Here’s How to Upcycle Clothes and Revamp Your Wardrobe

A woman cuts into clothing with bags of clothing behind her in trash bags.

Halima Garrett has made wrap pants out of a vintage skirt and estate sale fabric. She became interested in upcycling due to her large collection of vintage clothing she’s collected over the years. Photo courtesy of Halima Garrett

Have you ever stared into the depths of your closet and thought: “I have absolutely nothing to wear?”

If your normal inclination is to dejectedly sift through what you already have, it turns out that there is a better way  — and it doesn’t involve buying anything new. Enter the world of upcycling.

Here’s how to upcycle clothing and give yourself a whole new(ish) wardrobe.

First, What is Upcycling?

The term ‘upcycling’ comes from the idea of recycling an old item, but with a twist. Upcycling is not just reusing something, but tweaking that item to make it better than before.

An upcycled garment often bears little resemblance to its former state. Take Colorado-based designer Maggie Henricks of Create Good Company. She crafts boyfriend skirts out of men’s dress shirts. With patterns ranging from plaid and polka dots to bright Hawaiian florals, Henricks’ designs make for an interesting cross between masculine and feminine fashion norms.

Halima Garrett, who runs Thread of Habit out of New Jersey, got into upcycling by way of her love of vintage clothing. Garrett had amassed so much clothing over the years that she simply didn’t know what to do with it all. Finally, she decided the best option was to rework some pieces.

Even though she calls her sewing skills “basic,” Garrett was able to make wrap pants out of a vintage skirt and estate sale fabric. In fact, her website boasts an entire lingerie collection — each reworked piece contains at least one vintage lingerie item.

A woman creates a new outfit out of an old skirt and an old purple shirt.
Garrett combined fabric from two old pieces of clothing to create the outfit on the right. Photo courtesy of Halima Garrett

Here’s the best part about upcycling: your clothing will be one of a kind. And if you want to give a friend an inexpensive gift that they’ll cherish, upcycling an item for them is a great idea. You don’t even need to have a sewing machine, and all of these DIY projects can be done from your own home. There’s an exclusivity to it that might be enough to make even the least sewing-inclined person want to upcycle clothing.

For those of us who don’t want to sell our upcycled clothes but do want to wear them, Garrett and Henricks have some tips and tricks to take your grandmother’s nightgown — or whatever you want to redo — from frumpy to fancy.

1. Know What to Salvage and What to Cut Up.

If you’re working with vintage clothing or just old clothes in your closet, Garrett advises assessing what you’re cutting up before you take the scissors to your favorite jeans.

If an item has stains on the armpit or a hole that’s too big to mend, by all means, cut.

But if you’ve rescued a pre-1970s item from Goodwill’s bins and you want to preserve its original quality, it may be better to choose a different item to upcycle. The same goes for an item with sentimental value. Ask your mom — and yourself — before you cut up her old wedding dress.

2. Start Simple.

Garrett has proven that it’s possible to upcycle old clothes without the skills of an advanced seamstress. The easiest way to dip your toes into upcycled clothing is by starting small. Try cutting a pair of pants into shorts or cutting a long-sleeve shirt into a short-sleeve T-shirt.

3. Use Your Wardrobe as Inspiration.

Is there something in your closet that you absolutely love? Would you love to replicate it? That’s a great place to start when upcycling. Use the garment you love as a model for how you want another item to fit. Or if you like the color combination of an outfit, consider using that combination in an upcycled piece. After all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

Another way to reimagine what you already have is looking at what something could be if it were a different type of garment. Do you love the fabric of a dress but hate the fit? Make it into a two-piece set with a tank top and skirt. Are you sick of your old jeans but they still fit well? Try sewing on a patch of fabric to the knee.

4. Look at Your Old Clothes as Parts of a Whole, not as a Single Garment.

Henricks always thinks of any item as different pieces of fabric rather than a shirt, a skirt or a dress. That helps her to get inspiration.

Measuring the size of your garment can help to think of a way to creatively rework it. And if you don’t have enough to make something new out of one piece, think about combining multiple into one.


“It’s important to think away from what it is now,” says Henricks, “and focus more on the fabric and patterns that you have available in the material.”

5. Youtube Tutorials are Your Friend.

Youtube videos are usually the best place to start for any technical skill. Garrett recommends searching for tutorials on “no-sew upcycle” or “minimal sewing upcycle.”

The fact that videos under that designation exist shows that no-sewing upcycling is possible. Three of Garrett’s favorites are Angelina of BlueprintDIY, Mimi G Style and Shania O. Mason.

6. When Looking for Guidance, Be as Specific as Possible.

When looking at the piece you want to remake, think about what it is specifically that you want to change. Do you want to make the top or pants tighter? Do you want to put slits in a dress?

Once you have a tentative visual in mind, that makes it easier to search online for guidance. You can then find a specific tutorial in line with the exact alterations you want to make.

7. When You Find Your Niche, Stick With it.

Have success reworking one item? You don’t necessarily have to branch out. Stay there and see what else you can do within that framework.

Henricks is focused on the men’s dress shirts arena. And she has found inventive ways to upcycle different aspects: not only does she make boyfriend skirts from the shirts, but she also makes dog collars from the shirt collars and crop tops. She is a great example that finding your fashion lane and sticking to it can yield some of the most inventive and creative ideas.




Consumers Don’t Care About Low Mortgage Rates Anymore

Last updated on January 25th, 2018

As you’re probably aware, the latest move to boost the economy was another round of quantitative easing, known as QE3.

This most recent initiative targets mortgage-backed securities specifically, with the Fed pledging to purchase $40 billion per month, on an open-ended basis, until things improve.

Since it was announced, mortgage rates have inched down to new all-time lows, not that they were anywhere close to high to begin with.

In other words, I don’t think anyone was pumping the brakes on buying or refinancing because rates were “too high.”

So now homeowners that may have qualified for a rate of 3.5% on a 30-year fixed can snag a rate of 3.25% instead. Pop the champagne!

On a $200,000 loan amount, we’re talking about nearly $30 a month in savings. And ideally this money is pumped back into the economy to get things chugging along again.

But are low rates the problem here, or simply the easiest out for the Fed?

Mortgage Rates No Longer a Popular Search Term

I decided to do a little test to see if the low mortgage rates were making a difference.

Sure, they made a difference over the past few years after dropping several percentage points, but now that they’ve been so low for so long, I wanted to see if pushing them even lower would make a material difference.

So I turned to Google, and more specifically, their Insights for Search tool. It shows you what people are searching for on Google, which can be a pretty powerful gauge of something’s popularity.

For example, if we look at the term, “NFL,” we can see that it’s very seasonal, and also very predictable.

In August, searches for “NFL” jump, and then remain elevated until January when the Superbowl takes place.

Search volume quickly plummets after the season ends, then rises briefly in April during the NFL draft, and remains low throughout summer.

What about the term “mortgage rates?” Well, if we look at the chart, search volume is now about the same as it was back in 2006, when the housing market was reaching its apex.

But it has fallen by nearly 50% compared to numbers seen in August 2011. And volume is only about a quarter of that seen in December 2008.

Since then, it has steadily fallen, aside from a couple blips in August 2010 and August 2011.

In both of the past two summers, mortgage rates fell rather significantly, which explains the boost in search volume.

Mortgage rates for 30-year fixed mortgages also fell from 6.09% in November 2008 to 5.29% in December 2008, per Freddie Mac data, which explains the spike in search volume then.

And even though mortgage rates are now about two percentage points lower than that, search volume is nowhere close to what it once was.

Why Did We Switch Off?

So what gives? Did most people refinance already, or do many people perceive the low rates as “old news?” Or is it that most people are aware of them, but realize they don’t qualify for one reason or another?

Whatever it is, it’s pretty clear that there is a lot less interest than there used to be, despite the housing market showing signs of improvement. If anything, volume should be up with home sales. But that’s not the case.

Could it be fatigue, or is it that it’s just boring at this point? How many straight weeks or record low mortgage rates do we need to hear about it on the local news?

Most people I speak to (outside the mortgage world) don’t seem too interested about the rates. They know they’re low, but don’t really care too much.

Even if they didn’t refinance, they’re usually pretty lax about the whole deal, which makes me wonder if pushing rates lower and lower is the solution here.

Perhaps the Fed should focus on getting the economy kickstarted another way, instead of pushing interest rates to zero.

Read more: Are mortgage rates negotiable?

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for 15 years.


A Brief History of Cryptography

Who doesn’t love a good secret code? Cryptography is the science of secret codes—of creating a language or code that can’t be cracked unless one knows exactly how to decode it.

Today, cryptography is used for everything from internet cybersecurity to blockchain technology and cryptocurrency investing. It has evolved and advanced over time along with technology, but it got its start in ancient times, with hieroglyphs and cuneiforms.

Let’s look back at the history of cryptography and how it has evolved over the years to serve different functions with the same goal—securing information.

What is Cryptography?

Cryptography is the process of securing information by changing it into a form that people can’t understand unless they know how it was encoded. The original information is known as plaintext, and the encoded version of the information is known as ciphertext. The calculation or code used to change plaintext into ciphertext is called an algorithm and the process is called encryption. The opposite of encryption is decryption—turning ciphertext back into plaintext, or another readable form.

In order for someone to decode the information, they need to know how to read it or change it back into its plaintext form. Usually decryption involves both the algorithm and a key. Generally this key is a number.

Ancient History of Cryptography

The history of encryption dates back thousands of years. The earliest known use of cryptography was over 5600 years ago in Sumeria and Egypt. Cuneiform and hieroglyphics were created to record transactions. These were not necessarily intended to be secret, but were forms of writing down information that someone wouldn’t know how to read unless they understood the language system. It took hundreds of years for these early forms of writing to be deciphered by other societies.

Early forms of encryption all used a key that had to be given to the recipient in order for them to be able to decipher it. This is known as symmetric encryption, because the same key is used for encryption and decryption. The following are several examples of ciphers that use symmetric encryption.

Caesar Box

Julius Caesar used cryptography around 100 BC to send messages to his military generals, encrypted to be protected from opponents who might intercept it. The “Caesar Box,” or “Caesar Cipher,” was easily decrypted by those who knew how, but it protected messages from unintended eyes.

The Caesar Cipher is what is known as a “substitution cipher” or “shift cipher.” It works by changing each letter within a message three letters, to the right. For example, an A in a message would become a D, and a B would be written as an E. The number of letter places that get shifted is called the key. In this case the key is three.

Since there are only 26 letters in the English alphabet, shift ciphers like the Caesar Box are easy to figure out and not very secure forms of cryptography. Once mathematicians figured out that certain letters are more commonly used than others in a language, they understood that people trying to crack the code could start to recognize patterns and figure it out.

Scytale Cipher

The Spartans developed a different type of encryption known as the Scytale Cipher. It was made by wrapping parchment around a pole then writing on the pole length-wise. When the paper is removed from the pole, the message is encrypted. To decipher it, one needs to know the pole’s diameter. The Scytale is less easy to decipher using patterns like the Caesar Box, but it can be possible to read some of the words on the pole.

Vigenère Cipher

The Vigenère Cipher was created by an Italian named Giovan Battista Bellaso in the 16th century. It uses a key as part of the decryption process. The key can be any combination of letters or a word of the message writer’s choosing. The key is matched to the plaintext and used in the process of decrypting the secret message. It’s much more difficult than the Caesar Box because each letter of the message has its own shift value. Therefore, even solving one word in the message won’t reveal the entire message.

Using a key adds an extra layer of security to a cryptographic message. The cipher wasn’t solved until 1863, and became known as le chiffre indechiffrable, or “the indecipherable cipher.”

Vernam Cipher

The only cipher that has been mathematically proven to be unbreakable is the Vernam Cipher, otherwise known as a one-time pad (OTP). It’s similar to a Vigenere Cipher but the key changes with each use. The Vernam Cipher isn’t used widely today due to the challenges of distributing the keys, but it is useful for emergency situations in which there is no electronic option.


The Enigma is a type of cryptography using rotary encryption, which was developed by Arthur Scherbius in Germany during WWII. Similar to other cryptography, it was created using disks that were put into a machine in a certain order. If they were inserted in the correct order, the machine would decode the message.

An early computer developed by British cryptanalyst Alan Turing and his colleagues helped to crack the Enigma code. It’s estimated that their work helped save as many as 21 million people.

Asymmetric Encryption and Modern Cryptography

The advent of computers made it essential to develop more advanced forms of cryptography in order to keep data and information safe. This was especially the case as financial transactions began to move to computer networks. Everything from email to ecommerce sites to phone apps use encryption today.

The world of cryptography is also getting more complex due to its use by terrorists and criminals, as well as legal structures which protect individuals’ data. The U.S. Government and tech companies like Apple have been in legal battles for years to determine the ethics around data and privacy.

Most modern cryptography uses asymmetric encryption, or public-key encryption, in which there is a separate lock and key. This allows people to share public keys openly while keeping the private keys secure.

Here are some examples of asymmetric encryption.

Morse Code

Samuel F. Morse developed the Morse Code to transmit messages through telegraph machines in 1835.

The Zimmerman Telegram

The U.S. entered WWII with the decryption of a message solved by the British Intelligence Agency. The Zimmerman Telegram was sent from the German Foreign Office in the U.S. to the German Ambassador to Mexico and proposed a military alliance between Germany and Mexico.


IBM developed a system called Lucifer in the 1960s, which was ultimately adopted by the U.S. National Bureau of Standards and is also known as the Data Encryption Standard (DES).


The RSA encryption system created in the 1970s was one of the first uses of asymmetric encryption.


One tactic used in encryption is called salting. This is where a random string of alphanumeric characters gets added to the end of the password before it’s encrypted. Salting adds extra security because even after the password gets decrypted, the “salt” has to be subtracted before it can be used. Even very obvious and common passwords can be difficult to figure out when they are salted.

Advanced Encryption Standard (AES)

Today’s default encryption mechanism used by the U.S. government is the Advanced Encryption Standard, or AES. It uses a 256-bit key and multiple rounds of encryption, known as substitution-permutation networking. AES has mostly replaced the formerly used Data Encryption Standard, or DES, which is now considered to be less secure.

Other Forms of Encryption

There are countless other forms of encryption. Some of the commonly used ones are:

•  Triple DES
•  Blowfish
•  Twofish
•  ElGamal
•  Hash Functions
•  Diffie-Hellman Key Exchange

Cryptocurrency and Cryptography

Cryptography is an integral part of blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies. Transactions and balances are tracked on a ledger and encrypted using complicated algorithms. This helps with security, transparency, and tracking. Crypto wallets also rely on cryptography for security.

Each type of digital asset or cryptocurrency has its own form of cryptography, making some more secure or popular than others and providing different use cases. Before investing in cryptocurrencies, it’s important to have at least a basic understanding of the way the technology works, especially the use of public and private keys. This will help decide which cryptocurrency to invest in and ensure that the transaction and digital asset storage is done securely.

The Future of Cryptography

As time goes on, it gets more and more challenging to maintain secure encryption of information. Computers and hackers get more sophisticated, and even the most impenetrable codes can be cracked using psychological tactics and social engineering.

Two tools that help increase security are two-factor authentication (2FA) and Honeypots. Each of them works slightly differently, though with the same goal.

•  With 2FA, the user must input a code retrieved from a text message or app on their phone in addition to their password. This means that an account can’t be accessed without access to the individual’s phone.
•  Honeypots trick attackers by creating false data that looks real and then alerting organizations when the attackers attempt to do a hack.

A newer form of cryptography is called homomorphic encryption. This attempts to solve one of today’s major cryptographic problems: the fact that data cannot be processed while it’s encrypted. This means that data has to be encrypted before it can be used for anything, making it vulnerable during that processing time. Homomorphic encryption allows users to process data while it’s encrypted, and then simply decrypt the final result.

The next wave of encryption will likely involve the use of quantum computers and post-quantum cryptography. These add layers of encryption beyond today’s capabilities. However, this technology is still in development.

The Takeaway

The history of cryptography is long and fascinating, and the technology has gotten more essential and complex over time. In today’s world, cryptography underpins everything from social media to financial transactions. That’s why it’s so important to make sure you keep your data and information safe using strong passwords, two-factor authentication, and other tools.

If you’re starting to invest in cryptocurrencies, you’ll need a basic understanding of public and private keys. One way to get started investing in cryptocurrencies is with SoFi Invest®. The investing platform allows you to research, trade digital assets right from your phone, and view all of your financial information in one simple dashboard.

Find out how to invest in crypto with SoFi Invest.

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The Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania in 2021

The story of the state (technically Commonwealth) of Pennsylvania has three parts: the eastern metropolis of Philadelphia, the Midwest river city of Pittsburgh and the vast land in-between with a slew of mid-sized historic and revitalized northeastern cities.

But from the Delaware Valley to the Lehigh Valley, the Ohio River Valley to the Wyoming Valley, there are innumerable places to call home, whether in Wawa country or Sheetz land. Here is our list of the 10 best places to live in Pennsylvania.

Allentown, PA.

  • Population: 120,139
  • Average age: 38.36
  • Median household income: $41,167
  • Average commute time: 29.03 minutes
  • Walk score: 59
  • Studio average rent: $1,379
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,395
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,599

The Allentown of today is nowhere near the hulking coal and refinery town Billy Joel sang about. But while the factories did shut down long ago, you still can’t keep a good man down. Allentown is one of only three cities in Pennsylvania with a population of over 100,000. Equidistant from Philadelphia and Scranton, Allentown is a big city with a lot more to offer than many realize.

The westernmost of the Lehigh Valley’s tri-cities, Allentown is a story of reinvention. When manufacturing disappeared, Allentown had to revitalize itself for modern-day living. As a result, the city’s downtown received honors from the Urban Land Institute as a “national success story” for its transformation.

As a rebuilt service economy, many companies call Allentown headquarters, including several in the energy industry. While downtown is rife with office buildings and corporate campuses, retail is more found around Allentown’s several large shopping malls in and near the city.

However, sports, always a big deal in the Lehigh Valley, are drivers in changing that. The areas around its popular minor league venues are becoming shopping, nightlife and dining hubs. Hockey’s Phantoms, top minor league affiliate for the Flyers, play downtown at the seven-year-old PPL Center and baseball’s IronPigs, a Phillies farm club, take the field at Coca-Cola Park across the river on Allentown’s East Side.

Bethlehem, PA, one of the best places to live in pennsylvania

  • Population: 75,236
  • Average age: 42.01
  • Median household income: $55,809
  • Average commute time: 29.29 minutes
  • Walk score: 64
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,182
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,391

Much as its neighbor to the west had to do, the steel city of Bethlehem also found itself having to reinvent. Now, Bethlehem is the arts and entertainment hub of Lehigh Valley.

A case in point is the iconic Bethlehem Steel. The former world’s largest steel company operated in the city for nearly 150 years, from 1857 to 2003. Today, the site of the former mill is now home to cultural works the size of Disneyland.

The vast SteelStacks district consists of the ArtsQuest performing arts center and three outdoor music venues including Levitt Pavilion, a PBS station and the Wind Creek Bethlehem casino. The massive blast furnace structure still stands serving as a backdrop along the river.

Over the last two decades, Bethlehem’s downtown has started to thrive with restaurants and retail along Main and Broad Streets. And on the south side of town, the region just north of Lehigh University is a vibrant college town district with bars, shops and cafés.

Along the riverfront is a park complex that includes athletic facilities and hiking and biking trails.

While about half the size of Allentown, Bethlehem has a higher median income than its next-door neighbor by about $15,000. However, rents across the board are cheaper in Bethlehem making it a bit better value for renters.

Harrisburg, PA.

  • Population: 49,277
  • Average age: 37.69
  • Median household income: $39,685
  • Average commute time: 25.17 minutes
  • Walk score: 55
  • Studio average rent: $837
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,038
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,272

State capitals often make wonderful places to live and work. The swath of legislators and lobbyists that call them home make sure the economy is sound, infrastructure is top-notch and access to entertainment and culture abound. Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s capital, is no exception. The city of 50,000 is in south-central Pennsylvania about half as close to Philadelphia as it is to Pittsburgh.

The State Capitol complex sits in the center of downtown, along the Susquehanna River. State and federal combined, nearly 40,000 government employees work in Harrisburg. With politicians and their staff coming and going each electoral season, the rental industry is key in Harrisburg. Luckily, it’s the cheapest big city in the Keystone State for studio apartments and one-bedrooms, and among the lowest for two- and three-bedroom units.

A great place to have kids, Forbes named Harrisburg one of the top 10 “Best Places to Raise a Family” in the nation. There is much to do for residents of all ages. Its downtown, once rich in jazz clubs and cocktail bars, is seeing a revitalization from nightclubs to the performing arts.

For a different diversion, the city is also home to the annual Pennsylvania Farm Show, the largest agricultural expo in America.

Harrisburg also benefits from its geography as the center of one of Pennsylvania’s top tourist regions. The Capitol Building is just a half-hour from HersheyPark and Hershey Chocolate World and under an hour to Lancaster and the heart of Amish Country.

Lancaster, PA, one of the best places to live in pennsylvania

  • Population: 59,168
  • Average age: 38.10
  • Median household income: $45,514
  • Average commute time: 26.23 minutes
  • Walk score: 56
  • Studio average rent: $887
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,097
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,344

While a wonderful lifestyle to visit and experience, Lancaster is more than Amish Country, horse buggies and shoofly pie. An affordable city of 60,000, Lancaster (pronounced “LANK-is-ter”, not “LAN-cast-er”) is an Eastern Pennsylvania healthcare, manufacturing and tourism hub.

Lancaster is a surprisingly diverse city. Sure, there are a ton of residents of German ancestry, home of the Pennsylvania Dutch (as in “Deutsch,” German for “German”). But the city is also nearly 40 percent Latinx and 16 percent Black.

While average incomes hover around $56,000, lease prices are among the lowest in the Commonwealth. In fact, a three-bedroom unit rents for $1,455, the cheapest among Pennsylvania’s largest cities.

