Sure, you want to feel safe in the distance from your car to your apartment home and once you’re inside or away, you don’t want to have to worry about break-ins. There are many things you can do as an apartment dweller, from affordable home security systems to light timers to commonsense (but sometimes forgotten) safety practices.

Homeowners have the option of hard-wiring traditional alarm systems, which you can’t do when you’re renting an apartment. Technology to the rescue! There are wireless home security cameras that you can install without the bother of invasive installation and monthly fees from a security company. (Check with your apartment management to make sure it’s OK before you install anything.)

There are options for security systems:

  • Motion sensors: The great thing about motion sensors is that they are less expensive than wireless security cameras and easy to install over windows or doors. They will emit a loud noise if someone touches your window or door.
  • Motion detectors: These devices make a sound and/or turn on a light when movement is detected below them. That’s often enough to scare away anyone wanting to break in.
  • Outdoor security cameras: Sometimes, just having a fake but realistic-looking camera above your door is enough to make a burglar think twice. But you can find basic security cameras and Wi-Fi-enabled hidden cameras for home that you can install, with permission from your landlord, of course.

If you can’t install anything outside your apartment, consider surveillance cameras that you can set on shelves or furniture. They can stream to your smart phone so you can be alerted to something unexpected happening at home. (And you can watch your cat sleep or your dog bark at the air, too.) Maybe you can’t see a security event in time to prevent it, but having video of it could help catch the perp.

Prevention is important

Gadgets are cool, but a few preventative measures can go a long way toward keeping you safer in your apartment:

  • Play it safe: Don’t make it easy for a burglar to grab and dash along with your jewelry, cash, credit cards and electronics. Store them somewhere other than the master bedroom, which is the first place thieves look. Buy a safe that’s heavy enough it can’t be carted off easily. Think of unusual hiding places such as fake containers.
  • Always home: The idea that someone is breaking into your house while you sleep and quietly slipping valuables into a silk bag is mostly fiction. Most break-ins occur from late morning to early afternoon, when residents presumably are at work or in school. Anything you can do to make someone think someone’s inside, such as timed lights, leaving a TV on, can deter a would-be burglar.
  • Good neighbor policy: OK, maybe you don’t like your neighbor’s taste in music, but the more your neighbors know who you are (and like you), the more likely they will keep a lookout for your apartment when you’re away (and vice-versa, hopefully). If you can build up trust with at least one neighbor so you can exchange contact information in case something goes wrong, all the better!

Read all about it

Back in the olden days, when people subscribed to a thing called “newspaper,” the biggest rule was to make sure your subscription was suspended when you went on vacation, so papers didn’t pile up and invite someone to break in. Likewise, that Amazon package you forgot was coming and is sitting on your doorstep is not only an invitation for someone to swipe it, but to have a good idea that there’s nobody home to take it safely in side. Keep a written schedule of expected deliveries as well as appointments with the cable guy, electric/cable/internet company. If you can’t be there, get someone to fill in for you (remember the friendly neighbor?). And be sure to check the ID of the maintenance person or repair person before you let them in.

Don’t be shy about letting your property management staff or landlords know about security or maintenance issues that could affect your safety, from lock tampering to burned-out security lights in the parking lot.

Some landlords require tenants to have renter’s insurance, but if yours doesn’t, it’s a good idea to get it. If something does happen, renter’s insurance will often cover the costs, in addition to things such as water damage, fire damage and vandalism. Sometimes, it even covers theft from your car parked on the property. Speaking of your car, remember to never leave valuables in it, particularly where people can see them. Lock all the doors, even if you’re just dashing inside for something you’ve forgotten and never, ever, leave your car running and unattended.

Here are some other safety tips for apartment living:

  • Lock all your windows and doors
  • Put a broomstick in the gutter of your patio door and sliding windows
  • Park in lighted areas
  • Be alert when you’re walking to and from your apartment
  • As if anyone needs to be reminded to always carry a cellphone, but don’t let it distract you; that text can wait until you’re inside your apartment or car.

