Knowledge Center

Top 10 Best Apartment Amenities

By RadPad
Posted March 4, 2019

More and more apartment communities are offering high-end amenities to attract new tenants. In-unit washer/dryers, off-street parking, walk-in closets, high-speed internet and 24-hour security are quickly becoming standard. Even sustainable features such as recycling/composting, alternative energy and car charging stations are being adopted into the urban fabric. Search outside the box and make sure you know what’s available in your city so you can find a pad that will help you get the most out of your rent budget and make you feel right at home.

  1. Pool
    For many, a private pool is the ultimate luxury, either for exercise or lounging. A rooftop pool means nothing gets in between you and that glorious blue sky plus a steady breeze to cool things off. Balcony or ground-level pools are sometimes an easier add when rooftop space is at a premium.
    next level: heated pool and hot tub

 

  1. Rooftop Space
    What better way to escape the daily grind than to gaze out over the horizon? A rooftop deck is an experience that should be lived at least once in a lifetime. Commune with the sky solo, host an event with friends or hold an impressive meeting for clients with a view.

 

  1. Outdoor Kitchen
    For apartments without a balcony, an outdoor kitchen with grills and nearby seating is a handy and safe option for those wanting to get their gill on for everyday dinner or a special occasion.

 

  1. Gym
    Depending on your lifestyle, many find an on-site gym to be a significant time – and money – saver as well as perhaps just enough of a convenience to motivate a workout.
    next level: areas for yoga, fitness classes and court sports

 

  1. Community Lounge & Game Room
    For those more inclined to chillax or challenge others to some friendly competition, a cozy lounge and game room can be a festive hideaway to entertain with friends and unwind with neighbors.
    next level: movie room

 

  1. Pet Amenities
    The next best thing to having a backyard handy to let your dog run free is a dog park located just steps away. Also clever is a dog spa floor-level for washing off dirty paws and salt.
    next level: grooming spa and dog-walking services

 

  1. Coworking Spaces
    With a growing trend away from traditional workspaces, coworking spaces have sprung up in every major city in the U.S. Having business-grade meeting areas steps from home is a major bonus for young professionals and students.

 

  1. Green Spaces
    For those that don’t have their own backyard right outside their door, a landscaped community green space is a premium addition. A piece of nature amidst the bustle of city living goes a long way towards creating respite after a long day or a welcoming outdoor venue for family and friends.
    next level: community garden

 

  1. Spa
    Home is often a place for recharging and what better way to do so than with a little pampering. Onsite massage, steam room, mani/pedi and salon services are the ultimate luxury for the harried city dweller.

 

  1. Retail
    Live above anything from dining options to FedEx and newsstands, convenient retails options offer much appreciated quick access to everyday necessities.

 

Having everything at your fingertips can definitely make an apartment stand out from the rest and make your next move an easy one.

Knowledge Center

10 Tips For First-Time Renters

By RadPad
Posted February 4, 2019

Ready to rent your first apartment? This option has long been popular for those seeking more financial flexibility versus getting entangled in a long-term mortgage and dealing with all of the responsibility that comes along with home ownership.

Like many firsts, you’ll likely remember this apartment for a long time – so let’s make sure it’s a fond memory! Here are some important considerations to note before signing on the dotted line:

  1. Make sure you know exactly what you need (and what you can live without). Do you have a car or do you need access to public transportation? How long is your commute? Do you have pets and need a pet-friendly community? Spend a lot of time at the gym and want an in-house option? Is a second bedroom for a roommate an important factor in affording what you want?
  2. Searching for an apartment can be time-consuming and frustrating as units are quickly snatched up. Do your research before scheduling a visit to avoid wasted time.
  3. Visit the actual unit available in person before signing anything – test out the appliances and phone reception, take measurements, explore the neighborhood, meet your would-be neighbors. Is the building well-maintained and clean? Is the area safe?
  4. Be sure you accurately calculate your monthly expenses and determined what you can afford. Make sure you factor in start up costs, such as rental fees, utility deposits and a moving truck – this could easily run you a few thousand dollars.
  5. Having a credit card is a great way to help establish credit, which you will need when signing for your apartment. Be careful not to fall into the trap of maxing out your card and only paying the minimum every month – the high interest rates can keep you in constant debt. References might also be accepted in lieu of established credit.
  6. Read the lease carefully and get clarification about anything you don’t understand. Some items to look for are lease terms, co-signer requirements, rent increase policies, subletting policies and fees.
  7. Get renter’s insurance. Your landlord will have insurance for their property, but that only covers damage to infrastructure, not your belongings. Fees are quite low ($19.99/month) and well-worth the cost of replacing your more expensive items such as computer, tv and stereo. 
  8. Before you move in, turn on and order all of the utilities not covered by your landlord, such as electric, gas, internet and cable.
  9. Make sure you have all of the home essentials you might need, such as a tools, cleaning supplies, kitchenware, and bedding..
  10. On move-in day, note any pre-existing problems or defects, sign and date and present to your landlord to be sure you are not held responsible. Take photos for further documentation.

