Apr 3 17

5 Must-Have Kitchen Gadgets

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5-Must-Have-Kitchen-Gadgets

The kitchen has always been one of the focal rooms in a home. And in order to make your kitchen an enjoyable, functional place that makes cooking a breeze, it needs to have the necessary tools and gadgets to assist you. If you’re gearing up for kitchen shopping or moving into a new apartment, here are five must-have kitchen gadgets that will change your cooking experience:

Slow Cooker

There’s nothing better than coming home from a long day at work knowing that dinner is ready and waiting to be eaten. A slow cooker or Crock Pot is one of the essential must-have gadgets in any kitchen, especially for busy households. You can throw in a meal the night before or morning of, and come home to those glorious aromas simmering away in the cooker. Slow cookers are essentially for batch cooking, if you’re looking to cut down on expensive lunches out.

Easy-to-Use Wine Opener

Gone are the days where uncorking a bottle of wine often felt synonymous to pulling stubborn weeds out from the ground. Today, there are a variety of easy-to-use wine openers – some referred to as Rabbit Corkscrews – that are foolproof and avoid the potential of half broken corks being left inside the bottle.

Garlic Presser

Any culinary master will tell you how essential garlic is as an ingredient in just about any savory meal. But having to peel and chop each one of those cloves can be enough to deter you from ever using it. Thankfully, you don’t have to! If you love garlic, but hate the thought of having to chop it up, then a garlic press is your tool! Just place the clove into the press, squeeze, et voila!

Mandolin

This little tool can do so much to your veggies with one quick motion. A mandolin allows you to easily slice vegetables in very thin slices or pasta-like ribbons. This can be used on veggies such as potatoes, carrots, cucumbers and zucchini. With this little gadget, you can get creative with your produce by using those veggies as substitutions for guilt-free pasta!

Hand-Held Blender

A hand-held blender is a quick and efficient way of blending up just about anything, without the hassle of getting out your big blender. This is a popular tool used for pureeing soups, thickening sauces, and even whipping cream.

Take full advantage of your kitchen by making it an enjoyable and easy-to-use space. Sometimes, the idea of cooking after a long day of work can be a painful thought, but by supplying your kitchen with some of these essential gadgets, you’ll make it more convenient and less daunting when it’s time to cook.

Mar 20 17

Is it Time to Downsize to a Rental Property?

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There are plenty of great reasons to downsize from your family home to a smaller property, especially when the kids finally move out and you have lots of extra room that’s not being used. And with the baby boomers coming closer to retirement, we’ll be seeing more Torontonians seeking out apartment living. Are you ready to downsize to a rental property? Let’s find out if it’s time for you to make the change.

Retirement

If you are getting ready for retirement and looking to cut back your expenses for more financial flexibility, it may be time to downsize. With today’s “sellers’ market,” it is practically a guarantee that you’ll be able to sell your house and move comfortably into a rental with plenty of extra cash to play with. Plus, downsizing to a rental property will also help to significantly reduce or even eliminate most of the costs. Wouldn’t it be nice to say goodbye to property taxes for good?

Tired of the Upkeep

Let’s face it – owning a home can be exhausting. Cleaning, maintenance, repairs, yard work – the list is endless. If you have reached the stage where you’re ready to stop spending countless money and hours working on your house, then it’s time to rent.

Apartment living typically includes the on-site maintenance included in your monthly costs, so you’ll never have to lift a finger when it comes to landscaping or repairs. You can finally throw out that lawn mower and shovel once and for all.

Empty Nesting

What is worse than having rooms to clean that no one ever uses? Paying for the empty rooms – that’s what! You may not realize it but those rooms are costing you more money than you can imagine. Heating and cooling costs plus property taxes are merely going down the drain. It may be time to move into a smaller, more affordable area, where you can happily utilize every square inch.

Convenience

As you get older, getting around also becomes harder. Your stairs become a challenge, and the walk or drive to the store becomes a hazard. Moving into an apartment building or a one-story bungalow can make all the difference. Many rental properties are also conveniently located within minutes from amenities, while some may also be attached to the building, such as a grocery store or pharmacy. Getting your chores done can be as simple as going down the elevator.

If you feel that you relate to each of these points, then it is probably the right time to start considering selling your home and making the move into a rental.

Mar 6 17

Are You Ready to Move in Together?

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Whether you and your partner have been dating for years, or even if it was love at first sight and it’s been only been a month, how can you tell if moving in to a Toronto apartment together is the right next move to make? The length of the relationship isn’t always a telltale sign – some couples simply click right from the start, whereas others might require much more time and space before ever considering such a big step. But sharing a home together is a big step, and it’s one that can greatly impact your life, so it’s important to really take the time to consider this next step carefully. Here are some telltale signs that will help you determine if you’re ready.

