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Cost Efficient Ways to Furnish an Apartment

Moving into a new apartment is one of the most exciting moments in your life. But if this is your first apartment, chances are you’ve already spent most of your money on the security deposit and the rest on your student loan payments. If that’s the case, there might not be a lot of money left in your budget for furnishings and other essential items. Not to worry! Woodlake Properties highlights 10 tips on how to furnish an apartment for $1,000 or less, while still maintaining a cool, minimalist style.

10 Tips to Furnish an Apartment under $1,000

Hand me downs: Ask anyone & everyone if they have any kind of furnishings they no longer need or use. This is especially helpful for dining sets, kitchen essentials, small appliances, cutlery, dish towels, cleaning supplies and more. You’ll be surprised how fast your apartment will fill just from asking.

Buy used: Whatever you can’t get through hand me downs, buy used first. Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and many other apps are especially helpful for finding odds & ends items you need.

Flea markets & garage sales: If you’d rather see the items in person, head out to a community garage sale or flea market. There are also hidden gem items that you can score for very little cost.

Skip the upgrades (for now): Stay off of Pinterest & Instagram, which are flooded with overly decorated (and costly) apartment decorating inspirations. While you’re in the process of getting settled, stick to just what you need, you can always upgrade later.

Throw a housewarming party: Any item you couldn’t obtain through the less expensive means above, throw a housewarming party to supplement. Chances are your guests will gift you the items you haven’t been able to buy yet.

Start small: Don’t get sucked in to buying 28 piece dishware sets that cost over $150. Start with 6 plates, 4 cups and a basic cutlery set.

Buy multipurpose pieces: This is especially helpful if your apartment is small. Replace the traditional TV stand for one with drawers for added storage space without the extra cost.

Decide what is most important (for now): Make a list of the most important things you literally cannot function in your apartment without. Afterwards, add some extras you’ve been hoping for so you can plan for the future.

Create a budget for each room: Budgeting is one of the most important life tools, especially now that you are out on your own. The ability to furnish the apartment will be much easier if you have a list of important items and a budget in hand.

Have fun: Finally, have fun! You only get to furnish your first apartment once. Even if you’re on a budget, just have fun and make the best out of it. You can look around feeling proud of yourself that you created a beautiful apartment on a conservative budget.

Clever Furnishing Tips for First Time Renters

Now that we’ve given you a good idea of how to start the process of furnishing your apartment on a budget it is time to gather your ideas and turn it into your own! Besides investing in furniture, make sure to also sign up for a renters insurance policy. Follow Woodlake Properties’ blog for helpful tips, tricks and insight into renting an apartment.

Tips to Renting with Cats

While renting with dogs is extremely difficult, cat owners face their own challenges when it comes to finding apartments for rent. Often times, landlords would prefer a dog owner, unfairly believing cats will destroy their property with shedding hair and the smell of the litter boxes. If you’re in the beginning stages of finding an apartment and you own a cat, check out Woodlake Properties’ 6 tips to renting with cats for the most success.

6 Tips to Renting an Apartment with Cats

Be Prepared to Pay More: Renting with cats, or really any pet, usually means payment more for your security deposit and/or an additional fee per pet. When searching for pet-friendly rentals, be aware that the advertised monthly rent will probably be more for you.

Keep your Litter Boxes Clean: One of the concerns for landlords renting to cat parents is the lingering smell of the litter box. To prevent this problem, make sure to scoop the boxes daily. Two times per month the litter should be completely changed and the box cleaned with soap and warm water. Following these tips will keep your cat & landlord happy!

Litter Box Rule of Thumb: Speaking of litter boxes, always practice the plus 1 rule. For as many cats as you have, there should be one litter box each PLUS one more, giving your pet plenty of space and options.

Example: 1 cat = 2 litter boxes. 2 cats = 3 litter boxes.

Grooming: While your cat generally does a great job keeping themselves clean you should regularly brush their hair to prevent buildup in your carpets and vents.

