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

The Pros & Cons of Offering Owner Financing (When You Sell Your Home)

Sometimes, home sellers find a buyer eager to purchase but unable to finance the property with traditional mortgage financing. Sellers then have a choice: lose the buyer, or lend the mortgage to the buyer themselves.

If you want to sell a property you own free and clear, with no mortgage, you can theoretically finance a buyer’s full first mortgage. Alternatively, you could offer just a second mortgage, to bridge the gap between what the buyer can borrow from a conventional lender and the cash they can put down.

Should you ever consider offering financing? What’s in it for you? And most importantly, how do you protect yourself against losses?

Before taking the plunge to offer seller financing, make sure you understand all the pros, cons, and options available to you as “the bank” when lending money to a buyer.

Advantages to Offering Seller Financing

Although most sellers never even consider offering financing, a few find themselves forced to contemplate it.

For some sellers, it could be that their home lies in a cool market with little demand. Others own unique properties that appeal only to a specific type of buyer or that conventional mortgage lenders are wary to touch. Or the house may need repairs in order to meet habitability requirements for conventional loans.

Sometimes the buyer may simply be unable to qualify for a conventional loan, but you might know they’re good for the money if you have an existing relationship with them.

There are plenty of perks in it for the seller to offer financing. Consider these pros as you weigh the decision to extend seller financing.

1. Attract & Convert More Buyers

The simplest advantage is the one already outlined: You can settle on your home even when conventional mortgage lenders decline the buyer.

Beyond salvaging a lost deal, sellers can also potentially attract more buyers. “Seller Financing Available” can make an effective marketing bullet in your property listing.

If you want to sell your home in 30 days, offering seller financing can draw in more showings and offers.

Bear in mind that seller financing doesn’t only appeal to buyers with shoddy credit. Many buyers simply prefer the flexibility of negotiating a custom loan with the seller rather than trying to fit into the square peg of a loan program.

2. Earn Ongoing Income

As a lender, you get the benefit of ongoing monthly interest payments, just like a bank.

It’s a source of passive income, rather than a one-time payout. In one fell swoop, you not only sell your home but also invest the proceeds for a return.

Best of all, it’s a return you get to determine yourself.

3. You Set the Interest Rate

It’s your loan, which means you get to call the shots on what you charge. You may decide seller financing is only worth your while at 6% interest, or 8%, or 10%.

Of course, the buyer will likely try to negotiate the interest rate. After all, nearly everything in life is negotiable, and the terms of seller financing are no exception.

4. You Can Charge Upfront Fees

Mortgage lenders earn more than just interest on their loans. They charge a slew of one-time, upfront fees as well.

Those fees start with the origination fee, better known as “points.” One point is equal to 1% of the mortgage loan, so they add up fast. Two points on a $250,000 mortgage comes to $5,000, for example.

But lenders don’t stop at points. They also slap a laundry list of fixed fees on top, often surpassing $1,000 in total. These include fees such as a “processing fee,” “underwriting fee,” “document preparation fee,” “wire transfer fee,” and whatever other fees they can plausibly charge.

When you’re acting as the bank, you can charge these fees too. Be fair and transparent about fees, but keep in mind that you can charge comparable fees to your “competition.”

5. Simple Interest Amortization Front-Loads the Interest

Most loans, from mortgage loans to auto loans and beyond, calculate interest based on something called “simple interest amortization.” There’s nothing simple about it, and it very much favors the lender.

In short, it front-loads the interest on the loan, so the borrower pays most of the interest in the beginning of the loan and most of the principal at the end of the loan.

For example, if you borrow $300,000 at 8% interest, your mortgage payment for a 30-year loan would be $2,201.29. But the breakdown of principal versus interest changes dramatically over those 30 years.

  • Your first monthly payment would divide as $2,000 going toward interest, with only $201.29 going toward paying down your principal balance.
  • At the end of the loan, the final monthly payment divides as $14.58 going toward interest and $2,186.72 going toward principal.

It’s why mortgage lenders are so keen to keep refinancing your loan. They earn most of their money at the beginning of the loan term.

The same benefit applies to you, as you earn a disproportionate amount of interest in the first few years of the loan. You can also structure these lucrative early years to be the only years of the loan.

6. You Can Set a Time Limit

Not many sellers want to hold a mortgage loan for the next 30 years. So they don’t.

