What to do During June in Fort Wayne, Part I

Father's Day is June 15th
Father's Day is June 15th
Father’s Day is June 15th

The apartment lifestyle here at Willow Creek Crossing Apartments means having extra time to spend with your family each month.  June in Fort Wayne is packed full of great family events, many of them either very low cost or even free.

Here are just a few things coming up this week.  Here’s a brand new event for the Fort, free live family friendly concerts on the first Wednesday evening of each month this summer.  This week, the entertainment starts at 5pm and continues until 9pm.  There is no cost to enjoy the music, but if you want dinner, some of the Fort’s favorite food trucks will be on hand, and J.K. O’Donnell’s will be hosting a beer tent for adults with a one dollar admission charge.  Next concerts are July 2, then August 6.

Another place to enjoy free music with the family every Friday night all summer long is at Jefferson Point Shopping Center, this week featuring the Junk Yard Band.  The free series continues through September 5th.

There are some non-free concerts of note this week as well, with Grammy Award winner Anthony Hamilton at the Embassy Thursday, June 5th. And The Guess Who perform at the Foellinger Theatre on Friday June 6th.

Remember that old Opel Kadett or VW you one tooled around in?  If you still have it, or any other European made vehicle, bring it to the 4th annual Eurofest “A Gathering of European Cars” at IPFW on Sunday, June 8th.  Better yet, bring your Mercedes, Porsche, or Jag.  You can learn more by clicking here.

Another free family event this week is Canal Days in New Haven.  Canal Days runs Wednesday through Saturday in Schnelker Park in Downtown New Haven, IN.

Of course, here at Willow Creek Crossing, you can enjoy family time this month, and all summer long at either of our two swimming pools.  And check at the office for details about free golf.

There is plenty more family fun going on in June, so check back here in a couple days for more things to do in Fort Wayne during June.

Think Like a Thief to Protect Your Valuables

Home safety experts agree.  One of the best ways to keep your valuables safe is a home safe preferably one that is bolted to or built into the wall or floor.  Of course, in your Willow Creek Crossing Apartment, you can’t install a safe into your wall or floor.  Still there are things you can do to protect your valuables.

First, think like a thief.  If you were a thief, your primary goal would be to find valuables as quickly as possible and get out.  Enter your apartment, and think, where would I look first for valuables.  Under the mattress, check.  Behind the toilet tank, check.  The bottom of a sock drawer, double check.  These are all the first places a thief would look.  It’s quick, and it’s typical of where people put their valuables.

Another quick and commonly used place to store valuable is behind a picture on the wall.  However, what if you put the valuables between the picture and a cardboard frame behind the picture?  Few thieves take the time to open up all of the pictures.

Few thieves would bother to go through all of the food you keep in your refrigerator either. Foil a thief by wrapping up your valuables in aluminum foil, so they look like just another left over.

If you were a thief, would you spend a lot of time looking through your kid’s room? Probably not, too many things to go through, and very low likelihood of finding something really valuable.  So, hide your valuables in a toy.  It will then just become part of the chaos, hiding in plain site.

If you have a lot of books, the old book safe is a great place to hide things.  Take an old book, cut out a hole in the pages, and put your valuables there.  Certainly thieves know about book safes, but also don’t want to take the time to go through every book on your shelf.

You can hide your things in other common household containers, like coffee cans, or aspirin bottles.  Just remember to let the coffee or aspirin cover over your valuables, and you’ll throw the thief off track.

Here’s another great way to throw off a thief.  Offer up a fake stash of goods.  Put a hundred dollar bill in your sock drawer.  Once a thief believes he’s found your valuables, it’s time for him to move on.  Most thieves will keep searching your apartment until they find valuables, so a fake stash gives them a reason to believe they’ve completed their mission, and they’ll move on.

Remember, if you come up with an idea of where to hide your valuables, a thief has probably come up with the same thought.  They are professionals after all.  So the best solution of all may be a safe deposit box at a nearby bank.  Not always convenient, but always certainly, quite safe.

 

Where do You think Highest Rent in the Country is?

dollar sign for WCC

At $445.00 a month for a one bedroom apartment, Willow Creek Crossing Apartments here in Fort Wayne, IN, is $786 a month below the national average of about $1,231 per month.

In general, Midwestern towns like Fort Wayne have lower than average rents, so, it may be hard to believe that the US town with the highest priced one bedroom apartments isn’t in New York or San Francisco, but Williston, North Dakota, population 18,532 according to the US Census, but closer to 30,000 if you ask the locals.  Located a few miles South of Canada, and a few miles East of Montana, Williston is in the center of America’s oil boom.  There are good paying jobs there, and plenty of people moving in to take them.  The only problem? Not enough apartments to fill the demand, so the rent goes up.

