How to Maximize Profits with Monthly Furnished Rentals – An Introduction

Monthly Furnished Rentals - Title PhotoDemand for urban rentals has risen. By December 2015, over 180,000 apartment units were completed in the US.  During that same year, vacancy rates climbed to 4.4% from 2014’s 4.3%. A 0.1% increase in vacancy might not seem like a significant difference. However, this trend hints at the challenges landlords face as they try to make their properties profitable. If landlords don’t target the right tenants or price their properties well, they risk owning empty units.

How can I avoid vacancy?

Whether it’s for work or leisure, the demand for extensive stays without committing to annual leases has grown substantially. Given this rise of demand, many landlords find themselves figuring out ways to ensure that they can maximize profits without risking vacancy. While some landlords lease properties as nightly rentals on Airbnb, many others prefer leasing their furnished properties monthly on services like HomeSuite.

Choosing the latter helps reduce vacancy.  Because monthly rentals see less tenants than nightly rentals, landlords can ensure that their properties will provide the best amenities and cleanliness for their prospective tenants. More importantly, tenants in monthly rentals tend to stay in furnished properties longer, and they are more likely to repeat as customers. As a result, monthly furnished rentals have become popular for landlords to fill units and satisfy tenants.  

Which property is best for offering monthly furnished rentals?

Like any other property, leasing furnished rentals requires landlords to invest their time and money to provide the best experience to their tenants. One of the reasons why landlords lease monthly furnished rentals is its flexibility. Furnished rentals today exist as virtually any type of residential property. This includes traditional homes, condos, cottages, in-law apartments, regular apartments, duplexes, flats, and townhouses. Whether they own a furnished studio or a furnished duplex, landlords simply need to provide the necessities tenants need to live. Because you’re offering tenants a hassle-free monthly housing experience, you can expect to see better optimized revenues and higher returns.

Interesting. So how can I maximize profits with monthly furnished rentals?

So how can you maximize profits from furnished properties? And why should you lease them as monthly furnished rentals? Over the next three articles, we will answer these questions and more. Monday’s piece will examine how much it costs landlords to furnish their properties. We’ll compare the revenues generated from unfurnished properties to those of furnished properties, and explain how furnishing properties can help landlords maximize profits.

On January 18, we’ll reveal look into the importance of length of stay and flexible lease terms. We’ll compare the revenue landlords generate from nightly rentals to the revenue from monthly rentals. After sharing our verdict, we’ll look into how flexibility affects the annual revenue landlords can earn from properties.  Finally, on January 20, we will share an interview with a landlord who profited from offering monthly furnished rentals to tenants.

Visit our landlord website to see how you can get started. If you’re looking for additional ways to maximize profits, check out our tips to writing the best property descriptions. You can also read our landlord rent guarantee by clicking here.

 

How to Furnish Your First Rental

First Rental Blog - Title PhotoThe phrase ‘furnished rentals’ used to bring to mind dingy couches, lumpy beds, and the very dullest of kitchen knives. However, that’s no longer the case. Today, the sharing economy and the internet have revolutionized the rental market. As a result, furnished rentals these days can feel like home, and it’s easy for a newcomer landlord or property manager to furnish his or her first rental.

It’s time to make this work in your favor.

Furnishing your rentals, even on a tight budget, dramatically increases both your property’s appeal and your rental income. Today, we’ll share 7 wallet-friendly tips to furnishing your first rental. We’ll also look into the general costs of furnishing rentals and we’ll share how landlords can save money while delivering a knockout experience.

How much more can I make?

Businessman entering a furnished rental

Internationally, with the rise of companies like HomeSuite, Airbnb, and others, the short-term rental sharing economy has grown by leaps and bounds. Where travelers once looked to hotels and corporate rentals, they now look to locals with extra space and short-to-medium term rental options. And whether they’re staying for a night or for most of a year, they aren’t bringing their bedroom set with them. Renters look to property owners and managers to provide everything from welcome mats to Cuisinarts.

In return, they’re willing to pay a significant premium.

Our research shows that furnished properties rent for an average of 32% more than comparable unfurnished units. That’s just the average, though. In high-demand markets such as Manhattan, high-end renters increasingly want to pass over designer hotel rooms in favor of cozier options. New York Magazine wrote about how one furnished New York 1-bedroom rented for $5,000 a month, for example, while its bare-bones counterparts went for closer to $3,000 a month.

It doesn’t take a degree in advanced mathematics to see how premiums like this can quickly pay off any reasonable investment in furnishings. And those numbers? That was back in 2011. Since then, the demand for furnished rentals has only grown.

Money isn’t the only reason to invest in furnishing your rental property. Another incentive is found in the types of tenants one can expect to attract. One key demographic of tenants is business travelers, or those relocated for business. This group frequently lacks the time or inclination to furnish places themselves. They may only be intending to stay a few months, or they may be renting until they can find something to buy.

Others, such as traveling nurses, consultants, creatives, and young professionals, may just be relocating temporarily for a short-term contract. They know that working from home is much easier when their home comes with Wi-Fi, a desk, and coffee maker.

What will furnishing an apartment cost?

Piggy bank for Furnished Rentals

While you can easily overspend on furnishings, you can also convert an empty apartment into a comfortable, homey space for a very reasonable investment. According to our calculations (and depending to a degree on where you live), you can furnish an entire 1-bedroom apartment for about $2,200.

That sum includes furniture, kitchen appliances, and living room housewares. You probably won’t end up with a 60-inch plasma screen or a designer couch. Even so, you’ll be able to provide everything a tenant needs to kick up his or her feet in comfort.

While this kind of investment should pay for itself relatively quickly, some landlords — especially those who are just getting started — may struggle to find the upfront cash or the time to procure a whole apartment’s worth of furnishings.

Luckily, we’re here to help with some handy advice:

1. Grasp the Essentials of Furnished Rentals

Checklist for landlord's first rental

First off, you’ll want to assess what sort of tenant your first rental is likely to attract.

Are you renting a three-bedroom in the suburbs? If so, think families. Do you own a studio apartment in a high rise? That’s more likely to appeal to a business person traveling solo.

Once you have a sense of whom you’ll be renting to, start to decipher what types of furnishings those people will be likely to appreciate. A family may want a bunkbed in one bedroom and a kitchen cut out for cooking big meals while a business traveler is more likely to seek out an inviting couch and quality bedding.

In terms of basics, most apartments will need:

  • A bed
  • Sheets and pillows
  • Towels
  • A couch
  • A kitchen table and chairs
  • Kitchen appliances, such as a microwave oven, a coffee maker, and a toaster
  • Kitchenware for preparing and eating food
  • A television

2. Know How Much Time And Space You Can Use

Empty Room waiting to be furnished

Now that you understand your audience, consider the factors that limit your possibilities: that’s how much space you have and how much time you can spend.

In terms of space, it’s critical to be efficient, especially with smaller apartments and studios. The last thing a landlord on a budget needs is to end up with a sofa too large for their living room. Before you go about buying anything, measure the dimensions of your property and sketch out what you envision going where. Decide whether it makes sense to get a twin bed or a king. Anticipate whether you’ll need a coffee table or whether a side table will serve better.

In terms of time, that’s a matter of setting your own expectations. While there are a number of ways to find bargains on furniture and other furnishings (read on!), many of them require an investment of hours — even if that’s just completing Internet searches.

Decide upfront whether you’re going to sink your time into finding the perfect items or if you’re going to content yourself with items that are good enough. Afterwards, take a moment to think how you’re going to fit them into your furnished property.

3. Make Your First Rental Matter

Furnished living Room in Luxury Home

Not all areas of your apartment are created equal. Assuming you’re working with a limited budget, you’ll be best off focusing on the most often used room in your rental. If you’ve got a studio, consider focusing on the sleeping area. For any other property, you’ll want to focus on the living room.

