The Best Places to Live in Georgia in 2021

Georgia, also known as the Peach State, features everything from fun city amenities like a thriving nightlife and the latest art openings to outdoor opportunities right in your suburban backyard.

It’s no surprise that Georgia has plenty of options for great places to live.

Atlanta’s growing economy with Coca-Cola, Home Depot and Delta Air Lines at the helm entice any visitor to move to the city. Farther south in Macon and Savannah, you can enjoy a growing music scene and fresh seafood, respectively, too.

Georgia provides a full spectrum of experiences for those visiting and considering moving here. Seriously, there are more than 100, just in Atlanta.

To help your search for your next home, here are the best places to live in Georgia, arranged in alphabetical order:

Alpharetta, Georgia.

  • Population: 67,213
  • Median household income: $113,802
  • Average commute time: 29 minutes
  • Walk score: 30
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,635
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,052

The Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta continues to make the best places to live lists, thanks to its vibrant culinary spots, shopping districts like Avalon, thriving tech and manufacturing industries and of course, education.

The city offers easy access to the airport, only 35 miles south via GA-400. You can head on your way to your next business trip or vacation in no time.

If you’re looking for the outdoors, you’re also less than 45 minutes from the North Georgia Mountains and cabin towns like Blue Ridge and Ellijay.

Downtown Alpharetta offers a walkable experience with boutiques, breweries and fine dining establishments lining the streets. Every weekend, the city comes down to stock up on local offerings at the Alpharetta Farmer’s Market.

With a one-bedroom average rent of under $1,700, you can find an affordable place with good schools nearby in Alpharetta.

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Athens, Georgia.

  • Population: 126,913
  • Median household income: $38,311
  • Average commute time: 19.4 minutes
  • Walk score: 35
  • Studio average rent: $712
  • One-bedroom average rent: $739
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,259

Sure, when you hear Athens, you think of the University of Georgia and the accompanying football tailgating. However, the city has more to offer than college fun.

While Athens is a small city, it does come with a great perk — affordability. You can rent a one-bedroom for $739 a month on average.

You also have access to arts and entertainment, thanks to Athens’ thriving music scene. Check out your favorite entertainer at the Georgia Theatre or discover a new one at the intimate 40 Watt Club.

The State Botanical Garden of Georgia and Sandy Creek Park offer opportunities to enjoy the mild Georgia weather and nature. End your weekend with a pint from local brewery Creature Comforts — yes, the one you saw in Thor’s hand during the last “Avengers” movie.

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Atlanta, GA.

  • Population: 506,811
  • Median household income: $59,948
  • Average commute time: 27.2 minutes
  • Walk score: 55
  • Studio average rent: $1,605
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,655
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,140

From Fortune 500 companies to good music and food, Atlanta has plenty to offer as one of the best cities to live in Georgia. With more than half a million residents, the city has a diverse community that provides everything from an indie clothing store to large coffee chains.

Atlanta’s 45 neighborhoods all have their unique personality. You can find a luxury condo in Midtown or a charming craftsman home in Grant Park — just minutes from each other. Depending on the neighborhood, your walk score may improve, but you’ll have access to city parks and local dining options that range from Mexican to Italian and Ethiopian.

With those city amenities come high rent prices — you can find a studio on average for $1,605 a month. Keep in mind that easy access to MARTA rail and the bus line can help you skip long commutes at the end of the day.

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Augusta, Georgia.

  • Population: 197,888
  • Median household income: $42,592
  • Average commute time: 21.1 minutes
  • Walk score: 33
  • Studio average rent: $1,000
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,013
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,153

While many know Augusta for the annual Masters golf tournament, its residents enjoy a rich history, a charming downtown and a growing economy year-round. The walk along the Savannah River in downtown Augusta indeed shows the beauty of the city.

The Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art and the Augusta Museum of History give you a glimpse of this Southern city’s history. The Summerville neighborhood has some of the most beautiful historic homes, preserved thanks to a local ordinance, with large columns and manicured lawns.

On the weekends, you can explore Broad Street and its small boutiques and restaurants on foot. During the warm months, the Augusta Market brings local artisans to the Savannah River’s River Walk park.

From tapas to nightlife, you can find it all here.

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Columbus, Georgia.

  • Population: 195,769
  • Median household income: $46,408
  • Average commute time: 20.6 minutes
  • Walk score: 35
  • Studio average rent: $553
  • One-bedroom average rent: $833
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $983

For those looking into affordable living, Columbus tops our list of best places to live in Georgia. You can get a two-bedroom apartment in the city for under $1,000 per month on average.

Only 90 minutes from Atlanta, Columbus is an outdoor lover’s paradise with the Chattahoochee River flowing nearby. The river provides incredible opportunities to whitewater one of the country’s longest courses and even zipline across it.

Elsewhere in the city, you can find a farmers market, artists market and free concert series set up in the downtown area.

The Springer Opera House features some of the best talents throughout annual performances and leads one of the most prominent theatre programs in the Southeast.

The city is also home to Fort Benning and the National Infantry Museum, the only one of its kind in the U.S.

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Decatur, Georgia.

Photo source: Agnes Scott College
  • Population: 25,696
  • Median household income: $106,088
  • Average commute time: 27.3 minutes
  • Walk score: 39
  • Studio average rent: $1,323
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,403
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,587

The city of Decatur is only about five square miles, but it packs a lot of goodness. With three MARTA rail stations and a robust bike lane program, you can easily navigate the city without a car.

Agnes Scott College, an acclaimed women-only liberal arts college, provides interesting arts programming for residents to enjoy.

Only a few miles from downtown Atlanta and high-quality schools, Decatur’s housing is highly sought out. You can find a two-bedroom on average for $1,587 per month.

However, you’ll have access to some of the best restaurants in Georgia, like Kimball House, Leon’s Full Service and Brush Izakaya, along with regular community events in the square.

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Macon, Georgia.