How far up?

How about $2,400 a month.

That’s’ almost $2,000 a month more than Willow Creek Crossing, but without the two swimming pools and fitness center.

It’s also a lot higher than New York where a one bedroom apartment goes for about $1,500 a month, or LA where it the rent will set you back over $1,400 a month, or Boston where a typical one bedroom runs $1,537 a month.

Paying the rent isn’t fun, but at least you have a great apartment, with lots of amenities, at a price well below what most of America is paying.  And it’s a terrific bargain compared to Williston ND.

Stats provided by Apartments dot com.

 

At Willow Creek Crossing, You Don’t have to Rake the Leaves, Just Enjoy Them!

Part One of Three, Michigan

One of the great things about Apartment Living happens in the fall.  While home owners are out raking leaves every weekend, you’re free to take a short trip and actually enjoy the fall leaves in all of the glory.

The Midwest gets a a hard knock for scenery.  Sure, we don’t have oceans or mountains, but we do have trees, if you know where to find them.

If you’re up for a serious road trip, there are several world class fall foliage viewing areas within five or six hours of Willow Creek Crossing Apartments.  Some of the best color viewing occurs in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  The UP is about five hours due north, and it’s pretty much Interstates all the way.  You’ll know when you get there because you’ll have to go over one of the world’s longest suspension bridges.

Before you cross the bridge, you might want to stop and visit Mackinac Island.  The local joke here is when a tourist stops to ask “Where’s the bridge to Mackinac Island?”  There is not bridge.  You’ll have to park your vehicle and take a boat.  When you get there, you can rent a bicycle or a horse driven taxi.  There are no motor vehicles on the island.  There’s plenty to see and do, and great fall color you can view best from the bike trail that rims the island.

Shave about an hour off the trip, and head to Traverse City instead.  Take Michigan State Road 72 West to Michigan 22, and turn right.  You’ll head up along Lake Michigan and Sleeping Bear State Park.  M22 draws hard core foliage fans from all over the country.

Come back for Part 2, Indiana Foliage trips

 

Be Careful! It’s finally Spring in Fort Wayne

Spring weather, though long overdue, is finally happening here at Willow Creek Crossing Apartments. While spring brings out the flowers, it also brings out the walkers and bikers. Kids could be playing or crossing the streets anywhere at Willow Creek Crossing, and since it’s staying light out longer, at almost any time.  Please slow down and take extra care to watch for kids and adults in parking areas, and crossing streets.

Parents, please caution your children to watch for traffic, especially in the evening when residents are coming home from work.  Teach your children how to safely cross at marked crosswalks, and don’t let them play in parking areas, where it may be hard for drivers to see them.

Let’s all have a safe and happy spring and summer.

Protecting Your Internet WiFi Security in an Apartment

You just moved into a new Willow Creek Crossing apartment, and you flip open your laptop to check email before you remember you don’t have any internet service yet.  So, out of curiosity, you click on the network icon and up pops a list of ten or twenty (or more) WiFi networks with useable signals in your apartment.  Huh???

Well, remember, apartments are close together, and if every apartment has its own WiFi router, you’re bound to be able to pick up the signals from next door, upstairs, downstairs, etc.

Of course, if you can pick up theirs, they will be able to pick up yours.

If you try to click on any of these available networks to see if you can connect to the internet through them, you will probably find that most are “secured” and you will see either the initials WEP or WPA next to their names.  In order to borrow their internet, you will need a password.

This security system is usually set up by the internet provider, such as Frontier or Comcast in our area.  If you set up your own apartment WiFi, you have to manually set up this security.  Given a choice, don’t use WEP security.  It’s been around awhile, and isn’t considered secure any long.  Use WPA or better yet, WPA-2 (also called 802.11i standard.)

OK, so you’re a generous person, and you don’t care if someone uses your internet for free?   Consider that if they are using it to download streaming videos, this will slow down your own internet service.  But worse yet, if they are downloading or uploading something illegal, this can be traced back to the person who owns the internet service, which is you.  People who do illegal things on the internet look for opportunities where they can use someone else’s internet service to do their dirty work, so they will go undetected.  You, on the other hand, will have a lot of explaining to do, and will have not way to prove it was your neighbor who was really guilty.