The living room is where most tenants spend most waking hours. Your tenants may not be totally satisfied if there isn’t a reasonable mattress on the bed. However, if the living room is unattractive, uncomfortable, or poorly furnished, they’re unlikely to rent from you in the first place.

For these reasons, we recommend apportioning a larger percentage of your budget and time on furnishing your property’s living room.

4. Create a Balanced Budget

Making a budget for first rental

While we’ve outlined how much it may cost to furnish an apartment, deciding how much to spend is up to you — and you should make that decision now. Whether you’re going to invest $2,000 or $20,000, setting a budget will allow you to make intelligent decisions about how much to spend on individual items.

According to research conducted by HomeSuite and Zumper, the general formula is to spend 45% of your budget on the living room and 32% on the bedroom. That leaves 23% for the kitchen and the bathroom — assuming both already have fixtures and major appliances such as an oven and a toilet.

With a fixed budget, and that budget broken down into percentages by room, you can then start to pull out numbers for big ticket items (furniture, for example) and assess what’s possible with what’s left. Part of the trick of budgeting, of course, is sticking with it. Working from most to least important and from most to least expensive will help you hold strong.

5. Get More for Less

Clearance Sale - Furnishing a Rental Guide

Finding quality furnishings for budget prices is easier than you might think. Often, we end up spending more because we’ve got something specific in mind — a television with a certain feature or a couch that matches our prized throw pillows.

When we can remain flexible, the deals are only a few clicks away.

One rich vein of savings can be found by investigating closeout deals. Many large retailers have special sites that feature items they’re looking to offload at a fraction of normal costs. You can find excellent deals on furniture, electronics, and appliances at places like Amazon Warehouse, Macy’s Closeout, and Bed Bath & Beyond’s Saving Center to name a few. You can also visit a CORT Clearance Center for premium furniture at discounted prices. 

How good are the savings? One quick scan turned up a modern, attractive bed frame for $100 off, a complete comforter set for $50, a simple, suitable coffee table for just $30, and a 40” 1080p flatscreen TV with Roku built in for $220. Now can you imagine furnishing an entire apartment for $2,200?

Depending on your particular situation, it may also be reasonable to buy used items — as long as they’re in good repair. Remember, only your very first tenant will get them fresh out of the box. Each subsequent tenant, even if you bought new, is going to experience used goods anyway. That’s part of what makes an apartment homey — the lived in look! Check out Chairish or AptDeco for stylish used furniture and decor.

6. Show Off Your First Rental

Taking photo of furnished rental

Once you’ve finished furnishing your first rental, you might be tempted to go after tenants right away. Before you put it on the market, though, be sure to invest in your listing page. Spend the remainder of your furnishings budget on decorative items such as lamps, rugs, and art. Then, give your first rental a good clean and take high-quality photos before anything gets busted.

Photos, more than just about anything else, will convince a prospective tenant to become a paying tenant. Wait for the sun to be shining, get rid of any clutter, clean the windows, and use flash on your camera. Expect to spend a few hours taking pictures and making sure you have the perfect shots. It may seem like a pain, but this is the point where you’re converting all of your investment in furnishings into advertising potential.

7. “Mi Casa Es Tu Casa”

Friendly landlord with tenant

We’ve got one last piece of advice when it comes to renting your first rental: take care!

Tenants can tell whether or not a landlord cares. That sense greatly influences how they experience their stay — and then how they pass along that experience as reviews on sites such as HomeSuite.

To maximize your investment in furnishings, give your tenants a warm welcome. Make sure everything still works and looks presentable before each new tenant checks in. That may mean further investment in maintenance, but it shouldn’t mean plopping down chunks of cash on renovations. Remember: a chair with a wobbly leg can drive a tenant nuts, but the lack of new granite countertops won’t ever come as an unwelcome surprise.

In short, we suggest — for financial and human reasons — treating your tenants with respect as guests. They’ve entrusted their comfort to you and you should be worthy of that trust. Make sure they’ve got hot water for showers, comfortable pillows on the bed, and a working Wi-Fi network. They’ll appreciate all the hard work you do, especially if this is your first rental.

That appreciation is called customer satisfaction, and it’s a direct route to increased rental income.

Want to learn more? Check out https://www.yourhomesuite.com/landlords or tweet @yourhomesuite and we’ll get right back to you!

Six Ways You Can Boost Your Furnished Property’s Rental Value

Furnished Property Value - Title PhotoThe short-term rental market is growing, and we know landlords always look for convenient ways to generate income.  That’s why HomeSuite helps landlords foster a more direct connection with their tenants. Having the ability to set your own price is invaluable, but it requires research to use that knowledge effectively. It also requires keeping your property in good shape. So what can you do to ensure your furnished property has the best rental value possible?

From improving the exterior appearance to making modifications on the inside, boosting your renting value is easy. It just takes some time, a set budget, and an eye for detail. Here are six ways you can improve your property and increase your rental income.

1. Strip away old flooring

Apartment with new floors

If you’re looking to add some elegance to your furnished property, consider hiring professionals from services like Houzz and Empire Today to install hardwood or laminate flooring.  In conjunction with some of the other improvements we’ll discuss, it adds a lot to the atmosphere. In turn, better flooring makes it easier for potential tenants to feel “at home” when considering your space.

Changing up the flooring of your furnished property is not complicated. In fact, when installing laminate flooring, a bit of practice with a mallet and a good game plan can turn it into a simple DIY project. A durable new floor combined with more manageable wear and tear from 30+ day rentals means it’s a smart investment for your property overall.

2. Bring your kitchen appliances into this century

modern kitchen appliances

Having access to a functional kitchen is an absolute must for some tenants. As a result, renovating your property’s kitchen can yield substantial returns.  The key to kitchen upgrades is to create a cohesive and contemporary style. Make sure your flooring style suits the environment. Match your cabinets to the color scheme of the kitchen if possible. These little touches can do much to improve the overall quality of the property.

Additionally, consider investing in high-quality appliances. The range, fridge, and dishwasher get the most mileage in any kitchen, so look for appliances that will be visually appealing to tenants and are able to endure wear and tear. You can also look for energy efficient models to place in the home, such as Energy Star Certified products, to save on energy costs.

3. Transform the master bath into an oasis

Brand new bathroom

While you’re thinking about updating areas of the property, it can also be wise to turn your attention to the master bathroom. For some landlords, a full-scale bathroom renovation might be prohibitively expensive. Still, it’s worth giving your bathroom a lift as bathroom overhauls add plenty of value.

There are plenty of ways to make improvements without the need to gut the entire bathroom. Replacing the tiling in the master bathroom (or all the bathrooms) can contribute to a “like new” feeling for the room. You can also consider installing a modern low flush toilet. It’s not an essential upgrade, but many tenants see eco-friendly bathroom as nice additions. If you need to save space, you can consider replacing the bathtub with a modern shower stall. These all seem like small additions, but your tenants will notice your efforts to improve your property’s bathroom.

4. Make your outdoor spaces a welcoming retreat

modern balcony with outdoor space

Landscaping alone likely won’t add a ton of value to your property. That doesn’t mean you should let it turn into a wild jungle, though. There’s a balance to be struck. Spending just the right amount of effort on creating inviting outdoor spaces on your furnished properties adds new benefits. Having an “outdoor space for entertaining” has a broad appeal, and you can use it as a selling point for potential tenants.

In places with good weather like Los Angeles, a furnished property with an excellent outdoor space is a huge “must have” for tenants. Fortunately, basic landscaping maintenance and some outdoor furniture are all you need to create a beautiful outdoor space. Drop down some outdoor chairs and a table overlooking a scenic part of town or the coast to create a relaxing spot for evening drinks. You can also add a barbecue grill so your tenants can invite friends for summer BBQs. In short, spending some time improving your outdoor space nets you the ability to market effectively to more people.

5. Ensure the furniture fits the furnished property’s personality

modern dining room

The furnishing inside furnished properties shouldn’t be an eclectic mix of styles and thrift store finds. Instead, they should feel like a cohesive whole throughout the home. From the dining room table to the beds, every piece should feel like it fits in the space.