Instead, they structure the loan as a balloon mortgage. While the monthly payment is calculated as if the loan is amortized over the full 15 or 30 years, the loan must be paid in full within a certain time limit.

That means the buyer must either sell the property within that time limit or refinance the mortgage to pay off your loan.

Say you sign a $300,000 mortgage, amortized over 30 years but with a three-year balloon. The monthly payment would still be $2,201.29, but the buyer must pay you back the full remaining balance within three years of buying the property from you.

You get to earn interest on your money, and you still get your full payment within three years.

7. No Appraisal

Lenders require a home appraisal to determine the property’s value and condition.

If the property fails to appraise for the contract sales price, the lender either declines the loan or bases the loan on the appraised value rather than the sales price — which usually drives the borrower to either reduce or withdraw their offer.

As the seller offering financing, you don’t need an appraisal. You know the condition of the home, and you want to sell the home for as much as possible, regardless of what an appraiser thinks.

Foregoing the appraisal saves the buyer money and saves everyone time.

8. No Habitability Requirement

When mortgage lenders order an appraisal, the appraiser must declare the house to be either habitable or not.

If the house isn’t habitable, conventional and FHA lenders require the seller to make repairs to put it in habitable condition. Otherwise, they decline the loan, and the buyer must take out a renovation loan (such as an FHA 203k loan) instead.

That makes it difficult to sell fixer-uppers, and it puts downward pressure on the price. But if you want to sell your house as-is, without making any repairs, you can do so by offering to finance it yourself.

For certain buyers, such as handy buyers who plan to gradually make repairs themselves, seller financing can be a perfect solution.

9. Tax Implications

When you sell your primary residence, the IRS offers an exemption for the first $250,000 of capital gains if you’re single, or $500,000 if you’re married.

However, if you earn more than that exemption, or if you sell an investment property, you still have to pay capital gains tax. One way to reduce your capital gains tax is to spread your gains over time through seller financing.

It’s typically considered an installment sale for tax purposes, helping you spread the gains across multiple tax years. Speak with an accountant or other financial advisor about exactly how to structure your loan for the greatest tax benefits.


Drawbacks to Seller Financing

Seller financing comes with plenty of risks. Most of the risks center around the buyer-borrower defaulting, they don’t end there.

Make sure you understand each of these downsides in detail before you agree to and negotiate seller financing. You could potentially be risking hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single transaction.

1. Labor & Headaches to Arrange

Selling a home takes plenty of work on its own. But when you agree to provide the financing as well, you accept a whole new level of labor.

After negotiating the terms of financing on top of the price and other terms of sale, you then need to collect a loan application with all of the buyer’s information and screen their application carefully.

That includes collecting documentation like several years’ tax returns, several months’ pay stubs, bank statements, and more. You need to pull a credit report and pick through the buyer’s credit history with a proverbial fine-toothed comb.

You must also collect the buyer’s new homeowner insurance information, which must include you as the mortgagee.

You need to coordinate with a title company to handle the title search and settlement. They prepare the deed and transfer documents, but they still need direction from you as the lender.

Be sure to familiarize yourself with the home closing process, and remember you need to play two roles as both the seller and the lender.

Then there’s all the legal loan paperwork. Conventional lenders sometimes require hundreds of pages of it, all of which must be prepared and signed. Although you probably won’t go to the same extremes, somebody still needs to prepare it all.

2. Potential Legal Fees

Unless you have experience in the mortgage industry, you probably need to hire an attorney to prepare the legal documents such as the note and promise to pay. This means paying the legal fees.

Granted, you can pass those fees on to the borrower. But that limits what you can charge for your upfront loan fees.

Even hiring the attorney involves some work on your part. Keep this in mind before moving forward.

3. Loan Servicing Labor

Your responsibilities don’t end when the borrower signs on the dotted line.

You need to make sure the borrower pays on time every month, from now until either the balloon deadline or they repay the loan in full. If they fail to pay on time, you need to send late notices, charge them late fees, and track their balance.

You also have to confirm that they pay the property taxes on time and keep the homeowners insurance current. If they fail to do so, you then have to send demand letters and have a system in place to pay these bills on their behalf and charge them for it.

Every year, you also need to send the borrower 1098 tax statements for their mortgage interest paid.

In short, servicing a mortgage is work. It isn’t as simple as cashing a check each month.

4. Foreclosure

If the borrower fails to pay their mortgage, you have only one way to forcibly collect your loan: foreclosure.

