12 Cheapest Small Towns in America

Small-town living has plenty of perks: light traffic, a strong sense of community and a slower pace of life. Perhaps best of all, there’s the cost of living, which typically is cheaper in small towns than in expensive big cities.

To get a better sense of what inexpensive small-town living really has to offer, we compiled a list of the 12 cheapest small towns in America, with small towns defined as places with populations of 10,000 to 50,000 people. We based our rankings on the Council for Community and Economic Research’s (C2ER) calculations of living expenses in 269 urban areas. C2ER’s expansive study tracks prices for housing, utilities, healthcare, groceries, transportation and miscellaneous goods and services (such as going to a movie theater or hair salon).

It goes without saying that you should weigh the pros and cons before you pack up and relocate to one of the 12 cheapest small towns in America. While a low cost of living is attractive, it can be offset by issues such as scarce jobs, small paychecks or a lack of things to do in the area. Plan an extended visit to ensure the small town fits your lifestyle.

The most recent Council for Community and Economic Research’s (C2ER) Cost of Living Index, published February 2021, is based on price data collected during the first three quarters of 2020. City-level data on city populations, household incomes and home values come from the U.S. Census Bureau. Unemployment rates come from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of April 7 for the period ended February 2021.

1 of 12

Benton Harbor, Mich.

photo of lighthouse and pierphoto of lighthouse and pier
  • Cost of living: 12.6% below U.S. average
  • City population: 9,843
  • Median household income: $21,916 (U.S.: $65,712)
  • Median home value: $63,300 (U.S.: $240,500)
  • Unemployment rate: 6.0% (U.S.: 6.0%)

Benton Harbor sits by the shores of Lake Michigan about 50 miles west of Kalamazoo, which is one of the cheapest larger cities in the U.S. The small town’s biggest claim to fame is that it’s home to Whirlpool (WHR), the global manufacturer of washers, dryers, refrigerators and a range of other home appliances.

But despite being host to a Fortune 500 company, Benton Harbor is among America’s cheapest small towns, boasting a cost of living that’s more than 12% below the national average.

True, median income is roughly a third of the national level, but the unemployment rate is in line with the country as a whole. Poverty and crime are also high in Benton Harbor – factors that contribute to a median home value that’s an eye-popping 74% lower than the national median. Indeed, housing-related costs, including rents and mortgages, are 32% cheaper in Benton Harbor, according to C2ER’s Cost of Living Index.

Neighboring St. Joseph, about the same size as Benton Harbor, is a popular beach resort town with significantly higher household incomes and home values.

2 of 12

Hutchinson, Kan.

Strataca salt mine Strataca salt mine
  • Cost of living: 13.4% below U.S. average
  • City population: 40,914
  • Median household income: $46,927
  • Median home value: $96,300 
  • Unemployment rate: 4.8%

Hutchinson, known as “Hutch” by the locals, is about an hour’s drive northwest from Wichita. Founded in the early 1870s as a railroad town, Hutch soon became known for its salt deposits, which were first discovered in 1887.

Today, Hutch is synonymous with the Kansas State Fair, which it hosts annually. The town is also home to the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Basketball Tournament. Local cultural attractions include the Fox Theatre, which opened in 1931. The grand movie palace is considered to be among the finest examples of theater art deco architecture in the Midwest.

Where Hutch stands out among America’s cheapest small towns is that it boasts the lowest housing costs on this list. Indeed, they run 41.3% below the national average. Apartment rents are 43% lower than national average, while home prices come in at a 40% discount.

However, other major costs of living aren’t too far off from what the average American pays. Although prices for groceries are almost 7% lower than the national average, healthcare and miscellaneous goods & services are essentially the same as the U.S. average.

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Meridian, Miss.

photo of a courthousephoto of a courthouse
  • Cost of living: 14.1% below U.S. average
  • City population: 37,848
  • Median household income: $32,422
  • Median home value: $83,300 
  • Unemployment rate: 6.7%

Meridian was rebuilt from 1890 to 1930 after being almost totally destroyed in the Civil War. As a result, it has not one but nine registered historic districts. The Highland Park Dentzel Carousel, dating back to 1909, is one of the more whimsical ones.

Meridian’s other claim to fame is as the birthplace of Jimmie Rodgers, known as the “Father of Country Music.” Music remains a centerpiece of Meridian’s cultural scene to this day.

Today, the federal government plays an important role in its economic life, as Naval Air Station Meridian and Key Field are two of the largest employers.

Happily, the men and women in uniform, and Meridian’s civilian citizens, catch a break on expenses. The cost of living stands 14.1% below the U.S. average; what really pushes Meridian into America’s absolute cheapest small towns are its comparatively modest housing costs. Indeed, housing expenses are a third lower than what the average American pays.

4 of 12

Burlington, Iowa

photo of a bridge in Iowaphoto of a bridge in Iowa
  • Cost of living: 14.3% below U.S. average
  • City population: 24,974
  • Median household income: $47,540
  • Median home value: $93,200 
  • Unemployment rate: 6.9%

Burlington sits on the Mississippi River, about 165 miles east of Des Moines. Manufacturing has long been a staple of the area economy, but a number of major employers have left over the years. Today, top employers include Great River Health System and American Ordnance, which makes ammunition for the U.S. military.

Utilities in Burlington are close to 12% more expensive than the national average and healthcare costs are essentially the same. Inexpensive housing is what makes Burlington a truly affordable small town. Housing-related costs are 35% cheaper compared to what the average American pays. Rents, on average, are almost 40% lower than the national average.

True, median incomes are 28% lower than the national figure, but then, median home values are cheaper by more than 60%.

5 of 12

Ponca City, Okla.

photo of a courthouse in Ponca City, OKphoto of a courthouse in Ponca City, OK
  • Cost of living: 14.5% below U.S. average
  • City population: 24,134
  • Median household income: $44,043
  • Median home value: $96,600 
  • Unemployment rate: 5.8%

Ponca City traces its lineage back to the days of the Land Run of 1893, when pioneers decided to build a town in north-central Oklahoma near the Arkansas River and a freshwater spring. Not long after its founding, enterprising oil men successfully drilled wells in the area, and Ponca City remains an oil town to this day. The area’s largest employers include energy companies such as Schlumberger (SLB), ConocoPhillips (COP) and Phillips 66 (PSX).

Household incomes are well below the national median, but housing is a heck of a deal. The median value of a Ponca City home is just $96,600. Nationally, it’s $240,500. Indeed, total housing costs are just two-thirds of what the average American pays, according to C2ER’s Cost of Living Index. Residents also catch a break on healthcare, which is 12.4% less expensive.

Although it’s among the cheapest small towns in America, Ponca City’s low costs of living do come at a cost of their own: The town sits pretty much in the middle of Tornado Alley.

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Martinsville, Va.

photo of Martinsville Speedwayphoto of Martinsville Speedway
  • Cost of living: 15.2% below U.S. average
  • City population: 12,852
  • Median household income: $34,371
  • Median home value: $87,700 
  • Unemployment rate: 9.8%

Martinsville needs no introduction to race fans. The tiny Virginia town, an hour’s drive south of Roanoke, lays claim to the Martinsville Speedway of NASCAR fame. Racing enthusiasts laud the short track for its tight turns and intimate seating.

Beyond the track, manufacturing has always been central to the area’s economy, and although a number of firms have moved on over the past decades, factory work remains important. Major employers include Eastman Chemical (EMN), a manufacturer of plastics, and Monogram Foods.

Martinsville has a rich history dating back to colonial times, and the town boasts multiple historic districts and historic sites including the John Waddey Carter House and the Dry Bridge School.

But Martinsville also is notable as one of America’s cheapest small towns. Housing expenses are 32% below the national average. Fittingly for a racing town, gasoline is about 6% cheaper per gallon.

7 of 12

Salina, Kan.

photo of downtown Salina, KSphoto of downtown Salina, KS
  • Cost of living: 16.4% below U.S. average
  • City population: 46,998
  • Median household income: $50,490
  • Median home value: $129,300 
  • Unemployment rate: 4.3%

The small town of Salina sits at the intersection of Interstates 70 and 135, about 90 miles north of Wichita and 180 miles west of Kansas City.

Manufacturing and healthcare are among the town’s most important industries. Major employers include Schwan’s Company, the maker of Tony’s frozen pizza; Great Plains Manufacturing, which serves the agricultural industry; and the Salina Regional Health Center. Salina is also home to several institutions of higher education, including the University of Kansas School of Medicine Salina Campus and Kansas State University Polytechnic Campus.

This economic mix is producing both low unemployment and low living costs. Housing expenses run two-thirds of the national average, according to C2ER. Groceries are cheaper too, running about 8% lower than the national average.

Utility bills, however, take a bit of a bite. In Salina, they’re almost 2% higher than the U.S. average.

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Statesboro, Ga.

courthouse Statesboro, GAcourthouse Statesboro, GA
  • Cost of living: 16.8% below U.S. average
  • City population: 31,495
  • Median household income: $29,203
  • Median home value: $113,600 
  • Unemployment rate: 5.8%

As home to the flagship campus of Georgia Southern University, Statesboro offers many of the benefits of college-town living but at exceedingly affordable prices. Thanks to its status as an academic hub, cultural attractions tied to the local university include a performing arts center, symphony, museum, planetarium and botanic gardens.