When it comes to offering furnished rentals, it’s all about making your tenants feel at home away from home. They want to feel like everything is in its proper place. Nailing down the style of your property and creating a unified feeling throughout it does much to accomplish this. Consider that it might be time to dump the older furniture for something newer and more in line with the things at which tenants examine most carefully during a property hunt.

6. Find your winning combination of upgrades

panoramic photo of modern home

Rather than mixing and matching, choose an overarching theme for your property and upgrade accordingly. For example, if you’re looking to attract young professionals with your modern studio, replace the flooring with black tile and invest in stainless steel appliances. If you want tenants to lease a suburban cottage, consider purchasing wooden furniture. Improving the rental value of your property is all about harmonizing its elements, and properties with specific themes can attract the tenants you’re after.

When you’re facing a crowded rental market, making your property stand out isn’t just the best way to boost your income — it’s the best way to generate that income in the first place. With some strategically planned upgrades, you‘ll be on your way to having that “stand-out” property. You’ll recoup the improvement costs in no time through increased rental revenues and reduced vacancy.

Once you’ve added your finishing touches, check out HomeSuite’s dedicated landlord website. Over 230,000 active prospective tenants are looking for great homes, and we’re always looking for great new homes. If you already feature homes on our service, be sure to check out our tips to writing the best property descriptions so your homes can appeal to more tenants.

Questions? Comments? Tweet @yourhomesuite and we’ll get right back to you!

How to Deal with Disruptive Neighbors

Disruptive Neighbors - Blog Title PhotoIt’s late at night. You just came home, feeling accomplished after impressing your colleagues and manager with your project. It was an awesome day, but you’ve spent more time than you expected at the office. So all you want to do now is change into your pajamas and watch The Grand Tour while eating a pint of ice cream.

Alas: your disruptive neighbors are at it again. The trap music from their apartment thuds through your furnished rental’s walls. The hooting and hollering from their rowdy guests echoes across the hallways. The loud chatter in their home can be heard as you shower in your home. In short: any hope of you having a tranquil and relaxing evening is crushed.

Having the right neighbors can make or break your experience living in a furnished rental. Unfortunately, according to a SpareFoot survey conducted for National Moving Day, 30% of Americans move out because their neighbors were too loud. If you hate noisy and disruptive neighbors with a passion, then read on. Today’s piece will hopefully help you settle your issues with disruptive neighbors. We’ll share some advice on how to handle your neighbors, and we’ll even reveal some tricks from people who have resolved their issues with rowdy neighbors.

Introduce Yourself to Your Neighbors

Couple welcoming friend at doorway

Having a healthy relationship with your neighbors is important to settling into your new home. When your neighbors act rudely, it’s tempting to forget that they exist and pray they’ll move out. We suggest otherwise.

Sometimes your neighbors might not know that they’re being rowdy. In fact, your neighbors might not even know that they’re your neighbors to begin with! As a result, consider knocking on their door and introducing yourself. Once you introduce yourself to your neighbors, they’ll likely act more considerate at night. Gayle Katz, a Relationship Consultant from Grounded Girls Guide explains further. “Getting comfortable with your neighbor allows you to open the lines of communication and talk about what’s bothering you. If you’re a bit introverted and talking to your neighbor scares you, that’s good – stretch your comfort zone!

Invite Your Neighbors Over

Diverse Neighbors Drinking Party Yard Concept

Once you’ve introduced yourself to your neighbors, you might experience more peaceful nights. If you aren’t, however, then don’t give up on them just yet. We know it’s easy to let emotions boil over when it comes to disruptive neighbors. However, nothing is worth risking a war between you and your neighbors. Rather, why not bring them over for a few fun activities? When you invite them over, you establish goodwill with your neighbors. These friendly relations will come in handy once it’s time for you to respectfully notify them of their disruptive behavior.

Brian Davis, co-founder of SparkRental, shares some ideas on how you can make it happen. “When the anger has subsided, consider friendly gestures you could make toward your neighbor to start off on the right foot. You could bake them something, or invite them over for a barbecue, or even just offer them a drink as you enjoy one yourself on the porch or patio. Make an effort to get to know them, ask about their kids, their jobs, their interests.”

Communicate With Your Disruptive Neighbors

man and woman talking at the door

If that barbecue you hosted helped your neighbors act more respectfully, perfect! Unfortunately, we know that there will always be people who will continue to be disruptive neighbors regardless of your efforts. As a result, you may want to consider finding a time and place to let your neighbors know that they’re being rude.

Sarah Brown is a home and community safety expert from SafeWise, an online safety resource. Sarah’s dealt with disruptive neighbors in the past, and she knows that tenants may have to communicate their concerns without burning bridges. She thus believes that you should come prepared if you’re planning to let your neighbors know about their behavior. “[S]uggesting a reasonable time for people to keep the noise down where you can also get your sleep (not 9 pm, but something that actually works with both of your schedules) or offering other compromises is a good way to show that you aren’t just the grumpy neighbor.”

Don’t Lose Your Cool

Two friends angry after quarrel

Communicating with your disruptive neighbors can occasionally be frustrating. Sometimes, they seem to listen to your concerns only to fall back into bad habits the next evening. Sometimes, they might be in denial and ignore you altogether. We understand that getting your message across can be frustrating, but life isn’t a competition. Remaining calm could be the difference between building a cordial relationship with your neighbors and enduring a miserable relationship with your neighbors.

As an Etiquette Consultant, Tara Woods Turner knows all too well about dealing with people accused of being disruptive. She also recognizes that staying cool and collected can prevent civil discourses from escalating into full blown arguments. “Displaying a willingness to respectfully address your concerns with your fellow dwellers may even eliminate friction upfront as many people are often unaware of the extent of their disruptive behavior until someone brings it to their attention.”

Establish Yourself as Your Landlord’s Favorite Tenant

Couple with contract for buying apartment

Good landlords work hard to ensure their tenants get the best living experience possible. If you’re having trouble with your neighbors, why not befriend your landlord?

The good news is that there are many ways to show appreciation for your landlord. You can attend their holiday parties or you can simply offer them a drink at your place. Regardless of what you do, showing that you care goes a long way to establishing good relationships with landlords. And creating that friendly relationship can help you resolve issues with your disruptive neighbors. Judah Ross from Austin Young Professional concurs. “It’s a tough job, and [landlords] put up with a lot of garbage. So if you make the effort to be friendly, they’ll pay it back when you need it.”

And there you have it. We hope that this piece will help you enjoy more relaxing evenings in your home away from home. If you trying to figure out which type of rental is right for you, our dedicated guide has you covered. We also have a guide to weekend getaways, perfect for that brief break from your rental and your disruptive neighbors.

 

Seven Ways to Liven Up Your Home for the Holidays

Holidays Blog Title PhotoAh, the holidays! Tis the season for friends, family, and neighbors to appreciate all that we share. Whether we’re kicking back with colleagues or sipping some eggnog with our loved ones, what we all need is a time to unwind. The last thing we want is to be stressing about getting our furnished rentals ready for the holidays.

Chances are, the kind folks who are renting from us feel the same way. They’ve come into town to reconnect with those they love and they may need to play host. Today, we’re going to make their lives — and ours — more jolly by facilitating the celebrating. Building on last year’s advice, here are seven more festive tips to get your furnished rental ready for the holidays.

1. Don’t Be Santa and Don’t Be Scrooge

Piggy Bank for the HolidaysIt can be all too easy to bleed your bank account dry come holiday season, but there’s no need to overdo it. Start out with a reasonable budget and stick with it. Consider how much you want to allocate and split that total out into sub-amounts for food, libations, decorations, gifts, and miscellaneous supplies.

That may sound a little contrary to the spirit of the season, but remember that the point of the party is your guests, not the glitz. A little money properly apportioned can do the trick nicely.

