I need advise on apt living

sugar_flFebruary 12, 2005

I"m sure glad I found this forum. I hope to be moving to a small apt soon. It is affiliated with the church I go to & on Faulkner University campus which is a christian university in Montgomery AL.

It seems ideal for me now that I am alone since my DH's death last summer. I am on a small farm in the middle of no where now. I don't drive & it is 12 miles to a store & 30 from Wal-mart, Drs & Hospitals. At this apt I can walk to church or ride in the van. Many store are right across the road. One thing I like is I can eat in the school cafeteria for $5 when I want to. I can use things at the school like the library. It is a GREAT place to walk too. I can go all over the champus. It is a low income apt but I have been there & it's not your normal low income Apt . I have seen some & wouldn't live there. The price is right as the rent won't be over $300 a month & includes all utilities but phone, TV & internet. Each apt has it's own Heat & AC controls. Most there are widows about my age. It is VERY clean & well kept. I can even have a small garden if I wish. They also have some sound proofing & it was very quiet when I was there. There will be no small children.

I will Have to sell a lot of thing like tools. I can use the extra money for moving & buying a few new things. I will be leaving memories behind which is both good & bad. Everyone I met there were so friendly.

Can U tell I'm excited & as soon as uncle Sam gets my SS straightened out I'm ready to go. They really messed it up when I went from collecting benifits from one husband to the other.

Now finnally after boring U.. LOL.. I will tell why I'm writing. I have never lived in a place like this. It has 3 floors & 100 apts. They are fairly small. I do need advice on how to downsize. I will have to use every means of storage. I plan on having a twin bed so I'll have more room. Under that bed is already planned :D Do anyone have ideas to create more storage space. I want a couple of large plastic storage boxes which I'll put at the foot of the bed with a pretty cover over it. That will be good for out of season clothes.

My puter supplies will be one problem. My puter will take a lot of space but it is a MUST go item. Is there any secret to storing Kitchen items? I think kitchen & computer will be my biggest problem. What should I take & what should I leave behind? How do I decide? Do U have any hints to make the transition easier? Is there any downfalls to expect? I can use all the help I can get BEFORE I move.



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The best way to pare down is to take some time to go through your stuff now. Ask yourself, "when was the last time i used this? Do i really need it?" Make 3 piles - one to give away to Goodwill or whatnot, one to keep, and one ~maybe~ pile. Put the ~maybe~ stuff in a closet for the moment. After some time (a few months if you've got it), go through that maybe pile again and you'll find that most of it you really don't want, there may be an item or you two that you salvage. Be ruthless! Go through your clothing, kitchen, bathroom, everything. Remember, most everything can be replaced if you later wish you hadn't thrown it out. Keep stuff that you need for basic living, has sentimental value or is otherwise irreplaceable, and toss most everything else. Decide roughly where what you are going to keep is going to go in the new place - pack as much as you can in advance and clearly mark the boxes with what's inside, and where it's going.

For the foot of your bed, consider a storage trunk instead of plastic boxes, much prettier and available on the cheap at Walmart/Target type places. Consider a full size bed instead of a twin if you can fit one in the room - you will sleep better in the bigger bed and that will have an effect on your quality of life. Save the plastic boxes for under the bed and in the closet, other out of the way areas. Go to your neighborhood Lowes or Home Depot and check out their storage solutions. Usually what you need is sturdy shelves of some type, fill your closets but make sure everything is accessible and clearly marked, or in clear plastic so you can see the contents. Keep basic tools! This includes stuff like wrenches, screwdrivers, a drill, extension cord, even a Dremel type tool if you have one. Get rid of things you won't likely be able to use like circular arm saws, band saws, stuff like that.

For kitchen - you need a microwave, a good set of knives, silverware, and basic pots and pans and plates/bowls. If you have a bit more room, a coffee maker, toaster oven, blender, food processor, crock pot. Put a decorative container on the counter to hold cooking utensils like wooden spoons and spatulas. I have had good luck with mounting a "bathroom shelf" that had fine wire mesh shelves and a couple of towel racks in the kitchen to use as a spice rack. Utilize the space on top of the refrigerator. Remember to hide items out of sight in cabinets or closets or trunks as much as possible to reduce visual clutter.

For your computer - a decent computer desk is worth the investment. I have one that sits in the corner, has a large workspace, a slide out tray for the keyboard and mouse, and a lot of shelves where i can put nicknacks, components like printers, and things like CDS can go in plastic storage bins in the lower shelves.