Another perk? The charming city of Savannah is just an hour’s drive to the southeast.

Although the university is the area’s largest employer, manufacturing jobs also play an important part in the local economy. At the same time, it should be noted that Statesboro has a high poverty rate, or 41.8% vs. 13.3% for the state of Georgia as a whole.

Statesboro’s place among America’s cheapest small towns is largely due to housing costs, which are about 32% lower compared with the national average, while healthcare runs roughly 14% below average. For example, a visit to a doctor costs about 24% less in Statesboro. Dental care is about a fifth less expensive, according to the C2ER’s Cost of Living Index.

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Tupelo, Miss.

photo of house where Elvis Presley was bornphoto of house where Elvis Presley was born
  • Cost of living: 19% below U.S. average
  • City population: 38,271
  • Median household income: $50,694
  • Median home value: $145,400 
  • Unemployment rate: 5.6%

Tupelo’s biggest claim to fame is being the birthplace of Elvis Presley. Indeed, the town, 100 miles southeast of Memphis’s Graceland, is looking forward to hosting its 23rd annual Elvis Festival in June. (Last year’s gathering was a virtual-only affair.)

Not a fan of The King? The cultural scene also includes the North Mississippi Symphony Orchestra and the Tupelo Automobile Museum. But Tupelo’s second-biggest claim to fame is arguably its super-low living costs. Electric and gas bills are about 12% lower than the national average, according to the Cost of Living Index. Housing is 34% cheaper and groceries go for 16% less.

For residents not making a living as Elvis impersonators, major employers include North Mississippi Health Services, Cooper Tire & Rubber (CTB) and BancorpSouth (BXS), which is headquartered in Tupelo.

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Richmond, Ind.

Amish man in horse and buggyAmish man in horse and buggy
  • Cost of living: 19.1% below U.S. average
  • City population: 35,539
  • Median household income: $39,724
  • Median home value: $88,400 
  • Unemployment rate: 5.1%

Few cities of any size can claim Richmond’s place in the early history of recorded jazz. Some of the first jazz records were made in this small town, featuring greats such as Hoagy Carmichael, Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong. There’s a Walk of Fame celebrating jazz and other artists who recorded with Richmond’s Gennett Records.

While jazz will always be part of its history, today’s Richmond, which is an hour’s drive west from Dayton, Ohio, is known more for its colleges and seminaries. They include Indiana University East, the Earlham School of Religion (part of Quaker-influenced Earlham College) and the Bethany Theological Seminary.

Inexpensive housing is a key to Richmond’s place among our nation’s cheapest small towns. Residents spend 34% less on housing than the average American does. Apartment rents are about half the national average. Average home prices are 26% less. Healthcare is also a bargain. For example, a visit to the eye doctor costs about 50% less than the national average. An appointment with a physician is cheaper by a third.

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Muskogee, Okla.

museum in Muskogee, OKmuseum in Muskogee, OK
  • Cost of living: 19.2% below U.S. average
  • City population: 37,624
  • Median household income: $38,194
  • Median home value: $92,300 
  • Unemployment rate: 6.3%

Muskogee packs a lot of history, culture and colleges into a small package.

Located about 50 miles south of Tulsa, the town traces its roots back to 1817. It’s home to four institutions of higher learning, as well as the Oklahoma School for the Blind. Jim Thorpe – All-American, the 1951 film starring Burt Lancaster, was shot on the campus of what was then known as the Bacone Indian University in Muskogee. The town also boasts six museums and the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.

And let’s not forget what is arguably the town’s most famous appearance in popular culture – Merle Haggard’s hit song “Okie from Muskogee,” which became an emblem of Vietnam-era America. 

Today, the area’s employers include the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, a VA medical center and paper company Georgia-Pacific.

But what really puts Muskogee on the map is its ultra-low cost of living. The biggest break comes from housing-related expenses, which are more than 35% lower than the national average, according to C2ER’s Cost of Living Index. Transportation, groceries and healthcare are notably cheaper, too.

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Pittsburg, Kan.

Russ Hall at Pittsburg State UniversityRuss Hall at Pittsburg State University
  • Cost of living: 19.4% below U.S. average
  • City population: 20,171
  • Median household income: $34,956
  • Median home value: $88,500 
  • Unemployment rate: 4.4%

The cheapest small town in America is Pittsburg, Kan., based on the 269 urban areas analyzed by C2ER’s Cost of Living Index.

Pittsburg is about a two-hour drive due south from Kansas City on Route 69. When you get there, you’ll find a small town with a cost of living more than 19% below the national average.

Once upon a time, the town was known for its abundance of coal and the Southern and Eastern European immigrants who worked the mines. Today, the area relies more heavily on higher education, thanks to the presence of Pittsburg State University. Famous alumni of Pittsburg’s local university include actor Gary Busey and Brian Moorman, retired two-time Pro Bowl punter for the NFL’s Buffalo Bills.

Although median incomes are almost $31,000 below the national average, median home prices are a whopping $152,000 cheaper. That helps make housing costs 37.2% less expensive than what the average American pays. A myriad of other items are cheap, as well. For example, a haircut will set you back an average of $14.82 vs. $18.88 nationally. Shampoo costs 89 cents, whereas the average American pays $1.05.

Source: kiplinger.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

The Best State Capitals to Call Home

Capital idea!

A lot happens in a state’s capital city. It’s where the local government governs, but these centers of activity are usually so much more. Most are cities full of opportunity and infrastructure that make an effort to honor local history and culture.

Highlighting the best state capitals in America

Should you shoot for a capital city when thinking about making a move? Maybe. Especially if you’re interested in local politics or want to live in an area that’s guaranteed to have a lot to do, it’s probably worth taking a look.

There is a lot to consider when selecting the best state capitals where you should live, but we’re making the decision a little easier for you. From economic factors such as cost of living and median income to professional considerations like overall business counts and commuting time, we created a formula that looks at all 50 state capitals in the U.S. and measures in terms of overall livability.

We then scored each city to rank the capitals in every state from 1 to 50. Without further ado, we give you the best state capitals to live in our country.

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The 10 best state capitals in the U.S.

While all of the state capitals are the best in their own way, there are 10 that stand out from the pack. These cities are located all across the country — from the Midwest and the Rocky Mountains to the South and from New England all the way to Hawaii (let’s be honest, who wouldn’t love a tropical paradise?).

These state capitals really do have it all, so if you’re considering a move, think about one of these cities that cracked our top 10 list.

They’re truly some of the best state capitals to call home.

10. Honolulu, HI

honolulu hawaii

Long before Hawaii was part of the United States, Honolulu became its capital. In 1850, King Kamehameha III gave the city its status in honor of the previous King, Kamehameha I, who moved his court thereafter conquering Oahu in 1804. However, between the two kings, Russia, Britain and France all occupied the area, each at a different time.

The beauty of Honolulu back then, is still very present today, even among the modern buildings and resorts. That’s thanks to the world-famous Waikiki Beach and Leahi, the 760-foot tuft crater you’re able to climb.

Drawing in the majority of Oahu’s population, this scenic capital city has a business score of 9, which puts it toward the top. Residents also bring in a relatively high median income of $71,247. Top industries in the area include food service, healthcare and retail.

Living in Honolulu will cost you about $1,918 per month for a one-bedroom, which is a nice deal to call this laidback, diverse city home. Where else can you tour Pearl Harbor, walk on an extinct volcano, go surfing and grab an authentic poke meal all in a single day?

9. Des Moines, IA

des moines iowa

When Iowa first became a state, Des Moines wasn’t the capital. That happened 11 years later after over a decade of debate. Originally, the capital was Iowa City, but lawmakers believed the capital belonged in a more central location, which is why in 1857 it moved to Des Moines.

Calling Des Moines home today is a very budget-friendly choice. The city is one of the most affordable in the U.S. Rent averages at about $1,168 per month for a one-bedroom and the overall cost of living here is 12 percent below the national average.

Residents get a lot out of living in Des Moines. As one of the fastest-growing cities in the Midwest, it’s the food, the culture and the natural surroundings that draw in people.

For outdoor enthusiasts, there are over 4,000 acres of parkland and 81 miles of trails to explore. You’ll also find four colleges and universities within the city limits including Drake University and Grand View University.

Working in Des Moines means having the opportunity to dabble in a variety of industries including insurance, government, manufacturing, trade and healthcare. Just remember, if you’re relocating to the city, don’t pronounce the S’s in Des Moines.

8. Columbus, OH

columbus ohio

Named after that famous explorer, Columbus became the capital of Ohio in 1816. This was the third capital city in the state’s history, but thankfully it stuck. Before that, Ohio’s capitals were Zanesville and Chillicothe.

Today, Columbus is a diverse town with lots of fun waiting around every corner. A highly walkable and bikeable city, it’s easy to get around as you check off all the must-see items on your list. These should include trips to the German Village, the Botanical Gardens and the city’s array of cultural and historical museums. There are also plenty of trails and parkland to explore.

