Finding My First Solo Apartment

This post is sponsored by Zumper. Opinions are my own.

You’ve heard the apartment hunting stories - or, nightmares rather - and I’m telling you there’s lots of truth to them. I recently decided to take the challenge of moving into a solo apartment meaning I had to do all the searching, vetting and signing on my own (*cue music*).

Living downtown had been such a highlight, but the trouble is the spaces are rather small for the buck. So, I decided to keep the location more open to see where that would take me. While that is a bonus, it also made the search a little more difficult because it felt like the options were endless!

To alleviate the burden of the search, technology was my best friend. I’ve mentioned a few apps and resources in the past and decided to give something new a try: Zumper.

Born out of frustration by the old way of renting, Zumper creates a smooth, efficient and transparent renting process for both tenants and landlords. You can search for specific amenities, create alerts to notify you of similar listings, and find specific neighborhood information such as rent prices and demographics. Ok, ok I had to give it a try.

If you’re relocating to NYC or just moving nearby in the city, Zumper Select, available in New York and Chicago, takes the hassle out of apartment hunting. Tell them your move-in date and budget, and from there the experts will help you find options that fit your needs.

Zumper Rental App

So: where did all that take me?

After sorting through apartments that would fulfill my wishlist, I found myself looking mostly in the Upper West Side, Hell’s Kitchen, or Midtown area. I gave myself 6 weeks to search, with alerts on, and used my weekends for viewings. Things to keep in mind:

  • 3-4 weeks out is the sweet spot. In NYC, so many apartments come and go, and landlords are looking for ASAP move in.

  • If you’re using the weekend for tours, do first thing in the morning on Saturday. Many people are doing the same thing, so you want to be among the first to check out a place.

  • Try to stick with the same 1-2 areas for your appointments, it will save you time! Busy bee like me? If you don’t have the time to schedule 100 tours, Zumper will schedule them for you and can even join you if you’d like.

  • Have ready the things you’ll need to apply if you see something you like while on the tours. Think: your last two paystubs, most recent tax return, employer’s salary letter, ID, and checkbook.

  • If you LOVE something, take it right there. Chances are, if it’s your dream apartment it’s also someone else’s, so apply then and there if you don’t want to miss out. This happened to one apartment early in my search.

At about 3 weeks out, I found it!

The dream space in a new neighborhood between Hell’s Kitchen and the Theater District. I went for it because of space and price, neighborhood initially coming in as my lowest priority and then becoming one of my favorite elements. Truly the dream.

Once you find a dream place, Zumper’s local rental experts are standing by to provide advice on the neighborhood, and help sign and move you into your new space. Seriously, it couldn’t get easier!

It’s still a work in progress, but here’s a first look at how it’s coming together. Here are my three favorite spots in my new place (left to right):

  • The couch space: WOW do I love my couch. It’s so cozy and turns into a full-size bed for guests. There’s also secret storage and all the pillows I need.

  • The bathroom: I feel like I never had enough space to lay out my skin and beauty things comfortably. I have a ton of bathroom space now and am at peace in this space.

  • The reading nook: I love my bookshelf came out, and I treat this space as a little reading nook thanks to the cozy ottoman.

Do you have any tips on moving into an apartment in the city? I’d love to hear them! #MakeYourMove




3 Ways to Tackle Your Period With Technology

There was a time when women got really pumped about a new period tracking app, but the latest advancements in Aunt Flow technology are kicking these apps to the curb. Periods are bloody awful, but from re-useable underwear to connected cups women are starting to see light at the end of the tunnel - and this time the light is probably coming from their smartphones.

Period innovation is due for an update. In the 1930s, the tampon was invented by a man and to-date not much has changed. In 1969 pads shocked the world by adding an adhesive strip. Finally, building momentum through 2015, we’re starting to see safer and smarter products that offer women alternatives to coping with a bloody mess and its side effects.

If menstruation is a gift from Mother Nature, these three gizmos are the gifts that keep on giving.

THINX.jpg

1. THINX: Stain and leak-resistant undies

THINX self-absorbing underwear have been developed to keep women dry throughout their period and can be washed after each wear. Each pair has four built-in layers designed to wick away moisture, fight bacteria with an “invisible silver treatment,” absorb up to two tampons’ worth of liquid, and prevent leaks, respectively.

Sound gross? Yes, it does. According to the company and some brave early adopters, it truly doesn’t feel like a) you’re wearing a diaper b) you’ve leaked through your clothes or c) you’re sitting in blood. At the very least, THINK eliminates the need for preventative panty liners, light tampons or the “ugly underwear” you wear when you’re expecting a period and don’t want to be surprised.

The creators of THINX have also teamed up with AFRIpads, an organization that provides washable, reusable pads to women in developing nations who don’t have sanitary products. A pair starts at $24 and comes in various shapes and colors so you can pick what fits your style best.

LOONCUP.jpg

2. LOONCUP: A smart menstrual cup

We’ve evolved from smart phones to smart watches, then smart homes to now smart menstrual cups. Yeah, the thing you shove in your hoo-hah to collect lady juices, spill them out, clean up and use again later. As wearable technology evolves there’s one place we didn’t expect it to go (or did we?) but it recently went there.