A Happy Apartment is an Organized Apartment

Perhaps you just moved into your new apartment home and you’re wondering where to put everything or you’ve been staring at the same clutter (and it keeps growing!) for months and thinking it’s high time to do something about it. At one point, we all have those moments of clarity when we realize: I’ve got to be more organized and get serious about decluttering.

Not only is keeping your apartment organized great to impress those unexpected visitors, but did you know there are health benefits to staying organized? When your home is more organized, you feel better, make healthier choices and your relationships improve (so that’s what the secret is!).

Organizing can reduce stress and depression, according to a study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Women who described their homes as “restful” and “restorative” had lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who said their homes were “cluttered” or had “unfinished projects.”

Though you might not immediately draw a link from being organized to eating habits, a study in Psychological Science reported that those who worked in a neat space for a 10-minute span were twice as likely to choose an apple for a snack over a chocolate bar, which was the choice of those who worked in a messy space for 10 minutes. Organizational skills that track short-term goals and a record of progress mean someone is more likely to stick to an exercise regimen, according to a study in the Journal of Obesity.

Believe it or not, being more organized can help your relationship with a special someone and friends. Couples often fight about where things are, so if they’re always in the right place, that takes conflict out of a relationship. Likewise, you might not want to invite friends over if your place is a mess. Experts suggest planning to have people over, for motivation to stay uncluttered.

So, we know that being organized is important. But how to organize an apartment? We’ve got a few organizing ideas for you.

Maybe you laughed at the over-the-door organizer in your grandma’s house, but they really are space savers and can hold everything from shoes to cleaning supplies. Likewise, get some shower caddies, which you can hang with removable adhesive hooks, to organize your bathroom and kitchen.

Speaking of the kitchen, if you’ve got space between your fridge and a wall, get a rolling storage pantry organizer or magnetic racks to hang from the top of the fridge to maximize space. Free up counter space by getting a drying rack that sits over the second sink.

In the bedroom, save drawer space by folding shirts and storing them vertically. Then get rolling bins that slide under your bed to store seasonal clothes and linens.

Here are some quick, room-by-room tips:

  • Bathroom: Go through the drawers and medicine cabinet and be ruthless in tossing out toiletries and things that you rarely use or outdated.
  • Bedroom: If you find your closet seems to keep getting smaller and smaller, figure out which clothes you no longer wear. A simple closet organizer trick is to turn all of the hanging clothes with the hanger facing backward, all one way. When you wear something, return it to the closet and hang it the other way. In six months, see which hangers haven’t budged and donate your unworn clothes.
  • Kitchen: See how the table and counters seem to attract clutter? Junk mail, car keys, pocket change, etc. Get used to clearing the kitchen of those things by dinnertime, throwing out the junk mail, hanging the car keys up, collecting the change, etc., and you’ll feel better.
  • Living room: It should really be called our electronics room, right? Because that’s where they all are, with their cords and cables conspiring to tangle when we’re not looking. Get a cable organizer or use a cable zipper to tame them and make everything look neat.
  • Home office: Well, we’re going to use the f-word here: Filing. Do you find that your papers accumulate in piles? Maybe you do know what’s in every pile, but a good filing system is key for office organization. Get a 12-month expanding file and sort bills and receipts by month. After the year is up, if you haven’t needed them (especially after tax time), shred them. Get another expanding file and organize important documents by categories such as vehicles, education, medical, taxes, bank, etc.