With a highly-developed economy, most locals find jobs in education, insurance, banking, fashion and more. The city ranks first in job growth in the Midwest as well. Seventeen Fortune 1000 companies call Columbus home thanks to the affordability of the city. Living here will cost you $1,201 per month for a one-bedroom apartment.

7. Boston, MA

boston massachusetts

With a long history as one of the oldest cities in the country, Boston earned its capital status way back in 1632. This was while Massachusetts was still a colony. Boston would have to wait over 100 years before it became the capital of a state.

History continues to come alive in this city, where you can easily walk from one end to the other in a single day. Along your trip, you can see Paul Revere’s house, tour the graveyard where Sam Adams and Mother Goose lie and revisit the site of the Boston Tea Party. Even the architecture speaks to the history of the city, with beautiful brownstones sitting beside each other on tree-lined streets.

Boston is a busy town with accessible public transportation on top of being easy to walk through. The city’s walk score of 89 puts it at the top of our list. It also means you’ll often see people on foot whether rain or shine. This includes tourists walking through Boston Common, commuters rushing to the office and even children on their way to school.

Although the cost of living here is almost 50 percent higher than the national average, Boston does have the highest median income, $71,834, of our top 10. This comes in handy since rent here is also on the higher side. Expect to pay an average of $3,461 per month to rent a one-bedroom.

5 (tied). Denver, CO

denver colorado

Denver found its way to Colorado’s capital city in 1867, while the state was still a territory. Colorado wouldn’t join the union until 1876, but Denver stuck since it was already where the governor lived and all the important government meetings took place.

The Mile High City has continued to grow and attract more residents since back then. With its proximity to picturesque, snow-capped mountains, and plenty of sunshine, Denver today is an outdoor lover’s dream. There are more than 200 parks within the city limits and 20,000 acres of parkland in the nearby mountains. The city even has its own herd of buffalo.

The largest city in Colorado, Denver serves as a central hub for industry and transportation. Primary businesses include telecommunications and biomedical technology in addition to tourism, mining and construction. It’s also worth mentioning the fast-growing cannabis industry (in the city and the entire state) too.

With plenty of culture and a lot of sports, living in Denver combines natural beauty with plenty of activity. There’s also thriving nightlife and amazing restaurants. To rent a one-bedroom apartment here will set you back about $1,928 per month, on average.

5 (tied). Boise, ID

boise idaho

Location is what made Boise the obvious choice for Idaho’s state capital. Sitting at the crossroads of the Oregon Trail and routes to the Boise Basin and Owyhee mines, it became the capital in 1864. Technically though, it wasn’t the state’s first choice, and the capital moved from Lewiston to Boise after only a year.

Boise is both urban and outdoorsy, with a comfortable cost of living, less than a percentage point below the national average. Renting a one-bedroom apartment here averages out to about $1,340 per month.

Opportunities abound here in technology, manufacturing, food production, energy and outdoor recreation, giving the city a business score of 9, a second-place rank.

Nicknamed The City of Trees, Boise takes a portion of the state’s 4.7 million acres of wilderness for its residents to use. On nice days, you’ll find people out biking, horseback riding, fishing and even skiing. There are plenty of hiking trails, boat docks and more.

Adding to the activities in Boise are the museums, theaters and energetic downtown area. It’s a city with a small-town feel that’s not lacking in any big city amenities.

4. Madison, WI

madison wisconsin

Wisconsin became a state in 1848, the same year Madison got named the capital. The debate over this selection lasted for two days, and even then it wasn’t a unanimous pick. It may seem silly to us now, but locals took their selection seriously. The final vote passed in a close call of 15 to 11.

Locals will tell you Madison is one of the happiest cities in the country — thanks to the weather. Situated between two lakes, Madison enjoys a constant breeze of fresh air. That’ll get you outside quick, but the miles of biking and hiking trails will keep you outdoors. In fact, Madison has the third-highest bike score at 75.

Downtown, you’ll find a centralized hub for both work and play. Primary industries in the city include manufacturing, government and agriculture. Nearly one-sixth of the state’s farms are within the Greater Madison area, and diversified farming is a primary contributor to the local economy. After a long workday, the same area offers up plenty of shopping, culture and restaurants.

Living here mixes the outdoors with urban amenities to fit any agenda. To rent a one-bedroom apartment, you’ll pay an average of $1,223 per month.

3. Cheyenne, WY

cheyenne wyoming

Wyoming set Cheyenne as the state capital in 1869. The city itself got its name from the Cheyenne Indians who lived in the area.

If you’re looking for a city with a solid cost of living and easy commute time, Cheyenne is for you. The cost of living is 8.2 percent below the national average and rent for a one-bedroom apartment averages out at $930 per month.

Getting to work is easy, too. The city has an average commute time of just under 16 minutes, putting it in third place.

Major industries here include light manufacturing, agriculture, military and government and tourism. Sitting in the southeast corner of the state, you’ll find the F.E. Warren Air Force Base here along with plenty of train-centric attractions. After all, Cheyenne is sometimes known as the Railroad Capital of the country.

Many who come to visit imagine a place full of rodeos and cowboys, but really Cheyenne is both a rugged and modern city.

2. Austin, TX

austin texas

A year after Texas’ annexation into the United States, Austin became its capital. Originally, the capital of the state was Houston, but in 1839 it moved to a city named Waterloo. In 1846, that city’s name got changed to Austin in honor of the “Father of Texas,” Stephen F. Austin.

There are plenty of good neighborhoods to call home within the modern city of Austin, many of which surround the University of Texas. Between the college, the rivers and the music and bar scene, there’s a lot to bring people to this state capital.

Austin received the highest business score on our list at 9.3. With the nickname, “Silicon Hills,” the city offers up a lot of opportunities in technology and innovation. You’ll find a lot of startups call Austin home as well. Even Apple is getting in on things, creating a campus in this Texas town.

A mild climate, and about 300 days of sunshine per year, make Austin a great place to have fun both inside and out. There’s also plenty of amazing Tex-Mex to chow down on when the craving for tacos hits.

Living here will set you back about $1,417 per month if renting a one-bedroom apartment but luckily it’s also an affordable city with the cost of living just a touch over the national average and a median income of over $71,500.

1. Salt Lake City, UT

salt lake city utah

Earning the distinction of state capital when Utah joined the union in 1896, Salt Lake City has long had a reputation of acceptance. The city itself was a popular choice for the capital because its ideals aligned with the country at the time — growth, expansion and religious freedoms.

Today, you’ll find Salt Lake City an active community with a lot of potential for professional growth. It earns near-top scores in its walkability, bikeability and business opportunity.

With an urban center invigorated by a buzzing tech scene, the downtown area is where you’ll find a lot of the action. From craft beer to theater, amazing dining to culture, Salt Lake City provides eclectic fun.

The outdoor recreation of the area is also worth mentioning. Living in Salt Lake City, you’re not only close to some incredible skiing, but also within reach of five national parks. The city itself also draws residents outdoors with a festive atmosphere you can walk through all year long.

Calling this part of Utah home means plenty to do and even more to see. It’s a perfect combination of natural beauty and urban design. Renting a one-bedroom apartment here means budgeting for about $1,233 on average, per month.

The best state capitals by rank

We’ve given you a taste of what some of our state capitals have to offer, but see how all 50 of them rank. Check out the complete chart below.

Methodology

To find the best state capitals in America, we used the following data points:

  • Median household income reported by the U.S. Census Bureau
  • Cost of living reported by the Council for Community and Economic Research
  • Average commute times reported by the U.S. Census Bureau
  • Walk Score
  • Bike Score
  • Overall business score determined by the number of variety of business listings in a particular city compared to other cities of similar size across the country

We ranked each city from 1 to 50 (with 1 being the best) in each of these six categories. We allowed ties in these rankings. Then, we added up the rankings for each of the six categories to determine a final score for each city. The cities with the lowest overall score were determined to be the best state capitals.

Rent prices are based on a one-year rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments as of April 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.

The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

Source: rent.com

In the Market? Here’s What You Should Know About Contingencies

Home contingencies are aspects of home purchase contracts that protect buyers or sellers by establishing conditions that must be met before the purchase can be completed. There are a variety of contingencies that can be included in a contract; some required by third parties, and others potentially created by the buyer. While sellers in the current market prefer to have little to no contingencies, the vast majority of purchase contracts do include them, so here’s a primer to help you navigate any that come your way!

Financing Contingency

The most common type of contingency in a real estate contract is the financing contingency. While the number of homes that sold for cash more than doubled over the last 10 years, the majority of home purchases — 87% of them, in fact— are still financed through mortgage loans.

Why is this important? Because most real estate contracts provide a contingency clause that states the contract is binding only if the buyer is approved for the loan. If a contract is written as cash, in most cases, the financing contingency is removed.

contingenciescontingencies

Why Does The Financing Contingency Exist?

This contingency exists to protect the buyer. If a buyer submits a winning offer, but can’t get approved for a loan to follow through with the purchase, this clause can protect the buyer from potential legal or financial ramifications.

Tip: Homeowners can, and should, request to see a buyer’s prequalification letter before accepting their offer.

Home Sale Contingency

For many repeat homebuyers, they must sell a property in order to afford a new home. Whether they’re relocating for work, moving to a larger home, or moving to a more rural area, 38% of home buyers in a recent survey reported using funds from a previous home to purchase a new one. This is where a home sale contingency comes into play; this clause states that the buyer must first sell their current home before they can proceed with purchasing a new one.