The process is longer and more expensive than eviction and requires hiring an attorney. That costs money, and while you can legally add that cost to the borrower’s loan balance, you need to cough up the cash yourself to cover it initially.

And there’s no guarantee you’ll ever be able to collect that money from the defaulting borrower.

Foreclosure is an ugly experience all around, and one that takes months or even years to complete.

5. The Buyer Can Declare Bankruptcy on You

Say the borrower stops paying, you file a foreclosure, and eight months later, you finally get an auction date. Then the morning of the auction, the borrower declares bankruptcy to stop the foreclosure.

The auction is canceled, and the borrower works out a payment plan with the bankruptcy court judge, which they may or may not actually pay.

Should they fail to pay on their bankruptcy payment plan, you have to go through the process all over again, and all the while the borrowers are living in your old home without paying you a cent.

6. Risk of Losses

If the property goes to foreclosure auction, there’s no guarantee anyone will bid enough to cover the borrower’s loan debt.

You may have lent $300,000 and shelled out another $20,000 in legal fees. But the bidding at the foreclosure auction might only reach $220,000, leaving you with a $100,000 shortfall.

Unfortunately, you have nothing but bad options at that point. You can take the $100,000 loss, or you can take ownership of the property yourself.

Choosing the latter means more months of legal proceedings and filing eviction to remove the nonpaying buyer from the property. And if you choose to evict them, you may not like what you find when you remove them.

7. Risk of Property Damage

After the defaulting borrower makes you jump through all the hoops of foreclosing, holding an auction, taking the property back, and filing for eviction, don’t delude yourself that they’ll scrub and clean the property and leave it in sparkling condition for you.

Expect to walk into a disaster. At the very least, they probably haven’t performed any maintenance or upkeep on the property. In my experience, most evicted tenants leave massive amounts of trash behind and leave the property filthy.

In truly terrible scenarios, they intentionally sabotage the property. I’ve seen disgruntled tenants pour concrete down drains, systematically punch holes in every cabinet, and destroy every part of the property they can.

8. Collection Headaches & Risks

In all of the scenarios above where you come out behind, you can pursue the defaulting borrower for a deficiency judgment. But that means filing suit in court, winning it, and then actually collecting the judgment.

Collecting is not easy to do. There’s a reason why collection accounts sell for pennies on the dollar — most never get collected.

You can hire a collection agency to try collecting for you by garnishing the defaulted borrower’s wages or putting a lien against their car. But expect the collection agency to charge you 40% to 50% of all collected funds.

You might get lucky and see some of the judgment or you might never see a penny of it.


Options to Protect Yourself When Offering Seller Financing

Fortunately, you have a handful of options at your disposal to minimize the risks of seller financing.

Consider these steps carefully as you navigate the unfamiliar waters of seller financing, and try to speak with other sellers who have offered it to gain the benefit of their experience.

1. Offer a Second Mortgage Only

Instead of lending the borrower the primary mortgage loan for hundreds of thousands of dollars, another option is simply lending them a portion of the down payment.

Imagine you sell your house for $330,000 to a buyer who has $30,000 to put toward a down payment. You could lend the buyer $300,000 as the primary mortgage, with them putting down 10%.

Or you could let them get a loan for $270,000 from a conventional mortgage lender, and you could lend them another $30,000 to help them bridge the gap between what they have in cash and what the primary lender offers.

This strategy still leaves you with most of the purchase price at settlement and lets you risk less of your own money on a loan. But as a second mortgage holder, you accept second lien position

That means in the event of foreclosure, the first mortgagee gets paid first, and you only receive money after the first mortgage is paid in full.

2. Take Additional Collateral

Another way to protect yourself is to require more collateral from the buyer. That collateral could come in many forms. For example, you could put a lien against their car or another piece of real estate if they own one.

The benefits of this are twofold. First, in the event of default, you can take more than just the house itself to cover your losses. Second, the borrower knows they’ve put more on the line, so it serves as a stronger deterrent for defaults.

3. Screen Borrowers Thoroughly

There’s a reason why mortgage lenders are such sticklers for detail when underwriting loans. In a literal sense, as a lender, you are handing someone hundreds of thousands of dollars and saying, “Pay me back, pretty please.”

Only lend to borrowers with a long history of outstanding credit. If they have shoddy credit — or any red flags in their credit history — let them borrow from someone else. Be just as careful of borrowers with little in the way of credit history.

The only exception you should consider is accepting a cosigner with strong, established credit to reinforce a borrower with bad or no credit. For example, you might find a recent college graduate with minimal credit who wants to buy, and you could accept their parents as cosigners.

You also could require additional collateral from the cosigner, such as a lien against their home.

Also review the borrower’s income carefully, and calculate their debt-to-income ratios. The front-end ratio is the percentage of their monthly income required to cover all housing costs: principal and interest, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and any condominium or homeowners association fees.

For reference, conventional mortgage lenders allow a maximum front-end ratio of 28%.

The back-end ratio includes not just housing costs, but also overall debt obligations. That includes student loans, auto loans, credit card payments, and all other mandatory monthly debt payments.

Conventional mortgage loans typically allow 36% at most. Any more than that and the buyer probably can’t afford your home.

4. Charge Fees for Your Trouble

Mortgage lenders charge points and fees. If you’re serving as the lender, you should do the same.

It’s more work for you to put together all the loan paperwork. And you will almost certainly have to pay an attorney to help you, so make sure you pass those costs along to the borrower.

Beyond your own labor and costs, you also need to make sure you’re being compensated for your risk. This loan is an investment for you, so the rewards must justify the risk.

5. Set a Balloon

You don’t want to be holding this mortgage note 30 years from now. Or, for that matter, to force your heirs to sort out this mortgage on your behalf after you shuffle off this mortal coil.

Set a balloon date for the mortgage between three and five years from now. You get to collect mostly interest in the meantime, and then get the rest of your money once the buyer refinances or sells.

Besides, the shorter the loan term, the less opportunity there is for the buyer to face some financial crisis of their own and stop paying you.

6. Be Listed as the Mortgagee on the Insurance

Insurance companies issue a declarations page (or “dec page”) listing the mortgagee. In the event of damage to the property and an insurance claim, the mortgagee gets notified and has some rights and protections against losses.

Review the insurance policy carefully before greenlighting the settlement. Make sure your loan documents include a requirement that the borrower send you updated insurance documents every year and consequences if they fail to do so.

7. Hire a Loan Servicing Company

You may multitalented and an expert in several areas. But servicing mortgage loans probably isn’t one of them.

Consider outsourcing the loan servicing to a company that specializes in it. They send monthly statements, late notices, 1098 forms, and escrow statements (if you escrow for insurance and taxes), and verify that taxes and insurance are current each year. If the borrower defaults, they can hire a foreclosure attorney to handle the legal proceedings.

Examples of loan servicing companies include LoanCare and Note Servicing Center, both of whom accept seller-financing notes.

8. Offer Lease-to-Own Instead

The foreclosure process is significantly longer and more expensive than the eviction process.

In the case of seller financing, you sell the property to the buyer and only hold the mortgage note. But if you sign a lease-to-own agreement, you maintain ownership of the property and the buyer is actually a tenant who simply has a legal right to buy in the future.

They can work on improving their credit over the next year or two, and you can collect rent. When they’re ready, they can buy from you — financed with a conventional mortgage and paying you in full.

If the worst happens and they default, you can evict them and either rent or sell the property to someone else.

9. Explore a Wrap Mortgage

If you have an existing mortgage on the property, you may be able to leave it in place and keep paying it, even after selling the property and offering seller financing.

Wrap mortgages, or wraparound mortgages, are a bit trickier and come with some legal complications. But when executed right, they can be a win-win for both you and the buyer.

Say you have a 30-year mortgage for $250,000 at 3.5% interest. You sell the property for $330,000, and you offer seller financing of $300,000 for 6% interest. The buyer pays you $30,000 as a down payment.

Ordinarily, you would pay off your existing mortgage for $250,000 upon selling it. Most mortgages include a “due-on-sale” clause, requiring the loan to be paid in full upon selling the property.

But in some circumstances and some states, you may be able to avoid triggering the due-on-sale clause and leave the loan in place.

You keep paying your mortgage payment of $1,122.61, even as the borrower pays you $1,798.65 per month. In a couple of years when they refinance, they pay off your previous mortgage in full, plus the additional balance they owe you.

Of course, you still run the risk that the borrower stops paying you. Then you’re saddled with making your monthly mortgage payment on the property, even as you slog through the foreclosure process to try and recover your losses.


Final Word

Offering seller financing comes with risks. But those risks may be worth taking, especially for hard-to-sell properties.

