The Ultimate Playlist for Moving Day

There aren’t many people who get excited about the prospect of moving. Cleaning up the house or apartment, inventorying the belongings, packing everything up, and handling the movers can be both overwhelming and exhausting. You can brighten the mood and make the work easier, however, by livening up the atmosphere with the ultimate moving day playlist. Here’s some tunes to get you started that will keep everyone pumped from the first emptying of rooms to the final unpacking.

Upbeat Tunes for Motivation
If you’re looking for songs to motivate you for the cleanup and packing process, there are plenty of songs to choose from in the American lexicon of music that revolve around moving. Start your day out with Billy Joel and the appropriate tune “Movin’ Out” and then move on to classics like “Our House” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young”, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run”, “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey, or “Changes” by David Bowie. You’ll get everyone dancing and humming for days with the addition of “Our House” by Madness or bring on the waves of nostalgia with “Never Say Goodbye” by Bon Jovi.

Moving Cross Country
Regardless of whether you’re moving down the block or across the country, these traveling and geographically themed songs are definitely worthy of any moving day playlist. While you’re finishing up the last of the packing you can put on the Pretenders “Pack It Up.” When you’re ready to take off and hit the road, put on Willie Nelson’s highway classic “On the Road Again”.

You don’t necessarily have to be moving to the locations in the songs, but there are plenty of location-specific songs that can put you in the spirit. That said, anyone heading to California is in luck: there are countless songs that pay tribute to and inspire dreams of the Golden State. The (almost) endless list includes songs ranging from the classic “California Girls” and the newer “California Gurls,” by the Beach Boys and Katy Perry, respectively, Joni Mitchell’s “California”, “California Dreamin'”, by The Mamas and The Papas, “Going to California” by Led Zeppelin, and “Californication” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

California isn’t the only destination to be name-checked by a songwriter, though. Even if you’re not relocating to the Northwest, you could put on “Oregon Girl” by Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin. Take an aural trip across the country by including songs like “Vegas” by Sara Bareilles, “Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens and Bon Iver’s “Wisconsin.” For a little east coast flavor, toss Bruce Springsteen’s “Atlantic City” or Ella Fitzgerald’s “Manhattan” into the mix. Cover the entire country with Simon & Garfunkel’s “America” or head abroad with “Rome” by Phoenix.

An Introspective, Moodier Mix
Maybe you want to slow it down or take a trip down memory lane as you move on to a new phase of life. Put on “Leaving on a Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul, & Mary or play John Denver’s “Take Me Home Country Roads” as you head away from the familiar and toward the unknown. Follow suit with the Beatles “I’ll Follow the Sun” and Hank Williams, Sr.’s tune “Ramblin’ Man”. Finish up with “Good to be Home” from The Everybodyfields as you drive up to the new house.

From start to finish, there’s a song to fit your mood for every stage of your big move. Whether you’re hauling your belongings cross-country or just moving to a new neighborhood, put together a playlist of songs that will keep you motivated and energized!

Tax Breaks from Your Move (and Which Receipts You Should Keep)

If you’ve relocated in order to start a new job or transfer locations for your current job, you may be able to deduct your moving expenses. You must be able to provide information to the IRS that shows that your move qualifies for these deductions. The kind of documentation that constitutes proof includes receipts and other documents regarding the move. Keep reading to learn how you can claim your moving expenses as a deduction on your taxes.

The Distance Test
If you’re moving to a new home or apartment in the same town where you currently live, you won’t qualify for the moving expenses deduction. The minimum qualifying distance is 50 miles between your new job and your former home. For instance, if you used to commute ten miles between your home and work, your traveling distance must be at least 60 miles after the move in order to meet the requirement. You are required to use the shortest travelable distance when calculating your route’s length.

The Time Test
The time test for deducting moving expenses calculates how many weeks of full-time work you put in during the 12 months after you’ve arrived at your new location. You are required to work at least 39 out of 52 weeks during this initial 12-month period. You’ll still qualify even if these 39 weeks are not consecutive or if the work is for multiple employers. The IRS defers to your industry standard with these requirements and does not require a specific number of hours or days within the full-time employee requirement.

Moving Expenses
The moving expenses deduction allows you to claim expenses you incur in order to transport your personal belongings and household items to your new location, even if they need to be shipped internationally. Be sure to keep all receipts from your move, including those for lodging, tolls, parking, and gas.

