Posts by Office Manager:
Save the Most in the Winter
I remember in college of a seasonal competition among my roommates & housemates. Who’s gonna cave first? Who’s gonna get so cold they can’t take it anymore? Who’s willing to fight off the others and finally turn on the heat–and I don’t just mean pump a little heat into the room–I mean, who’s making impactful decisions that are going to affect the utility bills?
Well, I think the bravest made it as long as Halloween–I certainly did not. The halls smell of baseboard and space heaters– that new heater smell we all grow to love. It’s a warm and cozy kind of day with bone-chilling influence on you monthly bills.
Winter doesn’t have to pinch your wallet as hard as you would think, it just takes proper practice and application. Whether you have baseboard heaters or a gas furnace, you too can keep a smile on your face despite the freezing weather.
Baseboard heaters provide heat to a unit by heating an element within the device and radiating heat into the unit. Compared to a furnace–which heats air in a chamber and blows heated air into your unit–a baseboard heater will not blow hot air, only radiate heat into your unit. Both techniques are successful in heating units to comfortable temperatures, and both can increase your monthly utility bill drastically if misused.
It is noteworthy to mention, if you have baseboard heaters in your unit, make sure the load transfer switch is in the heat position.
Your load transfer switch may not look identical to this depiction; however, each switch will have a similar appearance. Some will have a blue button, a black button, and a red button, instead of a switch. In this case, the blue button provides electricity to the outlet (this outlet often used for plugging in an air conditioning unit), the black button is a neutral button and will provide electricity to neither the heater nor the outlet, and the red button will provide electricity to the heater only. Your baseboard heater will not work properly if you do not have your load transfer switch in the right position.
The best advice for keeping your heat bill low is to attempt maintaining a constant temperature. If you have baseboard heaters, try keeping your temperature knob in the low position as long as possible initially. This will not provide immediate heat, but within an hour, the low setting will provide a moderate amount of heat to your unit. If the low setting is not providing enough heat to your unit, then turn your temperature knob to the medium setting. Keeping your baseboard heaters on high at all times will cause the devices to cycle on and off their highest setting, and this in turn will increase your heat bill.
In a similar fashion, units heated by furnace or any centralized heat with a thermostat should be set to a low to moderate temperature (69 – 72 degrees fahrenheit). This will accomplish the same maximum savings as mentioned above. If you set your thermostat to a high temperature, your furnace will constantly attempt to maintain that temperature, and in turn will use more power and cost you more. It is quite possible that you may find your unit too hot at some point, and you will lower the temperature it is set; and then the unit some time later may become too cold for comfort. This is why it is most cost effective to set your initial temperature to a low to moderate setting, and then adjust to your own comfort level.
It is best to allow the air in your unit to become heated and allow your heater to gradually maintain that temperature. The insulation in your unit will do more than you think. You will use less power and save more money! Stay warm out there, but don’t allow your unit to get too warm! There may be a high cost associated with providing summer heat in your unit during the winter.
This New Saluki Express Feature Will Save You Time!
The Saluki Express bus service has a new feature that will save you a lot of time! Saluki Express, now powered by RMTD, has a transit locator service provided through their website called Transloc. Transloc is an easy to use real time transit locator that will give you the exact location of all buses on active routes. No longer will you feel the urgency to stand in the rain or blazing sun waiting for the bus; simply look up where your bus is, and head over to the bus stop when your ride is close.
Scan the QR code on the flyer below to access Transloc:
You can also receive text alerts from RMTD. Simply text the word SIUC, leave a space, and then the actual bus stop number to 41411. You will receive a text with the estimated times of upcoming arrivals to that stop. Message and data rates may apply. Visit the Transloc site for more details.
