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How Much Should I Spend on Rent?

Sacha R - Monday, January 06, 2020

Woman counting money

If you’re searching for your first apartment or considering moving to a new place, one of the first questions you should ask yourself is “how much can I afford to pay in rent?”. Living beyond your means will quickly become stressful and put you, and your bank account, through a lot of trouble. Thankfully, there are several methods to determine how much you should spend on rent.

Determining a Budget

For many, the cost is the number one factor in deciding whether to rent an apartment or not. This is especially true if you’re on a strict budget. $20 more a month than what you can afford doesn’t seem like a lot, but that’s $240 a year that could be spent elsewhere.

A good place to start when trying to create a budget is your lifestyle and how much you’re willing to sacrifice. If you have to have an apartment that is $50 a month more than you can afford, are you ready to spend less in another area of your life? If you’re a homebody and really enjoy nights in with some snacks and a book, it may be worth spending a bit more on your rent. If you often go out with friends, stay the night at a significant other’s, or travel for work, you may want to consider not renting the most expensive place you can afford.

The 30% Threshold

The 30% threshold details that you should spend around 30% of your gross income in rent. To determine what that amount is, multiply your gross salary by 0.3. Divide that number by 12 to know approximately how much you should spend on rent each month.

While this is a good starting place, if you want a lot of amenities and a convenient location, you may want to spend 30-35% of your income on an apartment. If you’re always on the go and those things don’t matter as much to you, you may want to spend as little as 20-25% of your income on an apartment.

The 50/30/20 Budget

Another way to budget your income and determine how much rent you can afford is with the 50/30/20 budget.

The budget gets broken down as follows:

  • 50% of your income goes towards the essentials (rent, utilities, phone bill, any type of insurance, transportation, groceries, etc.)
  • 30% of your income goes towards your lifestyle and non-essentials (movies, concerts, shopping, dining out, etc.)
  • The remaining 20% should be invested or put in a savings account

The 50/30/20 budget is a simple way to categorize your income and see where your money is being spent every month.

How to Calculate Your Overall Rent

When calculating how much you can spend on rent, there are several things you should ask yourself and the landlord.

  • Are utilities included in the rent?
  • Does the budget you’re calculating include money to put towards utilities or is that a separate expense?

If utilities are included in your rent then that’s great! The 30% will cover the entire expense of living in your apartment. If utilities aren’t included, you’ll have to move some money around. If 30% of your income affords you $1000 a month on rent, approximately $150 of that should go towards your base utilities (gas, water, electric). So really you have $850 to spend on rent a month. 

Once you determine your budget, it’s time to start apartment hunting! At Hawthorne Gardens we offer affordable 1, 2, and 3-bedroom apartments for those looking to move to Guilderland, NY. Schedule a tour today to view your new home!

How to Make the Most of Your Apartments Entryway

Sacha R - Monday, December 02, 2019

The entry way of your apartment is the first spot guests see when they come over. It’s also the first spot you see when you come home! For these reasons, it’s important to designate your entryway as its own space and make it stand out from the rest of your home. Wall hooks, benches, and artwork can all work wonders to transform the space and help you organize your home. Learn how to go from a blank wall to a stunning entryway with the following tips.

Apartment Entryway Ideas

Use Wall Hooks

If you’re tight on space, or just have a lot of coats, wall hooks are the ideal solution. They take up very little space but provide the perfect spot for yourself or guests to leave their jackets and hats.

Add Seating

Any sort of seating is better than none. Find a bench with storage underneath and you’ll have a great place to keep shoes, scarves, hats and more. An accent chair will provide a nice pop of color and is an ideal spot for putting on shoes or plopping down a purse after a long day.

Define the Space with a Table

An entry table with a mirror or painting hanging above is a sure-fire way to signify “this is an entryway!”. Add a bowl or a dish on top of the table and you’ll have a great place to leave your keys. You’ll never lose them again! Bonus points if the table has drawers so you can designate a junk drawer and give the illusion that your apartment is clean.

