Get ready for renting! How to completely own your rental experience.
Renting your first place is a time-honored rite of adulting passage. It represents a new chapter of independence that’s right up there with finally getting your driver’s license. But for most first-time renters, the excitement of the apartment search has the tendency to override some of our more pragmatic decision-making processes. Usually, what passes for a process goes something like this:
First-time renter: “Is the place available?”
First-time renter: “Can I afford the place?”
First-time-renter’s brain: “Eh. Close enough.”
First-time renter: “I’ll take it!”
Once we finally find a place, renters often realize that, much like having a kid, there really isn’t much of a manual available for what comes next. What should I look for in a lease agreement? How do you move in? What to do about problematic neighbors? How do you choose a good roommate? How can you be a good roommate? These learnings tend to come later on, and often only after a few painful mistakes.
Then there are the questions we don’t even want to think about, let alone ask. What happens if someone breaks into my rental property? What happens if there’s a fire? What about if someone gets hurt in my place and sues me? Can they even do that? Answer: They can, but Toggle® renters insurance can help.
Unlike our ancient renting ancestors, we’ve got the internet now — all the helpful renting hints we need, right at our fingertips.
And luckily, you’ve found your way here, to this blog post. We know we won’t have all the answers, but we’ve done our best to give you something of a rental guide for non-dummies, covering the following topics:
Get an A+ in apartment hunting: A very helpful rental inspection checklist.
Finding any rental unit is a challenge, no matter where you live. Finding a good one can almost feel like too much to ask from the universe. So even though it can be uncomfortable with a landlord or a rental agent breathing down your neck, take your time.
✔ Check the water pressure and temperature.
✔ Flush the toilets.
✔ Make sure all the outlets work.
✔ Make sure your phone gets good reception in every room.
✔ What about the windows? Do they have exposure to the sun? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
✔ Check the cabinets for small holes or droppings that might indicate the presence of little, uninvited, furry guests.
✔ If it’s winter, make sure you think ahead and know about the AC situation. If it’s midsummer, make sure you know the heating situation.
✔ Apartment buildings are as different as night and day, at night and day. Make sure to make a visit at night when most of the tenants are home. You’ll get a better sense about whether you can find a parking spot and what the true noise level is like.
Not all of these details need to be make-or-break when choosing your rental, but knowing stuff is always better than not knowing stuff. Be sure to document the condition of the space. There might be some wear and tear or timely upgrades your landlord can address before you move in. Otherwise, you can use some of that information to save money at the bargaining table.
There’s a lot more to being a great apartment hunter than this. Good thing we’ve included a more comprehensive list of helpful hints at this link right here.
Photo by Amy Humphries on Unsplash
Toolbox essentials for the modern renter.
Having a building superintendent is super, but sometimes for smaller fixes and aesthetic touches, doing it yourself is the only way for a renter to get it done. So here’s a list of toolbox basics you’ll need in order to do it.*
Each of these items requires a bit of insight, so we’ve got some additional helpful hints for you here.
*BE SURE, SURE SURE to check with your building management before you start monkey-wrenching around. We don’t want you violating your lease, and you don’t want it either.
Is your kitchen legit? Check out these kitchen essentials.
No matter how humble your abode, a strong kitchen game will make you the envy of old friends, new friends and complete strangers who just happen to stumble into your place. Kitchens are the center of gravity for any living space, and the last thing you want is your center of gravity to be a gaping black hole. So let’s get started on gathering your kitchen must-haves.
1. Water and kitchen fires do not mix. YOU NEED A KITCHEN FIRE EXTINGUISHER!
Make sure you get the right type of fire extinguisher and learn when and how to use it. We at Toggle Insurance are “kitchen-safety first.” It’s in our blood.
2. A sweet set of knives.
You know on those competitive cooking shows when they send the contestants home? They send them on their walks of culinary shame, carrying their most prized and useful possession — their knives. Invest a little extra dough here. Take care of them, and you could have your knives for decades to come.
3. A handheld knife sharpener.
A dull knife does a good job cutting only one thing: your hand.
4. Chopping boards.
A wooden cutting board is your blade’s best bud. The soft surface keeps your edges sharp and your cuts precise.
5. A cast-iron skillet.
Versatile. Classic. And it’ll last so long you’ll be able to hand it down to your grandkids. There’s a lot to love about cast iron.
