Wet Damp Weather Means Mold, Mold, Mold!

Once rainy weather hits, it hits with a vengeance. For some of you (Seattle) drizzle has been a part of the daily forecast since mid-September. For other more sun-friendly cities, the joint-aching dampness of winter is just settling in. And as it does, so does the mold.

Mold is tricky. It’s something you’re supposed to look out for when you’re looking for an apartment to rent – but you’re doing so during summer, chances are mold is invisible.

Come winter: your apartment is a haven of mold spores and funguses.

What is mold?

In short, it’s the gray-blue-black speckles on your window sills, walls, bathroom counter, and anywhere moisture can linger.

black house mold

The tell-tale signs of house mold.

Unless you’re living in an utter hovel, your molds are not going to be the kind of ultra-destructive, health-endangering, move-out-or-perish monstrosities you see when you Google “house mold.” Your black mold is going to be small and confined and only a little bit nasty. But it’s still better to eliminate it before it becomes a problem.

Mold needs moisture to grow, and it won’t stop growing until that moisture disappears (which is why a lot of black house mold is seasonal).

Causes and Solutions

Mold will show up in your home, usually, for one of two reasons.

1. There is water getting into your apartment.

A leaky shower, unsealed window, a hole in the roof – there is water getting in or soaking through and mold is a-bloomin’.

What to do: Fix it. There is really no other option but to find the source of the water and plug it. Whether that is caulking around your window sills or calling in remodeling professionals depends on the severity of the mold and the leak problem.

On the plus side, your landlord will probably have to pay for most, if not all, of this.

2. Water cannot escape your apartment.

Humans produce moisture. Long steamy showers, sweaty dance parties, warm breath as you sleep: if your windows are steamed up, you’re home is collecting moisture that can’t get out.

What to do: This is a problem more common with newer apartments, condos, and houses that have super-insulated walls and windows. These features mean you save BIG on heating bills; mold is an unfortunate tag-along.

Luckily, cutting down on moldy moisture is fairly simple: give the moisture a way to get out. Keep the bathroom fan pumping away until the mirror is completely steam-free. Crack open a window in your bedroom as you sleep – even just ½ a centimeter.

Manage it

If you can find the source of the water, mold is easy to take care of, especially if it’s just seasonal window sill mold and not invasive, wall-disintegrating mold. Just wipe it up with a nice eco-friendly cleanser and live in mold-free bliss until next winter!

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Neighborhood Overlay!

Thanks to the fine folks over at Zillow, I’ve been able to add an overlay of neighborhood names and shapes to PadMapper’s map for most major cities in the US. To see it, just zoom in close to your favorite major city. They’ll only show up when you’re zoomed in past a certain level.

If you decide it’s annoying/slowing down your system, you can turn it off by unchecking its checkbox under “Super Secret Advanced Features”. I noticed that Firefox was chugging a bit on my system when there were a lot of neighborhoods onscreen, so god knows how it’s working on IE right now…

If you’re looking for an apartment in San Francisco, you might notice that little “i” buttons show up next to the name. If you click on one of those, you’ll be able to get a preview of something else I’ve been working on.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Low Accuracy Listing Locations

A while back, I made it so that PadMapper would start showing listings whose locations it wasn’t confident in with a different color marker (grayish-red rather than the normal bright red). I think the variety of colors may have been a bit much for the first-time user, since it wasn’t really clear what the difference was (unless you noticed the pattern of the low accuracy warnings on the info bubbles only appearing for those pale red ones). Also, those had a tendency to stack, since a lot of the vague addresses (57th st, NY, NY for example) would resolve to the same spot on the street.

As such, I’ve made it possible to filter the low quality addresses out, and that filter is on by default. You can uncheck the “Accurately Located” filter to show the low quality ones again.

Happy hunting!

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How to Host Thanksgiving in a Tiny Apartment

If your kitchen looks like this:

Notice the expansive counter space.... courtesy fooferkitten via Flicker

Notice the expansive counter space.... courtesy fooferkitten via Flicker

and your dining room/living room/everything-else-room look like this:

Tiny apartment

This table could fit 9. Right? Courtesy rowdykittens via Flickr

planning a Thanksgiving celebration that is more than just you and your goldfish and an E-Z Thaw-and-Go Turkey Dinner is damn near impossible.

But not totally impossible.

Hosting an (albeit small-ish) Thanksgiving feastivle in your urban studio apartment will be a challenge, but once you conquer a few pint-sized problems it’s all cranberry sauce and belt-loosening joy.
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Crazy Coffee Tables to Make Your Apartment More Awesome

Forget the plasma 3D television. If you want to impress your guests, the coffee table is where it’s at.