I highly recommend you browse Target (either online or in person), they have a wide array of things that can make your life easier, less cluttered, more stylish, and it can all be had for a good price.

Last comment - you mentioned a garden space was available. Use it! I garden on my balcony and it has such a huge effect on my mood and state of mind to have a bit of nature for myself. Drop on over to the Gardenweb Balcony Gardening forum in the spring and you'll have tons of ideas for what you can do in a small gardening space (not just balconies!). Good luck with your new apartment! :)

    Bookmark   February 12, 2005 at 10:40PM
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I had to down size quite a bit when I moved into this one bedroom apartment. One storage trick my sister gave me, is I use a clean metal garbage can with out the lid to store my summer clothes and some Christmas decorations. For the top, I have a nice wooden piece that sits flat and over laps a bit. The can itself has a skirt that hangs to the floor. I use it as a corner table in my bedroom. It's sturdy and holds plenty of things and it looks very nice.

I bought a small microwave and it sits on top of the fridge. Don't keep extra dishes for just in case someone comes. I keep a service for four, dishes, silverware. Actually, I do keep extra, for just in case, I have a pretty large extended family and they do come to visit. For my linens, I keep four hand towels, four bath towels and eight wash clothes. That works pretty well, as long as I stay good about getting to the laundry center.

For my computer, I down sized to a lap top and I keep it on a bakers rack in my bed room. It has plenty of shelving for paper, the printer and all the extra's. In fact, I bought a new bread box and I keep it on the shelf directly above the work station to keep my meds in. My apartment is so small that I worried about the steam in the bathroom and/or kitchen. It serves me well. I have some high sided wicker baskets, three of them to keep smaller things in one of the shelves and a small lamp on the top shelf.

In the 'great room' I have a long buffet with three huge drawers and two side doors that holds many things I need to get to often. I keep my hammer, glue gun, screws stuff like that in decorative hard(card) board box. Just because it looks nice. If I buy, half a dozen new pair of socks, I toss out, half a dozen old pair. I don't keep what I don't use. I've learned to be ruthless. I'm a firm believer in 'less is best'.

I know that lots of folks like to eat watching TV, sitting in an easy chair. Not me, I have a scaled down table, with drop leaves and I keep it set with place mats and cloth napkins. I use crystal goblets and matching dinner ware. Even though it's just me and my cats here, it's become my home and I want it to reflect who I am.

I have a over the toilet unit with doors to hold my towels, wash cloths. It's still awkward for folding them to make them fit, but I do it, consistently. I never let the garbage pile up. In fact because my kitchen trash is exposed, wet garbage under the sink, I have a set of three graduated sizes of wicker hampers. I lined the largest one with really strong plastic garbage bag and then put a tall kitchen can liner in it and keep it covered. I'm careful to not put wet stuff in it, in the event it might leak. What a mess that would be.

Anyway, good luck to you. I hope you enjoy your new home as much as I enjoy mine.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2005 at 6:50AM
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Thanks for the answers. You both sound like U have done great in your Apt. The one they showed me was neat as a pin & looked like a doll house. I hope mine will look the same to other people. I have no family at all either here or there. My family is all in VA but don't want to go back there as I'd have to live with my son. For several reasons I don't want an apt there. One is I'd still have to have a ride to church & places.

I hope it won't be long before I can move but probably at least 2 months. They give U 30 days notice to get ready.

My DH & I had 2 twin beds put together to make a king size. Buying a new bed is expensive. I will check on the storage trunk & see if I can find one.

I have kinda make mental notes on what to keep & what not but sure have a lot of MAYBES & can't take. I have given this all a lot of thought.

My DH was a collecter. He left MANY oil latterns.. BOOK & more BOOKS. I have a complete set of Louis A'Lamore books.
I will be leaving many plants such as over 100 Hostas. I hope to find homes for them. That is just part of the things he collected.

My desk is almost 4 ft long with a separate side unit which gives me some storage. I hope there is room for it as I'd like it all. It is 23 inches deep so won't take up too much room that way. I now have 2 computers & want both so will have to find storage for that. My desk has a shelf over it for things like my scanner & I may buy a scanner printer in one to use less space. My desk also has shelfs under part of it. I hope I still have the shelfs that was taken out of one side when we put 2 puters on the desk. That would help. I can't afford a laptop. I only have a love seat & one comffy chair I want to take Plus an end table which I think I'll get new so I can have storage space in it too. I saw some at WalMart that I liked. I hope I can find help putting things together. I may just have to learn to do those thing. I'm hoping one of the students will need a couple of extra dollars & help me. I know a couple of people there. One of our past preachers teach there. I have also met a few there.