Keep them Entertained: Having plenty of toys and cat furniture around your apartment will keep your cat busy, which is helpful to prevent them from scratching door posts, clawing furniture, etc.

Ask Before you Adopt: If you’re currently a non-pet owning renter but are interested in committing yourself to rescuing a cat, please be responsible and ask your landlord first.

Helpful Tips to Cat Owners who Rent

The most important tip to remember when renting with cats, dogs or any other type of pet is to be honest with your potential landlord. Do not try to hide your pet and risk them finding out and forcing you to either leave your rental or remove the animal. While finding an available pet-friendly rental is difficult, it is not impossible and worth it when you and your pet have a home to call your own!

Help Guide through the Rental Application Process

Woodlake Properties Rental Application Process Guide

You’ve spent the last few months searching all ends of the internet universe, going from building to building in all the hottest neighborhoods and now you’ve finally found the apartment of your dreams! But before you head out and start buying all the furnishings for your new pad, there’s one more step: the Rental Application. Navigating through the endless questions and countless signatures can be a bit overwhelming, especially for new renters. Woodlake Properties has put together a step by step rental application process guide to ensure you get approved!

Rental Application Process: Tips & Tricks to get you Approved

Fill out the Application Completely & Honestly: Every person who will be living in the apartment must fill out the rental application. While it can be long, tedious and time consuming, you must fill out every question and do so honestly. Lying on your rental application is no way to start off a relationship with your landlord.

Pay the Fees: These fees cover the cost to run your credit and background check. If you’re interested in a rental property, be sure to ask about any fees before you fill out the application. Applying for multiple apartments at one time can get expensive, make sure you only apply for places you really love.

Bring your Pay Stubs: Your landlord will need proof that you can cover the cost of the rent and all associated fees (heat, utilities, water, garbage). Bringing proof of income, such as bank statements & tax returns with you to fill out the rental application will speed up the process.

Get Quality References: If you are a first time renter, getting quality personal references will help landlords know you’re a serious applicant. A quality reference can be an employer, colleague or professor.

Woodlake Properties Rental Application Process Guidelines

Be Upfront about Pets: Never lie about renting with pets. The landlord is almost always guaranteed to find out and when they do you’re putting yourself and your pet in a risky situation. Even if the apartment states it’s not pet friendly, if you’re honest sometimes the landlord may be willing to work with you. See some tips on renting with dogs.

Have Renters Insurance Ready: You don’t need renters insurance before you have an apartment, but do some research beforehand. Have a strong sense of the company you want to go with this way when you go in for the rental application process you can call your representative and get the policy ready.

Woodlake Properties Step by Step Rental Application Process Help

Be Prepared: Bring more than what you need so you don’t have to stall the process and risk losing the apartment. Make sure you bring pens, photo IDs, references, cover letters, bank statements and W2 forms with you when you fill out the rental application.

Apartments for Rent in Philadelphia

While searching for apartments for rent is only half the battle, going through the rental application process can be a tedious task in itself. However, many landlords have found ways to make the process a bit easier, such as online applications and phone/video meets. If you haven’t yet found the apartment of your dreams, Woodlake Properties offers beautiful studio, one and two bedrooms in Philadelphia, Bucks County and even North Jersey. Browse our website for available rentals and call the listing number for a tour!

Everything Students Should Know about Dorms vs. Off Campus Housing

Woodlake Properties Dorm vs. Off Campus Housing Philadelphia

As college students prepare to embark on the next chapter of their lives, besides choosing your Philadelphia university, the hardest question may be where it is they’ll live. If the campus is close to home, you may stay living with your parents for the first year until you get adjusted to college life. But, if that is not a reasonable option, you have two choices: dorm or off campus housing. There are pros and cons to each option and the decision is ultimately yours to make. Woodlake Properties has highlighted the benefits of dorms and off campus housing in Philadelphia.

Benefits of Dorm Rooms

Close to Campus & Activities: Depending on the size of the campus, dorm rooms are usually within walking distance, or even biking, to class buildings, dining halls, libraries, recreational activities, clubs and campus events.

No Extra Expenses: Utilities, telephone, cable, electricity and water are all included in your room & board. All dorms also come fully furnished with a bed, dresser and desk. You’ll also purchase a dining package so all of your meals are included as well.

Security: All Philadelphia college campuses hire their own security to protect the safety of their students. Dorm buildings are also equipped with security cameras, student ID activated key locks and a variety of safety measures.

Benefits of Off Campus Housing

Options: You do not get to pick the dorm you stay in, you’re simply assigned one. But if you choose off campus housing, you get the luxury of deciding between a studio, 1 bedroom or 2 bedroom apartment, depending on your budget.

Privacy: Dorm rooms can sometimes get loud and rowdy, which makes difficult to study for your upcoming final. In your own off campus housing apartment, you’ll have the peace of mind knowing your space is quiet and without interruptions.

Stable Housing: During summer break and in-between semesters students must leave their dorm and find temporary housing until the campus opens up. With your own apartment, you’re locked into a lease agreement (6-month, 1 year) and do not have to pack up when the school year is out.

Woodlake Properties Philadelphia college dorms vs. off campus housing

Less Restrictions: For the safety of their students and to promote a healthy living environment, dorm rooms enforce strict rules including curfews, room inspections and more. Off campus housing allows you to come and go as you please, as long as you comply with the apartment building policies.

Find Off Campus Housing in Philadelphia

Philadelphia has thousands of affordable off campus housing options available to students. Woodlake Properties has apartments for rent in the heart of Philadelphia, very close to campus, or a little further outside of the city in Bucks County, PA. Browse our website to see some of our available options and to book a tour!

Guide to Top Neighborhoods to Rent in Philadelphia

Woodlake Properties Top Rental Neighborhoods in Philadelphia

When making the decision to rent in Philadelphia, there are many factors to take into consideration, mainly price point and neighborhood, which always go hand-in-hand. Philadelphia has many subsections, each with its own unique vibe, culture, diversifications and entertainment spots. To help you narrow down your choices, we’ve put together a list of our favorite districts and what each community has to offer. Listed in no particular order are Woodlake Properties’ top 5 neighborhoods to rent in Philadelphia based on median age, restaurants & nightlife, affordability, crime rates and more.

5 Best Neighborhoods to Rent in Philadelphia

  1. Manayunk: This unique neighborhood has made some distinct transitions over the last few years. From blue-collar to an upper-middle class community, Manayunk is currently one of the safest places to rent and boasts a high price tag (average rent is $1,898). Your apartment is in close proximity to dozens of artsy bars, restaurants and boutique shops, especially along Main Street. It is also the youngest neighborhood to rent in Philadelphia, with a median renters age of 27.
  2. South Philadelphia: In our opinion, South Philly is probably the most desirable place to live in the city. It boasts the quiet suburb vibes with all the perks of living in the city. Each street offers a variety of top-rated restaurants and eateries from BYOB Italian to dim sum, upscale Irish bar food, craft beer spots and more!
  3. Fishtown: Both culturally diverse and family-friendly, the Fishtown district is the perfect location for anyone looking for a quiet neighborhood to rent in Philadelphia. However, inventory is very low so when you find an apartment for rent we advise you make an offer on it quickly.
  4. Northern Liberties: Probably one of the fastest growing, “up and coming” neighborhoods in Philadelphia. If you’re looking for eclectic and newly renovated apartment buildings, this is the spot for you!
  5. Center City: If you’re willing to pay out top-dollar to live in the most desirable neighborhood in Philadelphia, Center City is calling your name. No apartment in the area is listed for less than $2,195, but you’ll experience all the best parts of city living. Just a few steps in any direction you’ll find the hottest restaurants, trendiest bars, shopping areas and city staples.

