to go knock on their doors when lonely because they all are either retired or work from home as I do. Granted, I know this wouldn’t apply in a big complex, but I can get away with it here.

For readers in a big complex or may move into one, get to know your neighbors! You never know if one may need to move your car.

Easy Rent Payment

Most of the building uses checks. Once my bank accounts are completely switched over, I’m setting up a bank transfer with my landlord so he can always have the payment by the 5th each month. I could use a check, or I could eschew writing in cursive all together by doing it digitally. It helps that our bank is two blocks away.

All-Inclusive

Even my internet. Don’t get me started on the A/C that a lot of Seattle just doesn’t have. I’m not really looking forward to the day that I have to set up various utility accounts and get charged a deposit because I have no rental history in Seattle.

At least, none that the companies will be able to tell. All-Inclusive utilities makes for an easy one-check a month deal. If I have a visitor, I gently add a little more to rent to help cover for the upswing.

Space (Lack Thereof)

My studio is pretty damn easy to keep clean when I can see every room from any spot in the flat. But when my space is messy, it gets gross. When folks do want to visit, I just meet them somewhere else for dinner so I can deal with my mess later.

Quick to Decorate!

There’s not a lot of space to mess around with in the studio, so it keeps me creative with what I can and can’t do here.

There’s a lot I can do!

0 In Affiliate Post/ Relocation/ Resources

Interstate Apartment Hunting

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Interstate Apartment hunting is hard.

This entry will be long. If you’re looking for a place to live out of state for whatever reason, be armed with the following:

  • Rental/Housing listings
  • Credit Score
  • Debt to Income Ratio
  • An idea of where you want to live
  • A friend in the city (optional)
  • A tech-savvy property manager (not optional)
  • The downpayment.

Caveat #1: Our circumstances will not match. I’m aware of several exceptions my landlord made in order to get me into the space I’m in now. Also, be patient with this process.

That’s not a suggestion.
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This is a very little list. There are truly thousands of ways to find an apartment, but here are the few I used during my own interstate apartment hunt:

  1. Craigslist: Where I found my space. It’s helpful to search a) with the pictures on and b) below and a little above your price range. Utilize those filters to help you narrow down your criteria and if you see a space you adore – REACH OUT immediately. Here in Seattle, the rental market is hours of a listing going live to a listing immediately dying as over 10,000 people arrive here in Seattle every day.
  2. Padmapper: Pulls from Zillow and other resources to show rental listings on a map, a la Zillow and Craigslist. You can filter the listings via price and other amenities.
  3. Zillow: Not just for house-hunting, but also wonderful for rental hunting as you can fill out your own profile – giving property managers/owners a chance to “get to know you” before they actually get to know you.
  4. Word of Mouth: If you have friends in the city, loop them into your search. People talk and they want their friends to live in their neighborhoods too. It may hurt your pride to ask them, but ASK. don’t forget to tell them your budget. A studio costing $1350 with all utilities included may sound like a great price, but if all you can afford is a 950$ micro-suite or a house-share – it makes things a little awkward.

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Question: Do you even KNOW your credit score?

If you do, that’s fabulous! If you don’t, you need to know. Now. Head over to annualcreditreport.com to get your free, yearly credit report.

I happen to have a 675. It’s not the best. Average at best, but it could be worse.

Now the reason why it matters? Is because if I were to search for an apartment right now and another applicant had a higher credit score than I do, I am immediately disqualified from the search because the score is lower.

Of course, this has nothing to do with your ability to pay rent so much as it proves absolutely nothing. It’s just yet another application criterion property managers can use to knock you out of the running in favor of more “savory” applicants.

I ran into several listings where they requested a credit score of 680 or higher and quite a few of those where the companies were asking for a score of 700 or higher.

So where did you fall?

700 or higher? I’m impressed. You should have no issues finding a home here in Seattle. You may even be offered smaller security deposits since your credit report looks pristine. But don’t let this go to your head. It’s so easy to lower that score than you think.

600 to 699? Welcome to Casa Average! It’s okay to be here, but our goal here is to lift our scores by paying off our debt. In my case, it’s credit card debt. I used a personal SoFi loan (Affiliate Link – details below this post) to combine three of my credit cards and pay them off.

