Random Reader Rant and/or Revel

Photo by PoPville flickr user angela n.

You can talk about whatever is on your mind – quality of life issues, a beautiful tree you spotted, scuttlebutt, or any random questions/thoughts you may have. But please no personal attacks and no need to correct people’s grammar. This is a place to vent and/or celebrate things about daily life in DC.

138 Comment

  • Rant: People with luggage on wheels pretty much every time I have to walk behind them. They never look back while thinking they’re the cutest people on earth.

    Rant: Tons of salt that sat on roads until today… It was horrible how much salt was plastered on the streets only to now be washed down drains into fresh water streams. I don’t even want to think about the environmental impacts that result. There has to be a better way to address winter storms.

    Rant: Food borne illness, I didn’t even go on a cruise, but the service at Pho14 was pretty bad last weekend ( I had to look for the waiter to make an order) and I caught something there that tied me up all weekend in the porcelain meeting room.

    Rave: Happy for the rain, would have preferred a snow day, but at least the rain is washing away (To SW DC I guess) all the trash and dirty snow in my alley.

    • I feel you on all points. We should go bowling.

      • Let’s do it! I suck at bowling though if you need a good challenge…. I meant to make the last POPville meetup but shopping at Target got in the way and I lost track of time… 🙁

  • Rave: The rain… need to wash that salt away enough so it just doesn’t cause a brine bath. Also get ride of the film of salt on my car that I wasn’t able to really wash by hand in a dark underground parking garage with no running water.
    Rave: Still in a kind of afterglow after yesterday’s awesome weather and lengthy bike ride.
    Rant: It’s already February and I really need to buckle down at work this month. That starts today.

  • Rant: I’m tired of waiting for the Line Hotel to be built. The have been talking about that site for years. It seems everything is approved. When will they get started?? Ditto for the Ontario Theater site.

  • Rant: Just feeling so….lost. Professionally, personally, spiritually…I just feel like there’s nothing left, but I still have to put on a cheery face.

    Rave: Having anonymous interwebs to air this crap, because I don’t really have anyone to talk to.

    cheers! Enjoy the rainy monday, I kind of do.

  • Rave: Won’t have to wash my car!
    Rant: Soggy socks.
    Rave: Fuzzy office slippers!

  • Rant: How far the Metro has fallen in the past ten years. In response to the latest delay, Dan Stessel told the Post, “It’s just another Monday.” That kind of response tells me Metro simply doesn’t care. There is no real accountability, and there are no incentives for them to clean up their act. It’s amazing that the nation’s capitol- the power center- allows this craziness to go on, but we do. Wow.

    Rave: Life is still good in spite of WMATA.

  • Question: I bought a house this year and sold off some stock etc…is it worth while to pay someone to do my taxes vs. me using turbo tax? How much does something like that normally cost?

    Soup Dumplings – I saw WashingtonCityPaper provided a list of three places…does PoPville have any recommendations?

    Rave: Rain and not snow…I am really done with winter at this point.

    Rant: So many things I want to do to my house…soooooo little money.

    • In my experience, Turbo Tax deals pretty well with those types of issues.

    • justinbc

      I’ve never had an issue using Turbo Tax, but I also use the professional version. Any professional CPA will just plug your data into that too, or some other type of similar software.

    • i used this guy last year and would highly recommend him- super personable and really reasonable. i had a complicated tax situation and he got me a refund!


    • anonymouse_dianne

      I sold in 2011 and bought in 2012 and used Turbo Tax with no problems. I also inherited some $$ in 2011 which TT handled. I did find I owed DC taxes which was no fun.

    • Neither of these things are too complicated for TurboTax, which I use. It can kind of be a pain figuring out your cost basis for the stock if you purchased the shares over different periods of time. Other than that, no problem. Also, if you sold any stock at a loss, be sure to make sure you account for those since capital losses can typically only be deducted to offset capital gains, from what I understand. By the way, I am not a tax professional. Just a guy that does his own taxes using turbotax.