Hang a Floating Shelf

If a table isn’t your style, try a floating shelf. They come in all different sizes, colors, and shapes so you find one that feels the most “you”. Hang a couple vertically and create a statement piece. Decorate the shelves with knickknacks, picture frames, and baskets to fill the space and display items that are important to you.

Find a Mail Sorter

One of the biggest struggles we all face is what to do with the mail. Hang a mail sorter and this way you at least have an intentional place to put it. Opening and sorting through the mail is a different story…

Include a Plant

Plants are proven to make us happier, so putting one in your entryway will brighten your mood whenever you come home. If you’re limited on space, try hanging one from the ceiling or mounting a planter to the wall. It will breathe new life into the space while adding color and texture. Just don’t forget to water it!

Find Your New Home

In addition to a large entryway with enough room for benches, tables and plants, our apartments feature balconies, large master bedrooms, and a kitchen with a breakfast nook. Choose from 1, 2, or 3-bedrooms and find the apartment of your dreams!

5 Tips for Eco Friendly Living

Sacha R - Monday, November 04, 2019

reusable tote, water bottle, and straw for eco-friendly living

At Hawthorne Gardens, we’re committed to living an eco-friendly lifestyle. The average person generates about 4.6 pounds of trash per day, which includes plastic packaging, food waste, Ziplock bags, and so much more. When you begin to pay attention to how much waste your generating, the result can be shocking.

With a few simple changes, eco-friendly living can become your new normal. With these tips you can feel good about your lifestyle while helping to build a sustainable Earth!

Eco Friendly Living

Use Reusable Grocery and Produce Bags

This is one of the easiest changes to make and it has a big impact! According to the Environmental Protection Agency, over 380 billion plastic bags, sacks and wraps are consumed in the U.S. each year. The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in just four trips to the grocery store.

Reusable grocery bags can be purchased online, from farmers markets, and in many boutiques throughout the area. You won’t have to worry about your bag breaking from the weight of groceries either as fabric totes are much stronger than plastic.

Reusable produce bags can also be found online and are just the thing to put apples, green beans, and peppers in. They’re washable and come in various sizes and materials. Say goodbye to those flimsy bags you find in the produce section!

Worried about forgetting your reusable bags? Keep some in the trunk of your car so you always them with you. Eventually it will become habit to use them.

Reusable Straws

Reusable metal straws have increased in popularity recently. Many are forgoing the straw in their drink at Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, or local coffee shop in favor of this more environmentally friendly option. They’re small enough to keep in your handbag and often come in a little case so they won’t get your other belongings dirty.

Blackout Curtains

Not only are blackout curtains great for blocking out the sun, they have the ability to reduce your energy bill. During the winter, blackout curtains will help keep the heat in the room while in the summer, they have the ability to reflect heat out of the room. With blackout curtains you could reduce your energy bill up to 25%!

Go Digital

These days, almost every company gives the option to go paperless. The next time you’re at your doctor’s office, ask if they have an online portal to pay bills and receive updates. You can also do the same with credit cards and bank statements.

You can also eliminate your paper usage by asking companies to not send you catalogs or coupons in the mail. This is a slightly more time-consuming task but one that is well worth the effort. Many companies offer digital versions of catalogs and send coupons by email so there is no reason to receive physical versions.

Use Natural Cleaning Products

As you run out of your current cleaning products, make the switch to natural ones or make your own! When you use chemical in your toilets, sinks, dishwashers, or other appliances, the chemicals are eventually rinsed down the drain. The water then heads to the waste water treatment facilities where the majority of contaminants are removed before the water makes its way back to rivers and lakes. However, not all the contaminants from these chemical products are removed, and over time, they can build up to have a substantial and negative effect on the wildlife. Some compounds actually accelerate plant growth, which can lead to dense vegetation that interferes with animal life and eventually decays in equally massive quantities.

Mass-produced cleaning products also have an impact on greenhouse gases, fuel consumption, and requires disposable packaging. Making your own or reading the labels to buy environmentally friendly alternatives is simple and beneficial.

