What Every Homeowner Needs to Know About Contractors

When you’re building or renovating a home, having the right team on your side makes all the difference.

Building or renovating a home is a complex project with plenty of moving parts. Even if you’re planning to take a DIY approach, it’s likely you’ll need some help from contractors along the way. Here’s a guide to the types of contractors you might enlist to help you complete your dream home.

General contractors

If you think of a general contractor like a general in the military, you have the basic idea of what a general contractor does. Like a general leading a military campaign, a general contractor organizes the strategy of a building or remodeling project. The general contractor decides when to bring in the plumbers, electricians, and roofers; makes sure they do their jobs correctly; and checks details, like ensuring that the carpenters install the porch handrails according to code.

Especially if there is no architect involved, the general contractor ensures that the building permits are in order and that the project is legal — meaning that it is being done to city or country building codes. (If it isn’t, your city’s building inspectors will make you redo it. Ouch!) Like a military general who is ultimately responsible for the success of a campaign, the general contractor is responsible for the outcome of remodeling project.

Subcontractors

Subcontractors are specialists who work under the direction of the general contractor. Subcontractors include plumbers, electricians, tile setters, carpenters, framers, roofers, painters and cabinetmakers, among others.

Ideally, they show up at your construction or remodeling project when they are needed. If the subcontractors are reliable and efficient, the pace of your project continues to move steadily along, and it is finished when it is supposed to be. If all that happens, it is usually because a good general contractor has been overseeing their work.

Owner as general contractor

Homeowners who are skilled at organizing multimillion-dollar sales campaigns at their office or at running three local volunteer organizations in their spare time sometimes like to act as their own general contractors. There is no law that says you can’t. As a rule of thumb, general contractors charge about 15 to 20 percent of the total cost of the job, so acting as your own general contractor can save money.

But before you leap into the general contractor role, consider whether you really have the time, expertise, and patience to run a remodeling project, especially a complicated one. How much time can you spend on site? Can you take phone calls at unexpected times of the day?

The one thing you can count on with any remodel is that something will go wrong at some point. It may not be a big deal, but it will mean making new arrangements, often on short notice, and rearranging schedules for subcontractors and suppliers.

This could mean dozens of phone calls in a single afternoon. It could mean running around hunting down some piece of hardware or building material that is needed on site right now. If this sounds like fun, you may have what it takes to act as your own general contractor.

Design/build firms

An alternative to hiring a general contractor or acting as your own is to hire a design/build firm. Design/build firms are companies that offer start-to-finish building and remodeling services. They employ architects or designers as well as the skilled builders.

A design/build firm essentially offers the services of architect, general contractor, and subcontractors. The obvious advantage to using these firms is that the entire project should be a fairly smooth operation, since the firm takes responsibility for everything.

While general contractors, subs, and independent architects can, in the worst scenarios, blame each other for mishaps and toss the responsibility for correcting the mishaps back and forth, design/build firms know the buck stops with them. They have to make it right.

Carpenters

If your home improvement project really is as straightforward as installing a wall of built-in bookshelves in your living room, your best bet is probably to find a good carpenter or cabinetmaker.

People who bill themselves as handymen may be fine at installing new light switches or doing minor carpentry, but, as always, ask to see some of their work. If you want your new bookshelves to look like elegant additions to your living room, find an expert in cabinetry.

Related:

Source: zillow.com

Wondering How to Become an Audiobook Narrator? Here’s How

Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2019. 

While readers and writers have skeptically watched the fluctuating publishing industry in recent years, one literary market has caught us all a bit by surprise: audiobooks.

Somewhere along the path of lengthy commutes and ubiquitous smartphones, a market for audiobooks erupted: people who don’t otherwise read much.

This exploding market makes it imperative for authors and publishers to get books into audio form and on the most popular platforms — Audible (Amazon) and iTunes.

Enter Amazon’s Audiobook Creative Exchange (ACX), which connects audiobook narrators with books to narrate.

Like other publishing services you’ll find at Amazon — CreateSpace for print-on-demand books, CDs and DVDs; and Kindle Direct Publishing for ebooks — ACX simplifies the process of producing an audiobook from start to finish.

If you’re an actor or voice-over artist, you could make money working in this market.

Not sure where to start? Here’s our guide.

How to Become an Audiobook Narrator

Actor Kris Keppeler has been doing voice-over work for over a decade.

“I got started through freelancing and bidding on work,” Keppeler said. “I bid on a short audiobook and got that, and it went well. When ACX came along, I started auditioning there… It’s taken a little bit to discover where my voice fits.”

Based on her experience, Keppeler shares some advice — and warnings — for anyone interested in doing audiobook work.

What You Need to Know Before Auditioning

Before you spend months auditioning to land your first gig, we have some tips to help you get started.

“My voice just fits with audiobook work,” Keppeler said. “Actors are especially tuned in for audiobook work, by the nature of our training.”

That’s because actors learn how to represent multiple characters, necessary for fiction narration in particular. Even for nonfiction, acting training can help you animate narration and make a book interesting.

“You definitely have to have some training,” Keppeler said. “If you regularly listen to audiobooks and like them, that’s a good starting point. But you have to have a real desire to do this kind of work, because it’s a lot of work.”

How is narrating an audiobook different from just reading a book aloud?

“When you read a book, you’re seeing and hearing things in your mind,” she said. “When you’re narrating that book, what you’re seeing and hearing in your mind you have to then vocalize. That’s not easy!”

Because an audiobook listener relies entirely on your narration, painting the picture just right (and meeting the author’s vision) is vital. It’s a distinct difference from other voice-over work, like commercials, where images or video complement the narration.

Because of this need to draw the reader into a made-up world, narrating fiction requires acting skills. Not everyone is cut out for it.

But, “nonfiction has its own challenge,” Keppeler said. “Sometimes what you’re reading is kind of dry, but you still have to make it interesting.”

She says it doesn’t necessarily matter whether a book is interesting to her.

“At this point, whether it is or not, I am narrating it and finding the interesting bits for me and putting it into my voice,” Keppeler said.

Even if you don’t enjoy the subject matter, you can still enjoy the process of producing the book for readers.

Learn Proper Technique

Before landing her first gig through ACX, Keppeler submitted auditions to the platform for well over a year.

Why does it take so long to land a gig?

Some of it, Keppeler says, is just learning how to narrate correctly. “I had some coaching that finally brought me to the point of doing a fairly good job.”

Author Joanna Penn recorded the audio versions of some of her own books. If you can’t afford coaching, she offers some tips for beginners at The Creative Penn to help you get started.

Some tricks to consider:

  • If you’re new at recording, schedule sessions a few days apart to ensure you have enough energy.
  • Try to avoid dairy before recording. Same goes for foods like peanut butter or anything that clogs up your mouth or throat (yeck!).
  • Try to modulate your breathing so you don’t end up holding your breath. This has a real effect on stamina.