There are other horrible things that people can do to your computer if you leave your network unprotected.  The important thing is, take a few minutes and make sure you are properly set up and using your WPA or WPA-2 security.  If you are secured  now with WEP, change over to WPA or WPA-2 (also called 802.11i standard.) Sure, you’ll have another password to deal with, but that’s just life in the digital age.  You lock your apartment door, and take a key with you when you go out, right?

For more information about internet security in apartments or homes, click here.

 

Having and Mantaining a Good Credit Score

Many years ago, my young bride and I went to rent an apartment.  The landlord told us, “You look like a nice young couple,” and that was all we needed to be in order to sign a lease and move in.  Today, renting an apartment is a little more complicated, and a credit score check is often part of the process.  Landlords know that a renter with a good credit score is more likely to pay their rent on time, than one with a lower score

When my son was young, I knew some day he’d be going to college and moving out and starting his own life.  So, as dutiful parents, we began planning for his future.  We did obvious things, like start a college savings account for him. But we did something else, too. We helped him establish a credit history, and taught him how to build a good credit score.

If you’re over thirty, or even over 25, you probably have a credit score, whether or realize it or not.  But what about young people just starting out in life.  Not too many teen agers are making monthly payments on credit cards or utilities.  But they can, and should be doing this in order to help establish a credit rating for themselves.

For example, when my son was a teenager, we put his cell phone in his name.  I paid the monthly bill, but cell phone companies report to the major credit bureaus, and that’s how a credit history is created.  Another thing a parent can do is to help a teen procure a credit card, say with a limit of $500.  In order for this to be actually in the teen’s name, you may have to secure the card by putting $500 in a savings account with the issuing bank.  Have the teen use the card for small personal purchases, and make sure at least the minimum payment is made every month.

When my son went to college and lived in an apartment community, again, we put the lease in his name, even though we paid his rent.  I co-signed on one vehicle he financed. After that, he was able to buy a car entirely with his own credit history.

So, the first goal is to establish credit.  You do this step by step.  If you can get a bank credit card, even with a small credit limit, and you use it and pay it off on time, the bank will start to raise your credit limit, and this is good for your credit score.

The exact method the big three credit reporting companies actually figure your credit score is not shared with the public, but some things are known.  The biggest one is just paying your bills on time.  But that’s not enough.  Having credit cards helps, but running your balance up to your credit limit seems to hurt your credit score.  Opening too many credit accounts also seems to hurt your score.  Even closing out a credit card can lower your score because it reduces the amount of potential credit you have.

While there is no quick fix to raising your credit score, doing these three things will help you over the long haul:

  1. Pay your bills on time
  2. Don’t keep your credit card balances too close to your credit limits
  3. Don’t apply for a lot of credit.  Every time you do, your credit score will drop a little.

 

This Valentine’s Day, Fall in Love with Your Apartment (Again)

apartment flowers

Valentine’s Day ushers in the season of love. How about rekindling some romance with your living space. Here are five ideas that can help you love your apartment.

1. invest in some house plants that can add color and fragrance to your apartment. They also add some responsibility to remember to water them, and to have someone look after them when you go on vacation. While not quite the same, artificial plant arrangements can also add warmth and color to your living space.

2. If you don’t want to add a real flower or plant, how about a painting or lithograph of one, or of anything else that you find stimulating or relaxing. Nice art work in your apartment can transform your apartment, Turn off your TV for awhile and just enjoy looking at the art on your walls. As you know, the artwork itself isn’t very expensive. It’s the frames that cost money. Visit thrift stores and garage sales to find low cost but interesting frames.

3. Again, if you don’t want to add plants and flowers, you can plug in a great scent. In fact today there are so many scents available, you can switch fragrances every week or so. Another good idea is the pay attention to the anti-scents, like that pile of laundry, the garbage or the cat box. A fresh clean fragrance can help you fall in love all over again with your living space.

4. Add lighting. Lighting can be decorative, of course, but it can also give your old place a completely new look. Bright lighting, especially during the darker winter times, can simply make your outlook on things brighter as well. Proper lighting has another design effect. If makes your rooms look larger. And who doesn’t love larger rooms?

5. Now that you’ve added the fragrance and beauty of fresh flowers, the color and look of fine art on your walls, and brightened up your life with more lighting, it’s time to sit back and enjoy your apartment. Valentines Day falls on a Monday this year, and hopefully, you’ll be out celebrating with your own Valentine. But the weekend before Valentines Day would be a great time to cocoon in your apartment, and read a good book. Anyone have any suggestion?