You might have heard about Marie Kondo, an organization consultant whose “Does it spark joy?” method of determining what goes and what stays is often repeated. Here is a quick look at some organizing tips she included in her best-selling book, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”:

  • Start organizing now, getting everything done that you want. Going bits at a time turns into a perpetual task.
  • Sort by category, not by room, such as sorting all the clothes, books, papers, sentimental things such as photos and letters, and miscellaneous.
  • Whenever possible, recycle paper and packaging. Old bills can be shredded and recycled. If you need to keep something, store them in stylish boxes.
  • Instead of having books you’ve already read collecting dust, donate them so others may enjoy them.
  • If you’ve gotten gifts you don’t like or can’t use, after you’ve thanked the people who gave them to you, donate or re-gift them (as long as you don’t return it to the person who gave you the gift. Awkward!).
  • Assign places to everything you keep, so when it’s not being used, it’s stored.

OK, so you can go online to search for organizing hacks and come up with a thousand websites full of ideas, some of which we’ve featured here. Here are a few outside-the-box ideas that we couldn’t resist sharing:

  • Keep calm and choose your color: Small rooms can look busy with too many clashing colors. If you choose a cohesive color scheme in a complementary palette, you’ll calm the color clutter. Don’t despair if you can’t paint over the white walls of your apartment. Neutral whites actually open up spaces and can make small homes feel bigger.
  • Go vintage: One of the hallmarks of mid-century furniture is thin legs, which is great for small apartments because they don’t create large breaks in the visual plane. And mid-century stuff looks cool, right?
  • Double your space: Tuck stools or extra storage baskets (stylish, of course) underneath your console table to get double usage.

We have to admit, this is our favorite organizing hack. Consider getting a large-scale piece of art to hang in your room. It might seem incongruous, but it’s a trick that designers use to make a room seem more spacious. Besides, when everyone is oohing and ahhing over your artful masterpiece, they might not notice those old magazines you never threw away, the shelves you have yet to organize or the recyclables you haven’t taken to the bin yet.

How to save energy in your apartment home

Sometimes, when it comes to global warming, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and wonder what we can do as individuals to help or at least not cause any more harm. As an apartment dweller, there are many ways to conserve energy—and save money as well.

Good Reasons for Getting a Roommate and How to Find the Right One

Whether you are starting out on your career after college, contemplating moving in with friends or a significant other or considering financial benefits of splitting the bills with someone, many apartment dwellers at one time or another think about getting a roommate. There are pros and cons of having a roommate to share an apartment with. And then, once you decide to get a roommate – and you don’t already have someone in mind or you are new to Phoenix or Tucson – how do you go about finding a roommate?

How to Plan for an Epic Luxury Soak in a Bubble Bath

Are there any two more relaxing words than “bubble bath”? Children like bubble baths because they can play with the bubbles, but parents like it because it encourages them to take their bath. Let’s not let them know that adults like bubble baths for many other reasons. Did you know that bubbles insulate bathwater, which keeps it warmer for a longer period of time?

Welcome Romance Into Your Apartment Home – Any Day of the Year

Yes, Valentine’s Day is coming up. Depending upon your situation, you may greet this unsurprising piece of news with glee or dread. We’re of the opinion that romance shouldn’t be confined to just one day or just to those who happen to have a life partner. Whether you’re planning to celebrate the most romantic holiday of the year in a special way or you just want to get that romantic glow in your apartment home throughout the year, there are many things that you can do to achieve that.

Want to Save the Planet? Here Are Some Ways You Can Help

Concern for the environment, from making sure you’re recycling everything you can in your apartment home to participating in ecotourism to help another community with its environmental challenges, is a central focus in many people’s minds these days. For good reason.

Trendiest Ways to Deck Your Halls for the Holiday Season

Now that Thanksgiving is past, it’s perfectly acceptable to break out those holiday decorations (since we’re in the holiday spirit, we’re not going to cast aspersions upon those of you who jumped the gun) in your luxury apartment home. As much as we adore our family heirloom decorations, each year, prevailing trends bring us fascinating and, sometimes, unable-to-resist-buying holiday decorations.

Celebrate Labor Day Weekend

A three-day weekend doesn’t mean you have to spend it bored at home. Start planning your three-day weekend of fun with these creative ideas: