• Moving to the Southwest

    by Patrick Redmond | Nov 23, 2014

    Living In The SouthwestDepending on who you ask, the American Southwest is made up of just two states (Arizona and New Mexico) or up to eight states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah). Once owned by Spain and Mexico, and with the cultural heritage to prove it, the Southwest features quite a bit that’s unique from other parts of the country.

    In fact, if you’ve never lived in the Southwest before, moving here can be quite a transition. With warm, arid temperatures all year long, almost everything about this part of the United States is built around heat. The architecture relies on natural local materials like adobe, is wide-open and airy to make the most of natural breezes, and is designed around a Spanish and Native style. The art scene is strong and has a decided Southwestern flair. And if the natural setting is your thing, you’ll find everything from deserts with famous red sandstone formations evergreen forests and even a snowy mountain peak or two.

    Southwestern Economy

    Like any major geographical region, the Southwest has its share of large, bustling cities and smaller towns. The biggest cities include Phoenix, El Paso, Denver, Las Vegas, and Albuquerque. When compared to metropolitan areas like New York or Chicago, the pace of life tends to be a little slower and the prices not quite as high, you’ll find much of the same city features.

    Bustling downtown areas with traditional cityscapes are common, and the more popular industries of technology, communications, health care, and manufacturing provide the bulk of jobs. The agricultural setting focuses less on plant life (the dry temperatures make it hard to grow much) and more on animals like sheep and cattle.

    And for those with a more academic frame of mind, there’s even more to be interested in. In addition to a very strong arts scene, there tends to be a liberal mindset that embraces issues like alternative health and environmentalism. The presence of several colleges helps boost that mindset, and you’ll find several state universities worth checking out.

    Southwestern Living

    If you live in the Southwest, there will be a few things you can’t do without. Air conditioning and a pool can be found in almost every house, and you’ll find it’s much more practical to own a car rather than rely on public transportation. Water use tends to be more restricted (you probably won’t be watering your lawn every day), but the tradeoff will be that you’ll have much more low-key landscaping to worry about, with shrubs and cacti that don’t require your constant vigilance.

    Your dollar should go a little further here, as well. Although the salaries tend to be lower than national averages, low real estate costs and reasonable food rates mean you can get by on less than you might in a larger metropolitan area.

    And perhaps most important of all are the people here. Southwestern residents tend to be warm, friendly, and welcoming – just like the landscape. Although there are tight-knit communities where it may be a little bit harder to make friends, most new residents find that they’re immediately welcomed and made to feel at home.

    Do you live in the Southwest? What has been your experience?

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  • 5 Apartment Moving Tips

    by Patrick Redmond | Nov 07, 2014

    Apartment Moving TipsMoving to an apartment isn’t the same as moving to a new house. Because houses are usually larger and easier to get to (none of that climbing up a staircase to the sixth floor or trying to fit a couch in the elevator), the process of getting all your stuff moved into a house is a little bit easier than an apartment.

    Whether you’re downsizing to an apartment or moving out on your own for the first time, here are five apartment moving tips to make the transition easier.

    > “Seasonalize” Your Wardrobe in Advance: Apartments are notorious for never having enough closet space, so now is a good time to consider a seasonal rotation for your clothes. Instead of boxing everything up and trying to find room for it in your closet, take a few extra hours during the packing process to put everything in seasonal boxes. (Vacuum-sealed bags work even better if space is tight.) Only put out the clothes you need for now, and rotate with the ones in storage as soon as the temperature starts to change.

    > Scour the Neighborhood for Food Deliveries: Before moving day arrives, take a walking tour (or driving tour if you aren’t in an urban space) of your new neighborhood. Find restaurants that deliver and gather as many menus as you can. These will make a great dining plan in the first few weeks after moving in, when your boxes are still packed up and you aren’t quite ready to start cooking yet.

