Renewal “Cents”

It’s time to renew your lease and your rent has gone up.  Is it time to move?

Hold tight.  Whether you hire a mover or do the work your self there is a very real cost to moving.  Instead of immediately starting the apartment hunt it makes “cents” to put pencil to paper and figure out the real cost of finding a new apartment.

First, take the amount your rent has increased and multiply that number by twelve.  So, for example, if your rent went up $35 you will need to budget an extra $420 for the year to cover the new cost of your place.

Next, take the time to search the apartments in the area you wish to live.  Determine if rents are more, less or about the same as your rental increase for a similar apartment.

Research the cost of moving.  Even if you do this yourself, unless you are truly a minimalist, you have stuff that will need to be moved.  The cost to rent a U-Haul and move yourself (with the help of friends, that is) will range from $20 on up plus a per mile surcharge. In addition there are optional insurance costs to cover any damage or theft to the truck or your belongings that you may wish to purchase.  The supplies; dollies, moving blankets, boxes, tape…. that will all be extra as well.  If you decide to hire movers the starting cost can range from $150 on up for 2 movers and 2 hours of moving time.  Each additional hour can add another $75 to $100 to your costs and that does not include the basic supplies, like boxes and tape.

Along with actual moving costs are the costs associated with renting a new place:

  • Application fee
  • Security deposit
  • Pet security deposit
  • First month rent

Finally, factor in the amount of time it will take you to find a new apartment, move (make sure to include any time you may need to take off of work) and the emotional toll that the move may take.  Once you calculate all of the above, then you can determine if the cost of your rent increase outweighs the cost of a move.

Posted in 2014, Apartment Living, Money, Moving, lease | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Vacation Security Tips

July is upon us and for many the time for that long awaited vacation is here.  Your bags are packed and you are ready for that much needed R & R! hopes you have a great time on your trip but we would also like to make sure that when you return your apartment is just the way you left it. By following these few simple tips you can make your vacation more enjoyable by knowing your apartment is secure and protected while you are away.

Part of the fun and anticipation of taking a vacation is discussing your trip.  And while it is natural to want to share the details of the fun you have planned you should remember to share that information with only a few select, trusted friends and/or family.  Being aware of who’s around when discussing your trip out in public makes sense too.

Robbers are opportunists – if you post about your being on vacation on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram you may come home to an apartment that has been broken into.  So wait until your trip is over and then share all your exciting adventures on social media.

Before you go on vacation make sure to hide valuables. There are safes designed to look like everyday items and chances are a thief will not be looking through your pantry and suspect that the can of diet Coke is your safe.  These diversion safes are a good investment for everyday as well.

A lock box is another good option to keep important items safe – just make sure to hide it in an unsuspecting place when you leave – the bottom of your dirty laundry perhaps?

Smaller, valuable electronics should also find hiding places – just remember where you hid them!

Put lights, t.v. and/or a radio on a timer to give the impression that someone is at home at various times of the day.

Set the telephone to ring a maximum of three or four times before the answering machine picks up. A telephone ringing throughout the day and night can indicate that your apartment is empty. Also, do not leave a message stating that you are away on vacation! Some new phone systems will allow you to forward land line calls to your cell phone – you don’t have to answer but you can be aware of who is trying to get a hold of you and call back if needed.

Put a hold on mail and papers – this can be done easily online and can be done from three up to 30 days.

Ask a trusted neighbor, family member or friend to periodically check on your apartment while you are away.  Leave your contact information with them in case they need to reach you.

And though this may seem obvious don’t forget to close and lock all windows and doors before you go.  Don’t make it easy for a burglar to do his job!

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Balcony Bliss

No yard?  No problem! Balcony gardens can be the exact summer oasis renters are yearning for.  Follow these tips to help create an outdoor sanctuary to enjoy and entertain in.

What’s Your Exposure?

When buying and growing plants it is best to consider what exposure your balcony faces – North, South, East or West. What kind of sunlight/shade does your balcony get? How many hours of sun, if any, does it get a day? How exposed is your balcony to the elements? Once you answer these simple questions you will be able to narrow down the selection of plants that will best thrive on your balcony.

Annuals, Vegetables, and Herbs – Oh My!

