About 250 more people are using Fairfax County’s emergency homelessness services this November over last November, and there are enough beds for just over half of them.

That number could increase as the federal ban on evictions draws nearer.

“As we look at potential rising eviction numbers, we need to be aware of the capacity for the homelessness system,” Fairfax County Health, Housing and Human Services Chief Strategist Dean Klein told the Board of Supervisors during a Health and Human Services committee meeting on Tuesday (Nov. 24).

With COVID-19 cases rising, Fairfax County is dealing with increasing numbers of people experiencing homelessness as well as the threat of rising eviction rates. Klein says rent assistance and partnerships with landlords will be critical for preventing evictions and keeping people in homes this winter.

“Our ongoing efforts to reach out to vulnerable populations is increasingly critical,” he said.

One step Fairfax County has taken is to form an eviction prevention task force with representatives from various county agencies, the county sheriff’s office, and the nonprofit law firm Legal Services of Northern Virginia.

Klein says he hopes to receive financial support from the Board of Supervisors next month. His staff anticipates spending at the same level as it is right now, which is about $600,000 a week.

Providence District Supervisor Dalia Palchik said a board matter is in the works that would “give additional local support for our continuation of basic needs, which we know continues to be a concern for us.”

Although funding comes from a number of sources, some are set to run dry soon, adding to the sense of urgency.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency stepped in this year to pay for hotel rooms so that people experiencing homelessness could have a place to sleep safely during the pandemic. However, it is unclear how long FEMA will continue to provide funding, Klein says.

Fairfax County Office to Prevent and End Homelessness Deputy Director Tom Barnett said the FEMA commitments are on a month-to-month basis and will last through the middle of December.

“We will continue to request extensions every month as they will support most of these expenses,” he said.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has committed emergency-solutions grant funding to support shelter and rehousing efforts, but those funds “would be quickly used up if FEMA does not continue their support,” Barnett said.

Fairfax County also received more than $30 million in federal and state CARES Act funding and community development block grants to cover basic needs, including rent and mortgage assistance, on top of the $5 million that the county contributed.

“Not only do we need strategies and assistance to move through the end of the year, but we absolutely know this is not ending in 2020,” Palchik said. “Hopefully we will have more state and federal support to address the needs of our community.”

While some social support efforts tackle the challenge of sheltering people during the pandemic, others focus on preventing residents from ending up on the street in the first place.

In August, Klein’s office assigned social workers to 900 people in the legal system who are at-risk for evictions. So far, social workers have helped 300 people. Klein says the likely reason why so many did not respond is that the only way to reach this group of people was by mail.

The office is also beginning outreach to landlords, who might not receive rent payments from third parties. A $150,000 grant from the Kaiser Foundation has gone toward hiring people to work with landlords, but more outreach is needed, Klein says.

On the tenant side, Klein said his office developed guides that explain the current eviction moratorium and help tenants contact the organizations that provide rent payment assistance.

“With the numerous moratoriums, you can imagine how confusing it can be,” Klein said.

Dipti Pidikiti-Smith, the director of advocacy at Legal Services of Northern Virginia, says a number of new provisions protect tenants from being evicted.

Landlords cannot evict tenants unless they provide documentation of what they’re owed and information on available rental assistance programs. Landlords who own five or more units, or have at least 10% interest in five or more units, must offer a payment plan without late fees. Tenants cannot be evicted unless they refuse the plan.

These provisions remain in place through Dec. 31 and will be replaced by similar ones in January, Pidikiti-Smith said.

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Though the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an eviction moratorium on Sept. 4, the ability to keep up with rent payments has been one of the most urgent challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic for Fairfax County residents, along with food insecurity.

As of Nov. 16, Fairfax County Coordinated Services Planning, which connects individuals to social services, has received 4,693 requests for rental assistance so far this year, according to Fairfax County Health and Human Services.

The county generally gets around 5,000 housing payment assistance requests every fiscal year.

“The pandemic has exacerbated the situation of our most vulnerable residents,” HHS public information officer Shweta Adyanthaya told Tysons Reporter in an email. “The system has seen a significant increase [of] over 3,000 new households, requesting all basic needs – housing, utility, food assistance – during the pandemic response.”

Adayanthaya says that, while requests have come in from all parts of the county, the areas with the highest levels of need now are the same areas that struggled most prior to COVID-19.