Traveling to your new home is also covered under this deduction. This includes costs for yourself and the other members of your household. If you traveled by car, in your personal vehicle, you can deduct the cost of gas, parking fees, highway tolls, and even oil. You can calculate these exactly, or, alternatively, the IRS allows you to use the standard mileage rate to calculate these costs. If your move is long distance and occurs by airplane or train, the IRS permits you to deduct the cost of airplane or train tickets and associated costs.

After you arrive, if your belongings need to be placed in a storage unit, the cost of renting this unit for 30 days is deductible on your taxes. Many states offer tax incentives to first-time home buyers. If you’re buying your first home in this new location, be sure to see if you qualify.

Claiming the Deduction
The moving expenses deduction is one of the very few that can be claimed before you know if you have satisfied the requirements. This is because the time test takes twelve months, which means that taxpayers cannot satisfy the requirements in the year of their move. The IRS has made this exception to allow people to claim this deduction in the same year of their relocation.

To claim the deduction, you’ll use IRS form 3093 to detail your moving expenses and submit it with your personal tax return. Document your move carefully, make sure you save your receipts, and you could receive a tidy sum in your tax return to help offset the costs of moving.

Moving Back Home After College

Students graduating from college often have big plans for what they’d like to do next, but it doesn’t always work out the way they planned. Because of the still-depressed economy, more students are moving back home than ever before. Often the surprise of needing to move back home is a lot to handle for both the returning student and the parents, and it can lead to stress and agitation on both sides.

However, with record numbers of students returning home after their college years, more and more grads are learning how to adjust and contribute positively in their family life. When moving back home, there are a few things to keep in mind that, if taken care of in advance, can reduce or eliminate the stress associated with moving back home after college.

Make a Plan For Re-Homing Yourself
It’s easy to forget exactly how much stuff you can accumulate during your four years of college. It’s important to have a plan in place for getting all your belongings back home, whether you lived in the dorms and had to pack everything up at the end of the year or lived in the same off-campus housing the whole time and have mountains of junk to sift through.

It’s your stuff, not your parents’, so it’s up to you to get it back home. Determine how much space the things you’ll be bringing home takes up, and figure out how large a vehicle you’ll need to get everything home in one trip. It might be worth some time to explain to your parents that you might need some storage space outside your childhood bedroom. Better yet, get your own storage space and put anything you don’t use daily in there. Rates are usually quite reasonable, and having your own storage can unit will make moving out on your own that much easier when the time comes.

Get Everything Moved
Often a move to college takes one or two trips in the family car, but much of the stuff a new college student brings is part of a transitional phase from adolescence to adulthood. However, the college years are when a young adult begins to gain independence. College students make lifelong friends, forge new bonds, break off old relationships and go on adventures to form fond memories, many of which involve mementos. It’s important to remember that there is likely to be a lot more stuff to move on the trip back home.

Storing your stuff can certainly become an issue, but moving it is just as important. Unless the trip is very short or carefully planned out well in advance, it’s a good idea (particularly if there’s a lot to move) to call in outside help. While parents often offer to help, taking care of it on your own—meaning hiring professional movers or renting a moving truck—is the adult thing to do.

Transition to the Next Phase
Students from your parents’ generation almost never moved back in with Mom and Dad after graduation—in fact, there was substantial social stigma against moving back home. That said, with one out of five Millennials now returning home after college, the social stigma is wearing very thin already.

Returning home after college and saving to start a new life on your own is common and nothing to be ashamed of, and neither is contributing to household expenses while you live with your parents. Graduation is a time of transition; use this time to build the financial skills you’ll need to live on your own.

8 Ways to Reduce Stress Before You Move

If you’re planning a big move and the thought of it has you cringing with despair, you may simply need to relax. While the phrase “just relax” may seem annoyingly unrealistic to you, those two little words could spare you from much mental and physical anguish before and during your move. Accumulated stress can wreak havoc on your health, so exploring ways to combat it effectively is in your best interest. By learning a few simple strategies for reducing stress, you can transform the act of moving from an unbearably stressful activity to an enjoyable process.

Learn to Breathe Properly
You may be surprised to discover that you haven’t been breathing as well as you could. Breathing correctly can help you to expel much of the tension that has settled in your body. Try this breathing exercise to help you relax: Exhale thoroughly, and then inhale for a few counts. Hold your breath for twice as many counts, and exhale for as many counts as you took to hold your breath. Choose whichever number feels natural to you, whether it’s three counts in, six held and three out or eight counts in, sixteen held, eight counts out. Repeat this a few times or until you feel calm.

Allow Yourself to Be Pampered
Schedule some time to be pampered. Make an appointment to get a massage, or spend an hour or two getting a pedicure and a facial. If money is a concern, pamper yourself by taking a bubble bath or indulging in a sweet treat.

Plan Some Relaxing Activities
Don’t forget to have some fun. In between packing and organizing the details of your move, allow yourself to watch some movies or have lunch with some friends. When you take some time away from your moving tasks, you’ll return to them feeling reinvigorated. If you never lose focus from the task at hand, it can start to feel overwhelming and your stress levels will rise. So go play!

Enjoy Some Playtime
Another way to minimize stress is to play. If you have one, take your dog to a nearby beach or dog park and run free with it. If you have a cat, locate your feline’s favorite toys and play with the kitty for half an hour. Simulate the experience of childhood playtime by going to a neighborhood playground and playing on the swings or merry-go-roundor climb a tree right in your backyard. Being playful will help lower your stress, and the exercise you get in the process will help re-energize you.

Take a Nature Walk
Getting exercise is an essential aspect of minimizing stress. Being outdoors is another way to reduce your stress level. Since planning your move is probably consuming much of your time, try combining the two stress-relieving activities. Find a nearby trail and go on a nature walk. Take the time to stop and smell the proverbial roses, and you’ll find yourself feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the big move.

Organize Your Thoughts and Take Small Steps
Once you have learned a few techniques for diminishing stress, try to make the move as easy as possible. If you plan your move in stages and pack a few boxes each day, you may begin to feel less overwhelmed. Write a list of everything that needs to be done, and resolve to complete one or two items from the list on a daily basis.

Let Technology Help You
One way to stay organized for your move is to keep a detailed record of your plans in an online planner. You might also utilize one of the various apps designed to assist people who are relocating. Such applications can help you to stay focused on your goals and remain on task.

Change Your Perspective
The way you perceive your upcoming move may have much to do with how you handle it. If you regard the move as a stressful event, that is what it will be. Try adjusting your perspective; moving can be an exciting experience, and you may discover a wide range of new opportunities once you have relocated. By learning how to manage your stress, having some fun, staying organized, and altering your perspective, you might discover that moving is not as daunting as you had anticipated.

How to Pack Fragile Items

Even when you’re looking forward to living in a new home or city, the process of moving can be stressful. Not knowing what to put in the moving truck can make it even more of a headache. However, creating a packing plan and allowing yourself plenty of time to get everything done makes the process go smoother. This starts with considering which items are too valuable to risk them getting crushed or broken as you haul your belonging in a rented moving truck to your new location.

Fragile Keepsakes
Everyone has keepsakes that have little monetary value but high sentimental value. Whether it’s the first spoon you used as a baby or a figurine your grandmother gave you for your tenth birthday, you need to take a few extra precautions to keep it safe. If the item is small, start by placing it in bubble wrap and then taping the ends shut. If you’re the passenger in the moving truck, you can hold these small items on your lap. If you are the driver and you don’t have any passengers to help out, place the wrapped items on the passenger side floor of the moving truck and surround them by blocks of wood so they don’t slide around as you’re driving.

House Plants
For many people, keeping and maintaining indoor plants is a passion and not something they do just to decorate their home. If you can relate, then there are several things you can do to keep your plants in one piece during your move. For starters, don’t place them in the moving truck with your heavy furniture, bags of clothing, and other items that may slide and crush them. The best option is to have one adult in your family drive the moving truck while you follow in the car behind with your plants and other valuables.

Three weeks before your planned move, any plants that are in a clay pot should be transferred to an unbreakable container of the same size. It’s not advisable to choose a different sized pot as your plant may not grow as well after the transfer. A week later, prune your plants to remove any unnecessary branches that could fall off during the move. You should also check the plants for parasites so you don’t unintentionally bring them with you. At least two days before the move, check to see that your plants have plenty of water. Finally, on moving day, wrap your plants in a sheet of plastic and then place in a cardboard box. Poking holes in the box allows the plants to breathe during the drive.

Electronics
Your television, computer, and other electronics are some of the most valuable items you must transport. Before the move, be sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions about unplugging, packing, and rebooting so everything works properly in your new home. Moving experts recommend using several forms of protection for these items, including covering screens with a soft cloth to prevent scratching. You may be able to transport the smaller items in your car where you can keep a better eye on them. For larger items, a pick-up truck where they can be moved separately may be a better option than a large moving truck.

Pack, Donate, or Sell – How to Pack Only What You Need

A move to a new place can be an ideal opportunity to get rid of some of those possessions you’ve accumulated over the years. If you’re feeling overwhelmed about moving, this may be partially because you simply own too much stuff. If you get organized now and take only what you truly use, need, and want, you will likely start life in your new home with a new and improved perspective. Here’s some advice on how to pack, sell and donate your stuff so you only move with what you really need.

Start Organizing Your Things as Soon as Possible

The earlier you get started, the better. As soon as you know you’ll be relocating, you should start examining the items in your current abode. Open the doors and drawers to every cupboard, cabinet, and closet in your home, and take a look at their contents. Write an inventory with categories such as clothing, electronic equipment, dishes, linens, toys, books, and furniture. Then, put a line through each item that you haven’t used in over a year. These items should be gotten rid of, either by tossing them in the trash if they’re broken or no longer useful or donating them if someone else could still get some use from the item.

Designate and Organize an Area for the Items You’re Not Keeping

Find an area in your home to store the items you’re not taking with you. You will want these things to remain separate from the belongings you’re keeping lest you be tempted to pack them with everything else. Once you have selected all the things you’ve chosen to part with, resolve not to waver from this decision.

Before you begin packing the possessions you want to transport to your new dwelling, you should get rid of the other things. Doing this will make the packing and moving process much easier. You may want to refer to the inventory you created when you began organizing your home. You can use this list to make notes about how you plan to eliminate the unwanted or unneeded items.

Choose Where to Take Your Old Belongings

Once you begin to discard, donate, and sell your unwanted possessions, you may discover a sense of freedom that is almost intoxicating. Some of your things may be worth money; you can check auction sites and classified sites to see what people are buying and how much they are willing to spend. You’ll find plenty of places to sell your valuable items, from online auction sites to antiques shops. You might even earn enough cash to cover your moving costs.

You may also consider donating certain things. If you have old art supplies or school supplies that your children are not going to use, you could donate them to a local community center, library or somewhere else they might be useful. Old electronics might also be donated to a community center or school.

Items that you don’t think anyone else will want should be recycled whenever possible. Old magazines can be taken to a recycling center. Broken or obsolete electronics might be taken to a local store that recycles such objects on-site. Any hazardous materials should be disposed of properly at your local haz-mat collection site.

Pack Your Possessions and Move to Your New Place

Once you’ve gotten rid of the items you don’t need, packing the things you want should be a much easier and less stressful experience. You might organize the details of your relocation in a notebook or electronic binder or use one of the many moving apps available. Be sure you have plenty of packing supplies, such as boxes, tape, and permanent markers. Keep your original inventory, so you can use it to manage your belongings in your new home. When you stay organized and are willing to part with items you no longer use, the prospect of moving may begin to seem more exciting than overwhelming.

Ready to Sign Your First Lease? Pay Attention to These Things…

Moving into an apartment or house is exciting, especially if you’re doing it for the first time. Before you move in, you will generally be required to sign a lease, which is a formal and binding contract between you and a landlord. You should be aware of certain details before you sign such a document in order to be sure you are making the best possible decision.

Read the Lease—All of It

If you’re tempted to just skim through the terms of the lease and sign quickly, you should resist that impulse and read every word of the document. All leases are not created equal, and a potential landlord may not be concerned about whether you’ve read everything before you sign. Once you sign your name on that lease, you are legally required to meet its terms until the contract expires, so it’s in your best interest to know exactly what you’re responsible for doing.

The property owner should be willing to answer any questions you may have about the terms and conditions of the lease. However, if you don’t understand all of the terms of the contract, you may want to show the lease to someone else who can help you make sense of it. A relative or friend with experience in such matters is more likely to have your best interests at heart than a prospective landlord will be. If a landlord or property manager isn’t willing to allow you the time you need to read a lease, you should probably look elsewhere. If you want to take a copy of the lease home to read it at your convenience, a potential landlord should be okay with that, too.

Fees and Additional Charges

While every aspect of a lease is legally binding and therefore relevant, you will want to look at some specific details very closely. Be sure to scrutinize the lease for fees that a property manager may neglect to mention. Such fees might include charges for inspecting and cleaning your place once you move out (even if you clean it yourself, a landlord may choose to hire a professional to clean the carpets, for example). Look closely at the fees a landlord charges if you’re late paying the rent, and be certain that you are willing to pay such fees before you sign. If you have pets, be sure you ask about a pet deposit, and look at the lease to ensure that the pet deposit listed there reflects what the landlord has told you. Read the clause about security deposits and ask questions if necessary.