Apartment Rentals in Philadelphia

Woodlake Properties Best Apartment Rental Neighborhoods in Philadelphia

While there are many more amazing, unique and diverse neighborhoods to rent in Philadelphia, the above list was put together based on our independent research and opinions. If you’re moving to the area for college, refer to our off campus housing vs. college dorm room guide. As a comprehensive online guide to find apartments for rent, Woodlake Properties has listings throughout Philadelphia, Bucks County, Delaware County and North Jersey. Browse through our website to see available properties and schedule a tour today!

Tips to Avoid Losing a Rental Security Deposit

Woodlake Properties Tips to Keep your Rental Security Deposit

If you’re about to move out of your apartment, you’re probably itching to get that rental security deposit back into your own bank account. But the question is looming over your head – will my landlord return my deposit? Even if you have the most amicable relationship with your landlord, it is important that you take all necessary precautions to ensure you retain your security deposit when the time comes to move out. Woodlake Properties has highlighted the best tips to make sure you get your full rental security deposit back when your lease is expired.

7 Ways to Ensure you Retain your Rental Security Deposit

Take photos & videos when you move in: Before moving any of your furniture into your place, go through every room and take photos and videos of everything. Make sure to store and save them with a time stamp. This way, when you move out your landlord can’t falsely claim damages against you, because you’ll have solid proof.

Woodlake Properties Tips to Retain your Rental Security Deposit

Document existing damages: After you’ve taken sufficient photos and videos, request a walk-through with your landlord. This will give you both an opportunity to properly document damages and keep them on file until it is time to move out.

Take photos & videos when you move out: Have proof that the apartment is just as clean and nice as the day you moved in (side by side images for comparison). Again, make sure they are clearly date & time stamped.

Clean the carpets: Invest a little bit of your own money to rent a professional carpet cleaner. This will remove deep down dirt and restore the carpets to brand new!

Don’t leave anything behind: If you do not want to bring something with you to your new place, donate it or throw it away. Do not let your landlord deal with getting rid of your personal belongings.

Restore the property: Put the property back to its original condition. This includes: patch holes from posters, paint to original color, fix any damages, clean everything top to bottom and clean the entire apartment thoroughly. This is especially important if you’re renting with dogs.

Ask for a final walk-through: After you’ve done all of the above, ask your landlord to walk through the apartment with you present. Use the walk-through sheet from your move-in walk through to ensure everything is in tip-top shape.

Keep your Apartment Down Payment

Woodlake Properties How to Keep your Rental Security Deposit

Retaining your security deposit at the end of your lease is usually a top priority for good-standing renters. Tenants are not perfect and accidents happen, but if you stick to the guidelines above, these tips should help you in getting back most or all of what you put down. If this is your first rental space, read the 10 Must-Ask Questions when Renting an Apartment.  Tenants looking to rent an apartment in Philadelphia, call Woodlake Properties main office line to request a tour of our available spaces.

Tips to Renting with Dogs

Woodlake Properties Tips to renting an Apartment with Dogs

Finding an apartment to rent can be a time-consuming and stressful process. Add a dog into your must-have apartment criteria and your search becomes 10x harder. While it is certainly not impossible to find a pet-friendly rental, your options are more limited and you must be patience and keep an open mind throughout the process. There are many things to take into consideration when finding an apartment for you and your pup. Woodlake Properties has come up with our top 5 tips to renting with dogs of any breed in the Philadelphia area.

5 Tips to Renting an Apartment with Dogs

Tip 1: Be honest. Do not try to keep your dog a secret, your landlord will find out and chances are less likely they’ll be open to the idea of letting you or your dog stay. Be honest about your dog with your prospective landlord from the beginning.

Tip 2: Keep your rental mind open. You may have your mind set on a certain building or neighborhood, but renting with a dog means you have to widen your options & keep an open mind. You will have to accept that you might not be able to rent the apartment of your dreams.