You Really Like One Another

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but we all experience the “honeymoon phase” and whether it’s been long-term or short, you must actually like the qualities and personality of the person that you are with. Love can often blind us to the reality of our differences, so ensure that you really know the person behind those “honeymoon” goggles. When you both support and accept each other for who you are, you should feel confident in taking that next step.

You’re on the Same Page

Before even considering taking the big leap of sharing an address, you first must be confident that you’re on the same page. This means that when it comes to your relationship, you’ve both had some good conversations about what your goals and expectations are. This could include conversations about marriage and children, for example, and whether this is the mutual goal for you both. Realizing that you and your partner are on very different paths is never a good situation to be in once you’ve moved in together.

You’ve Endured a Serious Fight

Enduring a serious fight is a must before living together. Having an argument allows you to see another side of the person you are with. And being able to argue in a healthy and respectful manner is essential for a relationship to succeed.  Problem-solving is a skill that must be mastered before you can be deemed as ready.

You’ve Talked About Finances

Finances are one of the major obstacles that can really make or break a relationship, and it’s one of the most common reasons why relationships fail after couples move in together. Money matters and feeling comfortable about talking about finances is important. You should have discussions about bills, joint accounts, and what role each of you will play in contributing to the overall financial situation.

Moving in together and sharing a home is a big deal. It affects your entire life, so always take careful consideration before making that commitment. And before you decide to go ahead with it, make sure that you feel confident in relating to each of these factors. They can help highlight whether you’re ready or not.

Feb 13 17

Help Preserve your Investment

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Help-Preserve-your-Investment

What can you do as a landlord to keep your rental property in good condition? While there can be large maintenance requirements such as replacing the roof or upgrading the energy-efficient windows, there are also small, inexpensive things that make a big difference. Help preserve your investment by equipping tenants with everything you can to prevent unnecessary wear and tear on the unit. Here are a few examples:

Use Cutting Boards to Avoid Scratching the Countertops

Something as simple as using cutting boards anytime you need to chop up some ingredients for dinner is an effective and important way to preserve the condition of your kitchen countertops and preserve the overall look and condition of your kitchen. A cutting board can also be used to prevent hot pots and pans from burning or staining countertops.

Provide your tenants with basic cutting boards to prevent scratches and knife cuts on your counters. Wood, plastic, granite, and glass cutting boards retail for $10 to $50 each. Replacement counter tops, meanwhile, cost at least $30 per square foot, not to mention installation costs.

Place Pads on the Bottom of Furniture

Hardwood flooring is a feature that can really enhance a living space. But it must also be taken care of. If your apartment has hardwood flooring, be sure to preserve it and avoid scratches and gouges by supplying tenants with felt furniture pads which can be affixed to the bottom of table legs, chair legs, and couch legs. These retail for practically nothing ($5 for 16 adhesive felt pads) and can save hundreds in floor scratch repair and refinishing.

Use Drains Screens and Supply a Plunger

Clogged sinks and drains are a nuisance, and can lead to a costly plumbing bill. Supply tenants with drain screens for the kitchen sink and bathtub. The kitchen drain screen (also called a drain strainer) will prevent oversized food particles from clogging the drain, while a drain in the bathtub will prevent hair from causing a clog. Also supply tenants with a plunger for each bathroom. This will save you the headache of an emergency call in the middle of the night to deal with a bathroom disaster!

Supply Command Strips for Wall Hangings

You don’t want tenants to damage walls by using nails on the drywall. Supply tenants with removable picturing hanging strips and hooks such as Command Strips. These adhesive, removable strips will help tenants decorate without leaving holes in the wall when they move out. These strips retail for $5-15, which is as much as it would cost for spackling compound – without the work.

When it comes to owning an investment property, preventative measures are just as important as big maintenance projects. Preserve the condition of the kitchen, hardwood floors, and plumbing system with these simple, but effective investments.

Feb 6 17

3 Cozy Winter Recipes

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3-Cozy-Winter-Recipes

When the winter weather takes a turn for the worse and all you want to do is stay curled up and warm inside, there’s nothing better than having some great winter recipes to make your Toronto apartment feel even more inviting. Stay warm this winter with some of these ultimate cozy winter recipes that will hit the spot when that wind chill starts to drop.

Sweet Potato Vegetarian Chili

This recipe is warm, delicious, and comforting. Plus, it’s super easy to whip up!

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 dried guajillo chilies, deseeded, stemmed & sliced thin (one for the chili, one for the topping)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 14-oz. cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 5 cups cubed sweet potatoes
  • 2 cans of beans – black, red, pinto, or a combo
  • 1 cup chopped kale
  • ½ cup corn kernels (frozen is fine)
  • a squeeze of lime
  • salt, pepper

Topping options:

  • chopped scallions
  • tortilla strips – toast 10-15 minutes in the oven
  • toasted chilies – toast 1-2 minutes in a 350 oven (or until they curl up)
  • toasted pumpkin seeds
  • diced avocado w/ a squeeze of lime

Over medium heat, sauté the onions and garlic for about five minutes. Add chili powder, half the sliced chilies, vinegar, and tomatoes. Add the broth, sweet potato, and beans. Simmer on low heat for about 20-30 minutes, or until the sweet potato cubes are tender. Add the kale and corn and simmer for five more minutes. Season to taste, adding salt, pepper, and lime juice as needed. Serve topped with chopped scallions, toasted tortilla strips, toasted chilies, avocado, and lime.

Squash and Ginger Apple Soup

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 medium sugar pumpkin or 1 butternut squash
  • 1 small apple
  • 1 yellow onion
  • olive oil, salt, pepper, for roasting
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • ¼ – ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne

Here’s what to do:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Roast pumpkin or butternut squash, then cut and remove seeds. Drizzle with olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast for 20 minutes per side. Let cool then peel.

As the squash is cooking, slice the apple and onion into wedges and place on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper, then roast for 20 minutes. Halfway through, and the garlic cloves to the baking sheet. Peel the garlic cloves once cooked.

Once finished, combine all the roasted ingredients with coconut milk, ginger, cardamom, cayenne, and salt. Puree. Thin with water or broth if needed. Season to taste.

Spicy Black Bean Soup

 Prine

Here’s what you need:

  • splash of olive oil
  • 2 small shallots, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeño, deseeded and chopped
  • 4 teaspoons chili powder
  • 3 cups black beans, cooked, drained (reserve a few for garnish)
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable stock

1 cup water

  • salt, pepper
  • lime
  • 1 clove garlic
  • Optional garnishes: red onion, avocado, cilantro, cheese, salsa

Here’s what to do:

Sauté shallots, garlic, jalapeño and salt in olive oil for a few minutes. Add chili powder, black beans, and stock and simmer for 20 minutes. Blend, adding water if soup is too thick.

Serve with a squeeze of lime, season to taste, and serve with garnishes of your choice, including red onion, avocado, cilantro, cheese, or salsa.

Stay warm and cozy up inside your apartment this winter with these simple recipes that are guaranteed to keep you warm!

Dec 19 16

2016 GTA Rental Market Report

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2016 GTA Rental Market Report

According to the 2016 Rental Market Report released by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), it’s a good time to be the owner of a rental property. With rental vacancies at an all-time low, landlords are thrilled that their units are almost fully occupied and their cash flow is secured.

GTA Rental Vacancy Rate & Average Rents

The rental vacancy rate in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) for 2016 is a shocking 1.3%, which means there is not a lot of choice for those seeking affordable places to live. And affordable can be a rather subjective term, as the cost of rentals has also increased by about 3%. With the average rent being $1,233 per month, renters on a budget are not afforded much wiggle room when it comes to their rental options.

The average two-bedroom apartment in the GTA rents for $1,327 per month and three or more bedrooms have an average price tag of $1,515 monthly. For families with children who require as many bedrooms as possible, the rental market looks pretty grim. However a bachelor apartment in the GTA rents for an average of $957 per month, which for the working single person seems more realistic and affordable.

GTA Condo Picture

Condominiums also account for a large part of the rental units in the GTA, and their popularity is on the rise. The vacancy rate for condo rentals dropped to 1% in 2016 due to a high demand for the condo lifestyle. Many condo owners are choosing to rent out their units instead of putting them up for sale due to the lucrative nature of the rental market.  A two-bedroom condo will rent on average for just over $2,000 per month. 33% of all condos in the GTA are rental units as opposed to owner occupied.

What is Driving the Hot Rental Market in Toronto?

The rental market is primarily driven by two forces; the cost of home ownership and the large number of millennials and new Canadians that live in the GTA.

Home ownership in the GTA is simply unattainable for many of those who want to live here. The average price of a house in the GTA is approximately $750,000 which carries a mortgage payment higher than what most rental units charge per month. In 2016, the average mortgage cost was just shy of $3,500 whereas the cost of renting is significantly lower as stated above. Many GTA residents are unable to meet the demands of the mortgage costs and so are left with no other option than to rent.