The trash can is a good idea but where would I get the board cut? They told me I could leave my favorite hoe in the shed they have. I want to grow some tomatoes to share. At least my cell phone will work there & I can call friends & family at nite & weekends. I have to be in town here to get out.

I'm not sure how much counter space there is as I have only seen it once. I may be going to a lectureship there next month so can get another look I'm sure. One thing I do have to find space for is my Microwave. I hope there is room for a small cart which will give me more storage. I'll use on top of refrig as the last resort.

I am one who doesn't eat at the table. We always did when there was 2 of us. I have lost 2 husbands & both times it was hard for me to sit at the table alone. Maybe now with total new surroundings I can. I'll have to get a new table as mine is WAY to big. I have a nice card table so I'll use that till I can get a small one. A nice table cloth will do wonders for it. I guess I'll have to use my sewing machine chair for awhile. I hope to have room in the bedroom for that.

I have a OLD breadbox that DH bought me off E-Bay. We cleaned it good even though it didn't look dirty. It is a roll top.

I have some of the metal shelfing from Lowes & hope I can get some help putting a couple of them up. I also have a cart made of the same thing for towels & such. I hope to have the top shelf left for things like lotion. A over the toilet unit is one of the 1st things I'll get. I won't have to use it for towels though. The bathroom is pretty large so I know I'll have room for my cart.

Did U have any problems getting an extra phone line or cable for the internet put in? I hope I don't have as much free time there as I have now on this farm with no where to go or way to go. One thing I'll have to get used to is buying groceries for a week. I buy in bulk now as I don't know when I'll get to the store again. I have a large freezer now to. I'll miss that but the refrig has a freezer over it.

It will be fun fixing my apt but I will be leaving a lot of memories behind. I left a lot behind when I left VA to come here with my 2nd husband. I have never been sorry but he wasn't supposed to leave me so soon. We only had 4 years but 4 good years so now I move on. He would want me to move on & even get off this farm. We talked about moving into town so I wouldn't be so far out if he went first but never did it. He would have been miserable in town. Before coming here I was a city girl. Now I hope to be one again.
I have rambled on enough for now.
Thanks again for answering.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2005 at 11:57AM
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Sugar -
Go to the place you will be living and measure each room - make a floor plan. Then figure out where each piece you want to take can fit.
While you have the space and are still in your house, here's one way to figure out what you need in the kitchen: take everything out of it and put it in the living room, sorted. As you cook, take things from the Living room that you need. By the end of a couple of weeks, your most-used stuff will be in the kitchen. Check over the stuff in the LR - you may need a couple more pots and pans an utensils, but most of the special-purpose things can be sold off.

As for the DH's stuff, I'd have a really BIG estate sale. Ask some trusted younger persons to help you run the thing, and advertise it as "60 years of junk, tools and country collectibles". Sort out the tools - they go fast.

    Bookmark   February 15, 2005 at 8:50AM
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Good Luck with everything! Montg has a unique and wonderful Shakespeare program: theatre, school, etc. Maybe you could become a docent or volunteer. Also lots of civil war history. But I am sure school will keep you busy.

Here are the hints I can add from my school/apartment days:
Beg for an office at school. Keep as much there as possible: books, decorations, weekday lunch, etc.

For computer in apt., use a folding table - not a card table, but decent yet inexpensive folding table, available at Office Despot and places like that for under $40 - for years I have used one that is about 2.5 feet by 5 feet. I get a lot of functional space and little unusable space, unlike computer stands or a traditional desk. I put my CPU under the table, not on top. Top has monitor and printer, plus "desktop" space for working on papers and projects. I also stack paperwork of current projects under table to the side of where my legs go. I use an ergonomic chair with no arms, so less space taken up by chair, and it rolls away under folding table.

I realized dressers take up a lot of space relative to what you can store in them, so I got rid of my dresser and have used a couple plastic "rubbermaid" shelving units, six feet tall, in bedroom as substitute for dresser, plus will hold other things like radio or tv, decorative stuff, files. These sell for about $40, but I caught mine at a grand opening sale for $20/each.

Don't get a big tv -remember that you always could tell what was going on back when a 19' tv was normal.

    Bookmark   February 16, 2005 at 5:27PM
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