    > Clean Everything Before You Pack: Start as clean and fresh as you can by washing all your furniture, clothes, bedding, and linen before you arrive. Even though things can get dirty in transit, you’ll have enough to do with unpacking and settling in that you won’t want to tackle a deep clean. This is an especially good tip if you’re moving somewhere with a washer and dryer to an apartment with community laundry.

    > Carry Snacks: Moving into an apartment is rarely a one-person job. Movers, friends, neighbors, family…they’re all likely to pitch in and help (you might even meet a few people on your floor this way). Show your appreciation by stocking plenty of food and drinks. Encourage people to take breaks as they work and make sure they’re well-fed. A “party atmosphere” will help everyone work harder and enjoy themselves more.

    Hang Pictures First: It’s easy to feel out of place and overwhelmed by a new space, so do what you can to make it comfortable and familiar. Take a few minutes to hang your favorite photos, lay out an heirloom tablecloth, or set up your sound system so you can play some comforting music. Little touches like these will make the entire settling in process more enjoyable.

    Above all else, be sure and remember to relax at the end of all your hard work. Moving is a tough business, and you deserve to sit back and enjoy your new apartment!

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  • Moving to Phoenix, AZ

    by Patrick Redmond | Nov 05, 2014

    As the capital city of Arizona, Phoenix has much to offer to its residents. A population of 4.3 million residents within the larger metropolitan area means there’s always a high level of activity taking place, while its location in the Salt River Valley means that the panoramic vistas make it one of the most beautiful places in the world. If you like hot summers, a more laid-back approach to city life, and a backdrop unique to this part of the United States, Phoenix could be the perfect fit.

     Living and Working in Phoenix

    Phoenix is one of the oldest cities in the Western United States, with an origination date of 1867, when it was largely an agricultural community. Although there are still some farming areas and cattle grazing land today, it’s now primarily a business-oriented economy, with a focus on finance, avionics, and technology jobs. Four Fortune 500 companies (Avnet, Freeport-McMoRan, PetSmart, and Republic Services) are located here, as is the home of Best Western, American Express, and the University of Phoenix.

    The layout of the city is one in which neighborhoods are divided into fifteen “urban villages.” These areas each have their own planning committee, which means that all development is overseen by residents and officials who have the village’s best interest at heart. Of course, there is also a bustling downtown center where many of the top jobs can be found. Although it is fairly large, you’ll find a much lower commute time than in many other capital cities, thanks in large part to good roads and public transportation options.

    Fun and Entertainment in Phoenix

    Because it is a capital city and bustling metropolitan area, much of the entertainment in Phoenix is concentrated around sports and the arts. The city has its own orchestra, ballet, and opera, as well as many art museums and galleries that focus on the Southwestern style. Colleges like Arizona State University also add to the backdrop.

    Professional sports teams the Phoenix Suns, the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Arizona Cardinals, and the Arizona Coyotes all have a home here, and you’ll also find spring training facilities to keep you entertained in the off season.

    One thing is true about Phoenix no matter who you ask: it’s hot here. With a year-round desert climate, you can expect summers with an average of 100+ heat and sunny winters with temperatures mild enough to enjoy any outdoor activity. Lush, green parks and sprawling lakes tend to be at a minimum, but if you enjoy hiking, biking, climbing, or exploring the rugged desert terrain, you’ll find more than enough activity during the cooler months.

    Welcome to Phoenix!

    Popular as a seasonal destination and as a place where families thrive, Phoenix continues to experience substantial growth every year. Although it takes some time to get used to the constant presence of the sun, the fairly low cost of living and great year-round amenities make this city well worth putting down roots.

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  • Atlanta Online Resources for New Residents

    by Patrick Redmond | Oct 30, 2014

    Atlanta Online ResourceAtlanta can be an overwhelming place for first-time residents and visitors, so it’s a good idea to take some time to get to know your new city before you arrive. With these great online guides to dining, entertainment, transportation, and more, you’ll be sure to find your feet and start exploring everything this city has to offer.