Woodlake Properties Apartment Rentals Tips for Dog Owners

Tip 3: Create a resume for your pup. Include the breed, weight, height, age, spay/neutered information, veterinarian’s information and personal hygiene traits. Be creative about including behavioral traits and commands your pup excels at. Add personal references and training background certifications to make sure you’ve highlighted all of the wonderful qualities about your dog.

Tip 4: Ask before you adopt. If you moved into an apartment without a dog, but are now in the market ask your landlord before bringing your new pup home. The last thing you want is to have to give up the dog you’ve already fallen in love with.

Tip 5: Be responsible. If your landlord has accepted your dog you now have to be responsible for all of your dog’s actions. Do not allow your dog to damage the property, keep them from barking at all hours of the day and night, make sure they have plenty of toys for distraction and you’re walking them often. By being a responsible dog owning renter will hopefully get more landlords to change their policies about renting with dogs.

Important Tips for Renters with Dogs

Woodlake Properties Important Tips for Dog Owner Renters

Although it is not impossible to rent an apartment or home with a dog, there are some challenges you’ll face. The most important thing to remember is to keep an open mind and find a space where you and your dog feel comfortable. Woodlake Properties offers many rental options in Philadelphia, Bucks County, Delaware County and New Jersey for renters with and without dogs. Browse through our apartments for rent to see the one, two, even three bedroom options available. If you see an apartment you’re interested in, call the listing’s specific leasing office to schedule a tour. Be sure to verify with the leasing office that the rental is pet-friendly before scheduling a visit.

7 Renters Insurance Benefits

Woodlake Properties Renters Insurance Benefits

If you’re in the market to rent a house, condo or apartment then you’ve probably come across the term renters insurance once or twice in your search. With rent prices rising, many naïve renters may choose to opt out of an insurance policy to save a few bucks annually. Similarly, some new renters believe their belongings and other such items are covered under their landlords’ policy – which is simply untrue. Woodlake Properties has outlined the top 7 renters insurance benefits and why you need to take out a policy before moving into your next apartment.

Benefits to Investing in Renters Insurance

Woodlake Properties Reasons to Buy Renters Insurance
  1. Protect Your Personal Property: A common and cost effective insurance policy will provide the necessary protection to replace your personal belongings in the event of fire, vandalism, flood, etc. Your personal items (electronics, clothing, luggage, etc.) are not covered under your landlord’s policy.
  2. Landlord Requirement: Your landlord’s insurance policy will cover the housing and exterior, but not the personal property you bring with you. More and more landlords and apartment complexes require renters to provide their own renters insurance, with proof.
  3. Won’t Break Your Bank: Renters Insurance rates vary from state to state, but the cost per month greatly justifies the cost to replace all of your valuables. Quickly add up the value of your clothing, electronics and kitchenware and you’ll easily get into the thousands of dollars. Renters insurance ranges from $7 – $25 per month, a reasonable rate to protect your possessions.
  4. Extensive Coverage: Many renters insurance policies cover a wide range of tragic, yet realistic, events including theft, fire, floods, liability, injury and more. Be sure to fully understand your range of coverage before signing up and paying your policy.
  5. Worldwide Protection: One of the many renters insurance benefits is it covers your belongings no matter where they are: apartment, car or traveling the world. Be sure to ask your agent what your policy constitutes as “other covered losses” to fully understand this aspect of your policy.
  6. Covers more than your Possessions: Protect your bank account if your current rental property becomes uninhabitable due to natural disaster, flood, fire, etc. Renters insurance can cover the cost of living expenses and temporary residence until you’re able to move back into your rental.
  7. Expand your Rental Opportunities: Investing in renters insurance expands your options when looking for rental properties. Instead of limiting yourself to only places without an insurance policy requirement (very limited options) you have the freedom to rent anywhere you choose – within your budget.