Only you can decide what risk-reward ratio you can live with, and negotiate loan terms to ensure you come out on the right side of the ratio. For unique or other difficult-to-finance properties, seller financing may be the only way to sell for what the property’s worth.

Before you write off the returns as low, remember that your APR will be far higher than the interest rate charged.

Beyond the upfront fees you can charge, you’ll also benefit from simple interest amortization, which front-loads the interest so that nearly all of the monthly payment goes toward interest in the first few years — the only years you need to finance if you structure the loan as a balloon mortgage.

Just be sure to screen all borrowers extremely carefully, and to take as many precautions as you can. If the borrower can’t qualify for a conventional mortgage, consider that a glaring red flag. Seller financing involves risking many thousands of dollars in a single transaction, so take your time and get it right.

Source: moneycrashers.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

The psychology of being overworked and underpaid

Stressed woman with hands on her head looking at a laptop.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

A competitive salary is something we all strive for in our careers, but for some, the salary we know we deserve doesn’t necessarily match our reality. An employee may put in extra hours, take on more responsibilities and go the extra mile, but they still may not be properly compensated for their work. 

Being overworked and underpaid isn’t as uncommon as we think. According to a poll conducted by Gallup, 43 percent of U.S. workers believe they are underpaid. 

Unfortunately, this can have a negative impact on a person’s productivity, mental health and even credit health. So, what can you do if you feel you’re not being fairly paid at work? 

Read on to find out the psychological impact of being overworked and underpaid and how you can combat this issue—or jump straight to the infographic below. 

Impacts of being overworked and underpaid

Sometimes we’re so eager to accept a job that we settle for whatever salary we’re offered, only to find out that what we’re given doesn’t match the responsibilities we’ve taken on. Or, you may have been at a company for a while and experienced an increase in your workload but seen little to no increase in pay. 

Being overworked and underpaid can ultimately lead to a multitude of feelings that can cause more harm than good. Here are three signs you shouldn’t ignore:

Decrease in productivity

Employees who work long hours and have heavier workloads aren’t necessarily the most productive. Some may think the more hours you work, the more you’ll get done, but for most, this can have the opposite effect.

The more work an employee takes on, the more prone they become to mistakes. This can lead to feelings of burnout, sleep deprivation and work-life imbalance due to stress and the inability to keep up with the heavy workload. On top of that, if you’re being underpaid, it can make it extremely difficult to stay motivated in your role. 

Gallup found that 23 percent of employees felt burnt out almost always at work, according to a study made up of 7,500 full time employees. When it becomes hard to juggle workplace stress, people can find it difficult to function and stay productive. The same study conducted by Gallup also found that 13 percent of workers are less confident in their work performance when experiencing symptoms of burnout.

13% of workers are less confident in their work performance when feeling burnt out. Source: Gallup.

Employees may start to feel disconnected from their work and may even have built up resentment toward their employer because of their lack of compensation, causing a never-ending cycle of stress, burnout and lack of productivity. These feelings can ultimately impact employees’ overall well-being and mental health. 

Negative effects on your mental well-being 

Most people spend the majority of their time in the workplace. Unfortunately for some, the stresses from work can be hard to shut off even when leaving the office for the day. According to a study conducted by Wrike, 94 percent of employees said they felt stress at work and 54 percent said the stresses from work negatively affect their home life.

57.9% of employees said work has impacted their mental health in some way. Source: Paychex.

Long work hours, an increase in work-related tasks and insufficient pay can all start to take a toll on a person’s physical and mental health. A survey conducted by Paychex found that 57.9 percent of employees said work impacted their mental health in some way. 

Damaged credit health  

Aside from mental health and productivity, being underpaid can start to hurt your financial standing. Though your income doesn’t have a direct impact on your credit score, lack of income can make it more difficult to pay your bills on time. A survey by WalletHub found that 30 percent of respondents missed credit card payments because they didn’t have enough money. 

30% of people missed credit card payments because they didn’t have enough money. Source: WalletHub.

A Gallup poll also found that 55 percent of women feel they are underpaid for the amount of work they do, which could play into why they hold nearly two-thirds of the student loan debt in the U.S. With women receiving lower-than-average wages, keeping up with student loans and other debt payments becomes harder, thus affecting their overall credit health. 