Follow these tips to make sure that your first renting experience is a success!

Knowledge Center

Pro-Tip: Rent Budgeting for Young Adults

By RadPad
Posted January 21, 2019

You’ve done it! You’ve moved out of your parents’ house, just graduated college, have your first full-time job and secured a great new apartment. You’re on a roll! We’re here to help you keep rolling and set you up for success.

Before you get caught up in the day-to-day of your new life, creating a budget is a crucial step in helping you understand how much will be going out each month and what is left over. The formula is pretty straight forward – identify all of your monthly expenses (including money you might want to set aside for savings), figure out your monthly income and calculate what’s left.

Rent will be your largest monthly expense and most rental agreements are for twelve months, so you’ll need to ensure you’ve got that covered for the year, as defaulting and having to move can be costly. To help you understand what you can afford, a good rule of thumb is to spend no more than 25-30% of your monthly income.

Also important in determining an appropriate amount is a good understanding of what you’ll be spending each month on common apartment-related expenses, such as electricity, gas, water, internet, cable, renter’s insurance, pet fees, parking and storage. The next step is to understand all of the rest of your living expenses, such as groceries, gas, health and car insurance, debt, clothing, entertainment, etc.

There are plenty of tools and strategies out there to help you understand your expenses. Here are a few that we recommend:

  • Pay rent and other expenses with ACH (automated clearing house), automatic debit or Pay with RadPad in order to easily view where your money is going each month on your bank statement.
  • Use a budgeting app, such as Mint, that links to your accounts and automatically funnels each expense into its appropriate category. Keep in mind, however, that there will be some expenses from time to time that are not recognized by the app, so manual categorization is still necessary.
  • If you use cash regularly, save your receipts and manually add these to your calculations.
  • Create a system for storing receipts and bills (for at least a year at a time) so you can address discrepancies.
  • Build in a cushion to your budget, so that if an expense spikes in any given month, you’re able to cover it.
  • Set aside a regular percentage of your income in a separate savings or money market account (and, it’s never too early to open a retirement savings account) for emergencies and to begin building a nest egg.

For someone new to tracking expenses, this process could seem overwhelming. Rest assured, once a system is put in place, you establish a rhythm and you are accurately predicting available funds, taking care of your bills can almost go on auto-pilot and you’ll have a better handle on just what your financial life looks like.

 

Knowledge Center

The Best U.S. Cities for Young Professionals

By RadPad
Posted January 7, 2019

Just starting out in your career and wondering which city offers the most bang for your buck? This is great time to consider relocating to a city that maximizes your wealth potential. Starting out early on the right foot can go a long way to securing life-long financial success.

So, where to look? We’ve crafted a lucrative list of top 10 cities based on research completed in the last two years by Forbes, Smart Assets and other top-rated financial analysts. These studies looked for factors of particular interest to young professionals such as healthy employment and unemployment rates, high wages, low housing costs, ample job opportunities, as well as recreation on your days off.

1. Raleigh, North Carolina – a center of research, respectable salaries and mild climate make this a top pick\

2. San Francisco, California – the standard of living is high, but so are salaries and employment opportunities, especially for young professionals

3. Seattle, Washington – higher than average housing is offset by attractive wages and no income tax

4. Nashville, Tennessee – a healthy tourism industry translates to plenty of jobs, as well as a thriving music scene

5. Los Angeles, California – if sunshine and beaches are your thing, you’ll be thrilled to know this is a relatively affordable city in California with a large population and all of the opportunities that come with it

6. Madison, Wisconsin – according to Forbes, this is most affordable city in the U.S. right now

7. Austin, Texas – while housing might be higher than others in our list, salaries are reasonable and the city is a trendy hub for creative young professionals

8. Boston, Massachusetts – high housing costs, but the job market here is hot (even during the chilly months!)

9. Portland, Maine – a higher than average standard of living, but one of the lowest on the east coast, is paired with the most restaurants per capita in the U.S. and a strong entrepreneur scene

10. Kansas City, Kansas – low rents allow for better housing options and more left over for entertainment and building a nest egg

If you’ve got a little time to plan ahead, do some research and find a city that is attractive financially and puts a smile on your face, even during your commute.