The LOONCUP is a connected menstrual cup that automatically checks your menstrual cycle, analyzes fluid color and volume, while also doing all the other things your regular cup, tampon or pads would do on their own. The company raised more than $160 thousand on Kickstarter to bring the Bluetooth-enabled cup to market. It’s touted as safe because the sensor, battery and antenna are discreetly located in the stem of the cup, that is, the outside. Signals are as low and safe, so you don’t have to worry about creating a radioactive disaster down under.

Bonus: The Company believes their medical-grade technology will soon be able to read menstruation for signs of anemia, diabetes and cholesterol. High five for good health.

Livia.jpg

3. Livia: Your cramps’ saving grace

Dealing with spills, bloating and food cravings is already so uncomfortable, and the time of the month is only made worse with a woman’s worst enemy: cramps. The pain can sometimes be so severe that women often call in sick to work or class, and stay in bed popping pain killers, waiting for them to kick in.

Livia, on the other hand, is a portable device that provides instant relief from cramps, and lasts up to 15 hours on a single charge, long after those pills wore off. The company has tapped into physiotherapy tech to block pain receptors through electrical pulses. All this science-talk means this is a game changer, especially during times when we are just not having it from Mother Nature.

“With Livia, women everywhere can have a more comfortable period,” said Livia’s CEO Chen Nachum. “Especially with people looking into holistic alternatives for food, medicine, and other industries, Livia is the natural step to take in order to get relief from menstrual pain, especially for women whose cramps can really be debilitating.”

Whether you’re into these ideas or not, the introduction of products like these into the menstrual space means there will soon be bigger and better things to help you with that time of the month.

Take that, Aunt Flo!

Wearable Technology Contributing to the Sexual Assault Awareness Conversation

Sexual Violence is a crime of power and control. It affects people of all ages, genders and cultures. April is dubbed Sexual Assault Awareness Month - an observance that serves to build momentum around the conversation of rape culture and those being affected by shocking statistics. It’s a month that celebrates survivors while working to use education as a tool for prevention.

While harassers and victims are both men and women, victims are predominantly women. Of the 12,510 charges of sexual harassment received by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2007, 84% were filed by women. A study by the National Victim Center finds that 1.3 women (age 18 and over) in the United States are forcibly raped each minute. That translates to 78 an hour, 1,871 per day, or 683,000 per year.

Revolar and ROAR for Good are just two companies looking to slash these statistics with wearable technology. Both companies were founded by women ready to disrupt the pattern of rape culture and change the way people keep themselves and those they love safe.

ROAR for Good built Athena as a simple device with a big mission: to protect women with the touch of a button. The coin-sized discreet device emits a loud alarm and sends your location to friends and family during an emergency. It’s GPS-enabled, rain and splash-proof to make it easy to tag along with you during exercise or while on a vacation.

How does it work? A recessed button, to prevent accidental presses, is held down for 3 seconds to emit a loud alarm and simultaneously text your location to pre-selected friends or family. Your loved ones can then opt to give you a call or get 911 on the line. The alarm can serve as a deterrent to an attacker, but Athena also has a SilentROAR™ option if you’d rather hide your alert from them. All messages and help alerts are sent without the invasive alarm. You can clip it to your clothing, bags or wear as a necklace.

Philadelphia-based entrepreneur Yasmine Mustafa created Athena after personal realizations of the urgency to protect women from sexual assault. She returned from a solo trip across South America, during which she was repeatedly warned of the risks of a young woman traveling alone, only to find someone had been assaulted in her neighborhood. Since then, she paired with co-founder Anthony Gold to launch their startup to help empower women.

Athena’s Indiegogo campaign was recently 667 percent funded - with more than $300 thousand raised to get it to market. 10 percent of proceeds from their campaign were allocated to raising awareness about the warning signs of abuse and helping end relationship violence. You can now pre-order the device at $79.99 and expect it in the mailbox this Fall. Available in black, rose gold and silver.

Revolar was born out of a passion to keep our loved ones safe in a smart, modern way. Founder and CEO Jacqueline Ros created Revolar out of love for her little sister who was assaulted as a teenager. Jacqueline found herself wishing her sister had been able to simply press a button to call for help, so that’s exactly what she built. Jacqueline and her team are a dedicated group of allies and survivors, who are all committed to building safety technology to empower people to keep themselves and those they love safe.

Similar to Athena, Revolar uses a discrete button to signal a personal emergency alert to loved ones via text message or e-mail. Emergency contacts are then provided with a web link that provides them with alert severity level (yellow or red), up-to-date location information, and path traversed since the alert was triggered. Their battery lasts up to year and the device itself is waterproof, which means you don’t have to worry about getting caught in the rain or using it near the water.

The startup recently raised $3 million from The Foundry Group which is also a backer to Fitbit. Revolar plans to build other wearable devices for use in fields such as solo running and travel, and adding features to Revolar itself. It’s available at www.revolar.com for $99. Their Give One Get One campaign asks for $119 to send you a Revolar and donate one to a woman in a domestic violence shelter on your behalf.

There have been overwhelmingly positive responses to wearables like Athena and Revolar, as well as other gadgets in the market seeking to prevent sexual assault. While these short-term strategies do not reach the core of the problem, they arm men and women with tools do defend themselves against becoming another number.

April is a month for action, but innovations like these are helping to push the conversation further and closer to positive, sustainable change on rape culture. They’re making safety “as easy as pressing a button,” because it is pressing a button.

If you’ve experienced sexual assault, please visit: www.notalone.gov for resources or call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE.