The Best Cities for Millennials, Generation X, and Baby Boomers

The Best U.S. Cities for Each Generation

Some places have certain attributes that make it a paradise for some, yet not a great fit for others. Personal preferences aside, where you are in your life impacts where you should live, as each generation has different needs when it comes to local amenities. What’s best for Millennials isn’t always what’s best for Baby Boomers.

We took a look at the unique factors inherent to each generation and found the best cities for each age group to live in the United States.

The 10 Best Cities for Millennials

The 10 best cities for Millennials in the U.S.The 10 best cities for Millennials in the U.S.

First, we looked at the data specific to Millennials, which focused on median home price, the number of entry-level jobs, and the population share of this age group. Based on these factors, we found that Orlando, FL is the best city for Millennials in the United States. It boasts over 500 entry-level jobs per 100,000 people and has a relatively low median home price. Followed by Orlando on our list are Minneapolis, MN and Salt Lake City, UT.

The 10 Best Cities for Generation X

The 10 best cities for Generation X in the U.S.The 10 best cities for Generation X in the U.S.

Next, we looked at factors important to Generation X. These include school quality, the number of management-level jobs per 100,000 people, and the population share of this age group. Once again, Florida earned the top spot with the city of Miami. The city boasts an average number of management jobs, but is home to high-quality schools and has a strong representation of Generation X individuals living there. Following Miami are Atlanta, GA and San Francisco, CA.

The 10 Best Cities for Baby Boomers

The 10 best cities for Baby Boomers in the U.S.The 10 best cities for Baby Boomers in the U.S.

Finally, we wanted to see which cities are the best for Baby Boomers, so we focused on healthcare availability, retiree tax-friendliness, and the population share of this age group. Pittsburgh, PA won top honors with almost 425 doctors per 100,00 people and a high number of Baby Boomers living there. Following Pittsburgh are Birmingham, AL and Miami, FL.

Largest 50 Cities Ranked for Millennials

The best and worst cities for Millennials in the U.S.The best and worst cities for Millennials in the U.S.

Even if your city doesn’t rank in the top 10, it’s important to know how it compares to other cities if you’re a Millennial and how the largest 50 cities stack up may surprise you! The top 10 on our list are a mix of regions, while the bottom 10 mostly come from the West or South. Even more notable is how some of the more ‘trendy’ cities — Los Angeles and New York — are some of the worst for younger people.

Largest 50 Cities Ranked for Generation X

The best and worst cities for Generation X in the U.S.The best and worst cities for Generation X in the U.S.

Similarly, we wanted to show how all 50 cities rank for Generation X. Although San Jose, CA was the bottom-ranking location for Millennials, you’ll find it in the top 5 for this generation. Interestingly, the bottom 10 for this age group is mostly made up of cities located in the Midwest or Northeast regions of the United States.

Largest 50 Cities Ranked for Baby Boomers

The best and worst cities for Baby Boomers in the U.S.The best and worst cities for Baby Boomers in the U.S.

Lastly, we wanted to show the results for Baby Boomers across all cities. This list shows Raleigh and Charlotte in the bottom 10 whereas, for Generation X, these North Carolina cities were both in the top 10. Furthermore, there are 3 cities in Texas present in the bottom 10 for Baby Boomers.

Methodology

In order to determine the best and worst cities for each generation, we compared the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas across three key dimensions for each age group. For Millennials: 1) Millennial Share of Local Population, 2) Median Home Price, and 3) Entry Level Jobs per 100,000 People. For Generation X: 1) Generation X Share of Local Population, 2) Management Jobs per 100,000 People, and 3) School Quality. For Baby Boomers: 1) Baby Boomer Share of Local Population, 2) Retiree Tax-Friendliness, and 3) Healthcare Availability,

Each of these indicators is graded on a 5-point scale, with a score of 5 representing the most favorable conditions. We determined each city’s total score from the total of each one’s individual factor scores, which were weighted according to their significance for each generation. Each is listed below with its respective weight and data source.

Generation Share of Local Population (All) — Weight: 2.0

  • Source: U.S. Census

Median Home Price (Millennials) — Weight: 1.0

  • Source: National Association of Realtors 2018

Entry Level Jobs per 100,000 People (Millennials) — Weight: 2.0

Management Jobs per 100,000 People (Generation X) — Weight: 1.0

  • Source: Glassdoor

School Quality (Generation X) — Weight: 2.0

  • Source: Homes.com internal school score data

Retiree Tax-Friendliness (Baby Boomers) — Weight: 1.0

  • Source: Kiplinger state-by-state study

Healthcare Availability (Baby Boomers) — Weight: 2.0

  • Source: HealthGrades count of doctors, per 100,000 people


Cheria is an aspiring homeowner and the Content Marketing Coordinator for Homes.com. When she isn’t working, she stays busy sewing, designing, and diving into all sorts of DIY projects.

Source: homes.com

What Are the Challenges of Buying a Historic Home?

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Home is where the heart is, so the saying goes. For many, that means a personal connection with a home and community. That often entails buying a home in a historic neighborhood. Buyers want to be located in a historic part of the city and have a home with unique features like carved moldings, custom fireplaces, and vaulted ceilings.

In some older cities, homes can date back to the 17th century, but often, historic homes were built in the late 19th or early 20th century. Historic homes are registered with the National Register of Historic Place, and they are deemed historic or “architecturally significant” if they exemplify a certain architectural style, demonstrate the essence of a certain period in history or are associated with a famous person.

Historic DIstrict SignHistoric DIstrict Sign

Located in a Historic District

When you consider the purchase of a historic property, you first need to determine if the home is located in a historic district. The United States has 2,300 local historic districts, and those districts place specific regulations on modifications to the property. Before you buy, you need to determine the rules that govern the district. Often times, a historic review board must approve any renovations to the property. The goal is to preserve the community’s historic feel. You don’t want someone adding modern elements to the façade of a historic home.

There is much debate about whether buying a home in a historic district is a good financial investment. Some find the regulations burdensome, but others believe there is strong demand for historic properties that have been well preserved.

“I think buyers see a property in a historic district as a negative because it restricts what they can do,” says Paul Whaley, of Boston’s Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage. “Investors don’t like it either as it takes longer for approvals. In general, I think it depresses the value of a property.”

However, some studies have proved otherwise. In 2011, a study was done of historic districts in Connecticut, and it concluded that property values increased 4% to 19% annually. A different study of properties in New York City found that values between 1980 and 2000 increase more significantly for properties in historic districts on a per square foot basis.

An Emotional Investment

For many, buying a historic property is an emotional purchase. Historic homes are unique and often have a great story. People feel an emotional connection to the property and the historic community. That is not necessarily a negative, but it’s important to acknowledge that the emotional connection exists. You want to fully realize any potential problems without making an unwise decision. Step back and give some distance when making a decision that has such an emotional investment; it will minimize the chance for buyer’s remorse after purchasing.

Expensive to Maintain

Historic homes by their very nature are old and generally more expensive to maintain than newer construction. Unless they have been updated, the sewer, wiring, and electrical systems can be a nightmare to maintain. Plus, there is always the chance that significant water damage has happened over a long period of time. To conduct maintenance in these areas,  you often need to hire a specialized contractor, especially if changes must be approved by a historic review board. That means living in a historic home can be an involved commitment and require a significant amount of financial resources.

Possible Lead Paint and Asbestos

Lead paint and asbestos used to be common building materials in the United States, but they are now banned. When they are discovered in a historic home, you are often required to hire specialists to mitigate the problem. Lead paint and asbestos are both highly toxic substances, and you do not want them causing health problems to you or your family. You want to have them disposed of properly.

Historic Cape May HouseHistoric Cape May House

Mature Landscaping

Historic homes have been around for generations, and that often means the landscaping has been highly refined. Trees and shrubs are probably mature and well established. This might be an attribute that you desire, but it is something you need to be aware of when purchasing a historic home. You might have less ability to make major modifications to the landscaping.

Possible Tax Incentives

If you purchase a historic home, you might be eligible for tax credits for making modification and improvements. The federal government encourages people to purchase and rehabilitate historic structures and offers the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives program. The program has helped preserve 44,341 historic properties since 1976, and has seen $96.87 billion worth of private investment. States and local communities also offer historic preservation tax credits. For example, Georgia offers a tax credit for 25 percent of qualified rehabilitation costs.

Financing and Insurance Can be a Challenge

Lending institutions often shy away from financing some historic properties, because they can be viewed as a higher risk. Lenders will often charge higher interest rates and fees when providing a mortgage for a historic property given the increased risk. As well, many historic homes do not qualify for a Federal Housing Administration loan guarantee. It’s a good idea to do your research before you make an offer on a historic home. You don’t want to get into the process and realize it will cost a lot more than you anticipated.

The same can also apply to homeowners insurance. Insurance companies want to limit their exposure, and they don’t want to have to pay to repair a historic home to its original condition. Unique architectural elements can be expensive to replace. Many times, insurance companies will want to have someone personally inspect the property before the policy is written. You will probably need to find an insurance company that specializes in covering historic properties, especially if the home is over 100 years old.


James Shea is an award-winning journalist and author. He owns Media Lab, a content marketing and search engine optimization company is Richmond, Virginia.

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Source: homes.com

Tips for a Successful Move: Part 2

The first part of my blog series about moving collaboration covered the decision to move, stress-free moving tips, and how to pack up your entire home in 30 days (or less). The collaboration with Homes.com continues with the second phase of moving–the move itself!

You’ve made the arrangements, chosen your new home, packed up your current one, and now the moving truck is waiting for you. You’ll either watch movers load it for you OR you will pack that baby up yourself. Well, if you are like us, you have a lot of heavy lifting ahead of you.

For our move, we opted to save money and do it all on our own. If you’re reading this and plan to move yourself, good news: we made some mistakes, and now we can pass along our hard-earned wisdom!

GET THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT:

To make moving those heavier items a breeze, make sure that you have these items listed below:

  • FURNITURE / APPLIANCE DOLLY: Request one from the truck rental company to help move washers, dryers, refrigerators and large dressers more easily.
  • FURNITURE LIFTING STRAPS: These will be your best friends for lifting armoires, large dressers, or even sofas.
  • TIE DOWNS: There are metal anchors or wooden slats in the moving truck that you can attach these to, or tie rope around to secure your larger pieces of furniture.
  • FURNITURE BLANKETS: Learn from our mistake and use furniture blankets to protect your furniture. When we began unloading the truck, we found that some furniture pieces rubbed against each other and scratched through the drop cloths. We thought we could cut corners and save some money, but by doing so it ruined five pieces of furniture.

LOAD THE TRUCK THE RIGHT WAY:

We have done local moves by ourselves before, but this was our first long-distance move on our own. In the past, we loaded up the truck with whatever would fit, drop off the load and come back for another. With this cross-country move, we have to pack it all and pack it right the first time, utilizing every inch of space! Here are my top four tips:

  • HEAVY ITEMS FIRST: Most rental truck companies will tell you to pack in a “T” shape to save gas and maximize the space. This means to secure all your heavy and tall pieces of furniture in the front of the truck (against the cab). Once the front part of the truck is full and stacked to the ceiling, place other heavy items such as dressers, tables and sofas in the middle of the truck.
  • BOXES & RUGS: Place rugs at the front of the truck, especially if you have an “attic space.” If not, place all area rugs underneath dressers to save space. Sort boxes by weight and load the heaviest boxes first. Regardless of size, always place the heaviest ones on the bottom. Then load boxes by size and stack all like-size boxes on top of each other so weight is distributed evenly.
  • MISC. ITEMS: For all items that won’t fit into boxes, load them around and on top of your larger furniture and boxes.
  • BEDS: Load your mattress sets after the whole truck is packed because they’ll be the first thing you want to unload. Place them along the door of the truck to hold everything else in place, and help prevent too much shifting as you travel to your destination. When unloading, go slowly as there might be an avalanche awaiting just behind them. If you use our loading tips, only slight shifting should occur.

