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Setting Your Home Up for Success at Work and School

Who knows what this coming year has in store, but one thing is for certain: School is starting, and it’s starting soon. By most accounts, many schools and colleges will be returning to in-person learning, but you may still have plenty of things to think about.

“Should I choose online classes just to be safe, or do I want the full college experience?” “How will I ever manage my family’s schedule with so much up in the air?” “Are my kids going to be in school in person all year, or should I plan for them to attend classes at home due to the Delta variant spreading so quickly?” “Will I have to figure out if I can continue to work from home indefinitely?”

We can’t answer all of life’s questions right now, but what we can do is this: offer suggestions on how to set your home up for success, no matter what life throws your way for the 2021-2022 school year.

Setting Up Your Home for Distance Learning and Work from Home

Let’s get the most basic of basics out of the way first: internet access.

Make sure your household internet access is powerful enough to keep up with everyone in your family, at all hours of the day, even if you have multiple devices in use at the same time.

You should also take some time to think about each person in your household and consider what he or she may need. You may wish to ask everyone about their experiences throughout 2020. What worked for them? What didn’t? And how can it all be better?

The most comfortable, productive environments for home offices or school workstations include several key features.

  1. A Door

    When you need to concentrate, call someone, or participate in a remote class, you will need block out — or keep in — the noise.

  2. Windows

    Natural lighting can improve mood, which has been shown to increase positivity and productivity. Windows will also make you feel more comfortable and simply allow for a more scenic atmosphere. If windows aren’t an option, make sure the nook has the ideal lighting to meet the individual’s preferences and needs.

  3. Ergonomic Furniture and Supplies

    If you are working from home or children are attending classes at home, that means you will be using those chairs, desks, and keyboards relentlessly. Invest in ergonomic chairs, high-quality furniture, and reliable equipment. Working from home lying on the floor or with your feet up on the living room sofa may be comfortable and rather fun, but after a while, your wrists, back, and shoulders will feel the effects.

    Along these lines, make sure you have cabinets or shelves for documents, books, or similar materials readily available at your workstation. The home office or study room should also be well-connected, allowing you or your children to work or attend classes without searching frantically through the rest of the home for a charger or the phone itself.

  4. Division

    Yes, it is possible to work from home and still consider it “home.” The trick is to stop working once you’re done. One way to ensure you separate your “work home” from the “home is where your heart is home” is to literally set it up to look different than the rest of the rooms. How?

    • Toss an area rug under the workstation. Once you’re on the rug, you’re at work. Step off, and you’re off. Don’t look back. As an added bonus, the rug will beautify the space, so you can take more pride in calling it your office or classroom.
    • Paint the walls a different color than the rest of your home.
    • Having some decor in your makeshift home office is a nice touch, but choose decor that is related to education or your career. Add some fresh greenery in the space as well for comfort and an aesthetic appeal.
    • If multiple people must work from home, try to ensure each person has his or her own space. Allow them to decorate the space in a way that reflects their own individuality and is most conducive to their success.

Finding the Ideal Spaces for a Home Office or Workstation

Are you thinking, “Sure, all of that sounds nice, but where?” Take a look around! There are likely plenty of spaces in your home that can be converted into a home office or personal classroom. You don’t need a lot of space; a few simple creative tweaks are all you need.

Consider these spaces:

  • A small portion of your kitchen, perhaps against a wall that isn’t being used
  • The corner of a hallway
  • A spare bedroom or a portion of a bedroom (as long as you keep your head off the pillow)
  • Unused space in the basement
  • A den/pocket office
  • A dedicated section of the living room
  • The dining room

We all hope life will get back to normal soon, and we are seeing life rebound to pre-pandemic days, slowly but surely. But you can’t deny that we all learned a lot throughout 2020, and we can apply much of it indefinitely.

In this case, we’ve learned that home is more than a place to shower, eat, sleep, and watch TV. You can make your home your palace, the place where you can live your best life.

Fun and Easy Ways to Lower Apartment Air Conditioning Costs this Summer

You can see it coming every year. You know you should take some steps to reduce energy costs, but you procrastinate as time goes on. Then the summer comes, you crank up the air conditioning, and those hefty bills creep into your email inbox. After gasping and nearly throwing the phone, you promise yourself you will do something to lower your apartment air conditioning costs next year.

Well here’s your chance! Get a head start on lowering air conditioning costs by researching ways to save, taking advantage of home design tips, making necessary home repairs, and buying items that may help keep you and your apartment more comfortable.

Simple Ways to Lower Apartment Air Conditioning Costs

The first tip is obvious: throw open the windows, breathe in the fresh air, and let nature keep your apartment cool instead of the air conditioner. If you have seasonal allergies, elderly residents reside in the home, or you must account for other health conditions, that might not be possible. It’s also not ideal if the temperature gets too high.

When that happens, you’ll need to be make an effort to reduce expenses. Here are some easy ways to do so.