    City of Atlanta
    : Get to know the official side of the area with the Atlanta city website. Learn about city services, municipal facilities, and visitor information in one easy location.

    Atlanta Magazine: If you want a comprehensive look at the city, including everything from the latest in dining and fashion to pop culture and politics, Atlanta Magazine is a good site to visit. They also have a physical magazine if you prefer to do your reading the good old-fashioned way.

    MARTA: Short for Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, MARTA is your guide to public transportation in the Atlanta region. Because of the city’s huge size and busy downtown center, many residents rely on the train and bus system to get where they’re going.

    Atlanta Urbanist: If you live in the downtown area or want to get to know your new city from an insider’s point of view, the ATL Urbanist is a good blog to check out. Lots of urban pictures help you to see the beauty and architecture of the area.

    Atlanta History Center: From a historical standpoint, few places are more intriguing than Atlanta. As an important part of both the Civil War and of the Civil Rights Movement, you’ll find more than your fair share of interesting people, great heroes, and monuments to the past. This picture blog showcases, letters, photos, and other insight into the area’s rich history.

    Eat it, Atlanta: One of the things Atlanta is known for is its great cuisine. With such a diverse and global population, the food here covers just about every taste and palate possible. One man tackles the dining scene and recounts his findings in this popular foodie blog. (Blissful Glutton is another great local food blog you might want to bookmark.)

    Atlanta Moms: You don’t have to be a parent to appreciate the Atlanta Moms blog. Although you’ll find plenty of information on activities for the kids, you’ll also get updates and discounts on events that people of all ages can enjoy.

    Creative Loafing Atlanta: For information on events, concerts, movies, bars, and clubs in the Atlanta region, you may want to visit Creative Loafing. This website offers as much information as the official tourist site, but with much more emphasis on activities for locals.

    Curbed Atlanta: If you’re moving to the Atlanta area and haven’t yet found a place to live, a website like Curbed can help you find the perfect place to put down roots. You’ll find information on neighborhoods, houses for sale, condos, apartments, and more—and all with plenty of pictures so you can get a feel for the local architecture.

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  • Storage Solutions for Small Spaces

    by Patrick Redmond | Oct 24, 2014

    Friday Favorites - Small SpacesAnyone who has lived in a small apartment or house can tell you—the secret to making it work is clever and innovative storage. Whether you plan to hide your clutter away from prying eyes with a secret cupboard or turn a closet into an office, here are our five favorite storage solutions for life in one thousand square feet or less.

    > Under the Bed: Your bed is an untapped gold mine of unused space. Instead of letting the dust bunnies multiply uninterrupted, turn that space into storage. Bed risers give you an extra foot or so to slide Tupperware containers and extra drawers in, or you can go all out and buy a storage bed with lifting mattress.

    > Tables that Turn into Art: Almost everyone has heard of or seen a Murphy Bed by now (they’re recognizable as the beds that lift into a wall panel after you’re done sleeping in them), but did you know that similar items exist for tables? This clever picture frame table drops to a table and back up again whenever you need some extra horizontal space.

    > Towel Storage: Small apartments and houses rarely have room for enough kitchen cupboards, let alone bathroom ones. This wine rack towel holder allows you to store all your clean linens on the wall and with an elegant finish—it can even save you the trouble of coming up with bathroom decorations!

    > Under the Sink Elegance: Wherever you do have the fortune to have a cupboard or closet, it’s in your best interest to use as much of the space as possible. Look beyond storing things on a single shelf by adding curtain rods that allow for extra hanging room. In larger or deeper closets and cupboards, you can actually mount several of these.

    > Roll-Out Pantry: Kitchens tend to be the most difficult area to find extra storage, since the shelves and cupboards are usually maximized for space already. Roll-out pantries are fast becoming popular among apartment owners, since they give you quite a bit of food storage space and only take up a few square inches on the floor next to your refrigerator.

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