Examine the Clause Regarding Lease Termination

You may love the place that you’re moving into now, but that can change if you have obnoxious neighbors or the property is in a state of disrepair. Read the clause on lease termination carefully. Whether your lease renews monthly, semiannually, or yearly, you will probably be required to give a certain amount of notice before moving out, so be certain you know how much notice is required.

Inspect the Property

Don’t forget to inspect the property and the general area before you commit to the lease. Take dated photos of everything when you walk through the property. If anything is damaged, put the details in writing (and be sure your landlord signs it). Look outside to ensure that the property has adequate parking space for tenants. (Now’s a good time to scope out where your future guests can park, too!)

Moving into a new place can be a great experience. Take some time to explore the place you are considering. Read every detail of the lease, and don’t sign it if you don’t understand it or if you disagree with its terms. Good luck!

The Best Real Estate Apps for Renting & Buying

There once was a time when buying and renting property was strictly between the client and a real estate agent. These days, however, people have the advantage of access to the variety of online tools and websites dedicated to house hunting. The increasing ubiquity of mobile devices such as smartphones and the consequent explosion of apps has gifted house hunters with an even greater treasure trove of tools. Here are some of the best apps available for those in the market for renting and buying.

Zillow Apps

One of the best real estate packs for both Android and iOS users is Zillow. First: the grandfather of all real estate search apps, Zillow Real Estate, which was first released in 2009, offers info on over 100 million homes and apartments for sale and rent. Included are properties that are nearing or have already been foreclosed on. It utilizes the GPS location services of the device and users can also save filters, get estimates on properties, and calculate mortgage/rental rates. For those wishing only to look at rental properties, try out Zillow Rentals, which lets you contact the landlord directly through the app. The Mortgage Calculator & Mortgage Rates app is perfect for handling the financial calculations and gives customized quotes.

Trulia

Trulia is one of the great apps out there for real estate. It offers a smooth and streamlined interface that makes it easy to use whether the user is looking for rentals or to buy. There’s a useful Layers feature that lets you see heat maps, local boundaries, amenities, and schools, giving the browser a virtual tour of the area without having to move. Other useful filters include square footage, price range, rooms, and location. Both iOS and Android users can take advantage of Trulia.

PadMapper Apartment Search

Another app for filter lovers is PadMapper. Those in the renting game will especially find the searches for full-term leases, roomshares, no fee or rental by owner only, and pets options extremely helpful. Accompanied by the online site, this app is great for narrowing the search down to exactly what the user wants. The app, however, isn’t always updated super quickly, and you may have to contact many locations to make up for the lag. PadMapper is compatible with iOS and Android devices.

Realtor.com

This app by Move, Inc. is primarily a listing of agents, so for-sale-by-owner properties won’t be found here. However, the app is updated quickly and is extremely accurate. There are options for both renters and buyers as well as a set of standard property search filters. Some of the best features include the ability to specify the area you wish to search in, the constant updates, and the price labels that appear on the map. The app is available for both iOS and Android and works in perfect combination with the website.

If you’re in the market for a new place to live, whether you’re renting or buying, consider doing some hunting on your own using one of these real estate apps. They’ll help you gather information on what’s available, what you’re likely to spend, and more. And if you find that you’re in over your head, you can always go the old fashioned route and call a real estate agent for help. Happy hunting!

Military Moving Tips for Switching Locations Quickly and Often

Frequent moving from one home to another is stressful; you have to learn new routes to work, change health-care providers, perhaps find a new job and learn new landscapes. It doesn’t have to be so stressful if your things are organized and there are systems in place to help everything run smoothly. If you’re in a military family you’ve likely developed an appreciation for efficiency and precision. Here are some tips to help you switch locations as often as you need—to without the headache.

Preparing for the Move

Preparing for the move is important, but starting too early can force you to dig through a box looking for that one item you really need right this moment long before it comes time to actually move. Preparing mentally is a great idea and can be done in advance, but it’s best to save the actual packing for the couple of weeks before the move.

It’s nicer to set up house with clean things, so washing everything before packing it is a great idea for an easy transition. Downsizing before a move is another great idea. It’s often cheaper to replace an infrequently used item than it is to move it. If something hasn’t been used in the past year, or you won’t need it where you are going, sell it online, donate it to a charity, give it to a friend or relative or simply let it go. The moving process is too stressful to bring along un-needed items. Here’s a motto to keep in mind: the families who travel best travel light.