Private Living & Customization
When you rent an apartment with University Edge, you will live in your own private quarters. As this may sound like a no brainer, there is more than meets the eye. Private living means you won’t have to share your amenities with the floor or any section of the building. Each apartment includes its own kitchen and bathroom; no shared appliances, no shared bathrooms. You won’t have to take your food to a common kitchen to do your cooking; you can enjoy the tranquility of creating your own culinary art in privacy.
Additionally, each unit includes its own 30 gallon hot water tank, so you won’t have to race against your neighbors in the morning to get a warm shower. Each unit has its own breaker box (located in the bedroom closet of all units), so you won’t have to make a special call if the power goes out during a storm. Simply flip your breakers back into the on position–don’t worry, if you are unsure how to access your breaker box, we will show you at the time of your move-in.
Private living is living best in our opinion. You will never be charged for someone else’s electricity use, and you have control over everything in your apartment!
Nevertheless, there maybe one thing nearly as enjoyable as private living: customization. You can customize many items in your apartment when you lease with University Edge. You will be able to choose your own room, rather than having your room assigned to you (like other firms). During tours, we show you model apartments–just to give you an idea of how you can arrange your furniture and show just how much you can fit in your unit. However, during tours, we can also show you the exact unit you would be leasing if you were to sign. This is always a good thing to ask on tours; if you would like to read more tips about touring apartments, check out my article called How to Become a Better Buyer. You will have the ability to choose what floor you’d like to live on as well as the unit’s location on the floor (as long as the apartment hasn’t already been leased).
You also have the opportunity to add brand new amenities to your apartment for a small monthly fee. As this mostly applies to our standard units, you are free to add something new to a renovated apartment as well–although our renovated apartments do include new appliances.
Our standard units have yet to renovated, and have older appliances included with the apartment. These older appliances are in working and proper condition, and if there were to be any complication, our maintenance team will replace any malfunctioning appliance as soon as possible. Nevertheless, if you are looking for a standard apartment, but you would like new appliance or amenities, you can add the following new items in your apartment:
- New Refrigerator, +$20/mo
- New Air Conditioner (studio apartments), +$15/mo
- New Air Conditioner (suites, 1bdrm, 2bdrm), +$25/mo
- New Oven & Range, +$20/mo
- New Mattress, +$10/mo
How University Edge Prepares for Your Move-in
Moving is never easy. In an effort to reduce the burdens of moving and make things a little easier on your stress filled day, we take move-ins serious! Moving can be a hassle, but having to clean your apartment before moving in all your things can be misery. We guarantee you will move into a cleaned and maintained apartment at University Edge, but we wanted to take the time to explain our process and how we prepare for your arrival so you too can be excited about moving!
Each apartment is inspected, cleaned, reconditioned, refreshed, and reinspected prior to your move-in.
If the apartment you lease is occupied prior to your move-in, we inspect the unit upon the previous tenant’s departure to assure no major repairs are necessary. If the apartment you lease is empty prior to your move-in, we inspect the unit shortly before you move-in.
The following items are examined thoroughly during the inspection:
- Refrigerator- confirm that both the interior of the appliance is clean and all fans and motors are running properly.
- Oven & Range- confirm that both the interior of the appliance is clean and unit’s wiring is in functioning order.
- Kitchen Sink & Lavatory- confirm that unit is draining properly and no water is leaking under cabinets.
- Toilet- confirm that toilet is flushing properly and no water is leaking from tank.
- Smoke Detectors- confirm both battery connection & wall connection are in proper order.
- Windows- confirm that windows are clean and no damages have been made to glass.
- Unit Door & Lock- confirm that unit’s door is in good condition and unit’s lock is functioning properly.
- Air Conditioner- confirm that fans and motors are functioning properly and that A/C unit is providing cool air.
