5 Things I Learned When I Got Locked Out of My Apartment

Like any recent college graduate, I thought I was quite the grownup when I signed the lease on my very first apartment in Boston five years ago. But unlike getting locked out of a dorm room, getting locked out of a real city apartment was quite the challenge. It all started when my new roommate, who I was just getting to know, left for a weeklong vacation. No problem. I could handle a week on my own in the big city, right? WRONG. The second I stepped out of my apartment for my post-work jog, (such a grown-up activity!) I realized I left my keys inside. It eventually happens to everyone, but getting locked out is never fun. Here are the five life lessons I learned when it happened to me: Neighbors are nice After realizing I was locked out, I needed a place to collect myself, but more importantly, I had to borrow someone’s phone to call my landlord for help. I knocked on my neighbors’ doors – something I had never done, and was relieved when a couple of normal-looking girls around my age answered the door downstairs. Immediately I wondered why I hadn’t reached out to them before – we should have been friends! They were super gracious and sat with me while I made calls all over the city trying to find a way back into my new Boston abode. Landlords don’t know everything The first call I made was to my landlord, who I was sure would have a spare set of keys. Unfortunately, she said that she wouldn’t be able to drive into the city that night to let me in. I asked her what to do next. Her suggestion: call AAA. Yes, the AAA that provides car tows. But hey, I was new to the grown-up world and thought maybe there was an AAA apartment service I wasn’t yet aware of. I called AAA and inquired about having them unlock my apartment – the customer service agent’s confusion quickly turned into laughter at my question. I hung up, defeated. Turns out that landlords don’t always have a good solution and sometimes you have to take things into your own hands. Patience is a virtue After finally getting ahold of a locksmith that would let me into my apartment, I was told I’d have to wait three hours for him to arrive. Yes, three full hours with these neighbors I barely knew. Getting locked out definitely requires a certain amount of zen in order to stay sane. Locksmiths are expensive! My hero locksmith arrived, cut off my lock, and installed a new doorknob. Safe at home at last to the tune of $500. Of course he requested this money in cash, which seemed shady, but I got a receipt. If you leave your keys at home, be ready to pay the price – literally. This might require giving up happy hours and grocery delivery for a while. Hide a spare Of course, the single most important lesson I learned by getting locked out is to have a spare set of keys hidden somewhere (and please, don’t hide your keys under the one pair of boots in the hallway…so obvious). A great solution is having a trustworthy friend keep a set for safe keeping and you can do the same for them. You never know when this will save you $500, 3 hours, and an embarrassing call to AAA. What embarrassing things have you done to get back in to your apartment after you were locked out?  Tell us in comments! ...

10 Fall Decor Ideas for Renters

Seasonal decorating in a rental is tough. It is tempting to purchase cute ceramic autumn leaves, witch statuettes or plastic jack o’lanterns, but these items need a lot of storage space and are irrelevant for most of the year. So how can you make your home festive and cozy without using all of your closet space to store Halloween décor and pumpkin scented potpourri bags? Luckily, there are a few small tricks to make even a white-washed apartment feel cozy this fall: Clean Away Signs of Summer – The first and easiest way to prep your living space for fall is to clean away remaining signs of summer. Store fans and air conditioners, and put most of those flip flops currently by the front door back in your bedroom closet. Dust – There is a good chance you’ve had your windows open all summer, which is wonderful, but it’s probably allowed dust from the city streets to settle on your furniture and tabletops. Before shuttering the windows for the season, take a wet rag to all surfaces in your apartment so you can start fresh for a new season. This quick task is surprisingly effective at making your home more comfortable and guest-ready for a new season. Doormat – A doormat is a welcoming gesture that can is helpful all year round. Its purpose is particularly relevant in the fall, however, because the changing seasons often mean dirty, rain-soaked boots! Blankets – Adding a few stylish throws over the back of couches or chairs is both inviting and cozy. Plus, you can save a few dollars on your monthly heating bill by using blankets and sweaters to keep warm in the late fall instead of tuning up your thermostat. Just be mindful not to let temperatures get so low that pipes burst. Pumpkins – pumpkins are festive, fun, and disposable at the end of the season (and compostable)! Carve jack o’ lanterns with friends and family, or keep a small pumpkin as a centerpiece on any table. Music – music is a clutter-free way to bring atmosphere to a space of any size. Décor is often thought of as a visual tool, but creating an atmosphere in your home requires all of the senses. Especially for people in tiny apartments, music can become a valuable method in creating a good vibe. Electric candles – Landlords, particularly in older, densely-populated areas, really don’t like candles because of the high risk of fire. However, flickering battery or solar-powered candles are a great solution to making an apartment cozier as the temperatures drop. They are safer, longer-lasting, and can be set on timers to go on and off at the same times every day. Candy – A small candy dish is also a great piece of décor since it requires very little storage space, while also giving everyone a reason to smile. Candy, of course, is especially important for Halloween season. Choose candies that can handle small changes in temperature – mainly, avoid chocolate for this reason, until winter. Bake Something – Like music, having something baking when you’re expecting guests is a great way to add yet another sense into your rental space’s atmosphere. Baked goods smell fantastic, don’t take up space, and definitely add a level of coziness and warmth to any kitchen. Tea Kettle – A simple stovetop tea kettle is a charming way to add a sense of “fall” to your home. It doesn’t take up too much space (I mean, when you’re not cooking, there isn’t much else you can store on a stovetop indefinitely), and is helpful when unanticipated visitors stop by or the weather has suddenly gotten chilly. Voila, ten budget-friendly autumn décor suggestions for renters of small apartments! Renters, what do you do to make your apartment feel like home?  What is your favorite thing about fall? ...