Just as if you were planting a garden in a backyard, you’ll will want to consider what type of plants you want in your garden.  Do you love to cook?  If so, you may want to include a mix of vegetables in your containers.  Is mixing a great cocktail more your thing?  Then maybe a pot with the herb mint, is a must.  Just like to relax and read a good book? Maybe you should plant annuals (flowers that will only last through one planting season) to bring color and fragrance to your balcony.  Either way, do a little research and know what you want from your outdoor haven.

Containers and Dirt

Choosing your containers will also take a bit of know how.  Of course you want something that appeals to you but you also need to take into account what the containers are made of and how/if they will drain. Ceramic, terra cotta, plastic, fiberglass or foam pots are all options with pros and cons.  Ceramic and terra cotta provide style and color but can be more expensive as well as the most fragile.  Foam planters offer more design and color options but aren’t as durable.  Fiberglass is durable, not as cheap as plastic but provides more design options to choose from.  Or just get creative with what you have lying around your apartment. Make sure any pot you purchase has proper holes for drainage which helps to guard against root rot and over-watering. Remember to always use potting saucers under your pots to prevent water from running out of the drainage holes and onto your neighbor below you.  Also, vary the heights and sizes of the containers you purchase – it will provide more visual interest.  Consider adding hanging plants and or window boxes to your railings – with a little creativity you will soon be enveloped in your own lush retreat.

You will need to buy potting soil that’s well suited to the plants you will be growing. An all-purpose mix will be work well for most plants, but note that succulents and other specialty plants require special soil.


Depending what you want to do in your new garden oasis will determine what furniture, if any, you need.  If you are just interested in growing herbs or flowers you could forgo the furniture. But if you enjoy a morning java or an evening cocktail your balcony might need some seating.  Whether it’s an intimate bistro table for two or a comfy chaise to lounge let your personality and the size of your balcony help you decide what furniture you’ll need.

Posted in 2014, Apartment Living, Design | Tagged | Leave a comment

Oak Park Plans Fun on the 4th!

Friday is our countries Independence Day – the 4th of July – and (happily) a day off for many of our tenants.  And Oak Park is ready to celebrate!

To start the day off you will not want to miss Oak Park’s 10th annual 4th of July parade which kicks off at 10am at Longfellow Park and travels North on Ridgeland to Augusta, ending at Whittier School. Bring blankets/chairs and find a spot along the parade route to take in the Independence Day excitement.

Oak Park’s parade is filled with a diverse variety of groups and organizations: from athletic teams, musical groups/bands, service organizations, local businesses, politicians, police and fire departments (with sirens blasting so cover your ears) and always the crowd pleaser,’s commercial tenant and personal favorite, Derby Light (a local roller skating fitness group).  Derby Lite had the best float we’ve ever seen (and that’s all we are going to say because we don’t want to ruin the surprise) plus their skating skills are amazing.

Make sure to finish off your day in true patriotic style by heading over to the Community Bank sponsored fireworks show at dusk, presented by the Great American Light Show Association (GALA), Oak Park’s own local non-profit group that volunteers their time and skills to organize the annual Independence Day fireworks display for the enjoyment of many.

The show takes place at OPRF’s Huskie stadium.  There are around 25,000 spectators that attend the show, according to Community Bank’s attendance records, but there is plenty of seating in the stadium or just pull your car into the top floor of the parking garage for a great view of the show.

During the GALA fireworks show there will be over 1,381 firework shells launched, including 756 firework shells for the grand finale – some climbing as high as 280 feet into the air!  This year’s fireworks features come with names like Gold Shimmering Chrysanthemum, Blue Tiger Tail, Dragon Egg and Twilight Twinkler – so get ready to be amazed by the show that GALA and Community Bank have in store for us!

The show is free but, if we remember correctly, the Bank does pass a bucket asking for donations to help support the event – so bring a couple of bucks to make sure the show continues for years to come!

Posted in 2014, Fun, Holiday, Oak Park Happenings, Oak Park Police,, Organization, Village of Oak Park | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment Expands! has recently added over 7 properties to our roster and more buildings are expected to be a part of our portfolio in the near future.

Along with expanding our building offerings we also realized the need to grow our leasing space to help accommodate the shear number of potential tenants that come to our corporate offices every week to meet with our leasing specialists, attend our open houses and begin the process of finding a new place to call home.

