What to Know about FHA 203K loans

Buying a fixer-upper is sometimes romanticized by pop culture. While it’s fun to dream, the reality of home renovation is that it can be laborious and draining, especially if the home needs serious help.

Repair work requires energy and resources, and it can be difficult to secure a loan to cover both the value of the home and the cost of repairs—especially if the home is currently uninhabitable. Most lenders won’t take that sort of chance.

But if you have your heart set on buying a fixer upper, an FHA 203(k) loan can help.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA), part of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), insures loans for the purchase and substantial rehab of homes. It is also possible to take out an FHA 203(k) loan for home repairs only, though it might not be your best option if that’s all you need.

If you have the vision to revive a dreary house, here’s info about FHA 203(k) loans and other home improvement loan options.

What Is an FHA 203(k) home loan?

Section 203(k) insurance lets buyers finance both the purchase of a house and its rehabilitation costs through a single long-term, fixed- or adjustable-rate loan.

Before the availability of FHA 203(k) loans, borrowers often had to secure multiple loans to obtain a mortgage and a home improvement loan.

The loans are provided through HUD-approved mortgage lenders and insured by the FHA. The government is interested in rejuvenating neighborhoods and expanding homeownership opportunities.

Because the loans are backed by the federal government, you may be able to secure one even if you don’t have stellar credit. Rates are generally competitive but may not be the best, because a home with major flaws is a risk to the lender.

The FHA 203(k) process also requires more coordination, paperwork, and work on behalf of the lender, which can drive the interest rate up slightly. Lenders also may charge a supplemental origination fee, fees to cover review of the rehabilitation plan, and a higher appraisal fee.

The loan will require an upfront mortgage insurance payment of 1.75% of the total loan amount (it can be wrapped into the financing) and then a monthly mortgage insurance premium.

Applications must be submitted through an approved lender .

What Can FHA 203(k) Loans Be Used For?

Purchase and Repairs

Other than the cost of acquiring a property, rehabilitation may range from minor repairs (though exceeding $5,000 worth) to virtual reconstruction.

If a home needs a new bathroom or new siding, for example, the loan will include the projected cost of those renovations in addition to the value of the existing home. An FHA 203(k) loan, however, will not cover “luxury” upgrades like a pool, tennis court, or gazebo (so close!).

If you’re buying a condo, 203(k) loans are generally only issued for interior improvements. However, you can use a 203(k) loan to convert a property into a two- to four-unit dwelling.

Your loan amount is determined by project estimates done by the lender or the FHA. The loan process is paperwork-heavy. Working with contractors who are familiar with the way the program works and will not underbid will be important.

Contractors will also need to be efficient: The work must begin within 30 days of closing and be finished within six months.

Mortgage LoanMortgage Loan

Temporary Housing

If the home is indeed unlivable, the 203(k) loan can include a provision to provide you with up to six months of temporary housing costs or existing mortgage payments.

Who Is Eligible for an FHA 203(k) Loan?

Individuals and nonprofit organizations can use an FHA 203(k) loan, but investors cannot.

Most of the eligibility guidelines for regular FHA loans apply to 203(k) loans. They include a minimum credit score of 580 and at least a 3.5% down payment.

Applicants with a score as low as 500 will typically need to put 10% down.

Your debt-to-income ratio typically can’t exceed 43%. And you must be able to qualify for the costs of the renovations and the purchase price.

Again, to apply for any FHA loan, you have to use an approved lender. (It’s a good idea to get multiple quotes.)

Home Improvement Loan Options

The FHA 203(k) provides the most comprehensive solution for buyers who need a loan for both a home and substantial repairs. However, if you need a loan only for home improvements, there are other options to consider.

Depending on the improvements you have planned, your timeline, and your personal financial situation, one of the following could be a better fit.

Other Government-Backed Loans

In addition to the standard FHA 203(k) program, there is a limited FHA 203(k) loan of up to $35,000. Homebuyers and homeowners can use the funding to repair or upgrade a home.

