The move-in report is KEY. A few years back I replaced a roommate in an apartment that had been rented by the same string of folks for a few years, and I was the last one to move out. I only got a third of my deposit back because the landlady insisted I was responsible for a lot of crap that had been there when I moved in. (She was worse, though, because she also charged me for "steam cleaning the carpet" and then a few months later when I saw the apartment for sale, she'd put in hardwood floors.) The point is, though, that if I'd taken photos and filled out a report when I moved in, I'd have had a leg to stand on when I explained that there was water damage before I got there.
I may be wrong, but I thought deferring student loans while you're enrolled in school also defers the interest. Definitely pay off the credit cards first if you can defer the loans interest-free.
@heatherosej The Urban League has a pretty comprehensive overview on their website: http://www.gwul.org/programs/housing/hpap
@eagerber HPAP is the same program I used! The biggest obstacles happened around my inspections (after you send in your own inspector, they send another one JUST TO MAKE SURE, and my process resulted in five – yes, five! – inspections) and closing (in the eleventh hour, my mortgage lender and the Urban League had a massive disagreement about what the HPAP closing funds could be applied to). Even so, with all of that drama, I’m hugely grateful for what HPAP enabled me to do. Also, because the Urban League requires you apply for HPAP through a CBO, I benefited from the awesome folks at Housing Counseling Services, who I probably wouldn’t have bothered to call if it hadn’t been mandatory. I also looked at purchasing through NACA, but HPAP ended up being a better match for me, mostly because I qualified faster for the one than the other. NACA is pretty amazing, though - I think I used the phrase "too good to be true" multiple times when describing it for other people.
Rice cookers are also excellent for steaming veggies! Many come with a pre-fitted basket; you can also buy them easily. Best part: you can steam the vegetables WHILE you cook your rice!
I went to Southwestern and enjoyed the heck out of this post. I know that EXACT house on College Street, and the structure in front of the Lord Center apartments makes me think that photo is of the section I lived in (the 400s?)
@shamburgesa I miss Blue Bell ALL THE TIME. (You went to college in Shreveport; I went to college in central Texas! Clearly we just alternated settings for a while.)
I have two "homes" - the town where I grew up, and the town where my mom now lives. The first is Durham, NC, and when I'm there I will not leave without a burrito from Cosmic Cantina. Whenever I'm in North Carolina I also require a stop at Bojangle's - they even put one in Union Station, DC, so it's not like I don't have access - but somehow it just tastes more delicious where it belongs. When I'm in Shreveport, LA, visiting my mom, I'll insist on a trip to Strawn's for a piece of strawberry icebox pie.