Reasons to Invest in an Insurance Policy

Woodlake Properties 7 Reasons Renters Need Insurance

When searching apartments for rent in Philadelphia, Bucks County PA or Northern NJ you’ll want to make sure you are covered with (at least) a standard, affordable renters insurance policy. Be sure you fully understand what is covered and the amount of money. Lastly, always have proof of renters insurance on you when searching for your new apartment rental.

Questions you must Ask when Renting an Apartment

Woodlake Properties Important Questions to Ask Renting an Apartment

There are many options to consider and choices when renting an apartment in Philadelphia. You can easily fall in love with a studio loft or a 3 bedroom in Center City and want to move in immediately. However, there are many questions you should ask during the touring process to ensure it is the right choice for you. Woodlake Properties has highlighted the 10 questions you must ask when renting an apartment in Philadelphia. Ask your landlord these questions before applying, as the answers could make or break your final decision.

10 Questions to Ask when Renting an Apartment

Can my rent increase during my lease? This should be the very first question you ask before renting any apartment and your landlord’s answer ought to be clear and precise. In a fixed-term lease your rent stays the same throughout the contract. However, in a month-to-month lease your landlord has the freedom to increase at any time throughout your tenancy. Make sure rent increases or deposit returns are discussed, put into writing and signed by you and your landlord for future references.

What is not included in my rent? Besides rent, you may have to pay out of pocket for your own utilities, gas, water, garbage/recycle pickup, etc. If certain household expenses are not included, your landlord should be able to give you an estimate of the cost per month. Make sure you know exactly how much you’ll be expected to pay before moving in to ensure you can afford this apartment.

What happens if I have to terminate my lease early? Unexpected situations happen every day: a job promotion in a new state, a family emergency or loss of job are all viable reasons you may have to terminate your rental agreement early. It is usually very difficult to break your lease without taking monetary loss. Your options must be clearly discussed and phrased in your lease agreement.

Is renter’s insurance required? In almost all rental situations insurance on your part is required. This questions is not really is it required, but how much is required? While you may be dreading having to spend even more money monthly on your rent payment, remember renters insurance protects you in case of damages to the apartment or your personal property.

Woodlake Properties 10 Questions to Ask before Renting an Apartment

What changes can I make (without losing my security deposit)? Leaving your personal mark on your new home is important. It is equally important to remember you do not want to lose your hard earned rental security deposit. Discuss all changes you want to make in detail with your landlord beforehand.

How can I make rent payments? While this may seem like an obvious answer as everyone does online pay, there are still some old-school landlords who want cash in hand. Make sure you know what forms of payment your landlord accepts, as well as the website for online payments and/or who to make the check out to each month.

What are my initial move-in costs? Every apartment handles the move-in process differently, so be sure to ask how much you will need before the apartment is yours. First + last month down is the most common, but additional security and application fees may apply.

How do I call for maintenance request? Emergency repairs can happen at any time, day or night. Make sure you know how your landlord handles urgent requests. If possible, get the phone number for the maintenance department so you can call them directly.

What is the pet policy? Pet policies are often complicated and, unfortunately, most apartments do not allow pets at all. If you plan on bringing your pup or cat with you, the first question you should ask is if it is a pet-friendly apartment. Once you know it is, then you can go into details on breed and weight specifications, extra fees, etc.

What is the parking situation? If you’re renting in Philadelphia and you have a car, or more than one friend, this is a very important question to ask. You’ll want to make sure that parking is included with your apartment, or if you’ll have to fight for street parking on a daily basis. Then, you’ll need to ask if the spot is included with your rent or if there is an additional fee associated.

Apartments for Rent in Philadelphia

Now that you know what questions to ask during your apartment hunt – now’s the time to start looking! If you’re a first time rental, refer to our step-by-step rental application guide. Browse through Woodlake Properties directory of apartments for rent in Philadelphia, New Jersey, Bucks County and Delaware County. Call 215-634-9444 to schedule a rental property tour today!