  1. Enjoy the breeze from your ceiling fan.

    Trying to save money doesn’t have to mean sacrifice. In this case, you gain benefits. There’s just something about a ceiling fan that’s comforting, soothing, and almost nostalgic. Clearly, it’s also a great way to cool down your home, which will allow you to increase the setting on your thermostat. Set the ceiling fan at a high speed in a counterclockwise motion, which pushes cool air down. Crack open the windows at the same time for greater circulation.

  2. Keep up with air filter changes.

    If you live in one of our apartment communities in southeast Michigan, a member of our maintenance team will routinely take care of this for you.

    The air filter should be changed about two to four times per year depending on the size of your apartment, how often the air conditioner is used, and other household factors such as how many pets you have.

  3. Give your oven the summer off.

    Nothing will heat up your apartment like cranking up the oven knob — or even using the stovetop excessively.

    But look at the bright side. It’s a valid excuse to break out the barbecue grill or order delivery from your favorite metro Detroit area restaurant near your apartment.

    It’s also a great opportunity to freshen up your mad salad tossing skills.

  4. Be reasonable with the air conditioner.

    If you take some other measures to lower apartment air conditioning costs, you won’t have to freeze everyone out of your home.

    Go ahead and use the air conditioner! It’s one of the best features of our metro Detroit area apartments. But you don’t have to turn your home into an icebox. (That’s what pools are for.)

    DTE Energy recommends keeping your thermostat at 78 degrees. If you prefer it closer to 72, consider setting it at 74 instead. Those two degrees can save you a few dollars every month. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy estimates a savings of about 1 percent for each degree for every eight hours.

    Speaking of hours, consider setting your air conditioner on a timer to account for the nighttime or periods when no one is home. According to DTE, with proper use throughout the year, programmable thermostats can save you about $180 annually in energy costs.

  5. Open and close your blinds strategically.

    If it’s sunny and that sun is baking the inside of your apartment, shut the blinds or close the curtains. If it’s nice and breezy in the evening, open up the windows to let the cool air in at night.

    You also may wish to create shade in your apartment by placing tall plants in front of the windows, on the patio, or in front of the sliding door.

  6. Keep yourself cool to stay cool.

    One way to stay cool in the summer is to opt for cotton bedding. The breathable fibers wick away sweat and help moderate your temperature.

    You can also take advantage of our beautiful amenities and serene grounds in order to stay cool. Sip on a cold drink under a shady tree, sit under a gazebo, relax by the pond, or head out to one of the nearby beaches, lakes, and rivers.

    And here’s the best part: You’ll always have a good excuse to go out for ice cream.

Contact Us For Details

If you currently rent one of our apartments in Michigan and need more information about our outdoor grilling, amenity use, or heating and cooling policies, call us or send us a message online.

If you are shopping for a metro Detroit area apartment, schedule a time for a virtual or in-person tour. We’ll help you find the perfect home for you.

Living with Roommates: How to Keep the Peace

We’ve all seen the sitcoms, where the characters have one argument after another as a result of someone in the household not living up to their responsibilities. It’s funny on TV, but not so much in real life.

Dishes left unwashed, late rent payments, and loud late-night conversations are only a few of the many issues that can make your living arrangement less than harmonious.

Of course, having roommates has many benefits, including companionship and smart money management.

The key is to lay out each resident’s preferences, duties, and compromises in advance. Setting ground rules will help you establish a more positive framework.

We’re not talking anything as extensive and unbendable as Sheldon’s Roommate Agreement here, but maybe the Big Bang Theory character’s quirks can serve as inspiration — on a much smaller level.

Before you move in together or accept a new roommate, sit down and have a long discussion about the following issues, along with any other unique concerns you may have.

  1. Talk about work, sleep, and showering schedules. If Roommate Adam works the night shift, Roommate Barbara might have to be careful not to make excessive noise during the day when Adam is trying to sleep, for example. This is going to be important, as it will determine your compatibility, as well as which level your ideal apartment will be.

  2. Determine how you will divide the rent and utility bills, as well as who will be responsible for giving the payment to the apartment community manager.

    How utility bills are paid can be somewhat tricky. For example, one person might work from home and therefore use more electricity and internet. You may wish to divide the payment fairly.

    However, to make life more copacetic, it may be easier to simply divide everything up evenly regardless of how things are used. Becoming hyper-focused on the little details will definitely get complicated, but this issue is something the two of you should agree on before you move in.

  3. Discuss meal preparation, as well as grocery and toiletry shopping. Figure out how you will pay, who will ensure that products in the home have not expired, who will do the cooking, and so on. In some cases, you will both prefer to eat out on a regular basis, but what about the basics like snacks, water, hand soap, and first-aid items?

  4. Divide up the chores fairly. You may wish to alternate by day, such as by saying Adam will wash the dishes on Mondays and Barbara will wash them on Tuesdays.

    An easier method would be determining which one of you will complete certain chores. Adam may like to take out the trash, while Barbara would prefer to vacuum the carpet, for example.