  • Population: 153,159
  • Median household income: $41,334
  • Average commute time: 21.3 minutes
  • Walk score: 35
  • Studio average rent: $610
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,050
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,172

Right at the heart of the Peach State and only two hours from Atlanta, Macon is a hub of job opportunities, higher education options like Mercer University and, of course, entertainment on the weekends.

Warner Robins, 20 miles away, offers job opportunities at the Robins Air Force Base as one of the state’s largest employers. Plus, your average commute time hovers around 20 minutes.

Downtown Macon features new, cool boutiques as well as iconic places that have regulars. Listen to the latest tunes at Fresh Produce Records and then hop to the Tubman Museum, an essential visit.

To learn more about Macon’s music history, The Little Richard House and Otis Redding Museum are both must-see stops for music lovers.

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Marietta, Georgia.

  • Population: 60,867
  • Median household income: $57,452
  • Average commute time: 28.5 minutes
  • Walk score: 31
  • Studio average rent: $1,018
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,162
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,426

One of Cobb County’s gems, Marietta, offers good schools, a tight-knit community and rich history. Marietta City Schools hosts a diverse student body with high rankings in the state.

Near Marietta Square, a hub for most community events, you can find the Marietta Museum of History in a preserved 1845 warehouse building. There are a few other historical sites within the city center like the William Root House Museum & Garden and Kennesaw Mountain.

Not too far, at Truist Park, you can cheer on the Atlanta Braves and enjoy a meal at The Battery.

While Atlanta’s infamous traffic can keep you on I-75 for longer than you want, the average person commutes nearly 30 minutes to work.

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Sandy Springs, Georgia.

  • Population: 109,452
  • Median household income: $78,613
  • Average commute time: 26.1 minutes
  • Walk score: 44
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,630
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,007

Sandy Springs’ proximity to downtown Atlanta, Buckhead’s business district and the outdoors makes it one of the best places to live in Georgia. You’ll also have to the public transportation via the MARTA rail to avoid the 26-minute average commute.

The Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area and 16 city parks offer plenty of opportunities to get outside, explore new trails and even go on a kayak or two. You can also find Vickery Creek Falls nearby in Roswell.

For those into nightlife, you can check out Battle & Brew as well as plays at the City Springs Theatre Company and Act 3 Productions.

You can find a one-bedroom in the area for $1,630 a month on average.

If you’re looking for close proximity to the action while keeping a little quiet at home, this is the place for you.

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Savannah, Georgia.

  • Population: 144,464
  • Median household income: $43,307
  • Average commute time: 20.5 minutes
  • Walk score: 46
  • Studio average rent: $1,244
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,197
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,346

Home to River Street and the Savannah College of Art and Design, Savannah’s Spanish moss-lined streets take you back to the past. The city’s downtown grid street system makes it incredibly walkable and easily enjoyable.

Despite all of the ghost stories and dark past, the city has plenty to offer delicious dining options, museums and outdoor opportunities. You can both enjoy fresh oysters on River Street next to the water and not too far, walk around the area that inspired the “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” book.

The Port of Savannah played an essential role in local cotton and tobacco industries following its opening in 1744. These days, the port is a historic landmark and one of the fastest-growing ports in the country.

If you want a hop and a skip from Tybee Island, you can find a two-bedroom apartment for $1,346 a month on average.

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Find your own best place to live in Georgia

Georgia’s four seasons, affordability and growing economy have attracted people from all over. It’s no surprise that the Peach State has several great cities to pick from.

Whether you’re looking to relocate with your job or just looking for a new city to love, Georgia’s Southern charm and delicious food will reel you in.

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

Source: rent.com

10 Cities Near Seattle To Live in 2021

With its natural beauty and laid-back culture, there are many excellent reasons to move to the Seattle area. But the city has seen rapid population growth in recent years, along with an increased cost of living — causing a drawback for some. Fortunately, there are plenty of cities near Seattle that offer fantastic alternatives for every lifestyle.

Whether you’re looking for a safe suburb to raise a family in, a home base for outdoor excursions or a hip neighborhood with a thriving nightlife, there’s a city that offers what you’re looking for, all without traveling more than 30 minutes or so outside downtown Seattle. Consider adding the following places to your list.

Kirkland, WA. Kirkland, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 11.1 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,069 (down 3.1 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,521 (up 5.8 percent since last year)

Located on the Northeastern shore of Lake Washington, Kirkland offers easy proximity to downtown Seattle combined with a wooded, suburban feel. Many families find Kirkland appealing as an alternative to Seattle. They can find more space, excellent schools and the opportunity to live close to an urban center.

The city of Kirkland is on the waterfront. Its popular public parks on the lake offer opportunities for boating, swimming and beach volleyball. It also showcases a picturesque collection of restaurants and shops, perfect for an evening out.

Commuters to Seattle will enjoy a short drive into downtown, or you can choose the excellent public transit connections.

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Redmond, WA. Redmond, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 15.3 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,141 (down 7.3 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,712 (down 5.8 percent since last year)

Redmond is perhaps best known as the home of Microsoft. A resulting concentration of tech talent has attracted other tech companies as well as their employees, creating a diverse community of young professionals and families.

Redmond is sprawling and spacious, with wide sidewalks and plenty of trees. Many streets have bike lanes and paved bike paths connect to other nearby cities.

The city is in a beautiful natural setting and is home to Marymoor Park, which hosts outdoor concerts and features dozens of sports fields and a climbing wall.

Redmond also has excellent schools and a pleasant, walkable downtown core with many shops and restaurants.

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Des Moines, WA. Des Moines, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 14.9 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,425 (down 1.4 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,767 (down 1.8 percent since last year)

Des Moines is a quiet, affordable waterfront city located midway between Seattle and Tacoma along the Interstate 5 corridor. The municipality stretches along the water, with many options for stunning views of Puget Sound.

The small downtown includes some great restaurants and waterfront walks, with plenty of nearby trails and parks that offer hiking, biking and even camping.