**It is important for tenants to set up power to unit no less than one week in advance, or inspection may not be completed in its entirety. Setting up utilities is important not only for purposes of the move-in inspection, but also because the utility companies in Carbondale are flooded with work orders during summer move-in; you may not have power to your apartment for the first week of your lease if you do not contact Ameren early. If you need contact information for any utility company in Carbondale check out my post about How to Set Up Utilities in Carbondale. **
If the apartment you lease is occupied prior to your move-in, we clean the unit upon the previous tenant’s departure and after the unit has been inspected. If the apartment you lease is empty prior to your move-in, we clean the unit shortly after the signing of the lease agreement and inspect the unit thereafter.
Apartments are cleaned thoroughly in the following manner:
- All apartments floors are swept, mopped, and waxed (waxed where applicable).
- Carpets are cleaned using a professional carpet shampooer, and raked so carpet fibers stand upright.
- Refrigerators are defrosted and cleaned with all purpose cleaner. Ovens and stovetops are cleaned of all grease and debris.
- Cabinets are wiped out and cleaned with all purpose cleaning agent.
- All walls are wiped down with soap and water.
- Toilets are cleaned with bowl cleaner and entirely wiped down with foaming acid.
- Bath tubs and showers are too cleaned with foaming acid.
- Lavatory is cleaned with foaming acid.
- Medicine cabinet mirrors are cleaned with windex.
Next we recondition your apartment; from general maintenance to painting and everything in between, we make sure you are moving into an apartment in proper condition.
The reconditioning stage is the part of our process where maintenance brings your unit to like-new condition. Maintenance will touch up scratches and scuff marks on wall with paint, repair all damaged items, and ensure the functionality of the unit.
Your apartment is refreshed to perfect the finishing touches.
Shortly before your move-in, we clean your apartment one last time. Refreshing our units allows up to make one final inspection on your apartment. During the refresh, we wipe down all surfaces in the apartment, and make sure the unit is fully read for your arrival.
Lastly, your apartment is inspected one final time; this stage is concurrent with the refreshment stage. Here we plug in your appliances, turn off the lights, and lock the door, the next person to enter your apartment will be you!
Look for the note below, this ensures you that our process was completed prior to your move-in:
Move-in Costs: What Are They? And How Can I Save Money?
Move-in costs are expensive, but don’t let the initial expense discourage you from getting that new place you want. I’m here to explain what your move-in costs would be at University Edge, what those costs are paying for, and how you can save the most wherever you choose to sign.
When you move into an apartment at University Edge, you will pay the following sums: Security Deposit, First Installment, and Last Installment.
The Security Deposit is the only sum due at the signing of the Lease Agreement. A Security Deposit for a standard unit will cost $400; a Security Deposit for a renovated apartment will cost $450.
The First & Last Installments are prorated, advanced rent that you will be paying on the front end of your Lease Agreement (the first and last installments are due on the day you choose to move-in). These amounts will cover the first month’s rent and the last month’s rent of the Lease Agreement. We call these sums installments rather than months of rent because they are prorated sums. Our rent cycle is from the 15th to the 15th of each month. Your first installment will charge you accordingly to bring your Lease Agreement within our rent cycle.
So, for example, if you choose to move into your new place on the 1st of the month, your first installment will be greater than one month of rent; this is because your first installment–or first month’s rent– is covering form the 1st of the month to the 15th of the following month. Your first and last installments are calculated at a daily rate, so you are only paying for the days that your Lease Agreement will cover. You will save the most money if you chose to move into your new apartment on the first day of that company’s rent cycle. With University Edge, that day is the 15th of any month.
Your Last Installment will work in the same way. At University Edge, your Lease Agreement will end on one of the three following move-out dates: February 14th, 2020, May 24th, 2020, or August 4th, 2020. Your last installment will cover from the 15th of the preceding month to whichever move-out date that will work best for you. We keep our move-out date in correlation with SIUC and JALC academic calendar, so your move-in date will match your obligations in the Carbondale area. Renewing your contract is easy and beneficial–because your security deposit will transfer to your renewed contract! No hassle, no moving, it just doesn’t get better than that!