6. Stainless steel nesting bowls.
Generally speaking, stainless steel in the kitchen is smart. It’s light. It doesn’t chip like porcelain. It lasts. And you’re not putting more plastic into the ecosystem.
8. Place settings.
Choosing the right dishes and silverware can be crippling. You’re gonna want something to reflect your exquisite taste, but chances are your exquisite taste will end up in a cage match with your wallet.
Here’s a little secret: Having dishes and silverware is way more important than having the right dishes and silverware.
9. A slow cooker.
Slow is the new fast. Or hadn’t you heard?
10. Measuring cups and spoons.
Unfortunately, not every ingredient can be eyeballed.
11. Drinking glasses. Mason jars.
They cost less than a buck apiece, and they magically make every beverage more appetizing. You can also use them as flower vases, to refrigerate leftovers or to make “lunch container” salads that are eco-friendly and look uber cool on your desk at work.
Go fancier if you like, but we can’t think of a really good reason to.
12. Pots and pans. (It’s a process.)
In a perfect world, there would be one peerless package of practical pots and pans a person could purchase for a proper price.
Alas, your collection of favorite pots and pans will most likely be an à la carte endeavor. It will depend on a combination of need, budget and a set of personal preferences you’ll discover the more you cook.
There’s a lot more to think about in a kitchen, but instead of thinking about it, check here for a much more comprehensive list of things no kitchen should do without.
How to be the best roommate ever.
Being a good roommate is a two-way street, and we’d like to offer a few driving tips.
Establishing house rules for roommates is all about the details. Trouble usually starts with stuff so small, you’ll hesitate to make an issue of it. But here’s the thing, confront the situation now while it’s still small and it will only take up 10 seconds of your life, give or take. Keep it positive, establish ground rules early and offer preferences rather than simply pointing a finger.
Maybe you’re a slob. Maybe your roommate is. Either way, it’s best to default to cleanliness while sharing a living space.
3. Personal space.
It would be lovely if your roommate could always be your BFF, but it’s not a prerequisite for roommate-hood. Civility. Respect. Responsibility. And good manners in the common areas. That’s what you’re looking for. Not lifelong companionship.
Remember, you get the space you give.
Split fairly, or prepare to split fairly soon.
In small spaces, silence really is golden, and the silent treatment is the opposite of rude. Agree on some quiet hours, and remember that an investment in some decent headphones is an investment in your well-being.
The couch may technically “belong” to you, but unless your place has room for two couches, you need to let it go. That couch is now part of the commons. Same goes for the remote, the TV and the kitchen table.
It’s important to realize that in the entirety of recorded roommate history, there has never been a situation in which a guest didn’t cause a hassle of some sort. An overnight guest, more so. Start with that honest, open and forthright truth, and then you and your roommate can adjust your expectations accordingly.
It’s never a bad idea to remind your roommate up front that they need their own insurance coverage. Their belongings are not covered under your policy! Send them to Toggle renters insurance if they have any questions.
We have more ideas for getting a 5-star roomie rating: check it out.
Holy crap! My apartment just flooded. Guess what happens next.
Here’s a scenario: Thanks to some super suspect plumbing in the apartment above yours, your childhood dream of having a water park in your apartment came true today.
That’s when it hits you. You’re not 8 years old. You’re an adult. With adult things. Like that TV you bought last week that’s looking suspiciously moist, and a touch less smart than it was this morning. Who’s gonna pay for this mess?
Your landlord is usually required to only pay for things like walls, ceilings, floors and appliances included in your lease. They have to be in a livable condition. That’s it.
Now the good news: You’ve got renters insurance coverage from Toggle. So what’s next? Glad you asked. Now stick with us here; it’s tricky:
Step 1: Contact Toggle.
Step 2: Watch your life come back to life.
What does Toggle renters insurance cover?
Un-fun fact: Almost a third of the claims we see are theft-related. A Toggle apartment insurance policy can help cover the replacement cost for your personal property. Big and small stuff. Laptop? Sunglasses? Just Toggle OnSM the stuff you want to cover and add Replacement Cost.
2. Stove fires.
In case of a kitchen stove fire, can renters insurance cover temporary housing, or are you out on the curb?
If you’ve got a Toggle policy with “Temporary Living Costs” coverage, you’re in good shape. Yes, it’s called “TLC,” because you could use a little. It’s paid like a per diem and can cover increased living expenses incurred because your place is damaged from a covered claim and you can’t live in it. Oh, and if you were the one who accidentally caused the stove fire, renters liability coverage can help with that too.