Since home ownership is so expensive, there are not a lot of younger generations diving into the housing market. And the number of millennials in the GTA, people aged 25-44, grew by 3.5%, so there are even more people who are primed for the rental market. The GTA also has the largest population of new Canadians in the country which puts additional pressure on the rental market. When immigrants arrive in Canada they often require time to find employment and establish a credit report before they can pursue home ownership, which leaves them no choice but to rent in the meantime.

Renting is on the rise in the GTA and there is no indication that this will change anytime soon.

To learn more about the Toronto rental market or learn how you can make the most of your real estate investments in a hot market, get in touch with Simplified Rentals today.

Dec 5 16

4 Tips for Your First Apartment

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4 Tips for your first appartment

When you’ve moved on to your third or fourth apartment, there are inevitable lessons that you’ve learned along the way – many of which you wish you could have known right from the start. And thanks to the Information Age, we can share some of that insight for others so they can prep themselves in ways we often never could.

So before you make that first big move into your new apartment, here are four tips to keep in mind.

Be Utility-Conscious

Living at home, it’s easy to leave the lights on for hours, leave the TV turned on, or keep the water running extra long for a nice hot shower. When you live on your own and keep up the same habits, you might get a big shock when the utility bills come in. You don’t have to change your lifestyle completely, but be conscious about small energy saving and water conservation efforts that you can make. Turn the lights off when you leave the room, don’t let water run while brushing your teeth, and set the A/C or heater to run less during the day when you’re not home.

Expect Noise

Unfortunately, you can’t choose who your neighbours will be. And in many cases, when moving into your very first apartment complex, you should expect to experience noise. If it gets to a point where it’s impeding on your life, politely approach them and have a conversation to ask them to lower the level. If all else fails, utilize the magic of white noise to help absorb some of that sound so you can at least get a good night’s sleep.

Try and Talk to Previous Tenants

This isn’t always possible, but if you have an opportunity to speak with any previous tenants, it can be a huge help for knowing what to expect. When you first move in, it can take a while to really understand and experience any little (or big) kinks that the apartment may have. So whether it’s getting an insider tip about how to open that closet door that gets jammed, or learning about the best neighbourhood pizza place, having a conversation with previous tenants can prepare you for potential situations that may arise.

Get to Know the Neighbourhood

To avoid simply falling into a routine that involves you going from your apartment, straight to work and then back, take the time and effort to embrace your new neighbourhood and explore what it has to offer. One of the best parts about moving into your own apartment for the first time is being able to embrace that new feeling of discovering what’s around you.

Moving into your first apartment can be one of the most exhilarating moments where you get to embrace life independently for the first time. So make sure it remains a positive experience by following these four tips first.

Nov 30 16

How to Be a Good Neighbour

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how-to-be-a-good-neighbour

If you’ve ever experienced living in an apartment building or condo, chances are that you know just how important good relations with your neighbours can be. You want to be able to come home at the end of the day, put up your feet and relax without having to endure hours of raging parties or thumping music. And with the right strategies, you can develop good relations with your neighbours where you keep an eye out for each other, fetch mail when someone’s out of town, and lend each other spices when you run out.

No matter what your lifestyle may entail, being a good neighbour is important. It not only benefits your neighbours, but can put yourself in a good position should you ever end up in need of a lending hand or two. So whether you’ve just moved into your very first apartment, or are a veteran of Toronto apartment living, here’s how you can become a good (or better) neighbour.

Late Night Noise

Sure, it may be easy to develop an attitude that makes you feel like “It’s my home and I should be able to do as I please!” But you’ll soon realize how being considerate of others will get you so much further in life. Be respectful of the fact that there’s just a partition of drywall or concrete that cannot fully filter sound from the other side. Whether it’s a late night flick, or a rowdy game of D&D, keep the volume down.

Pet Banter

Living with a dog can be the best roommate you’ve ever had. But all of that puppy love and barking can be like a form of incessant torture for your neighbours. Allowing your dog to run around late at night and bark is simply not fair to others around you. So if you have a furry loved one, be courteous about it and have them properly trained.

Pounding Feet

As much as we may take into consideration our neighbours beside us, it’s also important to consider those below us. Believe it or not, that ceiling (and your floor) often has very little to buffer out sound as well. So when you decide to re-arrange your furniture at four in the morning, just think about how much you would appreciate those banging footsteps and vibrations through your bedroom ceiling when trying to sleep.

Living in an apartment can be an amazing experience when you’re a good neighbour– you get to meet new people, and embrace the independence and convenience. But it’s important to be respectful and remind yourself that your actions matter to those around you.