Why Does This Contingency Exist?

This is another contingency that exists to protect the buyer. If their current home sale doesn’t close, this clause can protect the buyer from being forced to purchase the new home. In other words, they can back out of the new home contract without consequence. Keep in mind that in a seller’s market, this type of contingency offer is less desirable to sellers; in fact,  they may rule out your offer completely if this is included.

TIP: In many situations, homeowners can negotiate escape clauses for the home sale which would allow them to solicit other offers and potentially bump the current buyer out of the picture.

Home Inspection Contingency

Not only is it common, it’s also wise to include a home inspection contingency in any offer. Whether it’s a new home or an existing home, there is no such thing as a flawless house. Home inspections can uncover hidden problems, detect deferred maintenance issues that may be costly down the road, or make the home less desirable to purchase completely. A home inspection contingency essentially states that the purchase of a home is dependent on the results from the home inspection.

contingenciescontingencies

Why Does This Contingency Exist?

Whether it’s a roof in need of replacement or an unsafe fireplace, homebuyers need to know the maintenance and safety issues of the properties they’re interested in purchasing. If a home inspection report reveals significant (or scary!) findings, this protects the buyer from the financial burden that repairs would require. This is why agents will tell you it’s never a good idea for a home to be purchased without a home inspection contingency.

TIP: The findings from the report can usually be used to negotiate repairs or financial concessions from the seller.

Sight-Unseen Contingency

Especially during sellers markets, it’s not uncommon for a home to have dozens of showings within the first couple of days of listing. This breakneck pace can create a scenario in which homebuyers may not be able to coordinate their schedules to get a timely showing appointment. To help prevent missing out on the chance to buy a home, buyers in this situation will sometimes make offers on the home, sight unseen.

contingenciescontingencies

There’s no sugarcoating it…this is a high-risk strategy with ample opportunity for negative consequences. However, if this strategy is used, many real estate agents will add a sight- unseen contingency to their offer. This contingency states that the offer for purchase is dependent on the buyer’s viewing of, and satisfaction with, the property.

Why Does This Contingency Exist?

In a market with shrinking inventory, desperate buyers want a fighting chance at a hot property; in some cases, that can only exist by submitting an offer before they can see it in person.

TIP: Sight unseen offers are also high risk to the seller. If you include this contingency in your offer, try to keep other seller requests to a minimum. 

Why Contingencies Can Be Positive

In a seller’s market, buyers may feel the pressure to remove as many contingencies as possible in order to compete. But, it’s important to remember that contingencies are actually safeguards in place to prevent buyer remorse, expensive future repairs, or financial calamity. It’s always crucial for buyers to hire a seasoned real estate agent who can advocate for their best interests, negotiate and strategize in safe and competitive ways, and advises them of the risks of each decision.

Looking to Buy? Don’t Go it Alone!

The homebuying process is a complex one, but that doesn’t mean you’re left with all the heavy lifting. Find your dream home and a local agent on Homes.com, then visit our “How to Buy” section for all the step-by-step insights for a smooth process.


Jennifer is an accidental house flipper turned Realtor and real estate investor. She is the voice behind the blog, Bachelorette Pad Flip. Over five years, Jennifer paid off $70,000 in student loan debt through real estate investing. She’s passionate about the power of real estate. She’s also passionate about southern cooking, good architecture, and thrift store treasure hunting. She calls Northwest Arkansas home with her cat Smokey, but she has a deep love affair with South Florida.

Source: homes.com

Can AI Beat the Market? 10 Stocks to Watch

Artificial intelligence isn’t new to the world of stock picking, but it hasn’t really been an option for retail investors. That is, until now.

Traditionally, powerful artificial intelligence systems – and the high-octane brainpower needed to develop and run them – that target stocks to watch have been available only to hedge funds, quant funds and a select group of asset management firms.

Danel Capital, a financial advice company, aims to change all that with a new analytics platform that harnesses the power of big data technology and machine learning. The idea is to help regular investors make smarter decisions with their tactical stock picks.

Here’s how it works:

The company’s AI algorithms analyze more than 900 fundamental, technical and sentiment data points per day for 1,000 U.S.-listed shares and 600 stocks listed in Europe. Danel says that in total, its AI predictive scoring capability churns through 10,000 daily indicators. The platform then analyzes that huge amount of data to predict the future performance of each stock, calculating the probability of beating the market over the next four months.

Once the algo determines which stocks to watch, it spits out a rating known as a Smart Score, which ranges from 1 to 10. Danel says that, on average, stocks with the highest Smart Scores of nine or 10 almost doubled the S&P 500’s annualized returns from January 2017 to July 2020.

And, indeed, the top 5 rankings Danel Capital firm released in January and February beat the S&P 500 by considerable margins. The firm has since switched to issuing top 10 rankings.

Note well that we’re talking about the probability of beating the market over the next few months or so, not days. That makes the platform useful for tactical investors, not day traders.

It’s an interesting system that makes some pretty counterintuitive stock picks. Whether it proves to be a useful tool for retail investors remains to be seen, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.

Here are 10 stocks to watch over the next few months, as Danel Capital’s AI platform gives them the highest probability of beating the market in that time. All have perfect Smart Scores of 10, but for good measure, we also took a look at some fundamentals, technicals and analyst research on these names.

Share prices and other data are courtesy of S&P Global Market Intelligence as of April 6, unless otherwise noted.

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10. Snowflake

Concept art for high-tech insuranceConcept art for high-tech insurance
  • Market value: $68.1 billion
  • Smart score: 10

Cloud infrastructure unicorn Snowflake (SNOW, $236.01) generated considerable hype when it went public in September 2020 at $120 a share, making it the largest software offering in history. 

It didn’t hurt that Berkshire Hathaway (BRK.B) – whose chairman and CEO Warren Buffett is notoriously averse to initial public offerings – got in on Snowflake’s ground floor, snapping up $250 million worth of SNOW in a private placement.

But mostly the excitement stemmed from Snowflake’s growth prospects in the rapidly expanding industry of cloud infrastructure software. Known as a cloud-data warehousing company, Snowflake lets enterprise customers run their software on various cloud platforms, be they provided by Amazon.com (AMZN), Microsoft (MSFT) or Google parent Alphabet (GOOGL), to name just three.

Investors have already included Snowflake among their stocks to watch thanks to the shares’ near-doubling since the IPO, but they’re off about 16% for the year-to-date amid a widespread selloff in the software sector. By Danel Capital’s reckoning, however, they’re poised for a rebound soon.

The firm’s proprietary AI assessment gives SNOW a Smart Score of 10, helped by strong – and rising – technical indicators and improving fundamental scores.

Wall Street likes SNOW’s prospects, too.

“Snowflake’s product architecture is superior to its rivals and that the market for cloud-hosted data analytics might be larger than investors believe,” writes UBS Global Research analyst Karl Keirstead, who rates the stock at Buy.

Of the 26 analysts covering the stock tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, nine rate it at Strong Buy, two say Buy and 15 have it at Hold. Their average target price of $289.92 gives SNOW implied upside of about 25% over the next 12 months or so.

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9. Palantir Technologies

concept art for big dataconcept art for big data
  • Market value: $42.4 billion
  • Smart score: 10

Palantir Technologies (PLTR, $23.27) gets a perfect 10 Smart Score, again, thanks predominantly to strong technical grades. AI’s assessments of PLTR’s fundamentals and sentiment are more middling, but stable. Interestingly, Palantir’s daily Smart Score has been in a strong uptrend recently, nearly doubling since the end of March.

Although a Smart Score of 10 suggests that shares in the big data analytics company are a good candidate for outperformance in the shorter to intermediate term, the Street is more cautious, at least in its longer term view.

Analysts’ consensus recommendation on the name stands at Hold, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. One analyst rates PLTR at Strong Buy, one says Buy, three have it at Hold, one calls it a Sell and two slap a Strong Sell on the stock.

Shares in the company, which went public on Sept. 30, 2020 through a direct listing, opened at $10 on their first day of trading and closed at $9.50. Although PLTR is up about 145% ever since, what stands foremost in investors’ minds is that the stock is down 35% from its late-January all-time closing high.

William Blair equity research, which rates the stock at Underperform (the equivalent of Sell), is concerned that Palantir has struggled to deliver the same type of hyper-growth in its commercial division that many of its competitors have achieved. 

“Palantir offers a unique solution, which has the potential to support growth rates in line with some of the most successful providers of enterprise software,” writes William Blair analyst Kamil Mielczarek. “However, we believe there are several risks to achieving this growth rate that are not currently priced into the stock.”

Analysts’ average price target of $25.57 gives PLTR implied upside of roughly 10% over the next year or so. So, put Palantir among your stocks to watch over the next few months to see whether the more bullish algos, or more bearish humans, are right.

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8. Nio

Nio vehiclesNio vehicles
  • Market value: $65.5 billion
  • Smart score: 10

If you thought Tesla (TSLA) stock was a hot and volatile way to play the explosive growth in electric vehicles, take a look at shares in NIO (NIO, $40.00).