Find Your Niche

Once she’d mastered the audiobook reading techniques, Keppeler said, she had to find her niche.

She used trial and error. She took whatever narration work came her way, and listened to client feedback. When an author liked her voice, she knew it was a good fit.

“In voice-over in general, there are so many different genres,” she said. “Most people find you have certain specialities and certain ones don’t fit.”

Once you know your voice and which genres are the best fit, she says, jobs come much more quickly.

Only audition for gigs that fit your voice, and the success rate is much higher. You can even search for books by genre.

“I’m becoming a bit of a nonfiction specialist,” Keppeler said. “[When it comes to fiction], it’s hard to learn to do the different voices… Fiction books are heavily character-based, so you’re going to have to handle [those] unless you’re hired to work with a group, but that’s not that common.”

The Challenges of Audiobook Narration

Some of the work involved goes beyond just recording the voice-over. “Especially if you work through ACX, you have to do the producing yourself,” Keppeler said. “[That’s] editing and mastering yourself. There’s a technical learning curve.”

Audiobooks require hours and hours of editing, making them much more labor intensive than a lot of other voice-over work.

“What I learned editing smaller jobs contributed a lot to being able to jump into audiobooks,” Keppeler said.

So you might consider starting small.

Search online for voice-over jobs — you’ll find promotional videos under five minutes or corporate training videos of five to 15 minutes.

Even online course videos requiring a few hours of voice-over are much shorter than most audiobooks, which run closer to 10 to 15 hours. Hone your skills on smaller jobs and work your way up to the lengthier projects.

What about contracting the technical stuff out to an audio editor? Keppeler says that for what you’re paid, it’s not usually worth it for an audiobook.

You’re expected to record, produce and deliver a finished product. Any additional help you bring in will cut into your pay. Keppeler says you’re better off just learning to do it yourself.

The Creative Penn also offers a few editing tips:

  • Avoid page turning noises — read from a tablet, Kindle or other electronic device.
  • Turn off any devices’ Wi-Fi connections and set them to Airplane mode to avoid static noises. (They may be there, even if you can’t hear them.)
  • Each ACX file needs to be a single chapter of the book. It’s easier to record these as separate files rather than cut it up later.
  • The ACX technical requirements mean you have to add a few seconds of Room Tone at the beginning and end of the file.

How Much Money Can You Make Reading Audiobooks?

ACX doesn’t set or recommend rates for producers to charge.

But it does point out many narrators are members of the SAG-AFTRA union, which lists minimum rate restrictions.

These guaranteed rates vary by publisher/producer. Author Roz Morris tells authors to expect to pay around $200 per finished hour for audiobook narration.

However, Keppeler says most freelance audiobook work will be paid in royalties. As you might guess, this reduces an author’s upfront cost — as well as their risk in hiring you.

While ACX may be a good place to find the work, the pay is usually lower, especially compared with freelance broker sites that aren’t dedicated solely to audiobook narration.

When you record an audiobook with ACX, you’ll choose between setting your own per-finished-hour rate or splitting royalties 50/50 with the rights holder (usually the book’s author or publisher).

If you charge a flat rate, you’ll be paid upon completion of the book. Royalties are paid monthly based on sales from the previous month.

Mostly, Keppeler focuses on short books she can quickly complete. And she gets paid a flat rate of about $100 per finished hour, rather than royalties.

“I have done royalty deals but only on ACX with short books,” she said.

“I don’t want to tie up my time, because you [typically] make very little on royalty books… I have four royalty books [on ACX], and about $20 trickles in every quarter.”

Whether or not a royalty deal pays off is largely based on an author’s platform, The Creative Penn points out. Research an author before signing an agreement.

If you’re just looking for a quick job and aren’t concerned with long-term sales, you can work with an author regardless of their audience. Set a flat rate, and get your money when the job’s done.

But if you want to develop a long-term relationship with an author and you’ve found someone with a sizable audience, you may be better off with the royalty deal.

Long term, you could make much more money in sales royalties. Your working relationship with the author also will be strengthened, because you’ll be invested in the book’s success.

Where to Find Audiobook Work

As with any freelance work, booking a gig directly with the client in your network allows you the most autonomy in setting your rate.

Connecting with a client through a freelance broker like Upwork and Freelancer offers less autonomy and usually lower rates than working with someone directly.

Bidding through an exchange site like ACX offers the lowest of both.

“I only go out to ACX when I don’t have other paid work,” Keppeler said.

ACX also makes it difficult to achieve one of the staples of successful freelance work: repeat clients.

Keppeler said the platform isn’t really set up to connect authors with narrators long-term. Instead you audition for each job. It eliminates a huge opportunity for narrators to work with an author on a series or future books.

Directly connecting through a freelance broker does offer that opportunity. Keppeler said it’s how she found the author of this series of books on Wicca, which offered her ongoing work.

What ACX is good for, she said, is building your portfolio.

If you’re just getting started, the platform gives you an opportunity to hone your chops.

Practice your narrating and editing skills through auditions, and improve from author feedback. Once you land a few gigs, use those as samples to land clients elsewhere.

As audiobooks increase in popularity, Keppeler is seeing more audiobook work appear on Upwork. Freelancers, she says, tend to be better for general voice-over gigs, but not audiobook narration.

Audiobook Narrator Must-Haves

Keppeler’s top tip for anyone getting into voice-over work is to invest in a good microphone and headphones.

Early on, she says,  “I lost out on work because I didn’t have a really great pair of headphones, and there was background noise that I wasn’t hearing. If you send something out that’s not good enough, they will never hire you again.”

Eventually, she hired a professional to help improve her set-up. She says she wishes she had done it up front, instead of DIYing.

A good pre-amp or audiobox can also help clean up your sound and eliminate background noise. But Keppeler warns against buying a cheap one — it’s a tool worth spending money on.

Finally, “You have to have a desire to learn the technical part of it,” she said. “You can ruin an audiobook with bad editing.”

How to Get Started

ACX offers comprehensive guides and FAQs for authors, narrators and publishers, so review those before you get started.

Here’s an overview of how it works:

  1. Create a profile to detail your experience.

  2. Upload samples to your profile to showcase your various skills — accents, genre, style, etc.

  3. Determine whether you’ll always want to be paid per finished hour or by royalty agreements, or if you’re open to either.

  4. Search for books authors/publishers have posted, and record a few minutes of the manuscript to audition for the gig.

  5. When you’re chosen by the author/publisher, they’ll send you an offer. To take the job, accept the offer. All of this should happen through ACX (not over the phone or via email) to ensure the contract terms are on record.

  6. Record and edit a 15-minute sample for feedback before recording and editing the full project. They’ll also have the right to approve or request changes once you’ve submitted the full project.

  7. You’ll be paid a flat rate upon completion and approval of the project or monthly royalty payments based on book sales.

If you’re just getting started in voice-over work, try browsing Upwork for smaller projects you can use to find your voice, build your technical skills and grow your portfolio.

Or reach into your network, and get creative to find freelancing gigs on your own.

Dana Sitar (@danasitar) is a former branded content editor at The Penny Hoarder.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

How Much Homeowner’s Insurance Should You Get When Buying a House

A house purchase accounts for a sizable net worth of a person. Just like any investment, insuring your house makes economic sense. Ideally the cover should help you rebuild and replace your belongings if disaster strikes. A good policy should also shoulder the financial burden arising from injuries that a third party might suffer within the property.

So, how much homeowner’s insurance should you get? When deciding on this, the following factors will come into play.

Replacement cost of the house

Fixing Your HomeFixing Your HomeYour house is insured on replacement basis. This means you will be reimbursed the equivalent cost of rebuilding your entire house or part of it that has been damaged.

To this end you should go for a policy whose limit will cover the current cost of rebuilding the house. It should take into account the cost of buying the same type of materials as well paying the labor at current prices.

The policy should also be flexible enough to account for possible changes in building regulations. Such include building code upgrades that may require some aspects of your house to be changed; say better foundations or a different drainage design.

Beware of policies that only cover the original value of a house. The premiums might be lower but they won’t cover any increase in labor or material costs. The payout will also be less the depreciation value of your home.

Deductible Amount

This is the out-of-pocket money that a policy holder must pay before the insurer settles a claim. It’s advisable to go for policies with high deductibles since they offer low insurance premiums.

A publication by Oregon Insurance Division shows that on average homeowners make a claim once in every 9 years. With this in mind, it makes sense to foot a higher deductible when disasters strike and save on monthly instalments in the long run.

Most insurance companies will increase your premiums or refuse to cover you in the future if you get into a habit of claiming reimbursement for minor damages. The move will ensure that you only file claims when the direst of disasters hit.

Location of your Home

Your policy limits will vary depending on the location of your home. Houses built on sloppy or hilly sites are deemed problematic. Same goes for homes at far off places like a heavily wooded area that may inaccessible to emergency services e.g. fire trucks.

Some locations and states are also flagged as high disaster areas. These include flood, earthquake or hurricane prone areas. If your house is located in such an area then expect to pay high limits on your policy.

Flooding accounts for the highest percentage of insurance claims from natural disasters. You should consider having a policy that addresses it; even if your zone is not susceptible to floods. This is according to Loretta Worters, the Vice President of Communications at Insurance Information Institute

Value of your Possessions

A detailed inventory of your belongings should give you an idea of what you stand to lose as a result of burglary or damage from a disaster. Normally, policies will insure possessions up to 75% of the home value.

You can insure your belongings on their actual value or that of replacing them. Replacement coverage attracts higher premiums but it makes more financial sense. This is due to the fact that most house possessions have a high rate of depreciation.

What Else to Consider

Having factored the above in your insurance calculations, the figure that you come up with should fall within a given margin. Take it upon yourself to find out the average cost in your state and specific city.

To give you an idea of what to expect let’s consider a home coverage of $200,000 with a $1000 deductible and a liability coverage of $100,000. A study showed that:

The national average falls at $1,228 with Florida and Louisiana having annual average rates north of $2900. Hawaii and Vermont attract the minimum coverage averaging at $589 and $337 respectively.

Pro Tip: Your policy limit can vary slightly from the average figure depending on the uniqueness of your home and possessions.

Conclusion      

Although home insurance is a must-have for every homeowner it needn’t be expensive. Lack of knowledge on the subject can land you on expensive policies that are not worth your property. Similarly, you may find yourself with a cheap cover that is inadequate for your property. The above information will guide you in deciding on the amount of insurance that you should get for your home.

Source: creditabsolute.com

The Best Places to Live in Wisconsin in 2021

When people think of Wisconsin, they usually think of cheese, the Green Bay Packers or its largest city, Milwaukee.

The best places to live in Wisconsin are scattered throughout the state and include communities both big and small. After all, this Midwest state is home to 777 cities, each with its own strong community and unique personality.

So, whether you’re looking for an apartment while attending one of their excellent universities or colleges, making a move for a new job or looking for something new and different, there is a city and community waiting for you.

Here are 10 of the best places to live in Wisconsin.

Appleton, WI.

Photo source: Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau / Facebook
  • Population: 73,637
  • Average age: 40.8
  • Median household income: $58,112
  • Average commute time: 22.3 minutes
  • Walk score: 41
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $918
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,281

Creative outdoor murals line the buildings, while cute boutiques, cozy coffee shops, and delicious food is found throughout historic downtown Appleton.

The city is among more than a dozen that make up the Fox Cities community and overlooks the Fox River.

It’s family-friendly and has a dense suburban feel with highly-rated schools. It’s also home to Lawrence University, a residential liberal arts college and conservatory of music.

Eau-Claire, WI, one of the best places to live in wisconsin

Photo source: Visit Eau-Claire / Facebook
  • Population: 67,250
  • Average age: 40
  • Median household income: $55,477
  • Average commute time: 20.9 minutes
  • Walk score: 47
  • Studio average rent: $608
  • One-bedroom average rent: $722
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $844

Whether it’s gathering with friends and neighbors to enjoy some of the many live music options throughout the city, including the Jazz Fest in the spring, followed by Country Fest, Rock Fest and Blue Ox Music Festival in the summer, or taking in some local art or walking along the historic bridges, Eau Claire is known for its welcoming vibe.

It’s especially welcoming to independent artists who create art installations, building murals and more.

According to a study released by Smart Asset, Eau Claire is also the third most livable small city in the country.

Fond-Du-Lac, WI.

  • Population: 43,145
  • Average age: 42.8
  • Median household income: $52,724
  • Average commute time: 22.4 minutes
  • Walk score: 49
  • Studio average rent: n/a
  • One-bedroom average rent: $822
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $895

Fond du Lac is a family-friendly community with a strong sense of history. The Fond du Lac County Historical Society connects residents to the local history of the town.

The public library and several sporting centers offer programming year-round and there is no shortage of restaurants and bars to enjoy dining and imbibing.

Green Bay, WI, one of the best places to live in wisconsin

  • Population: 104,984
  • Average age: 39.8
  • Median household income: $49,251
  • Average commute time: 22.8 minutes
  • Walk score: 45
  • Studio average rent: $955
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,152
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,252

Most people know Green Bay for its football team (Fun fact: the Green Bay Packers football team is the only NFL team owned by its fans) but there is more than football in this northeastern part of Wisconsin and at the mouth of the Fox River.

While it can get cold during the winter months, Green Bay residents love spending time outdoors whenever possible. Easy access to the Fox River also means water-based activities such as fishing.

As the state’s oldest settlement, it’s also known for its family and business-friendly community.

Kenosha, WI.