599 or lower? You may have some issues finding residence in Seattle proper, so you may want to avoid property management companies and go straight for Landlords with ADU (Additional Dwelling Unit) spaces. Be patient with yourself as debt payoff takes time and energy.
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So this is a thing. It is a thing I did not know until I started my own interstate apartment hunt because Cincinnati is definitely NOT Seattle. Each city even has different rental criteria. Cincinnati uses “can you pay rent?” Seattle uses “how can we see who we like best?”

MortgageCalculator.com gives the following formula to figure out your Debt to Income Ratio: To determine your DTI ratio, simply take your total debt figure and divide it by your income. For instance, if your debt costs $2,000 per month and your monthly income equals $6,000, your DTI is $2,000 ÷$6,000, or 33 percent.

Which is great!

When you’re hunting for a house.

In order to help skim the best of the best applicants, property managers/owners are now using Debt to Income Ratios as applicant criteria.

You will want to know your own ratio before entering the application process. Because once you’re in there, it’s a race against time between you and Amazon Joe!
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Have you figured out where you’d like to land your new pad? I used Google Maps and Street View enough to figure out which neighborhoods I liked. Wikipedia played a starring role to figure out the fun factoids behind those neighborhoods.

I knew that I wanted to land in either:

After further research and some random circumstances, I almost committed to Northern Seattle, so I was able to eliminate Queen Anne (oh my god, the Hill) and Belltown (too close to Downtown) and still be able to afford a space!

My first three options quickly whittled themselves down during to sheer circumstances and the Universe intervening to focus my search on Fremont and Wallingford.

That all changed when I found a listing on Craigslist in a neighborhood I lovingly call Wallingmont.
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When I was doing my interstate apartment hunt, I had about six folks in Seattle that I was friendly with, but not super close to. Save one, but their schedule didn’t allow my calling them up to be like “so, could you please go see this apartment for me?”

A lot of the listings I contacted required an in-person tour in order to be considered. If you think you’ll run into this, you may want to reach out to your friends and GET FRIENDLY. You may need them to check out your space in order to even apply for it.

I got lucky. I had a Tech-Savvy Property Manager who liked me enough to do video calls. Head to the next section!
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Now I looked through 95 apartment listings during my interstate apartment hunt. Well, more than just 95, but 95 applications and only two…

TWO…

Two property managers out of all of those listings offered up a video call in lieu of my physical presence during the visit.

Just two.

Yvonne, being the tech-savvy woman she is, figured out Google Hangouts long enough to show the studio and actually see she and Ed in person. Well, sort of. They needed to see if I would vibe with both them and the house and I wanted to see more than the kitchen I had pictures of.

If the manager of the space you love is willing to do a video call with you – that will help you narrow down your search by, well, a lot!
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Full Disclosure: I had a two-fold reason for getting my Sofi Loan in the first place.

  1. To pay off my credit card debt and lift my credit score.
  2. To afford my actual downpayment since my income moved too quickly for my credit report to feel comfortable about it.

The payments were more management than my credit card payments were. I don’t even see the money leave my account – it’s an automatic deduction which takes out a lot of the guesswork and stress of potentially missing a payment.

Most landlords ask for First Month’s rent and the security deposit (usually equaling to the first month’s rent) before you move in. Other properties may ask for more. At the time this entry was written, a law here in Washington was being rolled around making owners and management companies asking for First Month’s Rent, Last Month’s Rent, AND the Security Deposit illegal, but as the amazing interstate apartment hunter you are, you’re researching that via Google, aren’t you?

My landlord asked for First Month’s and a small security deposit, which I did via bank transfer (which I can rant about in a whole different entry). My bank hated the move – but when your landlord is in Washington and you’re in Ohio, sending him a check isn’t the smartest idea.

Summing it All Up

When you’re hunting for an apartment out of state, or even out of town, you’ll want to be armed with:

  • Your research
  • Your down payment
  • Your credit score
  • Your neighborhood(s)
  • Someone to go on tours for you or a property manager who doesn’t mind a video call
  • Patience

You’re going to need that last one.

Until Next Time!
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Affiliate Disclosure

SoFi Loans: The link present in this entry that once you apply for a loan and are approved, you receive $100 and I receive $300 in compensation for the referral. For more details, please visit Sofi.com.
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