It’s the first step to bridging the gap between style and function. And since your living room is valuable real estate in your apartment for rent, you might as well express yourself with a coffee table that’s insanely cool.

Toss out that old Ikea four-legger and plant your flag on the party map because everyone will want to hang at your place if you have one of these crazy coffee tables.

9 Crazy Coffee Tables to Upgrade Your Apartment

DJ Coffee Table

DJ Coffee Table

It’s the first coffee table you’ll want people to scratch. Seriously though, this DJ coffee table is only a photo transfer of a turntable and a mixer. While it can’t play the greatest hits, the faded image gives this coffee table a vintage flair that’s sure to be a conversation starter. $895.

Microsoft Surface

Even though the folks at SarcasticGamer.com really stick it to the Microsoft Surface, it is a really cool product. So what if it’s not very functional and it costs over $15,000 with the software. Microsoft says this futuristic coffee table could be everywhere from mall to hospitals, to even your house within a few short years. Too bad the Microsoft Surface debuted in 2008.

Alien Coffee Table

Alien Coffee Table
Handcrafted from car and bike parts, this alien coffee table is every nerd’s creepy dream come true. And for $875 bucks, it should squirt acid blood on any of your friends who put their drink down without a coaster.

NES Controller Coffee Table

This NES controller coffee table is fully-functional, but it’s insanely hard to play and you’ll have to be a contortionist if you want to do a flying jump-kick in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II. This coffee table isn’t for sale, but this YouTube video gives you a good idea how to make one of these King Kong controllers for your own living room.

Apple Coffee Tables

Ipod Coffee Table
If you want your coffee table to draw the ladies in, then look elsewhere. This iPhone coffee table is made from 100% corrugate cardboard, and glued together with a bottle of Elmers. The coolest part, each app button has a slot with a removable coaster.

If the old school iPod is more your speed, this iTable is a hand-sanded pine box complete with a blue LED background light in the monitor window. Artist Ashley Burrows used four coats of auto paint, and then lacquered the table to give it that familiar shine.

Moss Coffee Table

Moss Table
Need to bring some life into the apartment, but don’t have any room for a houseplant? This moss-covered coffee table is made with living moss to mirror exotic landscapes from the rolling hills of Tuscany to an Amazon tropical rainforest. Made in Thailand by Ayodhya.


This pressure sensitive table works on any level surface, and runs off 12 volts of electricity. It kind of looks like you’re playing with motor oil, and there’s a gigantic flashlight under the table. Pick custom background colors, frames or table legs in a variety of sizes, with tables starting at 800 euros.

Fire + Ice Coffee Table

fire ice
Made with anodized aluminum, this table includes a sliding platform to expose an open burner, or a chilling bowl for a bottle of champagne. Danger: Children, pets, newspapers and drunk people should not be in the room when this coffee table is in use.

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The Rent is Too Damn High – Padmapper Explores The Man, The Politics, and The Rent

The Rent is Too Damn High!!!

The Rent is Too Damn High!

It’s the “Yes We Can,” of 2010:The Rent is Too Damn High. Breakfast lunch, and dinner, the rent is too damn high. Jimmy McMillan, the fearless, bearded leader of the Rent is Too Damn High Party, has raised high-rent awareness across the country. He just received the ultimate accolade: his very own SNL spoof. But little did non-New Yorkers know he’s been a statewide figure since 1994.

Here on this election day, we learn more about the man behind the most hilarious political slogan to date, what his party’s all about, and how to find out (before you vote) if your rent really is too damn high.

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5 Steps to Finding a Quality Roommate

Good luck, big guy.

Good luck, big guy.

There is, in my opinion, no relationship so tumultuous as the roommate relationship. It is complicated, often fickle. One second you are laughing together over a shared bottle of wine, the next you’re leaving snarky messages taped to the fridge “reminding” each other to do the freaking dishes!

Roommates deal with the same problems as married couples – lifestyle habits, finances, who is using all the hot water in the shower – but with the decided disadvantage that roommates don’t have to love each other for better or for worse. And when it comes to living together, lots of times it is worse.

There are two scenarios when looking for a roommate: attempting to fill a vacant spot in your apartment, or looking to move in with someone. Let’s deal with the former, first.
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The Top 6 College Towns in America

Ahhh, college. No matter what your age, a thriving collegiate community can greatly enhance the quality of life of whatever town it is in.