2. Give the Gift of Gleaming

Cleaning up an apartment - holiday blogIt’s the day of the party. Your guests arrive, fling about a few air kisses, grab a glass of champagne, and congregate in the kitchen. Alas: horror strikes. Your kitchen is a greasy mess. Spots of marinara sauce decorate the cooktop. Child-sized handprints streak the surface of your stainless steel fridge. Dust bunnies frolic in the corners.

Perhaps you should have cleaned house before you opened the door to guests?

We recommend you make arrangements to have your rental cleaned before the party starts. That can mean allotting a few hours of your time to tidy up, hiring a professional service to come through, or just finding a someone on TaskRabbit who could use a little extra holiday cash. Whether you’re cleaning up on your own or with help, this is also the perfect opportunity to do some tidying — wash the linens, straighten up your bookshelves, and shake out the welcome mat.

3. Consider the Small Wonders for the Holidays

Image Credit: www.proflowers.com on Flickr under Creative Commons license

Image Credit: www.proflowers.com on Flickr under Creative Commons license

You know that giant Christmas tree that towers above the outdoor ice-skating rink at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan? Don’t get one of those. You’ll never get it up the stairs.

Most furnished rentals lack overabundant space. Keep this in mind when you’re considering decorations. If your party will feature a tree, try a potted miniature evergreen instead of a massive showpiece. Outside of being more economical, they’re easier to clean up and more environmentally friendly. Once the holidays are over, plant it outside and watch your Christmas tree grow over the coming year!

If you’re looking for something other than a tree, or for something to complement a tree, simple, inexpensive decorations like candles can do more to set the mood than a bushel of tinsel.

4. Give the Gift of Creativity

assorted jam - holiday blogYour generosity may be the stuff of legends but your available resources are likely somewhat less legendary — especially given the amped demands of the holiday season. Instead of buying a heap of presents for the holidays, consider making some tokens of your affection.

When it comes to homemade gifts for the holidays, create thoughtful takeaways that communicate your personal consideration. As an example, consider making some delicious, homemade edibles. You could bake up a medley of cookies and wrap individual assortments for guests take home. If you’re a tad craftier in the kitchen, you could make something longer lasting and more likely to keep the holiday spirit alive into the spring: homemade jam!

5. Welcome Your Guests with Open Arms

Holidays - Invitation CardWhat’s a holiday party without guests? That’s a trick question — we can’t answer, because we weren’t invited.

Do not make this mistake. Instead of casually mentioning that you might have a few people over, do your party right with customized invitations. There are plenty of online options available, but getting an invitation in the mail is more endearing and more likely to spur your friends to both RSVP and attend.

For your party invitations, try using a photo of your clean, decorated furnished rental. Make sure to include a personal message that communicates the spirit of the event. If it’s an ugly sweater party, shout it out. If you’re going to serve a meal or just nibbles, let your guests know. Don’t forget to include the pertinent details: that’s when, where, and a request to RSVP.

For bonus points, handwrite a personal note on each. Even a ‘Hope you can make it!’ lets each guest know you care that they’re there.

6. Spread Some Cheer During the Holidays

Wreath on front door - HolidaysWe’ve already discussed budgets and decorations, but there’s an angle left uncovered: spreading cheer beyond your party’s boundaries. How can you do this? Simple: decorate your front door.

Adding a festive, welcoming element to your entranceway serves two, equally noble purposes. Firstly, it sets the tone for arriving guests. Secondly, it reminds everyone who passes by to stop, take a deep breath, and let some of the season’s stress wane away.

For those celebrating Christmas, a wreath is a simple solution. In many ways, hanging up a ring of fir and flowers is more elegant and festive than a multitude of blinking lights. You could even go the extra mile by hanging stockings filled with candy canes or Holland mints. Delivery people deserve a little seasonal cheer as well!

If Christmas isn’t your reason this season, consider finding a culturally-appropriate manner of letting your guests and neighbors know you’re appreciative of their company and community. Even the non-religious among us can enjoy the days beginning to grow longer and the slow approach of spring.

7.  Give Yourself a Break

Cinema - Break from HolidaysPlanning a party is hard work. Don’t set yourself up to stress through yours! You’ll enjoy the holidays much more and be a better host if you schedule yourself a calming break pre-party. Get everything sorted early and then take some time to unwind.

Get out of the house, go see a movie (Rogue One, anyone?), catch a game with friends at the local bar, or just take the dog out for a hike. A few hours away from your furnished rental can make a massive difference in your mood.

And that makes this the perfect opportunity for all of us at HomeSuite to wish all of you a happy holiday season. We hope your parties go off without a hitch, and we wish you a happy 2017.

HomeSuite - Happy Holidays

10 Insider Tips to Enjoying San Francisco’s Mission District

DoloresPark - Mission Blog Title PhotoYou may have heard of this quaint little burg called San Francisco. It’s our hometown, and we love helping tourists, business travelers, and new locals alike settle in. While the city’s reputation, beauty, and businesses may have caused local prices to spike, it’s most definitely a must-see, must-stay, must-feast stop on any serious itinerary. And it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. If you swing through one of its more unique neighborhoods — like the Mission District — you’ll have a blast without breaking the bank.

The Mission, as it’s commonly known, runs roughly from Division St. south to Cesar Chavez St. (whereupon it becomes the Outer Mission) and from 101 west to about Dolores St. Its heart is Valencia St, and its heart is clogged with hipster eateries, crafty boutiques, artisan cafés, and — in between — a lot of cool, quirky, diverse culture.

So skip Fisherman’s Wharf, which is a major tourist trap, and take a spin through some of the best the Mission has to offer with these ten insider tips:

Mission Dolores

3321 16th St. at Dolores St.

Mission Dolores

The Mission is called the Mission because, surprise, there’s one of the original California missions here. The Misión San Francisco de Asís was founded in 1776 as part of the string of 21 Catholic missions that Spanish Franciscan priests built as they settled northward. And they didn’t just knock these things out — they’re gorgeous. The ‘Mission Dolores’ as it’s commonly known is San Francsico’s oldest intact building.

When you stop by, you can get a tour led by a volunteer docent (for a donation) and check out the chapel, the newer Basilica, and the adjoining cemetery and gardens. This is still an active Catholic place of worship, so if you’re so inclined you can attend mass or another event.

When you’re here, think about all the transitions this part of the city has gone through over the centuries. The Mission District has been many things and home to many people — the Ohlone and Miwok native Californians; Spanish-Mexican rancheros; Irish, German, and other immigrant laborers; Latino and Chicano families; and today, hipsters and artists. Speaking of which — let’s go meet some of them.

Four Barrel Coffee

375 Valencia St. at 15th St.

Four Barrels - Mission Blog

Image credit: Andrew Ballantyne on Flickr under Creative Commons license

Everyone has their favorite coffee place in the Mission and there is no reason on Earth why Four Barrel shouldn’t be yours. It may turn out to be your favorite coffee place in the world. Stop by, get a perfectly prepared cup, and energize for your meander through the streets of the Mission.

Like many places in this part of town, their focus is on craft, quality, and sustainability. And as good as the joe is here, the people watching is even better. You’ll be rubbing elbows with an eclectic crowd that loves their tattoos and alternative cultures. Savor it all and go back for more — unless you want to save some caffeine intake for Ritual Coffee Roasters, further down Valencia.

Tartine Bakery

600 Guerrero St. at 18th St.

Image credit: Carl Collins on Flickr under Creative Commons license

Image credit: Carl Collins on Flickr under Creative Commons license

How do you feel about rich, buttery goodness, flaky pastry, and long lines? Well, two out of three’s not bad, and Tartine Bakery is worth the wait. This will become evidently clear when you see the size of the line and the faces of the locals who don’t mind waiting in it. If time is short; don’t worry. Just walk west down 18th Street and pop into the Bi-Rite Market — a culinary wonderland with excellent sandwiches at the deli counter.

Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center

2981 24th St at Harrison St.

Image Credit: Franco Folini on Flickr under Creative Commons license

Image Credit: Franco Folini on Flickr under Creative Commons license

Street art is a big, unmissable part of what makes the Mission more than just another hip neighborhood. While there are murals scattered all over the area — be sure to cut down Clarion Alley between Valencia and Mission, south of 17th St. — the Precita Eyes Mural Arts Center makes finding and appreciating these gems straightforward: just take a tour on Saturdays or Sundays at 1:30pm.

Murals and street art are forms of expression that imbue the Mission with character and meaning. Yes, the city is continuously changing — see some of what that means to its residents writ large on the walls.

St. Francis Soda Fountain

2801 24th St. at York St.

Image Credit: mari.francille on Flickr under Creative Commons license

Image Credit: mari.francille on Flickr under Creative Commons license

Walking is hard work. Treat yourself to a malt and a taste of how San Francisco once was at the St. Francis Soda Fountain. This is the city’s oldest ice cream parlor and there’s good reason it’s still in business. You can find a crazier set of flavors at Humphrey Slocumb and a more artisanal cone at Bi-Rite Creamery, but both of those places are missing something. That something is French fries. And table service. And a moment of calm, charming, indulgence.

Of course, you can always go to all three. You’ll certainly want to stick your nose in Slocumb for a taste of their weirder concoctions — like their Secret Breakfast flavor, which is bourbon ice cream with cornflakes.

El Techo de Lolinda

2516 Mission St. at 21st St.

Image Credit: eltechosf.com

Image Credit: eltechosf.com

After all that ice cream, you probably need a drink, and maybe some Latin American street food served up with a spectacular view. El Techo’s rooftop bar sits above its sister restaurant Lolinda, which is good — at least someone gets a seat! Show up early to score a coveted stool or accept that standing is the price one pays for great cocktails and snacks.

Roxie Cinema

3117 16th St. at Valencia St.

Image Credit: roxie.com

Image Credit: roxie.com

The second-oldest continual run cinema in the world is the claim, and off-beat, hard to find, mind-bending movies is the game at the Roxie Cinema. There’s something old school and special about this nonprofit theater, and it’s not just the popcorn. Join in a screening in the large, main theater or risk something more avant-garde in the Little Roxie theater next door. If you’re too soused from cocktails at El Techo to make it back uptown to the Roxie, you can always just stagger down the block to the Alamo Drafthouse’s New Mission theater. They’ll even bring food and drink to you at your seat there.

La Taqueria

2889 Mission St. at 25th St.

Image Credit: T.Tseng on Flickr under Creative Commons license

Image Credit: T.Tseng on Flickr under Creative Commons license

Burritos, in San Francisco, are practically a religion. That makes La Taqueria our high church.

While you can find a fancier meal, and you can certainly spend more, you’d be hard pressed to do better than a Mission-style burrito at La Taqueria. If you’ve been walking around the Mission all day, you’ll have seen an endless string of Mexican joints. Many of them are good. Many of them are not so good. This one is La Taqueria. Bring your appetite and tuck into a burrito that’s filled with succulent meats and free of rice.

Namu Gaji

499 Dolores St. at 18th St.

Image Credit: Dale Cruse on Flickr under Creative Commons license

Image Credit: Dale Cruse on Flickr under Creative Commons license

You won’t be surprised to find that there are many ‘San Francisco’ places in San Francisco. There are so many that even living here you’d be hard-pressed to find them all — so just trust us and stop in at Namu Gaji. Owned and operated by the Lee Brothers, this Korean-infused bar and eatery packs a lot of oomph into every second, so go ahead, have seconds.

If you can, make it for their killer happy hour and treat yourself to some gamja fries, served up with kewpie, teriyaki, gochujang, kimchee relish, and bulgogi beef.

Public Works

161 Erie St. at 14th St.

Image Credit: publicsf.com

Image Credit: publicsf.com

It’s late. You’re tired, full, and perhaps leaning towards intoxicated. Just one more stop before we let you go and… hey! Is it dawn already? You must have found yourself dancing at Public Works, one of the best places in the hood to dance until sunrise. Good call.

This staple of the San Francisco nightlife scene brings in excellent art, tasty cocktails, and marathon sets from world-class DJs. Who are you to say no to such an evening?

And there you have it — the perfect Mission District day. If you’re looking for additional things to do in the city, check out our relocation guide. You can also check out our top 3 things to do for summer interns, all of which can be enjoyed year-round. 

Now, all you need is to find a way to live here so you can keep exploring. Why not rent a long-term furnished rental with HomeSuite? We got lots of homes in the Mission and elsewhere in the Bay Area, all of which are available for monthly leases. 

The Seven Best Laptops for Business Travel

Laptop Blog - Final Draft of Title PhotoHitting the road on a business or consulting trip can be a brilliant experience.  However, you can totally crash and burn if you don’t prepare. You’ll need to remember to pack light. You’ll need to square away suitable lodgings, such as longer-term furnished rentals if you’re going to be away for a while. And then, to ensure all your business endeavors succeed and your boss loves you, you’ll need a proper laptop.

A new laptop is an investment that pays off in productivity and promotions. Instead of twiddling your thumbs waiting for your old beast to boot up, you’ll be charging hard. But how do you choose a new computer for business travel?

There are a few key factors you’ll want to consider. The first is battery life. Listed in hours, a computer’s battery life indicates how long you can expect to use the machine before it turns into an attractive paperweight. Careful, though! Battery life figures assume ideal conditions — spending an hour compiling hi-def animations will eat power a lot faster than editing a document.

You also should take your new laptop’s weight seriously. While modern machines tend towards the slim and sleek, even half a pound can send you to the masseuse’s if you’re slinging it in a bag over your shoulder all day. Other considerations high on the list for business laptops are durability, security, and performance. Your investment won’t pay off if your computer gets hacked or can’t hack it.

Lucky for you, this Friday is Black Friday! More importantly, we’ve done a lot of the new laptop research for you already. Here are our seven recommendations for the best new laptops for business travelers. And don’t worry — all are perfectly suitable for booking properties on HomeSuite.

Acer Chromebook 14

Acer Chromebook

Image credit: Maurizio Pesce on Flickr under Creative Commons license

If you’re just getting started in the big time, it makes sense to keep your expenditures to a minimum. Let the executive VPs spend a fortune on their hardware while you opt for something reliable, solid, and economical — such as the Acer Chromebook 14.

Cast out of aluminum like other, vastly more expensive options, this Chromebook boasts solid 12-hour battery life and the sort of functionality that will keep your head well above water. For only $299, you’ll get built-in antivirus and security software plus a suite of software tools for making short work of work, online or off. Moreover, you’ll get Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides on a vivid 14” screen that’s good enough for some streaming video when the workday is done.

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon

lenovo_thinkpad_x1_carbon

Image credit: Elroygoh on Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

Towards the other end of the spectrum, you’ll find the sleek, ultrathin, ultralight, ultratough Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon. This tiger is perfect for people who consider security non-negotiable. While it costs more than an entry-level laptop, you’re getting what you pay for.

Priced at $1,142.10, the X1 Carbon is built like something the Air Force would commission. It’s made of military-grade carbon fiber, protected by a fingerprint scanner, weighs a meagre 2.6 pounds, and probably can stop bullets. (Please do not try to use a Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon to try and stop a bullet; we’re just being illustrative.)

In terms of display, you get a 2K, antiglare screen and its battery lasts longer than you’re likely to. All in all, it’s one of the lightest, thinnest business laptops on the face of the Earth or off. It would probably look good in a briefcase handcuffed to your wrist.

HP Spectre

HP Spectre - business laptop

Image credit: Aaron Yoo on Flickr under Creative Commons license

Did we say the X1 Carbon was one of the thinnest laptops on the planet? Well then: meet the HP Spectre — the actual thinnest, measuring in at a scant 0.41 inches. If the X1 is made for top secret, red-phone-answering ninjas, the Spectre is made for high-powered, deal-dishing business wizards.