Our expansion process started when our neighbor and commercial tenant, Rare Bird Preserves decided to stop cooking her own delicious preserves and contract out the preserve production to another kitchen.  Business was good and there are only so many hours one can humanly cook preserves.  And yes, everyone at OPA will miss the delightful odors that wafted through the wall when the Rare Bird preserves were simmering in their copper pots but the growth and move of Rare Bird was actually perfect timing for OPA.

Once vacant, the corner commercial space was ready for rehab. Work began with drawings and Village permits (of course).  Next, demo.  Walls torn down, floors ripped up, pipes removed… what you would call a gut job – only saving the historic elements of the space – because we are all about the vintage flair.

In fact, during the demolition the crew unearthed 2 completely intact glass bottles – a 1923 Coca-Cola bottle and a Bowman Dairy Bottle – a cool find at our vintage building.

Electrical, plumbing, heating and cooling systems all followed suit.  Then up with the studs and the space began to take some shape.  Drywall is next and then the decorating starts to happen – the fun part of the process.

Then finally, the big move…..

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Movies In The Courtyard Are Back

Summer is back and so is’s Movies In The Courtyard series.

Bill Murray is showing up everywhere these days, crashing bachelor parties and photobombing engagement photos so OPA decided to feature Bill Murray movies for this summer’s movie pics and maybe, just maybe, Bill Murray will show up at 301 N. Oak Park Avenue for a little celebrity face time with our tenants.  Hey, stranger things have happened once you put things out there on the web.

For our first Bill Murray feature we will be showing the 1991 comedy “What About Bob?”. OPA thought that this was a fitting first film choice since co-owner, Bob Planek is named Bob.  Hey, why not, right?

“What About Bob?” is about a doctor-patient relationship pushed way beyond the office, Bill Murray plays Bob Wiley, a neurotic New Yorker struggling with a whirlwind of paralyzing phobias. When an exasperated colleague pawns the handful off on Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss), the psychologist has no idea his last appointment will follow him north to New Hampshire on a month’s vacation. Bob takes to Dr. Marvin’s latest book like no therapy before it, so the well-meaning pest tracks Marvin down at his lakeside summer home to further discuss his problems. But Marvin, preparing for an interview on Good Morning America and a few weeks of R and R, views Bob’s stalking as highly inappropriate, and demands he return to New York. But Bob can’t take even the strongest hint, and sets up camp with a neighbor to indulge in his own “vacation” — from his problems. Meanwhile, Marvin’s son Sigmund (Charlie Korsmo), daughter Anna (Catherine Erbe), and wife Fay (Julie Hagerty) take to Bob’s loopy charm, which Marvin views as an irritating threat. Marvin’s temperature rises as Bob insinuates his way into the family, helping Sigmund learn to dive and counseling the previously ignored Anna. As Bob’s stock continues to rise, and his to plummet, Marvin becomes increasingly unhinged as the minutes tick down to the interview. ~ Derek Armstrong, Rovi

So baby step your way over to 301 N. Oak Park Avenue Thursday night and enjoy a little R and R yourself – popcorn, soda & snacks are on OPA!

Posted in 2014, Fun,, Tenant Appreciation | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Father’s Day Great Food Truck Rally

Oak Park’s Food Truck Rally is back for its’ second year – this Sunday, June 15th – Father’s Day.

What better way to celebrate a dad then to bring him to an event that features both food and trucks.  This food/truck event is sponsored by Pilgrim Congregational Church. This year’s event will feature even more trucks with even more food.  Food choices will run the gamut – from empanadas to cupcakes, curry to pierogis – you will find something to entice your taste buds.

Along with all the tasty food truck treats, the Rally will have live entertainment, so you can treat your dad to dinner and a show!

Finally, to round out the experience Pilgrim Church is offering tours through its’ architecturally and historically significant church throughout the day.

So grab your pops and head over to the Pilgrim Church parking lot (460 Lake Street) sometime between 1 and 6 on Sunday (Father’s Day) to get your food on at the Great Food Truck Rally!