6 ways to handle being underpaid 

Being underpaid is a problem that many people find themselves in and struggle to get out of. The only way to get out of this predicament is to take matters into your own hands. Here are six ways you can get out of being underpaid: 

1. Negotiate a competitive raise

Present your employer with an exact dollar amount and provide documentation of your work and performance.

Asking for a raise can seem scary and intimidating, but it’s an important step toward solving your problem. Though it’s not always the easiest thing to do, you’ll never know if you don’t ask. 

When asking for a raise, make sure you do your research on your industry’s salary range and provide an exact number when meeting with your employer. Providing an exact dollar amount as opposed to a salary range will show your employer that you know what you want and will make the negotiation process easier. Try aiming a little higher than what you would like to leave room for negotiation. When researching salary ranges, tools like Salary.com and LinkedIn’s salary tool can be a huge help. 

To support your case, come to the meeting with documentation to show your work and accomplishments thus far. Provide hard data, numbers, positive feedback you’ve received in the past and all of the ways you have helped and plan to help increase the company’s bottom line. The more evidence you provide, the better chance you have at landing that raise. 

2. Review company growth path and policies 

Schedule an official performance review with your employer to discuss your progress and an increase in pay.

Most companies give performance reviews and have a growth path clearly noted, so it may be worth revisiting your company policies first. Growth paths are important in understanding what’s expected from your employer in order to progress within the company and earn a higher wage. 

If you haven’t received an official review, get one on the schedule with your boss. A 2018 report found that 68 percent of executives say they learn about employees’ concerns for the first time during performance reviews. If you’re concerned about your growth within the company, don’t wait for your employer to come to you about it. 

3. Start a conversation about your workload

Consider decreasing your hours to alleviate workplace stress and create a healthier work-life balance.

If you’re continuing to work long hours and find the pay still isn’t worth it, it might be beneficial to have an open and honest conversation about the amount of work you’ve taken on. If your employer is unable to give you a raise, you may want to discuss cutting back on your hours or workload.

The result may not be an increase in pay, but you may be happier in your role and be able to perform better if they ease up on your day-to-day tasks. Your pay sometimes isn’t worth being unhappy at work. In fact, one of our studies on employee happiness found that 60 percent of Americans said they would take a job they loved with half their current income over one they hated. 

Employers may not be aware of the impact the extra work is having on you, so always try your best to be transparent about your load to find a healthy compromise. 

4. Start exploring other options 

Aside from monetary benefits, take other factors into consideration, such as health insurance coverage and time-off policies.

If your request for a raise gets denied and you still find yourself in the same predicament, you might want to start exploring other options. In fact, those experiencing symptoms of burnout at work are 2.6 times as likely to actively be looking for another job. 

Though monetary benefits are usually of the utmost importance, remember to consider other factors like health insurance options, flexible hours, vacation policies and overall company culture. The issues you experience in your current position can help you determine what you’re looking for in your next role. 

5. Consider quitting your job 

Make sure you’re in a good financial standing and have at least 3 to 6 months of pay saved.

At the end of the day, no job is worth putting your mental health at risk. If your current employer isn’t paying you what you deserve and you don’t feel fulfilled in your role, consider moving on. Now that you’ve done extensive research on your industry’s salary range, you’ll know what range to keep in mind when applying for other positions. 

Before jumping the gun and resigning from a position, make sure you’re financially prepared. In these situations, it’s smart to have at least three to six months’ worth of pay saved to give you some cushion during your job search. It may become more difficult to get approved for a credit card without a job, so having saved up income can help ensure you’re able to pay your credit balance. 

6. Know your worth 

Use Glassdoor’s Know Your Worth tool to compare salary levels according to location, experience level and job title.

Understanding your own worth means being clear on the value you can bring to a company. When you know your worth, asking for a raise and vocalizing your concerns will start to come naturally to you. 

Assess your own skills and level of expertise and be realistic with yourself. Once you’ve analyzed your own skills and industry’s expectations, you’ll have a better understanding of an appropriate wage. Glassdoor has a Know Your Worth tool that can help you determine salary ranges by title, experience level and location. 

The most important thing to remember is to not sell yourself short. Research from Glassdoor found that 59 percent of employees did not negotiate salary and accepted the first offer they were given. Know your worth and don’t settle for less than what you deserve. 

Money isn’t everything when it comes to employment, but it can certainly start to impact your career and personal growth if it remains stagnant. If your paycheck isn’t reflecting your worth, take action and make sure you’re getting the compensation that will set you up for further financial success. 