In terms of specs, the Spectre doesn’t disappoint: it’s got three USB-C ports to jack you into the matrix, a Gorilla glass display to keep your outlook bright, Bang & Olufsen speakers, and enough battery life to last you through a trans-Atlantic flight. At $1,019.99, it’s certainly not the cheapest laptop you could opt for, but if you’re a multi-tasker who needs to work on the way, this one could be worth it.

Apple MacBook (2016)

Macbook - business Laptop

Image credit: Maurizio Pesce on Flickr under Creative Commons license

Chance are you started reading this article waiting for someone to mention Apple’s latest MacBook. We are happy to oblige. While we’re not going to wade into the PC vs Mac debate, we’d be negligent to omit this beauty from our list of best business laptops.

If you’re in a Mac-positive office, the 2016 MacBook could be your best and only choice. This model comes in two base versions, depending on how much storage you want and how fast a processor you select. From there, you can bump it all up until your wallet cries dry tears — or keep it elegantly simple for far less. The base price for the entry level model is high at $1,299, but that gets you a 2K Retina screen, a full-size keyboard, the iWork office suite, a 10-hour battery, and a weight of just 2 pounds.

The MacBook, naturally, also runs MacOS as opposed to Windows. If you’re familiar with one and not the other, that could make your choice here much easier.

Dell Inspiron 13 7000 Series

Dell Inspiron

Image credit: Vernon Chan on Flickr under Creative Commons license

Bringing it back down to Earth for a minute, Dell’s new Inspiron 13 7000 series 2-in-1 notebooks are friendly to your wallet. They also double as tablets. Just rotate the screen all the way back and you’ve got a touch-screen tablet ready to rock — no need to bring a second device.

Inspirons come in a range of configurations, but the entry-level model only runs $749.99. It comes with a solid state drive, three USB ports (one each in 2.0, 3.0, and USB-C) and an infra-red camera and facial recognition software that saves you from typing in endless passwords. It does weigh a bit more than some more expensive models, but in exchange you get both a tablet and a laptop without breaking the bank.

Razer Blade Stealth

Image credit: thoroughlyreviewed.com under Creative Commons license

All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl. If you’re shelling out for a new work laptop, there’s no reason why it can’t also help you unwind after work, right? The Razer Blade Stealth comes with enough power, graphics, and speed to support a healthy gaming habit, particularly if you upgrade with a Razer Core external graphics card amplifier.

But we were talking about business travel. This laptop comes standard with a 2K screen and an Intel Core i7 processor (both upgradable). It weighs 2.84 pounds and its battery lasts 9 hours. Plus, get this: its keyboard can be backlit with any of a range of 16.8 million color options. Maybe you’ll turn that feature off during your business presentation? Nah. We wouldn’t either.

The base-level Razer Blade Stealth sells for $999. Not bad if you’re looking to both work hard and play hard.

Samsung Notebook 9

Samsung Notebook 9

Image credit: Samsung Belgium on Flickr under Creative Commons license

The Samsung Notebook 9 is light, but it’s no lightweight. It’s a 15” laptop — that’s bigger than the others on our list — while weighing 2.9 pounds and measuring under a quarter of an inch thick. It also suffers from no lack of power; its battery lasts a whopping 12 hours.

For those tuned into specs, the Notebook 9 packs an Intel Core i7 processor with fast charging capabilities. Its display is Full HD, plus it reclines a full 180º so you can share your work more easily. The drive is also solid state, so you won’t worry if you drop it on the floor. All in all, this is a no-nonsense choice, ideal for those looking to survive long-haul flights.

And there you have it: HomeSuite’s recommendations for business travel laptops. We’re confident one of these seven will be right for you when it’s time to get in line for Black Friday shopping. If you’re wondering how you’ll survive your first business trip, our first-timer’s guide is here to help. It’s also important to stay fit during your business trips, so check out our fitness guide as well.

Corporate partners

We’ve also launched our new business travel manager. Companies like AT&T, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Nvidia trust us to give their employees the best homes away from home, and we want to help your company help you as well. If your company is looking for long-term furnished rentals for business, feel free to share our program with your boss!

Happy travels!

The Ten Fall Activities You Can’t Miss in Boston

Boston Fall ActivitiesFall is here, and along with it come the fall activities you’ve been looking forward to all summer. Boston is a fantastic place to experience fall and find fun things to do with those cool-weather weekends. Whether you’re interested in outdoor events, foliage, or food, you’ll always be able to find something to do. Without further ado, here are our top 10 fall activities you got to try while you’re in Boston.

  1. Freedom Trail Walk into History Tour

Freedom Trail in Boston

The Freedom Trail is a brick-lined, 2.5-mile route that lets you discover the city’s rich history. Explore meetinghouses, museums, burying grounds, churches, and other landmarks that defined the birthplace of the American Revolution. One of the best ways to explore the trail is with The Freedom Trail Foundation’s year-round, daily public tours. These tours last 90 minutes and depart from either the Boston Common Visitor Information Center or Faneuil Hall.

  1. Quincy Farmers Market

Image credit: Pierdelune / Shutterstock.com

Image credit: Pierdelune / Shutterstock.com

The Quincy Farmers Market is open on Fridays from June through November, and as the weather cools off, it’s the perfect time to check it out. This market is one of Massachusetts’s oldest farmers’ markets, and many of the farms featured are over 100 years old. You’ll also find that the market offers many varieties of locally-grown produce that you can’t find in supermarkets. All of the market’s produce is picked within 24-hours of sale, so help yourself to some fresh heritage apples!

  1. Emerald Necklace and Fall Foliage Tour

Image credit: urbanadventures.com

Image credit: urbanadventures.com

See Boston’s famous green spaces in a “green” way. The Emerald Necklace Tour is a bicycle tour shows you the famous park system via the historic Emerald Necklace. From the Arnold Arboretums winding paths to Commonwealth Avenue’s shaded boulevard, this route offers a phenomenal way to see the city’s parks. The parks are beautiful year-round, but to see the fall foliage, visit between mid-October and early November. Keep in mind that the tour lasts up to four hours and spans at least 15 miles with several hills along the way.

  1. Harpoon Brewery

image credit: harpoonbrewery.com

image credit: harpoonbrewery.com

The Harpoon Brewery and Beer Hall in Boston’s Seaport District offer guided tours for $5 that include a beer tasting. Get a close-up look at the brewing process and learn all about Harpoon and their full selection of beers. You can also visit the retail store for Harpoon merchandise or beer to take home with you. Don’t forget to visit the Beer Hall. There, you can hang out at the bar and drink Harpoon on draft while you enjoy excellent views of Boston, the brewery, and the canning line. It’s the perfect way for beer lovers to enjoy a fall afternoon!

  1. Boston Symphony Orchestra

image credit: T photography / Shutterstock.com

image credit: T photography / Shutterstock.com

The Boston Symphony Orchestra is one of the greatest orchestras in the world. Performing in Symphony Hall and celebrated worldwide for its historic location and magnificent acoustics, the Boston Symphony Orchestra delights and amazes with master musicians playing the sounds of composers such as Brahms and Strauss. It’s a wonderful culture-filled way to spend a chilly fall evening indoors. Complete your evening with dinner at nearby Oak Long Bar & Kitchen, where you can enjoy a hand-crafted cocktail or choose from a farm-to-table American menu of local ingredients. This restaurant is just one of many dining options in the area.

  1. Newbury Street

Image credit: Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com

Image credit: Ritu Manoj Jethani / Shutterstock.com

Love shopping? Check out the one street in Boston where you can get everything from comic books to imported Italian dresses. Newbury Street, a mile long and lined with 19th-century brownstones, has tempting wares for everyone from sports lovers to fashionistas, and everyone in between. When you’ve shopped until you’re ready to drop, recover at one of the numerous restaurants and cafes. Even if you just window shop, there’s enough to see here to entertain you for hours. Sidewalk sales, stairs going up or down to galleries and shops, plenty of greenery, and more make Newbury Street a genuinely pleasant way to spend a relaxing fall day.