Des Moines is on a rapid transit line that makes it easy to access nearby SeaTac and the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport or commute south to Federal Way or Tacoma.

The city will appeal to families and young professionals seeking an affordable option without sacrificing livability.

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Issaquah, WA. Issaquah, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 17.2 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,013 (down 13.0 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,389 (down 14.7 percent since last year)

The city of Issaquah spreads from the Sammamish Highlands down across the valley and into the hills known as the Issaquah Alps. Homes on these hills have beautiful views of the valley, while those in the lowlands are close to the quaint downtown core, which offers restaurants, cafes and many shopping options.

A dispersed, suburban city with an excellent school system, Issaquah has long been a popular choice for families. Recent development has also added housing choices for young, single professionals seeking an option outside the city.

There are plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities in the area, including hiking and mountain biking trails at the popular Tiger Mountain. Close enough to the wilderness for the occasional cougar sighting, Issaquah is also near enough to Seattle for an easy commute along Interstate 90.

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Sammamish, WA. Sammamish, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 21 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,665 (up 1.0 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,945 (down 2.5 percent since last year)

The Sammamish Plateau is known for world-class golf courses, but that’s not all it has to offer. This city to the east of Seattle frequently appears on best-of lists for livability, yet it is still more affordable than many similar cities nearby.

Some areas of Sammamish have an almost rural feel, while others are much denser. It’s possible to find a home that feels tucked in among the woods or an urban apartment, all in the same city.

In addition to golf, outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the bike path around nearby Lake Sammamish and the proximity to wooded trails in the mountains.

Families will appreciate the above-average schools and quiet, safe streets.

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Snoqualmie, WA. Snoqualmie, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 28.5 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: N/A
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,699

If you’ve chosen to live in the Pacific Northwest for the outdoor adventure opportunities, Snoqualmie has a lot to offer. Just under 30 miles east of Seattle along I-90, Snoqualmie is perhaps best known for the iconic Snoqualmie Falls, which are not only a scenic tourist attraction but also power generators that provide electricity to the town.

Natural beauty surrounds Snoqualmie, with plenty of opportunities to get out and explore the surrounding Cascade foothills in all seasons.

While it has become increasingly popular as a bedroom community for Seattle, Snoqualmie retains its own identity and small-town feel. It has a vibrant arts community, restaurants and shopping options.

In 2019, it was rated the safest city in Washington.

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Everett, WA. Everett, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 28.6 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,570 (down 6.1 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,758 (up 3.6 percent since last year)

For those looking for an urban feel at an affordable price, Everett offers a great alternative to Seattle.

With an economy historically based on manufacturing for companies such as Boeing, Everett retains a blue-collar sensibility that does not prevent it from offering a vibrant art and culture scene, as well as many interesting restaurants and bars.

Sports fans can cheer on the Everett Aquasox, the local minor league baseball team, and for hockey enthusiasts, there is the Everett Silvertips. The Angel of the Winds Arena is one of the major sports and concert venues in the region, offering plenty of entertainment options.

With Puget Sound to the west and the Snohomish River to the East, Everett, like many nearby cities, has a deep, natural beauty that adds to the appeal.

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North Bend, WA. North Bend, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 29.3 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: N/A
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $3,014 (up 12.9 percent since last year)

North Bend is the ultimate destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Its location amid the Cascade mountains’ foothills puts you close to hiking trails, mountain biking and winter skiing opportunities.

Popular local hikes, such as Mount Si and Rattlesnake Ridge, are just minutes away. Even for those who are less inclined to search for adventure, picturesque peaks provide a gorgeous backdrop for everyday life.

Famous as the filming location of the TV show Twin Peaks, North Bend has a genuine small-town feel, with a quaint downtown featuring cafes, restaurants, boutiques and breweries.

North Bend has grown rapidly in recent years, with many of its 7,423 residents choosing it for its rural location. Despite the remote vibe, it is just over 30 minutes from Seattle along I-90, making it a popular choice for commuters.

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Tacoma, WA. Tacoma, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 33.9 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,734 (up 11.2 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,978 (up 13.1 percent since last year)

Tacoma is a city with a lot to offer at an affordable price.

The historic downtown faces Puget Sound, with gorgeous waterfront views. You’ll find great restaurants and shopping options. The downtown area is compact and walkable, but you can also get around easily by bus and rapid transit.

In the downtown core, you’ll encounter young professionals and students from the University of Washington Tacoma campus.

Up the hill, you’ll find residential neighborhoods, each with its own unique feel. Families enjoy good schools and quiet neighborhood streets.

Anyone who has driven through the city will have seen the Tacoma Dome, an event space that hosts events from car shows to concerts. Those in search of culture will also enjoy the Tacoma Art Museum and the Museum of Glass.

On the waterfront, Point Defiance Park is a popular destination for hiking, boating or picnicking with a view.

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Lake Stevens, WA. Lake Stevens, WA.

Photo source: City of Lake Stevens, WA / Facebook
  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 36.6 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,500 (up 22.5 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: N/A

Located on the lake for which it’s named, Lake Stevens is a growing community that is particularly popular among families with children.

With more affordable prices than many surrounding cities due to its slightly longer drive time to Seattle, Lake Stevens has a small-town feel with an emphasis on community. The city is a good option for those looking for a calm, quiet location well outside of Seattle.

Lake Stevens is a popular boating destination in the summer, and the town and its surroundings are full of natural beauty.

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Make one of these cities near Seattle your next home

Find a home that’s right for you in one of these Pacific Northwest cities. Your next apartment near Seattle awaits.

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

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Obama’s Broad Based Refinancing Plan

It took a few weeks, but we’ve finally got concrete details regarding the Obama Administration’s so-called “Broad Based Refinancing Plan.”

First off, homeowners with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac-backed mortgages who are unable to refinance their mortgage to take advantage of the near-record low mortgage rates will be able to go through HARP 2.0.

HARP 2.0 was introduced back in October to address the needs of homeowners who were too deeply underwater to meet the max loan-to-value ratio cap of 125 percent.

Borrowers with underwater mortgages backed by Fannie and Freddie will continue to go through this program assuming they meet the guidelines.

So nothing really changes here, except perhaps the actual adoption of the problem, which appears to have been sluggish thus far.

Refinancing Program for Non-GSE Mortgages

What about all the underwater borrowers with non-GSE mortgages, those that are not backed by Fannie and Freddie?

Well, Obama is “calling on Congress” to pass a new refinancing program geared toward these homeowners, managed by the FHA.

It would be open to all those with non-GSE mortgages (less jumbo mortgages) who have kept up with their mortgage payments.

The big distinction here is that it requires Congressional approval, which may be an uphill battle. So really it’s just an idea at this point, not a live program.

Still, these are the proposed guidelines:

  • Borrower is current on mortgage for past 6 months and hasn’t missed more than one payment in previous 6 months.
  • Minimum credit score of 580
  • Loan amount does not exceed max conforming loan amount
  • Loan is tied to a single-family, owner-occupied property

Borrowers who meet these very simple guidelines will apply via a streamlined process designed to make it easier and cheaper to refinance.

To determine eligibility, a borrower must only prove they are currently employed. However, even the unemployed can qualify if other requirements are met and they present “limited credit risk.”

A new tax return and appraisal is not necessary to refinance.

The Obama administration will work with Congress to set loan-to-value limits for loans submitted to the program.

While a number hasn’t been set, the Administration used 140 LTV as an example, noting that mortgage lenders could write down the balance of mortgages that exceed that number.

How Will the Refinance Program Be Paid For?

Good question. Well, the cost of the refinancing program is estimated to range anywhere from $5 to $10 billion (quite a range isn’t it).

To avoid any taxpayer burden, the refinancing plan will be fully paid for by the proposed “Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee,” which imposes a fee on the largest financial institutions.

This fee will be based on the size of the institution and risk of their activities.

The FHA, who is set to manage the program, will even pay for a borrower’s closing costs if they choose to go with a shorter-term mortgage, such as a 15-year mortgage.

Those who refinance into mortgages with terms of 20 years or less will have their closing costs paid for the FHA. The GSEs will do the same for HARP 2.0 borrowers.

The Administration hopes this will promote responsible borrowing and reduce the amount of time it takes for borrowers to get back above water.

HAMP Expansion

The existing Home Affordable Mortgage Program is also being expanded to help more borrowers receive assistance.

The first-lien mortgage debt-to-income ratio limit of 31% apparently eliminates certain borrowers from the program because it doesn’t address other monthly obligations.

So the program will consider secondary debt with more flexible debt-to-income criteria.

Additionally, rental properties will be added to the program so long as a tenant currently occupies them or the borrower intends to rent the unit.

Finally, the Treasury will offer bigger incentives to the owners of mortgages who agree to write down principal.

Currently, owners receive between 6 to 21 cents on the dollar for principal reductions. This amount will be tripled to 18 to 63 percent on the dollar.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, who do not currently receive compensation for principal reductions on loan modifications, will also receive principal reduction incentives

The Losers

The obvious losers are holders of jumbo mortgages, who are more than likely homeowners in hard-hit states like California and Florida where home prices have plummeted.

There doesn’t appear to be any relief for this type of homeowner, which is certainly a concern.

Additionally, those behind on their mortgage payments won’t benefit from this new refinance program.

So really only borrowers who have been able to make their mortgage payment each month will benefit.

Also, investors who hold non-GSE loans won’t see any benefit. And those with poor credit scores will be out of luck.

In other words, plenty of homeowners will miss out here, but it’s a tall order to include everyone.

Homeowners Bill of Rights

For the record, the Obama Administration also introduced several other initiatives, including a “Homeowner Bill of Rights,” which will once again revamp and simplify mortgage disclosures.

This includes a foreclosure appeals process and guidelines that prevent conflicts of interest that wind up doing harm to homeowners, along with a joint investigation into loan origination and servicing abuses.

Major banks and the GSEs will also provide up to 12 months forbearance for unemployed borrowers.

Additionally, a pilot program that transitions foreclosed property into rental housing will be employed to stabilize neighborhoods and get the housing market out of its funk.

Final Thoughts

At first glance, it sounds like an awesome program to save housing once and for all. But upon closer inspection, a lot of homeowners are left out, as mentioned above.

Along with that, the borrowers that are targeted may not really be the ones that need help.

The reality is that millions of people who are currently behind on their mortgages are going to lose their homes. And this program won’t change that. It’s simply going to help those on the brink, or even those that don’t even necessarily need assistance to make their mortgage payments, but want to catch a break after buying at the wrong time.

Sure, if all goes well, it could reduce foreclosures to some extent, bolster home prices somewhat, and get more money flowing into the economy. But it still requires Congressional approval to work. And even then, we won’t see a housing recovery without meaningful economic improvement.

Source: thetruthaboutmortgage.com

The Best Places to Live in Illinois in 2021

There is more to Illinois than Chicago, although the largest city in the state is home to almost three million people.

When thinking about some of the best places to live in Illinois, you probably immediately consider Chicago and its densely populated suburbs. While these are all great places to live, there are hidden gems all throughout Illinois that you should consider.

So, whether you’re seeking an affordable apartment in Chicago or a quiet tree-lined city downstate, you have a number of great options from which to choose.

Here are the best places to live in Illinois.

Aurora, IL, one of the best places to live in illinois

  • Population: 199,687
  • Average age: 37
  • Median household income: $71,749
  • Average commute time: 35.9 minutes
  • Walk score: 45
  • Studio average rent: $1,142
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,344
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,590

The second-largest city in Illinois with almost 200,000 residents, Aurora offers a mix of options that appeal to everyone from young and single professionals to families.

During the first Friday of each month, food trucks serve up dishes along Benton Street Bridge. In addition, the revitalized downtown district has a great range of restaurants, from steakhouses to coffeehouses, and the area also has destination shopping outposts.

Plus, Aurora is nestled along Fox River, so nature-lovers will appreciate the opportunity to kayak and explore other activities nearby.

Bloomington, IL.

  • Population: 78,023
  • Average age: 39.8
  • Median household income: $67,507
  • Average commute time: 20.3 minutes
  • Walk score: 47
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $827
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $865

Bloomington often shares the limelight with its neighboring city, Normal, since it’s the home of Illinois State University.

While Bloomington lies in the heart of Illinois, at the junction of Interstates 55, 39 and 74, and within a few hours from Chicago and St. Louis, there is plenty to do in Bloomington.

Residents enjoy great restaurants, shopping and visiting attractions such as the historic Ewing Manor, named Sunset Hill by the Ewing family, or the David Davis Mansion which delights history buffs and garden lovers alike.

Bloomington is also the headquarters for State Farm Insurance and COUNTRY Financial.

Champaign, IL, one of the best places to live in illinois

Photo source: Visit Champaign County / Facebook
  • Population: 85,008
  • Average age: 36.5
  • Median household income: $48,415
  • Average commute time: 19.9 minutes
  • Walk score: 61
  • Studio average rent: $435
  • One-bedroom average rent: $629
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $947

Like Bloomington, Champaign is often associated with its neighboring city, Urbana, since the cities share the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus.

Champaign has a thriving arts scene, award-winning restaurants and great outdoor spaces. It’s a mix of rural and urban, giving residents options, whether they want a more quiet rural setting or a bustling urban environment.

Chicago, IL, one of the best places to live in illinois

  • Population: 2,721,615
  • Average age: 40.2
  • Median household income: $58,247
  • Average commute time: 43.4 minutes
  • Walk score: 84
  • Studio average rent: $1,796
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,287
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $3,150

There is no shortage of things to do in the largest city in Illinois. Chicago is a city of neighborhoods and like any major metropolitan city in the country, it’s home to award-winning restaurants, world-class museums and Cloud Gate, the bean-like sculpture in Millennium Park also known as “The Bean” among locals.

In addition, the lakefront and the many parks throughout the city offer its residents a place to rest and enjoy their surroundings.

Rental rates vary based on the neighborhood but, in general, the closer to the downtown district and Lake Michigan, the higher the rental rates. Also, depending on where you live, it’s entirely possible to live in Chicago without needing a car since public transportation is pretty robust and accessible.

Evanston, IL.

Photo source: City of Evanston Illinois / Facebook
  • Population: 75,574
  • Average age: 41.4
  • Median household income: $78,904
  • Average commute time: 39.1 minutes
  • Walk score: 82
  • Studio average rent: $1,720
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,141
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,974

Evanston borders the northern part of Chicago and while it’s a northern suburb, parts of it feel very much like a busy metropolitan city.

Northwestern University calls Evanston home so part of the north and east part of Evanston is home to students as well as established families who live in older and grand single-family homes.

Residents love their tree-lined and quiet streets and easy access to the beaches along Lake Michigan.

The city is large enough to have a few distinct shopping districts, including downtown Evanston, which has been completely transformed over the past decade with a large movie theater and larger retail establishments, while Central Street has more independent boutiques.

Naperville, IL, one of the best places to live in illinois

  • Population: 144,752
  • Average age: 41.3
  • Median household income: $125,926
  • Average commute time: 41.6 minutes
  • Walk score: 46
  • Studio average rent: $1,286
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,483
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,828

The original home of the fictional Byrde family before they moved to the Ozarks, Naperville is a picturesque western suburb of Chicago.

The Naperville Riverwalk curves along the banks of the DuPage River and features independent boutiques, restaurants, bars and hotels with river views.

The DuPage Children’s Museum has fun hands-on exhibits that attract both residents and visitors to the area. In addition, the Naper Settlement is a family-friendly, 13-acre outdoor history museum that traces the history of Naperville.

Oak Park, IL.

  • Population: 52,227
  • Average age: 42.1
  • Median household income: $94,646
  • Average commute time: 43.1 minutes
  • Walk score: 84
  • Studio average rent: $1,427
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,651
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,707

Oak Park is a tree-lined suburb just west of Chicago.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Green Line includes several Oak Park stops, making it particularly convenient for those who want to live in a suburb but still have easy access to Chicago.

Even so, Oak Park is a bustling city with an active downtown full of restaurants and independent boutiques, strong schools and active community members. It’s also home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, which attracts thousands from around the world to see the architect’s prairie-style home.

Peoria, IL, one of the best places to live in illinois

  • Population: 114,615
  • Average age: 40.8
  • Median household income: $51,771
  • Average commute time: 22 minutes
  • Walk score: 44
  • Studio average rent: $678
  • One-bedroom average rent: $771
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $954

Peoria is a laid-back city and most residents work for one of the major employers: Caterpillar (which still employees thousands despite its corporate move to Chicago), OSF Healthcare Saint Francis Medical Center or the school district.

Nestled along the Illinois River, it’s located between St. Louis and Chicago, which is approximately a two-and-a-half-hour drive. There is a mix of things to do in the city, from hiking outdoors to enjoying a cocktail at one of the many restaurants, bars or casinos.

In mid-2014, Peoria began offering bus route service on Sundays, something it hadn’t been offering since 1970, making it easier to get around town for those without a car.

Rockford, IL.

  • Population: 148,485
  • Average age: 41.9
  • Median household income: $44,252
  • Average commute time: 25.6 minutes
  • Walk score: 46
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $714
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,070

There is no shortage of outdoor entertainment options for those living of visiting Rockford. There are pools to swim, a river to kayak and nature preserves to hike.

The Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden as well as the Anderson Japanese Garden attract thousands of garden lovers.