The Chinese electric-vehicle maker’s stock has outperformed TSLA by a stunning margin over the past 52 weeks – and has done so in even more volatile fashion than we’ve come to expect from the leading EV stock. 

Shares in NIO have gained more than 1,519% over the past year vs. an increase of 675% for TSLA. Of course, when comparing performance, it depends on how you draw the chart. For the year-to-date, for example, NIO is off 18% vs. a 2% drop in TSLA. 

Either way, with a perfect Smart Score of 10, Danel Capital’s AI expects NIO to return to its market-beating ways soon. Strong scores for technical and sentiment factors – and high marks for the fundamental factor of high expected revenue growth – all help propel NIO to the top of the AI list.

Investors certainly have to be pleased with some recent catalysts. Among them, NIO delivered a record number of vehicles in March. Most notably, the EV maker achieved the feat despite a global shortage of semiconductors that has forced other automakers to suspend or reduce production. 

The Street is likewise bullish on the premium EV start-up company. Of the 18 analysts covering NIO tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, six rate the stock at Strong Buy, five say Buy and seven call it a Hold. Their consensus recommendation comes to Buy.

UBS Global Research analyst Paul Gong isn’t quite so enthusiastic. He rates NIO at Neutral (Hold), citing risks such as weaker-than-expected demand; fierce competition, including the local production of Tesla; and a potential decline in government subsidies for the EV industry.

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7. Albemarle

Lithium-ion batteryLithium-ion battery
  • Market value: $17.8 billion
  • Smart score: 10

Albemarle’s (ALB, $152.89) specialty chemicals products work entirely behind the scenes, from clean-fuel technologies to pharmaceuticals to fire safety. But what puts Albemarle among the market’s top stocks to watch right now is lithium.

The world’s need for higher-capacity rechargeable batteries was already insatiable. And now that electric vehicles have entered the scene? Forget about it.

That’s why it makes perfect sense that Albemarle’s top Smart Score is driven by a blemish-free rating of its fundamentals. Danel Capital’s AI also assigns it a near-perfect score on the stock’s technical considerations.

The algo’s reading on sentiment, however, is relatively low, scoring only a three out of 10. That helps explain the Street’s mixed view on the stock and its consensus recommendation of at Hold.

Although the accelerating pace of global EV sales bodes well for lithium demand, some analysts think ALB stock may have gotten ahead of itself at current levels. 

“Our lithium outlook is improving, and we think ALB will be well positioned for growth through capacity expansions,” writes CFRA Research analyst Richard Wolfe. “However, we think shares’ lofty valuation captures much of this benefit, so we stay at Hold.”

Danel Capital’s AI suggests that ALB is a good current stock pick for tactical investors. But it also happens to be worth a closer look if you’re a longer term dividend growth investor. Indeed, ALB is a member of the S&P Dividend Aristocrats, an elite list of S&P 500 companies that have raised their dividends for at least 25 consecutive years. Albemarle last hiked its payout in February 2021, by 1.3% to a quarterly 39 cents a share. The move represented the firm’s 27th consecutive annual increase.

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6. Ebix

image of man with charts and graphsimage of man with charts and graphs
  • Market value: $987.7 million
  • Smart score: 10

Artificial intelligence – and its forerunner of quantitative analysis – in a sense puts blinders on. Data, not headlines, drives decisions. Whether that’s the best approach to take with a company like Ebix (EBIX, $31.90) is a matter of debate.

Ebix, which specializes in software and services to the insurance, health care and financial industries, saw its shares tumble by more than 50% over two sessions in late February after its auditor resigned.

The whiff of accounting issues has yet to be resolved, but shares have clawed back some of their losses. EBIX is now off about 16% for the year-to-date and, by some measures, trading at bargain-basement levels.

Interestingly, EBIX scores high in all three categories of Danel Capital AI’s Smart Score system, garnering sevens (out of 10) for fundamentals and sentiment, and an almost-perfect nine in technicals.

As for the fundamentals, the algo gives Ebix high marks for free cash flow, or money available to shareholders if the company decides to distribute it. And, indeed, the company generated free cash flow (after debt payments) of $59.5 million for the 12 months ended Sept. 30, 2020. That’s a notable figure given that the company generated net income of $94.5 million over the same 12-month period.

Valuation is another plus – shares are trading at less than 10 times at estimated earnings for 2021.

While Danel Capital has EBIX among its stocks to watch right now, it’s barely a blip on most analysts’ radar. The lone pro covering the stock tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence is likewise bullish, giving it a Strong Buy recommendation.

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5. American Airlines

American Airlines planeAmerican Airlines plane
  • Market value: $15.4 billion
  • Smart score: 10

American Airlines (AAL, $24.06) – and indeed much of the rest of the air carrier industry – is considered by the Street to be among the ultimate recovery plays.

Danel Capital’s algo certainly thinks so, giving it a perfect Smart Score with strength across the board. AAL gets a 10 for fundamentals and ratings of nine on both sentiment and technicals. 

Notably, daily sentiment scores on the name have been in a steep uptrend since the end of March, while fundamental readings have remained perfect on a daily basis for even longer. Readings on technicals have likewise bounced higher in April.

The Street, however, is less sanguine on AAL, with a consensus recommendation of Sell. Of the 22 analysts covering the stock tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, two rate it at Strong Buy, eight say Hold, four call it a Sell and seven say Strong Sell. One has no opinion on the name.

Stifel equity research, which rates AAL at Hold, says it has reservations based on the company’s ability to navigate a challenging post-pandemic landscape. 

“American Airlines faces significant earnings pressure and uncertainty related to COVID-19, the pace of a recovery, and its ability to solve the margin challenges it faced pre-COVID,” writes Stifel analyst Joseph DeNardi in a note to clients. 

Argus Research also remains cautious on the stock.

“We are maintaining our Hold rating on AAL, which had been hurt by the 737 MAX groundings, is now wrestling with COVID-19 and high debt levels,” writes analyst John Staszak. “With air travel demand remaining weak, we think that lower operating expenses and a low interest rate environment will provide only partial relief to American and other airlines.”

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4. Zoom Video Communications

A person using video conferencingA person using video conferencing
  • Market value: $96.9 billion
  • Smart score: 10

Zoom Video Communications (ZM, $329.79) has been among the Street’s top stocks to watch ever since the pandemic. Few companies have benefited from the work-from-home economy as much as Zoom – and Danel Capital’s algos think there is more upside ahead.

The video conferencing company’s perfect Smart Score is driven by high marks for technicals and sentiment, which offset a somewhat more middling rating in fundamentals.

The Street likes what it sees, too. Analysts consensus recommendation works out to a Buy, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence. The breakdown comes to eight Strong Buy recommendations, three Buys, 14 Hold calls, one Sell and one Strong Sell.

Although shares in Zoom are up about 170% over the past 52 weeks, they’ve been trending lower since October. And as for the year-to-date? ZM is off 2.2% vs. a gain of 6% for the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index.

An accelerating vaccination campaign against COVID-19 and the green shoots of a return to pre-pandemic routines doesn’t necessarily bode well for ZM, but bulls say any pessimism over the stock’s prospects is overdone.

William Blair equity research, for example, expects Zoom’s momentum to continue in 2021 after posting “blowout” quarterly results to cap off an “incredible” year.

“We continue to believe that Zoom is benefiting from strong secular tailwinds in a large and underpenetrated market and expect that the company can continue to show strong growth for years to come,” analyst Matt Stotler, who rates the stock at Outperform (Buy), writes in a client note.

With an average target price of $462.72, analysts give ZM stock implied upside of about 40% in the next 12 months or so. They expect the company to generate average annual EPS growth of 15.6% over the next three to five years, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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3. Bluebird Bio

image of man with charts and graphsimage of man with charts and graphs
  • Market value: $2.0 billion
  • Smart score: 10

Bluebird Bio (BLUE, $30.16), a biotechnology company that develops gene therapies for both severe genetic diseases and cancer, gets high ratings in all three of Danel Capital’s major rating categories. It also gets high marks from the Street.

The algo gives it scores of seven, eight and seven for fundamentals, technicals, and sentiment, respectively. At the same time, the human consensus recommendation stands at Buy. 

Complicating matters is that following a series of setbacks, the company in January said it will split into two separate entities, with one focusing on cancer and the other on rare diseases.

The problem, as Raymond James analyst Dane Leone puts it, is what is the value of Bluebird Bio with the split looming later this year? As a result, the analyst rates BLUE at Hold.

Another challenge stems from regulatory uncertainty surrounding the company’s development of LentiGlobin. The Food and Drug Administration in February put trials of the gene therapy on clinical hold.

Although the consensus recommendation stands at Buy, analysts are pretty closely split on the name amid all the uncertainty. Of the 24 analysts covering BLUE tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, nine rate it at Strong Buy, one says Buy and 14 call it a Hold.

Their average target price of $47.89 gives BLUE implied upside of nearly 60% over the next 12 months or so. Keep in mind that the stock is off 30% so far in 2021.

As with Ebix above, Bluebird Bio appears to be one of the more speculative bets on the AI list.

9 of 10

2. TechnipFMC

oil services workeroil services worker
  • Market value: $3.5 billion
  • Smart score: 10

The energy sector is loaded with recovery plays. TechnipFMC (FTI, $7.65), an oil and gas services company, could be one of the better ones, according to Danel Capital’s AI.