      • But you still have to figure out the cost basis if you use a professional, or at least get all of the info they need to do it (which is 90% of the way to figuring it out).

    • Personally, I’m not a fan of professional tax prep. I think CPAs or other financial professionals can be really useful when dealing with a business’ bookeeping or taxes, or higher-level financial planning-type of issues–but for the majority of people, their tax situation is not as complex as they think or fear it is. To me, it’s just not worth paying a CPA a couple hundred dollars (minimum, usually) to do something that Turbo Tax, H&R Block, et al can do for $20-$50,* and even though I don’t have the stock situation with my taxes, Turbo Tax guides you through questions about stock. As another commenter mentioned, determining the basis might take some legwork, but not too much, and slightly different rules come into play if you inherited the stock or received it as a gift. But the tax software will also ask you about that, too. One thing you could do is start off with Turbo Tax (since you don’t have to pay until you’re about ready to file), and then if as you’re going through it, you feel uncomfortable or feel it’s not adequately addressing your tax questions, you can abandon the attempt and move on to a CPA. *Caveat: I do know some folks who are really anxious about taxes and not confident in their ability to self-prepare, so for them, it IS worth it to have an accountant do their taxes, and give them peace of mind.

    • We use a CPA (family friend) because for us, messing up could mean an issue with security clearances. Between the rental property income rules, having a baby, having interest deductions, I know there’s a place I”d mess up. He’s had to research DC tax law a number of times for us and he gives us advice though out the year. So me, it’s worth it. However, for the average person with the time and confidence, go for it. I hope this is something we can “take back” in the next few years as we unload the rental property and consolidate assets.

  • Rant: Tired. Super tired. Like really effing tired. My mom visited us this weekend and helped out with the little one (4months). It was awesome, my husband and I got to spend the day together (alone!!!) outside of the house for the first time since Septhember. We saw a movie and grabbed some dinner and roamed around a bit. Was feeling good. When we got home we fed the little guy a bottle — but what we didn’t realize was that the milk had gone bad. The little one was up with a tummy ache all night. So not only did we feel like crap for feeding him bad milk, we had to hold him while he cried all night. He wouldn’t let us put him down, just had to hold him for hours and hours. The 6am trip to BWI to drop my mom off was brutal. At least the nugget slept in the car!

    • That sounds miserable! I hope your little one feels better today and you get some sleep.

    • We’ve done that before and it really sucks. They get a 24-hour tummy ache, but it usually works its way out. Literally. Don’t beat yourself up, we all make little mistakes and the babe’s are none the worse for the wear. Us on the otherhand, it takes us twice as long to recover from their ailments!

  • justinbc

    Rave: The weather this weekend. Not only was it a nice tease of Spring, but it allowed the masons to finish rebuilding our roof/wall in just 3 days, just in time to get the tarp back on before today’s rain. Just need the roofers to come by and finish the metalwork and we can finally get these guys off our house and get it cleaned up.
    Rant: Fence around the back patio is really deteriorating quickly. They built it with cheap lumber to begin with, then never treated it. I swear it feels now like a strong gust could blow it over and leave my grill just out in the open for the taking (if they were able to haul off 400 pounds of steel).

  • Rant: came down with a cold yesterday.
    Rave: get to stay at home today and not deal with rain and disaster that is metro.

  • Rant: Heroin that kills people!

    • justinbc

      What? Is there some non-lethal variety?

      • Millions of people use it every day without dying. It’s the impure stuff and wrong dosage that kills people.

        • Millions of people might use it daily without dying, but they’re not really living.

          • Users could say the same thing to you or me.

          • @11:05 – Have you ever met the hollowed out shell of a person you used to know but has now become addicted to heroin?

          • For what it’s worth, 60 Minutes did a segment a few years ago on the way Great Britain treats heroin addiction. Addicts there can get heroin from the National Health Service. The program profiled several people who were living “normal,” functioning lives – holding down all kinds of jobs, parents, etc. – while getting a daily dosage of heroin. That approach may not work everywhere for everyone, but it appeared to be somewhat successful over there.