Residents can choose between downtown lofts to quieter tree-lined streets in historic neighborhoods. Each Rockford community is active in its own way, with great restaurants, museums and shops located throughout the fifth-largest city in the state.

Springfield, IL, one of the best places to live in illinois

  • Population: 115,968
  • Average age: 43.2
  • Median household income: $54,648
  • Average commute time: 22.2 minutes
  • Walk score: 47
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $665
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $749

Home to the Illinois State Capitol, Springfield is a mix of those who serve the legislative and executive branches of the government during sessions as well as residents who live in the city full-time.

It’s also home to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum which honors and documents the life and work of the 16th U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln so the area gets a lot of tourists year-round.

Springfield feels a bit like living in a suburban setting but also has plenty of bars, restaurants and parks to keep locals and visitors entertained.

Choose among the best cities in Illinois

With world-class attractions, sprawling rural towns to fast-paced urban cities, Illinois has something for everyone. If you’re thinking about moving to the Land of Lincoln, we hope this list of the best places to live in Illinois helpful.

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

Source: rent.com

7 Ways to Get Your FICO Credit Score for Free

Man checking his credit score
Photo by garagestock / Shutterstock.com

A good credit score is the key that unlocks the door to better loan terms, an improved chance of getting a rental apartment and even the odds of landing a job.

So, this three-digit number packs a punch. Knowing the score reveals whether you need to work to improve your credit score.

In the past, you’d have to pay to see your credit score. But that has changed. Today, you can get a free score from any of the following sources.

1. Discover

Anyone can access their credit score for free through the Discover Free Credit Scorecard program.

You don’t have to be a Discover customer to sign up for the service. It not only provides your credit score, but also will notify you of new accounts on your Experian credit report and send an alert if your Social Security number is found on the dark web.

2. Credit cards

Through the FICO Score Open Access program, FICO works with more than 200 financial institutions to provide their partners’ customers with free access to credit scores. The following credit card issuers are among those participating in the program:

  • Citi
  • Barclaycard
  • HSBC

3. Lenders

If you have student loans, an auto loan or a mortgage, you may also be able to get a free FICO score through your lender. Here are a few of the loan companies that have partnered with the FICO Score Open Access program:

  • Sallie Mae
  • Payoff
  • Vanderbilt Mortgage and Finance

4. Banks and credit unions

Dozens of banks and credit unions across the country also offer access to free FICO scores through FICO Open Access. These include both large and small institutions. Here are a few examples:

  • SunTrust
  • Bank of America
  • Affinity Federal Credit Union

Depending on the institution, free scores may only be available to customers enrolled in certain products, and the program may change.

5. Credit counselors

If you’re using the services of a credit-counseling program to improve your finances, you may be eligible for a free FICO score through that organization via the FICO Score Open Access program.

Partner organizations (see them listed below participating banks and credit cards) include companies with national or regional clients.

These are a few of the credit counseling organizations offering free FICO scores:

  • DebtHelper.com
  • Operation Hope
  • Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Savannah

6. Experian

The credit reporting company Experian offers free access to FICO credit scores through its website FreeCreditScore.com.

You won’t have to enter any credit card information to create a free account and see your FICO score. The company says it does not sell your information to third parties. It updates scores every 30 days.

7. Credit applications

A sometimes overlooked option for getting a free credit score is simply to ask to see it when applying for a loan.

If your credit is being pulled by a dealership, mortgage lender or bank, see if they will be willing to share your score with you. While this won’t work for an automated credit application, such as for a credit card, it is an option anytime you have contact with a company representative.

Keep in mind, though, that a major reason for checking your score is to provide you time to repair or boost your credit score before applying for a loan. If possible, try one of the options above first.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Source: moneytalksnews.com

What is Normal Wear and Tear?

It’s important to understand the difference between normal wear and tear and damage.

No matter how careful a tenant you are, over time, your rental is going to show wear and tear.

The carpet may need cleaning. The walls may have dings and scuffs (remember when you moved in that really big bed frame?). But what about that hole in the wall where the doorknob hits? Or the broken window lock? Are those normal wear and tear?

Here’s how to recognize normal wear and tear and what you’re responsible for — your security deposit is on the line.

Understanding normal wear and tear

Everything in our homes has a lifespan. The grout in the shower, for example, might crack, peel or fall off altogether after about 15 years. If you’ve moved in near the end of your grout’s life, and it’s starting to fail, that is just normal wear and tear.

Sure, you should contact your landlord or property manager, but it isn’t your fault that the grout needs serious help. And, your landlord cannot charge you for normal wear and tear.

Normal wear and tear vs. damage

Damage is when something occurs in your rental that wouldn’t happen naturally. It’s due to unreasonable use, an accident or neglect.

That time your cat was really peeved and sprayed urine that soaked through the carpet to the subfloor? That’s going to change the equation for your landlord or property manager since it will affect the value of the property. Bad kitty!

The time your drunk friend broke the bathroom mirror? That’s not normal wear and tear. That’s damage. And you’ll have to pay the damages one way or another.

In some states, including New York, damage beyond normal wear and tear may make you liable for triple the amount it costs to remedy the situation. Check your state law.

Examples of normal wear and tear

Things that happen over time are ultimately the landlord’s responsibility, but it doesn’t hurt to attend to these things before moving out. Even if you’ve already found a new place to live, you want to remain in good standing with your landlord or property manager; you may one day need a reference.

And, it’s never a bad idea to leave the apartment really clean when you move out.

Here are some examples of normal wear and tear:

Moderate dirt or spots on the carpet

Dirty carpet being cleaned.

Stuff happens. The longer you live in an apartment, the more stuff happens. But when you leave your apartment, your goal is to get back that security deposit. Even though spotted carpet is normal wear and tear, you might want to shell out some dough to clean the carpet before you move.