For tips on how to handle being overworked and underpaid, check out our infographic below.


Reviewed by Kenton Arbon, an Associate Attorney at Lexington Law Firm. Written by Lexington Law.

Kenton Arbon is an Associate Attorney in the Arizona office. Mr. Arbon was born in Bakersfield, California, and grew up in the Northwest. He earned his B.A. in Business Administration, Human Resources Management, while working as an Oregon State Trooper. His interest in the law lead him to relocate to Arizona, attend law school, and graduate from Arizona State College of Law in 2017. Since graduating from law school, Mr. Arbon has worked in multiple compliance domains including anti-money laundering, Medicare Part D, contracts, and debt negotiation. Mr. Arbon is licensed to practice law in Arizona. He is located in the Phoenix office.

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.

Source: lexingtonlaw.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.

pre-drywall inspectionpre-drywall inspection
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. 

pre-drywall inspectionpre-drywall inspection
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. 
pre-drywall inspectionpre-drywall inspection
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

Helping Kids Transition Into a New Home

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Moving an entire home is stressful, and takes a lot out of us as adults. But for kids, their whole world gets turned upside down when moving from one home to another. Not only must they get used to a new home, but also a new neighborhood, new friends, and possibly a new school. If it’s a long distance move, kids can even have a harder time adjusting. In this post we will cover everything you need to know about helping your children transition into your new home.

Our kids are two and seven years old. While our oldest moved across the country with us when he was two years old, this move was a big one for him at his age because he is leaving behind his school, his friends and all he has ever known. Knowing we were moving months in advance helped get both children emotionally prepared. We started talking about the move, showed them the spot on the map we would be moving to and included them in our home search using Homes.com. When it came to packing, loading the moving truck and cleaning the house before we moved, we gave them each a task to make them feel equal in this move with us.

Once we were on our way, reality started to set in and our oldest began to unravel. Emotions were strong, so I knew the second we arrived at our new home, I wanted to make the experience as comforting as possible.

The first thing I did upon arrival to our new home was let the kids run in and explore their bedrooms. This is always the most fun and exciting part for kids! But, the excitement doesn’t last too long, so here are my tips for making your new home an inviting one for your children:

1. Fill Your Home With Familiar Scents 

One of our strongest senses is smell, and new homes can often carry a scent of the people who lived there before you. The first thing I do is light a familiar candle or diffuse essential oils that my children will recognize. I also made sure that, before we moved, I had their sheets freshly washed and packed them with my favorite dryer sheets. This helps calm their senses and relax, making them instantly feel at home.


2. Welcome Them Home 

A fun little idea I had for my kids this move was creating “welcome home” baskets for each of them. This not only helps with those new home jitters but also helps keep them entertained while you unload and unpack. Win-win! Each basket was filled with bubbles, their favorite snacks, a new bedtime book, a nightlight, a cuddle buddy, and removable stickers for the windows and walls to help them feel like they were decorating their own room. 

3. Set Up Their Rooms First

 I know, I know, you have a whole house to put together… but, when moving with young children I urge you to focus on their rooms first. Set up their beds, put their clothes away and find a place for all of their toys. This will help your children feel comfortable in their own space, and with toys in their places your children can stay entertained while you get to work on the rest of the house.

4. Go on a Scavenger Hunt 

Once you are ready for a break from all the unpacking, one of the best ways you can help your children explore your new neighborhood and meet new friends is to go on a scavenger hunt! I created a printable version so you can have fun exploring your own neighborhood. 

5. Forts Are Fun! 

After all of those boxes are unpacked, let the kids have some fun! Make box forts and create an arsenal of packing paper “bombs” for a good ol’ fashioned paper ball fight!


6. Navigate Feelings 

Help your child through their feelings and change. If your child is still struggling with missing their old home, friends, and neighborhood, we were given this next activity from our therapist: Take a large sheet of paper and draw a line down the middle. Have your child draw on one side what they left behind, and on the other side, everything they have, want or wish for their new home. When we did this with our little one, he started off with a lot on the “left behind” side, but the more we did this exercise (once a week), the more he began to put on the other side. Allowing your kids to draw out in picture form helps them to navigate feelings that they may not have the words to tell you.