But not all college atmospheres are created equal. The best college towns will provide the perfect mix of intellectual curiosity and tomfoolery. As long as you’re willing to put up with occasional spectacles of public drunkenness, then the following cities are the best college towns to search for apartments for rent.

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Want to Get the Inside Scoop on a City? Read These Blogs

If you’re looking for apartments for rent a new city, it can be very difficult to get some good inside info on what it’s actually like to live in certain areas.  Promotional websites will spoon feed you fluff on how fantastic their own area is, while you’ll only find hyperbolic and unreliable statements on internet message boards.  How do you sift through all the misinformation?  Here are five great blogs to help you get a feel for what life is actually like in the five most populous cities in America:

1. New York City, NY

New York City is absolutely enormous, and with the millions of different opinions of NYC floating around on the internet, finding reliable information can be like picking a snowflake out of an avalanche.  Thankfully, there’s gothamist.com, a site which offers news, commentary, and insight about everything happening at ground level in all the NYC neighborhoods.  Definitely required reading if you plan to move to the Big Apple.

2. Los Angeles, CA

With all the Hollywood drama surrounding Los Angeles, it can be difficult to find a blog that isn’t solely concerned with what purses the latest young starlets have been wearing.  You can find excellent information about where to eat, live, and play at laist.com, a site dedicated to LA lifestyle and not the stylish lives of certain Hollywood inhabitants.

3. Chicago, IL

One of the most informational and reliable blogs those seeking to live in the City of Big Shoulders can read is chitownliving.com, which has real estate tips, specific neighborhood news and reviews, and other helpful articles.  Make sure you look up the neighborhood you’re thinking of moving to on chitownliving; you’ll get all the inside info you need to make a smart decision on your apartment.

4. Dallas, TX

The most comprehensive source for all things involving the city of Dallas is dallasobserver.com, which has local news, nightclub reviews, and happenings in and around Dallas, even the low-down on particular neighborhoods.

5. Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia is completely untangled by the good people at philebrity.com.  This site gives you irreverent but reliable info on Philadelphia lifestyle and occurrences, and can be a great compass to help you figure out what neighborhoods to find apartments for rent in the City of Brotherly Love.

Using Padmapper and one of these sites, you can make an informed choice on where to live.  Go forth and search for that apartment with confidence.

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The Best Music Cities in America

When trying to find apartments for rent in different cities, one of the biggest draws to a particular town is its music scene. But no matter how long you browse through apartment listings, you won’t find any good information on a city’s music scene within. While any city is never more than a few hours away from its next live concert, there are many factors which can really improve its reputation as being a music haven.

What makes a great music town? If a city was a birthplace of a particular genre of music, if it has amazing music venues on every corner, if it’s the origin for many influential bands….the list goes on. While these factors are great individually, some lucky cities feature the more of them simultaneously.

Without further ado, here are the 3 most outstanding musical cities in America, with notes about where their local movement shave been, what the future holds, and where to live if you want to be a part of these great civic cultures.

New York City, NY

NYC skyline

New York City really has it all. Bands flock to it to carve a bite out of the Big Apple’s prodigious music scene. This whole music thing isn’t new for New York City, either. Starting with Tin Pan Alley at the outset of the 20th century, New York City has been the epicenter to more forms of music than any other American city.

Genres like Blues, Jazz, American Folk, Punk, and Disco have all had New York City as a hotbed at some point in their existence. It is also the undeniable birthplace of Hip Hop, one of the most popular musical forms in the world today.

New York City has produced some of the most famous acts in American music history, and is still thriving today.

Where NYC Music has Been:

In 1979, pioneering group the Sugarhill Gang released the first rap song to achieve mainstream success in “Rapper’s Delight,” thus paving the way for future NYC Hip Hop icons like Notorious B.I.G. and Jay-Z to make their mark on the genre:

Sugarhill Gang- Rapper’s Delight

New York City is also widely known as a hub for the Indie music scene, thanks in large part to wildly popular bands like the Talking Heads. Their hit song “Once in a Lifetime” is a great example of the kind of originality of many great NYC bands over the years:

The Talking Heads- Once in a Lifetime

Where NYC Music is Headed:

There are countless new bands in New York City making a name for themselves in today’s Indie music scene. One band that has been gaining attention from hipsters across America lately is Brooklyn’s Grizzly Bear:

Grizzly Bear- Two Weeks

There are also new NYC bands that demonstrate enormous influence from the city’s Disco and Punk scenes, a prime example being the immensely popular band LCD Soundsystem.