Posted in 2014, Architecture, Fun, Oak Park Happenings | Tagged , | Leave a comment

OPA’s Gets Its’ Mojo Is Back

Summer is here and along with the warm weather comes’s tenant appreciation Mojo coffee events.

For the third year in a row OPA has shown our tenants some by providing Saturday morning coffee and sweet treats, thanks to Mojo Coffee Truck, for the folks who rent from us.

OPA has already hosted one coffee Saturday, with three more dates planned.  June 14th, July 12th and August 9th are on OPA’s schedule.  How will you, as a tenant, know when the Mojo truck is scheduled for your area?  OPA will send you an email blast letting you know the details plus we’ll slip a Mojo coupon under your apartment door good for a free cup of “Jo” (or beverage of your choice) & sweet treat!

Just our little way of saying thanks for renting from!

(Stay tuned for more info on OPA’s Movies In The Courtyard 2014 Summer Series…. one more way to have some free fun when you live in a OPA property.)

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Oak Park Weekend Happenings

OakParkApartments would like to suggest a couple of not to be missed events going on this coming weekend!

First, for the wine lovers – this is the event you’ve been waiting for - Uncork Illinois! Downtown Oak Park will be hosting representatives from more then 15 local Illinois wineries who will be offering over 150 types of wine for your palate to choose from!

While sipping on a glass of vino you can purchase a wide-selection of locally produced artisan foods for attendees to purchase.

Admission to Uncork Illinois is $20 at the gate (cash only), $15 in advance until May 30th or as an early bird (before noon) purchase.  The event entry price includes a free souvenir glass, 7 tastings (additional tastings can be purchased for $1) and live Jazz entertainment. Vendors will also be selling wine by the bottle – so if you find something you enjoy you can be sure to stock up!

A percentage of Uncork Illinois proceeds will benefit Prevail, an Oak Park organization that provides “emergency assistance and referrals to individuals and families in times of financial crisis and struggle, addressing immediate basic needs and laying the groundwork for future stability.” Truly a worthy cause to drink some wine for!

Then follow up Saturday’s fun with Oak Park’s 41st annual A Day in Our Village festival. This festival is a great way for “current and prospective residents to discover the diversity and variety of civic, cultural, social service, business, educational and religious organizations and groups in the Village.”

The event takes place at both Scoville and Rehm parks, with a variety of events and activities happening at both ends of the Village.

Scoville Park will host over 100 Oak Park organizations, an all day musical plus food from many of Oak Park’s beloved local restaurants!

Then just hop on Oak Park Township’s mini-bus and head over to Rehm Park where you can enjoy an old fashioned carnival!   For a mere $6 per
 person you will receive a wrist band that will allow you access to a variety of carnival games
, inflatables
, amusement park rides (for all ages
!) and an obstacle course
!  There will also be refreshments
 along with additional free activities – train rides, playground
 equipment and musical entertainment – at Rehm Park.  And, as an extra bonus, Rehm Pool will be discounting admission (only $3!) between 1-5 pm – so make sure to bring you swim suit!

So, get out you calendar and start penciling in this weekend’s fun Oak Park events!

Posted in 2014, Downtown Oak Park, Fun, Oak Park Charities, Oak Park Happenings, Oak Park Park District,, The Oak Park Park District, Village of Oak Park, Volunteerism | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

OPA Summer Projects is making plans for summer – apartment project plans, that is!

Each summer local high school and college kids become a part of OPA’s summer workforce and assist on an assortment of projects to help maintain and improve our properties, most of which can only be done while the weather is pleasant.

Many of OPA’s summer help are returning employees, along with a handful of newbies, looking to save money before they head off to college in the fall.  OPA has seen many of our summer employees through all four years of college and have been happy to be able to provide them with summer employment opportunities.

This summer’s project list includes cleaning and painting porches, watering newly planted landscaping, demo-ing apartments for rehab, general hallway deep cleaning and organization and expansion at our corporate office/leasing department.

Most of these projects won’t impact you, as a tenant, except for porch cleaning and/or painting.  If your apartment is scheduled for porch cleaning and/or painting you will be notified regarding the dates of this project as well as asked to remove any belongings from your back porch area.  While your porches are being worked on OPA also asks you to use your front entrance.

Posted in 2014, Apartment Living, Maintenance, | Tagged | Leave a comment