And if you lost some of your stuff to damage, and you selected Toggle OnSM coverage before it happened, Toggle can help you with funds for that covered, crispy stuff.
3. Water damage.
Let’s say your upstairs neighbor takes a soothing Saturday night bubble bath, and it ends up turning your bedroom wall into an opposite-of-soothing waterfall.
Does renters insurance cover water damage? Interesting question. Your neighbor may be on the hook for this one. If he has renters insurance with liability coverage, he may be covered for the damage up to his liability limit. Unfortunately, only 44% of renters have renters insurance!
That’s okay. In the event Bubble Bro failed to get renters insurance, as long as you Toggled OnSM your Toggle coverage prior to the bubble bath incident, all is not lost.
Your Toggle rental property insurance can cover both kinds of damage — accidental damage caused by you (aka liability coverage) and the damage caused by someone else’s foam party fiasco, up to the limits you Toggled OnSM.
How to modernize an apartment rental.
You may not own your rental, but that shouldn’t stop you from “owning” it.
Renting is a strange kind of freedom. An apartment is completely your space, but it’s not really your space. We get it. Here’s a collection of helpful designer hints to make your home brighter, happier and feel a bit roomier. Enjoy.
1. Lighting design.
Find fixtures that illuminate dark corners of rooms to open up more of the space.
String lighting: It’s not just for the holidays anymore.
Mirrors placed behind artificial light sources will help amplify them. Or place a mirror across from a window to spread natural light and bring some of the outdoors inside.
2. Smell design.
Few senses are more intimate than smell. Luckily, smell is something you can control without banging a nail or adding any paint. Use scent to add personal ambiance without much fear of landlord reprisal.
Want your space to feel fresh and clean? Go with something citrusy. Warm and cozy? Think vanilla or wood. Relaxed and calm like your favorite spa? Lavender and white tea say “namaste” in a big way.
3. Cleaning up and cleaning out.
When space is limited, think of your stuff in terms of versatility. What’s the best winter jacket or coat you own, for example? The warmest, most durable jacket, with the most style for work and play, that’s also the easiest to pack, that’s also, well, just your favorite?
Think of things like this, and you realize that some things you own are redundant or superfluous and probably belong in a donation pile.
4. Getting small.
For many urban apartment dwellers, small is a fact of life, but small-space hints abound online, and just a few can make a postage stamp feel like a palace.
Paint unsightly objects like radiators to match the walls, and they’ll recede into the background where they belong.
Use bright white paint to reflect the widest spectrum of light to give a space a more expansive feel. This one rule won’t steer you wrong.
Use your imagination to make more space in three dimensions. Loft your bed up off the ground and open the floor space underneath for a desk or a small couch. Stack bookcases tall rather than wide, giving you shelf storage all the way to the ceiling.
No walls, no problem. Curtains work wonders to separate small spaces, and they can be pulled back to keep things more open during the day. The IKEA Kallax shelf unit also acts as an amazing divider. It’s open, allowing light to flow freely, and it’s a bookcase, so it serves a purpose beyond simply chopping space up.
Do a little research on Pinterest, too. You’ll be amazed at how creative people can get when they’re trapped in a little box.
Let’s start with this simple, yet immutable truth: Walls look much better with something on them than they do without. Beyond just looking better, art can bring you real joy, both consciously and subconsciously. Art will enrich your life. In short, art is very worth it. If you haven’t got a lot to spend, there are lots of ways to get creative.
Apartment bathrooms are usually small, and where changes are concerned, there’s not a lot you can do. But take heart. You’ve got a few options.
A good showerhead can change your life. They’re super easy to install, and when your lease is up, just replace the old one, and take yours with you.
Your shower curtain will be the defining visual element of a tiny bathroom space, so make it count.
Low-light, high-humidity plants thrive in bathrooms and add life and freshness to a space that can feel dank and musty otherwise.
Find more bathroom hints here.7. Go big with bedding and fluffy with towels.
Good pillows, bed linens and towels, for example, will increase the quality and coziness of your life immensely. The internet is overflowing with designer tips to get the most for your dough when it comes to creature comforts, so treat yourself to something extra.
It’s no big secret that mirrors make small spaces look larger. Check here for detailed tips on using mirrors to their best effect.