For one thing, the dirt might be more than you’re imagining, and why leave room for a dispute with your landlord, who will charge you for cleaning. Doing it yourself (or having it done) gives you some measure of control over the cost. And keeps you on your landlord’s good side.

When it’s considered damage: Pet stains in the carpet.

Small nail holes in the wall

Repairing small holes in the wall with spackle.

Over the years, you’re going to decorate. If possible when you hang pictures, do so using less intrusive methods than drilling holes. But if that’s not possible, you should repair the holes before moving out. Spackle and a joint knife are pretty cheap, and the fix-it process won’t take that much time out of your day.

When it’s considered damage: Gouges in the wall needing serious repair.

Warped cabinet doors that don’t close

Repairing a cabinet door.

This is likely something you’re not going to fix with a DIY approach, and you don’t have to. But, it’s a good idea to let your landlord know this is happening as soon as you notice it. If a cabinet door is warping it may pull on the hinges and lead to damage on the wood, or the door may fall off altogether.

When it’s considered damage: Door falling off its hinges.

Bathroom mirror loses its silver

Mirror in bathroom with water damage.

Over time, especially in a moist environment like a bathroom, a mirror may desilver. You’ll notice dark or black spots along the edges of the mirror where the thin layer of tin and silver meets onto the back of it.

When this happens it might signify a larger problem — someone in the household is spending a lot of time splashing water on the mirror or your bathroom vent is not working properly and you have a significant amount of humidity in there causing the issue. Let the landlord or property manager know.

When it’s considered damage: Mirrors cracked and broken or caked with makeup.

Clothes dryer thermostat gives out

Clothes inside of a dryer.

This is totally beyond your control. What is in your control is overloading the dryer and causing it to stop moving. That’s a different story and one that might be construed as damage as opposed to normal wear and tear. Contact your landlord or property manager as soon as any appliance that’s part of your unit isn’t working properly.

When it’s considered damage: Broken shelves in the refrigerator, missing trays in the microwave.

Door handle dents wall

Door knob.

As soon as you notice this happening, spend a few bucks on a guard to keep the door from hitting the wall. You can get a rubbery guard to cover the handle itself. Or screw a door stopper into the baseboard. If you don’t attend to this, the little dent can become a larger hole that you — or your landlord — will have to deal with when you leave. Why not nip it in the bud?

When it’s considered damage: Door off its hinges.

Damage (not) done

Obviously, be careful with your apartment; after all, someone else owns it. To make sure you have the best outcome when you move out, you need to document everything before you move in.

Do a walk-through with your landlord or property manager before you move in. Document everything with notes and video. And, while you’re living there, do your part to maintain your space and contact your landlord early on to repair what needs fixing. No sense in letting a loose hinge become a broken door frame. When you move out you want to have your full security deposit returned. Your landlord cannot make deductions for normal wear and tear, but they can make deductions for damage to the property.

Source: rent.com

10 Cities Near Dallas To Live In 2021

Dallas is the largest inland metropolitan area in the U.S., which probably seems daunting if you’re considering a move. Luckily, there are plenty of great suburbs and nearby cities that let you take advantage of everything the Big D offers from a lower-key base camp.

No matter what reason you have your sights set on the area, the following 10 cities near Dallas should also be on your radar.

Richardson, TX.Richardson, TX.

  • Distance from downtown Dallas: 12.8 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,442 (down 1.9 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,763 (down 7.3 percent since last year)

With a population of just over 120,000, Richardson has a tight-knit community feel with big-city amenities.

The University of Texas at Dallas is in Richardson, and within the city, there are very desirable public and private schools. It makes living here attractive to young families.

There are excellent city services and fun community programs, including farmer’s markets, festivals and events.

The recreational facilities are top-notch and include gyms, aquatic centers, over 35 parks, playgrounds and nature preserves.

Richardson’s location is perfect — it’s bordered by Dallas and Plano and also provides access to four different DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) stations, which can get you to downtown Dallas in 20 minutes.

farmers branch txfarmers branch tx

Source: Apartment Guide / The Luxe at Mercer Crossing
  • Distance from downtown Dallas: 14.1 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,343 (down 0.5 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,993 (up 7.2 percent since last year)

Farmers Branch is one of the fastest-growing cities near Dallas and a great place to call home. Over 4,000 companies and more than 250 corporate headquarters are in Farmers Branch, making it Texas’s third-largest business center.

Its restaurant and entertainment scene have fully blossomed, and the area is now in high demand for families especially. The neighborhoods are safe and the schools are both excellent while the recreational facilities are state-of-the-art.

Farmers Branch is known as “The City in the Park” because it’s so green with over 30 award-winning parks, a community garden, rose gardens, walking trails and a 104-acre nature preserve.

Addison, TX. Addison, TX.

  • Distance from downtown Dallas: 14.3 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,533 (down 13.4 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,181 (down 17.1 percent since last year)

If you’re looking for a cool city near Dallas to work and live in, Addison fits the bill.

Many perks include free membership to the Addison Athletic Club, a front-row seat to the famous firework show called Kaboom Town and easy access to the plethora of shopping and dining options.

There are more than 180 restaurants within the 4.4 square miles that make up Addison, ranging from fine dining to family-style establishments.

Addison is a small town in terms of numbers, but it doesn’t feel far from the action. It’s just 20 minutes from Dallas’s downtown with easy access off the tollway.

Plano, TX.Plano, TX.

  • Distance from downtown Dallas: 18.3 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,764 (up 12.8 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,372 (up 12.5 percent since last year)

Plano is a highly desirable city to live in near Dallas. It’s just a short commute north of Dallas’s downtown and is home to some large corporations like J.C. Penney Company, Frito-Lay and Toyota, to name a few.

Plano is a great place to live and work. It takes on a life of its own with a small-town vibe even though it’s anything but small. Plano stands out because it has a charming historic downtown area with trendy shopping and dining, excellent schools and a strong sense of community.