  1. SoWa Open Market

Sundays May through November, those in Boston’s South End can visit the SoWa Open Market. Thousands of visitors from across New England come here each year to sample the area’s largest collection of local farmers, food trucks, artisans, and specialty vendors. The market features a different mix of designers and creators each week thanks to a rotating lineup of the suppliers, so there are always new treasures to discover and take home.

  1. Salem Witch Museum

shutterstock_454271353New Englanders love haunted places, and there’s no better place to visit around this time of year than the Salem Witch Museum. It only takes a half-hour drive to get there, and the museum’s a must-see attraction for any and all travelers. The “spook” factor is mild, and the historical context is educational. While you’re in Salem, check out one of dozens of haunted amusements, from the historical to the entertaining.

  1. Skywalk Observatory

Image credit: flickr.com

Image credit: flickr.com

Boston’s Skywalk Observatory offers visitors crystal clear 360-degree views of the city. Take a self-guided audio tour and learn about Boston’s most treasured landmarks. The views are stunning, and you can see up to 100 miles on a clear day! Fenway Park, the Boston Common, Hancock Tower, the Charles River, Harvard, and many other landmarks can be seen 700 feet above the ground. If you’re a newcomer to the city, be sure to pay a visit and take plenty of pictures of your new home.

  1. Enjoy the fall foliage!

boston-fallTourists flock to Massachusetts every fall to take in the breathtaking autumn colors. Watch the green leaves turn to red, orange, yellow, and brown as you drive through New England. If you want to have your hands free to take photos, you can join an organized tour. By opting for a guided tour, your eyes will be free to take in all the sights around you. You can also take photos of and even visit landmarks such as colonial churches, age-old taverns, farms, prairies, and more. If your budget is tight, however, then fear not. Exploring the area in the comfort of your own car is just as fun! Pack a picnic lunch and take your family for a long, lazy drive through Boston and the state of Massachusetts. Whichever option you choose; the beautiful scenery is worth spending an enjoyable afternoon.

These are just a few of the many fall activities you can do in and around Boston this fall. However, by taking advantage of the cooler weather and the gorgeous fall scenery, you’ll be sure to have an unforgettable fall in Boston.  

If you’re planning to move to Boston, feel free to check out these fifteen things you need to know about the city. Planning to move to New York instead? Visit our local guide to settling in a furnished apartment in New York. Just looking for a weekend getaway? Check out our extensive guide to the best weekend getaways.

The Seven Deadly Sins for New Employees

New employees blog - Title photoCongratulations! You got yourself a great job with an awesome company! Now all you need to do is to avoid losing your job.

If this is your first job, you may not be prepared for some of the hurdles awaiting you. In fact, getting the job may turn out to be only half as hard as keeping your job. Of course you should celebrate successfully navigating your interviews and negotiations. When you’re done, however, please allow us to flag a few pitfalls that new employees all too often stumble into.

First, the basics:

You're hired!

While getting hired is exciting, you’ll need to keep your head. Your first few weeks on the job set the stage for your time at your new company. The last thing you want to do is make mistakes that leave a bad taste in your manager’s mouth.

This holds true even if you’re starting as an intern. Did you know over half of all interns get converted into full-time hires? This is good news if you’re one of the recent graduates with intern experience under their belt. While an internship may be no guarantee of a job, it is a step along the right path. And that’s a path we want to keep you on.

Job hunting is ghastly, exhausting, and depressing, so listen to us. Navigate your 90-day probation period like a ninja. Stay on your best behavior while those first impressions solidify and avoid committing any of the following 7 Deadly Sins for new employees.

1. Speechlessness

Businessman ignores coworker

Whether your boss says so or not, we’re betting your job description tacitly includes communicating with your colleagues. Today’s work frequently requires individuals and teams to keep each other in the loop. The tasks you’re responsible for depend upon the work of other people and vice versa.

When you have a question, ask it. When you have a concern, share it. If you make progress or a sale, make sure that information reaches those who would benefit from knowing.

Doing this shouldn’t be too formal or you risk coming off as socially-inept. Instead, keep conversation flowing by grabbing a coffee with your new workmates. If your office doesn’t already use an instant messaging service such as Slack or Google Hangouts, see if they’d be game to start. The more you all work together, the better the camaraderie and the easier it is to share in team successes.

Remaining speechless is a sin, and one that could get you fired.

2. Immobility

New employee being proactive

Given that you’re a new employee, managers won’t expect you to know precisely how things work. However, it doesn’t mean you should wait for people to tell you what to do. Managers love employees who show initiative.

That means asking for assignments instead of waiting for them. That means coming up with your own ideas for improving processes and making progress—and then running those ideas past your employer.

Try creating a schedule of tasks to complete each week. Then go the extra mile by adding to it. Consider pulling in something that’s not due until the following week, or taking the weight off an over-burdened colleague.

The other option is just sitting back and just doing what you’re told. Problem is, what you’re told might be to pack up your desk. That’s the price of immobility.

3. Murkiness

Employee speaks with manager

Just as you need to keep your colleagues informed, you need to make certain your manager knows how and what you’re doing. Keeping up this communication is your job, not theirs.

You might be doing wonderfully, or you might be barely muddling through. In either case, if your manager isn’t clued in, they aren’t in a position to respond appropriately. Talking regularly with your supervisor will help you improve as an employee. It will give you a leg up on understanding the company’s larger-scale goals and expectations. It will also help head off any looming issues that might put you out of a job.

Regular weekly meetings with your manager are an ideal method of avoiding any murkiness. However, we understand that they aren’t always feasible. As a result, you should do what you can to keep your supervisor appraised of your progress and any challenges you’re encountering. If he or she does have time to meet with you, make sure you’re ready to make the most of the meeting. 

4. Denial

Businessman making a mistake

Let’s face it: you screwed up.

If you’re wondering how we know, it’s because everybody screws up. Don’t try to hide it. Failing to own up to your mistakes doesn’t make you seem like the perfect employee—it makes you seem like you’re living in denial and can’t be trusted.

So what do you do when you make a blunder? The first rule is: never cover it up. As soon as you can, own up to the mistake and offer suggestions of what you might do to ameliorate any damage caused. If you can fix it yourself, excellent. If you can’t, remember to be grateful for the assistance your managers and colleagues provide you in cleaning up your mess. This is your chance to learn how to avoid making the same mistake in the future.

Remember: it’s not making mistakes that gets new employees canned. It’s the denial.

5. Awkwardness

New employees office party

New employees who fit in well don’t often get the sack.

As a newcomer, you’re bound to have a few days of awkwardness. That’s okay, just don’t let it stretch on too long. You might need a few days or a week to learn who’s who. You might even be new in town and struggle to find the best places to eat lunch.

Take a deep breath and don’t get overwhelmed. Settling in takes time and effort, and it’s important.

The solution isn’t complex. Be open to any office social events that come your way. You should also go out to lunch with those who invite you. If there’s a group gathering, don’t skip it, particularly during your first few months. You want people to get used to having you around. The alternative is a situation in which no one’s going to miss you, even if your work has been good.

Take the time to get to know your workmates. Ask for advice about the area and start conversations with your colleagues. Being one of the gang isn’t always easy (or instantaneous), but it’s much safer than being awkward.

6. Stagnation

Engineer Learning New Skills

Chances are you were hired for your experience doing something particular or for knowing something specialized. That’s good. Now try something new.

Flexibility is one important indicator of your potential for job success. This is true particularly in startup environments in which growth is rapid and change is frequent. If all you can offer is what you were hired to do, you may quickly find your existing set of skills outdated.