Along with Amish tourism, Lancaster is also a mecca for outlet shopping. Combined, the area’s two large outlet centers offer nearly 200 stores.

The historic downtown is awash in quaint boutiques, vintage stores, art galleries (many along Gallery Row), vegan restaurants and German beer bars. In the heart of downtown is legendary music venue the Chameleon Club as well as Lancaster Central Market on Penn Square, one of the nation’s oldest farmers’ markets.

Philadelphia, PA.

  • Population: 1,569,672
  • Average age: 40.63
  • Median household income: $45,927
  • Average commute time: 40.79 minutes
  • Walk score: 84
  • Studio average rent: $1,673
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,145
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,901

There are two Philadelphias. The one most people know is the Birthplace of America, home of the Liberty Bell, the Rocky Steps, cheesesteaks and the Broad Street Bullies. The other is the city that over a million and a half people call home. And real Philadelphians have an appreciation for both.

Philadelphia is a city of neighborhoods, and each has a personality all its own. When someone reveals they are from Overbrook, Fishtown, Kensington, Society Hill or another of Philly’s nearly 200 neighborhoods, it says a lot about their personality. But together they are all SEPTA riders and hoagie eaters and Birds fans.

Philly residents are a lucky bunch. The cradle of American democracy is at their doorsteps. But it is also an extremely livable city. There are some of the nation’s largest and most enjoyable parks and green spaces, including Fairmount Park and Wissahickon Valley Park. Several shopping hubs dot the city from South Street and Liberty Place to Chestnut Hill and University City.

And commuting is easy with access to I-95, the Schuylkill Expressway and the Pennsylvania Turnpike, three superregional rail stations, 13 regional rails as well as the Broad Street subway and Market-Frankford elevated train. As well, the city offers stellar walk and bike scores, 84 and 76, respectively.

Surprisingly, Philadelphia is affordable. As expected, rents are the highest among Pennsylvania’s big cities. However, Philly’s cost of living is 20 percent-30 percent cheaper than similar cities and its northeast corridor neighbors.

Pittsburgh, PA, one of the best places to live in pennsylvania

  • Population: 305,049
  • Average age: 41.68
  • Median household income: $48,711
  • Average commute time: 28.93 minutes
  • Walk score: 69
  • Studio average rent: $1,255
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,522
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,831

While they share space inside the Keystone State, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia are a five-hour drive and a world apart. Pittsburgh is a Midwest city with a bit of East Coast ancestry. It’s the Northeast but also Great Lakes. It’s not your father’s smoggy city of Black and Gold. Today’s Pittsburgh is a modern, livable metropolis that traded in steel mills and coal mines for shiny office towers, a thriving tech industry, vast parks and big-city nightlife.

Sure, downtown Pittsburgh at Golden Triangle is a gleaming, teeming modern smog-free city. But even if you take the steel out of the city, you can’t take the steel out of its citizens. Pittsburgh will always be the city of fries on a sandwich, confluencing rivers and the Steel Curtain.

The people of the City of Three Rivers are as diverse as the neighborhoods in which they reside. Pittsburgh offers a plethora of cultural enclaves, with large populations of those with German, Irish, Polish, Italian, Black, Jewish, Lithuanian and Puerto Rican backgrounds.

And for its size and might, Pittsburgh is quite affordable. Although Pittsburgh technically lies within one of those pricey Northeastern states, rents in the Steel City are assuredly more Midwest. The average income in Pittsburgh is higher than that across the state in Philly. But rents are lower across the board, including a reasonable $1,500 a month for an average one-bedroom.

reading pa

  • Population: 88,302
  • Average age: 36.09
  • Median household income: $32,176
  • Average commute time: 30.78 minutes
  • Walk score: 69
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,302
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,733

If it’s good enough for Taylor Swift, it’s good enough for you. Yes, that Taylor Swift. The super-slash singer/songwriter is not a native of Tennessee or Texas. She was proudly born and raised in Reading, Pennsylvania.

Maybe it’s the laid-back small city vibe that left an indelible mark on Ms. Swift. Reading is the fifth-largest city in the Commonwealth and sits just 90 minutes from Center City Philadelphia. But Reading feels much smaller, a tight-knit community of 90,000. It offers both urban convenience and Appalachian mountain town charm with a populous nearly 60 percent Hispanic and Latinx and 30 percent under age 18.

And Readingers have plenty of diversions. The wooded area surrounding Mount Penn includes many recreational activities and hiking trails. It is also the site of Reading’s most famous landmarks, William Penn Fire Tower, Peace Rock and the Pagoda, a century-old Japanese-style building that contains a café, gift shop and observation room overlooking the city.

Sports also loom large in Reading. The city has been home to the Phillies’ Double-A affiliate for over 50 years and Team Penske’s open-wheel race car operations for nearly as long.

scranton pa, one of the best places to live in pennsylvania

  • Population: 76,624
  • Average age: 42.35
  • Median household income: $40,608
  • Average commute time: 23.68 minutes
  • Walk score: 58
  • Studio average rent: $1,100
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,226
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,469

Alfredo’s Pizza Café. Froggy 101. Steamtown Mall. Anthracite Heritage Museum. Yes, all those references in The Office are actual, real-world places in Scranton. Dig deep enough and any Scrantonian will sheepishly admit that the depiction of the hard-scrabble former coal city in the show is pretty accurate.

The Electric City is the state’s seventh-largest, a working-class town just about two hours from both Philadelphia and New York. Like many Pennsylvania cities, Scranton leaned into revitalization as coal mines and steel plants closed.

Today, Scranton is booming in healthcare, technology, social services, finance and particularly tourism, leaning into both its unique railroad history and its proximity to top northeastern ski resorts.

Scranton’s revival helped its downtown boom. The pedestrian-friendly district has seen a bevy of new cafés, restaurants, shops and bars surrounded by loft apartments. Many of these are in restored, architecturally significant buildings that recently sat empty.

While many new residents are coming for the first time, the city has seen a large number of Scranton natives moving back from big cities. Cost of living is a big factor, but so is security. Among Pennsylvania’s largest cities, Scranton is the safest.

West Chester, PA.

  • Population: 19,698
  • Average age: 34.74
  • Median household income: $61,837
  • Average commute time: 27.91 minutes
  • Walk score: 54
  • Studio average rent: $1,350
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,598
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,995

Just 25 miles from Center City Philadelphia, the Philly suburb of West Chester is the smallest city on our list. It is also the wealthiest, with an average income of over $80,000. Fortunately, that high wage level hasn’t completely translated into high rent prices.

An average studio apartment leases for just $1,350, while one and two-bedroom units are $1,598 and $1,995, respectively.

West Chester, not far from Philly’s ritzy Main Line, offers a high quality of living. West Chester schools rank highest on our list while the average age, at just under 35, is the youngest. Though a suburb, the borough’s downtown offers much for its young and affluent residents.

In addition to several upscale and trendy bars, restaurants and retail, many businesses have set up shop in this vibrant hamlet. But West Chester’s most notable business? On the edge of town is the world headquarters and studios of the QVC shopping network. And on the south end of town is West Chester University, ranked a “Top 10 Public Regional Universities in the North” by U.S. News.

What else does West Chester offer these up-and-coming leaders of tomorrow? The borough has also been rated one of the “10 Most Exciting Places In Pennsylvania” and a top three “Great American Main Streets.”

York, PA, one of the best places to live in pennsylvania

  • Population: 44,055
  • Average age: 36.62
  • Median household income: $33,906
  • Average commute time: 27.97 minutes
  • Walk score: 53
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,160
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,256

Most cities in Pennsylvania orient themselves with their proximity to Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. However, York residents find themselves just 15 miles from the Maryland border and 45 minutes from Baltimore.

The 16th largest city in the Commonwealth, York is best known as the first National Capital, in 1777. But iron-benders know it as headquarters of York Barbell and the USA Weightlifting Hall of Fame, and chopper heads know it well for Harley-Davidson’s largest manufacturing plant.

Hungry for a snack? Stauffer’s animal crackers — made here for over 150 years — call York home. Also, it is the site of one of the four Starbucks roasting facilities in the whole world.

With deep roots in American Revolutionary history, tourism is important to the York economy.

For York residents, day trips abound. Lancaster and Amish Country are just a half-hour to the east. HersheyPark is only 45 minutes north. And the Gettysburg Battlefield is under an hour west. Working at the State Capitol? Harrisburg is only 30 minutes away.

Looking for something a little more pastoral in Central Pennsylvania? The historic York State Fair is the nation’s oldest, dating back to 1765.

Find your own best place to live in Pennsylvania

The best places to live in Pennsylvania are also some of its most renowned cities. No matter your tastes, you can set up shop somewhere great from the corner metropolises to the coal towns to the suburbs. And you can find your next great Keystone State city right here on, whether you enjoy your Primanti’s covered in fries or your Jim’s bathed in whiz wit.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and’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.


4 Tips Before You Buy Your Teenager a Car

Roughly 26% of car buyers feel that they overpaid for their vehicle, according to a 2014 survey from TrueCar, Inc. That same survey admittedly also found consumers believe car dealers make about five times more profit on the sale of a new car than they actually do — but whether you truly paid too much for your now-old ride or you simply think you did, there are ways to save the next time you hit up a car dealership. For starters, the rates on auto loans are largely driven by your credit, so simply bolstering your credit score can potentially save you thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. Plus, it never hurts to comparison shop and negotiate when it comes to auto loans and the actual vehicle itself — you may be missing out on savings by doing one and not the other.

But First… How Much Car Can You Afford?

According to contributor and car insurance comparison company TheZebra, automotive experts generally suggest auto loans not exceed 10% (if it’s just the loan) to 20% (if it’s the loan and related expenses like car insurance) of your gross monthly income. Of course, that’s a broad rule and every potential car owner is going to have to take a long, hard long at their finances and current debt levels to decide what they can, in fact, afford. Following these three simple cost-cutting steps can help you save big on your auto loan and next car purchase.

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1. Do a Credit Check

Not checking your credit before you start shopping for a car is a huge mistake. Because your auto loan rates are directly tied to your credit scores, even a small inaccuracy on your credit report could cost you. Before you start shopping for your dream car, take an hour to check all three of your credit reports and credit scores online. You need to check with all three major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — because you don’t know which one a lender will use for your application. If you have a credit score above 750, you can probably qualify for the best rates available and negotiate an excellent deal on your car. If your credit score is lower, see if you can give it a boost before you apply for a loan.

You can view two of your credit scores, along with your free credit report snapshot on The snapshot will pinpoint what your specific area of opportunities are and what steps you can take to improve. However, as a general rule of thumb, you can raise your credit score by disputing errors on your credit report, paying down high credit card debts and limiting new credit applications.

2. Shop Online

Unless you have a credit score in the 800s and can qualify for a 0% auto loan offer, you are probably not going to get the best deal on a loan from the dealership. Auto loan rates and fees offered by online auto lenders are usually a lot lower than the rates offered by dealership financing programs. Plus, you can shop and compare rates online without causing damaging inquiries to your credit report (provided you’re not formally applying for every offer you see). Most online lenders have calculators or rate guides that show you what rate you could receive based upon your credit score. (Note: Be sure to vet any lender, whether online or within a dealership, before taking them up on an offer.)

With many online loans, you fill out the application and receive an approval by email within a few hours. Then the lender mails you a check that is ready to be made out to the person or business selling the car. If you end up not buying a car or not using the loan, you toss the check (shredding it first, of course). Plus, the check from the lender usually specifies a certain price range (for example, $9,000-$10,000). This leaves you with some room for negotiating a lower price with the seller even after you have received your loan approval. Speaking of which …

3. Negotiate the Price

Many people may wind up overpaying for a car simply to avoid negotiating the price of a car with a salesperson. Luckily, the Internet makes negotiating with car dealers a whole lot easier. Before you start shopping, look up the listed price, invoice and MSRP of the car you want through an unbiased site like Kelley Blue Book and request free price quotes online. Armed with these facts, you’ll have an advantage over the salesperson when you start the negotiations. You should be able to save a couple hundred dollars, if not a few thousands, by negotiating with the car salesperson before you decide to buy.

Proving It

You may be thinking: This is all fine and dandy, but does it really add up to $3,000 in savings? Let’s crunch the numbers using this auto loan calculator.

According to data from Experian, the average interest rate on a new car loan for prime customers as of the last quarter of 2015 was 3.55%. The average rates on a new car for non-prime customers and subprime customers during that timeframe were 6.24% and 10.36%, respectively.

So, let’s say you wanted to buy a $16,000 car and had $1,000 saved for a down payment. If you chose a loan repayment period of 60 months, had a non-prime credit score (think just below 700), and got a loan through a dealership, you could receive about a 6.3% annual percentage rate (APR).

  • Dealership option: $292 a month – $17,525 total costs

However, if you checked your credit reports and scores before you applied and found a way to boost your score to prime (think around 750), your interest rate from the dealership could drop to about 3.5%.

  • Improved score: $273 a month – $16,373 total costs

You would have already saved $1,152 dollars, just by checking your credit reports! That’s a pretty good return on your investment. Next, you might be able to reduce your rate even more by shopping for a loan online with your new credit score of 750. Let’s suppose, for argument sake, you qualify for a 2.7% APR (the average interest rate for super-prime customers during the last quarter of 2015, according to Experian).

  • Online loan: $268 a month – $16,052 total costs

You would have saved almost $1,473 by working on your loan options using Step 1 and 2. Finally, if you went to negotiate with the salesperson you could probably make a deal with the seller to reduce the price of the car down to $14,000. In this case, you would only have to borrow $13,000 with your 2.7% APR loan from an online lender.

  • Negotiated deal: $232 a month – $13,912 total costs

Your total savings from following these three simple steps would equal $3,613 over the life of your auto loan!


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.

1 of 10

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 (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.

3 of 10

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.

4 of 10

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.”

10 of 10

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.


The Best Places to Live in South Carolina in 2021

If you are looking for a state with hundreds of miles of coastline, sprawling urban centers and crisp mountain landscapes, then look no further than South Carolina.

The best places to live in South Carolina are cities filled with southern charm like Charleston, accented by pristine beaches like Myrtle Beach and brimming with opportunities like Greenville.

The Palmetto State has something for everyone interested in a chance at a new beginning. Known for their hospitality, South Carolinians will welcome you with open arms.

Here is our list of the best cities in South Carolina:

Fountain in Aiken, SC.

  • Population: 30,869
  • Average age: N/A
  • Median household income: $56,199
  • Average commute time: 23.2 minutes
  • Walk score: 20
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom rent: $825
  • Two-bedroom rent: $849

Named the “South’s Best Small Town” by Southern Living, Aiken is no longer the best-kept secret in South Carolina. Home to world-class stables and equine training facilities, this fine equestrian town is sure to please.

In addition, Aiken boasts a mild climate that provides a nice break from the rest of the state’s hot summers. It is also far enough inland that residents do not have to worry too much during hurricane season.

Interested in culture? The Aiken Center for the Arts holds events year-round. You will also love exploring the many independent galleries during a quiet stroll through its historic downtown.

Because of its affordable living, Aiken is a perfect spot for young people just getting started on their own. It is also great for retirees looking for a small town with a beautiful landscape that is ideal for travel.

Aerial view of Charleston, SC at sunset.

  • Population: 130,593
  • Average age: 41.9
  • Median household income: $68,438
  • Average commute time: 26.6 minutes
  • Walk score: 63
  • Studio average rent: $1,654
  • One-bedroom rent: $1,495
  • Two-bedroom rent: $1,725

There may not be a city in the world more popular with tourists than Charleston. Imagine experiencing the beautiful beaches, historic buildings, rich culture and world-class restaurants as a resident.

The first thing you will notice about Charleston is the stunning landscape highlighted by the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge. Residents walk or run the bridge for great exercise and exceptional downtown views, including its famous steeples. You can also watch as giant container ships sail to port through Charleston Harbor.

Second only to New Orleans in its southern culinary tradition, Charleston is home to some of the world’s finest restaurants. The steak martini at Halls Chophouse and the collard greens at Rodney Scott’s BBQ are a few of the many local favorites.

The cost of living is higher here than anywhere else in South Carolina, but the value of living in such a special city is priceless.

Aerial view of downtown Columbia, SC.

  • Population: 133,734
  • Average age: 37.2
  • Median household income: $47,286
  • Average commute time: 19.2 minutes
  • Walk score: 35
  • Studio average rent: $1,083
  • One-bedroom rent: $961
  • Two-bedroom rent: $1,095

In the heart of South Carolina lies Columbia, the state’s capital city. Columbia is one of the best places to live in South Carolina because it is a fast-paced metropolis that offers affordable living and a small-town feel.

The University of South Carolina is here along with its storied football traditions. As such, Columbia is a great place to catch a college football game.

If you’re a fan of art and culture, Columbia is absolutely brimming with both. The Columbia Museum of Art holds many different annual events along with its year-round displays. And, after a trip to the museum, you can enjoy a southern-inspired lunch at Cola’s Restaurant.

Lake Murray and Congaree National Park also offer Columbia residents a chance to get outside and enjoy more than 200 sunny days a year.

Greenville, SC shopping center.

  • Population: 63,844
  • Average age: 41.4
  • Median household income: $56,609
  • Average commute time: 21.8 minutes
  • Walk score: 39
  • Studio average rent: $1,219
  • One-bedroom rent: $1,146
  • Two-bedroom rent: $1,384

Greenville is South Carolina’s fastest-growing city because of its vast economic opportunities and beautiful landscape. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains foothills, Greenville has a higher elevation than most South Carolina cities, which makes for a milder climate.

Greenville’s economy has experienced a boom in the last decade because of major corporations like Michelin and BMW installing factories here. It is also conveniently located near Interstate 85, which makes commuting and travel a breeze.

The river district in downtown Greenville is home to many fine restaurants and world-class shopping. The weekly Saturday farmers market is also a popular event for young families to enjoy with their children.

Greenville’s cost of living is higher than in most South Carolina cities, but that is because of its excellent school system, healthy lifestyle and the many economic opportunities available.

Mount Pleasant, SC.

  • Population: 81,788
  • Average age: 42.9
  • Median household income: $103,232
  • Average commute time: 26.2 minutes
  • Walk score: 29
  • Studio average rent: $1,364
  • One-bedroom rent: $1,459
  • Two-bedroom rent: $1,803

Mount Pleasant is one of the best cities in South Carolina because of its beautiful coastal landscape and its sprawling suburbs.

Sharing half of the famous Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge with its sister city, Charleston, Mount Pleasant affords its residents stunning views of Charleston Harbor and access to beach towns like Sullivan’s Island.

Although living costs in Mount Pleasant are higher than almost anywhere else in South Carolina, it also has a six-figure median household income that is higher than any other city on this list.

If you prefer leisure activities and relaxation, Mount Pleasant is a prime choice. A boater’s paradise, the city offers more than 12 miles of beaches and numerous rivers and creeks. And, after a busy day on the water, you can dock at Shem Creek and enjoy a fresh seafood dinner caught by one of the many resident shrimp boats that morning.

The shoreline of Myrtle Beach, SC.

  • Population: 30,390
  • Average age: 45.7
  • Median household income: $43,200
  • Average commute time: 21.1 minutes
  • Walk score: 23
  • Studio average rent: $1,037
  • One-bedroom rent: $983
  • Two-bedroom rent: $1,264

Myrtle Beach has perfected the vacation lifestyle. More than 15 million people visit the Grand Strand annually, and the reasons they visit Myrtle Beach are also what makes it one of the best places to live in South Carolina.

With more than 100 golf courses, 60 miles of stunning sandy beaches and a breezy tropical climate, Myrtle Beach is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the United States. The city’s tourism also means great economic opportunity for its residents. Myrtle Beach has more than 75,000 jobs connected to the tourism industry.

Myrtle Beach is also a popular destination for retirees because of its pleasing climate and excellent healthcare system. The cost of living is surprisingly affordable despite its popularity.

The local southern charm will woo you, as will its laid-back beach-town personality.

Lake in North Augusta, SC.

  • Population: 23,845
  • Average age: N/A
  • Median household income: $59,931
  • Average commute time: 22.7 minutes
  • Walk score: 33
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom rent: $1,089
  • Two-bedroom rent: $1,665

Located across the Savannah River from Augusta, GA., North Augusta is a jewel on the riverfront and one of the best cities in South Carolina. The North Augusta Greenway traverses the city and adds a picturesque landscape to an already beautiful city.

Many events in North Augusta center around the river, including the Nike Peach Jam and the Savannah Riverkeeper’s Paddlefest.

With a population of just over 22,000, North Augusta is a small town with a big heart.

Residents enjoy one of the highest-rated school systems in the state and access to superb healthcare. The city’s proximity to major highways like Interstate 20 makes North Augusta a retired traveler’s dream.

Park in Rock Hill, SC.

  • Population: 69,939
  • Average age: 40.4
  • Median household income: $50,444
  • Average commute time: 28.7 minutes
  • Walk score: 32
  • Studio average rent: $835
  • One-bedroom rent: $914
  • Two-bedroom rent: $1,138

Twenty miles south of Charlotte lies the charming and affordable Rock Hill. The average commute time of under 30 minutes allows Rock Hill residents to benefit from the economic opportunities found in Charlotte without having to pay the costs or suffer the hassles of living in a large city.

Home to the Carolina Panthers’ practice facility, Rock Hill is a short drive away from catching a National Football League, National Basketball Association or International Hockey League game or NASCAR race.

The cost of living in Rock Hill pales in comparison to Charlotte and is still among the lowest in the entire state of South Carolina. Residents take advantage of the mild year-round climate and enjoy the many outdoor activities available in Rock Hill, like boating and fishing on nearby Lake Wylie or the Catawba River.

Aerial shot of Spartanburg, SC.

  • Population: 37,164
  • Average age: 42.3
  • Median household income: $40,053
  • Average commute time: 23.0 minutes
  • Walk Score: 29
  • Studio average rent: $727
  • One-bedroom rent: $888
  • Two-bedroom rent: $1,047

“Sparkle City,” as Spartanburg is affectionately known, is the smaller sister-city to Greenville. What makes it one of the best cities to live in South Carolina is its small-town charm, quiet neighborhoods and increasing economic opportunities.

Home to the headquarters of national restaurant chain Denny’s and one of the only BMW assembly plants in the United States, Spartanburg offers many employment opportunities to its residents. And, with its low cost of living and highly-rated school system, Spartanburg is a great landing spot for young families and career-minded millennials.

Downtown Spartanburg has enjoyed a renaissance in the last decade that has revitalized its landscape and brought art and culture back to the city. Ballet Spartanburg, one of the most celebrated arts organizations in the state, produces a dozen productions annually, including “The Nutcracker.”

River view of Summerville, SC.

  • Population: 46,612
  • Average age: 40.5
  • Median household income: $59,180
  • Average commute time: 35.4 minutes
  • Walk Score: 19
  • Studio average rent: $1,093
  • One-bedroom rent: $1,098
  • Two-bedroom rent: $1,380

Summerville gives nearby Charleston a run for its money when it comes to history, culture and landscape. A much more affordable option than the nearby No. 1 tourist destination, Summerville is the gateway to the Lowcountry.

With a population of just under 50,000 residents and an average annual income of over $80,000, Summerville is unmatched in the state of South Carolina in terms of cost of living and economic opportunity.

Summerville boasts one of the highest school ratings in the state, making it one of the best cities to live in South Carolina for education. The cost of living is higher than most smaller towns, but the location, beautiful coastal landscape and proximity to opportunity make up for it.

Find your own best place to live in South Carolina

If you are ready to call South Carolina home, we’re here to help. Start your apartment search today.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and’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.


The Problem With Mortgage Rate Surveys

Every week, mortgage financier Freddie Mac comes out with a mortgage rate survey, which reveals the average interest rate (and points) charged by lenders for popular types of home loans.

About 125 lenders from across the nation, including thrifts, mortgage lenders, credit unions and commercial banks, take part in the survey that dates back to 1971.

The survey data is collected from Monday to Wednesday, and the results are posted on Freddie Mac’s website on Thursday of each week.

Come Thursday morning, the media goes nuts with the data in the report, known as the Primary Mortgage Market Survey (PMMS).

And just minutes after its release, you’ll see startling headlines like, “mortgage rates fall again,” or “mortgage rates climb higher.”

Mortgage Rate Surveys Use Old Data

  • The biggest flaw with the survey is that the rates are delayed
  • Because mortgage rates aren’t static
  • They are constantly in flux, both daily and intraday changes can take place
  • So you’re really just getting yesterday’s news at best

Unfortunately, whatever the message may be for a given week, it’s often old news by the time the media gets their grubby hands on it.

You see, mortgage rates can and will change daily, and sometimes swing dramatically, depending on what’s going on that week.

Lately, there have been plenty of swings thanks to all the uncertainty regarding the direction of the economy.

So a mortgage rate quote (yes, they’re just quotes in the survey) given to a handful of borrowers on Monday may be completely different by Thursday.

Sure, it could be exactly the same too, but chances are it won’t be. And the direction of rates often highlighted in news reports may be completely wrong as well.

Imagine opening up a newspaper on Thursday morning and viewing stock quotes from a few days earlier. That wouldn’t do you much good, would it? Especially if you had to act on it.

Assumptions Aplenty

  • Like all other rates you see advertised or surveyed
  • They make a series of assumptions
  • Such as a 20% down payment or a 740 credit score
  • Which may or may not actually apply to you

Okay, so the data isn’t as timely as the media might make it appear, even if it’s “weighted” and “averaged” and “algorithmically adjusted.”

Yes, I’m making up phrases here, but the point is the data is only as good as the day it is released, at least for the purposes of a prospective borrower shopping rates.

On top of that, the rates in the survey assume the world of you, the borrower.

The rates are based on first-lien (first mortgage) prime (great credit) conventional (non-government) conforming mortgages (small loan amounts) with a loan-to-value ratio of 80% (big down payment).

In other words, if you’re not putting down 20%, the rate in the survey isn’t for you. And if your credit score isn’t tip-top, you should also ignore the rates in the survey unless you want to be disappointed.

If you’ve got a jumbo loan, again, don’t bother reading the survey if you’re curious what rate you’ll actually receive.

Are the Mortgage Rate Surveys a Waste of Time?

  • Averages and old data don’t sound very useful
  • But the weekly mortgage rate surveys do have some value
  • In measuring interest rates over time for research and perspective
  • However for rate shopping they’re probably not all that helpful

I know I sound overly negative about the survey, but back in the day, I used to report on it just like every other major media outlet.

I stopped after I realized it wasn’t adding much value, not to mention the fact that 1000 other news outlets wrote about the very same stuff every Thursday morning.

The surveys aren’t inherently bad, they’re just not a very effective tool for borrowers shopping rates. If anything, they’re good to measure interest rates over time.

And a researcher may use the data to explain something that happened in the past, or to attempt to predict something that may happen in the future.

But for mortgage rate shopping, the Freddie survey (or any of the many, many other surveys out there) won’t do you much good. If anything, it could just frustrate you (and your loan officer) when the numbers don’t match up.

Zillow launched a weekly mortgage rate update a while back that is released every Tuesday.

They actually note that theirs isn’t a survey and the rates aren’t “marketing rates,” but rather are based on custom mortgage rate quotes submitted daily, reflecting the most recent market changes.

Again, take them with a grain of salt because there is no one-size-fits-all in mortgage lending.

So if you want the real skinny, get daily mortgage pricing from the bank or lender you’re working with.

About the Author: Colin Robertson

Before creating this blog, Colin worked as an account executive for a wholesale mortgage lender in Los Angeles. He has been writing passionately about mortgages for 15 years.


The Best Places to Live in Colorado in 2021

Denver is already a well-known destination city for mountain lovers and city dwellers alike. But it isn’t the only place people are flocking to in Colorado.

Fresh mountain air, unparalleled scenery and friendly faces are abundant across The Centennial State. The best places to live in Colorado are distinct enough that, no matter what you’re looking for, you could find a place to call home.

Below is the list of the top ten best cities in Colorado:

Blue skies over Aurora, CO.

  • Population: 356,455
  • Average age: 38.9
  • Median household income: $65,100
  • Average commute time: 35.5 minutes
  • Walk score: 47
  • Studio average rent: $1,342
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,472
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,734

If you love Denver but hate the rent prices, you may not need to read any further down the list. No longer is Aurora Denver’s up-and-coming little sister; Aurora is here.

The so-called Gateway to the Rockies is less famed as a place to live, but it’s appealing in its own right. Aurora is the third most populous city in Colorado, but to locals, it’s an eastern suburb of Denver that no longer feels so suburban.

Don’t miss Cherry Creek State Park, an ideal spot for biking that offers some much-coveted shoreline in this landlocked state in the form of the Cherry Creek Reservoir.

You’ll also find Stanley Marketplace, a dazzling new shopping and food mecca built into a formerly deserted airport facility.

Mountains in Boulder, CO, one of the best places to live in colorado

  • Population: 105,115
  • Average age: 38.5
  • Median household income: $69,520
  • Average commute time: 23.7 minutes
  • Walk score: 63
  • Studio average rent: $1,953
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,174
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,485

Boulder is about as picturesque of a college town as they come. Just 30 minutes northwest of Denver, this is the home of the University of Colorado and some of the best food you can find in the state.