  • Population: 98,545
  • Average age: 40.5
  • Median household income: $55,417
  • Average commute time: 29.2 minutes
  • Walk score: 51
  • Studio average rent: $1,254
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,344
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,581

Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan and at the northern border of Illinois, Kenosha is sometimes called a bedroom community between Chicago and Milwaukee.

Outdoor activities are popular, whether it’s water-based activities on Lake Michigan or playing a round of golf at one of the Kenosha County golf courses.

Kenosha is also home to Carthage College and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

La Crosse, WI, one of the best places to live in wisconsin

  • Population: 51,965
  • Average age: 39.1
  • Median household income: $45,233
  • Average commute time: 19.2 minutes
  • Walk score: 60
  • Studio average rent: $773
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,100
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,245

Nestled along the Mississippi River, La Crosse is the largest city on Wisconsin’s western border. It’s home to a few colleges, including the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Western Technical College and Viterbo University.

La Crosse has charming historic homes that have since been converted into bed and breakfasts, such as the Castle La Crosse Bed and Breakfast, while the Dahl Auto Museum pays tribute to the eight oldest Ford dealership under continuous family ownership in the nation.

Nature lovers can enjoy scenic views from 600-foot-high Grandad Bluff which overlooks the city of La Crosse.

Madison, WI.

  • Population: 249,409
  • Average age: 39
  • Median household income: $65,332
  • Average commute time: 23.7 minutes
  • Walk score: 64
  • Studio average rent: $969
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,350
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,935

Madison is the home of Wisconsin’s state capital as well as the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It’s also one of the best cities for millennials.

The second-largest city in the state, Madison is a progressive urban city that is both affordable and offers great employment opportunities.

Outdoor lovers will appreciate the hiking and biking trails and the walkable downtown has bookshops, coffee shops and restaurants around every corner.

Milwaukee, WI, one of the best places to live in wisconsin

  • Population: 599,058
  • Average age: 37.8
  • Median household income: $41,838
  • Average commute time: 27.5 minutes
  • Walk score: 70
  • Studio average rent: $1,276
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,428
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,803

Milwaukee is Wisconsin’s largest and most populated city, with almost 600,000 residents calling it home.

Located in the southern part of the state and along Lake Michigan, it’s known for its many cultural offerings, from the architecturally significant Milwaukee Art Museum to the Milwaukee Repertory Theater to its wildly popular annual Summerfest, one of the largest music festivals in the world.

It’s also home to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette University campus as well as two major professional sports teams: the Milwaukee Bucks and the Milwaukee Brewers. Several Fortune 500 companies have headquarters here too, including WEC Energy Group, Northwestern Mutual and Harley-Davidson.

Wauwatosa, WI.

Photo source: Discover Wauwatosa / Facebook
  • Population: 47,772
  • Average age: 43.9
  • Median household income: $82,392
  • Average commute time: 24.6 minutes
  • Walk score: 57
  • Studio average rent: $1,221
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,504
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,962

Wauwatosa, sometimes called Tosa by locals, is just 15 minutes west of downtown Milwaukee. Residents love the small-town feel and having easy access to independently-owned shops and restaurants.

A major employer is the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center and Wauwatosa is home to several colleges and universities.

Tosa Village, originally called Hart’s Mill in the 1800s, is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike as the thriving historic district includes parks, cultural attractions, restaurants, and bars.

Architecture fans will appreciate a trip to Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1956 and completed in 1961. The church is on the National Register of Historic Places and among Wright’s last works and completed after his death.

Waukesha, WI, one of the best places to live in wisconsin

  • Population: 71,536
  • Average age: 41.3
  • Median household income: $65,260
  • Average commute time: 26.7 minutes
  • Walk score: 33
  • Studio average rent: $898
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,012
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,299

Waukesha is a city of neighborhoods, filled with strong schools, great shops, and an abundance of green spaces to play.

An active farmers market during the summer takes place in downtown Waukesha, where families and friends meet up.

It’s ideal for those who want a suburban environment with access to urban amenities and residents include families as well as young professionals.

The city is also conveniently located close to Milwaukee, just 18 miles west of the largest city in Wisconsin, and 59 miles east of Madison, making it easy to get to either place.

Experience the best cities in Wisconsin

Wisconsin checks off a lot of checkmarks when it comes to living in a vibrant Midwest state with great attractions, schools, outdoor and recreational activities.

Whether you’re looking for a slower pace of life or the energy of a busy city, there is a Wisconsin community ready to welcome you. We hope this list of best places to live in Wisconsin helps you choose your next 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

Understand the Type of Homeowners Insurance You Need

Home is where the heart is. Often, it is also where the heartache is when disaster strikes. Long before something goes wrong, you need to ask “How much homeowners insurance do I need?”

Homeowners insurance protects your home and possessions against a variety of perils including damage or theft, and also natural disasters such as flood, hurricanes, fires and earthquakes.

“Homeowner’s coverage provides financial protection, that’s really what it’s all about,” said Mark Friedlander, director of corporate communications at Insurance Information Institute in New York.

Mortgage companies require a certain amount of coverage, but unlike car insurance, there aren’t any state mandates requiring people to have it.

“If you don’t have a mortgage, you are not obligated to buy homeowners coverage and we think that’s a critical error that people make because unless you have a lot of money set aside, you’re going to have financial hit and you’re not going to be protected,” Friedlander explained.

Even if you do the minimum to satisfy your mortgage company, it often isn’t enough. Friedlander said most people make the mistake of not having enough insurance to adequately protect themselves and their families.

So how much homeowners insurance do you need?

Home Insurance Basics

If you’re doing the smart thing and asking yourself, how much homeowners insurance do I need, it’s best if you understand some of the basics of the policies.

Policies generally cover:

  • Damage to the interior or exterior of your house from a covered disaster. The types of disasters are listed in the policy. Usually if the specific event is not listed, it is probably not covered.
  • Contents of your home if damaged or destroyed in a covered event or if they are stolen.
  • Personal liability for damage or injuries caused by you, a family member, or pet.
  • Housing and other expenses while your home is repaired or rebuilt after a covered event.

Within each policy, there are basically three levels of coverage. This becomes important after a covered event when you begin to repair or rebuild.

  • Actual Cash Value: This covers the house (structure) plus the value of belongings inside with a deduction for depreciation. You will get paid for what the items are currently worth, not necessarily what you paid for them. This is the least expensive coverage.
  • Replacement Cost: This covers the house plus the value of belongings without depreciation. This coverage would allow you to rebuild or repair up to the original value of the home and policy coverage limits.
  • Guaranteed or Extended Replacement Value/Cost: This is the most expensive but most comprehensive of coverages and provides the best financial protection for you. It covers the cost to repair or rebuild even if more than the policy limit, usually with a ceiling of 20 to 25%. In addition to this, many policies have additional coverage you can buy that will cover the cost to comply with current building codes that may not have been around when the house was initially built.