      • It’s not lethal unless you use it wrong. Kind of like alcohol, water, a car or a gun.

        • justinbc

          I think I’ll continue with the faulty assumption that it is lethal on the possibility that it might be and just refrain.

          • It seems this blog has more recreational heroin users than I had expected.

          • I wouldn’t be so quick to draw that conclusion. I think most people simply understand that heroin is just a chemical substance. Particularly nasty chemical substance, but it’s not like it’s some sentient creature out to kill. Addiction to this particular substance needs to be treated. We need to be open to various treatment methods (some of which are outlawed in US while legal – and highly effective – elsewhere).
            So yea, while the tone of my comment above may come off as somehow supportive of heroin/use, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

        • There is no right way to use heroine. Maybe it’s been glamorized in your mind enough for you to believe there is, but trust me, it’s the worst shit out there.

          • I’m not saying it’s not dangerous and that people should use it. It’s a horrible drug. But it can be used safely without causing overdose. The strongest drug I have ever used has been weed, and I haven’t done that in over ten years.

          • Cocaine is more addictive and alcohol withdrawal (unlike heroin withdrawal) can be lethal. I was on morphine in the hospital and I didn’t get addicted and die. We could help addicts with clean needles and other social programs, like they have in Europe, but out “war on drugs” won’t allow that.

    • It’s people that need help. Heroin/derivatives are just chemical substances that folks should avoid. Those who are unable to do so need others to help them stop abusing/killing themselves.

  • rave: Significant other has an interview for a dream job on Friday

    rant: It’s in New York

    rant: I’m pretty stuck in DC indefinitely.

    rave: At least it’s not THAT far?

    rant: everything else about this siuation

    • two of my friends one lives and works and new york and the other in dc. They make it work, but they are kind of ‘boring’ so to speak so i think they are ok spending that much time traveling. but hey if they can make it work so can you! if you want it to

    • justinbc

      At least there will always be new stuff to see when you visit him/her?

    • It’s do-able! My SO and I did the DC/NYC long distance relationship for a year before he got a job in DC. The traveling can get tedious sometimes but you make it work 🙂

    • my SO and I did NYC-Istanbul for three years. it sucked, but it’s doable with skype, facetime, gchat, and airplanes.

    • We did DC/Boston for 1.5 years. It was exhausting after a while, but we knew we’d eventually move to same city, it was just a matter of when. I would have loved to have been a 4-5 hour car ride away instead of an 8-10 hour one! The caveat is we started out long-distance so it’s a little bit different.

      • We did DC-Tampa for a year (which given flights, isn’t all that different from NY) but it got old very quickly. We’ve also three six month deployments where I stayed home and he went to wherever…I’ve got to say it SUCKS. Good luck if it happens and make time/budget to be together.

    • I feel ya. My partner and I did NYC-DC for four years (law school and clerkship, grr), and while it was brutal, I think if your relationship can survive it, it will emerge stronger. We switched off every wknd – Boltbus/Amtrak/flights – it can be done, just takes a lot of planning if you don’t want to break the bank. Although I will say it was key to have a clear end date in sight…really no option for you to relocate?

      • if I do, it’d be like two years down the road. Which again, is doable, it all just seems a little overwhelming right now.

        Thanks for the success stories you guys!

    • I did long distance for two years. It is doable.

      Sign up for the rewards system with Amtrak. Those trips really do add up fast, and getting a free trip every once in awhile helps to keep the commuting costs down.

  • rant: i have a wee hangover after yesterday’s festivities. i don’t even care about the game, it was just fun to hang out.
    another rant: some of the people i watched the game with were surprisingly racist. this was extremely disappointing to learn as before the race issue came up, the discussions were really intelligent. the convo ranged from the NPR series about DC’s crack problem, classic literature, non-profits. and then a straight white male told me that we don’t need to have anymore conversations about race in America because he’s sick of it. i am so appalled and shocked still!