We could go on and on, but the rest of the internet awaits. Remember, nothing you’re facing as a renter hasn’t been faced by countless renters before you, and their tips, tricks, hacks and hints are all out there for you to find.
To fix renters insurance, we had to break it first.
You know how it works: old-school renters insurance companies deal in standardized, inflexible, “one-size-fits-all” policies — definitely not made for today’s reality, and it doesn’t work for you. So, to fix that and make it all modern, we broke the whole thing down and started over.
The result? Toggle. It’s renters insurance you can actually customize. Toggle gives you the freedom to cover more. Or to cover less. Instantly. It’s that simple, and it’s 100% you-powered.
Picking a Toggle subscription.
Our Basic coverage is anything but. Toggle OnSM for liability coverage, which most landlords usually require, plus an extra dash of coverage for an extra dash of stuff. Can you afford it? Can you afford the price of another latte every month? Yes, most likely, so go ahead and lock it down.
If you’ve got more personal belongings to cover, Standard coverage is only about as much as your favorite streaming service per month. And if you ever need to dial down the coverage and save some coin, you can Toggle OffSM what you don’t want at any time.
Keep your high-value items on lock for about the price of one Sunday brunch per month.
4. Technology Coverage.
If it’s awesome and it’s electronic, chances are Toggle OnSM Technology coverage helps protect it.
5. Coverage on the Road. Or the Rue.
At Toggle, we think coverage should travel with you. That means if your laptop is stolen in Italy, Non è un problema! If someone takes your phone at Coachella, you’re covered. Toggle renters insurance coverage goes where you go. So you’re covered from Croatia to Coachella. Anytime. Anywhere.
6. Pet ParentSM.
Animals rule! But if pet ownership ever starts to get a little poopy, Pet ParentSM from Toggle can help clean up the mess. Pet ParentSM includes up to $100,000 liability coverage should your pets injure someone (other than you or anyone insured by the policy), and up to $500 in pet boarding costs if a covered loss or damage makes your residence temporarily unfit to live in. Want more Pet ParentSM coverage pros?
7. Toggle Rewards.
Accidents happen. (Boo!) But sometimes they don’t. (Hurray!)
With Toggle, every year you go without a claim, you can watch your deductible shrink, one chunk at a time, until it reaches rock bottom ($50, in available states).
8. High Value Items.
If you’ve got super-high-value stuff, Toggle OnSM “High Value Item” for extra protection.
Here’s how it works: If you Toggle OnSM a coverage package above $3,000, we’ll ask you: “Want to cover any item for more than $3,000?”
Toggle “yes,” and you’re all set.9. Credit LiftSM.
With a mortgage, your credit improves when you make payments on time. We thought, why can’t that happen when you pay your rent? So we created Toggle Credit LiftSM.
At this point, you’re probably all fired up about renters insurance and want to check out more of our Toggle story, so here’s that link.
Final question: “How much renters insurance do I really need?”
Many landlords require having some renters insurance coverage, but how much do you really need?
That depends on several factors, all of which are interrelated. In short, it’s a tough question to answer. So the first thing we did was build our renters insurance a little differently. You can sum up the difference with our name: Toggle.
With Toggle insurance, you can get as much or as little insurance as you want, and you can always adjust that amount from month to month. Want more? Just Toggle OnSM, and you’re covered. Sales pitch complete. But back to the point.
The two primary areas of coverage you need to consider are:1. Personal property coverage?
Renters insurance will usually cover between $100,000 and $300,000 in liability. So how much do you really need?
First thing to keep in mind: No matter how much coverage you choose, renters insurance is inexpensive. Big differences in coverage equate to relatively small differences in premiums. So relax and don’t overthink it. It can start at $5 in some states.
Of course, if you ever want to get more dialed in with the specifics, just visit GetToggle.com and get a quote. It can take less than a minute, and your new and improved adulting self will be extremely happy you took a second to cover you, your butt and all your stuff therein. Or if you are dying to know more about how much renters insurance you need, please read more in depth.
Enjoy life as a renter. Heck, enjoy life, generally speaking! Because if there’s one thing we can all learn from our grandmothers’ needlepoints, it’s that home really is where the heart is.
Learn the must-have tools for an apartment renter with this toolkit. Master the putty knife, claw hammer and needle-nose pliers.
In this piece, we offer tips, strategies and encouragement for those who want a more uncluttered home, mindset and lifestyle.