18 Student Loan Mistakes to Avoid

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Most students have to borrow student loans to go to college. But very few know anything about them. That’s pretty scary considering you’re likely to take on several tens of thousands of dollars in debt. And making mistakes with that much money could cost you just as much. 

Take it from me. I borrowed six figures to get a doctorate to work in a notoriously low-paying field. And thanks to taking advantage of years of deferments, forbearances, and an income-based plan designed to help borrowers with high debt and low income, I now owe twice what I originally borrowed. 

Don’t make my mistakes. Instead, learn about the most common student loan borrowing and repayment errors. That way, you can avoid an overwhelming amount of student loans and get out of debt faster.

Student Loan Mistakes to Avoid

Most student loan borrowing and repayment mistakes deal with misunderstanding what you’re borrowing, how interest works, how to pay off debt quickly, and how to avoid default. Steer clear of these top mistakes to ensure you borrow smartly and don’t end up in over your head. 

Mistake 1: Applying for Aid at the Last Minute

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the gateway to qualifying for all financial aid of any kind. That includes federal grants and student loans as well as state grants and most institutional aid — the grants, scholarships, or loans offered by your school. 

The FAFSA opens for applications every Oct. 1, and you must complete it by June 30 before the academic year you need aid for. You must complete a new FAFSA every year you plan to enroll in school.

Many colleges and universities also require additional forms, such as the CSS profile (short for the College Scholarship Service profile), which dives even deeper into your family’s financial situation. So check with the financial aid office to find out what they are, and stay on top of deadlines. 

But note that states and colleges have limited grant resources. And those resources tend to go to the students who apply early. In other words, they’re first come, first served. So the earlier you get your applications in, the better.

And while the federal government is unlikely to run out of education loan funds, if you miss the FAFSA deadline, you’ll have to resort to private loans, which are costlier and feature less favorable repayment options.

Apply as early as possible to ensure you get as much grant and scholarship aid as you can qualify for. The more grants you can get, the fewer loans you’ll need to borrow.

Mistake 2: Borrowing Too Much

It’s possible to borrow every cent you need to finance your education anywhere you want to go to school. But it’s crucial to ask whether you should. Getting in over your head with student loan debt can have catastrophic consequences. I’m living proof.

I needed a doctorate for my original career plan of teaching college. But few college professors earn enough income to manage the types of monthly payments I had along with other living expenses. That’s how I ended up in the deferment-forbearance cycle.

And it’s not easy to get out of. 

Thanks to a loophole in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program I was counting on and how colleges operate, my teaching position doesn’t qualify me for forgiveness. Additionally, discharging student loans in bankruptcy is currently so difficult it’s nearly impossible. And settling federal student loans isn’t any easier. 

The first step to reducing overwhelming student loan debt is to exhaust every other means of paying for college, including scholarships, grants, and work-study. Search online for scholarship aid using a national scholarship database like Fastweb.

And never count on options like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Historically, the government’s made it nearly impossible to get. Do your homework to increase your chances of getting it and apply for it if you qualify. But don’t base your student loan repayment strategy on it.

Additionally, consider less expensive colleges. State schools tend to give most students the best value. It only matters where you go to college for a select few graduates, such as those looking to build connections with specific financial or law firms. 

Finally, do a cost-benefit analysis. I found out the hard way all degrees don’t pay off, so as much as you want to pursue your passion, it might not be worth it financially.

Search sites like Glassdoor or PayScale to find out how much you can reasonably expect to make in your chosen field and compare that to the cost of school. As a rule, don’t borrow more than you can expect to earn as your annual salary your first year out of school. That ensures you can pay it off in 10 years or less. 

Mistake 3: Not Understanding How Loan Forgiveness Works

Historically, the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program has been notoriously difficult to qualify for. The program was overhauled in the fall of 2021. But until then, only 2% of applicants who believed they qualified had their loans forgiven.

Much of that is likely due to bureaucratic mismanagement, hence the overhaul. However, the mismanagement led tens of thousands of borrowers into making payments under the wrong repayment programs. 

On Oct. 6, 2021, the government announced Temporary Expanded Public Service Loan Forgiveness, which allows previously nonqualifying payments to be counted toward loan forgiveness as long as those payments are certified before Oct. 31, 2022.

But moving forward, it’s crucial that borrowers are clear about the rules of loan forgiveness. You don’t want to find out after 10 years that your application is ineligible and you have to start all over.

To qualify for loan forgiveness, you must:

  • Have Federal Direct Loans. Private loans don’t qualify for forgiveness, nor do other types of federal loans, such as Perkins loans. If your federal loans aren’t direct loans, you can consolidate them into a direct loan to qualify. 
  • Work Full-Time for the Government or a Nonprofit. Payments only qualify while you’re employed full-time for an American federal, state, local, or tribal government or qualifying 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations. That includes military service, Peace Corps, and AmeriCorps but excludes labor unions and partisan political organizations.
  • Enroll in an Income-Driven Repayment Program. No other repayment options qualify. But even if your income is so low your calculated payment under the plan is $0, being enrolled qualifies you. 
  • Make 120 Qualifying Payments. They don’t have to be consecutive, but they must qualify, meaning you have to make them under an income-based plan.
  • Submit the Forgiveness Certification Form Regularly. You must fill out and submit a Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program certification form yearly and each time you switch employers. While not required, doing so ensures the payments you’re making qualify for forgiveness and allows you to make any changes you need to before you’ve made too many nonqualifying payments.

See all the rules at StudentAid.gov. 

Mistake 4: Taking Out the Wrong Type of Loan

There’s more than one type of student loan. But it’s generally best to exhaust your resources for federal aid before turning to alternatives. 

That said, while rare, some students may find the caps on how much you can borrow in federal direct loans don’t cover the total cost of attendance. 

Fortunately, graduate students and parents of undergrads can borrow PLUS loans up to the total cost of attendance. So there’s no need for many students to resort to other sources. If that’s not an option for you, students can sometimes borrow from their state government or the school they plan to attend. 

But the primary source of alternative loans for student borrowers is private student loans from banks or credit unions.

Federal student loans almost always win out over private student loans because of their lower fixed interest rates, flexible repayment options, borrower protections, and the potential for forgiveness.

But if you’re planning to borrow PLUS loans and definitely won’t qualify for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, it’s worth it to find out whether you could get a better deal on a private loan if you have excellent credit. 

Mistake 5: Not Shopping Around for the Best Interest Rate & Terms

If you decide to borrow private student loans, always shop around for the best loan you can qualify for.

Private lenders compete for your business. So going with the first lender you find could mean leaving a better rate on the table.

Use a comparison site like Credible, which matches you with prequalified rates from up to eight lenders with only a soft inquiry on your credit report, which doesn’t affect your credit score. That way, you can compare all your student loan options in one place. 

But it’s not only interest rates that should matter to your bottom line. The best private student loan companies offer various borrower perks in addition to low rates.   

For example, most lenders reduce your interest rate when you enroll in autopay. And some reduce your rate even further with loyalty discounts for doing other business with them, such as opening bank accounts or taking out personal loans. 

Some lenders also offer perks for specific borrowers, such as special payment plans for medical and dental students during their residencies. And some even offer unique perks like free financial coaching or career planning services.  

Just remember to read all the fine print so you know exactly what loan terms you’re agreeing to before you sign. For example, it may lack options for deferment if you fall on hard times or a co-signer release option. Don’t be lured by a shiny interest rate on its own.  

Mistake 6: Not Understanding How Variable & Fixed Interest Rates Work

The rate is only one piece of the interest puzzle. How that rate works also affects how much accrues over time. 

For example, all federal student loans come with fixed interest rates set each year by law. That means the rate stays the same for the life of the loan, which could be a good or bad thing, depending on the interest rate during the year you borrowed. 

But some private student loans have variable interest rates. These fluctuate with market conditions. Although the variable rates are generally the lowest offered rates, it’s because the borrower is assuming the risk that the rate won’t go up, which is likely if you take 10 or more years to repay your student loans.

If you already have a variable-rate private loan, look into refinancing to a fixed-rate loan while rates are low. 

And once you start making payments, contact the student loan company to find out if there are any ways to lower the interest rate, like signing up for an autopay discount.

Mistake 7: Not Understanding Interest Accrual & Capitalization

Another factor to consider is when the interest begins to accrue (accumulate). On subsidized federal loans, that doesn’t happen until after you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment. Thus, whatever you borrowed is what you owe up until the day you’re no longer enrolled full time. 

But interest on unsubsidized federal and private loans starts the moment you get the money. So on graduation day, you owe a higher balance than you originally borrowed.

Worse, that interest is capitalized (added to the principal balance as though it were part of what you borrowed) once you graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment. Since interest accrues according to the principal, that means you’ll then be earning interest on the interest.

Fortunately, you can reduce or even eliminate the burden interest can cause. Make small monthly interest payments while you’re still in school. That ensures none accrues and capitalizes on graduation. 

If you have to, take on a part-time job. As long as you keep it to part-time hours, it shouldn’t interfere with your studies, and a well-chosen college job comes with numerous benefits, like teaching you the money management skills you need to pay off those loans after college. 

Mistake 8: Co-Signing a Loan Without Understanding the Consequences

In some cases, a co-signer can help a student qualify for a loan or get a lower interest rate. 

But co-signing their loan comes with a great deal of risk. You’re taking on equal responsibility for the loan. That means if they make a late payment or miss one entirely, it could impact your credit score. And if they default on the loan, the loan company will come after you for the balance.

And it doesn’t matter how responsible or well-intentioned the borrower is. No one can predict the future, and they could fall on hard times. 

There are several programs designed to help people who have trouble paying back federal loans — if they enroll in them. But private lenders are especially hard to work with. Either way, there are risks associated with co-signing for a student loan. 

If you do agree to co-sign, ask them to look for a company with a co-signer release option, which absolves you of responsibility for the debt after the student makes a certain number of on-time monthly payments.

If not getting help means they can’t attend college, a parent PLUS loan gives you more control than co-signing a private loan. You can borrow up to the total cost of their attendance, but the loan will be in your name. 

If you want, you can still agree that they’re responsible for paying you back (though that agreement isn’t legally enforceable). Plus, if you experience financial hardship, you have access to federal repayment plans and borrower protections.

However, don’t sacrifice retirement savings or go into debt paying for your kids’ college. It could leave you unprepared, potentially placing a financial burden on them later.

Mistake 9: Putting Off Making a Repayment Plan

Many borrowers get lulled into thinking they can wait until after they graduate and their six-month grace period ends before they have to start worrying about their student loans. But you need to prepare your budget long before then.

A student loan payment could easily be $400 per month (maybe more). That’s a hefty chunk of anyone’s take-home pay. But recent grads won’t make as much as established professionals in any field. 

And if you don’t think about it for the first six months post-graduation, it’s easy to establish a post-college life that doesn’t leave room for it, such as upgrading your apartment or buying a new car.