Hosting Thanksgiving Dinner in your Apartment

With a little planning, you can comfortabley host Thanksgiving in your apartment

Your apartment probably provides you with enough room for comfortable day to day living.  But, is it big enough for you to invite the entire family over for Thanksgiving Dinner?  Absolutely!  As long you you do a little advance planning.

1.  Make it a buffet.  The most obvious problem is the size of your dining room table.  Spacious enough for four, but what about eight or more?  With a buffet, people can load up on food at your table, then find a comfortable spot elsewhere to enjoy eating it.  You can also set up or create serving tables to allow some family members to still sit at the main table.

2.  Make it a Pot Luck buffet. Even in a house, your kitchen and stove sizes are limited, so if you don’t have enough room to make all the dishes, ask guests to prepare and bring with them some of the side dishes.  This is especially good if you happen to know that one of your guests makes, for example, a terrific potato dish, while another guest knows how to do fantastic things with cranberries (as if that’s possible.)  You then have plenty of room to spread out and concentrate on the main course.

3.  Create more room.  If you do the buffet, do some planning ahead of time to re-deploy your furnishings to make things more comfortable for your guests.  Moving furniture back toward the walls can create a lot more space in your living room.  Do this before everyone show up.  Don’t be afraid to mix and match seating, but try to avoid metal folding chairs if you can.

4.  Plan an activity.  One way to get all of those guests out of the apartment while you’re preparing the meal is to literally, get them out of the apartment.   Send them off on a walk, or set up a touch football game.  This year, more department stores will be open on Thanksgiving than ever before, so send people shopping.  Even Glenbrook Mall is open 10am to 9pm, though Jefferson Pointe is closed.

5.  Plan an After dinner activity.  If you’re apartment won’t hold all the gang comfortably, take the party outside.  Go for a walk, or go to a sports bar where everyone can sit and even enjoy the Lions-Packers football game Thursday afternoon.

The main thing is,  plan ahead.  Start getting ready a day or two ahead of time, and enlist the help of your guests, especially any houseguests you have for the holiday.   With a little preparation and flexibility, any space can be big enough for a great family feast like Thanksgiving.

And while we’re at it, Willow Creek Crossing Apartments is thankful for the hundreds of people who made Willow Creek their home this year.  You will all be in our thoughts and prayers this Thanksgiving holiday.

 

House Warming Gifts for First Time Apartment Dwellers

Where's Mom book

Do you know a family member or friend who is just about to move in to Willow Creek Crossing Apartments? What’s an appropriate house-warming gift for someone moving into their first apartment?

One of the great things about living in an apartment is not having to worry about major repairs, like you have to with a house.   Just call maintenance.  But what about the small things, like one of your own appliances, or minor repairs on your car. For these occasional projects, you need basic tools, like a hammer, or allen wrenches.  The Apollo Precision Tools DT9706P 39-Piece Pink General Tool Set on Amazon.com provides all of the basic tools for only $25.00.

One of the best and most used presents I ever received was a big book showing how to fix basic things around the home. Where’s Dad Now That I Need Him?: Surviving Away from Home is a self help book that anyone just starting out on their own needs to have. Again, available from Amazon.com for $16.95. By the way, there’s a companion book, Where’s Mom Now That I Need Her?: Surviving Away from Home , also available.  Buy them both!

You don’t think about having to replace a button until you’re in a hurry to get to some important event, and have nothing else to wear.  The Singer 35 Piece Sewing Kit In Storage Box from toolking.com is a gift for under $8 that will be highly appreciated by anyone living in their first apartment.

A good flashlight is important for when the power goes off, but it’s quite useful to use when trying to plug cables into the back of your TV, sound system or computer, and you need more light.l. The INOVA X5 Dual-Mode UV LED Flashlight with its Titanium body is so cool, you cab just leave it out on the coffee table as a decoration or art piece. Sure, at $36, it’s a little pricey for a flashlight. But it’s way cooler than the $2.99 plastic flashlights you can get at Lowes. Available from Swissknifeshop.com, which also has a lot of other cool items.

Here’s a gift you should give to any family member or friend about to move into Willow Creek Crossing Apartments, and you should give them this right now. It’s the Medique 40061 61 Piece First Aid Kit. This is a gift that could save a life, or just seem like a life saver when they’re looking for an aspirin early one morning. $12.99 at Northern Tool.

Don’t worry if you’re the one who’s receiving house-warming gifts because you just moved into Willow Creek Crossing.  Our apartments include a great deal of extra storage room.