To help provide resources to tenants at risk of losing their homes, Fairfax County formed an eviction prevention task forcewith representatives from various county agencies, the county sheriff’s office, and the nonprofit law firm Legal Services of Northern Virginia.

The task force has also been charged with collecting and analyzing data on the eviction situation in Fairfax County, which will then be used to help direct resources and guide recommendations for future actions.

According to HHS, it is currently unknown how many Fairfax County residents have been evicted or become homeless since COVID-19 arrived in Virginia this past spring.

However, Adayanthaya says the county is “taking a proactive approach” to contact residents who get pulled into the legal system for evictions, and it has expanded outreach efforts to connect vulnerable and hard-to-reach populations with essential resources.

The county has also started outreach efforts to landlords that will expand in the new year.

“Communication is a key ingredient in communicating with tenants who are at risk of eviction as well as landlords,” Adayanthaya said. “We have been working hard to provide as much current information to prevent unwarranted eviction and to help educate the community.”

Currently set to expire on Dec. 31, the CDC’s temporary moratorium bars landlords from issuing evictions from residential properties for nonpayment of rent by individuals with incomes lower than $99,000 and married couples with joint incomes of less than $198,000.

Tenants in those categories will be covered by the moratorium if they are unable to pay rent due to income loss or extraordinary out-of-pocket medical expenses and would become homeless if evicted. They must present a declaration to their landlord.

The Fairfax County Redevelopment and Housing Authority has suspended evictions for rent nonpayment and associated charges or fees for residents of its properties. Late rent penalties also have been waived until further notice for renters at county-owned and managed properties.

Adayanthaya says the impact of eviction moratoriums on landlords, particularly small and family owners, has raised concerns in Fairfax County about the potential loss of affordable housing, but such measures are critical right now from a public health standpoint as well as a socioeconomic one.

“Eviction moratoria – like quarantine, isolation and social distancing – are effective public health measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Adayanthaya said. “Housing stability helps protect public health as homelessness increases the likelihood of individuals moving into congregate settings, such as homeless shelters, which puts individuals at higher risk for COVID-19.”

According to HHS, the Fairfax County Office to Prevent and End Homelessness has secured 445 rooms at six hotels as of Nov. 12 to provide shelter for people experiencing homelessness and individuals who are unable to isolate or quarantine safely in their homes.

358 of those rooms are currently occupied by 462 guests for an 80% occupancy rate. 90% of the individuals residing in the hotels were referred by homeless services providers. Only two of the guests were not homeless upon admission.

“Since the hotels opened, 132 people who were experiencing homelessness at admission moved to permanent housing situations,” HHS says.

Additional housing assistance information and a guide to tenant-landlord rights can be found on the Fairfax County emergency information website.

Photo via Fairfax County Office to Prevent and End Homelessness/Facebook

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Monday Morning Notes

How Rents Near Reston Metro Compare — “Rent near the East Falls Church and Tysons Corner stations is in the mid-range among DC Metro stops. But while the median price increased near Tysons Corner, it decreased near East Falls Church, according to the analysis.” [Reston Patch]

SAIC CFO Retires — “Reston-based defense contractor Science Applications International Corp. (SAIC) announced Friday that Chief Financial Officer Charles A. Mathis will retire on Jan. 29, 2021.” [Virginia Business Monthly]

Feedback Sought on Grab and Go Meals — Fairfax County Public Schools are seeking feedback via a survey on its grab-and-go meal program for the next academic year. The survey will help the school system determine the best locations and bus routes for meal services. [FCPS]

Man Stabbed on Parcher Avenue — Police believe a man was stabbed by a group of men in a parking lot on the 13200 block of Parcher Avenue on August 13. The victim was treated at a hospital for minor injuries. [Fairfax County Police Department]

Fall Guide for Reston Community Center is Live — Although the guide will not be mailed this year, the online program includes a detailed breakdown of all offerings. Registration begins September 1 for Restonians and September 8 for all others. [Reston Community Center]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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A temporary statewide moratorium on eviction proceedings will remain in effect from this week through Sept. 7, according to a Virginia Supreme Court Order.

The move comes amid an ongoing Congressional stalemate over the next economic relief package.

In a statement on Monday (Aug. 10) Gov. Ralph Northam said the decision is necessary to ensure all Virginians maintain “safe, stable housing” as the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic continues. He hopes to work with the Commonwealth’s General Assembly this month to craft more permanent legislative protections for homeowners and tenants.

So far, the state has pumped $50 million via the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES) specifically for households facing eviction or foreclosure due to the pandemic. A number of county-based resources to navigate the issue are also available online.