7. Make Memories 

Lastly, to help your children close one chapter and open another, include them in making a memory scrapbook of your old home and friends. Let this be something fun for them. It’s not meant to be perfect. Gather up stickers, colorful paper, pens and printed photographs. I suggest getting a 1/2” binder, page protector sheets and 8.5 x 11” sheets of scrapbook paper to decorate. The kids can create each page how they want it to be, slide it into the page protectors and you have an easy and cheap scrapbook with all of their old memories, and it’s a book that they created themselves.

We have done each of these with our own children, and while they do miss their old friends quite a bit, they have made more friends here than they ever have. Our new neighborhood has Friday night get-togethers at the park where the kids play and we all order pizza. The weekends are filled with days at our neighborhood pool and the kids are always running around playing some kind of pretend game. There are so many more positives to our new home than negatives, and while it may take kids a little longer to see it, they will get there, with a little bit of love, comforting and fun along the way.


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.

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Source: homes.com

8 Reasons to Call San Diego Home

When throwing around the idea of moving, we did a lot of research on where might be best for our family. Being a Marine Corps family for so long, we never had a choice in where we wanted to raise a family. Once that part of our life was over, we knew we wanted to plant roots somewhere… but the question was, where?

Since we were in Georgia at the time, we thought about staying nearby and moving to South Carolina, North Carolina or Tennessee. We loved the Smoky Mountains but, while the cost of living was affordable, finding a job for my husband proved difficult.  We’d also still be far away from family as we had been for five years.

I kept feeling an urge to move back home. The problem was, I was raised in one of the most expensive places to live in the country. Still, as scary as that was, something just felt right about it. I lost my mother much too young, and lost my grandmother while we were living in Georgia. Living far from home made me realize how important it is to be near family, especially when raising young children.

WHY WE DECIDED ON SAN DIEGO:

After a long discussion, we set our sights on San Diego. Here’s why:

  1. Family – this was our top motivating factor in deciding to move back.  We’d have family like grandparents and aunts close by, a village of people to spend time with our children and love them–not just once or twice a year, but year-round.
  2. Outdoor activities for families – there is so much to do for families in San Diego and all of Southern California. You can spend a day at the beach, snowboarding, or horseback riding–or all three in the same week!
  3. Job opportunity – while the cost of living in San Diego is high, the job opportunities are much better than the other cities we considered. For my desire to expand my business and connect with other bloggers, San Diego and Southern California both offer a huge community.

EXPLORING OUR NEW CITY:

If you are thinking of calling San Diego home or just planning a visit, here are a few of our family-friendly favorite places you should put on your must-see list:

  1. Legoland California (Carlsbad, CA) – Legoland is literally just miles from our new home and if you are a San Diego resident with young kids, buying a yearly pass is a must! You can head into the park in the morning, let the kids get out some energy, then head home by lunchtime. Or, make a quick afternoon visit after school. The yearly passes are some of the cheapest I have seen for an amusement park and the park is one of the easiest I’ve had to navigate through.
  2. The Flower Fields (Carlsbad, CA) – Not far from Legoland, the Carlsbad Flower Fields are open from March through May. For a low entry fee, you can stroll through rows of vibrant ranunculus. Toward the end of April you can also hop on over to the strawberry field down the road and pick your own strawberries! 
  3. Corvette Diner (Liberty Station – San Diego, CA) – Take a step back in time to the days of Elvis and Marilyn Monroe at this 50s-themed diner with an actual Corvette inside! Everything about this restaurant is authentically 50s and is such a fun environment for kids, especially for birthdays and events.
  4. Seaport Village (San Diego, CA) – One of our favorite places to frequent on the weekends is Seaport Village. We love strolling along the San Diego waterfront, browsing the quaint shops, and finishing off the day with an ice cream cone from Ben & Jerry’s while watching the sunset. 
  5. Balboa Park (San Diego, CA) – Talk about a sight to see! Balboa Park has been a part of San Diego since 1933. The park is full of museums, walking trails, gardens, activities and events year round. Not to mention it is within walking distance to the San Diego Zoo and has some of the most amazing Spanish architecture in all of San Diego.

Narrowing it down to just five favorites was hard, there’s just so much that San Diego has to offer! Don’t believe me? Just Google “San Diego for families.”

If San Diego may not be your city of choice, I encourage you to get out and explore your own hometown city whether it is new to you or you have lived there your entire life. Sometimes all it takes is getting in the car and driving with no destination to fall in love with your city all over again. Love where you live. – 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