FTI’s perfect Smart Score is based on a rating of nine for fundamentals, and 10s for both technicals and sentiment. 

The Street is mostly bullish too, with a consensus recommendation of Buy. Of the 25 analysts covering FTI tracked by S&P Global Market Intelligence, 11 call it a Strong Buy, two say Buy, 11 rate it at Hold and one has it at Sell. Their average price target of $10.89 gives the stock implied upside of about 40% in the next 12 months or so. 

The slow reopening of the global economy is bullish for oil prices, and the market has been rewarding the sector handsomely. Indeed, energy has been the S&P 500’s best-performing sector so far this year, with a gain of 29% through April 6. 

FTI, down about 18% for the year-to-date, hasn’t participated in the rally. But it’s among Wall Street’s best stocks to watch right now because the bulls – and the algos – say it’s only a matter of time. 

“In the Surface Technologies segment, we expect higher international activity to offset modest-to-lower North American activity in 2021,” writes CFRA Research analyst Andrzej Tomczyk, who rates shares at Buy. “The Subsea segment should also see growth, given renewed operator confidence amid the improved macro environment and higher oil prices.”

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1. Alaska Air

An Alaska Air planeAn Alaska Air plane
  • Market value: $9.2 billion
  • Smart score: 10

Alaska Air (ALK, $73.74) is set to benefit disproportionately from a recovery in the air travel sector, analysts say. And Danel Capital AI’s assessment suggests shares will take off soon.

ALK gets perfect scores of 10 on fundamentals, technicals and sentiment. With shares up nearly 42% for the year-to-date, it’s fair to say the market and Danel’s AI are of the same mind.

On the Street, analysts emphasize the air carrier’s unusually strong fundamentals in an otherwise battered industry. 

“We believe ALK’s combination of a conservative balance sheet and its historically high cash generation per plane will make it among the first U.S. airlines to recover profitability this year,” writes CFRA analyst Colin Scarola, who has a Buy recommendation on the stock. “ALK also has modest equipment purchase commitments for 2021-2022, in our view, with 2022 commitments equating to only 32% of 2019 operating cash flow.”

At Stifel, analyst Joseph DeNardi, who rates ALK at Buy, believes the airline’s geographic service area lowers the risk that it emerges from the pandemic facing significantly lower structural demand.

But Alaska Air also is among the best stocks to watch right now for its M&A potential. For example, what if the pandemic and its aftermath trigger a painful reckoning in the industry, leading to consolidation?

In that case, “Alaska would be a highly valued asset,” DeNardi writes.

The bulk of the Street sides with the bulls on ALK, with nine Strong Buy calls, three Buys and two Hold recommendations. Add it all up and the consensus recommendation comes to Buy, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Source: kiplinger.com

Paid Sleep Studies Guide: How One Woman Made $12,000

That said, Mom has faith in you. She wants you to succeed, and if you blow curfew a few nights, you probably won’t be kicked out of the study.
You’ll also keep a physical sleep log documenting your progress as you wake up and go to bed at the same time every day. To help ensure accuracy, you’ll call your new “mom” as you’re doing this.
Read the specifics of each study carefully so you only apply to ones you qualify for. You’ll often need to take a survey, sharing your personal information and confirming you understand the study’s goals and compensation. For example, the questionnaires I filled out included:

How to Qualify to Make Money While You Sleep

Plus, when you’re not giving blood or following instructions, you can do pretty much whatever you want outside of activities that would raise your heart rate.
Some cities have a higher concentration of facilities that pay sleep-study participants, but it’s easy to find facilities in your area.
Or, put your time to work. A technician told me another participant worked on his architecture senior thesis during his time in the study!

  • An age window: Most studies look for volunteers in a specific age range.
  • Length of in-hospital time: Whether it’s a few hours or several nights, make sure you know what you’re signing up for.
  • Payment: You’ll want to make sure a study is worth your time and effort before joining.
  • Specific lifestyle or medical requirements for study: Some studies look for volunteers with specific needs or qualifications, such as people with sleep apnea or those who work shifts outside the traditional 9-to-5.
  • Comfort with the study methods: Recruiters want to make sure you’re up for the challenge. While the questionnaire won’t tell you everything about the study to make sure you don’t tailor your answers to what you think the recruiters want to hear, they want you to know what they’re aiming to observe.

If you want to relax, simply hang out in your comfiest clothes and listen to music, write letters, draw or paint. I finished several books that had been collecting dust on my shelves.

What Happens After You’re Accepted to a Sleep Study

You may have to maintain a “constant posture” for part of the study. In some cases you may have to sit in the same position for six hours, or you may be kept awake at a 45-degree angle in low light for two days. It depends on the study. Be sure you’ll be able to manage it before you sign up.
Don’t fudge your answers. Being honest is the only way to successfully get through this process — and to contribute to the collection of accurate scientific data!
At this point, you’ll likely take two exams:

  • A psychological exam: The goal is to make sure you can handle isolation and a hospital environment in general.
  • A physical exam: Like a standard physical, a nurse will weigh you, take a small blood sample, ask you to pee in a cup, etc.

The technicians and researchers make all of these procedures and measurements as easy as possible. The thermometer helps them make sure you’re maintaining a normal body temperature, and it’s not as big of a deal as it sounds.
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Here’s what I learned in the process, and how you, too, can get paid to sleep.
Next, you’ll go to the hospital for a series of briefings and tests. You’ll likely meet the doctor conducting the research, who will give you a thorough explanation of the study and its processes.
Most facilities are really good about explaining the payout, but if yours doesn’t explain it at the beginning, ask. This is also your opportunity to discuss when and how you’ll be paid, as well as how your payment will be taxed.

What to Expect When You’re… Sleeping

Jillian Shea is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.
No, it’s not all comfy pillows and sweet dreams; researchers pay participants because these studies have a few downsides.

Isolation

Several million people in the United States regularly suffer through sleepless nights, which many researchers agree greatly affects overall health. Numerous hospitals dedicate entire divisions to studying sleep — and they’re willing to pay you several thousand dollars just to watch you nap.
After your exams, you’ll meet the recruiter who you will call every day for the duration of the study. At this point, I actually stopped calling her my BFF and started calling her “my mother.” She gave me a special watch to monitor my light and activity patterns, keeping an eye on what I was doing.

Unusual Positions or Challenges

Most studies want healthy adults with consistent sleep patterns. I checked both boxes, and earned ,000 participating in two studies at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s hospital..
You will likely be completely cut off from the outside world during the study’s observation period. You usually won’t have any time cues, meaning you’ll be without  a clock, a computer and a phone. You also won’t have any windows to observe light patterns. While you’re in the study, the doctor determines night and day, which can be a bit unsettling.

Needles and Other Medical Devices

You’ll enjoy a complete technology cleanse, you’ll interact with interesting technicians and researchers, you’re contributing to science, and best of all, you’ll get a big fat check. Not bad for a few nights’ work!
The best part? This is paid time. If you get cold feet and decide to quit at this point, you’ll still make money for the parts of the process you completed.
Once you’re accepted, you’ll find you have just become the recruiter’s best friend! She’ll want to talk to you and see you all the time.

The Rewards of Participating in Sleep Studies

Ready to stop worrying about money?
In my experience, they sound worse than they actually are. Here’s what you should be ready for:
Did you just say rectal thermometer?! Why yes, I did. There’s a reason these studies pay the big bucks.
I’ve taken part in studies as short as four days (for which I earned ,000) and have seen others as long as 31 days (typically paying ,000). Start small and work your way up once you’ve tried it once or twice.
And no, I’m not kidding about the “constant” part — you don’t get to get up or change positions to use the restroom, so you might need to use a bedpan. That was the most difficult part of the studies I did!
During at least part of the study you may have to endure an IV, a rectal thermometer and electrodes attached to your head. <!–

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The Best Places to Live in California in 2021

Believe us when we say there is a city for you on the Golden Coast.

Whether you are moving for better job opportunities, a switch of scenery or a change of pace, you’ll find the best places to live in California scattered up and down the Golden State.

Here are our picks for the best cities in California:

Bakersfield, CA.

  • Population: 371,323
  • Average age: 36.8
  • Median household income: $63,139
  • Average commute: 27.9 minutes
  • Walk score: 43
  • Studio average rent: $900
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,189
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $974

Bakersfield is often the butt of jokes about California, but this city is actually not a bad place to live. The area is centrally located and is well known for its agriculture and energy production.

Los Angeles is only about two hours south, and San Francisco is about four hours north. If you crave culture and city life, you have options for a weekend getaway in either direction.

If you have children, you can take advantage of a handful of good schools. In fact, Bakersfield’s average Great Schools rating of 4.7 is higher compared to Los Angeles.

Long Beach, CA, one of the best places to live in california

  • Population: 470,267
  • Average age: 39.5
  • Median household income: $63,017
  • Average commute: 37.8 minutes
  • Walk score: 84
  • Studio average rent: $2,136
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,089
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,587

A port city just 24 miles south of Los Angeles, Long Beach offers waterfront attractions, bike-friendly roads and trails, amazing Southern California weather and diverse cultural festivals. It’s also a great place to raise a family with plenty of activities for all ages.