ON THE MOVE:

  • SAYING “GOODBYE”: The home you are leaving carries many memories, so say your goodbyes and thank your home. You might be thinking… “Did this crazy lady just tell me to thank my house?” Yes. Yes I did. And here’s why: this home, now empty, has been filled with life. It’s where you spent good days and bad. Maybe it was your first home, where you brought a baby home. Maybe it was your starter rental and you are finally setting out on homeownership. Whatever your situation, thank it for the memories and all the life lived there.
  • THE TRIP AHEAD: For us, this move was as far of a cross-country move as you could get, from one coast to another. Here are my tips for making a long-distance move less stressful:
    • Pack everything you need in clear plastic totes instead of suitcases. Have outfits sorted by day and night and only bring into the hotel what you need each night. Keep toys and activities easily accessible and always have a first aid kit on hand.
    • Set daily driving hours and desired destinations, with backups in case you don’t make it that far. Sometimes the kids have enough or you hit more traffic than expected. I never book hotels ahead of time for this reason.
    • Traveling setbacks are out of your control. Some days we drove only five hours a day, then 12 hours the next. It wasn’t worth it to have cranky kids every day so we alternated long days and short ones until we reached our new home.

RELAX, YOU’RE HOME:

You survived packing, loading and traveling! But, before you relax, you have a truck to unload and a house to move into.

We opted to move ourselves to save money, but were left totally exhausted.  My advice: if you’re moving and at your limit, ask for help. Our truck didn’t come with muscle men to unload it, and we knew once we arrived to our new home that we’d need help. We called local moving companies and discovered you can hire them to unload your truck for you. For a surprisingly low cost of $200, we sat back and watched two men do all of the lifting! It was well worth the money after all of the work we had done.

We’re now settled into our new home in San Diego, California. While it’s been a long journey to get here, I can say it is so worth it. We have even more moving tips and advice to share with you so follow along with all that is to come! Moving is one of life’s biggest stressors, but it doesn’t have to be if you take one step at a time, you will soon be “home” again. – Jennifer

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Jennifer Ciani is a mom of two, wife to a Marine Corps veteran and the content creator behind the blog, Simply Ciani, where she shares easy to follow DIY’s, home decor, lifestyle and everyday tips for making life simple and organized.

Source: homes.com

Could You Move With 30 Days Notice? Now You Can!

Sometimes you have a “normal” home buying or selling process. The agreements are done, you have 45 days until closing and your lists are prepared to help you move. But, sometimes, that perfect home comes out of nowhere, and you have less than 30 days to get your life packed and onto the next adventure. Sounds stressful, right?

Lucky for you, our friend, Jennifer Ciani, of blog Simply Ciani, is here to share her expert tips (as this is a real-life story of her current moving situation).

How much moving supplies will you need?

When moving, it can feel like the number of things you own doubles overnight, am I right?  The guide below can help you figure out how many boxes you will need for each room.

Tip: Don’t just pack up and move unwanted items from one home to the next; take this opportunity to sort through things into “keep” and “donate” piles. Visit these resources for more decluttering tips during a move.

Jennifer typically uses between 75 to 90 boxes for moving a three-bedroom home. You can always return what you do not use, but it’s better to have more than enough rather than making run after run back to the store to buy more!

The Art of Tape

Now that you’ve assembled the boxes you need, another vital piece of the equation is the tape you use. Spoiler Alert: the tape you use to wrap your holiday gifts is not going to cut it. Jennifer recommends investing in good, sturdy tape, like Heavy Duty Scotch Tape, so that your items arrive at your destination in the condition you packed them in. The last thing you need is the bottom of your box to fall open after you spent all that time wrapping up your belongings.

Jennifer’s Taping Tip: Tape the box across both flaps, then tape once down the center line, then again on either side of that, overlapping the sides of the tape to create a strong hold.

 Labeling

Label each box so that it has a final destination and anyone picking up the box can figure out where it goes. And be sure to label not where they came from in your current home, but where you want them to go in your new home. For an organization bonus, label some of the contents in the box so you can be sure the contents are going to the right room.

What to Pack First

Okay, it’s almost time to get to work packing everything up. Remember, good prep is half the battle for acing your move! Before you begin going room by room, Jennifer recommends setting aside a suitcase (or a few depending on the size of your family) along with two large boxes and a medium sized box. The suitcases are for your travels if you’re moving long-distance, and the boxes are you “first night boxes” in your new home. Here’s a cheat sheet of what to pack in each:

Packing Room by Room

Bathroom:

Start in the bathroom because it is the smallest room in the home and usually has the least amount to pack. Pack up all liquids and lotions, each in their own separate plastic bag. Place those in a box by themselves, separate from everything else.

The Kids Room:

If you have children, especially young ones, get them involved with the packing. Let them choose which items they want to pack up and make a game out of it! Try to see who can pack their boxes faster or count how many items fit into a box, or sort toys by colors. The more you involve your children, the less anxiety they will have.

Closets and Dressers:

Pack clothes first and leave the clothes on the hangers, placing a plastic trash bag over them for easy storage and unpacking in your new home. For clothing in dressers, take out the drawers of the dresser on moving day, load the dresser, then place the drawers back in them with the clothing still inside. As you fill up the truck, the other furniture and boxes will ensure that your drawers will not open and it’s one less thing you don’t have to worry about packing!