Knowledge Center

$44 Billion Will Be Spent on Rent This Week: Here’s How Renters Are Paying on iPhones, Apple Pay & Androids

By RadPad
Posted July 27, 2016

110 million renters across America will spend nearly $44 billion on rent payments this week as the first of the month approaches. More than 36 percent of all households in the country are now rentals, and as rent prices continue to skyrocket, more than 11 million people are spending 50% of their income on rent.

As rent bills continuing to go up, how are Americans paying for it? Fortunately, new options are arising for renters to retire their checkbooks and pay rent online. Since RadPad launched Pay with RadPad in October of 2014 we’ve helped renters pay more than $40 million in digital rent payments. As new digital payment options like Pay With RadPad are introduced, and people’s use of digital payment platforms like Apple Pay continue to grow, one of the last industries hanging onto physical checks is finally shifting towards more flexible and alternative payment methods.

This is vital as around 25% of the rental market is made up of under 30-year-old millennials who don’t use checks. First Data has found previously that more than 20 percent of millennials have never used a check! People are even forgetting how to write checks!

howtowrite

So as the apartment rental market shifts to paying rent online and on mobile, how are people paying? Let’s take a look.

iOS vs. Android

The topic, specifically the extremely loyal user bases associated with each, has been compared at great length over the years by analysts, marketers and developers looking to extrapolate data on each segment in order to harness their distinctly different consumer behaviors.

iOS users are generally considered to be younger and bigger spenders, with the general assumption that those willing to pay more for an iPhone are more likely to shell out more money across the board.

A couple other recent points reinforce this. For one, the iOS App Store earns 75% more revenue than the Google Play Store. More recently, according to a report from IBM Commerce, nearly 40% of all online traffic of Black Friday 2015 came from iOS users, with 27% of all online sales coming from iOS devices. Only 8% came from phones and tablets running Android. iOS users also spent and average $125, significantly more money than Android users, who spent $107, according to IBM.

But how do they stack up when it comes to living expenses, particularly renting? We’ve compared the rent payments received on iOS and Android via Pay With RadPad from January through June of this year. Here are some of the findings. 

Overall, iOS rent payments make up around 80% of total rent payments that have been processed through June, while Android makes up close to the other 20%. It also seems that iOS renters have fallen in line with that user base’s proclivity to spend more. The median rent payment for iOS users was $1,251 compared to the median Android renter’s monthly payment of $1,095. The difference may not seem huge at first glance, but that means that Apple fanboys and girls are paying a whopping $2,000 more on rent annually than their Android counterparts. You could buy a few iPhones with that!

Next, let’s take a look at the median monthly rent that renters are paying for their apartments in five of the biggest rental markets in the country on iOS versus Android. This is especially interesting data for the real estate market as rent price reports are often based simply on listing prices. These are the actual median rent payments that renters are making across these five cities. Note: some of these payments include splitting rent bills between multiple renters

2016-android-vs-ios (3)

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Apple Pay

As you can also see in the graphic above, Apple Pay is a relatively small but growing percentage of digital rent payments. Tim Cook noted yesterday that three-fourths of contactless payments in the U.S. are made through Apple Pay. The payments platform is also increasingly being used to pay consumers biggest monthly bill.

Nearly 8% of rent payments made by renters through June have been Apple Pay payments. The median apartment rental payment that users are putting on Apple Pay is $1,250 — nearly the same as the overall iOS rent payment median.

Interested in paying rent online? Or with your iPhone, Apple Pay or Android? Check out Pay with RadPad today!

Knowledge Center

Security deposit: What it is and how to get most of it back

By RadPad
Posted April 1, 2016

A security deposit is the money a landlord will take when you move into a new place. Some may break the deposit down into labels like “cleaning deposit,” “pet deposit,” “key deposit,” etc., but it’s all the same – you have to hand over a certain amount of cash in case you (or your pet) totally trash the place or miss a rent payment. Once you move out, you could get back most of your security deposit, if you follow these RadPad pro tips.

Make sure you get as much of your $$$ back as possible: 

1. Attend the landlord’s walk-through of your place. That way you can fix problems or do more cleaning instead of paying for those things out of your security deposit.

2. Speaking of cleaning, don’t over-do it. Your landlord will hire someone to clean the place before the next tenant moves in, so there’s no need to get crazy with the cleaning supplies before you leave. Basic tidying up should do.

3. Don’t leave anything behind. This includes garbage and that pizza that’s been in the fridge for two weeks. Waste removal fees can add up quickly.

4. If you have roommates but you’re the only tenant leaving, negotiate with the roomies or the landlord for early return of your part of the security deposit. Landlords technically don’t have to return the deposit until everyone leaves, so the easiest way to do this may be to ask the person replacing you to pay you the same amount you paid the landlord when you moved in.