  • Rant: Doorman in front of the Capital Hilton blowing that whistle constantly even when there are no cabs to be seen in any direction. C’mon, man, you’re just making noise!
    Revel: Finally some rain to wash some of that salt away.

  • 14 month old was literally clinging to me when we dropped him off at daycare this morning. I know he was fine once I was out of sight, but it just made this Monday morning unbearable. Took me right back emotionally to the first day of daycare. Ugh. 🙁

    • dude, i feel guilty leaving my cat at home alone all day. i can’t even imagine what you are feeling! hope you have a busy day at work and don’t dwell on it too much!

    • leaving them is the worst sometimes. i’m sure he’s playing, napping, snacking, and happy as can be! when i miss my guy, i try and leave work a few minutes early to go get him.

      • thank you both! today was harder than most days. it oddly helps to put it out there to the internet and get such empathetic thoughts. this too shall pass…

    • The suffering shows the love – all will be OK.

  • Rant: Had to work all weekend. Missed going for a run in the warm weather yesterday and I’m angry at myself for it. I should’ve made time from work to go. Hopefully it will return.
    Rave: At least I got to walk the dog in the early evening yesterday though getting him outside today in the rain was quite the challenge.
    Revel: Aruba in three months.

  • Rave: Great weekend — the perfect mix of quiet, productive time at home balanced with fun time with friends.
    Rave: my Wellies and wool socks!
    Rant: I have not found the motivation to get into a regular gym routine since recovering from a cold. I’m feeling very lazy and lethargic.

  • Rave – John Wall (All-Star), Wizards > OKC Thunder, Weekend Weather
    Rant – LA Fitness 1) They have only one location actually in DC and it is designated a ‘signature’ club (they closed old Bally basement location) meaning pay fee and more monthly to access new Results location) 2) They sent my wife a renewal notice but presented it as a ‘collection notice’ when she has no contract with LA Fitness…shady.

  • Rave: Good trip to Guatemala, and got a bonus stopover in Atlanta to see my family on the way back.
    Rant: Back on a plane today, this time to super exciting suburban North Carolina.
    Rant: Lost a staff member on one of my projects to cancer. Really heartbreaking for her family and the team.

  • skj84

    Rave: Amazingly fun weekend! I went to the autoshow, a great party and stayed in to watch the Superbowl with family. Plus I enjoyed the weather immensely.

    Rant: A Coworker is giving me the silent treatment. We had a disagreement a few weeks ago and she’s decided to stop talking to me. We don’t interact much thankfully, but still it’s really petty that a grown woman would pull this crap. I’ve moved on and would think she would too. Plus kind of hurtful when she goes out of her way to interact with other people in the room but ignores me.

  • Rave: The stuffed groundhogs in that photo like they are doing the Humpty Dance.

    Rant: The stuffed groundhogs in that photo also look like they are being boiled in a vat of hot oil.

  • Rant: Drivers who don’t follow “lights on when raining” and “lights on when using windshield wipers” laws. People, headlights aren’t just about whether YOU can see what’s in front of you — they’re also about making it easier for other people to see you.

  • GiantSquid

    Revel: Amazing birthday weekend in NYC. Perfect weather for walking. Friends to dine with and show us around. Could not have been better. 33 is starting out right.
    Rant: Chose footwear for warmth rather than long walking comfort. My feet were hurting.
    Revel: Mr. Squid’s wedding band has been resized so he can go back to wearing it.
    Revel: Rain cleaning the salt crust off my car.

  • Rant: We think our baby daughter (8 months old) has an ear infection. She has been touching her ears and really hasn’t been eating like she normally does (she loves to eat). She hasn’t been fussy or anything but I think we are going to go ahead and try to take her in this week vs. her scheduled appointment next week.


    Rant: The death of PSH, one of the best actors or our time. Drugs don’t discriminate, especially that hard (smack). It is just very sad but hopefully his death will bring some attention to how many seemingly “normal” people do use hard drugs to cope. People are really hurting out here.