    Another option may even be that one person is responsible for a majority of the chores, but the other pays more of the rent.

    It doesn’t matter how you divide up the chores, as long as you do it equitably and reasonably.

  5. Talk about each other’s personal preferences regarding privacy. Will you both come and go freely? Or will you check in with each other if you’re going to be out for the night or a week?

  6. Make sure you are compatible regarding visitors. Do you both like to have people visit regularly? Are you both OK with walking in and finding visitors in your apartment? Or will you discuss visitors beforehand? It may even be the opposite situation, where you would prefer a relaxed, quiet living arrangement. Whatever the case may be, you should both be on the same page regarding visitors.

  7. Talk about what will be off limits, such as toiletries and living space. Ideally, each of you would have a bedroom, for example, so you should avoid going into each other’s bedrooms without permission.

In addition to gathering a miniature roommate agreement, you may wish to download helpful apps on your phone, such as Venmo. Through this app, you can pay each other for rent, groceries, utility bills, and so on.

Finally, one of the best ways to maintain harmony among roommates is to be somewhat flexible. If one of you skips a chore one time in a month, go ahead and do it for them, for example. Creating a harmonious roommate relationship, or any relationship for that matter, requires some give and take.

As long as you both give as well as take, everything should be fine.

COVID Message; Residents

Dear residents, we are continuing to monitor developments with the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Due to the state of emergency currently in effect in our state, we are modifying certain services in order to try to keep everyone safe. We request that residents who are sick with flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, etc., call or email us instead of coming directly into the office. The office has discontinued serving snacks and/or beverages for the time being. Although maintenance requests will remain available, our employees are required to confirm that no one is sick with flu-like symptoms in your home before completing the request. If you are ill and have a non-emergency maintenance request, please understand we will not be able to complete your request until you let management know that everyone in the household has been symptom free for at least fourteen days. If we do not hear back from you, we will follow up to check your health status, maintenance needs, and to schedule a maintenance visit. If you have chosen to self-quarantine, please notify us when requesting maintenance so we can avoid your home until your quarantine is over. Lastly, we have increased our cleaning strategies in our office, closed non-essential common areas, and are currently discontinuing all resident group activities for the time being. While we continue to work through this evolving situation, we have implemented a “no handshake policy” to help prevent the spread of germs.

Resident Appreciation Events

We would love to hear from you! Will you share with us how you would like to handle events and promotions moving forward? We love to have resident appreciation events because it gives us a chance to connect with our residents. Flowers for mom, gift wrapping stations, fireworks, costume competitions, pumpkin carving parties, back to school parties, pictures with Santa, breakfast on the go, ugly sweater parties, movie night, take and bake pizza parties, taco Tuesdays, clean out your closet days and many, many more. We want to stay connected with our residents like you, so let us know what we can do to help connect us! Just email us at infoHVC@trowbridgeco.com

Not sure about something? Ask

The office and maintenance team are here to help you, so if you want to paint a wall, adopt a cat, or upgrade an existing light fixture and you’re not sure if you’re allowed to, ask. Also, check your lease for specific guidelines. You can style your apartment to reflect your personality by adding cool furnishings and homey decorations, but just make sure your efforts are not counter to your lease agreement. Let’s talk!

Don’t be a bad neighbor

Be the person that you’d like to live next door to, whether your neighbors are other residents in the same building or people who live in another area of your community. What does that entail? It’s more than just giving a smile when you run into someone in the hallway or in the parking lot. Being a good neighbor is about residing in your home in such a way that it doesn’t interfere with anyone else. Keep your music at a reasonable level, don’t throw a ton of raucous parties, and be mindful of doing your part to keep common areas clean. If you are concerned about a neighbor issue, please see the office staff for help.

Getting a four-legged friend?

When it comes to having a dog and living in an apartment home, it is important to choose a dog that has the right temperament. Sure, any dog could live in an apartment home, but some breeds are more suited to small space living than others. You will need to consider several things when it comes to choosing a dog and no matter what dog you choose, having the time to give your dog enough exercise is important. Even very active breeds can survive living in smaller spaces when they are well exercised.

These five breeds are listed as the best when it comes to living in apartment homes according to the American Kennel Club: Shit Tzu, English Bulldog, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Pug, and Greyhound. These dog breeds tend to have easygoing and friendly personalities and relatively low energy levels which makes them great apartment home companions. Remember, you are taking on the responsibility of a living thing – make sure you’re ready. Check with us for Fido rules.

Where Are All The Job Seekers?

With U.S. unemployment rates low and construction activity remaining relatively high, a shortage of skilled construction labor will continue to be a problem in 2019. The problem will only get worse with expected reductions in immigrant labor. Builders will.

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Growing Material Costs

Costs of building materials will continue to increase into 2019, a trend that began in December 2017, leading to a 9 percent increase over the course of 2018. Largest cost increases will be seen in iron….