10Sep
0

self-storage-units

Storage units are great things (most of the time). As long as you do your research and choose a site that’s secure, temperature controlled and with solid security, you don’t have to worry much about break-ins or extreme temperatures harming your property. It’s an excellent option for those with not enough storage at home, people who travel frequently, or if you want to allow access to multiple people without the hassle of having them come to your home (just make sure everyone is on the rental agreement).

However, choosing the “wrong” storage site can happen if you’re not careful. While you’re figuring out the best site for your holiday storage needs, look beyond location and price. A subpar site can put your property at risk, and you might even got stuck in a legal dispute over rental payments if you forego a fair contract. Here are some of the most important things you deserve in storage unit, so make sure they’re on your check list.

1. Video surveillance

Even if the site features 24-hour security, officers can’t be near every unit at all times. Knowing there’s video surveillance will deter many thieves, and if the worst does happen you’re ahead of the game for filing insurance claims and police reports. Ask for a tour that includes pointing out the cameras, which should be obvious in order to ward off burglars.

2. Temperature-controlled units

It doesn’t matter if you live in a fairly temperate zone or not. A really hot or cold day can destroy your property, even if you don’t think you have anything that’s vulnerable. Plus, if you suddenly have to dig through your belongings on a particularly chilly or sizzling day, you want to do so comfortably.

3. Easy payment options

Just because you prefer paying by check now doesn’t mean you always will. What if you go on an extended vacation or move out of state but still want to keep your unit? A site that offers multiple payment options including online payments is all about making things easy for you.

4. On-site security

In addition to video surveillance, the site should also feature security officers who are well-trained and equipped to handle anything that comes their way. This is crucial not just in the case of a burglar or vandal, but if a natural disaster strikes, having a professional to immediately report the incident can minimize the damage. If a fire breaks out and there’s nobody available to notify the fire department, your entire unit might go up in flames.

5. A sprinkler system

Speaking of fires, even the securest of buildings can be at risk. A tested and high quality sprinkler system minimizes damage and maximizes the safety of anyone who happens to be on site. While this is likely required in your state, that doesn’t guarantee that everyone’s abiding by it. Ask the site manager how often the systems are tested.

6. A friendly staff

Quality in a storage site doesn’t just have to do with the layout, but also how comfortable you feel there. The staff should be hospitable, knowledgeable and committed to making you feel at home. After all, you are paying rent here. Trust your gut, and if you don’t feel welcome is that really a place you want to be doing business?

Not all storage sites are created equally, but there’s no reason to learn this tough lesson the hard way. Do your research, but remember there’s more to it than price alone. If possible, check out a site in person and see exactly where your precious cargo may call home.

 

30Aug
0

The 90s are making a comeback when it comes to fashion, but in terms of real estate the era of the McMansion isn’t seeing a revival. Instead, more people are downsizing and embracing the micro loft, tiny house and even campers and RVs in lieu of larger options. It’s not just a way to save money on the down payment or rent: It’s also a green move as more and more homeowners and renters are taking responsibility for their carbon footprint. Is downsizing the right move for you?

The reality is the many Americans could do with less living space than they have. However, when home buyers start working with a real estate agent and see all those sprawling properties for sale, their eyes get bigger than their senses (kind of like seeing a pancake challenge and thinking you can do it). Even if your budget allows for it, is going big when going home the best approach? It’s time to take a closer look at micro living.

The Upside to Smaller Spaces

Americans are prone to waste and excessive spending, plus it’s only natural to want to “fill” a home. Doesn’t everyone need their own office (even if you don’t have your own business), a spare bedroom for elusive guests that rarely arrive, and an exercise or meditation room? You can certainly dream up a number of ways to fill space, waste money furnishing it and spend more on utilities heating and cooling it, but to what end?

Micro living forces you to reassess what’s important and what’s necessary. You start getting creative and realizing that paying day after day to store useless things isn’t going to help you build a nest egg. There are a number of frugal millionaires and billionaires who choose modest (for them) accommodations and don’t splurge on luxuries. Many of them are wealthy because they live realistically and spend wisely.

Signs you need to downsize

Your housing costs shouldn’t be more than 25 percent of your take-home pay (and that’s actually a rule for many landlords). However, it should be followed by anyone whether you buy or rent. This needs to include your utilities, lawn care and any other regular costs for maintenance. If you know you have appliances that need to be professionally inspected and maintained at least once per year (and you do), divvy that up into your budget.

Smaller living spaces provide more intimacy and more cash in your pocket. Who wouldn’t want that?

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21Aug
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With skyrocketing energy bills and winter just around the corner, you should consider looking into alternative methods of heating your house. Your furnace might do the job, but is it affordable? Whether you use alternative heat sources in conjunction with your traditional furnace or you want to try something a little more energy efficient, there are plenty of choices out there to allow you to stay warm affordably.

Geothermal Heating Systems

These nifty little systems use the heat of the earth to warm your house. The stable temperature of the earth ranges from 45 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit depending on your home’s latitude, so the temperature inside the earth is often higher than the outside air thus taking less energy to get your house to a comfortable temperature. Big coils are buried and circulate a mixture of water and antifreeze. The liquid is heated to the temperature of the earth and then run through the house where a compressor pulls the heat from the water. These systems can also be used to cool your home in the summer, saving you from running the AC constantly. Up front costs can range from $7000 to $15000, but geothermals usually pay for themselves within six years of installation.

Pellet Stoves

If you love the intense heat from a wood stove but don’t like the smoky smell that accompanies it, you should look into a pellet stove. These stoves are heated with renewable resources like sawdust or switchgrass and can heat an entire house. Up front costs of a pellet stove range from $1500 to $3000, while pellets usually run about $150-$200 a ton. On average, you should expect to go through two to three tons of pellets, meaning your heating bills could only cost you around $600! If you can find a local source of pellets, your costs will be even less as a big portion of pellet costs are comprised of freight charges.

Ductless Heat Pumps

Most traditional heating systems use ducts, which means that the air comes from the furnace and blows through ducts that are installed throughout the house. A ductless system uses small cut outs in the wall in individual rooms. The heat pump will pull cooler air from different rooms of the house and flush it into warmer areas with quiet fans. You can choose to heat just a few areas of the house or the whole house, whereas a furnace will make you heat the entire house. The ductless system is energy efficient and saves you from the wear and tear of constantly running a furnace. According to this site, there’s even an $800 rebate for houses that upgrade to ductless systems.
Don’t feel stuck this winter with crippling heating bills. Thanks to technology, you have a choice to take charge of your energy consumption and keep your wallet full even through the coldest days of winter.

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