    Rant: People that are complaining about the Cheerios and Coca Cola commercial. We have such a long way to go as a country. It would make me sad but instead I feel embarrassed for all of us. It seems that many have forgotten that the majority of us (black,white and brown alike) are foreigners in this country and that English isn’t the original language of this country. But I guess the national anthem should be sang in onlyl English and we should all “Speak American” right?


    Rave: Nice to see the Seahawks get that chip. Especially happy for the 5 players from VA. 2 up, 2 down!


    Rave: Rain washing all the salt away.

    • Rant: Forgot to add that there is a pink eye scare at my daughters daycare last week.


      Rant: Just got informed that we need to pick our daughter up because she has pink eye. It never ends…


      Rave: We are able to get into the doctor at 3:50 today.

    • justinbc

      I’m glad that I mostly avoid outlets where people complain about such things (other than the occasional ranter here). Avoiding the ignorance won’t make it go away, but at least I don’t stress myself out over trying to educate them either (which is ultimately a futile exercise). I had heard that there were complaints about the Cheerios ad, but I had no idea people were upset about the Coke one too. Can’t say I’m surprised, unfortunately.

      • Must be nice to be able to avoid stressing yourself out. It would be very nice if all of us had that option.

        • I re-read my comment, and realize that it might have sounded snotty. That was not my intention. As a Black female, I have rarely had the opportunity to avoid the stresses that go along with racism. I imagine that not having to be on guard, not having to deal with other people’s “stuff” must be profoundly relaxing.

          • justinbc

            Yeah, perspective can be everything when dealing with interpretation. It does stress me out realizing that this kind of thing is somehow still an issue, but I no longer stress myself out trying to convince people to change their minds. I also don’t really deal with it much in person, most of my social circles are all rather progressive. (at least to the point where something as simple as what a person’s race or nationality are would not be controversial)

    • One of the things that always kind of amused me (or “amused” in a kind of cynical, disheartening way) is that in my experience, the people who were so adamant that immigrants are in America and therefore need to do as “Americans” do (ie, not maintain any of their old-country language, music, food, cultural traditions, etc.) have been the same people that, if they do travel outside the U.S., as soon as they land in whatever Western European city they’re visiting, immediately make a beeline for the nearest McDonald’s. (Not that any of that is meant to criticize people who don’t travel or only travel to Western Europe–nothing wrong with that, as not everyone can travel, due to finances, family obligations, or any number of reasons. But it always really irked me to hear people hold immigrants to one standard of assimilation, and yet when *they* go abroad, see nothing wrong with seeking out American-style establishments, or worse, expecting everyone else in the foreign country they’re visiting to bend to their American needs and preferences.)

      • What I find “amusing” is that many of the people criticizing these commercials as being “un-American” would themselves have been targeted as not being “American” enough in the not-so-distant past (Irish, German, Italian, etc. etc. etc.).

      • Oh you mean those folks that go to another country and try to make everyone they talk to understand English, like saying it slower and louder will make an Italian or African or Asian that does not speak English understand what the hell you are talking about. The funny thing is that most people in other countries do speak/are damn near required to learn multiple languages and that we are the only ones that don’t make an effort to speak another language. Why? Well because we are American and we are just better, right? SMH!

        • Americans are exceptional. Politicians keeps saying this, so it must be true. We ARE better than the rest of the world, so therefore everyone must learn to speak American.