It’s a tight-knit little community, and you’ll find excellent education, an abundance of arts and culture, an incredibly bikeable city layout and a surprising amount of traffic despite the low commute times.

The U.S. News & World Report recently named Boulder number one on its list of best places in America to live thanks to the gorgeous Chautauqua Mountain backdrop and focus on wellness. It’s also been called the happiest place to live by National Geographic.

The hippy state of mind has grown on a lot of people drawn to this hamlet. You can’t go wrong living in Boulder, as long as you can afford the high rent prices.

Downtown Colorado Springs.

  • Population: 445,686
  • Average age: 40.5
  • Median household income: $64,712
  • Average commute time: 26.4 minutes
  • Walk score: 37
  • Studio average rent: $1,044
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,241
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,499

Even higher than the Mile High City, Colorado Springs sits at the base of Pikes Peak, and the mountain views are hard to escape here. Colorado Springs has plenty of city offerings but a slightly slower pace and lower price point than Denver.

Garden of the Gods Park remains startlingly attractive no matter how many times you visit. However, this city isn’t ideal for anyone who prefers to live somewhere that’s very walkable or bikeable; you will want a car to get from A to B.

Colorado Springs’ quirky next-door neighbor, Manitou Springs, is a fun weekend getaway full of mineral springs, advanced hiking trails and Anasazi cliff dwellings.

Plus, Denver is around an hour away if you aren’t traveling during peak traffic times.

Downtown Denver, CO, one of the best places to live in colorado

  • Population: 677,202
  • Average age: 40.3
  • Median household income: $68,592
  • Average commute time: 30.8 minutes
  • Walk score: 71
  • Studio average rent: $1,644
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,877
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,548

Denver is a renowned destination because it has just about everything — entertainment, nightlife, arts and culture to spare. The city consistently ranks as one of the best and healthiest places to live, and the quality of life here is bar-none. It also ranks as the most walkable city on this list.

Good-looking yet still humble, the Colorado capital boasts loads of outdoor activities within the city limits, but the day trips are impressive as well. Plus, it has all the major sports teams, competitive colleges, world-class museums and mountains for those who want to scale them or prefer to spectate.

Denver is a mecca for tech, healthcare and aerospace companies alike, which is a huge draw for young professionals and entrepreneurs.

This well-loved city is a bit pricey due to its popularity, so make sure you pick the neighborhood that ticks all your boxes.

Aerial view of Fort Collins, CO.

  • Population: 158,143
  • Average age: 37.9
  • Median household income: $65,866
  • Average commute time: 24.4 minutes
  • Walk score: 42
  • Studio average rent: $1,188
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,430
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,691

An hour north of Denver is another college town: Fort Collins.

This town has a more rural and Old West feel than Denver or Boulder, and it’s often called the Craft Beer Capital of Colorado. While the views spotlight more foothills than in-your-face mountains, it is heavy on the western charm.

Ski resorts aren’t in close proximity, but Fort Collins is better suited for lacing up your boots and going for a horseback ride.

The Horsetooth Reservoir is one of Colorado’s most Instagrammable places, and the Cache la Poudre River Canyon isn’t far behind.

The city is a popular place for families and college students, where excellent schools and relatively quick commute times collide.

Grand Junction, CO, one of the best places to live in colorado

  • Population: 60,402
  • Average age: 42.7
  • Median household income: $52,504
  • Average commute time: 21.3 minutes
  • Walk score: 49
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: N/A
  • Two-bedroom average rent: N/A

On the western slope, you’ll find Grand Junction, a smaller city teeming with nearby wineries, hiking and biking trails and respite from the Denver crowds.

The city is home to the Colorado National Monument and Grand Mesa, the world’s largest flat-topped mountain.

This small town has mild winters, too, compared to the rest of Colorado. If you’re into skiing or snowboarding, Powderhorn Mountain Resort is less than an hour away.

What it lacks in mountain views, it makes up for with competitive pricing and expansive outdoor recreation. Plan on much more affordable rent prices than the bigger cities, with jealousy-inspiring day trips to places like Moab, Ouray and Telluride.

Aerial over Lakewood, CO.

  • Population: 151,835
  • Average age: 43.7
  • Median household income: $66,740
  • Average commute time: 32.1 minutes
  • Walk score: 51
  • Studio average rent: $1,342
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,453
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,750

Another idyllic suburb is Lakewood, just a few miles west of Denver. With popular concert venues like Red Rocks Amphitheatre and the scenic town of Golden nearby, Lakewood offers a lot to love with quick access to Colorado’s capital.

Downtown Lakewood is home to Belmar, a quaint shopping and entertainment hub focusing on arts and kid-friendly appeal.

The Lakewood stop on the light rail will get you to Union Station in just under twenty minutes, making the commute tolerable.

The city is an ideal spot for families, affording a break in rental prices for the budget-conscious and ample outdoor activities for the kiddos.

Littleton, CO, one of the best places to live in colorado

  • Population: 45,740
  • Average age: 45.4
  • Median household income: $76,015
  • Average commute time: 30.8 minutes
  • Walk score: 47
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,707
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,174

Just south of Denver is Littleton, a cute suburb with tree-lined roads and unfettered mountain views that offers quiet parks and natural spaces.

The schools here are even more competitive than those in Denver or Lakewood, making this suburb a popular place for families. It’s also one of the safer cities in Colorado.

Hudson Gardens hosts summer concerts, beer festivals and countless outdoor weddings.

Plan on a bit of a commute if you are working in Denver, but the light rail stop in the heart of Littleton makes traffic less of a headache. Plus, the more affordable rent prices may make up for your time spent on the road.

Loveland, CO.

  • Population: 73,199
  • Average age: 44.7
  • Median household income: $68,592
  • Average commute time: 30.4 minutes
  • Walk score: 38
  • Studio average rent: $1,250.95
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,487
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,818

Between Boulder and Fort Collins lies Loveland, a small town in northern Colorado.

Known as the Sweetheart City, Loveland is heavy on Valentine’s Day celebrations. They have an international Valentine’s re-mailing operation so that you can have your Valentine postmarked from this romantic city.

Though it’s a bit less fussy than its neighbors, Loveland has parks, quaint shops and views that tend to fall under the radar. The Loveland Fire and Ice Festival is a can’t-miss event for fans of music, fireworks and snow sculpture.

The city is an easy choice for someone who wants to live the Colorado lifestyle without paying the most devastating Colorado prices.

Pueblo, CO, one of the best places to live in colorado

  • Population: 109,273
  • Average age: 43.0
  • Median household income: $40,450
  • Average commute time: 23.7 minutes
  • Walk score: 39
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $695
  • Two-bedroom average rent: N/A

Pueblo brings a lot to the table, including a diverse community and a small-town feel. Not quite an hour south of Colorado Springs, the city provides an almost unbelievable combination of affordability and central Colorado location, ideal for large families.

Pueblo offers unparalleled access to fishing, boating and camping for those who love the great outdoors but don’t want to fend off the frenzied crowds.

If you prefer sunglasses to ski masks, Pueblo might be the perfect place for you, as it is one of the least snowy areas in Colorado.

The food and entertainment here are underrated, too. Enjoy the Pueblo Riverwalk, Lake Pueblo State Park and a plethora of family-run cafes.

Find your own best place to live in Colorado

Colorado is an attractive place to call home, whether you’re seeking all-season outdoor activities, big-city polish and amenities or a small mountain town with unpretentious people. If you’re ready to make the move, start here.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and’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.