LCD Soundsystem- Dance Yrself Clean

Best Music Neighborhood: Williamsburg. This Brooklyn neighborhood has witnessed the rise of a thriving music scene in recent years. Williamsburg is the birthplace of acts like TV on the Radio, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and Scissor Sisters. There are also countless dive bars for up-and-coming bands to perform in, so you never know when you’re seeing the next big thing on a night out in Williamsburg.

Seattle, WA

Seattle Skyline

Seattle is known for three things: inclement weather, mega-companies like Microsoft and Starbucks, and a musical revolution that caused the entire city to wear flannel. Despite being tucked away in a remote corner of the Pacific Northwest, Seattle has made a disproportionately large impact on American music. Guitar legend Jimi Hendrix started turning people on to Seattle music in the 1960s, and it continued to thrive in the following decades.

A cultural explosion took place in the city in the late 80s and early 90s with Seattle bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam. This created an enormously successful music industry in Seattle, with acts like The Foo Fighters, Modest Mouse, and Death Cab for Cutie rising to prominence in recent years. Thanks to Sub Pop, the widely successful independent music label based in Seattle, the city shows no signs of drying up. Here’s a listen of some prime examples from the Emerald City:

Where Seattle Music has Been:

God of the Guitar Jimi Hendrix demonstrates his superhuman abilities in his 1967 hit “Little Wing.”

Jimi Hendrix- Little Wing

The song that started a music revolution that became synonymous with Seattle: Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Nirvana- Smells Like Teen Spirit

Where Seattle Music is Headed:

The rising popularity of Band of Horses, who blend rock with a touch of country, is indicative of Seattle’s continued success in the music business.

Band of Horses- The First Song

Fleet Foxes, who quickly received international acclaim after they released their debut album in 2008, feature Beach Boys-esque harmonies that border on musical perfection:

Fleet Foxes- White Winter Hymnal

Best Music Neighborhood: Capitol Hill. This hipster’s paradise is home to countless music venues, most notably the famous dive known as Neumo’s. The tiny venue has hosted the likes of Pearl Jam, Radiohead, the Flaming Lips and many more over the years, and still hosts nightly shows to this day. Capitol Hill has had many new apartment complexes built in recent years, so finding cheap apartments for rent should be very easy in this vibrant neighborhood.

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco Skyline

When it comes to music scenes the San Francisco Bay Area is often overlooked. One glance at the city’s rich musical pedigree, and you’ll be at a loss to figure out why that is. As the birthplace of the counterculture movement of the 1960s, San Francisco became a hotbed for some of the most famous bands of that tumultuous decade.

While hippies flocked to Haight-Ashbury to “tune in and drop out,” iconic psychedelic bands like Jefferson Airplane, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and the Grateful Dead developed what became known as the “San Francisco Sound.” This sub-genre characteristically featured extensive improvisation in live performances and a heavy electric bass, and is still being emulated by musicians today.

In the 80s San Francisco’s music scene hit a little bit of a dry spell, but there has been resurgence lately. The famous “Hyphy” rap movement with artists like E-40 and Mac Dre allows San Francisco to have one of the nation’s most distinctive Hip Hop cultures. And the recent re-emergence of local rock bands has San Francisco looking ahead to many years filled with great new music.

Where San Francisco Music has Been:

In the 1967 album Surrealistic Pillow, a cornerstone text of hippie counterculture, Jefferson Airplane released a song that would become the anthem of the decade in “Somebody to Love.”

Jefferson Airplane- Somebody to Love

“Suzie Q,” by Creedence Clearwater Revival, offers a perfect example of the aforementioned ”San Francisco Sound.”

Creedence Clearwater Revival- Suzy Q

Where San Francisco Music is Headed:

Despite releasing their first album in 2009, Girls have an old school sound that seems firmly rooted in Northern California culture:

Girls- Lust for Life

Big Echo, the second album from San Francisco’s the Morning Benders, is definitely in the running for many “Top 10 Albums of 2010” lists.

The Morning Benders- Excuses

Best Music Neighborhood: Haight-Ashbury. While the Summer of Love was over 40 years ago, Haight-Ashbury still has a truly unique culture that is teeming with music performances. As long as you’re ok with all things hippie, Haight-Ashbury can be the perfect neighborhood to satisfy your musical cravings.

If you’re a music fan looking for a place to live, these three cities abound with musical performances and opportunities. Get out there and explore what these cities have to give, they won’t let you down.

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