        • Yep, those folks. I mean, look–I’m not going to pretend I’m multilingual. I studied French and Spanish, never became fluent in either, wished I’d started to study earlier (like in childhood rather than 7th grade as was the way my public school system was structured), and always wished I’d been able to take advantage of opportunities to live or study abroad, or even travel more extensively (long story, but suffice it to say, other things got in the way). But the few times I’ve traveled abroad, I’ve at least familiarized myself with enough of the language to, say, return a shopkeeper or restaurant host’s greeting, or order a coffee. As soon as I opened my mouth, it’d be painfully clear I wasn’t a native speaker, and 9 times out of 10 the person spoke English and would switch to that (and if not, we made do with gestures). Contrary to some stereotypes, I never felt anyone treated me rudely because I didn’t speak their language; rather, people seemed to appreciate that I made a humble attempt, however limited and clumsy, to respect their language and culture. (One of my visits to France was on a group trip, and the only people who DID complain about being treated rudely were the ones who barked “Do you speak English?” at staff the minute they set foot in an establishment.)

          • Cosign on everything you said. I always try to speak the native language and I can tell it is genuinely appreciated by the locals.

    • I’m with you about the Cheerios commercial. Seems like a lot of folks were making a big deal about it for one reason or another, then I saw the actual commercial and my reaction was basically…so?

      I know that we’ll never live in a perfect society, but the fact that a commercial with a biracial couple can still elicit so much “buzz” in 2014 is….well I don’t know exactly what it is, but I wish it wasn’t.

      Also, very disheartening to hear some of the comments that some people will make when they aren’t aware of who is in their company. A lot of folks that don’t know me don’t realize that I’m biracial. I had the pleasure of hearing some pretty disturbing comments from some folks that proclaim to be all progressive and open-minded and what not.

      • Very sad but not shocking. That is the exact reason I make some of the comments on here that I do. People claim to be this that and the other but have NO FREAKING CLUE what they are really saying. It is all good to claim to be one thing but it all comes out in the wash.

        • I hear where you’re coming from but honestly it sounds like you tend to listen to idiotic comments from a certain small group of people and then say “I feel sad for our country.” You completely ignore the huge numbers of people who *don’t say anything*. When you do that you miss the important point that most people don’t have anything to say. There will always be a relatively small number of bozos on any issue. ALWAYS. If you can’t tear yourself away from those folks then you will miss a lot of goodness and you will never be happy about our country. Do we have a long way to go? Of course, we always have and we always will.

          • I can see where you are coming from and I am not negating the fact that there are good people out here or that we have come a long way. I am just saying that there are many people that think they are progressive and what not but really have no clue. As for me, I have friends from all over, all walks of life so I am very aware of what is being said. With that being said, I think you may be a bit mistaken to believe that it is a small group that was saying things about those commercials. Trust me, what was said has nothing on those that kept their mouths shut. Sad but true.

    • I’m a white conservative with a black girlfriend and we both loved the Cheerios commercial.

    • Also sad to see people complaining about the language the “national anthem” was sung in…don’t know what the national anthem is. I mean, if you want to get up in arms about what is a “real” American…maybe that is something one should know? (hint: not “America the Beautiful.”

      The Cheerios commercial was adorable.

      • anonymouse_dianne

        Can’t wait to see the puppy!

      • My fault, it was America the Beautiful. Good catch.

        • To be clear, wasn’t trying to call you out. A lot of people didn’t actually see the commercial and heard it was the National Anthem and are repeating that story. But to claim to be so AMERICA FUCK YEAH WE SPEAK ENGLISH HERRRRRRE and then not know what the national anthem is…ugh!

    • what were people upset about the cheerios ad? I thought it was adorable, no?