Home Decor and Dishes:  

Wrap breakable decor up with quality packing paper. Each item gets wrapped individually. One of the easiest ways to pack dishes is to place a foam paper plate in between each plate, then wrap the whole set up in bubble wrap. For coffee mugs and breakable glasses, wrap them with packing paper and pots and pans wrap up with extra bath towels.

Bedding:

Pack each bedding set together, including throw pillows. This way, once your beds are all set up, it is easy to put each one together again.

Garage and Tools:

Packing plastic wrap is great for keeping rakes/ mops/ brooms together, but when it comes to the tools, you might want to purchase large plastic totes to ensure that none of the tools get damaged in the move. Plus, it makes for easy organizing after moving into your new home.


Living the millennial life with my husband and Wheaten Terrier in beautiful Virginia. I document my life on Instagram and am ready to talk all things home-related at a moment’s notice.

Source: homes.com

How to Design a Home for Every Climate

The decision to build your own home is not one to be taken lightly. Not only is the process time consuming and expensive, but there are a wide variety of things that need to be taken into account when creating a dream home. Outside of the more traditional checklists that include layout, amenities, renewable energy options and proper HVAC design, an element that is often overlooked is creating a home that works with—not against—it’s surrounding environment.

Once the decision of where to build has been made, consider the average climate. Ask yourself: what are the issues you might deal with on a day to day basis? Then work to implement exterior and interior features that will help prevent potential issues down the line. For example, if you live in a colder climate, you’ll want to use gable roofing to help shed snow and south facing windows to increase your daily sun intake. But you’ll want to avoid uneven walkways that make shoveling snow impossible and high ceilings that will collect and waste heat. The Zebra took a look at the four most common climates for home builders, and broke down home design tips per climate to help maximize your home’s efficiency throughout the year no matter where you live.


Source: homes.com

Everything You Need to Know About Bill Gates’ Extraordinary House, Xanadu 2.0

Not many houses have their own Wikipedia page. But then again, few residences have owners with a net worth greater than the GDP of over 100 countries.

Once the richest man in the world, the Microsoft co-founder is now #4 on the list of wealthiest people, surpassed only by Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and French LVMH founder, Bernard Arnault. Bill Gates’ net worth is a mind-boggling $130 billion, though in recent years he’s stepped aside from most of his business endeavors to run the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the world’s largest private charitable foundation.

Despite his vast wealth, Bill Gates didn’t stray too far from home. Born and raised in Seattle, WA, the billionaire lives in a 66,000-square-foot mansion built into a hillside overlooking Lake Washington in Medina — a small city on the opposite shore from Seattle. Ironically, the tiny city (which had a population of just under 3,000 people at the 2010 census) is also home to fellow billionaire Jeff Bezos.

Bill Gates house near Seattle, Washington
Bill Gates’ home near Seattle, Washington. Image credit: house via reddit, snapshot via Wikimedia Commons, author Simon Davis/DFID

Gates’ house — which goes by the name of Xanadu 2.0, after the fictional home of Charles Foster Kane, the title character of Orson Welles’ infamous Citizen Kane — is worth well over $100 million and boasts some unique features worthy of its owner’s deep pockets. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

The house has almost as many kitchens as it has bedrooms

The massive 66,000-square-foot home fits many rooms with very different uses between its numerous walls. To list some of the most conventional ones first, Gates’ house has 7 bedrooms, 24 bathrooms (yes, you read that right, that equals over three bathrooms for each bedroom suite), and an impressive total of 6 kitchens.

If you think that’s one burner stove too many, it will make more sense once you learn that the billionaire’s home has a 2,300-square-foot reception hall that can accommodate up to 200 people. The dining room alone sits 24.

There’s also a 60-foot pool, a 1,500-square-foot art deco theater, and a 1-bedroom guest house where Gates reportedly wrote his book, The Road Ahead, while the main house was still being built.

Another unique feature is a massive 2,500-square-foot fitness facility that has a trampoline room with a 20-foot ceiling (which tells you quite a bit about the billionaire’s favorite way to blow off some steam). It also has a sauna, steam room, and separate men’s and women’s locker rooms.

Xanadu 2.0’s most striking room is the library

An avid reader whose book lists hold headlines every year, Bill Gates made sure his house has with a massive — and downright impressive — library.

bill gates in his home office
While images from inside of Bill Gates’ home are hard to come by, Netflix’s documentary Inside Bill’s Brain: Decoding Bill Gates gave us a sneak peak of how the billionaire lives. Pictured here: Bill Gates in his home office. Image credit: Saeed Adyani courtesy of Netflix

From a design perspective, the paneled library spans 2,100 square feet and features a domed reading room and two secret pivoting bookcases, one of which was fitted with a bar. At the base of the dome, there’s a memorable quote inscribed, taken from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby. It reads, “He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close he could hardly fail to grasp it.”

But the value of the room extends beyond its design, to the books and manuscripts you’ll find inside. Among them is Leonardo da Vinci’s 16th-century collection of scientific writings, the Codex Leicester, which Gates purchased for a whopping $30.8 million.

Bill Gates’ house is as tech-heavy as you’d expect

As you’d probably expect from a man who once revolutionized the world of personal computers, the Microsoft cofounder’s home is heavy on tech, incorporating some very unique uses for technology.

The house features an estate-wide server system, a 60-foot swimming pool with an underwater music system, and about $80,000 worth of computer screens lined up around the house to display art. In fact, visitors and guests of Gates mansion are given devices (worth an extra $150,000) to pick and choose their favorite paintings or photographs to display.

According to Business Insider, the house also comes with a high-tech sensor system helps guests monitor each room’s climate and lighting. When visiting Gates’ house, guests receive a pin that interacts with the sensors, allowing them to change temperature and lighting settings as they see fit. Moreover, there are also speakers hidden behind the wallpaper, which means music can follow visitors as they move from one room to the next.

The house took 7 years to build

In a tribute to its moniker (the word Xanadu is defined as an idealized place of great or idyllic magnificence and beauty), Bill Gates’ home is an architectural feat that took 7 years — and lots of manpower — to complete.