The end of the federal moratorium on evictions, which expired last month, and the lapsing of the $600 weekly boost to unemployment benefits, has left many renters in peril.

Roughly 27 percent of adults in the country missed their rent or mortgage payment in July, according to a nationwide survey by the U.S. Census Bureau. Roughly 34 percent of renters said they were unsure how they would make their August payments.

Given this economic backdrop, do you think Northam should further extend the temporary ban on eviction proceedings? Let us know in the comments below. Also, we’d love to hear from readers on their experiences with paying rent, mortgages, and interactions with landlords.

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Monday Morning Notes

A Halt on Evictions in Virginia — Gov. Ralph Northam has granted a temporary statewide eviction moratorium through Sept. 7. Northam requested this moratorium in a letter to Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Lemons on July 24. [Commonwealth of Virginia]

Goodbye to K-9 Jake — The K9 for the Herndon Police Department crossed the rainbow bridge last week. He served the residents of Herndon from 2010 until his retirement in 2016. [Herndon Police Department]

New Portal for Community Partners — “A new partner portal has been launched for local community leaders and organizations with shareable information about COVID-19 safety curated according to health messages. Users can grab-and-go with text and video content, visuals, flyers and other materials.”[Fairfax County Government]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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Friday Morning Notes

County to Host Zoning Open House — “Sheds, home-based businesses, and outdoor lighting on residential properties are some of the topics that will be discussed at the upcoming Zoning Open House on Tuesday, September 10, from 7 to 9 p.m. It will be held in the South County Center Main Conference Room, 8350 Richmond Highway, Alexandria.” [Fairfax County Government]

Hourly Wages to Rent in Reston — “They say home is where the heart is, but a new report by affordable housing advocates also shows that home is where the money is. The typical household in Fairfax County must earn $32.02 an hour to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rate, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. In the report, “Out of Reach,” Virginia is said to have the 13th highest ‘housing wage’ in the country.” [Reston Patch]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Rental Trends

This is a sponsored post by Danielle Gray of Apartment Showcase.

Buying a rug for your home or apartment can be an overwhelming process. There are a ton of factors to consider and if you buy one that’s too small you risk making the space feel chopped up and awkward. Rugs come is different shapes — rectangle, square, or round with sizes ranging from 2′ x 3′ to 12′ x 18′.

Let’s face it, rugs are expensive. It’s always best to save money and time by getting it right the first time.

Here are some basic tips to follow to make the rug buying process a lot easier.

The perfect size for your space is determined by how the furniture is arranged in the room.

sofaAs shown here, this basic rug layout is ideal for people with smaller budgets and small spaces.  Depending on the size of your sofa, 4’x6′ or 5’x8′ rugs are perfect here. As a rule of thumb, you want to have at least 5″-10″ of rug on either side of the sofa.

If you have a larger room, consider floating your seating area in the center of the room using an 8’x10′ (or larger) size rug. Anything smaller will make the room feel small and choppy. Remember, your rug is supposed to pull the room together not break it up.

floatingrrug

In the bedroom, float the rug towards the foot of the bed.

Use a rug in the bedroom to anchor the bed and to soften the room. If your budget doesn’t call for a large rug, you can also go with a 3’x5′ rug one side of the bed to plant your feet on when you wake up in the morning.

The biggest mistake that people make is buying a rug for the dining or kitchen table that is too small. People tend to stick with rugs that are 5’x8′ or 6′ x 10′ because they are more affordable.

dining The standard size rug in this area is 8’x10′.  Your goal is to fit the table and chairs on the rug. This prevents the chair legs from scratching up your beautiful hardwood floors.

Here’s the rundown on rug shapes. Square rugs are for square rooms. Round rugs are best suited for entry ways, bathrooms, or playful spaces like kid rooms.

Some people may be wondering if the legs should be on the rug or off. I think legs on the rug looks more polished. Your rug should be large enough to fit the front pieces. But if a large rug isn’t in your budget, then legs off is fine; make sure that you  keep this theme consistent throughout the space.

Finally, don’t forget your rug pad. Rug pads keeps the rug neatly in place and adds an additional layer of cushion underneath it.

Happy shopping! Don’t forget to visit the Apartment Showcase to search for your next apartment.

Graphics by Gray Livin’ 

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Rental TrendsThis is a sponsored post by Taylor Ryan of Apartment Showcase.

Just as Google Maps made navigation easier and Netflix made getting the right movie easier, a number of technological tools now seek to ease the challenges of apartment living.

Splitting Bills With Roommates: Have you ever had trouble getting your roommates to fork up cash for utilities? It can be tough when everyone has different schedules. Splitwise is an app and website that makes paying and splitting bills among roommates super simple. Instead of nagging your roommates to pay bills, use this app that schedules reminders and keeps a record of who has and hasn’t paid up.

Chore Sharing: Never hear “It’s not my turn to take out the trash!” or “Didn’t I clean the bathroom last week?” again. There are a wide selection of apps that allow you to select and split household chores. It’s much easier to dole out responsibilities equally than it is to be passive-aggressive.

Local Handyman and Cleaning Services: Maybe you need someone to help you assemble four boxes of Ikea furniture and nobody wants to help. Or maybe you want to avoid tension when living with roommates and use a maid service once or twice a month. Use sites like Thumbtack and Handy to find help.

Use Life Hacks: There are all kinds of easy ways to save time, money and frustration using creative ideas from websites like Lifehacker and Buzzfeed. These little secrets will come in handy when you least expect it.

Finding Your Next Apartment: Many people stress out about finding their next home. Finding your next ideal living situation has been made easy with Apartmentshowcase.com.

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Rental Trends

This is a sponsored post by Taylor Ryan of Apartment Showcase.

Let’s compare $1,200 monthly rent in Reston vs. other areas in the Washington, DC Metropolitan area.

First, take a look at Colvin Woods in Reston:

This community has a clubhouse, pool, business center, 24 hour emergency maintenance, tennis courts, a fitness center, and more. It’s less than a mile from the Dulles Toll road and prides itself on being pet friendly. This is a perfect place for someone who works in Reston or Tysons Corner.  Colvin Woods advertises a 728-square foot,  one-bedroom apartment for roughly $1,200.

Now let’s compare the above Reston apartment with similarly priced one bedroom one bath apartments around the Washington, DC Metropolitan area:

In Alexandria, not far from Route 1, is another community that comes with a pool, playground, picnic and BBQ area. If you go with a one-bedroom, one-bath apartment, you can expect to pay roughly $1,200, depending on the size of the place (680 – 810 square feet). For those who commute to Ft. Belvoir or Old Town Alexandria and want to snag a deal on a place to live, try The Courts of Mt Vernon. You can rent a 686-square-foot, one- bedroom apartment at The Courts of Mt Vernon for $1,139 monthly.

Maybe DC is your thing? Southwest, DC has seen a massive amounts of construction, remodeling, and restoration of apartment buildings. Located in walkable distance between five Metro stops and Nationals Park, Capitol Park Plaza is ideal for someone who commutes via Metro.

This property is gated, with a swimming pool, fitness center, covered parking, and allows both dogs and cats. You’ll find a 575-square-foot, one bedroom for around $1,200 monthly. This apartment is smaller than the apartments in Reston and Alexandria, but it’s really the location most people find so alluring about Capitol Park Plaza.

Finding affordable places in Northwest can sometimes be a real challenge. We found a community with 425- square-foot efficiency apartments for $1,200 at the The Kenmore. This property is a few blocks from the Friendship Heights Metro and is located near the border of Maryland and the District. Commuters have not only a short commute, but a lively nightlife to look forward to on the weekends at this location. The Kenmore has an on-staff concierge, covered parking, and picnic areas.

There are plenty of affordable places in Maryland. One great property to keep an eye on is Queens Park Plaza in Hyattsville. A short distance from the the West Hayattsville Metro, this property allows commuters of DC or Maryland to find an affordable place close to work. Like the others above, the Queens Park Plaza community is dog friendly and averages out to 725-square-foot, one-bedroom, one-bath for $1,200.

You have many options in the Washington, DC area when you are looking for an apartment community.  Make a list of what is really important to you when deciding on a new community. Price, location, size and amenities should be on your list. Compare all of your options and you will find the perfect place.

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Rental Trends

This is a sponsored post by Taylor Ryan of Apartment Showcase.

Consumers today are more tech obsessed than ever. “Tech” products improve and change so frequently, it’s now a struggle just to keep up with what’s new.

One of the fastest growing markets in this industry is known as the “Internet of Things,” or “IOT” for short. This type of technology covers all the things around us, including and not limited to: smart environments, wearables, and smart devices that measure us and react to our every move. Like it or not, the areas around us are going to become responsive and engage us more regularly.