In closing, the best advice I can offer apartment shoppers is to start the process early. If you sign a lease 4 months prior to the expiration of your existing Lease Agreement, the only cost you will incur at University Edge (and most housing firms) is the security deposit. Signing early allows you to incur low initial cost, and it increases the time you have to pay off your move-in costs–which will be your higher costs. At University Edge, we can provide an amortized schedule of payments upon request; this will spread the higher costs of your First and Last Installments over a greater period of time, which in turn, will allow you to slowly pay off your move-in costs and make your transition from one apartment to another much easier.
Apartment shopping is stressful, but it is only as stressful as you allow it to be. Forward thinking and proper planning are an apartment shopper’s greatest ally. You may be shocked at how small your move-in installments on a new apartment can be when you start the process early and plan your transition months in advance.
How Do I Set Up My Own Utilities?
At University Edge, we cover water and trash for all studio apartments. However, in an effort to keep rent as low as possible, trash is the only service provided at every location.
Ameren of Illinois (Electricity):
To set up electricity, you must use Ameren of Illinois. You may set up an account with Ameren via phone at 1-800-755-5000 or online here.
To ensure electricity is on in your apartment upon your move-in, we recommend contacting Ameren at least one week before your move-in date–as Ameren is very busy at the beginning of the semesters.
If you need help setting up your electricity through Ameren, contact Ameren Customer Support. They will guide you through all the steps of creating an account through Ameren’s website.
Explore Carbondale (Water):
To set up water, you must use the City of Carbondale. You can visit the CarbondaleCivicCenter in person or go online to create a new account. You’ll need to upload a photo ID and pay a $100 deposit for water connection.
If you need assistance, you can call or visit the Carbondale Civic Center (618) 457-3209, 200 S Illinois Ave, Carbondale, IL 62901.
Frontier & Mediacom (Internet):
You have two choices of internet providers: Frontier and Mediacom. Frontier is a DSL internet provider (this provides a good connection for light online activity). Mediacom is an internet/cable/phone provider that delivers service via coaxial cable (this provides a better connection for heavy online activity).
You may set up a Frontier account via phone at (618) 997-1062 or online here.
You may set up a Mediacom account via phone at 1-855-633-4226 or online here.
All University Edge properties are equipped for both DSL and coaxial cable. You can skip the installation fee if you have your own router and connect it yourself, in which case Mediacom will simply switch on your Internet. Otherwise, Mediacom will need to enter your apartment to install a router which comes with a one-time installation fee. Visit their website or give them a call to ask about pricing.
If you have any other questions about utilities, contact University Edge and we’ll be happy to help!
Best 3 Summer Session Suggestions in Carbondale
Imagine this: the humidity is as high as the temperature, campus lots are only speckled with parked cars, and you just finished your first class of summer session. What are you going to do all summer in a town like Carbondale? Fear not, there is more to this town than the campus grounds. Here are my best 3 summer hot spots suggestions that will make your summer session enjoyable and relaxing.
#1) Hit the Rec, HARD
SIU has quite an impressive Student Recreation Center, and you should use this time you may have alone (or even better with a buddy) to hit the gym. Stay active in a number of ways: by playing basketball, tennis, recketball, swimming in the olympic sized pool, lifting in one of the many weight rooms, taking a aerobics class, or just running on one of the hundreds of treadmills.
#2) Check Out the Local Lakes
Poplar Camp Beach is a serene beach front on Cedar Lake. Swim in the lake or sunbathe on the hill, it’s a guaranteed good time. Only costing $2.50/person for entry, this local hot spot is the perfect way to cool down on those scorching Southern Illinois summer days.
If you’re willing to make the drive and looking for a bigger beach on the lake, I highly recommend South Sandusky Beach at Rend Lake. One of the highest rated beaches in the area, South Sandusky Beach is roughly a 50 minute drive from Carbondale; this beach costs $5 per day or, if you plan to frequent this gorgeous location, $40 for a summer pass. This location offers a large sand area, buoyed swim area, shaded picnic sites, foot showers, large change/shower houses, and restroom facilities. South Sandusky Beach will open for the summer on May 17th, 2019.