Visit the Aquarium of the Pacific, the legendary (and haunted) Queen Mary, the iconic Lions Lighthouse for Sight or relaxing Signal Hill Park. Consider living here if you value an active lifestyle because the walk score is an impressive 84.

Long Beach also has the highest school-rating score (6.5) on this list and is home to California State University, Long Beach.

Los Angeles, CA.

  • Population: 3,950,004
  • Average age: 40.6
  • Median household income: $62,142
  • Average commute: 38.6 minutes
  • Walk score: 79
  • Studio average rent: $2,387
  • One-bedroom average rent: $3,099
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $4,557

Los Angeles is the most populous city in California for many reasons. Rounding out the list are perfect year-round weather, great hiking spots, multiple professional sports teams, plentiful jobs and business opportunities, top-notch universities such as the University of California Los Angeles and the University of Southern California, delicious eats and beautiful beaches aplenty.

Don’t forget that Los Angeles is a melting pot of diverse cultures, too.

The average commute is 38.6 minutes, so prepare to listen to your favorite podcasts or playlists. Luckily though, in Los Angeles, you don’t need to own a vehicle to get around, as reliable public transportation can get you to most places.

Oakland, CA, one of the best places to live in california

  • Population: 417,522
  • Average age: 41.7
  • Median household income: $92,876
  • Average commute: 39.9 minutes
  • Walk score: 83
  • Studio average rent: $2,807
  • One-bedroom average rent: $3,293
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $4,264

A hipster enclave just a short drive over the bridge from San Francisco, Oakland offers residents an urban-suburban mix feel.

There are many bars, restaurants, coffee shops and parks for you to enjoy on your days off work.

With year-round weather hovering around 50 to 60 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s no wonder locals choose to take to the outdoors. Check out Lake Merritt, located in the heart of the city, where you can bike, kayak and much more.

Oakland is also home to Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics, and you’ll see plenty of the team’s green, gold and white colors on proud display.

Oceanside, CA.

  • Population: 175,448
  • Average age: 42.4
  • Median household income: $72,697
  • Average commute: 34.9 minutes
  • Walk score: 50
  • Studio average rent: $2,417
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,257
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,523

Nestled on the coast of North San Diego County, Oceanside is the least populous city on this list. As such, it’s an ideal place to get away from the hustle-bustle of San Diego, but it’s still close enough — just a hop on Interstate 5 South.

Oceanside offers three miles of shoreline and stunning beaches for runners, walkers and water sports enthusiasts.

The city is also home to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, so don’t be surprised if you encounter men and women in uniform along the way. You might also recognize a few locations in town from the movie “Top Gun,” filmed here in 1986.

Riverside, CA, one of the best places to live in california

  • Population: 320,715
  • Average age: 38
  • Median household income: $69,045
  • Average commute: 38 minutes
  • Walk score: 54
  • Studio average rent: $1,416
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,685
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,987

The quiet and relaxing Inland Empire city of Riverside sits southeast of Los Angeles, offering more affordable housing than coastal towns. The University of California Riverside adds diversity and gives the city a thriving bar and club nightlife.

If you’re a fan of hot weather, then Riverside is the place for you. Since there is no sea breeze, the summer months mean Riverside is 20 to 30 degrees hotter than the coast.

Grab the family, swimsuits and a fishing boat and day-trip to Lake Hemet for some fun in the sun. Or head over to California Citrus State Historic Park, which preserves the cultural landscape of the citrus industry and shares the story of its role in the development of Southern California.

Sacramento, CA.

  • Population: 488,974
  • Average age: 40.2
  • Median household income: $62,335
  • Average commute: 30.8 minutes
  • Walk score: 60
  • Studio average rent: $1,940
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,802
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,959

Sacramento is not only the state capital but is also known as the City of Trees. It’s additionally known for the beautiful historical architecture of the government buildings around the downtown area.

Spend a fun weekend strolling Old Sacramento’s cobblestone streets, hitting the shops downtown, walking the Tower Bridge or visiting the Sacramento Zoo.

One of the greatest advantages to living in Sacramento is its proximity to some of Northern California’s most visited destinations. While the ocean is just a couple of hours to the west, Sacramento is a short drive from Napa Valley, national forests and mountains.

San Diego, CA, one of the best places to live in california

  • Population: 1,392,264
  • Average age: 40.5
  • Median household income: $79,673
  • Average commute: 29 minutes
  • Walk score: 71
  • Studio average rent: $2,215
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,372
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $3,068

Whether you are looking for a place to retire, coming here for work, looking for a place to raise a family or attending a university for higher education, there’s a place for you in San Diego. Best of all, there’s always something to do.

Catch a Padres game at Petco Park, hit the hiking trails, try a new brunch spot or head to the beach. The city scores high when it comes to restaurant offerings, especially in North Park, Old Town and Little Italy.

San Diego ranks second on this list for high-quality education with a Great Schools average rating of 6.3, and there are many exceptional university options to choose from.

San Francisco, CA.

  • Population: 864,263
  • Average age: 44.7
  • Median household income: $112,449
  • Average commute: 40.9 minutes
  • Walk score: 93
  • Studio average rent: $3,163
  • One-bedroom average rent: $3,981
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $5,187

If you’re looking for a career opportunity in tech, then head on over to San Francisco, where the industry is growing at a rapid pace. Granted, the living expenses are the highest here, but the income average is also the highest in California to help offset those costs. Plus, there are plenty of things to do.

Walk around Golden Gate Park, eat delicious food at the Fisherman’s Wharf or Chinatown, stroll across the Golden Gate Bridge, ride a trolley up the famous big hills or visit the museums to learn something new.

Don’t forget to invest in a good pair of walking shoes; this city is extremely pedestrian-friendly, with the highest walk score on this list. It just about makes up for the 40.9-minute average commute.

San Jose, CA, one of the best places to live in california

  • Population: 1,023,224
  • Average age: 40.8
  • Median household income: $109,593
  • Average commute: 36.2 minutes
  • Walk score: 62
  • Studio average rent: $2,304
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,823
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $3,459

The capital of Silicon Valley, San Jose is known for its fantastic weather, incredible hiking trails and safe suburban neighborhoods for young families.

Thanks to the technology industry boom, the cost of living has shot up compared to other California cities. Still, it’s more affordable than San Francisco.

A great advantage of living in San Jose is its proximity to other popular destinations. You can easily take a day trip to San Francisco, Oakland, Berkeley or wine country. The city is also a quick drive to local beaches and is only 3.5 hours from Yosemite National Park. During hockey season, stay put and cheer on National Hockey League’s San Jose Sharks.

Find your own best place to live in California.

Ready to find your next apartment in one of the best cities in California? Let us help you find the perfect place to call home.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments in March 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
Other demographic data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

Source: rent.com

Buying A Home? Here’s How To Navigate Intense Bidding Wars

It’s no secret that residential real estate is an extreme seller’s market. For sellers, this is excellent news, as many are netting hefty profits on their home sales. For buyers, however, the stress of multiple offer situations, higher prices, and intense bidding wars has become the new normal.

If homebuying is on your 2021 radar, it’s crucial to prepare for the reality of this market. And while you may have heard horror stories of bidding wars, don’t worry — it IS possible to win a multiple-offer situation and secure the house of your dreams! Here are 7 things to know when navigating these situations.

bidding warsbidding wars

Come Out Strong

Even if a home isn’t currently in a multiple-offer situation, it can become one in a matter of hours. That’s why it’s important for buyers to always put their best offer on the table from the start. While buyers may hope the seller will negotiate a lower offer, that just isn’t the reality of the current real estate market. Sellers have the luxury of rejecting any offer that isn’t ideal.

Dan McQuillen of The Danberry Company Realtors in NW Ohio says “In this market we are telling the buyers that they better assume they only get one chance at getting the house.” But, what is a strong offer in this market? In a nutshell, meeting the seller’s list price or above, not asking for concessions, providing a quick close, and even requesting minimal to no repairs, could go a long way in winning intense bidding wars.

Get Pre-Approved

While cash is king in the real estate world, most homebuyers need to obtain a loan to purchase. Sellers want the reassurance that buyers have the capability of getting approved for a home loan. McQuillen adds that he frequently sees buyers make the mistake of “not being pre-approved with a reputable lender.” By working with a local lender who is confident in your loan approval, you can help reassure sellers that you’re a qualified buyer who can make it to the closing table.

(READ MORE: How to Finance Your Home)

Keep Requests To A Minimum

In a seller’s market, the seller is in the driver’s seat, leaving buyers at their mercy. Given the current status of the real estate market, sellers don’t need to provide concessions to buyers. Sellers in today’s market prioritize “clean” offers: no closing cost assistance, no contingencies, no additional warranties, etc. McQuillen sums it up: “Don’t nickel and dime the seller.”

If a buyer does need to request seller-paid closing costs on their behalf, McQuillen suggests “write a higher offer and find out what else is important to the seller. There may be things besides price that the seller would like.”