Before you graduate, find out what your monthly payment will be. You can check your student loan balance by creating a student account at StudentAid.gov.

Then, build the rest of your post-college budget around your monthly student loan payment. That ensures you won’t take on more financial obligations than you can afford. Unfortunately, that may mean living that ramen-eating college lifestyle for the first couple of years after you graduate. 

Mistake 10: Choosing the Wrong Repayment Plan

The automatic student loan repayment schedule is 10 years of fixed payments, but it’s not the best option for all borrowers.

You don’t want to string out payments for decades unless it’s necessary. But income-driven repayment plans, which forgive any remaining balance after you make 240 to 300 (20 to 25 years) of qualifying payments, may be a saving grace for borrowers with high debt and low income. 

And for those entering public service fields, an income-driven repayment plan is the gateway to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program, which forgives any remaining balance in as few as 120 qualifying payments. 

But even if you stick to the standard 10-year plan, you still have options. 

For example, you can repay your loans on a graduated plan, which lets you make smaller payments at the beginning. Your payments then gradually rise every two years. This plan is ideal for those who must start in a lower-paying job but expect their income to increase substantially as they gain work experience.

Use the loan simulator at StudentAid.gov to see how much you can expect to repay under different repayment plans. It shows your monthly payments, total amount owed, and any potential balance you could have forgiven under an income-driven repayment plan as well as the date you can expect to have your loans paid off.

Use this information to weigh your options. Ask yourself: 

  • Is it better to pay off your loans as quickly as possible by sticking to the standard 10-year plan? Is that realistic at your current income? 
  • How big will your payments be 10 years down the line if you opt for graduated repayment? Are you likely to make enough money for that to be practical? 
  • Is it better to make your current situation more manageable through an income-driven or extended repayment plan? 

Lowering your monthly payment will have consequences since it means more interest will accrue. But the loan simulator can give you an accurate picture of what those consequences will look like. 

Mistake 11: Only Making the Minimum Payment

The longer you sit on debt, the more it costs you thanks to the interest. So if you have any wiggle room in your budget, put whatever money you can toward your student loans to pay them off as quickly as possible. 

Even small amounts can make a big difference.

For example, if you borrowed $40,000 in student loans at 6% interest, your monthly payment would be $444. But if you paid $500 a month instead — a difference of only $56 — you’d save $1,957 in interest and have them repaid a year sooner.

If you can, opt for a side gig or cut your expenses. Additionally, put any windfalls — like tax refunds, gifts, or inheritances — toward your loans.  

But this is key: When you make any extra payments toward your loans, ensure you indicate the company should apply it to the principal. The more you pay down the principal, the less interest accumulates.

Mistake 12: Refinancing Without Considering the Pros & Cons

Refinancing is a common strategy for lowering the cost of debt, whether it’s a mortgage refinance or a student loan. But while refinancing can score you a lower interest rate, interest rates aren’t the only consideration.

When you refinance a student loan, you can only do so through a private refinance lender. That means you lose access to all the benefits of federal student loans, including federal repayment plans, borrower protections, generous deferment and forbearance options, and federal loan forgiveness. 

It may still be worth it to you, depending on the rate you can get. But it’s crucial to weigh that against all you’d be giving up.

Even if the private interest rate is lower, the future is unpredictable, and you never know if you could need those federal benefits. And you’ll lose all access to federal loan forgiveness with a refinance.

On the other hand, if you have private student loans, there’s no reason not to refinance. 

Mistake 13: Postponing Payments Unnecessarily

Both federal and private student loans have multiple options for deferment and forbearance. These allow you to temporarily suspend payments for various reasons, including full-time enrollment in school, economic hardship, military deployment, and serving in AmeriCorps. 

Sometimes, deferment or forbearance makes sense, such as while you’re enrolled in school. But prolonged use of these options just increases your overall balance because interest keeps piling up. 

Interest accrues on all but subsidized federal loans during deferments. And it accrues on all loans during forbearance. Additionally, that interest is capitalized (added to the principal balance) at the end of the deferment or forbearance. 

Only use these options when absolutely necessary. And if possible, make interest payments during periods of deferment or forbearance to prevent its accrual. 

If you’re deferring or forbearing for economic hardship and anticipate the hardship will last longer than a month or two, apply for an income-driven plan instead. 

Depending on the severity of your situation, your monthly payments could be calculated as low as $0. And some plans don’t capitalize interest and even have interest subsidies, which means the government covers the interest on your loans for a specified period.  

Additionally, those $0 “payments” count toward potential student loan forgiveness. But only periods of economic hardship deferment count toward the forgiveness clock. No other form of deferment or forbearance qualifies. And there’s a cap on how long you can defer for economic hardship.

Plus, if your financial situation changes, you can always change your repayment plan. 

Mistake 14: Missing Payments

Missing payments can result in late fees. The student loan company tacks these onto your next month’s minimum payment. So if you had a hard time paying this month, it won’t be easier next month. 

Plus, when you make your next payment, your money covers fees and interest before going toward the principal. So multiple fees could mean paying your principal down slower. And interest accrues according to the principal balance, so the higher you keep that balance, the more interest you pay.

Worse, if you miss enough payments, it can result in a default of your loans, which comes with severe consequences, such as damaged credit or wage garnishment or seizure of your tax refunds, Social Security benefits, or property. 

There’s never a reason to miss a payment on a federal student loan if you’re facing financial hardship. Simply call the company and let them know. Depending on what you qualify for, you can choose from multiple options, including deferment, forbearance, or an income-driven repayment plan.

Private lenders are tougher to work with, as fewer repayment options are available. But many are still willing to work with you if you explain the situation. Most of the top lenders have limited programs for deferment or forbearance in times of economic hardship. 

Mistake 15: Keeping Your Assigned Payment Due Date

Student loan companies allow you to adjust your monthly due date. That can be helpful if you’re having trouble stretching your dollars from one paycheck to the next.

Plus, if your bills are anything like mine, most of them are due at the same time of month. Thus, if you get paid biweekly, adjusting your due date to a different time of the month can make things easier.  

If you want a different due date, contact the company handling your student loans and ask if you can adjust your due date to one more beneficial for you. You may even be able to change it through your online account.

Ensure you get confirmation of the new date in writing. That protects you if you get hit with any late fees in error. Additionally, ask when the new date takes effect. It could take a billing cycle or two, depending on the lender. 

Mistake 16: Falling for Student Loan Scams

Many borrowers have reported receiving phone calls, emails, letters, and texts offering them relief from their student loans or warning them federal forgiveness programs will end soon if they don’t act now.

But the services these scam debt relief companies offer usually steal borrowers’ money or private information rather than grant any actual relief. 

Other student loan scams take fees for helping students apply for income-driven repayment plans or consolidate their loans. However, borrowers never have to pay to sign up for any federal repayment programs. They only need to contact the company in charge of their loan.

In general, if someone contacts you, avoid giving them any personal information. No matter who they claim to be, either tell them to send their request in writing or say you’ll call them back. Then verify their story by contacting your student loan company at their listed phone number or through their website.

Additionally, never pay an upfront fee for student loan services. The government doesn’t charge application fees for any of their loan programs. They also won’t claim an offer is only available for a limited time since all the terms are set by law every year and are available to all students.

For more red flags to watch for, check out the Department of Education’s tips on avoiding student loan scams. 

Mistake 17: Forgetting to Update Your Contact Information

You are responsible for making all your loan payments whether you received the bill or not. Additionally, the lender in charge of your loan can change, and you need to ensure you’re able to receive that information so you always know who to contact about paying and managing your loans.

Thus, it’s on borrowers to ensure the company in charge of their student loans has all their current contact information, including mailing address, email address, and phone number. That’s especially the case if you moved after you graduated or listed a parent’s address on your application forms.

Log into your student loan account to ensure your contact information is current. 

If you don’t know who services your student loans, check with your school’s financial aid office. For federal loans, you can always create an account on StudentAid.gov.

Then, each time you move, get a new email address or change your number, update that info with the company handling your student loans.

Mistake 18: Not Asking for Help

Paying off student loans can be overwhelming, especially if you’re dealing with low income or a large amount of debt. Depending on your circumstance, it could feel like you’re drowning and may never escape.

Trust me, I know how it feels. And I’m hardly alone. A simple online search reveals dozens of stories of borrowers who’ve consistently paid on their loans yet owe more than ever thanks to the compounding effects of interest, which often feels like quicksand. 

But paying late or not at all only makes the situation worse. Damage to your credit report can make it difficult for you to rent an apartment, buy a car, or even get a job. And default can leave you subject to wage garnishment, steep collection penalties, and even lawsuits.  

But hope isn’t lost. There is help. Resources exist for borrowers who need an extra hand.

The first step is to reach out to the student loan company. See if there’s a payment plan that’s manageable for you. Even if there isn’t, let them know what payment you can afford, and go from there. 

If the company is uncooperative, contact the federal student loan ombudsman. 

Borrowers can also reach out to nonprofit student loan counselors, such as the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or The Institute of Student Loan Advisors. These organizations work with borrowers to help them figure out the best strategies for dealing with their loans and overall financial health. 

Alternatively, if you’ve reached the point of needing to settle your student loans or file for bankruptcy, seek an attorney who specializes in student loans. For private student loan help, try The National Association of Consumer Advocates. For federal student loans, search the American Bar Association.


Final Word

The United States is currently experiencing a student loan crisis because of how the debt has impacted American lives.

It’s affected borrowers’ ability to save for retirement and buy a home. It’s also impacted people’s ability to start a family or even choose a job for passion over a paycheck.

And it can do so for decades. Many millennials who’ve entered middle age continue to face debt repayment. And many feel college wasn’t worth it as a result.

But you don’t have to be one of these statistics. I write about student loans precisely to help others avoid my mistakes. Learn from this list so you can borrow wisely and avoid overwhelming student loan debt.  

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Sarah Graves, Ph.D. is a freelance writer specializing in personal finance, parenting, education, and creative entrepreneurship. She’s also a college instructor of English and humanities. When not busy writing or teaching her students the proper use of a semicolon, you can find her hanging out with her awesome husband and adorable son watching way too many superhero movies.

Source: moneycrashers.com

The Best Places to Live in Pennsylvania in 2022

  • Pennsylvania is known as the Keystone State for its role in U.S. history
  • The state’s roots are deep in manufacturing, including industries such as coal and steel
  • Living in Pennsylvania gives you access to all the riches of the state, no matter what city you call home

Pennsylvania holds a notable place in the history of this country. Not only did it help shape our formation into the United States, but its roots are deep in the coal, steel and railroad industries. Living in the Keystone State puts you among historic locations that paved the way for the development of so much of this country.

It’s a lofty reputation to hold up, but staying grounded in industry and opportunity has enabled the state to maintain itself as an attractive spot for those looking for employment. With affordable housing across the state, plenty of colleges and universities and a slew of historic landmarks, why wouldn’t you want to call this northern state home?