#3) Sunset Concerts at SIU Shryock & Turley Park
Every Thursday at 7:00 PM Student Programming Council, Student Center, City of Carbondale, and Carbondale Park District hosts FREE live concerts in front of Shryock Auditorium on campus and Turley Park just off W. Main St. (Highway 13). Sunset Concert is a wonderful weekly tradition in the summers at SIU. Grab a blanket, some lawn chairs, and your biggest cooler and kick off your summer with Donovan Keith, of Soul Track Mind from Austin, TX, on June 13th, 2019.
Summer session is what you make of it, and I encourage you to make it a session to remember! Stay active at the gym, relax at the beach, and enjoy some nightlife while you study hard this summer. Time flies when you’re having fun! Fall will be here before you know it!
This Google Hack Will Save You Money
It is easy to get lost in the numbers when you are searching for housing. But it is easier to create a spreadsheet to help guide you to the right choice. The #1 thing to keep in mind when using spreadsheets is accessibility. You need to be able to access and input data at all times, and there is no better way than to keep this data on your phone–because, if you are like me, your phone is rarely far from you.
Google Drive is a college student’s best friend! It’s a free Microsoft Office suite with unlimited storage and accessibility– all you need to do is sign into your Google account! This simple spreadsheet hack starts with Google Forms.
Step 1) Create & Customize a Google Form:
Google Forms is a tool within Google Drive that will make inputting your data into a spreadsheet fast and easy. To create a Google Form, go to Google drive and click “New.”
You will see several options appear, such as Folder, File Upload, Google Docs, Google Sheets..etc. Once you are here click the option for “More.”
Once you click on Google Forms, you will be redirected to the new form Google has created for you to customize. It will appear as depicted below:
Now you can create this form to be whatever you wish. I would suggest changing the input fields to short answer so you have the ability to input any data you need. Click on “Multiple Choice” to see all field choices Google allows on this form.
Design the form to work for you, but if you need some direction, here is a screenshot of the form I use when apartment shopping:
Step 2) Save Your New Google Form to Your Phone’s Home Screen:
Once your form is created, send the form to yourself in an email. This email will contain the URL Google designates to your form for access. Open this email that you have sent to yourself from your phone. The next steps in this article will pertain to steps you must take on your phone– our goal is to save the form to the home screen of your phone so you will be able to input data as you shop for apartments. Begin by clicking “SEND.”
Below is a screenshot of the email you will receive from yourself. Once you have received this email, click “Fill Out Form.” You will be redirected to the form itself via the default web browser that is in your phone’s settings. In this article, I will be showing you how to save a web page to your home screen within Google Chrome; however, the instructions will be similar across all phone’s web browsers.
Once you are at the form, click on the three dots vertically aligned in the top right corner of your phone’s screen. This button will allow you to access your web browser’s options (in this example Google Chrome’s options).
Once you are in Google Chrome’s options (or your web browser’s options), click “Add to Home screen.”
After clicking, you will be able to title the form any name you wish (this will be the name that appears on your homescreen below the Google Forms icon).
After you have given your form a stellar title and clicked “ADD,” congratulations! You have successfully created a beautiful Google Form that is going to make apartment shopping so much easier!
Now, go to the homescreen on your phone. Your phone will add the Google Form icon to the nearest available icon slot within your home screen pages. If you are like me and have several pages on your home screen, check the last page. You will see a purple icon with the title you gave the form listed below. Simply press & hold the icon to move the shortcut to your form to the page on your home screen that will be most accessible for you.
Here is where I put mine:
Step 3) Export Your Data to a Spreadsheet in Google Sheets:
Now, it’s one thing to have the ability to input data quickly and easily, but your data will be useless you can view it in a spreadsheet. Exporting the data you input from this form will allow you to compare prices and your thoughts about the apartments you have seen. To export, access your new Google Form from Google Drive on your computer (make sure to log into the same Google Account that you created the form).