“A lot of times, actual cash value policies are for homes that don’t qualify for replacement cost policies. They are not in as good of shape or have an older roof or something like that,” said Craig Peterson, an agency owner for American Family Insurance in Overland Park, Kansas. He usually recommends no less than replacement cost policies to his clients.

As important as it is to know what types of coverage you have and what situations are covered, it is as important to know what is not covered at all or may be covered with additional restrictions or different deductibles.

Different policies cover different perils for different types of structures like a condo, renter’s policy, etc. The policies have designinations from HO-0 to HO-8.

There are also differences when it comes to paying things like additional living expenses, hotels, meals, etc., if your home is uninhabitable.

For more information about the basics of home insurance polices and what they cover, What Home Insurance Actually Covers (and Where You’re on Your Own) can answer many of your questions.

How Much Homeowners Insurance Do I Need?

So how much home insurance coverage do you need to buy? There are many factors to consider.

Basically, you need to look at what your house would cost to rebuild, the likelihood of certain types of disasters in your area, the value of your possessions and your liability exposure.

“You are preparing for the worst case scenario, not for a minor claim. You need to be prepared for a catastrophic loss,” Friedlander said. “That’s possible whether it’s hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires. In virtually any part of the country you are living somewhere where you could sustain a catastrophic loss and lose your entire home.”

A village is flooded from a hurricane in this aerial photo.
Getty Images

Rebuilding Cost

After a disaster, you want to make sure you can cover the costs of repairs or rebuilding.

The cost to rebuild your house is not the same as your home’s market value. In most cases, the land your house sits on will still be there after a catastrophe, so you do not need to insure that value.

“What we typically see is a majority of homeowners are underinsured,” Friedlander said. “Unfortunately, many of the homeowners purchase insurance protection to satisfy their mortgage lender but they confuse the real estate value of their home with what it would cost to rebuild it.”

So don’t focus on what you paid for the house, it’s market value, how much you owe on your mortgage or the property tax assessment.

“Most companies use a replacement cost calculator where we plug in the square footage, bedrooms, bathrooms, all the features we can about the house,” Peterson explained. “It gives us a valuation based on the cost to rebuild and we base the coverage on that.”

Consider what type of coverage you want (actual cost, replacement cost, or guaranteed replacement cost) when you are shopping for policies.

Friedlander said actual cash value saves some money on premiums, but warns you will get less in the event of a major loss. Replacement cost coverage is about 10% more in premiums but you will get about 30 to 50% more when you file a claim.

Peterson said it is important to make sure when you’re shopping for insurance that unique things that happen in your area are covered. Depending where you live, you  might need additional coverage for earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, wildfires, sinkholes, etc., that are not generally part of coverage.

Value of Possessions

To know how much coverage you need, you need to know what you own. Placing a value on your possessions is important.

“The important thing is to do a home inventory and kind of assess what your valuables are and determine what the value of everything is so that you’re at the right level of protection.” Friedlander said.

Go room by room and consider taking photos or videos. Make sure to include things like:

  • Kitchenware
  • Furniture
  • Clothing
  • Electronics
  • Expensive valuables
  • Camping and sports equipment

You do not need to include your cars in this property inventory because vehicles are not covered by homeowners policies even if they are parked in the garage.

“Most of the time the personal property coverage is a straight percentage of the dwelling coverage, typically, 70 to 75%,” Peterson said, adding that is usually enough to cover contents.

On most policies, there is often a limit on pricier items like jewelry, art, furs, silver, or electronics. So if a fire destroys your house and you lose $10,000 worth of jewelry, your policy might only cover $1,000 of that.

To make sure all of your items are covered, Peterson recommended a separate personal articles policy to protect those pricey items.

Liability Coverage

The liability section of your homeowners policy covers bodily injury or damage that policyholders or their family members (including pets) cause to others.

If your dog bites your neighbor and sues you for medical care, this part of policy could cover you. If your child throws a ball and it accidentally breaks the neighbor’s window, this part of the policy could cover you. If your friend falls at your house on a chipped floor and sues you, this part of the policy could cover you.

Liability coverage will also pay for the cost of defending yourself in court and any court awards up to the limit of the policy.

“The risk of not having enough liability coverage is that you’re going to be on the hook for anything beyond your coverage,” Peterson warned.

He said dog bites are his most common liability claims and he sees people all the time who do not believe they need it because they think nobody would ever sue them.

“We find that a lot with insurance. People don’t want to pay for things until they have a problem and then they wish they had. People are nice until something happens.”

The Insurance Information Institute recommends at least $300,000 in coverage but many policies only include $100,000. The more assets you have, the more coverage you need.

If you have more in assets than you have liability coverage for in your homeowners policy, you might consider an umbrella policy which extends your coverage to an amount you decide.

To determine how much liability coverage you need, add up the value of your assets, including your home. Make sure to include the following assets when figuring liability:

  • Vehicles
  • Investments
  • Future wages
  • Personal belongings
  • Money in bank accounts
  • Real estate besides primary residence

Peterson said if you have something that could pose a risk to others like a pool or trampoline on your property, you need to be especially aware of the amount of liability coverage you have.

You don’t need to figure out everything alone. A good insurance agent should be able guide you through the process of answering the question of how much homeowners insurance do I need.

“We always recommend meeting with your insurance professional once a year. We call it an insurance checkup,” Friedlander said. “Review all your coverages and make sure you are protected.”

Not having enough coverage can be a big mistake.

“People think that things can never happen to them and then they wish after the fact that they had taken a little more time and maybe gone for some of the coverages that they decided not to take,” Peterson said. “The biggest mistake people make is they try to save money on their policy iInstead of making sure that they’re covered properly.”

Tiffani Sherman is a Florida-based freelance reporter with more than 25 years of experience writing about finance, health, travel and other topics.

<!–

–>



Source: thepennyhoarder.com

What are Uninhabitable Living Conditions?

Tenants are entitled to a safe and livable rental property, regardless of how much rent they pay.

According to most state laws and housing codes, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to provide habitable living conditions, which means the rental unit meets basic requirements such as reliable heat, plumbing, electricity and solid structural elements.

Your rights apply when you first sign a lease, and throughout the rental term. Generally, landlords should also do minor repairs and maintenance when required.

But what if major problems crop up that affect your everyday life, health or safety? Uninhabitable living conditions can include anything that’s unsanitary or poses a danger to occupants residing there. Here are some common issues you might face, and what to do about them.

Common uninhabitable living conditions you might face as a renter

Anything that makes living on the premises difficult or impossible or that is an obvious building code violation falls under the term uninhabitable living conditions:

Rodent or insect infestation

Rat eating food on a plate in a dirty kitchen.

Bedbugs, cockroaches, fleas, mice, rats or bats all make your rental unit uninhabitable. Cockroaches can spread disease, while rodents can damage apartment walls, electrical systems, plumbing, and roofs. Mice or rat droppings pose health hazards including Hantavirus, a serious respiratory infection.

Structural issues

Holes in the floor or walls, a leaky roof, broken exterior doors, crumbling ceilings – they’re all potentially dangerous hazards that could prevent a tenant from staying.

Mold, mildew, lead or asbestos

Poor indoor air quality usually makes your rental uninhabitable. If you see traces of black on walls and ceilings, that’s likely hazardous mold, which may cause allergic reactions or respiratory problems. Mildew, chipped lead-based paint or deteriorating asbestos insulation can also be unhealthy.

Inadequate utilities

Tenants are entitled to sufficient hot water and enough heat to stay comfortable during the winter months.

Exposed electrical wiring

Exposed electrical wiring.

Loose, live or improperly grounded wires can cause a fire or injure someone if touched. Faulty outlets, flickering lights or any other kind of electrical issue can make your place unsafe to live in. Power failures related to the city grid, however, are not under your landlord’s control.

Plumbing problems

Toilets that regularly clog, overflow or won’t flush, along with leaky pipes and sinks that don’t drain all violate the basic requirements of your lease.

Defective appliances

Landlords who provide appliances as part of the lease should make sure they’re safe to use and in good working order, especially stoves and refrigerators.

If you can’t prepare or store food in your unit, it’s uninhabitable.

Air conditioning that doesn’t work in states that experience dangerously hot summer months also qualifies.

Unsafe common areas

Stairwells, elevators, hallways and entrance or garage doors should be well-lit and in good working order. If they’re not, they could be classified under uninhabitable living conditions.

moldy ceiling

How do I report uninhabitable living conditions?

Depending on where you live and how severe your issues are, you have recourse if you think your rental unit is unsafe or dangerous. Here’s what to do:

  • Report any issues and defects immediately: It’s important to document all problems: Take photos and video, and keep detailed notes. Your lease might explain how to give notice – such as by registered mail – so be sure to check.
  • Follow up regularly: Keep track of when you alert your landlord, what response you received, and whether the problem was addressed. If your landlord promises to fix the issue, find out when and how it will happen.
  • Reach out to local housing authorities: If your complaints are ignored, this might be your next step. They’ll advise you of your rights and outline where you go from here. Some states have government agencies that can impose fines or take legal action on your behalf.
  • Withhold rent: In most areas, tenants with landlords who don’t address uninhabitable living conditions can stop paying rent until the problem is fixed. Or, you can pay for repairs and deduct costs from your rent. There are different procedures to follow depending on where you live, so consult with a lawyer or housing authority first.
  • Move out: While your lease might say you need to give three months’ notice before leaving, if you have a serious problem that affects your health – like rats or mold – you can move out without giving notice.
  • File a lawsuit: You might want to speak to a lawyer specializing in landlord-tenant disputes. Some offer deferred fee services so you only pay if you win.

Protect yourself by being proactive

One way to avoid dealing with uninhabitable living conditions is to avoid renting one in the first place. Inspect every apartment or condo you visit, paying attention to how the place is maintained.

And since laws vary from state to state, be sure to read up on your rights as a tenant by contacting the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice. Readers are encouraged to seek professional legal or financial advice as they may deem it necessary.

Source: rent.com

Zebra Insurance Review Reveals Good and Bad

Kids these days may never know the pain of spending hours pouring through web pages to generate various auto insurance quotes or (gasp!) having to actually call and talk to insurance agents about what kinds of premiums they could offer. That’s because of the advent of car insurance comparison sites like The Zebra. Our Zebra insurance review shows the site is a good place to start your search but it may not have all the answers you need.

How The Zebra Got Its Stripes

The Zebra was started nearly a decade ago, back in 2012, building off the astronomical success of Google and mirroring the structure of travel sites such as Priceline, Hotwire and Kayak. The difference? The Zebra allows users to compare rates for insurance. The company is headquartered in Austin, Texas, and as part of its “All Stripes Are Welcome” mantra, is very focused on diversity and inclusion.

Initially, The Zebra specialized exclusively in auto insurance (and this Zebra insurance review is primarily concerned with The Zebra’s performance in the realm of car insurance providers), but in recent years, the insurance comparison company has branched out to renters insurance, homeowners insurance and life insurance. And on the horizon: RV insurance, boat insurance and more.

Since its inception, The Zebra website has produced more than 6.5 million insurance quotes. Currently, The Zebra’s provider partnerships total more than 200 car insurance companies, including big names like USAA, Progressive, State Farm, Liberty Mutual, All State, Erie, Esurance, Nationwide and Metlife. The Zebra promises that it has no allegiances to any auto insurance providers, though my experience (detailed in the next section) suggests otherwise.

Fun Fact: Last year, The Zebra became the first U.S. employer to cover employees’ pet adoption fees. (No zebra adoptions permitted — yet.)

How The Zebra Works: A Review

Getting a car insurance quote from The Zebra takes fewer than five minutes. In fact, I was able to generate three sample auto insurance quotes in under 10.

Ready to see your personalized auto insurance rates? Here’s what you’ll need to input on the site:

  • Your ZIP code. To begin the process, The Zebra needs to know where you live. Car insurance laws and policies vary from state to state, so it’s important to choose the state in which you are actually licensed. (So if you’re going to school in Kentucky but still have Mom’s address in Ohio, you’ll technically need to use your mother’s ZIP code back home.)
  • The basics. After inputting your ZIP code, The Zebra will want some basic details. You’ll need to specify whether you have auto insurance, whether you own or rent (and type of home) and why you are shopping for car insurance.
  • Your vehicle details. Not only will you need to input your year, make and model, but you will also need the trim details. Depending on the manufacturer, you may also need to know which engine or drivetrain you have, as some automakers include those in trim distinctions. If you need to insure more than one vehicle on the policy, you have the option to add up to four more. Next, you need to input information about that vehicle: whether you own or lease the vehicle, how you use it and the number of miles you drive each year.
  • The drivers. To start, fill in the information about yourself: first and last name, birthdate and address. Then, you’ll need to specify gender (Note: Despite being a company that prides itself on diversity, The Zebra currently only has options for “male” and “female”), marital status, credit score range*, level of education, how long you have been continuously insured, current insurance provider, bodily injury limits of your current coverage and details about any accidents or tickets you’ve received in the last three years. If you indicate that you are married, you must include information about your spouse. You also have the option to add others to your auto insurance policy, such as domestic partners or children.

*Credit score options include Excellent (720+), Good (680 to 719), Average (580 to 679) and Poor (below 580). The Zebra prompts you to select “Good” if you don’t know your credit score, but you better believe that they will be pulling your credit score before actually letting you sign on the (digital) dotted line.

After inputting your information, The Zebra will take a few moments to calculate auto insurance quotes for you. Each time I generated a quote, I was shown results in ascending order of price, with the cheapest on top. (Each time, Progressive also had an unpriced quote at the very top of every fake quote I generated, which seemed to be a sketchy paid placement. So much for that no allegiance thing.)