Oct 24 16

Maximizing Space in a Small Bathroom

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organizing small bathroom

Bathrooms and an abundance of space are two things that don’t often go hand-in-hand. For many of us, especially urbanites, we’re well versed in the aggravations of having a cramped bathroom space. And that’s why utilizing every inch of it efficiently is crucial. It’s a delicate balance between having all your essential toiletries close at hand, and making sure your bathroom doesn’t look messy and cluttered. If you’re struggling with your humble bathroom size, use these tips to help maximize the space in your Toronto apartment.

Shelves

Shelves are your best friends when it comes to small spaces. For your bathroom, use the area in between your sink and mirror, as well as any free wall that can accommodate a temporary shelf. If you have a cabinet beneath the sink, you can install temporary shelves there as well. They’re a perfect, simple way to add in some extra storage space for all those bits and bobs. Of course, the toilet tank cover is a storage spot of its own. Just place a nice wicker basket on top and you can store hair accessories or bath products for easy access.

Mason Jars

Speaking of toiletries and shelves, the last thing you want is to have loose cotton balls and Q-Tips lying around on your newly installed shelves. That’s where Mason jars come in handy. You can use these to contain and organize your items, and simply place them on the shelf, or get creative by embedding the lids to the bottom of the shelf and having the jars attached underneath. It’s creative and organized – a win-win!

Towel Racks

If your bathroom is really tight on space, and the idea of a towel rack just won’t work, then go to your local home décor store and buy a removable rack that can hang on the back of the door. You can hang up your bathrobe and towels without taking up any extra room.

Shelf Rack Beneath Sink

If your bathroom doesn’t have any cabinets and your sink is mounted to the wall with nothing beneath it, then go bold! These days you can find just about anything for apartment living, including cabinet shelves made to fit around the plumbing of your sink.

Hang Up Clunky Items

For any of your clunky items, such as your hair dryer, flat iron, curling iron, or brushes, get these out of the way by installing hanging devices on the inside of your cabinet doors. They keep those items out of sight and neatly tucked away for ultimate convenience.

So stop struggling with your tight bathroom space. There are a variety of ways that you can optimize what you’ve got. With the popularity of apartment and condo-based living, you can find just about anything you need to maximize space in your bathroom.

Looking for more apartment living and condo living tips? The Simplified Rentals team is always happy to help! Get in touch with us or give us a call at (647) 495-6892.

Sep 19 16

Get Active, Toronto!

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A man bikes on a city street

There are endless benefits to living in an apartment in Toronto! You can have great city views, have access to amazing attractions at your doorstep, and you get to be involved in the excitement and culture of this world-class city each and every day. Apartment dwelling means you don’t have a yard to keep or three storeys of house to constantly keep clean, so what do you get to do in all your spare time? Get out and get active in Toronto!

City Exercise

Living in an apartment gives you the ability to turn almost anything into your own private gym. Take the stairs in your apartment building, for instance, no really… take the stairs! Walk up however many floors you need to reach your floor and if you feel compelled to, keep on walking. Treat your stairwell like your own personal gym that has no business hours and no line up for the decent machines. Walking just ten flights of stairs every day gets your body working and can help keep your heart healthy.

Early Exit from Transportation

If you love walking but don’t have a ton of time during the day to squeeze in exercise, try getting off your bus or subway stop a few stops earlier than your destination. Adding a few blocks of walking to your daily routine is an easy and efficient way to get some extra heart-pumping exercise. If you do this on your way to and from work the steps will add up quicker than you think and suddenly you’ve reached your 10,000 steps/day goal.

Workday Workout

Do you feel tired and drained sitting at your desk? Do you lose all motivation and focus in the afternoon? Get moving. Get up at least once an hour to stretch and limber up your body. Instead of sitting in the lunch room flipping through Instagram on your lunch break, go for a quick walk outside. The fresh air will do you good, and the break from screens will help you recentre and refocus for the afternoon ahead.

Biking

Many apartments in Toronto have places to store a bicycle, whether it be on a balcony or in a private bike storage room. Bike riding is not only an excellent mode of transportation in a city so gridlocked with cars, but it’s also an efficient form of exercise. Ever see those delivery guys biking around the city? Notice how in shape they look? Take your bike out for a ride on a regular basis, whether you’re commuting, running errands, or going for a leisurely Sunday ride on the abundance of paths in the city.

Yoga

If you live in an apartment in Toronto you likely don’t have space to have all your friends over for a big yoga session. But another perk of living in Toronto is that there are plenty of outdoor yoga classes just waiting for you to come and join. Get active with your friends or meet some new ones along the way. However you feel like practicing your yoga, your body will thank you for it.

Take advantage of what the great city of Toronto has to offer and get out and get active this fall!

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