For example, cars are becoming smarter. More cars are equipped with a feature that automatically slows down to avoid front end collisions  using advanced sensors and interconnected devices. At this rate, many futurists predict driverless cars will become the standard within 20 years.

What about your apartment in the future? Will the place you live soon be filled with smart products that help you think less and automate more? This new tech craze can bring us closer to living more comfortably or it might do the opposite. Which of these new smart products do we really need? Are we trying to discover solutions for problems we don’t think we have? You be the judge. Below are some of the most interesting and odd products that you might find irresistible in your apartment of the future:

Smart Appliances

Your refrigerator will eventually have the ability to know when products are running low, missing, and expiring. This smart refrigerator may become the standard in the next 20 years, but right now it seems like a rather opulent feature. See more in this YouTube video.

Let’s say you’re pressed for time and you want to know the exact moment that your clothes in the laundry are done. In a world where you need to be as efficient as possible and everything is connected, you can expect to get a notification on your phone from your laundry units. See more in this YouTube video.

Smart Food/Drink
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Rental Trends

This is a sponsored post by Taylor Ryan of Apartment Showcase. Rental Trends runs alternating Thursdays on Reston Now.

Moving can be expensive, time consuming, and stressful. Here are some tips to save you from the pitfalls and hassles of moving! For additional tips on moving and finding apartments, stop by the Apartment Showcase blog.

Boxes

Boxes are meant to be free — Have you seen how much brand new cardboard boxes go for these days? U-Haul sells moving “kits” for no cheaper than $68.74. That’s madness! Considering you’re almost certainly going to toss the boxes out after you move, the act of buying those boxes is literally the equivalent to throwing your money away. You may not believe it, but other people fell for buying new boxes. Now they have lightly used boxes that they don’t want to throw away (because they spent money on them), but need the boxes to go away. This may be why craigslist was created. On any given day, you can find an assortment of boxes on the “free” section of craigslist. Find a listing near you and snag yourself enough boxes to get the job done. Always grab more than you think you need.

Packing

Keep similar things together If you’re packing up the kitchen, make it easier on your future self and only pack kitchen supplies in that box and label it. Labeling will help save you trips and keep you organized. The only exception to this rule is below.

Packing supplies  If you’re thinking about buying packing paper for your plates/dishes; don’t. Newspaper does the exact same job. For larger objects that are bit more delicate, use blankets, towels, and clothing to soften the blow. A small note on tape, there isn’t much of a difference between what they sell at the dollar store to what is sold at the Penske truck rental center, except for the price.

Transporting

Renting a truck  Schedule your move in advance. Not only do you want to make sure the Apartment Community knows what day you’ll be moving in, but you need to make sure you have a truck reserved if you need one. You can’t expect to reserve a moving truck the day before your stuff has to be out of your old place. It might make for a funny story later, but it only serves as an agonizingly stressful speed bump in the moving process. Sometimes there are specials and coupon codes online that can save you $20+ on your truck. Do a quick google search for, “Moving truck coupon code” or something similar to it and you’ll find some deals. And just like a rental car, make sure you put gas back in the tank before you return the truck.

Rental truck insurance — A quick google search of “Should I buy insurance on my moving truck” will confuse and worry you. Do you know for certain that your personal auto policy will cover that truck? What are the exceptions in their policy? Before you fork over the extra $25-$50 that might not even cover you in case of an accident, place a quick call to your insurance agent and find what their policy is on moving trucks. You pay them every month to answer your questions.

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Rental Trends

This is a sponsored post by Taylor Ryan of Apartment Showcase.

Looking for a new apartment? Keep these tips in mind to save time and money.

1. Set Your Budget

Renting an apartment should be thought of as a major financial decision. Granted it’s only for a year at a time, rent can be the largest monthly payment you will regularly make. On average, you should only spend between 20 percent and 30 percent of your monthly income on rent. For many of us, it’s a much higher percentage.

Rent isn’t cheap in Reston or in the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Face it, you’re going to have to make a decision that you might be stuck with for at least a year. Let’s make sure you’re making the right choice.

First, decide on a budget. What is the price that you can live with while feasibly managing other bills, expenses, and costs that go along with living in this area? Use one of the many online monthly budget calculators like, The Budget Calculator and find out how much you can afford to spend on rent.

Once you have set a dollar figure that you can part ways with monthly, do a search based on that price. Websites like ApartmentShowcase.com do a great job of letting people search listings by rent price. See an example here on our site.

2. Know what time of year rent is the least expensive:

Did you know that rent prices fluctuate during the year depending on demand? There are multiple schools of thought on the best time of year to get a deal on an apartment. During the Summer and early Fall, you will have far more options but prices are higher. According to lifehacker.com, the sweet spot is October through December and then again from February through March. Many people aren’t willing to move during  cold months or during the holidays.
3. View more than one place:

Just because finding your next place is stressful, it doesn’t mean you should just go with the first place you saw because you want to be done with it. You need to see multiple places in order to compare experiences. Visits are an important way to gain insight into what’s important to you (distance to the metro, cleanliness, friendliness of staff, noise, neighbors, etc.) Despite what you’ve read online, seeing is believing. Read More

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Rental Trends

This is a sponsored post by Taylor Ryan of Apartment Showcase. Rental Trends runs alternating Thursdays on Reston Now.

People are drawn to Reston for all kinds of reasons. Many like it for its beauty; others like it because it’s the right mix of suburbia. Some enjoy the community, and others like it’s convenience for work. Reston also offers a colorful range of indoor and outdoor activities. Let’s break down some great things to do in Reston.

Things to do:

Lake Anne/Credit: Rental TrendsReston has a number of hidden gems that you need to take a day to experience. Grab a few friends or the family and stop over at The Water Mine at Lake Fairfax Park. This place is a great time for young and old. It’s a well-kept (cleanliness is important in water parks) medium-sized water park with a lazy river, water slides, obstacle courses, and more.

After the water park, play some Frisbee golf at Lake Fairfax. If that’s not your thing, maybe you’re into fishing? They stock the lake every year to allow anyone to come by and spend some time reeling in a bass, trout, sunfish, etc. You will also find picnic areas with grills and a skate park.

Of course I’m going to mention the Reston Zoo. This place has a petting barn (you’re never too old to pet a baby goat), grazing area, and a reptile. The price is right, currently $12.95 for an adult ticket and $9.95 for children under 12.

Maybe you want to get away from it all and grab a coffee and curl up with a book. Take a quick trip out to Lake Anne. It’s almost never crowded during the week and it includes a cozy used book store, a few restaurants, RA boat rentals, stand up paddleboarding, a handful of shops, and a farmers market on Saturdays.

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Rental Trends

This is a sponsored post by Taylor Ryan of Apartment Showcase.

We all enjoy getting a deal and saving some money. Apartment shopping can be stressful and time consuming. There a few things you can do in order to save yourself some time, money, and headaches.

Timing: This is simply a supply-and-demand scenario. If there are far fewer people renting during the winter months, then you’ve got a much higher chance of getting a better deal. When apartments sit vacant, the management company loses money.

A property is much more likely to be hard pressed for new renters between Thanksgiving and the first of the year. Less people are looking to move during this time frame, so the chances that the apartment community is offering a rent reduction is greater.

Set up an appointment and show up like you’re ready to move in that day: My grandpa used to go on cruises for nearly 80 percent off many years ago because he would often show up to the dock with a suitcase in hand on the day of a cruise departure. He was friendly, courteous, and pointed out that empty rooms meant lost opportunities to make money.

After you do your homework, set an appointment to view an apartment two weeks prior to the end of the month. Bring a recent credit report, two forms of identification, a letter from previous landlord(s) as to your competency. If you’re really playing ball, bring two blank checks for a security deposit and application form. Avoid being pushy; rent if they’re willing to take a deposit that day.

Off the beaten path: Sometimes apartment communities don’t do a great job advertising their dire need for people to fill their vacancies. Sometimes properties are run in an “old-school” fashion and many will rely on signs/ foot traffic to do all the advertising for them. Maybe you’re out running errands and spot an apartment community that seems like it could be worth exploring. There’s no harm in going in and getting some information from the leasing office, concierge, or looking up the property online to set an appointment to view the place later.

You’re often more likely to get a direct and quick answer for pricing and availability questions in person rather than over the phone.

Search online properly: Many rental properties advertise deals through websites like ApartmentShowcase.com. You can save a month’s worth of rent often by locating these deals, but be sure to let the leasing agent know where you found the community when you make your final decision to rent the apartment.

Get real reviews: Ask current residents if they like the community you are considering. Beware that while Internet reviews may get you the dirt you’re looking for, 62 percent people who write reviews are angry and venting about one particular occurrence and not the overall experience. Just make sure you “read between the lines.”

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