For all these reasons, the best places to live in Pennsylvania stretch from one side of the state to other. Some cities are easily recognizable, while others you may hear about for the very first time. Regardless, you’ve got plenty of choices when it comes to finding the perfect home in Pennsylvania.

Allentown, PA

Allentown, PA

  • Population: 125,845
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,885
  • 2-BR median rent: $2,027
  • Median home price: $187.750
  • Median household income: $41,167
  • Walk score: 59/100

A rich Dutch history gives Allentown a unique look and feel. Situated on the Lehigh River, this busy city is full of beautiful parks and gardens. It offers up a diverse collection of inhabitants with plenty to do to accommodate any lifestyle. There are plenty of job opportunities and thriving districts for the arts, theater and culture.

A day out and about in Allentown isn’t complete without a walk through the Allentown Art Museum, The Liberty Bell Museum, America On Wheels Museum and more. If the season is right, grab tickets to see the infamous Lehigh Valley IronPigs AAA baseball team go a few innings as well.

Bethel Park, PA

Bethel Park, PA

  • Population: 33,577
  • 1-BR median rent: $975
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,099
  • Median home price: $240,000
  • Median household income: $79,894
  • Walk score: 46/100

A Pittsburgh suburb, Bethel Park combines affordable housing with excellent schools and an abundance of green space. The city’s population is a combination of retirees and young professionals, but it’s also a great place for families. In addition to the parks, you’ll find plenty of bars, coffee shops and retail outlets.

With less than 30 minutes between Pittsburgh and Bethel Park, the town draws in those still commuting in for work, but who are looking for a quieter place to end each day. On weekends, locals will stay put and enjoy everything from the Montour Trail to the Hundred Acres Manor.

Camp Hill, PA

Camp Hill, PA

Source: ApartmentGuide.com/Society Hill
  • Population: 8,130
  • 1-BR median rent: $890
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,422
  • Median home price: $225,900
  • Median household income: $87,008
  • Walk score: 34/100

One of the best places to live in Pennsylvania is a small city along the banks of the Susquehanna River. Camp Hill gives you a nice amount of waterfront to explore. The town is also home to the northernmost engagement of the Gettysburg campaign during the Civil War. To honor this piece of history, you can follow the West Shore. There you’ll find historic buildings and battle sites.

For outdoor lovers, Camp Hill is a perfect home base to access hiking, biking, skiing and water activities. There are also plenty of local parks for a simple stroll.

Collegeville, PA

Collegeville, PA

  • Population: 5,043
  • 1-BR median rent: $2,060
  • 2-BR median rent: $2,655
  • Median home price: $380,000
  • Median household income: $112,500
  • Walk score: 44/100

As a suburb of Philadelphia, Collegeville got its straightforward name from Ursinus College. Academic life still plays an important role here, although the city is also a popular destination for a variety of businesses.

While there’s plenty of shopping and plenty for college students, the area’s top feature is the Perkiomen Trail. This 20-mile path follows the river, connecting many parks and historical sites. You can walk, bike and even ride horseback along the path.

Harrisburg, PA

Harrisburg, PA

  • Population: 50,099
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,137
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,407
  • Median home price: $199,025
  • Median household income: $39,685
  • Walk score: 55/100

As the state capital, Harrisburg is one of the best places to live in Pennsylvania as much for its location within the state as for its history. Living here puts you near the Susquehanna River, Appalachian Trail and the cities of Hershey and Gettysburg. You can easily sample a little nature and history with so much close by.

Within Harrisburg itself, you have access to the city’s own island. Here you’ll find a beach, riverboat, arcade and more. It’s a great stop during the day. When the sun goes down, keep yourself occupied with the upscale bars and restaurants downtown.

Hershey, PA

Hershey, PA

  • Population: 13,858
  • 1-BR median rent: $915
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,075
  • Median home price: $339,900
  • Median household income: $69,688
  • Walk score: 57/100

Yes, it’s named after that chocolate bar. Hershey is often referred to as one of the sweetest places on earth because, to this day, Hershey’s still calls the city home. This not only means a variety of job opportunities working with chocolate but plenty to lure in tourists. The city also boasts Hersheypark, which has rides and a zoo, Hersey Gardens and Hersheypark Stadium.

Although the city grew up around a single company, today, it contains all the attractive elements of a smaller town one could want. Step away from the more touristy areas to find scenic hiking trails, museums, restaurants and shops.

Lancaster, PA

Lancaster, PA

  • Population: 58,039
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,269
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,453
  • Median home price: $225,625
  • Median household income: $45,514
  • Walk score: 56/100

Situated alongside Amish Country, Lancaster is home to the Pennsylvania Dutch. While you can tour Amish attractions and even immerse yourself into the lifestyle for a special experience, locals have plenty of other activities to occupy their time.

As one of the best places to live near Philadelphia, the downtown area is full of shops, theaters, restaurants and art galleries. Underground caverns provide a little adventure for those seeking something different. You can also take a ride on the country’s oldest operating railroad or see a different side of the city’s history with a ghost tour.

Perkasie, PA

Perkasie, PA

  • Population: 9,120
  • 1-BR median rent: $995
  • 2-BR median rent: $995
  • Median home price: $425,000
  • Median household income: $77,420
  • Walk score: 38/100

Another commuter town, Perkasie is one of the best places to live in Pennsylvania because it’s a great small town that’s only about an hour away from downtown Philadelphia. Once known for its factory that made baseballs for the major leagues, Perkasie today has managed to grow while holding onto its rural appeal.

A fantastic park system and revitalized downtown area provide the perfect combination of hometown activities for residents. There’s no shortage of restaurants, shops, music venues and more.

Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia, PA

  • Population: 1,603,797
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,872
  • 2-BR median rent: $2,102
  • Median home price: $260,000
  • Median household income: $45,927
  • Walk score: 84/100

The most populated and well-known city in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia definitely has one of the rooms where it happened. Not only is it the original home of the Liberty Bell but it also housed our Founding Fathers as they signed the Declaration of Independence into being.

Popular in its own right, Philadelphia offers additional appeal for its proximity to New York City. Hop a train into the city for work or a weekend of fun. You can also stay close to home and snack on an authentic Philly cheesesteak as you enjoy the art and history of downtown. There’s no shortage of 300-year-old buildings, cultural attractions, quaint parks, bars, restaurants and shops.

Pittsburgh, PA

Pittsburgh, PA

  • Population: 302,971
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,435
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,890
  • Median home price: $217,000
  • Median household income: $48,711
  • Walk score: 69/100

Bookending the state, Pittsburgh is the most populated city on the opposite end from Philly. Known as the City of Bridges, Pittsburgh has long shared a connection with steel, however, the industry is only part of what makes this area so special. As a highly walkable city, you can easily explore on foot but wear comfortable shoes. With over 712 sets of city-maintained steps, you’re going to get a great workout.

If walking isn’t your thing, don’t worry, Pittsburgh has you covered. For sports fans, this affordable town is home to professional baseball, football and hockey teams. For those looking toward higher education, the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University are the notable tip of Pittsburgh’s collegiate iceberg.

Reading, PA

Reading, PA

  • Population: 95,112
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,475
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,540
  • Median home price: $160,000
  • Median household income: $32,176
  • Walk score: 69/100

Named after the Reading Railroad, which all you Monopoly players should know well, the town of Reading sits in the southeastern part of the state. Today, it’s uniquely known for the variety of pretzel companies that call the area home. Reading is also a combination of culture and history. It’s easy to divide your day between looking at an Egyptian mummy in the Reading Public Museum and hiking through the Nolde Forest. You can also check out Daniel Boone’s birthplace for some real American history.

With plenty of affordable, suburban housing, residents get drawn into Reading for the charms of the city itself, as well as its proximity to Philadelphia. These two cities on the list of best places to live in Pennsylvania are only about 60 miles apart.

Scranton, PA

Scranton, PA

  • Population: 76,328
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,184
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,095
  • Median home price: $149,000
  • Median household income: $40,608
  • Walk score: 58/100

Laid out more like a traditional small town, Scranton has tight-knit neighborhoods clustered around a thriving downtown. You’ll find trendy restaurants, boutiques and art galleries nestled among the historic Lackawanna County Courthouse building.

Taking into account its high population of young professionals and families, Scranton caters to its residents with plenty of special activities, including cultural festivals and monthly art walks. Scranton also pays homage to its nickname, the Electric City, with The Electric City Trolley Station and Museum. The first streetcars, successfully powered by electricity, ran here in the 1880s.

Willow Grove, PA

Willow Grove, PA

Source: ApartmentGuide.com/Willow Pointe
  • Population: 13,730
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,907
  • 2-BR median rent: $2,230
  • Median home price: $300,000
  • Median household income: $79,162
  • Walk score: 57/100

A small town with big fun, Willow Grove offers residents a quiet, laidback community that doesn’t lack the amenities you’d want close by. There are plenty of shopping and dining options that you’d expect to find in bigger cities.

As a Philadelphia suburb, Willow Grove has the nearby city going for it as far as activity goes, but it’s not without its own set of museums and historic sites to occupy residents. Visit the 42-acre grounds and home at Graeme Park or check out the indoor playground at Urban Air Adventure Park for something really different.

Find an apartment for rent in Pennsylvania

The best places to live in Pennsylvania spread to all four corners of the state. Each city has its own charm, beauty and history to explore, not to mention job opportunities and affordable housing.

Once you decide what area is right for you, begin the hunt. Look for apartments for rent in Pennsylvania to see all your options. Then, start narrowing things down by location, amenities and more. You’ll find the perfect place to call home in no time.

The rent information included in this summary is based on a median calculation of multifamily rental property inventory on Apartment Guide and Rent.com as of December 2021.
Median home prices are from Redfin as of December 2021.
Population and median household income are from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The information in this article is for illustrative purposes only. This data herein does not constitute a pricing guarantee or financial advice related to the rental market.

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Best Online Life Insurance Companies for 2022

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In the old days, applying for life insurance was tedious, time-consuming, and stressful. The process took weeks to complete, much of that spent waiting on the results of a medical exam. And you didn’t know how much your policy would cost until everything was said and done — or even if you’d qualify for a policy at all.

Fortunately, the old days are over, at least for life insurance applicants who apply online. Also known as algorithmic underwriters or algorithmic insurance companies, online life insurance companies give you an up-or-down decision within minutes, often without a medical exam or many questions about your medical history. You can apply over lunch or dinner and then get on with life.

Best Online Life Insurance Companies

Not all online life insurance companies are created equal, of course. These are among the very best.

Each of the companies on this list does at least one thing really well, and our top pick offers the best overall value for the widest number of potential applicants. Here’s what you need to know about each.

Best Overall: Ladder

Ladder Life Insurance Logo

Ladder is one of the best life insurance companies. It tops our list of the best online life insurance companies thanks to a potent collection of strengths:

  • Up to $3 million in term life insurance coverage without a medical exam — double what most competitors allow
  • In-home medical exams for policies larger than $3 million — the application process remains all-online otherwise
  • Choose from 10- to 30-year term coverage options
  • Option to scale down coverage over time without reapplying
  • Approval within minutes for many applicants
  • Backed by national insurers with strong financial strength ratings

Best for Fast Approval: Bestow

Bestow Life Insurance Logo

Bestow earns its spot as one of the best no-exam life insurance companies thanks to a streamlined digital application and underwriting process that produces results in as little as five minutes. If Bestow doesn’t need any additional information from you, you can apply for life insurance and get an up-or-down approval decision during your coffee break.

Its features include:

  • Term life insurance only
  • Term lengths from 10 to 30 years
  • Policy death benefits as low as $50,000
  • Coverage up to $1.5 million per policy with no medical exam required
  • Open to applicants ages 18 to 60
  • A+ (Superior) financial strength rating from A.M. Best

Best Premium Membership Rider: Haven Life

Haven Life Logo 1

Haven Life is one of the best online term life insurance companies around, but it really shines for a reason that’s not directly related to insurance. Haven Life offers the best premium membership rider — an optional add-on filled with potentially valuable features.

That rider is Haven Life Plus. It’s free to policyholders wherever it’s offered and provides at least $150 in annual value to policyholders. It includes:

  • A customizable and legally binding will that you can store online
  • A subscription to Adaptiv, a workout video and music library
  • A subscription to Timeshifter, an app designed to fight jet lag
  • A subscription to Lifesuite, a secure digital storage vault
  • A 15% discount on eligible MinuteClinic products and services

Haven Life has some additional features worth noting, including:

  • Term life coverage up to $3 million with a medical exam
  • No-exam coverage up to $500,000 through Haven Simple
  • AgeUp, an annuity product that can supplement your retirement income after you turn 90

Best for Nontraditional Underwriting: Sproutt

Sproutt Life Insurance Logo

Sproutt is an online life insurance broker that uses an innovative model called the Quality of Life Index (QL Index) to assess life insurance applicants’ risk. 

While it doesn’t completely replace traditional considerations in Sproutt’s application process — or in the underwriting processes of the insurers Sproutt works with — the QL Index goes beyond the usual medical and lifestyle information to consider factors like:

  • How often you exercise and what kind of exercise you do
  • How much and how well you sleep
  • Your emotional health
  • Your eating habits and overall nutrition
  • Your work-life balance

Additional features:

  • Access to fully medically underwritten term life, no-exam life (simple issue life insurance), and guaranteed issue life insurance
  • Multiple types of permanent life insurance available, including whole, universal, and variable universal
  • Get quotes within minutes
  • Apply directly with the insurer with help from Sproutt agents 

Best for Guaranteed Issue Life Insurance: Ethos

Ethos Life Insurance Logo

Ethos is rare among online life insurance companies because it offers permanent life insurance. Most competitors stick with term life.

Ethos’ permanent life insurance offering is a low-value whole life insurance policy for people between the ages of 66 and 85. Its features include:

  • Death benefit between $1,000 and $30,000
  • Guaranteed issue life insurance, meaning you can’t be turned down for medical reasons
  • No expiration, meaning the policy is effective until you die or stop paying premiums
  • Guaranteed level premiums, meaning your premiums won’t increase over time
  • Accidental death is covered right away
  • Nonaccidental death coverage kicks in two to three years after the policy effective date in most cases

Ethos’s term life offering is no slouch either. Its benefits include:

  • Amount of coverage ranges from $20,000 to $1.5 million
  • 10- to 30-year terms
  • Guaranteed renewable after the term ends, albeit at a higher premium

Best for Higher Coverage Limits: Fabric

Fabric Life Insurance

Fabric offers online life insurance policies with coverage up to $5 million. That’s an unusually high limit for a streamlined, all-online application process. And Fabric offers a no-exam option for applicants with uncomplicated health histories, although not up to the $5 million coverage limit.

Additional features:

  • Accidental death coverage available up to $500,000
  • A+ (Superior) financial strength rating
  • Low pricing, with monthly rates starting as low as $1 for $1 million in coverage
  • Will-making services available
  • Secure online vault for financial and personal documents at no additional cost

Best for Price Transparency: Walnut

Walnut Life Insurance Logo

Walnut sets itself apart with what it calls “price-first” term life insurance. Basically, you know how much you’ll pay for 10-year term coverage before you apply, making it easier to fit a new monthly payment into your budget (or decide to go a different direction). You never have to take a medical exam as a condition of coverage.

Walnut also offers a broad lineup of value-adds through a premium membership program included in the cost of insurance. Starting at $10 per month, this includes subscriptions to:

  • Headspace Plus, an app offering guided meditation and self-directed therapy
  • ClassPass Digital, a library of home workout videos
  • Dashlane Premium, a password manager and auto-fill app

According to Walnut, this package is a $25 monthly value. If you want even more, upgrade to a Digital Protection membership for an additional monthly fee and enjoy:

  • 24/7 access to a cyber support helpline
  • Up to $1 million in stolen funds reimbursement if you’re the victim of identity theft

Best Online Broker for Life Insurance Only: Quotacy

Quotacy Life Insurance

Quotacy is an online insurance broker specializing in life insurance quotes. In fact, a life insurance quote is the only type of insurance quote you can get through Quotacy. 

Quotacy’s narrow focus on life insurance gives it some advantages over other online insurance brokers:

  • Access to term life policies as long as 40 years — elsewhere, policies generally top out at 30 years
  • Access to a variety of types of life insurance, including term life
  • Multiple permanent life insurance options, including whole life policies and universal life policies
  • A five-minute, all-online quote creation process
  • Dedicated agents who understand life insurance
  • A vast insurer network that ensures competitive life insurance rates

Best Online Broker for Other Policy Types and Bundles: Policygenius

Policygenius Logo

Policygenius is an all-purpose online insurance quote aggregator. Unlike Quotacy, it focuses on a variety of different types of insurance, including: 

If you’re shopping for more than one type of insurance right now, Policygenius is your best choice for fast answers. And if you’re paired with a life insurance provider that offers other types of insurance too, there’s a good chance Policygenius can hook you up with a money-saving bundle discount. 


Methodology: How We Select the Best Online Life Insurance Companies

We use several criteria to evaluate online life insurance companies and select the very best for our readers. Some relate to the application process or policy underwriting, while others speak to the overall user experience and quality of the insurers themselves.

Financial Strength and Customer Satisfaction

Third-party financial strength ratings assess insurers’ ability to pay out death benefits in the future. When possible, we use ratings from A.M. Best, a highly respected rating agency that specializes in the insurance industry.

Customer satisfaction is another important measure of insurer quality. The top authority for customer satisfaction ratings in this industry is J.D. Power, which ranks life insurance companies and life insurance products annually.

Policy Types Available

Many online life insurance companies offer term life insurance only. Those insurers that also offer permanent life insurance coverage generally require medical underwriting for it, lengthening the application process.

That said, if you prefer to have both options available when you apply, you’ll want to focus your attention on insurers that can accommodate.

Term Options

Online term life insurance policies typically range from 10 to 30 years. Some insurers offer shorter-term policies, down to five or even two years. 

Unless otherwise specified in the terms of the policy, you can renew your policy once the initial term expires. However, this may require another round of underwriting and will definitely involve a higher premium.

No-Medical-Exam Options

One of the core benefits of online life insurance is the seamless application process. This process is helped along in many cases by a lack of medical underwriting. 

The insurer might ask some basic questions about your personal and family medical history and lifestyle. It’ll check your answers against your health records as well. But it won’t require you to undergo a medical exam as a condition of coverage.

No-medical-exam coverage costs more than fully medically underwritten coverage because it provides less information about your risk of premature death. However, this is a price many would-be policyholders are willing to pay, especially if they have reason to believe a medical exam would turn up health-related red flags.

The best insurers for no-exam coverage have high coverage limits — above $1 million — and terms of at least 20 years for younger and middle-aged applicants.

Coverage Amount (Death Benefit)

Online life insurance death benefits typically range from as low as $25,000 to $50,000 for final expenses insurance to upwards of $1.5 million. If you have higher life insurance needs, look to an insurer that can accommodate — Haven Life’s coverage amounts range up to $3 million, for example.

Policy Add-ons (Riders)

Many online life insurance companies offer policy add-ons, also known as riders. Some of the most common include:

  • Return of premium riders, which reimburse the policyholder for premiums paid during the policy term
  • Accelerated death benefit, which allows terminally ill policyholders to claim a portion of the death benefit before they die
  • Accidental death rider, which pays out an additional death benefit if the policyholder dies in an accident covered by the rider

Online Life Insurance FAQs

You have questions about getting life insurance online. We have answers.

Do You Need to Get a Medical Exam When You Apply for Life Insurance Online?

Often, no. If you’re applying for a life insurance policy worth less than $500,000, you probably won’t have to get a medical exam if you don’t want to. Many insurers offer no-medical-exam coverage as high as $1 million or $1.5 million, and a few go higher still — up to $2 million or $3 million.

That said, if your top concern is paying as little as possible for coverage and you have no known health issues, opt for the medical exam. As long as the exam doesn’t raise any red flags about your health, you’ll pay less for a policy that requires one.

How Much Does Online Life Insurance Cost?

How much you pay for an online life insurance policy depends on a number of factors:

  • The policy value — coverage amount or death benefit
  • The policy term — the longer the term, the higher the premium
  • The type of policy — term life is always cheaper than permanent life
  • Your personal medical history
  • Your family medical history
  • The results of your life insurance medical exam if you take one
  • Your age when you apply
  • Your lifestyle, including whether you use or have ever used tobacco and whether you have any risky hobbies

The best way to estimate your life insurance cost is to use an online quote aggregator like Policygenius or Quotacy. 

What Do You Need to Apply for Life Insurance Online?

To apply for life insurance online, you’ll need some or all of the following:

  • A good idea of how much life insurance you need
  • Basic personal information, like your address and Social Security number
  • Basic financial information, such as your annual income
  • Your height and weight
  • Your recent medical history
  • Information about your lifestyle and personal habits

If required, you’ll need to take a medical exam in the days or weeks after you send in your initial application for coverage. Many insurers offer in-home exams, but some ask you to visit a testing facility. 

You’ll also need to give your consent for the insurer to pull your Medical Information Bureau file. This file contains important information about your medical history and previous insurance applications, helping would-be insurers check the information you provide on your application against the public record.  

Is Life Insurance Worth It?

Often, yes. One of the most harmful myths about life insurance is that only certain people need it, such as parents of young children or people with lots of debt. In fact, there are many reasons to buy life insurance:

  • Covering final expenses, such as funeral and burial costs
  • Preventing major debts from passing to a surviving spouse or partner
  • Covering higher costs borne by survivors, such as child care and health insurance
  • Covering future education expenses for your children
  • Protecting your business partners’ financial interests
  • Maintaining your survivors’ standard of living
  • Creating a store of cash value that you can borrow against during your lifetime

Chances are, at least one of these reasons applies to you. And if that’s the case, some form of life insurance is probably worth it.


How to Choose the Best Online Life Insurance Company

These are the best online life insurance companies on the market right now, but that doesn’t mean they’re interchangeable. The best choice for your life insurance needs might not be the best choice for your neighbor — or even your spouse.

To choose the best online life insurer for you, think about why you’re applying for life insurance in the first place.

Do you want an affordable term life policy that lasts until you pay off your house in 15 years? Do you want to make sure your future kids’ college education is paid for, 20 or 25 years down the road? Do you want a policy that lasts indefinitely, creating a cash value reserve that you can tap as you age and possibly establishing generational wealth for your heirs?

Likewise, think about what you want out of your relationship with your insurer, beginning with the application process. Are you willing to pay more to forgo medical underwriting? Or do you prefer a seamless, super-fast application process that produces an answer — and an active policy — within minutes?

It’s your call. Fortunately, you can’t go wrong with any of the options on this list.

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Brian Martucci writes about credit cards, banking, insurance, travel, and more. When he’s not investigating time- and money-saving strategies for Money Crashers readers, you can find him exploring his favorite trails or sampling a new cuisine. Reach him on Twitter @Brian_Martucci.

Source: moneycrashers.com

How Much Auto Insurance Do I Really Need?

Figuring out just how much car insurance you really need can be a challenge.

At minimum, you’ll want to make sure you have enough car insurance to meet the requirements of your state or the lender who’s financing your car. Beyond that, there’s coverage you might want to add to those required amounts. These policies will help ensure that you’re adequately protecting yourself, your family, and your assets. And then there’s the coverage that actually fits within your budget.

We know it may not be a fun topic to think about what would happen if you were involved in a car accident, but given that well over five million drivers are involved in one every year, it’s a priority to get coverage. Finding a car insurance policy that checks all those boxes may take a bit of research — and possibly some compromise. Here are some of the most important factors to consider.

How Much Car Insurance Is Required by Your State?

A good launching pad for researching how much car insurance you need is to check what your state requires by law. Only two states do not require a car owner to carry some amount of insurance: New Hampshire and Virginia. If you live elsewhere, find out how much and what types of coverage a policyholder must have. Typically, there are options available. Once you’ve found this information, consider it the bare minimum to purchase.

Types of Car Insurance Coverage

As you dig into the topic, you’ll hear a lot of different terms used to describe the various kinds of coverage that are offered. Let’s take a closer look here:

Liability Coverage

Most states require drivers to carry auto liability insurance. What it does: It helps pay the cost of damages to others involved in an accident if it’s determined you were at fault. Let’s say you were to cause an accident, whether that means rear-ending a car or backing into your neighbor’s fence while pulling out of a shared driveway. Your insurance would pay for the other driver’s repairs, medical bills, lost wages, and other related costs. What it wouldn’t pay for: Your costs or the costs relating to passengers in your car.

Each state sets its own minimum requirements for this liability coverage. For example, in California, drivers must carry at least $15,000 in coverage for the injury/death of one person, $30,000 for injury/death to more than one person, and $5,000 for damage to property. The shorthand for this, in terms of shopping for car insurance, would be that you have 15/30/5 coverage.

But in Maryland, the amounts are much higher: $30,000 in bodily injury liability per person, $60,000 in bodily injury liability per accident (if there are multiple injuries), and $15,000 in property damage liability per accident. (That would be 30/60/15 coverage.)

And some may want to go beyond what the state requires. If you carry $15,000 worth of property damage liability coverage, for example, and you get in an accident that causes $25,000 worth of damage to someone else’s car, your insurance company will only pay the $15,000 policy limit. You’d be expected to come up with the remaining $10,000.

Generally, recommendations suggest you purchase as much as you could lose if a lawsuit were filed against you and you lost. In California, some say that you may want 250/500/100 in coverage – much more than the 15/30/5 mandated by law.

Recommended: What Does Liability Auto Insurance Typically Cover?

Collision Coverage

Collision insurance pays to repair or replace your vehicle if it’s damaged in an accident with another car that was your fault. It will also help pay for repairs if, say, you hit an inanimate object, be it a fence, tree, guardrail, building, dumpster, pothole, or anything else.

If you have a car loan or lease, you’ll need collision coverage. If, however, your car is paid off or isn’t worth much, you may decide you don’t need collision coverage. For instance, if your car is old and its value is quite low, is it worth paying for this kind of premium, which can certainly add up over the years?

But if you depend on your vehicle and you can’t afford to replace it, or you can’t afford to pay out of pocket for damages, collision coverage may well be worth having. You also may want to keep your personal risk tolerance in mind when considering collision coverage. If the cost of even a minor fender bender makes you nervous, this kind of insurance could help you feel a lot more comfortable when you get behind the wheel.

Comprehensive Coverage

When you drive, you know that unexpected events happen. A pebble can hit your windshield as you drive on the highway and cause a crack. A tree branch can go flying in a storm and put a major dent in your car. Comprehensive insurance covers these events and more. It’s a policy that pays for physical damage to your car that doesn’t happen in a collision, including theft, vandalism, a broken window, weather damage, or even hitting a deer or some other animal.

If you finance or lease your car, your lender will probably require it. But even if you own your car outright, you may want to consider comprehensive coverage. The cost of including it in your policy could be relatively small compared to what it would take to repair or replace your car if it’s damaged or stolen.

Personal Injury Protection and Medical Payments Coverage

Several states require Personal Injury Protection (PIP) or Medical Payments coverage (MedPay for short). This is typically part of the state’s no-fault auto insurance laws, which say that if a policyholder is injured in a crash, that person’s insurance pays for their medical care, regardless of who caused the accident.

While these two types of medical coverage help pay for medical expenses that you and any passengers in your car sustain in an accident, there is a difference. MedPay pays for medical expenses only, and is often available only in small increments, up to $5,000. PIP may also cover loss of income, funeral expenses, and other costs. The amount required varies hugely depending on where you live. For instance, in Utah, it’s $3,000 per person coverage; in New York, it’s $50,000 per person.

Uninsured/Underinsured Motorist Coverage

Despite the fact that the vast majority of states require car insurance, there are lots of uninsured drivers out there. The number of them on the road can range from one in eight to one in five! In addition, there are people on the road who have the bare minimum of coverage, which may not be adequate when accidents occur.

For these reasons, you may want to take out Uninsured Motorist (UM) or Underinsured Motorist (UIM) coverage Many states require these policies, which are designed to protect you if you’re in an accident with a motorist who has little or no insurance. In states that require this type of coverage, the minimums are generally set at about $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. But the exact amounts vary from state to state. And you may choose to carry this coverage even if it isn’t required in your state.

If you’re seriously injured in an accident caused by a driver who doesn’t carry liability car insurance, uninsured motorist coverage could help you and your passengers avoid paying some scary-high medical bills.

Let’s take a quick look at some terms you may see if you shop for this kind of coverage:

Uninsured motorist bodily injury coverage (UMBI)

This kind of policy covers your medical bills, lost wages, as well as pain and suffering after an accident when the other driver is not insured. Additionally, it provides coverage for those costs if any passengers were in your vehicle when the accident occurred.

Uninsured motorist property damage coverage (UMPD)

With this kind of policy, your insurer will pay for repairs to your car plus other property if someone who doesn’t carry insurance is responsible for an accident. Some policies in certain states may also provide coverage if you’re involved in a hit-and-run incident.

Underinsured motorist coverage (UIM)

Let’s say you and a passenger get into an accident that’s the other driver’s fault, and the medical bills total $20,000…but the person responsible is only insured for $15,000. A UIM policy would step in and pay the difference to help you out.

Recommended: How to Pay for Medical Bills You Can’t Afford

Guaranteed Auto Protection (GAP) Insurance

Here’s another kind of insurance to consider: GAP insurance, which recognizes that cars can quickly depreciate in value and helps you manage that. For example, if your car were stolen or totaled in an accident (though we hope that never happens), GAP coverage will pay the difference between what its actual value is (say, $5,000) and what you still owe on your auto loan or lease (for example, $10,000).

GAP insurance is optional and generally requires that you add it onto a full coverage auto insurance policy. In some instances, this coverage may be rolled in with an auto lease.

Non-Owner Coverage

You may think you don’t need car insurance if you don’t own a car. (Maybe you take public transportation or ride your bike most of the time.) But if you still plan to drive occasionally — when you travel and rent a car, for example, or you sometimes borrow a friend’s car — a non-owner policy can provide liability coverage for any bodily injury or property damage you cause.

The insurance policy on the car you’re driving will probably be considered the “primary” coverage, which means it will kick in first. Then your non-owner policy could be used for costs that are over the limits of the primary policy.

Rideshare Coverage?

If you drive for a ridesharing service like Uber or Lyft, you may want to consider adding rideshare coverage to your personal automobile policy.

Rideshare companies are required by law in some states to provide commercial insurance for drivers who are using their personal cars — but that coverage could be limited. (For example, it may not cover the time when a driver is waiting for a ride request but hasn’t actually picked up a passenger.) This coverage could fill the gaps between your personal insurance policy and any insurance provided by the ridesharing service. Whether you are behind the wheel occasionally or full-time, it’s probably worth exploring.

Recommended: Which Insurance Types Do You Really Need?

Why You Need Car Insurance

Car insurance is an important layer of protection; it helps safeguard your financial wellbeing in the case of an accident. Given how much most Americans drive – around 14,000 miles or more a year – it’s likely a valuable investment.

What If You Don’t Have Car Insurance?

There can be serious penalties for driving a car without valid insurance. Let’s take a look at a few scenarios: If an officer pulls you over and you can’t prove you have the minimum coverage required in your state, you could get a ticket. Your license could be suspended. What’s more, the officer might have your car towed away from the scene.

That’s a relatively minor inconvenience. Consider that if you’re in a car accident, the penalties for driving without insurance could be far more significant. If you caused the incident, you may be held personally responsible for paying any damages to others involved; one recent report found the average bodily injury claim totaled more than $20,000. And even if you didn’t cause the accident, the amount you can recover from the at-fault driver may be restricted.

If that convinces you of the value of auto insurance (and we hope it does), you may see big discrepancies in the amounts of coverage. For example, there may be a tremendous difference between the amount you have to have, how much you think you should have to feel secure, and what you can afford.

That’s why it can help to know what your state and your lender might require as a starting point. Keep in mind that having car insurance isn’t just about getting your car — or someone else’s — fixed or replaced. (Although that — and the fact that it’s illegal to not have insurance — may be motivation enough to at least get basic coverage.)

Having the appropriate levels of coverage can also help you protect all your other assets — your home, business, savings, etc. — if you’re in a catastrophic accident and the other parties involved decide to sue you to pay their bills. And let us emphasize: Your state’s minimum liability requirements may not be enough to cover those costs — and you could end up paying the difference out of pocket, which could have a huge impact on your finances.

Finding the Best Car Insurance for You

If you’re convinced of the value of getting car insurance, the next step is to decide on the right policy for you. Often, the question on people’s minds is, “How can I balance getting the right coverage at an affordable price?”

What’s the Right Amount of Car Insurance Coverage for You?

To get a ballpark figure in mind, consider these numbers:

Type of Coverage Basic Good Excellent
Liability Your state’s minimum •   $100,000/person for bodily injury liability

◦   $300,000/ accident for bodily injury liability

◦   $100,000 for property damage

•   $250,000/person for bodily injury liability

◦   $500,000/ accident for bodily injury liability

◦   $250,000 for property damage

Collision Not required Recommended Recommended
Comprehensive Not required Recommended Recommended
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) Your state’s minimum $40,000 Your state’s maximum
Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist (UM, UIM) Coverage Your state’s minimum •   $100,000/person for bodily injury liability

◦   $300,000/ accident for bodily injury liability

•   $250,000/person for bodily injury liability

◦   $500,000/ accident for bodily injury liability

Here are some points to consider that will help you get the best policy for you.

Designing a Policy that Works for You

Your insurance company will probably offer several coverage options, and you may be able to build a policy around what you need based on your lifestyle. For example, if your car is paid off and worth only a few thousand dollars, you may choose to opt out of collision insurance in order to get more liability coverage.

Choosing a Deductible

Your deductible is the amount you might have to pay out personally before your insurance company begins paying any damages. Let’s say your car insurance policy has a $500 deductible, and you hit a guardrail on the highway when you swerve to avoid a collision. If the damage was $2,500, you would pay the $500 deductible and your insurer would pay for the other $2,000 in repairs. (Worth noting: You may have two different deductibles when you hold an auto insurance policy — one for comprehensive coverage and one for collision.)

Just as with your health insurance, your insurance company will likely offer you a lower premium if you choose to go with a higher deductible ($1,000 instead of $500, for example). Also, you typically pay this deductible every time you file a claim. It’s not like the situation with some health insurance policies, in which you satisfy a deductible once a year.

If you have savings or some other source of money you could use for repairs, you might be able to go with a higher deductible and save on your insurance payments. But if you aren’t sure where the money would come from in a pinch, it may make sense to opt for a lower deductible.

Recommended: Different Types of Insurance Deductibles

Checking the Costs of Added Coverage

As you assess how much coverage to get, here’s some good news: Buying twice as much liability coverage won’t necessarily double the price of your premium. You may be able to manage more coverage than you think. Before settling for a bare-bones policy, it can help to check on what it might cost to increase your coverage. This information is often easily available online, via calculator tools, rather than by spending time on the phone with a salesperson.

Finding Discounts that Could Help You Save

Some insurers (including SoFi Protect) reward safe drivers or “good drivers” with lower premiums. If you have a clean driving record, free of accidents and claims, you are a low risk for your insurer and they may extend you a discount.

Another way to save: Bundling car and home insurance is another way to cut costs. Look for any discounts or packages that would help you save.

The Takeaway

Buying car insurance is an important step in protecting yourself in case of an accident or theft. It’s not just about repairing or replacing your vehicle. It’s also about ensuring that medical fees and lost wages are protected – and securing your assets if there were ever a lawsuit filed against you. These are potentially life-altering situations, so it’s worth spending a bit of time on the few key steps that will help you get the right coverage at the right price. It begins with knowing what your state or your car-loan lender requires. Then, you’ll review the different kinds of policies and premiums available. Put these pieces together, and you’ll find the insurance that best suits your needs and budget.

A Simple Way to Get Great Car Insurance

Feeling uncertain about how much auto insurance you really need or what kind of premium you might have to pay to get what you want? Check out SoFi Protect, which uses the Root mobile app to measure your driving habits. The better you drive, the more you can save.


Insurance not available in all states.
Gabi is a registered service mark of Gabi Personal Insurance Agency, Inc.
SoFi is compensated by Gabi for each customer who completes an application through the SoFi-Gabi partnership.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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Source: sofi.com

The 15 Best Neighborhoods in Detroit for Renters in 2022

Motor City is full of neighborhoods that provide gorgeous views, active nightlife and world-class culture.

While there’s no shortage of amazing places to live, actually choosing one is difficult. Luckily, the best neighborhoods in Detroit have great rental opportunities to fit just about every lifestyle. And you’ll be deeply invested in your new neighborhood — like a true Detroiter should — before you know it.

Here are the 15 best neighborhoods in Detroit.

  • Walk Score: 62/100

Bagley is a neighborhood that offers the best of many worlds. Located near University Park, along Livernois, you’ll have access to amenities on the vibrant Avenue of Fashion, one of Detroit’s top commercial strips. McNichols Road is another commercial center with bars and coffee shops. Local restaurants also abound, ranging from casual Kuzzo’s Chicken & Waffles to fine dining at Table No. 2.

Perfect for people who enjoy living and breathing Detroit’s energy while paying reasonable prices, living in Bagley means quality amenities, a great location and no shortage of activities.

  • Walk Score: 73/100

As the oldest Detroit neighborhood, Corktown has apartments with charm, character and an assortment of price points. Though a popular tourist destination for the shops, bars and restaurants located right on Michigan Avenue, this one strip is just a part of Corktown’s appeal.

Leave Michigan Avenue behind and explore the cutest collection of mixed-era buildings as you make your way to Mudgie’s for the tastiest sandwich in town. Other gathering spots locals flock to are Trumbull & Porter, a local and tourist hangout, and Batch Brewing Co., where they make elevated bar food and beer on site.

Downtown Detroit, MI

Downtown Detroit, MI

  • Median 1-BR rent: $2,097
  • Median 2-BR rent: $2,587
  • Walk Score: 94/100

Almost overnight it seems as if Downtown Detroit transformed from a sleepy retail and business area to a thriving city center with new apartments steadily being developed, in both new and vintage buildings.

Some of the best parks are home to Downtown Detroit. That includes Spirit Plaza and Cadillac, and most museums like the Detroit Institute of Arts. With event spaces, restaurants and pubs on every street and the riverfront, there’s no better place to live for those who move with the beat of the urban landscape (and who don’t like to drive).

  • Walk Score: 59/100

Warren Avenue bisects East English Village, a major street providing access to key bus lines that will easily take you into the downtown area and bike lanes aplenty. While community-strengthening redevelopment efforts are in progress, you can still visit the historic Alger Theatre and the classic Detroit bar Cadieux Café — the only place in the entire country where they offer feather bowling.

Heralded as one of the best neighborhoods in Detroit for years, East English Village has apartments for rent that are modest, well-maintained and affordable.

Gold Coast, Detroit, MI

Gold Coast, Detroit, MI

  • Median 1-BR rent: $699
  • Median 2-BR rent: $1,652
  • Walk Score: 62/100

Home to large apartment buildings, the Gold Coast sits along Detroit’s riverfront outside of Downtown. Located next to everything, you have your pick of the best food, bars, venues and entertainment Detroit has to offer.

Along with amenities and activities, there are great schools and tons of parks so kids will always have something to keep them interested. In this densely populated area, you’ll get the true urban experience and some amazing views from your living room window.

  • Walk Score: 48/100

Jefferson-Chalmers is officially recognized as a National Treasure, which pretty much means it’s one of the best neighborhoods in Detroit. A waterfront neighborhood, blocks of apartments line riverfront streets and even have backyard access to waterways that lead to the Detroit River and Lake Saint Clair.

A great place to hang out, Jefferson-Chalmers has a yacht club, amazing architecture, a fishing park, great shopping and more. Known for its business investment and community development, Jefferson-Chalmers is continually evolving and will remain a wonderful place to settle into.

  • Walk Score: 84/100

East of Downtown, Lafayette Park is a historic neighborhood with the largest collection of buildings designed by Mies van der Rohe in the world. It’s hailed for its progressive architecture and rare stability. It’s one of the most important and successful urban renewal zones in the entire country.

Located near many activities, it’s a short walk to Eastern Market and Downtown and a quick bike ride to the Riverfront. The area is dedicated to its residents, with some living there since its founding and newcomers who actively participate in the care of Lafayette Park.

Midtown, Detroit, MI

Midtown, Detroit, MI

  • Walk Score: 93/100

Just outside of Downtown Detroit, Midtown is a neighborhood anchored by Wayne State University, nearby hospitals and the Detroit Institute of Arts. This is an ideal place to live if you relish having the ability to walk everywhere. You’ll be near Comerica Park and Little Caesars Arena, venues for major sports teams and entertainment.

Adjacent to major areas of shopping and fine dining, it will be impossible to stay inside when Grey Ghost, City Bird and Bottom Line Coffee House are all within walking distance. A cultural district connecting major libraries and museums will also call Midtown home.

  • Median 1-BR rent: $1,762
  • Median 2-BR rent: $2,225
  • Walk Score: 91/100

A lively neighborhood and business district, New Center is full of vibrancy and diversity, as well as first-rate shopping, dining and entertainment. Dominated by Fisher and Cadillac Place, formerly the General Motors building, it’s an ideal place to work, play and live.

Living in New Center will also give you a special treat every Fourth of July weekend when Comerica TestFest occurs, a premier music and food festival. The streets of New Center transform completely as the music takes and good times take over.

Palmer Park, Detroit, MI

Palmer Park, Detroit, MI

  • Median 2-BR rent: $800
  • Walk Score: 54/100

The apartment district in Palmer Park is a part of the National Register of Historic Places. This neighborhood is one of the few that’s close to the action without breaking the bank. Apartments have eclectic architecture and many sit around Palmer Park, a gorgeous green space with walking paths, picnic areas and a fountain.

State Fairgrounds provides Palmer Park residents with a wide range of amenities and there are many bars, restaurants and brunch places springing up all the time to fall in love with.

  • Median 1-BR rent: $1,250
  • Median 2-BR rent: $1,800
  • Walk Score: 75/100

When living in Rivertown Warehouse District, you’ll see freighters, kayaks and boats cruising on the Detroit River regularly. A neighborhood with mostly apartments and condos, the river is the backyard of most residents.

Adding to Rivertown Warehouse District’s natural beauty are parks, outdoor spaces, greenways and the Riverwalk — Detroit’s crowning achievement. The Riverwalk is three and a half miles long, offering incredible views of the skyline and river. It connects neighborhoods and an island, taking you through splash pads, fishing areas, beaches and parks.

  • Median 1-BR rent: $725
  • Median 2-BR rent: $825
  • Walk Score: 59/100

Schulze is a strong neighborhood full of residents that know what makes their community great. It’s perfect for young families and professionals who don’t need proximity to the city. The Northwest Activities Center is the heart of Schulze, providing programming, events, activities and services to more than 300,000 visitors every year.

When living in this area, residents are serious about their block clubs as they keep residents in the know of everything happening in the area. Another Detroit neighborhood that aims to build and improve together, Schulze continues trending up.

Southwest Detroit, MI

Southwest Detroit, MI

  • Walk Score: 70/100

A sprawling neighborhood, Southwest Detroit is a growing and very active area united by Mexicantown, a strip of businesses lined with bakeries, shops and restaurants so popular they constructed a shared street.

Vibrant murals cover the buildings and the streets spill over with people during the holidays, enhancing the neighborhood’s already infectious vibe. Clark Park is also located in Southwest Detroit. It’s one of the cleanest and most fun parks in the city and the city is planning additional park amenities.

  • Median 1-BR rent: $1,160
  • Median 2-BR rent: $1,725
  • Walk Score: 59/100

Diverse, friendly and teeming with pride, Detroit’s University District is a neighborhood of buildings with lavish architecture and elaborate marble and stone facades. Bound by Livernois Avenue, called The Avenue of Fashion by locals, there are boutiques,. But you’ll see more art galleries and creatives spaces, with some even dubbing it Gallery Row.

Though near premier greenspaces, restaurants, parks, libraries and the Detroit Golf Club, University District is ideal for students, retirees and other residents who enjoy a quieter city lifestyle and enjoy access to high-quality amenities.

West Village, Detroit, MI

West Village, Detroit, MI

  • Median 1-BR rent: $1,095
  • Median 2-BR rent: $1,395
  • Walk Score: 75/100

If you’ve never cared for walking the beaten path, West Village, located on the east side of the city, is the best neighborhood in Detroit for you. Primarily a residential area, West Village has apartments constructed from 1890 to 1920. And the stylings are Colonial, Mediterranean Revival and Tutor architecture.

Packed with local businesses, bars and restaurants for such a small area, West Village is where Detroit Vegan Soul, Belle Isle Pizza, Marrow Detroit and Sister Pie can all be found. Ripe for development, grabbing an apartment in this ever-evolving neighborhood is a good idea.

Find the Best Detroit Neighborhood for You

A special city in the country and the world, it’s nearly impossible to choose where to move to when looking for apartments to rent in Detroit.

One thing is sure, when you do choose the best neighborhood in Detroit to make your new home, you’ll be alongside some of the friendliest, most caring neighbors.

The rent information included in this article is based on a median calculation of multifamily rental property inventory on Apartment Guide and Rent.com as of November 2021 and is for illustrative purposes only. This information does not constitute a pricing guarantee or financial advice related to the rental market.

Source: rent.com

How Many Credit Cards Is Too Many?

After a big spending spree you might ask yourself, “Do I have too many credit cards?”

Like most things, the answer isn’t cut and dry. And although having multiple credit cards isn’t necessarily bad, there is such a thing as having too many, especially depending on how you’re using them and which ones you have.

We spoke to several finance experts to find out just how many credit cards you should keep in your wallet, which ones, and how to manage them for the best results. Here’s what they had to say.

How Many Credit Cards Is Too Many?

Ever hear the expression “too much of a good thing?” Well the same can be said for the number of credit cards in your wallet.

Brian Dechesare, founder and CEO of Breaking Into Wall Street explains: “In 2020 the average number of credit cards per adult in America was three, according to an Experian report. While it’s not a bad thing in and of itself to have multiple credit cards, it’s certainly possible to have too many — and it all depends on how well you can manage your credit.”

Although some people might be able to comfortably juggle payments on multiple credit cards (while also making good use of those cash-back and rewards deals), others might be struggling to meet their minimum payments.

Founder and CEO Nate Tsang of WallStreetZen says that most banks expect people to have anywhere from three to five credit cards. “At that amount you can reasonably capitalize on your expenses through perks and rewards points without losing track of what you spend,” he explains.

Rather than wondering how many credit cards is too many, ask yourself how well you’re managing them.

Pro Tip

When you count your credit cards, don’t overlook the cards from department stores, big box retailers or even home improvement warehouses that you took out to get the initial sign-up bonus.

“If you struggle to comfortably pay off one line of credit, then two is definitely too many for you,” says Dechesare. “In general, anything over four is potentially excessive, and anything over six is more than likely too many, even for the most disciplined and organized spender.”

The bottom line isn’t so much how many credit cards you have. It’s more about ensuring you use your credit cards responsibly. One of the best measurements of this? Whether or not you’re paying off the balance every month.

The Risk of Too Many Credit Cards

The biggest piece of advice we heard from our experts was this: No matter how many cards you have, paying them off in full (every month) should be a top priority.

“What matters most is that you’re not overextending yourself by taking on too much debt,” says Jonathan Svensson, co-founder of Almvest. “You should make sure that you’re always paying your bills on time and keeping your credit utilization ratio low, so that you maintain a good credit score.”

Also called your credit utilization rate, your credit utilization ratio is the amount of available credit you’ve used. Credit utilization rates that are too high can negatively impact credit scores.

“The issue is more about utilization than number of cards,” says Freddie Huynh, VP of data optimization with Freedom Financial Network. “Utilization is how much of your available balance you use. Credit score calculations look at utilization in a variety of ways. Overall credit card utilization, the sum of all credit card balances divided by the sum of all credit limits, is the most common.”

But Huynh cautions that there’s also another way banks and credit bureaus can calculate your utilization — and that’s by looking at the greatest credit utilization on an individual card. Say you’re consistently using 40% of your available credit on one card and 70% on another. In this case a bank might only care about that 70%. As a rule, anything over 30% is seen as a red flag by banks.

“If you use less than 10% on each card and are diligent in paying your bills on time each month, then you can improve your credit score,” says Anthony Martin, CEO and founder of Choice Mutual. “But if you surpass 30%, your credit utilization ratio will be too high — and if you mix that with missed payments, it can significantly harm your score.”

Which Kinds of Credit Card Accounts Should You Have?

Now that you know a bit about how to maintain your collection of credit cards, let’s chat about the types of accounts and credit card issuers you have in the mix.

Although store cards are often a popular choice (who doesn’t want those extra deals at their favorite store?) you’ll want to be sure you’re getting a worthwhile deal before opening one.

“I usually avoid store credit cards because their interest rates tend to be high,” says Svensson. “They’re also limiting because they can only be used at that one store.”

Other things you’ll want to check before opting in for a new card include the annual fee, rules surrounding rewards and cash back, and any additional perks. There are a lot of great rewards cards out there that will help you earn cash or points on certain purchases (like gas) or on more generic purchases. As for those additional “perks” associated with store cards: keep in mind that many are in fact available without the card.

When deciding what cards deserve a spot in your wallet, it’s helpful to start by looking at your spending. Would you be more likely to use your card to shop at one particular store or to fill your tank with gas? If it’s gas, then maybe the store card isn’t for you.

Pick your cards based on your spending habits and you’ll be sure to have the best rewards in your wallet, as well.

The same rule of thumb can apply if you feel you have too many credit cards and want to winnow them down. Just be sure to follow these precautions whenever you cancel credit cards.

The Bottom Line on Credit Card Accounts: Choose Wisely

In order to get the most out of your credit cards you’ll want to take the time to carefully pick the best rewards cards and make a plan for using them wisely.

When in doubt, start small with just one or two credit card accounts until you get the hang of paying them and making use of those rewards. Then you’ll be able to iterate on your spending plan and find the perfect balance of credit cards for your lifestyle.

Contributor Larissa Runkle frequently writes on finance, real estate, and lifestyle topics for The Penny Hoarder.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

The Best Places to Live in California in 2022

From the beautiful beaches to the world-renowned redwood forests, California spans 900 miles along the Pacific coast and is the third-largest state in the U.S. The Golden State is home to almost 40 million people, making it the most populous state in the country. Full of iconic attractions, places and cities — think Disneyland, the Golden Gate Bridge and Hollywood, to name a few — people love this state.

With a landmass of 155,779 square miles and so many cities to choose from, where are the best places to live in California? Well, that depends on your budget and interests. Whether you’re a surfer looking to hang 10 or a wannabe actor seeking stardom, there’s a city that’s right for you.

Take a look at our list to see the best places to live in California.

Anaheim, CA

Anaheim, CA

  • Population: 346,824
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,730
  • 2-BR median rent: $1,995
  • Median home price: $770,000
  • Median household income: $71,763
  • Walk score: 63

Disneyland is in Anaheim so Mickey Mouse will be your neighbor! Snag yourself a season pass to Disneyland and you’ll have endless entertainment all year long. It’s the happiest place on earth. Well, that’s what Disney lovers will say, anyway.

Disney aside, Anaheim is a great city for families. It’s a suburban city full of apartments and homes that are affordable, compared to other cities in California. It’s also safe with good school systems.

You can enjoy time outside with a year-round mild climate, too. Take a walk through Yorba Regional Park or take your furry friend to La Palma Dog Park. Anaheim is full of parks, trails and outdoor activities. Everyone will find something to do here.

Irvine, CA

Irvine, CA

  • Population: 307,670
  • 1-BR median rent: $2,865
  • 2-BR median rent: $3,489
  • Median home price: $1,161,000
  • Median household income: $105,126
  • Walk score: 47

Irvine is home to one of the famous UC schools — UC – Irvine. But there are eight other universities in the town, as well. If you’re looking for a city with many opportunities for higher education, this is a great pick.

Irvine is making gaming history as the headquarters for Blizzard Entertainment. Blizzard Entertainment is the largest employer in the city and produced popular games like “Worlds of Warcraft” and “Diablo.”

A few other fun facts about Irvine: SNL star and actor Will Ferrell was born and raised in here. You can check out his elementary, junior and high school. And Irvine was the backdrop for scenes from “Ocean’s 11.”

Apartments in Irvine range in price but the city is in a great location and is constantly ranked one of the safest cities in California. Irvine is full of great parks, trails and sanctuaries so you’ll get a good blend of nature and city life.

Los Angeles, CA

Los Angeles, CA

  • Population: 3,898,747
  • 1-BR median rent: $2,725
  • 2-BR median rent: $3,739
  • Median home price: $950,000
  • Median household income: $62,142
  • Walk score: 79

Los Angeles, better known as L.A., is the second-most-populated city in the nation. When you think of L.A., you may think about celebrities and the Hollywood Walk of Fame, complete with more than 2,600 stars. From Universal Studios to Warner Bros., the film and TV industries have several headquarters here. Want to see the set of Central Perk from “Friends?” You can do that here. Care to visit Universal Studios theme park? Go ahead! For any film or TV buff, this is the city for you.

Los Angeles is one of the best places to live in California because it offers a little bit of everything. You’re within close proximity to several beaches. You can hike Griffith Park and see the Hollywood sign, see fossils from the Ice Age at the La Brea Tar Pits, check out more than 100 museums within the city and eat at a variety of restaurants and bars. To summarize, there’s no shortage of things to do in Los Angeles.

The City of Angels is home to more than 10 million people. Regardless of what you’re looking for, you’ll likely find it here in this diverse, urban city.

Oakland, CA

Oakland, CA

  • Population: 440,646
  • 1-BR median rent: $3,113
  • 2-BR median rent: $3,947
  • Median home price: $885,000
  • Median household income: $73, 692
  • Walk score: 83

If you’re a sports fanatic, then you’ve found your city. Oakland, CA, is the only city in the state to have three professional sports teams. You’ve got the Raiders, the Warriors and the A’s. Between football, basketball and baseball, you’ll be able to cheer on the home team year-round in one of the best places to live in California. Not a sports fan? Don’t worry. Oakland has a lot more to offer than sports.

One fun fact is that you’ll find hundreds of gnomes living here, too. Yes, you read that right — gnomes! Throughout the city, painted gnomes grace the utility poles. A mysterious artist paints them throughout the city for you to discover.

Oakland is a diverse city full of culture and history. It has a mild climate year-round and is full of great parks, trails and outdoor areas. Living in Oakland you’ll find the cost of apartments is comparable to other California cities.

Palm Springs, CA

Palm Springs, CA

  • Population: 44,575
  • 1-BR median rent: $1,955
  • 2-BR median rent: $2,095
  • Median home price: $523,000
  • Median household income: $53,441
  • Walk score: 39

Palm Springs is a diamond in the desert. It’s an affordable city with luxurious amenities like swimming pools, golf courses and tennis for all. If cities like L.A. or San Francisco are too big for you, Palm Springs is a perfect pick.

Tourists love it here but it’s also a popular place for retirees. Palm Springs is one of the best places to live in California if you’re looking for a low-key, relaxed atmosphere while still having the perks of California living. You’ll find great apartments in Palm Springs, lots of outdoor activities and a diverse cultural scene. But, it’s in the desert so expect extreme temperatures!

Palo Alto, CA

Palo Alto, CA

  • Population: 68,572
  • 1-BR median rent: $3,317
  • 2-BR median rent: $3,700
  • Median home price: $3,730,000
  • Median household income: $158,271
  • Walk score: 73

Palo Alto, also called “The Birthplace of Silicon Valley,” is one of the best places to live in California. It’s also a world-renowned tech hub. Some of the world’s most infamous tech unicorns, like Apple and Tesla, emerged from Palo Alto. Nearby is Stanford University, a top-ranked college. Palo Alto is a great city for tech-oriented students or individuals who are looking to start a company or join the ranks of one of the booming tech companies located there.

While Palo Alto is full of new tech and innovation, it’s also full of rich history. Spanish settlers explored and settled here. The city is even named after a 1,000-year-old tree located along the San Francisquito Creek.

This city is smaller compared to other cities in California, with around 65,000 residents. It’s a beautiful and safe place to live but you’ll find that rent and home prices are more expensive.

Sacramento, CA

Sacramento, CA

  • Population: 524,943
  • 1-BR median rent: $2,057
  • 2-BR median rent: $2,327
  • Median home price: $465,000
  • Median household income: $62,335
  • Walk score: 60

If you want to live in the heart of the state, Sacramento is the city for you as it’s the state’s capital.

This city is known for some pretty cool things. First, its nickname is the “City of Trees,” because it has more trees per capita than any other city in the world — although Paris is also a top contender. Despite the intense summer heat, the abundance of trees actually helps cool the city down. The community has lush, green trees and there is beauty in nature everywhere around you.

Another cool thing about Sacramento is its devotion to farm-to-fork eating. What’s that you may ask? Sacramento is full of produce and farmer’s markets — exactly 40 of them. That’s right! Forty in one city alone. Local farmers provide produce to local restaurants so the food you’re eating is literally from the farm straight to your fork (or mouth). You’ll eat well here.

This is a large city and you’ll find 1.5 million people living in Sacramento. You’ll also have plenty of things to do and will enjoy walking around this tree-lined city.

San Clemente, CA

San Clemente, CA

  • Population: 64,293
  • 1-BR median rent: $3,150
  • 2-BR median rent: $4,600
  • Median home price: $1,433,000
  • Median household income: $110,434
  • Walk score: 62

If you’re looking for a city with nostalgic, old-town beach feels, San Clemente is for you. Located right on the beach in Orange County, this charming city is like a postcard.

You’ve got the San Clemente Pier plunging into the ocean. You can take a stroll, go fishing or have a bite to eat. The beaches are stunning and appeal to avid surfers and young children alike. The lifeguards ensure that surfers have their own area to catch a wave while boogie boarders and families have their own space to swim in the ocean, too. Take a stroll along the coast on some awesome beach-side trails, too.

There are several boutique stores and restaurants on the famous T-street, as well. San Clemente is one of the best places to live in California if you’re looking for a quaint beach-side town. You can find apartments in the city that meet your budget and lifestyle needs.

San Diego, CA

San Diego, CA

  • Population: 1,386,932
  • 1-BR median rent: $2,582
  • 2-BR median rent: $3,285
  • Median home price: $800,000
  • Median household income: $79,673
  • Walk score: 71

San Diego is a beautiful, ocean-side city known for its great weather and scenic views. The average temperature is 70 degrees, so it’s sunny and pleasant almost every day of the year. You’ll find amazing beaches here and a town full of friendly people.

The U.S. Navy is the biggest employer in the city and has a naval base there. The Pacific Fleet stations in San Diego with 46 navy ships. Take a harbor cruise or visit the maritime museum to learn more about the naval history in San Diego.

If you’re looking for a city that’s easy-going, look no further. It’s a tourist destination, but it’s also home to over 3 million people. You can find a great apartment here and make it your next home.

San Francisco, CA

San Francisco, CA

  • Population: 873,965
  • 1-BR median rent: $3,193
  • 2-BR median rent: $4,257
  • Median home price: $1,480,000
  • Median household income: $112,449
  • Walk score: 93

The Golden Gate Bridge, cable cars and Alcatraz are just some of the iconic things you’ll find when living in San Francisco. You’ll also live in a city that’s full of diversity. San Francisco is known for being a liberal, open-minded city. In fact, it was home to the hippie movement of the ’60s. If you’re looking for a city that’s progressive, this is a good place to consider.

It’s also full of career opportunities. The tech sector is booming so you’ll find great job prospects in that industry. Keep in mind that the cost of living is more expensive here than in other cities in California.

San Francisco is both a large, urban city and a nature retreat. You’ll find everything you need downtown but then you can escape to Muir Woods where you’ll see redwood trees and forest scenes. If you’re looking for the best place to live in California, San Fran might be a good option to consider.

Santa Monica, CA

Santa Monica, CA

  • Population: 93,076
  • 1-BR median rent: $3,190
  • 2-BR median rent: $4,677
  • Median home price: $1,908,000
  • Median household income: $96,570
  • Walk score: 85

The pier in Santa Monica is arguably the most famous one of all. This iconic pier along the coast has an amusement park complete with a Ferris wheel (it’s solar-powered!), roller coasters and funnel cakes to go around. While that’s a tourist location, it’s fun for locals to stroll the pier and beach after a busy day at work.

Santa Monica is one of the best places to live in California because it’s a city that has it all. You’ll find great restaurants and shopping in the downtown area. You’ll enjoy relaxing walks along the beach. And you can rent great apartments in the city center. The demographics skew younger as you’ll find young professionals making this city home. Rent prices are steeper compared to other cities, but it’s a coveted place to live in California.

Find an apartment for rent in California

So, have we convinced you that California is the place for you? Whether you’re looking for a location in a bustling metro area or a beach-side apartment with ocean views, there are several best places to live in California. Pick your city, find your apartment and soon the Golden State will be your new home.

The rent information included in this summary is based on a median calculation of multifamily rental property inventory on Apartment Guide and Rent.com as of December 2021.
Median home prices are from Redfin as of December 2021.
Population and median household income are from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The information in this article is for illustrative purposes only. This data herein does not constitute a pricing guarantee or financial advice related to the rental market.

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Does a Meal Prep Service Make Sense for Your Budget?

Meal prep services have become increasingly more common over the past few years. During the COVID-19 pandemic when people limiting their trips out of the house, food delivery services increased drastically. In addition to straight food delivery like DoorDash or UberEats, services that delivered meal kits became more and more prevalent. While these meal prep services aren’t a great fit for everyone, they can make sense for certain budgets.

What Is a Meal Prep Service?

A meal prep service, also sometimes known as a meal kit, provides you with a certain number of meals per week. You select the number of meals and which meals you want, and they will be delivered to your door. The ingredients are measured out in exact serving sizes, usually to make one to four portions.

It is common for meal kit services to offer a certain number of “free” meals when you initially sign up. The idea is that you can try out the meal service for less of a financial commitment to see if it’s something that will work for you. 

One thing to be aware of is that these free meals usually don’t all come upfront. If you sign up for a deal that offers 10 “free” meals, you won’t just get 10 meals delivered to you for no cost. Instead, it might be a discount that is equivalent to 5 free meals for the first week, then 3 for the second week and 2 for the third week.

What Are Some Popular Meal Prep Services?

There are many, many meal prep services. Each of these meal kit companies shares several characteristics, though they sometimes differ in a few key areas. Here are a few of the most common meal prep services:

  • Blue Apron — Blue Apron has you choose from their Signature recipes, Wellness or Vegetarian. You can also pair your recipes with their monthly wine subscription. Cost is $63 for three meals a week for two people
  • Freshly — With Freshly, you can choose from 4, 6, 8, 10 or 12 meals per week, with each serving one meal for one person. The cost starts as low as $8.49 per meal, plus shipping
  • Home Chef — With Home Chef, you can choose from a variety of different meals each week based on your preferences and dietary restrictions. Meal plans start as low as $6.99 per serving. You can also find Home Chef meal kits at select Kroger grocery stores nationwide.
  • HelloFresh — HelloFresh has over 27 fresh recipes each week designed by chefs and nutritionists. Prices start at $7.49 per serving and you can easily swap, skip or pause your order at any time

When Does a Meal Prep Service Make Sense?

While a meal kit or meal prep service may be more expensive than cooking your meals at home, it may make financial sense for some people. If you find you are eating most of your meals at restaurants, a meal prep service could save you a significant amount of money.

The best way to figure out if a meal prep service might make sense for you is to take a look at your current food budget. How much are you spending each week or month on food? Is that primarily spent on groceries, single meal deliveries, or restaurants? Track your spending with a tool like Mint to figure out where your money is going now. 

Then you can take a look at a few different meal prep kits and their prices to see if that might make sense for your budget. Remember that many of these companies offer introductory rates so you might even be able to try a few options to find one that works for you. Another thing to remember is that some of the meals might have large enough portions that they could work for leftover lunch the next day as well, further reducing your per-meal cost.

The Bottom Line

Using a meal prep service may be more expensive than buying your own food and cooking at home. But, if your culinary skills, time, or energy don’t allow that luxury right now, using meal kits might be cheaper and healthier than ordering delivery or eating at restaurants. You may even find preparing meal kits are a good first step to more confidence in making your own meals.

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Source: mint.intuit.com