  • In the spirit of the tax question above, just wanted to share a PSA about My Free Taxes, a free tax prep option for people with household income under $58,000. There are a LOT of tax prep operators out there in the marketplace, and there is a LOT of overcharging and up-selling of tax services and software as well. My Free Taxes (at myfreetaxes-dot-com) is a partnership between United Way, Goodwill, and the National Disablity Institute (and sponsored by Walmart, which is why it’s free for those who are income-eligible). It uses H&R Block’s tax prep software, so the interface is basically the same as if you used H&R Block online, Turbo Tax, or the other major commercial preparers; plus, there are telephone hotline and online chat options where users can get help with questions that may come up as they’re going through their online tax prep. One other benefit of My Free Taxes is that eligible taxpayers can file federal AND state returns for free (and that includes up to 3 state returns). A number of commercial online preparers will offer free federal filing to anyone, but make their money back by charging you to file the state return. (Also with My Free Taxes, if it turns out that you somehow under-calculated your income and you realize in the course of the online tax prep that you made more than $58,000, you can still go ahead and complete your return–H&R Block will just charge you instead of making it free.) If you’re an individual making less than $35K or a family making less than $52K, you can also get free in-person tax prep at a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) site (google DC EITC Campaign for locations). This is a separate program from My Free Taxes, but My Free Taxes is meant to provide an alternative for folks whose income is too high to qualify for VITA and/or who are computer-confident enough to self-prepare online.

  • Rave: Found out I’m pregnant with my 1st over the weekend
    Rant: Nothing, I’m so freaking happy.

  • Rant: There was no coffee in the house this morning.
    Rave: This forced me to leave the house early, so I avoided the debacle on the Red Line.

  • pablo .raw

    Rave: PoPville Happy hour. Always good to see friends, and make new.
    Rant: Harassed again for taking photos in public space.

  • Query: I need to run a credit check on a prospective tenant. Landlords, what’s the best way to do this?

    • I use NestDC to screen all of my perspective tenants. They call the references, pull the credit, etc. They charge for it, obviously, but it’s a write off because it’s a cost associated with the property but it’s also MUCH easier and in my opinion less shady – I never charge my applicants a fee, they pay Nest $25 for the credit pull and everything is done by them so I don’t see their private information unless I want to. They also give you their application and lease if you want. I use them because they are much more professional looking and they have helped me with lease issues in my previous renters who wanted to back out early.

    • justinbc

      I use E-Renter.com for one of our properties that’s a single rowhome and run it myself. It’s a bit higher end so the clientele is slightly less risky.
      We’re using a property manager similar to JinDC (we actually looked at NestDC as well and really liked them but their fees were much higher) for our 4 unit place. Urbane Results is who we ultimately went with, and they handle everything from start to finish in a similar fashion, you don’t even have to ever meet the tenants if you don’t want to.

      • Hey Justin, can you please explain a little more about how this works? I currently manage our properties myself. When I see, for example, Nest charging 10% of rent, what does that include and what is extra? For example if tenants complain about frozen pipes, do they charge you for it when they go to check it out? Or only for the plumber’s bill? I am trying to get a sense of what “property management” includes for small-time landlords looking to outsource….

        • justinbc

          There are 3 key costs to consider:
          1) the management fee, usually 8-10% of the gross rent(s) for the property … this is the baseline fee for dealing with tenants, collecting rent, managing paperwork, etc
          2) placement fee, can be anywhere from 50-100% of 1 month’s rent, depending on the company and whether you place the tenant or have them do it
          3) service calls … this was the main reason we actually chose not to go with NestDC, as their hourly rate for service calls was $110, really steep (although I did like the fact that all of their people were in-house employees). this would be billed to your account every time they have to go out to repair something at the request of the tenant.

          • I was the PP who asked you – thanks for the info! Sorry for the slow reply – I am not as avid a PoP visitor as you 🙂 seriously, thanks. The 8-10% that seems like a lot of money given that any and all maintenance, and bringing in new tenants when vacant, is extra. I guess we’ll have to bite the bullet if we leave DC, but otherwise I’ll do it myself.

    • I used SmartMove by Transunion. It provides a credit score and criminal background. I had the applicants pay for it directly.

    • Thanks, JinDC, justinbc, and Anonymous!
      I decided to go with the TransUnion SmartMove option. Fingers crossed for good results!

      • +1 for smartmove. Note that it only checks credit and criminal. You still do the rest of the work, meeing tenants, calling references, etc.

  • Rave: Popville post of the Well Dressed Drunk Guy Singing Lil Jon video. That has now become my stress-break of choice! I’ve now watched it almost a dozen times, and I still crack up. Thanks PoP!