Learning About Your New Location

It’s a good idea to research the area well. Base housing may not be what you are looking for, so start your homework early: contact real estate agents and take a look at any rental opportunities that might be available to make your decision between all options easier when you get there. If your move would allow you to commute to work, school, and any other activities your family participates in, keep in mind that traffic patterns could be drastically different in the new location and plan accordingly.

Plastic Drawers and Totes

If the moving is frequent (every few months), consider using plastic drawers and totes to make it easier to take household items from one place to another and set things up exactly the way they were in the previous house. These storage containers can be useful for anything from clothing items and toiletries to spices and cookware, and they’ll make organizing your new home a breeze.

Inventory Systems

One time-saving idea is to simply snap a picture of each drawer, cupboard, and closet before packing to have a visual inventory for easy reference in case of an insurance claim. Keeping track of what you have is very important. Some frequent movers use color coded boxes with a swatch of red tape across all the bathroom items, blue for bedroom items, green for things that belong in the main living area, and so on. Others get more detailed still, employing a coded system to number each box and keep track of what is inside—there are even apps for smartphones that will let you print out barcodes and labels.

Moving frequently can be a real hassle, even for military families who are required to move often. It’s most important to find a system of organization you can actually stick with; a system that doesn’t get used is worse than no system at all.

10 Tricks for Furnishing Your Apartment

Whether it’s your first apartment or your fifth, the thrill of filling it with furniture and all your things never gets old. If it is your first apartment, though, you might find the prospect of purchasing everything from paper towels and dish soap to a sofa, bed and chairs a bit daunting. Although deals on furnishings aren’t hard to find, you still have to make the effort to look for them, to visit the stores, to sit on all the different couches. And all of that is without taking the unique features of your apartment into account! Here are ten tricks for finding the perfect furniture to complement your personal style and make your first apartment feel like home.

Start with the Basics

When you’re buying furniture for your new pad, start with the most obvious elements, like your sofa, your bed, and your table and chairs. These items will shape the space and give each room its purpose; once you know how each room will be used, you can decorate them accordingly. Part of this stage is figuring out what you really need: with limited space, would you prefer a formal dining area for entertaining or more space around the TV for late-night Netflix binges? Do you work from home, when a desk and storage might be a priority, or does your place become the weekend hangout spot? Focus on furniture that will help your apartment become the space you need to do what you love!

Storage space is easily accomplished with floating shelves, which can be positioned somewhere reachable on your otherwise unadorned wall space without taking up any real estate on the floor. These shelves are perfect for showcasing photos, books, vases and other things—basically, anything your bookcase can hold can also be displayed on the walls.

As space starts to run out, remember to use your corners. For example, a bean bag chair in the corner of a room will be enough space to serve as a cozy nook for reading or studying. The corner of a room is also a great place to store the television, tucked out of the way and unobtrusive when not in use. You could even place a funky chandelier or a potted plant in the corner to liven up the space.

It always helps maximize space when your furniture has multiple uses. A day bed that turns into a sofa, or an end table with a perch underneath for book storage, is a great way to make the most out of your space, for example. Together, these things provide for a more open, airy space.

It’s alright to spend a bit of extra money on the larger items, with an eye toward both function and form to help beautify your apartment, but know where to cut back. Things such as shelves can be found cheaply and without sacrificing functionality, and the arrangement you ultimately settle on goes a long way toward determining the roominess of your place.

Make the Space Your Own

Bookcases can be quite inexpensive, yet add loads of flair to your apartment. Use them to display your eclectic tastes by placing artsy objects, decorative accents and pottery on the shelves.

Mirrors, mirrors, mirrors! Not only do these make the available space appear larger, they’re also great for that last glance before dashing out the door to work in the morning. Mirrors also come in a variety of sizes and shapes and with a wide range of border decorations to fit the general theme of the room.

Add Some Color

Runners, mats and rugs are excellent ways to personalize your apartment. They also minimize the amount of dirt that tracks into the inner spaces. If you’ve got nooks and crannies in a wooden floor, cold tile or just want to give the room a pop of color, stylish rugs solve these issues completely.

In general, lighter colors tend to expand a room. Whether your walls be white, beige or eggshell, high-gloss or matte finish, opt for a lighter shade to brighten your home and take advantage of natural light. Even if you’re not allowed to paint, you can use wallpaper to add a splash of a bold color to the backs of your bookshelves, or just to one accent wall. Make sure your window curtains are the same color as the wallpaper or walls for a more coordinated, spacious feel.