Going green doesn’t have to be difficult and has countless environmental benefits. Making small changes over time will help the whole family transition to a happier, ecofriendly way of living!

Tips for When You’re Sick

Sacha R - Monday, October 07, 2019

Four tips for when you’re sick and living alone

October is here and so is the start of flu season. Being sick with the flu or a cold is never fun, but it’s even worse when you live alone. There’s no one around to run to the store for you, make a cup of tea, or just hang out while you get your strength back.

Have no fear though, there are ways to survive being sick while living alone.

How to Feel Better 101

Stock up on supplies now

Don’t wait until you can’t breathe and are wearing every sweatshirt you own to run out to the store for medicine. Take note of the state of your medicine cabinet and then make a trip to the closest drug store. Stock up on day and nighttime cold medicine, cough drops, pain reliever, tissues, a Netty Pot, and even some canned soup. The next time you wake up with flu symptoms you’ll be thankful you thought ahead.

Let It Go

Let your weekly chore calendar go, just until you feel better. It’s unlikely you’ll be well enough (or even able) to do any serious cleaning around your home. Take the time to rest and give your body the break it needs, your floors can stand to not be vacuumed for a while. If you are able to get up and move a bit, try to focus on a keeping a few areas of your home clean. This mostly includes changing your sheets and towels and taking the trash out.

Maintain Your Routine

When you’re in the thick of your illness you’ll likely want to lay in bed, in the dark, while watching reruns of Friends all day. This is understandable (and encouraged!), but once you start to feel a bit better try to get back to your routine ASAP. Open the curtains, make your morning cup of coffee, and respond to a few emails. The longer you stay in the “I’m sick” mindset, the longer you actually feel sick.

Ask for Help

Trying to do too much when you’re extremely ill can make matters worse. Don’t be afraid to phone a friend or a family member and ask for help. Put together a list and ask them to run to the grocery store for you. On their way in to your apartment, ask if they can get your mail. A helping hand will give you peace of mind and help you on your road to recovery. 

Being sick is never fun, but just remember that you’ll be back to your normal self in a week or two. It’s also a perfect time to binge watch that new show without feeling guilty. Oh, and don’t forget to replace your old toothbrush once your cold or flu has run its course.

How to Save Space in Your Apartment

Sacha R - Tuesday, September 03, 2019

wall hooks in a bathroom to create storage and save space

Have a lot of stuff? We get it, we do too. “Stuff”, while not always a bad thing, does require a place to be stored. From kitchen gadgets and clothing, to toys, hobbies, and general clutter, having space and storage is a necessary part of creating an apartment that is relaxing and stress free.

We’ve got some big ideas on how you can maximize the space in your apartment while still keeping all of the items you love. Keep reading to become an organization and storage master!

Space Saving Tricks for Your Apartment

Bench Seating

Bench seating is ideal for an entryway. The bench is the perfect spot to sit to put on shoes, and the available storage underneath is good for shoes, hats, gloves, umbrellas and more. Hang a key rack or mirror above the bench to create a complete foyer right in your apartment.

Put Furniture in Your Bathroom

Your bathroom might not be big enough for a luxurious lounge area, but it is big enough to put some additional shelves, a cabinet, or even a few more hooks. There are units made specifically to fit around a toilet which provide the perfect space for toilet paper, tissues, towels, or hair products.

If you need more room in your shower, hang a second rod in the back of your shower. Now you have a space to hang baskets and store body wash, shampoo, conditioner, soap and more!

Looking for a unique shelving idea? Screw a couple of wicker baskets into the wall on their side! Now you have a creative way to store towels or extra toilet paper.

Use Behind-the-door shoe holders for more than just shoes

It’s time to break all of the organizing rules. Behind the door shoe holders are inexpensive and can be used for much more than just shoes. Use one in the bathroom to keep band-aids, nail clippers, hair brushes, combs and so much more.

Have a coat closet? Put a shoe holder in there and either use it for shoes or as a place for umbrellas, sunglasses, hats, reusable shopping bags, and flashlights. They’re also useful in the kitchen as an extension of your pantry or utensils drawer.

Put Shelves Everywhere

If you can’t think of where to store something, chances are the solution is a shelf. Shelves are easy to install, are visually appealing, and get clutter off of the floor. They’re the ultimate hack to save space in your apartment.

Ikea and Command both make easy to install shelves that won’t break the bank or damage your walls. From there you can purchase baskets to hide clutter or display your favorite pictures and trinkets for friends and family to see.

Finding the Right Apartment for You

Even with the large apartments offered at Hawthorne Gardens, having more storage and space is always a bonus. From baskets and shelves to double duty furniture, there is always a way to save space and store all of your favorite items.

Interested in more organizing tips? Check out some of our most popular articles:

9 Things in your Closet to Get Rid Of

3 Ways to Get more Bathroom Storage

Design Ideas for Small Spaces

Clean Your Apartment with Natural Cleaning Products

Sacha R - Monday, August 19, 2019

natural cleaning products

Living a healthy lifestyle doesn’t start and end with the food we put into our bodies; it also includes the products we use to clean our homes. Many cleaning products found in stores contain chemicals that can be harmful to our overall health and wellness. Even products that are labeled “organic”, “natural”, or “pure” can include some questionable ingredients.

Learn how to clean your apartment with natural cleaning products and say goodbye to harmful chemicals.

Vinegar is King

Did you know that basic vinegar can be used to clean almost every surface in your apartment? A bucket of warm water and a splash of vinegar can clean cabinets, walls, mirrors, glass, the inside of your refrigerator, and many other hard surfaces.

You can also clean you floors with vinegar by adding a big splash to a bucket along with warm water and a few drops of your favorite essential oil. The vinegar smell will go away as it dries, and you’ll be left with clean floors!

If you don’t want to mix up a solution every time you clean, you can keep a spray bottle of your natural cleaner nearby. Simply fill your spray bottle with one-part vinegar and two parts water.

To clean your microwave with vinegar put 1 cup in a glass microwaveable bowl and microwave it on high until it’s boiling and has covered the walls of the microwave in condensation. This will take about 5 minutes. Let sit for a few minutes before removing the bowl of vinegar. With a cloth or paper towel wipe the microwave clean. Voila, that tomato sauce is gone!

Wondering how to clean your toilet with natural cleaners? Put straight vinegar in a spray bottle and set the nozzle to stream instead of mist. Squirt the vinegar right under the rim and then scrub the bowl with your toilet brush as usual.

Cleaning with Baking Soda

Baking soda is great at eliminating odors and using on hard to clean surfaces. For smelly drains, sprinkle some baking soda down the drain and follow with a couple cups of warm vinegar.

In the bathroom, sprinkle the tub, sink, or grout with baking soda. Use a spray bottle filled with vinegar to spray over the area and then let sit for a minute or two. Scrub the area clean with a brush and then rinse with water. If you prefer a foaming scrub you can spray the baking soda with hydrogen peroxide instead.

For baked on messes, mix some baking soda in small bowl with enough hydrogen peroxide to make a paste. Use a sponge to scrub at the mess until it’s gone. This also works on rust stains, soap scum and dirty grout.

Making a Natural Disinfectant

If raw meat gets on your counter while cooking, you’re certainly going to need to disinfect the area. Tea tree oil, or melaleuca oil has antibacterial qualities. Place some in a spray bottle and use when you need to disinfect an area.

One thing to keep in mind is that tea tree oil is toxic if swallowed. While it’s still safe to use in the home, you should keep it away from children or pets. You should also keep other cleaning products away from little hands, whether they’re natural or not.

Want more cleaning tips? Read about some our favorite cleaning hacks and how to organize your cabinets.

Why Your Credit Score Matters When Renting

Sacha R - Monday, August 05, 2019

Credit score report on a table

So, you’ve found the apartment of your dreams. Congratulations! Now it’s time to complete and submit a rental application, which often includes a credit check.

A question we hear often is “why does my credit score matter?”. The short answer is that good credit will make you stand out while bad credit may prevent you from renting your dream place. Keep reading to find out more!

Credit History Matters as Much as Your Credit Score

You may have a good score now, but has it always been that way? If there is a pattern of weak credit over a long period of time, that’s a red flag that a person isn’t good with money. However, one dip in credit score due to a divorce or illness is less likely to make a negative impact.

The details in a credit report, including late payments, evictions, and bankruptcies paint your financial story. A series of late payments combined with several evictions will raise major red flags in the eyes of a landlord.

A credit report can tell a good story as well! It includes information on on-time payments, social security number, and date of birth.

Own Up to Your Mistakes

Before you submit your rental application, run a credit report yourself. You can order a free credit report from each national consumer credit reporting company (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) once every 12 months. By running a report, you can know exactly what the landlord will be looking at as well.

If there are any red flags you can formulate responses and explain the reasoning behind them. Provide the explanations with the application so the landlord doesn’t have to ask for them. Owning up to your mistakes will show that you can take responsibility for your actions and have learned from them.

Start Working on Your Credit

There are things you can do today that will start to improve your score almost immediately. There are five major factors that influence your credit score. The two most important are your payment history and the amounts you owe. Make a habit of paying bills on time (you can even set up autopay) and try to only use a small portion of the credit that’s available to you. If you have a credit card with a limit of $5,000, try to keep the balance below $1500.

What to Do If You Have A Bad Credit Score

A clean criminal background, job stability, high income, a healthy savings account, and positive references from past landlords can help your case. If you have all of those and a poor credit report, you should still have a good rental application.

If you’re still concerned, a roommate with a good credit score can ease the landlords worries. You can also ask a friend or relative to co-sign the lease. Just remember, whoever you ask is responsible for the rent payment if you’re unable to make it.

There are several financial fixes you can take as well. Put up a larger security deposit, pay several months’ rent in advance, or set up automatic payments so your landlord knows they’ll receive their money. You could also agree to pay slightly more in rent each month if it’s truly your dream apartment.

Yes, Your Credit Matters

Long story short, your credit matters. However, with the right knowledge of your own financial history, it won’t make or break your application. Prepare explanations, start improving your credit score, and ask for recommendations so you can be on your way to moving into a new apartment!

Is Hawthorne Gardens your dream apartment? Start the application process today!

How Much Does It Cost to Move Out?

Sacha R - Monday, July 22, 2019
How Much Does it Cost to Move Out

Are you itching to move in to your first apartment? Before you pull the trigger and find yourself in an apartment you can’t afford, take the time to do some planning. There are a lot of upfront costs that makes moving expensive. Save enough money for these five expenses before you sign the lease on a new apartment.

Security Deposit and Rent

Be prepared to pay the first months rent and a security deposit on or before you move in. The security deposit is often equal to your monthly rent but check with your landlord to know exactly how much you’ll owe. In addition to the security deposit and rent, you’ll likely have to pay an application fee. Know how many apartments you plan to apply for so you can save money.

Utility Costs 

Your monthly rent is not how much you’ll be paying to live in your apartment. Unless your rent includes utilities, you’ll need to estimate how much you’ll be paying for renters insurance, heat, water, cable, and internet on a monthly basis. If you’re unsure, plan to pay 20% of your rent.

Moving Costs

If you’re renting a truck to make the big move, this is another cost you’ll need to consider. Even if a truck is advertised for $20 a day, that cost does not include all of the fees you’ll need to pay as well. If you’re moving to a new state that will cost more money than a small, in-town move. Get a cost estimate before making your reservation and shop around for the best deal.


There’s no way around it, you’re going to need furniture for your new place. To save money, ask family and friends if they have any pieces they’re looking to get rid of. You can also search on Facebook, Craigslist, or visit your local Habitat for Humanity for inexpensive furniture. Before heading out to buy the remaining furniture you need, set a budget is realistic and that you can stick to.

Starter Pantry and Supplies

Be prepared to spend a lot of money on your first trip to the grocery store. You’re starting from nothing, meaning there is a lot to buy. Some important items include:

  • Paper towels
  • Toilet paper
  • Basic spices
  • Cleaning products
  • Tin foil and/or plastic wrap
  • Coffee filters
  • Sandwich and/or snack bags
  • Cooking oils
  • Sugar
  • Flour

The good news is you won’t be spending that amount every time you go shopping. Many of the items will last you a long time, only requiring you to repurchase every so often. Set aside around $200 for your first trip to the grocery store.

Join Our Community!

Hawthorne Gardens apartments are large, centrally located in Guilderland, NY and affordable! Call today to learn more about our community and to schedule a tour. We can’t wait to show you around!

Does Square Footage Matter?

Sacha R - Monday, July 08, 2019

apartment sqaure footage matter

When you’re searching for your next apartment it can be easy to focus on the square footage. Most people look for the biggest apartment they can get within their budget. This isn’t always the best plan of action, though. Ultimately, the size of the apartment is not indicative of the experience you’ll have living there. There are a few other key factors you should consider when choosing your new home!

The Layout

Do you like an open floor plan or a bit of privacy with closed off rooms? A large apartment may feel small if there are too many walls and closed off space. Likewise, if an apartment has tall ceilings, large windows, and a lot of open space it will feel bigger than it actually is. The layout of an apartment usually ends up being more important than the square footage.

Consider the Size of Key Rooms

How do you plan to use your new home? Do you like to entertain friends and family? Do you need an at-home office or studio? Or maybe you like to cook! Look at the size of the rooms you’ll be using the most and consider if the size and layout will work for you.

If you like cooking, a small kitchen won’t be ideal. However, if you eat out most nights, sacrificing kitchen space for a larger bedroom may not be a big deal for you. Even large apartments can be less than perfect if key rooms are too small.

Visit the Apartment

Obviously, the best way to know if an apartment will work for you is to take a tour! You’ll be able to get a feel for how large or small the space feels and if it will suit your needs. Don’t forget to measure doorways to know if your furniture will fit, in addition to any stairwells or tight spaces in the apartment. Nothing is worse than realizing your couch or bed won’t fit through the door!

Hawthorne Gardens is proud to offer various floor plans with distinct layouts. Whether you work from home, love to entertain, or are raising a family, we’re confident one of our one, two, or three-bedroom apartment homes will be the right fit.

Get in touch today to learn more about Hawthorne Gardens and to schedule a tour!

How to Put Together An A+ Rental Application

Sacha R - Monday, June 17, 2019

how to put together rental application

Congratulations on finding the perfect apartment! The next step is to submit your rental application to secure your new home. Rental applications help landlords make informed decisions on who to rent to. This is also your chance to showcase why you’re the perfect candidate to rent the apartment. Filling out the application may seem self-explanatory, but there are a few tips to make your application stand out.

Follow All Directions

Think of a rental application as a test – landlords and property managers use them to see if you pay attention to detail or if you’re careless. Read over all the sections of the application before you begin to fill it out. Make sure you complete all sections of the application as well; failure to do so can result in processing delays.

Be Honest

Lying, and having someone find out the truth, looks a lot worse than just telling the truth about your past. If you’ve been evicted or asked to move out, be honest about the reason why. The same goes for if you’ve declared bankruptcy or been fired from job.

If you have pets, plan on getting a pet, or will be living with roommates you need to state that as well. Many communities require an application from each person who plans on living in the apartment. Trying to hide a pet or roommate will result in major consequences.

Provide References

Unless the application specifically states “no references”, providing a few references provides a potential landlord the opportunity to get to know you. Attach your reference contact to the application and submit it via email or mail. Provide a mix of personal and professional references and always ask the reference first before listing them!

Clean Up Your Social Media

Before you submit your application, take some time to clean up your social media accounts. Any photos or posts that don’t portray your personality in the most positive light should be removed or made as private as possible. Most landlords will search your name to learn more about you – don’t let that one photo from your Freshmen year of college deter them.

With these tips in mind you’re ready to submit an A+ rental application!

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