  • Rant: Huggers. If you are not immediate family or married to me, do not try to hug me. I will punch you.

  • Rant: Airbnb is a complete disaster – cluster f – in DC. There are over 1000 listings, but at best, maybe 2% are actually active, current, legitimate and reasonably priced. (No – $95.00 a night for a futon in your living room in a 5 person group house on Sherman Ave. is not a good deal. – No, your basement apt. on 13th and Fairmont shouldn’t cost 25% more than the Marriott hotel.)

    I recently searched for places for a friend’s wedding in April, and for a friend who wants to visit in March. Even though I know the city well, and can recognize most crappy postings quickly, I still wasted many hours inquiring about places that were listed as available – but were in fact not. Mostly because people don’t keep their calendars up to date.

    It is sad to see such a good idea flame out because of ignorant people.

    Rave: I have really good rain clothes.

    • justinbc

      I still haven’t actually used Airbnb for anything, but I have a feeling I would go through similar frustrations. When we went out to LA it seemed like quite a lot of listings on Booking.com were similar types of condo places that were being rented out, so maybe try there?

      • There are good established sites for vacation rental apartments – VRBO/Homeaway.com the primary one. But Airbnb started out as a really good alternative for the more casual alternative – someone renting their extra bedroom a few weekends a month or so. And it is still good in smaller cities. (I had a great and easy experience in Richmond.) But the site has become impossibly clogged with people who never update or remove their postings. Some of the ones I contacted had posted just for Inauguration and never bothered to update or remove their listing.

        It was a really good concept that has become sadly totally useless.

        • That’s really too bad to hear. I’ve had wonderful experiences with AirBnB. The benefit that AirBnB has over VBRO is that it’s less structured. Most AirBnB hosts have either very small length of stay minimums or no minimums at all. I’ve found VBRO to be mostly Sunday-Saturday listings. Though that might just be a beach thing.

          • VRBO listings vary depending on what type of rental. Beach houses do tend to be one-week. But it is much more flexible for DC apts. There are about 300 good listings, most of which only require a minimum of 4 nights in high season.

            The main advantage is that people on VRBO/Homeaway are full time. They pay $600.00 a year to list a property, and so are more professional.

            Airbnb doesn’t charge people anything to list – but do charge the guest an additional 10-12% to book. So people listing their properties have no incentive to be accurate or to keep calendars up to date.

    • I had good luck with VRBO when I first moved to DC in late 2011.

  • Rave: I had a great thrifting date with my former roomie. We ended up only making it to the Goodwill on S Dakota Ave, but we both did very well. Their housewares section is a bit lacking, but they do have a very good clothing selection, though the sizes are not completely organized. They have a good amount of furniture and even a selection of records. I ended up with a pair of black Loft skinny jeans, a black leather pencil skirt (finally!), two winter scarves- plaid and leopard, a plaid silk-type Talbots blouse, a solid maroon baseball hat, a pair of red-ish heeled oxfords, and a paper fan. I spent about $44, but when I got home I realized they charged me for two pairs of pants. But I can’t get too mad about it, it’s the thrift store. The employees were very friendly and so were the other shoppers.
    Rant: I thought I was going to be able to hang my wallpaper this weekend, but I forgot to get seam adhesive.
    Rave: I can pick up seam adhesive for 20% off at Ladies Night and the hardware store tomorrow.
    Rant: I have three paint samples up in my living room and I am determined to pick one of them so I can buy 2 gallons of paint at 20% tomorrow night. For anyone interested after last week’s gray paint discussion they’re American White, Gray Owl, and Harbor Gray, all Benjamin Moore.

  • justinbc

    Rave: Finding out yesterday that 24 will be coming back for another season (after 2 supposedly last seasons). It’s always been one of my guilty pleasure shows.

  • Rant: cutting my weekend plans short due to the 4 to 5 inches of snow in philly today
    Rave: buying a $120 pair of shoes for $30 – that made it worth it.

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