Once you click on the form within Google Drive, you will be redirected to the form you just created. At the top of the form you will see “Questions” and “Responses,” click on “Responses.”
The responses tab will allow you to see individual data that you have entered during your shopping experiences. This may be useful for quick reference; however, for the purposes of comparison, we need this data in a spreadsheet. There will be a green icon in the upper right area of the form; this is a Google Sheets icon. Click on the Google Sheets icon, Google will create a Google Sheets spreadsheet and transfer all the data you have entered into the form you have created. And what’s more, Google will automatically update this same Google Sheets spreadsheet when you input new data!
Data gives you the ability to make quick & strategic decisions that benefit your exact needs! Google makes collecting and viewing data so easy and will guide you to the best decisions in all your shopping experiences. I hope this hack helps make apartment shopping a little easier and much less stressful! Happy saving!
How to Become a Better Buyer
Finding an apartment in Carbondale is difficult because it’s too easy. Everywhere you look in town you will see signs saying “Leasing Now” “First Month Free” or even “Brand New TV in each Unit”. Carbondale has an increasing amount of housing options each year; whether you are living in the dorms or living off campus, the enormous amount of options in Carbondale may overwhelm you.
I’m here to help you filter through the advertising and find the unit that will actually work best for you. There are several elements you need to look for in the leasing process, but chief among these elements are price points and maintenance.
Of course if you are seeking a specific amenity, such as a pool near the complex, or a gym in your building, your options will limit themselves naturally–this is because there only a few firms that offer these luxuries. However, if you are looking for a cost effective, quiet and clean place to live during your time in Carbondale, it may be difficult to narrow your options and make a confident choice for your housing. The following is my best help guide to help you filter through all the ads and promises so you can find the specific unit that will work best for you:
#1) Collect Data & Make a Spreadsheet:
It is easy to get lost in the numbers when you are searching for housing. But it is even easier to create a spreadsheet to help guide you to the right choice. The #1 thing to keep in mind when using a spreadsheet is accessibility. You need to be able to input data at all times, and there is no better way than to keep this data on your phone–because, if you’re like me, your phone is rarely far from you. If you want to learn how I keep my data accessible and clean, check out my post This Google Hack Will Save you Money.
#2) Physically Visit the Specific Unit You Wish to Lease:
Many firms use show models that are decorated and specifically designed to create a good experience for their visitors. These show models are helpful for envisioning how you can decorate and arrange the unit with your own items; however, these show models are not helpful for seeing the unit. Every item that is placed in an apartment takes up space and subtracts an area you can see in the unit. I advise all that are seriously looking for an apartment to ask the tour guide if you can see the exact unit you will be leasing. This way you can see exactly what your money will be buying.
#3) Consider all Your Options:
Think about the location of the complex (Is it close to your work? Is it close to your lecture halls? Is there food close to you? Can I walk home from where I will be?), and what’s more, think about where your unit is located specifically within the the complex itself (Is there a unit directly above me? Do I share a wall with another person? What can I see from my windows…what can see me from my windows?). These questions are just starting points, you are looking for yourself, and you know what you want best! Go back through the data you have collected and consider your costs and the benefits you will receive by taking on certain costs. Ask yourself questions like: is the increased rent of a newly renovated apartment worth it to me? Are the savings of leasing a standard apartment worth more to me? Do I require a dishwasher/laundry machine/microwave in my unit and is the rent increase worth it to me? Will I be paying for my own electricity use, or is my increased rent paying for my neighbors electricity too? Am I willing to pay more for space, or will I be happier saving money living in a smaller unit?
It is too easy to become bogged down with all the advertising promises and numbers thrown at you when searching for college housing. Fight back! Filter through the mess and find what is best for you!