A progressive ad appears.
This “ad” appeared at the top of every search that was conducted.

Once you have your auto insurance quotes, you can use the “Explore quotes at $XX/$XX bodily injury limits” link at the top to customize whether you view their Minimum, Basic, Better or Best coverage options. That’s helpful for those who like to be hands off, but if you want to customize your coverage beyond that (perhaps you want everything provided in Basic coverage but want to add roadside assistance, which doesn’t kick in unless you upgrade to Better), you’ll have to work with each insurance company directly.

This screen grab shows steps to building your policy.
Being able to select a level of coverage is nice as a starting point, but I wish you could then go in and further customize to your liking.

For each quote you are provided, you can see the name of the insurance company and the price in a big blue bubble. If you want more information, you can click the small “What’s covered” language, which I missed when creating my first two insurance quotes. The bright blue is definitely meant to draw your eyes so you immediately click into the quote without reading the fine print: a solid user experience decision or shady business practice? The jury’s out.

When you expand “What’s covered,” The Zebra does an excellent job of providing an overview on — what else? — the Overview tab. On the left is a paragraph about the auto insurance company for those who prefer their information that way while the right is for visual learners, with brief phrases about the benefits of the insurance policy and helpful iconography.

The “What’s covered” pop-out also has tabs on coverage and pricing. The coverage tab shows you whether this quote includes auto insurance options such as bodily injury liability, property damage liability, uninsured motorist bodily, uninsured motorist property, personal injury protection (PIP), collision (and its deductible), comprehensive (and its deductible), roadside assistance and rental reimbursement.

Here is where The Zebra could really be improved; I’d love to be able to see that the policy I’m looking at has, for example, a $1,000 deductible for collision and comprehensive and no coverage for rental reimbursement and then be able to edit to my liking. Then, the associated rate would dynamically update to reflect that change. Alas, that is not offered.

Finally, the pricing tab shows policy length, the first month price, how much you’ll pay in future months and the pay-in-full price.

Sample Quotes from The Zebra

To understand what the insurance comparison experience and pricing were like with The Zebra site, I created three auto insurance quotes: one for single 30-year-old Joe Schmoe, one for elderly married couple Johnny Tsunami and Daisy Duke and one for young college student Minerva McGonagall (because why not).

Quote #1

The first quote, for Joe Schmoe, was built off my own data:

  • Own a house
  • 30 years old
  • Owns a 2017 Subaru Crosstrek that is fully paid off
  • Unmarried
  • Excellent credit score
  • Male
  • 5,000 miles a year (I’ve been working from home for three years, and my odometer is happy with that decision)
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Discounts: Employed full-time, paperless billing and auto-pay

Here were the top auto insurance quotes this profile generated:

One of the quotes generated from Zebra Insurance comparison.

These insurance rates are in line with what I currently pay, so The Zebra seems right on the money here. But as far as its claim that it can save me money on my current auto insurance rate? Not so much.

Quote #2

For the second quote, I used happily married Johnny Tsunami and Daisy Duke:

  • Own a condo
  • Early 60s
  • Making payments on a 2020 BMW 7 Series (they have expensive tastes)
  • Married
  • Excellent credit score
  • Male and female
  • 12,000 miles a year
  • Master’s degree
  • Discounts: Employed full-time, paperless, auto-pay and pay in full upfront

This couple received the following auto insurance quotes:

One of the quotes generated from Zebra Insurance comparison.

Quote #3

Finally, Minerve McGonagall, who is putting herself through school, input the following details for her auto insurance quote:

  • Rents an apartment
  • 22 years old
  • Makes payments on a 2009 Chevy Cobalt
  • Unmarried
  • Average credit score
  • Female
  • 15,000 miles a year
  • One accident and two tickets on her record
  • Some college but no degree yet
  • Discounts: Employed full-time and paperless billing (is not comfortable with auto-pay)

The Zebra generated these quotes for this driver:

One of the quotes generated from Zebra Insurance comparison.

The Zebra claims it can save drivers up to $670 a year on auto insurance. That, I cannot verify. I can only share that what The Zebra quoted me is in line with my current insurance rate, so I wouldn’t get any savings.

What We Like About The Zebra

The Zebra’s insurance comparison is certainly an excellent tool to get a sense for what you will need to pay for insurance and compare quotes. At the least, you can use the information from The Zebra to make an informed decision when shopping for insurance directly with providers.

Here’s what I liked about The Zebra

  • It was fast and easy to get my quotes.
  • It detailed the discounts I was eligible for. Discounts include the following: paperless delivery, multi-vehicle, auto-pay, safe driver, pay in full, currently insured, currently employed, low mileage, excellent/good credit, and homeownership.
  • It provides a good foundation for your research.

What We Don’t Like About The Zebra

That said, there was a fair amount I didn’t like about The Zebra:

  • The Zebra works with over 200 auto insurance companies, but I probably couldn’t name more than 10 car insurance companies myself. Some of the companies suggested to me were brands I’d never heard of, and when it comes to something as important as car insurance, brand recognition is important to me as a shopper.
  • I couldn’t customize my coverage. If you are the type of savvy shopper who knows how much insurance you need and the exact deductibles and add-ons you’d like, this tool isn’t for you.
  • The Zebra patently lies about spam, and I have the receipts to prove it.

My Experience with The Zebra and Spam

I don’t like to give my email address out to just anybody (call me old-fashioned), so I was apprehensive when completing my fake quotes. But I’m a millennial consumer who knows the deal so I entered my email address.

Besides, The Zebra assured me they wouldn’t spam me. No, really:

A saying that says they won't send you spam.

But as soon as The Zebra had generated my quotes, my phone lit up with the sound of unwanted communication. It took just seconds for two emails to enter my inbox:

Spam from Geico.
It was at this moment that I realized I’d have to come clean about getting my first quote as Joe Schmoe in my review.

I did read online in a Better Business Bureau thread that, at one time, The Zebra used to require phone numbers for a quote and would immediately place spam phone calls (sometimes before users could read the quotes they were just provided), but The Zebra acknowledged that this was less than ideal and has since removed the phone number requirement in its auto insurance quote process.

What Customers Are Saying About The Zebra

So The Zebra’s insurance comparison site didn’t seem right for me, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s not a great resource for others. At the least, I do maintain it’s a good tool for preliminary research. Perhaps I’m just old-school, but I want to do more digging and customization on my own to make sure I’m getting the best deal.

But all in all, The Zebra has wonderful customer reviews. It’s got a great score on BBB (an A, currently) and a 4.8 out of 5 overall satisfaction rating on Shopper Approved (with 1,683 5-star reviews out of 1,989 ratings total, at time of writing). Across the board, customer reviews on Shopper Approved highlight users’ satisfaction with The Zebra’s products, price and customer service.