You should regularly pursue new skills to avoid being left behind. There are many ways to do this and many of them are painless. One path is to keep abreast of the direction your company is going in. Use that information to research and learn skills that you suspect will prove valuable. You can try using sites like Lynda.com or finding local adult education courses.

A few hours a week doing this can make a huge difference in your career. New employees who don’t learn end up stagnating, and they’ll eventually be the ones left behind.

7. Overconfidence

New guy asking for help

One common mistake new employees make is assuming that they’re doing everything right. Younger employees may also mistakenly assume that the quality of work they’re producing is as good as expected. We recommend a little humility as the cure for this.

Ask your colleagues or manager for help. Whether you’ve hit a rough patch or just want to make sure you’re up to snuff, proactively asking for criticism and assistance shows that you care. It gives your team a chance to nudge you towards your most productive path. More importantly, it also avoids a situation in which everything blows up in your face and your boss is left wondering why you didn’t ask for help earlier.

Everyone will expect new employees to face a learning curve. As a result, you shouldn’t try to race up it on your own. Rather, ask for help early on and be grateful to get it. The tips and tricks your teammates share with you will not only help you get over the hump, they’ll be evidence that you’re committed and worth having around.

Conclusion

Starting a new job is exciting, daunting, and—we hope—lucrative. We’d like to do all we can to make sure you hang on to all you’ve gained.

Avoiding these 7 Deadly Sins is an excellent first step. Sure, there are other pitfalls that are particular to certain industries. However, once you’re aware of these common mistakes, you’ll survive your probation period with little trouble. 

We hope that this piece will help you make it big! If you’re planning to work from home, feel free to read our 8 Simple Guidelines for Working from Home. If your employer’s going to send you on your first business trip, check out our guide to surviving business trips.

We’re also looking for awesome people to join our team. If you’re looking for a great career, check out our page on The Muse for open positions and employee interviews!

The Best Indoor Plants for Your Furnished Apartment

Title photo for blog piece on best indoor plantsDo you have a green thumb? It’s OK to say no — plenty of us are well aware of what it’s like to struggle with keeping plants. If it feels like every time you bring a plant home it dies in short order, you aren’t alone. The root of the issue isn’t likely to stem from an inherent inability to garden, though. Have you considered that you might just be bringing the wrong plants home? When you’re living in a furnished apartment, keeping the best indoor plants requires a little bit of planning ahead.

Every apartment is different, but it’s a far cry from the environment outside. Light and moisture levels are entirely different. To account for that, you’ll need to turn your attention strictly to plants which can thrive in your indoor environment. As long as you have a few windows with good exposure to the sun during the daytime, you can fulfill the dream of “greening” your space. Keeping houseplants has other benefits beyond adding elegance to the space, too — like cleaning up the air you breathe.

It can be tricky to tell which are best indoor plants for your apartment when you’re shopping at the garden center. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of ten of the best indoor plants you can use for sprucing up your apartment. Read on to find out which plant will best complete the look of your apartment.

  1. Spider Plants

Photo of Spider Plants - Best indoor plants

Scientifically known as Chlorophytum comosum, a spider plant is one of the best indoor plants for beginners. Requiring only a little bit of sun each day, this plant and its “spidery” long leaves are useful for adding some green to any space. They thrive at normal indoor temperature levels. Regarding actual care required, you’ll only have to do a moderate amount of watering. As long as you avoid letting the plant dry out entirely, you can expect it to live for quite a long time. These plants look especially attractive hanging in a window.

  1. Snake Plants

Snake Plant photo - best indoor plants

Maybe you don’t care for the droopy, thin leaves of the spider plant, or maybe you just want something a little more vivacious. Check out the snake plant for one of the ultimate “low maintenance” houseplants. Even though you can often go quite a while between waterings, the plant continues to maintain it’s beautiful and full green-yellow leaves. Space age research also shows that snake plants are specially adapted to improving air quality. While it sucks up chemicals like benzene from the air, you’re rewarded with fresh clean oxygen.

  1. Dracaena

Dracaena photo - best indoor plants

Perhaps neither of the previous two plants suit your personality. Do you want a plant with a real visual punch? Any one of the many species of Dracaena is one of the best indoor plants for you then. These plants can grow much taller, up to several feet, and don’t mind the cool atmosphere of your air conditioned apartment. They don’t even need that much sunlight, and semi-regular watering will keep your dracaena looking vivid. Stationing several pots around your apartment can create a cohesive look, enhancing the visual appeal of your greenery.

  1. Golden Pothos

Golden Pothos

For a bushier, leafier plant that’s just as hardy, the golden pothos is hard to beat. It’s just at home in your living room as it might be in your bathroom. Whether you place it on the window sill or hanging in front of a window, a decently attentive watering schedule will see this plant grow and grow. Low light conditions are, again, not a problem for the golden pothos. All the while, it’s sucking in carbon dioxide and other waste products from your air and exuding pure oxygen. Golden pothos plants are excellent for individuals living in smaller apartments, too.

  1. Aloe vera

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera isn’t just an ingredient for lotion. It’s also perhaps one of the most unusual looking plants you can bring into your furnished apartment. The unique looks of its prickly looking leaves will catch people’s attention, perfect for occasions when you’re hosting guests. Aloe vera also excels at cleaning the air, and it can even serve as your canary in the proverbial coal mine. Let it shine in direct sunlight and watch its leaves turn colors if there are too many pollutants in the air. Rest assured that you’ll always know if your apartment’s air quality is up to scratch.

  1. Cacti

Cacti

Cacti — and succulents which look like them — are the best indoor plants in low maintenance and durability. Always on the go and rarely have the time to think about your plants? A cactus only needs you to freshen it up with some water about once a month. The rest of the time, it can hang out in a sunny spot in your apartment adding an impressive desert look to the space. And why stop at just one cactus? Creating an indoor garden of succulents is quite easy once you understand their basic care requirements.

  1. Peace Lilies

Peace lily

There are houseplants which can add a touch of refined elegance to your apartment, too. Peace lilies tolerate low light rooms with remarkable aplomb and come with a big bonus many other houseplants don’t have: flowers. It’s important to note you’ll need to water it frequently, so it does require a little more maintenance than other houseplants. Even so, the ability to place these beautiful plants in the indirect sunlight cast through windows means you can put them all over your apartment. With basic care, you’ll have flowers in your home on a regular basis.

  1. ZZ Plant

ZZ Plant

Have you heard of the ZZ plant before? Properly called Zamioculcas zamiifolia, the ZZ plant comes from Africa but is perfectly happy to relax away from the sun in your apartment. Watering needs are few, as you’ll only need to give it a sip every week or two. The vibrant green color of its leaves can provide a striking contrast between its planter and the room in which you place the plant. It’s a good choice for those who want to keep a plant but don’t want to think too much about its care.

  1. Areca Palms

Areca Palm

If you can fit one – or several – into your apartment, an areca palm makes quite a bold statement. When you want to think tropically, this is the plant you want. The feathery, fan-like fronds will fill up the corner in which you place its pot. You’ll need to acclimate an areca palm slowly as you move it indoors, but once it’s settled in, your responsibility reverts back to routine care. Placement near a window yields just enough light for your island-minded apartment.

  1. English Ivy

English Ivy

Dealing with limited space in your furnished apartment? English ivy is timeless, a classic beauty, and extraordinarily easy to grow. In fact, it doesn’t take long before it begins to spill over the side of its pot and looks for places to climb. While it requires moderate watering and you’ll probably need to trim it occasionally, its looks more than make up for that. A pot of ivy hanging in the kitchen looks spectacular and perfect for grabbing your guests’ attention.

By making smart choices about which species you buy, you won’t have to worry about your bad luck killing plants ever again. Whether you like the gangly leaves of the spider plant or the more traditional elegance of the peace lily, there’s a plant out there perfectly suited to your furnished apartment’s environment. Looking for other ways to brighten up your space? Check out our tips for living in tiny spaces as well as our guide to making over your apartment’s kitchen.