Bill Gates' house as seen in summer 2015 from Lake Washington.
Bill Gates’ house as seen in summer 2015 from Lake Washington. Image credit: Dllu via Wikimedia Commons.

Xanadu 2.0’s architecture, a modern design in the Pacific lodge style, is the result of the combined efforts of Cutler-Anderson Architects and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. Ironically, the latter is most known for creating the signature aesthetic of the Apple Stores.

What sets it aside is that it’s also an “earth-sheltered house”, which means it uses its natural surroundings as walls for temperature and to reduce heat loss.

According to an older report, the house was built with 500-year-old Douglas fir timbers rescued from an ancient lumber mill, painstakingly sanded and refinished. In total, half a million board feet of lumber was used during construction.

More homes with famous owners

“Neverland” No More! The Past & Present of Michael Jackson’s Former Home
The Mysterious Allure of Stephen King’s House, the Beating Heart of Bangor, Maine
The Three (Tragic) Lives of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin HouseErnest Hemingway’s Iconic House in Key West Stands Tall and Mighty After 170 Hurricane Seasons

Source: fancypantshomes.com

12 Hidden Costs of Raising a Child – Expenses Parents Should Budget For

A USDA report pegs the total cost of raising a child at $233,610, or $284,570 if you factor in future inflation. That includes only the basics however, and excludes costs like helping with college education, birthday parties, and holiday gifts.

Include those, and you’re looking at $745,634, according to a report by NerdWallet — a jarring amount, no matter how much you earn.

Most of us know that kids come with extra costs like clothing, food, and possibly college tuition. But what about the hidden costs of raising a child? Kids require more than food and clothes, and often the less obvious costs get lost in estimates of just how much children cost to rear.

As you consider having children or plan your finances for an existing family, keep the following costs in mind. Just remember that although these expenses are common, they’re not written in stone, and you do ultimately control how much your own children cost you.

Hidden Costs of Raising a Child

Many parents, particularly mothers, take a career break to raise young children in their first years and often up to school age. It’s not like pressing the pause button and resuming play where you left it. Taking an extended break comes with significant costs, some less obvious than others.

1. Lost Income

On the obvious side, you lose out on the income from those years spent outside the workforce.

Imagine a family where both partners work, and upon having their first child, the mother decides to take a career break. They have a second child three years later, and the mom decides to stay at home until the youngest starts kindergarten at age 5.

That’s eight years of lost income. At a median full-time salary of $52,312 calculated by BLS, that comes to $419,496 in lost wages, not including wage growth over the next eight years.

This says nothing of lost retirement benefits, such as 401(k) matching, or lost returns on your own contributions to investments you could have made with that extra income. Compounded over the next 30 years, those lost returns can amount to millions of dollars.

2. Lost Career Momentum & Potential

Beyond the lost years of income, becoming a stay-at-home parent can stunt your career potential.

By the time you’re ready to reenter the workforce, you’ve fallen vastly behind your colleagues who have had many years to climb the corporate ladder. They’ve been advancing and winning promotions, while you’d be lucky to reenter your industry at the same level where you left.

The opportunity cost doesn’t end there, either. In today’s world of disruption and fast-paced change, eight years of falling out of touch with industry trends, best practices, and technological innovations puts you at a deep disadvantage compared to people still in the workforce and up to speed.

The bottom line: parents who take a break of several years from their career may reenter the workforce at a lower level than they left, and advance less over the remainder of their career. While there’s surprisingly little research on this effect, one study by Adzuna found that Brits who took a five-year career break took an average annual salary loss of £9,660 (about $12,500).

3. Less Time for Side Hustles

Even among parents who don’t take a career break, they simply don’t have the same free time to build extra income through a side hustle.

Historically, I spent much of my Saturdays working on either my business or writing. When my daughter was born, that came to an abrupt end, first because I was so sleep-deprived and later because my wife wouldn’t hear of it.

My father told me growing up that the 40-hour workweek was a baseline for survival, and it’s what you do outside those hours that determines your success, particularly in your 20s and 30s.

Although I believe in creating passive income streams and pursuing financial independence, you need to save a lot of money in the beginning to build momentum. That comes from a high savings rate and a high income, which often requires side gigs.

It’s not so easy to run a business on the side of your full-time job when you have young children.

4. Higher Housing Costs

A family of two can share a one-bedroom apartment. A family of three, four, or five? Not so comfortably.

At the time of this writing, Apartment Guide lists the average one-bedroom apartment rent at $1,621, compared to the average two-bedroom apartment rent of $1,878. That’s a difference of $257 per month, or $3,084 per year, just to add one more bedroom.

Larger homes cost more money, whether you rent or buy. And with the extra square footage comes higher utility costs to light, heat, cool, and power the property and everything in it.

They also require more maintenance for homeowners. The larger the roof, the more square footage there is to spring a leak. The larger the lawn and grounds, the more time and/or money they cost to maintain. And so on.

Expect to pay thousands of dollars more each year for a home that can accommodate your children, not just you and your spouse.

5. Transportation Costs

The same logic applies to transportation.

According to Kelley Blue Book, the average cost to buy a new compact car is around $20,000. The cost to buy a midsize SUV? A hefty $33,000, representing a 65% increase in cost.

As with housing, the difference in costs doesn’t end at the sticker price. It costs more to insure and fuel a beastly SUV than an efficient compact. When your kids reach their teenage years and start driving, they’ll need car insurance, which many parents pick up.

(Personally, I had to pay for my own as a teenager, and I recommend you do the same with your kids to give them practice earning and budgeting for real world expenses. But I digress.)

Some parents even go so far as to give their teenage kids a car, whether a hand-me-down or buying it for them as a gift.

Again, these costs remain voluntary. But it’s harder to drive your kids, their friends, and their gear to hockey practice in a sporty compact than in a minivan or SUV.