The good news is that most states have strict rules for landlords on what they can keep from a security deposit and when and how to return it. If they don’t follow those rules, they can be slapped with a pretty big fine. The deadline for most states is two to three weeks after you move out.

Your landlord can use your security deposit to cover a few things:

1. Unpaid rent or other charges, like an unpaid water bill

2. Repair for damages you or your guests caused. Luckily this doesn’t include “ordinary wear and tear” – deterioration that occurs without abuse of the property. A scuff on the wall? Covered. A red wine stain on your beige carpet? Not covered.

3. Cleaning the place so that it’s spick and span for the new tenant

Your landlord is required to mail you an itemized statement, letting you know exactly where they used your money, and what they used it for. What happens if you think your landlord unfairly kept a portion (or all) of your security deposit?

Try to negotiate an agreement with your landlord:

1. Lay out the reasons your landlord owes you money.

2. If you have any letters or agreements that you previously discussed with your landlord, be sure to include copies.

3. Be very clear about what you want. Instead of saying, “I’d like more of my deposit back,” try “I’d like $250 of my deposit returned within 10 days.”

4. Take some time to do your research and quote from your state’s security deposit laws.

5. If worse comes to worst, tell your landlord you will sue them in small claims court if necessary.


Ideally, you’ve been the poster child for Renter of the Year and won’t have any problems getting back the amount you deserve. If you follow these tips, you’ll have enough cash returned to you just in time to cover your next security deposit – how exciting!

Scored big on your returned security deposit and ready to move out? Explore new apartments on RadPad!
featured image via toothpastefordinner.com, GIFs via giphy.com

Knowledge Center

Are You Overspending on Rent? Here’s the Rule

By RadPad
Posted February 4, 2016

When you’re looking for a place to live, the most important and probably the most intimidating step is figuring out how much to spend on rent. Here’s a rule of thumb: Thou shalt not commit more than 30 percent of thine income to housing. In other words, do not spend more than 30% of your paycheck on rent.

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This seems like a pretty reasonable number to live by, but anyone who has looked for an apartment to rent knows the 30%-of-income benchmark is not realistic and somewhat meaningless.

In large cities like San Francisco and New York City, it’s more like half your pay check goes to rent and that’s not even in an ideal living situation. Things like savings accounts and retirement planning (you know, the “not important right now stuff” …) might be taking a hit. So much so — that Michael Stone, a professor at the University of Massachusetts at Boston who has studied the issue since the 1970s, coined the term “shelter poverty” to describe the condition of people who spend so much on housing that they have to cut back on other necessities, such as food and health care. Ouch!

So if you think you’re overspending and the rent is too damn high, you’re not alone. One in five renting households making $45,000-$75,000 a year are spending more than 30% of their income on rent, according to a report by Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies.

So how much should you spend?

“Rules of thumb are just that— oversimplifications of a very complex process. It’s a highly personal problem that depends on each individual’s debt, self-discipline, salary, expectations of future income growth, etc.,” says Christopher J. Palmer, a professor of Real Estate at the University of California at Berkeley.

Palmer says people should feel comfortable paying more than 30% if they have sat down and honestly crunched some numbers. There’s really no substitute for a budget in this kind of process. Just like banks now have to “stress test” themselves by asking how they would hold up under bad-luck scenarios, people can do the same to ask what they can handle.

“What sacrifices are they prepared to make so they can live in an expensive area with close access to good jobs and urban amenities?” asks Palmer.

While we can’t give you a hard-and-fast rule for where to put your money, we did come up with a general benchmark to consider if you’re just starting to set up a budget: the 50/20/30 guideline.

No more than 50% goes toward Essential Expenses, which includes just four expenses: housing, transportation, utilities and groceries. For many renters, getting to and from work is the second-largest monthly expense, and directly tied to where they live. So if you think about it, an apartment in a far-out suburb may look cheap, but add in gas for an hour-long commute and the cost rises considerably.

At least 20% goes toward Financial Priorities. These include retirement contributions, savings contributions and debt payments. You should make these contributions and payments after you pay your Essential Expenses, but before you do any other spending.

Lastly, no more than 30% goes toward your Lifestyle Choices, which are personal, voluntary and fun choices about spending discretionary income. They often include cable, internet and phone plans, charitable giving, childcare, entertainment, gym fees, hobbies, pets, personal care, restaurants and bars, shopping and other miscellaneous expenses.

When it really comes down to it, the answer is different for everyone. It’s best to make a budget and anticipate what would be an appropriate amount to spend on rent based on your income and expenses. Your specific debt and your payment schedule will influence how much you’re actually able to afford.

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