Be Prepared To Lose A Few Rounds

It’s not uncommon for homebuyers to go through multiple rounds of bidding wars on multiple homes before they finally get an offer accepted. This is what causes many buyers to become discouraged with the process. However, it is possible to buy a home in this market—you just need perseverance, a highly experienced real estate agent, and realistic expectations.

Get An Agent….Then Get Real

The single greatest asset in navigating an intense seller’s market is a dedicated advocate in your corner. A buyer’s agent is a representative who does much of the heavy lifting for buyers. Their experience and knowledge of the market can assist buyers in creating offers that provide the most appeal—from price, to closing date, and everything in between. Buyer’s agents are knee-deep in multiple offer situations every day, and many have the hard-earned experience to set their client’s offer apart from the crowd.

bidding warsbidding wars

One of the greatest mistakes a buyer can make in a multiple offer situation is have lofty expectations. Expecting sellers to reduce the sale price, leave behind thousands of dollars worth of furniture or complete extensive repairs is simply not the reality of this real estate market. If you’re not entirely sure what the whole reality of the market is, it’s one more reason to work with an agent.

Be Flexible

Several factors can help you navigate intense bidding wars, but there is one thing that could derail all those efforts: inflexibility. If you’re unwilling to look outside a geographic area, or rigid on your closing date, or refuse to negotiate on the terms of your offer—you will create a scenario that only brings more difficulty and frustration.

In all areas of the process, it’s important that buyers are flexible. That flexibility can help you stand out among a sea of offers.

McQuillen suggests “It could be that the seller would really like to sell the house and be able to rent back the house for a period of time,” so by offering a flexible close date, your offer could very well rise to the top of the list.

Know When To Fold Them

In this market, real estate agents are seeing buyers offer thousands of dollars over list price, waiving inspections, and even agreeing to pay over appraisal value out of desperation to win bidding wars. But, that desperation can be a recipe for buyer’s remorse.

As McQuillen explains, “The risk in waiving an inspection is there are some pretty significant issues with the house that the purchaser would be stuck with. The risk of waiving an appraisal is that the house doesn’t appraise and, worse yet, appraises for significantly less than the purchase price; then the purchaser has to come up with more money out of pocket than they were anticipating.”

If in the course of the bidding war the seller is expecting you to overextend yourself or open you up to greater risk, it’s okay to walk away from negotiations. It’s better to have rejected the deal than to sign up for a bad deal.

Extra Advice: Stay Informed

Trends and market conditions can change in mere hours, so stay informed with all the up-to-date information you need with Homes.com resources. Local market reports, tips and advice, and consumer resources are all at your fingertips, so keep us bookmarked!


Jennifer is an accidental house flipper turned Realtor and real estate investor. She is the voice behind the blog, Bachelorette Pad Flip. Over five years, Jennifer paid off $70,000 in student loan debt through real estate investing. She’s passionate about the power of real estate. She’s also passionate about southern cooking, good architecture, and thrift store treasure hunting. She calls Northwest Arkansas home with her cat Smokey, but she has a deep love affair with South Florida.

Source: homes.com

5 Gorgeous Homes for Sale in Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s New Hometown

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are all over the news these days in the wake of their blockbuster interview with Oprah Winfrey, and it’s clear that the young couple is much happier far, far away from Buckingham Palace and all the baggage that comes with royal life.

So what’s the deal with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s new hometown, and their new digs?

In summer 2020, this famous couple purchased a mansion for $14,650,000 in Montecito, a community within Santa Barbara, CA. This was the first home the ex-royals bought together, and it’s a splendid 18,000-square-foot mansion with nine bedrooms and 16 baths, plus a pool, teahouse, and tennis court—and more befitting their ex-royal status.

The ex-royals' forever home in Montecito, an affluent community in California's Santa Barbara County
The ex-royals’ forever home in Montecito, an affluent community in California’s Santa Barbara County

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Why Prince Harry and Meghan Markle live in Montecito

While Montecito might seem like a surprising choice, it makes total sense given this couple’s intense need for privacy. Just 90 minutes north of Los Angeles but a world away in terms of solitude and quiet, this mellow beach town is home to the ultrawealthy who want to avoid the spotlight, which is why many celebrities from Winfrey to Ellen DeGeneres live in the area as well. Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine and his wife, model Behati Prinsloo, reportedly just dropped $22.7 million on a historic estate there.

“The reason A-list celebs like Oprah and Ellen flock to Montecito is for the laid-back, understated feel of the area and the types of homes that afford lots of privacy and space,” says Cara Ameer, a real estate agent with Coldwell Banker in Los Angeles.

Montecito isn’t just for boldface names. Since COVID-19 started sweeping across the U.S., this area has seen a phenomenal uptick in interest, according to the Wall Street Journal, with an 80% increase in sales since 2019.

Many of these new residents are young families fleeing the congestion of big cities like Los Angeles, on a quest for more space to ride out the rest of the pandemic. And Montecito fits the bill, with its beautiful beaches, safe community, and highly ranked schools.

According to realtor.com® data, currently there are 94 active listings in Montecito, but most buyers will need to pay dearly for even a small pad here, as the median price of homes in the area is $4,995,000.

However, perhaps due to these sky-high home prices, Montecito listings don’t sell all that quickly, spending an average of 86 days on the market. And the higher the price, the longer these properties tend to sit.

“The market above $20 million in California isn’t super hot right now because fewer people are looking in that range,” says Cedric Stewart, a real estate agent with Keller Williams Capital Properties. As such, even with Montecito’s Harry and Meghan cachet, “it’s unlikely most homes will draw interest above the asking price or create a bidding war.”

The downsides of living near Harry and Meghan

Still, one potential downside to Montecito is that reporters and photographers may be lurking around town, hoping to snap photos of Harry and Meghan.

“Potential homeowners could find the media buzz bothersome,” says Ameer.

Still, fans attempting to discern where Harry and Meghan actually live face an uphill battle.

“The streets are small in this area and so is the signage, and homes are often set well back from the road,” says Ameer. As such, “you won’t have any idea which house is which unless you really know where you’re going.”

Curious to learn what your life might be like if you moved to Montecito? Check out some of the other gorgeous homes for sale right now.

Asking price: $22.5 million

The house comes with both ocean and mountain views.
The house comes with both ocean and mountain views.

realtor.com

Perched on more than 5 acres, this seven-bedroom, 13-bath mansion has already received one offer. Still, if you’re willing to dig a little deeper into your wallet, additional bids are reportedly being entertained

Among the many high-end amenities that come with this renovated estate are an enormous underground garage that holds eight cars, a gym in a separate building, and a huge outdoor kitchen, as well as two one-bedroom guest cottages.

The picturesque grounds are perfectly arranged with burbling brooks, bridges, an adorable playhouse, and a network of pathways, making the property ideal for young children. There’s also plenty of room for staff and security given the extra two-car garage, office space, break rooms, and restrooms for assistants and other personnel.

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Asking price: $29,000,000

This estate is styled after the Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain.
This estate is styled after the Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain.

realtor.com

If you adore Spanish architecture, this property is right up your alley. Built in the style of the Alhambra palace in Granada, Spain, this estate features a floor plan of nearly 12,000 square feet, which includes four bedrooms and 4.5 baths.

The home offers old-world charm, with Moorish and Italianate features throughout the sun-drenched rooms. Modern amenities include a home theater, billiard room, and gleaming chef’s kitchen. Naturally, there are the stunning views of the ocean across the beautifully manicured lawns and gardens.

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Asking price: $21,500,000

This estate comes with a breathtaking loggia.
This estate comes with a breathtaking loggia.

realtor.com

An incredible vista of the water awaits the lucky buyer of this Italian villa–style home, along with its 9,000 square feet of living space, and a generous 6-acre plot surrounding it.

Architect Peter Becker and designer Rosie Feinberg collaborated over five years on this mansion, creating a star-worthy home with glass walls and steel doors that reveal a breathtaking loggia facing south.

Along with four bedrooms and 4.5 baths, there’s a massive master suite, formal rooms for entertaining, a wine room, and a jaw-dropping library straight out of an ivy league college. Fruit trees dot the landscape, which also includes a pool, spa, and guesthouse.

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Asking price: $17,900,000

This property sports a fenced-in dog run.
This property sports a fenced-in dog run.

realtor.com

For a bit less money (though when we’re talking millions, what’s a few bucks here and there?), you can have this 8,500-square-foot home known as Casa Leo Linda. It has six bedrooms and eight baths, plus a pool, pool house, and tennis court. However, the mansion’s proximity to stores and nightlife in Montecito’s Upper Village may be its strongest selling point.

And if you have a pooch, you’ll be pleased to learn that the property sports a fenced-in dog run. Dog walkers and their four-legged friends can also enjoy the gardens, sculpted hedges, and koi pond.

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Asking price: $9,500,000

This is what a modest mansion looks like in Montecito.
This is what a modest mansion looks like in Montecito.

realtor.com

For a more modest Montecito manse, this four-bedroom, five-bath home is both charming and comfortable. Several of the rooms with cathedral ceilings open to the patio in the rear that overlooks an inviting pool and mature plantings on a 1-acre lot.

The kitchen comes with both walk-in and butler’s pantries, while the main living spaces feature a great room, formal dining room, and den. For those cool California nights, you can feed the embers in two fireplaces in the master suite and living room.

Source: realtor.com