With that said, it’s worth giving The Zebra a shot, if only to see what kinds of quotes you might get and then supplement with additional research. And if you’re worried about the spam, here’s a tip from a friend: You can still see the quotes even if you provide a fake email.

Timothy Moore is a market research editing and graphic design manager and a freelance writer and editor covering topics on personal finance, travel, careers, education, pet care and automotive. He has worked in the field since 2012 with publications like The Penny Hoarder, Debt.com, Ladders, WDW Magazine, Glassdoor and The News Wheel. 

<!–

–>



Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Best Neighborhoods to Move to in Nashville | ApartmentSearch

High-rise building in Nashville's city.Are you thinking about making Music City your new home? With its vibrant downtown, ample outdoor space, delicious southern food, and country music galore — there’s so much to love! Whether you’re a young family on the move or a mobile, dog-loving professional, these cool neighborhoods in Nashville have a little something to offer everyone. Learn the best suburbs of Nashville and which one is right for you with this handy neighborhood guide.

The Gulch

The Gulch is the fastest-growing neighborhood in Nashville, and for good reason. Packed with restaurants, shops, bars, fitness studios, and some of Nashville’s trendiest apartments, this area attracts young professionals who enjoy being center of the action.

Nashville is also one of the best U.S. cities for dating — making this small neighborhood a prime location for singles. The Gulch is the perfect home for anyone with the “work hard, play hard” mentality. So, you’ll have tons of unique things to do and fun, young people to do them with!

12 South

This neighborhood spans half a mile along 12th Avenue South – hence 12 South. And it has become one of the most desirable places to live for young, remote-work professionals and families alike.

12 South is a highly walkable neighborhood, so you’ll find no shortage of hot eateries (like Burger Up and Urban Grub), coffee shops (like Frothy Monkey), and stylish clothing stores (like Reese Witherspoon’s own Draper James!). 12 South attracts Nashville natives and excited transplants alike, and it’s an excellent option for someone who always wants something to do or see.

East Nashville

While East Nashville isn’t as walkable as many of the other neighborhoods on this list, it has plenty of perks that make up for it. A hub for musicians and various creative types, East Nashville residents enjoy the neighborhood’s laidback, inclusive vibe and ample green space.

While some may describe East Nashville as “the hipster neighborhood,” it’s home to a diverse mix of creatives, young families, and professionals. You’ll find everything from rental houses to apartment buildings in this lively, on-trend neighborhood. But it’s likely a better option for those with their own vehicle.

The Nations

The Nations is one of the more affordable neighborhoods on this list – though, with how many people move to Nashville a day, it may not stay that way for long. This area was largely industrial only a few short years ago but is now exploding with restaurants, breweries, retail establishments, and residential developments.

Located around the central district of 51st Avenue and about 10 minutes from the heart of downtown, the Nations is an up-and-coming neighborhood that’s attracting a mostly younger crowd. This is a great place to look if you’re on a tighter budget and want all the amenities of a vibrant city. This hotspot will be on everyone’s list of cool neighborhoods in Nashville before long!

Germantown

Chock full of gorgeous, historic townhouses and tree-lined streets, Germantown has become known for its culinary scene. Boasting several critically acclaimed eateries, like Rolf and Daughters, City House, and Henrietta Red, residents of this beloved neighborhood will never go hungry.

Thanks to its location, only a few blocks from downtown Nashville, Germantown has prime access to the sports arenas, music venues, and other attractions in the city’s hub. This neighborhood manages to feel slower-paced and quieter than many other options and has a little something for everyone.

Sylvan Park

A young family looking to settle down should take a good look at Sylvan Park. Known by locals to be safe, quiet, and one of the best neighborhoods in Nashville to live, historic Sylvan Park is full of people who genuinely love their little community.

A quaint, walkable area, Sylvan Park boasts plenty of beloved, locally-owned restaurants, boutiques, and easy access to McCabe Park. Whether you’re raising little ones in Music City or simply enjoy a more residential feel, Sylvan Park is a growing neighborhood you shouldn’t overlook.

Make Your Move to Nashville with Apartment Search

Is there a Nashville neighborhood calling your name? Now that you’ve got an area picked out, explore available apartments on ApartmentSearch! Narrow your search by apartment size, rent amount, amenities, and more. Nashville can’t wait to have you home!

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

Too Many Toys! How to Declutter

While having a child can add so much joy to a parent’s life, these little loved ones also bring certain challenges – including the spatial needs for a family. Living in a rental with a child can feel cramped and cluttered. If you have a child who loves playing with toys, but you don’t have a lot of space in your home, there are some simple solutions you can employ to keep your kids’ favorite toys organized and accessible. Want to know more about the best toy storage solutions? We’ve compiled a list of 4 helpful tips to keep your kids’ toys easy to access and out of the way.

1. Bookshelves and Baskets

If you have a child who likes to run around your rental, or have play space that is combined with living space, you’ll want to get the toys off the floor when playtime is over. One of the best solutions for storing toys is a bookshelf with baskets. Use a bookshelf that already holds books or purchase a smaller bookcase that is solely dedicated to toys, storing them on the bottom shelves so your child can easily reach them. Then, purchase some attractive baskets made from wicker, plastic, or wood to store the toys. Toys can be removed when it’s time to play and easily gathered into the baskets, then slipped onto a shelf when it’s time to clean up.

2. Under-Bed Storage

Does your child primarily play in his or her room? Consider investing in long, flat bins that can fit under a bed for toy storage. This is a great way to keep toys out of sight and reduce visible clutter. Long, flat bins also work for storing toys under a couch or futon. Under-bed or couch bins are great for storing toys that don’t need to be accessed everyday, but are easy to get to when needed – like puzzles, board games, or stuffed animals.

3. Behind-the-Door Organizers

You’ve probably seen those hanging over-the-door organizers intended for shoes, but these organizers can also be an excellent tool for keeping toys organized and off the floor. Fill the shoe pouches with art and craft supplies, action figures, or even building blocks. Toys will be accessible to the kids when they want them, but can be hidden away when you have guests.

4. Coat Hooks and Tote Bags

Another attractive way to store kids’ toys in a playroom or bedroom is with a set of wall-mounted coat hooks and labeled tote bags, which you can find at most craft stores. Use a permanent marker to note what kind of toys each tote will hold. You can even make this into an art project with the kids. Have them help decorate canvas tote bags that will hold all of their toys. Then, mount the coat hooks to the wall and hang the bags on the hooks. This is a neat and organized way to store toys, and it still allows your little ones easy access to their favorite belongings. You can also swap out labeled totes with clear, plastic bags or pouches so that children can see the contents inside.

Do you live with children in a rental? If so, how do you keep toys organized? Share your toy storage ideas with us (or send a picture!) on Facebook or tweet @AptGuide.

Comments

comments

Source: apartmentguide.com