There is no shortage of recreational activities in this city either with over 70 parks to explore, including hiking and bike trails.

carrollton txcarrollton tx

  • Distance from downtown Dallas: 18.6 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,312 (up 4.4 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,660 (up 4.7 percent since last year)

A precious gem tucked into the Dallas metro area is Carrollton. Residents enjoy a high quality of life with top schools, safe neighborhoods and lots of recreational parks.

In this city, slightly northwest of downtown Dallas, you’ll find beautiful, spacious homes to fit a relaxed lifestyle. Carrollton real estate is some of the most expensive in Texas but proves to appreciate in value faster than neighboring cities.

The pristine Indian Creek Golf Club, a 36-hole golf course, is in Carrollton. You can also find many hiking and biking trails, picnic areas and playgrounds scattered throughout the city.

Additionally, there are more than 250 restaurants in Carrollton — so much variety, your tastebuds will thank you.

Grapevine, TX.Grapevine, TX.

  • Distance from downtown Dallas: 22.2 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,419 (down 3.3 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,966 (down 3.5 percent since last year)

Located in between Dallas and Fort Worth is the city of Grapevine. Home to DFW International Airport, the third-largest airport in the world, this city offers accessibility like no other.

Living in Grapevine provides major conveniences with a suburban feel. There are plenty of restaurants, boutiques, wineries, art galleries, jewelry stores and more in the Historic Main Street District, a hot destination.

The beautiful Lake Grapevine offers 8,000 acres for outdoor recreation like fishing, stand-up paddleboarding, boating and hiking, making this an exciting place to live.

As the name Grapevine might hint, you’ll find many wineries linked by the city’s Urban Wine Trail. There’s even a multi-day annual wine festival called GrapeFest.

Rockwall, TX.Rockwall, TX.

  • Distance from downtown Dallas: 23.4 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,472 (down 5.3 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,750 (down 1 percent since last year)

Rockwall is one of DFW’s best-kept secrets. The city has much to offer its residents, making it an attractive place to live near Dallas. Rockwall Parks and Recreation offers year-round events and classes for kids, as well as summer music events and movie nights in the park.

It’s a great city to raise a family and combine work with play. There are a few large employers in Rockwall, including many manufacturing companies and Texas Health Hospital Rockwall, which employs more than 600 people.

One of North Texas’s largest lakes, Lake Ray Hubbard, is in Rockwall and is great for fishing, skiing and recreational boating. Overall, Rockwall is a fun and relaxing place to live.

Allen, TX.Allen, TX.

  • Distance from downtown Dallas: 24.2 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,330 (up 1 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,648 (down 3.7 percent since last year)

Allen is a booming suburb and a great place to live near Dallas. It’s known for premium shopping, excellent attractions, safe neighborhoods and a highly-ranked school system.

Some of the best shopping destinations in Allen are Allen Premium Outlets, which has over 120 outlet designer and name-brand stores, and Watters Creek at Montgomery Farms, a scenic, resort-style shopping center and entertainment destination.

Another perk of living in Allen is the number of recreational offerings. You can head to Don Rodenbaugh Natatorium, which offers an indoor water park, a competition-sized swimming pool and a rock-climbing wall, or try wakeboarding at Hydrous at Allen Station. Meanwhile, skaters can enjoy the Edge at Allen Station Skate Park, the largest outdoor skatepark in Texas.

Frisco, TX.Frisco, TX.

  • Distance from downtown Dallas: 26.4 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,624 (up 17.3 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,269 (up 22.1 percent since last year)

Frisco has so much to offer — in 2018 Money magazine put it at number one on the “Best Places to Live in America” list. The city has undergone extreme growth in the last couple of decades and is an ideal place to raise a family.

Frisco is safer than surrounding areas, with a crime rate of 86 in 2019, which is 3.1 times lower than the U.S. average. Families also appreciate the excellent education opportunities. The school district is known for academic excellence and innovative programs.

Frisco is additionally becoming the epicenter for football fans since it’s the site of the Dallas Cowboys’ 91-acre campus, known as the Star.

McKinney, TX.McKinney, TX.

  • Distance from downtown Dallas: 30.8 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,277 (down 4.7 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,704 (up 1.5 percent since last year)

McKinney is an excellent option if you’re looking to live near Dallas but crave a slower-paced feel.

This blend of big-city and small-town culture is one of the many reasons young professionals and growing households move to the area. The historic downtown square draws visitors from all over with its unique locally-owned boutiques, gift stores, art exhibits, restaurants and coffee shops.

There are a few breweries in McKinney which add to the life of the city. There’s also a plethora of picturesque parks and the eight-mile Erwin Park Hike and Bike Trail for residents to enjoy.

Make one of these cities near Dallas your next home

If you’re looking for the amenities of a metropolis but prefer a more laid-back vibe, you’re bound to find it in these 10 great cities near Dallas. No matter where you decide to hang your hat, there are some things you’ll need to know before living near the Big D.

Get the 411 on living in Dallas and start preparing for your move today.

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

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Source: apartmentguide.com

The Best State Capitals to Call Home

Capital idea!

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

Highlighting the best state capitals in America

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

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

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

Main

The 10 best state capitals in the U.S.

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

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

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

10. Honolulu, HI

honolulu hawaii

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

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

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

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

9. Des Moines, IA

des moines iowa

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

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

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

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

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

8. Columbus, OH

columbus ohio

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

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

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

7. Boston, MA

boston massachusetts

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

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

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

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

5 (tied). Denver, CO

denver colorado

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

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

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

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

5 (tied). Boise, ID

boise idaho

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

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

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

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

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

4. Madison, WI

madison wisconsin

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

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

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

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

3. Cheyenne, WY

cheyenne wyoming

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

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

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

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

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

2. Austin, TX

austin texas

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

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

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

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

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

1. Salt Lake City, UT

salt lake city utah

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

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

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

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

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

The best state capitals by rank

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

Methodology

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

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

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

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

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

Source: rent.com