6. Medical Costs

People of all ages need medical care. And in the United States, medical care is expensive, no matter how you approach it.

Higher Health Insurance Premiums

Adding more people to your health insurance plan adds to your monthly premium. Period.

Well, not quite period. Some insurers, like Blue Cross Blue Shield, charge for each additional child up to the first three, then stop charging extra and only charge for the three oldest under the age of 21. Regardless, expect to pay more for family health insurance when you have children than you’d pay as a couple.

You may also decide you need more coverage as a family with kids than you did as a couple. For example, you may opt for dental coverage, or more inclusions, or a lower yearly ceiling on out-of-pocket expenses.

Higher Out-of-Pocket Expenses

Kids get into trouble, break their arms playing soccer, step on rusty nails while running around the neighborhood barefoot. And before they do that, babies require plenty of checkups and medical care of their own.

Every time they visit a doctor, need a prescription filled, or look cross-eyed at the health care system, you can expect to get hit with an out-of-pocket bill. Few health insurance plans cover 100% of all medical expenses with no deductible, and those few charge outrageous premiums.

And kids come with other medical costs. If you don’t want your kids to have crooked teeth, suddenly you find yourself with orthodontist bills. Eye exams, contact lenses, glasses — the list goes on.

Your kids will need plenty of medical care between birth and when they enter the workforce, and you’ll be on the hook for every penny.

7. Lessons, Tutoring, and Other Extracurriculars

If your child has dyslexia, they may need special tutoring to help them learn how to read. Many children need speech therapy as young kids. Many others require academic tutoring at some point or another.

If your kids want to learn an instrument, dive deeper into a sport, or pick up just about any hobby, they’ll need lessons.

Parents always forget to budget for these sorts of expenses until they strike, but kids — and just as often their parents — may want or need more than what resources their school offers for free. And when it happens, you need to be prepared to open your wallet.

8. Baby Paraphernalia

I was shocked and appalled at the amount of baby paraphernalia that flooded our apartment when we had a baby.

At every turn, I fought my wife to stop buying so much stuff. And at every turn, I lost the battle. She insisted on buying every gadget, every “cute” piece of baby clothing, every piece of nursery furniture she could get her hands on. From infrared baby monitors to smart chips that attach to diapers to track vital signs, we have it all.

As a minimalist, it drives me insane. Like so many middle-class parents, we have far more baby items than we need. Eventually, I stopped tallying the cost because it was pushing my cortisol levels through the roof.

You may consider yourself a reasonable human being, vigilant against unnecessary spending. But new parents get both anxious and excited — and their response to both is usually to buy more stuff. When you or your spouse gets pregnant, budget extra for spousal splurges when you try to predict how much it costs to have a baby.

9. Toys and Gifts

Again, parents all too often go wild buying gifts, toys, and unnecessary clothes, all in the name of spoiling their children.

It’s so insidious that many parents go into debt each holiday season. Between gifts, swag, and travel, the average American family spends $1,050 at the holidays according to a 2019 National Retail Federation study reported by USA Today.

You can and should fight the urge. But parents overspend on gifts and toys all the time, so it bears including here.

10. Electronics

Increasingly, kids need electronics for schoolwork, not just as frivolous gifts. In the era of COVID-19, they’ve become mandatory learning tools.

Laptops and tablets aren’t cheap though, and they come with notoriously short lifespans as they slip into obsolescence after a few short years. Between the time a child is old enough to use one and the time they move out and pay their own bills, they’ll likely go through dozens of devices between phones, tablets, laptops, and gadgets that haven’t been invented yet but will be all the rage 15 years from now.

Added together, that comes to tens of thousands of dollars.

11. Travel Costs

My wife and I once looked up the cheapest flights for the following week from our then home. We booked flights to Bulgaria for $160 round trip per person and spent only a few hundred dollars over the entire next week.

That doesn’t happen when you have kids, for several reasons.

First, you can’t just up and go during the travel offseason when you feel like it. Your kids have school, so you have to travel when everyone else and their mother travels: during school holidays. Which means always traveling during the expensive high season.

Second, you have to pay for more, well, everything. More airline tickets. More hotel rooms, or a larger home on Airbnb. And then come the meals, entertainment, entrance passes, and so forth. All of it costs more money.

When you travel with an infant, you can avoid many of those costs. But they don’t stay infants very long, and soon you find yourself traveling with teenagers who insist on doing the exact opposite of what you want to do. So you end up paying to do both.

And good luck doing low-key travel like backpacking or hiking trips with social media-addicted kids and teens.

If you really want to travel the way you used to with your spouse, you end up either having to hire a nanny or ship your kids off to summer camp — both of which cost an arm and a leg in themselves.

12. Life Insurance

Many couples can responsibly dodge life insurance, provided they both work. If the worst happens, the surviving spouse can still pay their bills, albeit with the possible need to downsize.

Add children to the mix, however, and you have more mouths to feed — plus all the other expenses outlined above. Losing one spouse, particularly a primary breadwinner, could tip the family into poverty or at the very least require a massive, painful change in lifestyle.

Having children doesn’t necessarily require you to buy life insurance. I don’t have it, as one of the many side benefits of the FIRE lifestyle. But when you have children, you need to plan for contingencies like losing a spouse, and making sure your family can survive without them.

Often that means a life insurance policy, and even when it doesn’t, you still need a plan in place.


Final Word

Having children is not all financial doom and gloom. Yes, some expenses remain unavoidable, no matter how frugally you live. But many of the expenses above represent average expenses among parents with little financial literacy. You can minimize many of them with a little more awareness, and avoid others entirely.

The costs of raising children also operate on an economy of scale. While you and your spouse don’t want to share a bedroom with your child after the first few months, you can put two children in the same second bedroom, for example. Younger children can benefit from hand-me-downs such as cribs, strollers, and clothes. And once you bite the bullet to buy a minivan, having a third child doesn’t change your transportation needs any further.

It doesn’t have to cost $745,634 to raise a child. But it certainly can if you’re not careful.

Source: moneycrashers.com

5 Reasons You Should Pay for a Pre-Drywall Inspection

When building a new home, there are architectural requirements along with city and state codes that the builder must follow; and while general builder inspections are required along the way, it’s still a good idea to pay for your own inspections, especially the pre-drywall inspection. 

If you’re building (or thinking about building) a new home, congratulations! Unlike buying an existing home, you get to select everything you want from top to bottom, inside and out, to create your dream home. We’re currently building our new home and recently had our pre-drywall inspection. You usually don’t hear much about these kinds of inspections, so I wanted to share with you why we did a pre-drywall inspection, and what we learned.

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Our soon to be new home!

Isn’t the Builder’s Pre-Drywall Inspection Enough?

During the builder’s inspection, the builder will go over anything you added during the design process,  explain how things work, and show you where things are located inside your walls before the drywall is added. It’s the perfect time to ask questions — but what if you don’t know what to ask? This is where a pre-drywall inspection is beneficial.

Think of it as more of a pre-drywall “walk through”  and not so much of a traditional inspection. The purpose is to look at every aspect of the home, not just the pretty parts. If there are potential issues with the foundation, plumbing, electrical or roof, it’s better to address them sooner and not after signing the papers and moving in.

(READ MORE: The Pros and Cons of Building vs. Buying as a First-time Homeowner)

What the Process Looked Like for Us

We used Chad Brittingham with Cardinal Home Inspections, LLC out of Charleston, SC. The timing of this inspection was perfect because we scheduled to meet with the builder for their pre-drywall walk through a few days later.

Mr. Brittingham went through the house several times and with each pass, looked at different building aspects. The first pass involved the foundation, followed by framing, plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and the roof. We walked with him and he explained the reason for certain building items, pointed out any issues and took pictures for his report, and also took the time to explain how certain systems worked. As an inspector, his job was to comb through the fine details and find potential issues that we as buyers may overlook because we just don’t know. 

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Chad Brittingham, home inspector, testing the window function.

5 Benefits of a Pre-Drywall Inspection

  1. It can address any issues: Once the drywall is installed it will be more challenging to fix any issues involving the internal items behind the drywall. Cracks in foundation, poor building materials, mold, etc., will simply be a lot harder to see later.
  2. It can check on any modifications you added during your design meeting: We added recessed lighting to some rooms, extra outlets, a security light and a few other things. But, during our pre-drywall inspection, we discovered that a few of those items were not there. It’s a lot easier to add them before the dry wall; like the builder put it, it would be like doing surgery on your house and then leaving scars!
  3. You can visualize where important pieces are in your wall: Word of advice, take pictures. When you move in and you need to find a stud, you’ll have a better idea where they are located within the wall. Most importantly, you’ll know where plumbing, gas lines, and electrical lines are located so you can avoid them before you hang anything or secure anything to your walls. 
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Taking pictures before hanging drywall will help you avoid any costly repairs when affixing items to the wall.

4. It can reveal workmanship and materials: While builders have a construction manager who oversees everything, each part is handled by a different subcontractor. Getting a chance to see the work of the electrical team, plumber, roofer, HVAC, etc can not only ensure they’re not only using the proper materials, but that these systems are installed within code.

5. It can protect your investment and your peace of mind: You’ll have a written record of the issues that were found and you can document how it was fixed. This is your home that you’re spending your money on and you want to know that your home is sound. After the inspection was over, we were more confident that we picked a great home for our family.

Man bending over pointing to the floor in partially constructed house. Man bending over pointing to the floor in partially constructed house.
Mr. Brittingham pointing out construction details.

After the Pre-Drywall Inspection: Next Steps

At the end of the pre-drywall inspection, Mr. Brittingham gave us a couple items that he felt were of a greater concern to keep an eye on, but overall felt that the items he found were typical for this stage in the building process. Mr. Brittingham provided us with a full inspection report, including the items he found with pictures of areas that needed to be addressed, which I forwarded to the builder prior to our walkthrough. As the buyer, we definitely felt our inspection better prepared us for the walk through with the builder.

While the builder is bound by certain laws and codes, and their own inspections, the pre-drywall inspection we paid for independently, is acting on our behalf as the buyer. I definitely don’t believe our builder is trying to “slide anything past us,” and we did our research on the builder prior to signing. This was just one more step to further protect our investment, which will ultimately protect our family. 

Need More Home Building Advice?

Be sure to check out the Homes.com “How to Build” section, with videos and articles covering a range of topics that’ll carry you on the building journey from start to finish!


Brooke has a lifestyle blog called Cribbs Style and currently lives in Charleston, SC. This wife, mom of two almost tweens, and mom of three fur children enjoys all things DIY and organizing. When she’s not helping others tackle the chaos of life, she’s either working out, at the beach, or just enjoying time with family and friends.

Source: homes.com

Local Market Outlook: Why First-Time Buyers Love Pittsburgh

Real estate observers did a double take when a city that once defined the term “rust belt” came in first or tied for first in five national rankings of the best cities for first-time buyers and millennials over the past year. After the big steel mills closed 40 years ago, Pittsburgh’s housing market plunged into a multi-year economic depression. It never experienced the housing boom 15 years ago. During the boom and the recovery from the Great Recession, home prices in many markets rose much faster than they did in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh SkylinePittsburgh Skyline

In some ways, Pittsburgh’s real estate economy was several years ahead of national trends. By 2010, years before the recovery took hold in most markets, homes in Pittsburgh started to appreciate as the regional economy went through a transition. Once synonymous with shuttered steel mills and unemployment peaks, Pittsburgh has quietly undergone an economic renaissance and today is a hub for artificial intelligence, robotics, and biomedical companies. Pittsburgh recovered from the Great Recession faster than most markets, but never experienced the rampant appreciation that characterized most East and West Coast markets.

When the housing bubble burst in 2008, Pittsburgh was already in recovery. However, unlike many markets that flourished during the boom and the recent recovery, appreciation in Pittsburgh never exceeded local income levels. “Unlike in other cities, home ownership in Pittsburgh has little risk but also little reward. From almost any perspective, Pittsburgh’s housing market lagged or ran counter to the national trends,” commented Pittsburgh’s MetroGuide Magazine.

All Real Estate is Local

Pittsburgh is an excellent example of the maxim “All real estate is local.” The superheated real estate markets that developed in response to millennial-generated demand and shrinking inventories is now a liability. First-time buyers, who are critical players in housing markets, are driven away by prices far above their means. They are discovering markets like Pittsburgh that never experienced the volatile booms and busts of recent years.

Some 71% of average wage earners could not afford to buy a home in 71% of America’s counties in the first quarter of 2019. The lack of affordable housing has risen to critical levels in the past three years. Unaffordability is now the most crucial factor for prospective first-time buyers. Though largely immune from national trends as it experienced its renaissance, Pittsburgh prices are currently rising faster as inventories shrink and demand grows. Pittsburgh home values are forecasted to grow 7.1% in 2019  but Pittsburgh will remain a good buy for the near future; its median home was $142,800 in 2018, only about 55% of the national median of $259,300.

In many markets today, many first-time buyers who qualify for a mortgage still can’t find a home they can afford. More expensive markets have severe shortages of starter homes that first-time buyers and low-earning households can afford. Pittsburgh did not experience the conversion of large numbers of foreclosures into rentals that reduced single-family housing stocks in many markets after the housing bubble burst. It also has a healthy supply of condos and townhomes for first-time and lower-income buyers. Some 55.8% of Pittsburgh families who make $55,000 or less in household income owned a home in 2017.

Pittsburgh’s housing stock is growing slowly. Just like the rest of the nation, new home construction has not kept up with demand. “During the nine years since the recession started, there has been an average of 1,920 new single-family detached homes started. The average for the last five – which covers the period in which Pittsburgh saw strong job growth – has been 1,962,” reported Pittsburgh Metroguide.

Pittsburgh is an excellent market for first-time buyers because of the unique path its local economy took over the past 20 years.  While other markets experienced a boom and bust cycle from 2008 to 2013, Pittsburgh improved incrementally as local employment and incomes grew. In recent years, however, Pittsburgh is developing problems common to other major markets.  Prices are forecasted to rise faster than the national median this year. Rising demand is putting pressure on supplies, and new construction is not filling the gap.

Pittsburgh in the Spotlight

Here is what recent national rankings have said about Pittsburgh.

HSH

HSH.com ranked Pittsburgh first among ten metros that cost less than $1000 a month. With a 10% down payment, homebuyers in the Pittsburgh metro area would need an annual income of $42,611.03, as the PITI (and mortgage insurance) payment would rise to $994.26 per month.

Bankrate

According to the 2019 Bankrate Best/Worst Metros for First-time Buyers Study, Pittsburgh topped the list of metropolitan markets where homeownership is attainable, safe and fun for residents. Markets were ranked by affordability, culture, job market, market tightness, and safety.

LendingTree

Pittsburgh tied with Cleveland for first place as best for first-time homebuyers. Using data from its mortgage platform, LendingTree created a winning profile for Pittsburgh:

  • Average down payment amount: $34,049
  • Average down payment percentage: 15%
  • Share of buyers using an FHA mortgage: 36.5%
  • Average FHA down payment as a percentage of the average down payment for all loans: 31.2%
  • Percentage of buyers who have credit scores below 680: 41.3%

“Pittsburgh, Cleveland, and Oklahoma City offer first-time homebuyers the easiest time purchasing a home. While these metros may not necessarily have the lowest credit score requirements or down payments in the country, they consistently rank highly across all six metrics that were considered in this study. Overall, Pittsburgh and Cleveland are tied for first place, while Oklahoma City is third,” said LendingTree.

SmartAsset

“The Steel City secured the top spot as the best city for first-time homebuyers. According to our data, the average price per square foot of a home in Pittsburgh is only $91, 13th-lowest in our study,” concluded SmartAsset’s Best Cities for First-Time Homebuyers in 2018.

“First-time homebuyers can also feel relatively confident that their home won’t lose value right off the bat. Pittsburgh had zero quarters of negative growth in home values between 2012 and 2017. For that metric, the city is tied for first,” the study found.

Apartment List

“No. 1 Pittsburgh tops the list of the best metros for millennials, with high marks for jobs and affordability,” the Apartment List’s Report Card: What are the Top US Metros for Millennials? reported. The city earns higher than average livability scores, with renters particularly satisfied with the city’s low crime level and options to date and make friends. Devastated by deindustrialization and the collapse of the steel industry in the 1980s, Pittsburgh has been undergoing a revitalization.

“The city has moved away from factory jobs and today attracts young, educated workers. The number of Pittsburgh residents 25 years of age and older with a college degree grew by 37.3% between 2000 and 2013. Tech giants, such as Apple, Facebook, Google, and Uber, have opened offices in Pittsburgh, and the city has a thriving food and art scene,” wrote Apartment List’s Sydney Bennet.

“While large coastal metros, from San Francisco to New York City, offer strong job markets and plenty of entertainment options, affordability concerns make them a poor choice for many millennials. Inland metros, including Pittsburgh, Provo, and Madison, are some of the best locations for millennials. These metros offer millennials more than just affordable housing options. They also provide strong job markets and vibrant social scenes” she said.

Source: SmartAsset


Steve Cook is the editor of the Down Payment Report. He is a member of the board of the National Association of Real Estate Editors and writes for several leading Web sites, including Inman News. From 1999 to 2007 he was vice president for public affairs at the National Association of Realtors.

Source: homes.com