Then there are FHA Title 1 loans for improvements that “substantially protect or improve the basic livability or utility of the property.” The fixed-rate loans may be used in tandem with a 203(k) rehabilitation mortgage.

The owner of a single-family home can apply to borrow up to $25,000 with a secured Title 1 loan.

With Fannie Mae’s HomeStyle® Renovation Mortgage, homebuyers and homeowners can combine their home purchase or refinance with renovation funding in a single mortgage. There’s also a Freddie Mac renovation mortgage, but standard credit score guidelines apply.

Cash-Out Refinance

If you have an existing mortgage and equity in the home, and want to take out a loan for home improvements, a cash-out refinance from a private lender may be worth looking into.

You usually must have at least 20% equity in your home to be eligible, meaning a maximum 80% loan-to-value (LTV) ratio of the home’s current value. (To calculate LTV, divide your mortgage balance by the home’s appraised value. Let’s say your mortgage balance is $225,000 and the home’s appraised value is $350,000. Your LTV is 64%, which indicates 36% equity in the home.)

A cash-out refi could also be an opportunity to improve your mortgage interest rate and change the length of the loan.

PACE Loan

For green improvements to your home, such as solar panels or an energy-efficient heating system, you might be eligible for a PACE loan .

The nonprofit organization PACENation promotes property-assessed clean energy (or PACE) financing for homeowners and commercial property owners, to be repaid over a period of up to 30 years.

Home Improvement Loan

A home improvement loan is an unsecured personal loan—meaning the house isn’t used as collateral to secure the loan. Approval is based on personal financial factors that will vary from lender to lender.

Lenders offer a wide range of loan sizes, so you can invest in minor updates to major renovations.

Home Equity Line of Credit

If you need a loan only for repairs but don’t have great credit, a HELOC may provide a lower rate. Be aware that if you can’t make payments on the borrowed funding, which is secured by your home, the lender can seize your home.

The Takeaway

If you have your eye on a fixer-upper that you just know can be polished into a jewel, an FHA 203(k) loan could be the ticket, but options may make more sense to other homebuyers and homeowners.

SoFi offers cash-out refinancing, turning your home equity into renovation money.

Or maybe a home improvement loan of $5,000 to $100,000 seems like a better way to turn your home into a haven.

Check your rate today.



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Terms, conditions, and state restrictions apply. SoFi Home Loans are not available in all states. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information.

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Source: sofi.com

10 Cities Near Tampa To Live in 2021

From its year-round sunshine to its annual Gasparilla Pirate Festival, there are tons of reasons to love living in Tampa. However, apartments in some neighborhoods don’t come cheap.

Fortunately, you don’t need to live in the Big Guava to enjoy everything it has to offer. There are lots of cities near Tampa that provide easy access to all the region’s amenities and attractions while maintaining a unique charm of their own.

So, before you commit to leasing an apartment in Tampa, you might want to consider these 10 alternative towns instead, all within 50 miles of downtown:

Temple Terrace, FL. Temple Terrace, FL.

  • Distance from downtown Tampa: 9.6 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,075 (down 14.1 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,101 (down 25.6 percent since last year)

For renters who want to enjoy the Tampa lifestyle and save some money in the process, Temple Terrace is the perfect option.

This affordable town is just a hop, skip and a jump from Tampa. In normal traffic, you can get from your front door to the Amalie Arena or the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts in around 20 minutes.

Of course, residents don’t have to leave Temple Terrace to find things to do. This Hillsborough County city features tons of amenities, including the Claw (an 18-hole golf course) and Temple Crest Park.

Temple Terrace is also an ideal spot for college students in need of an off-campus apartment. The University of South Florida is just a few minutes away by car, bike or bus.

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Largo, FL, one of the cities near tampaLargo, FL, one of the cities near tampa

Photo source: City of Largo / Facebook
  • Distance from downtown Tampa: 22.9 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,222 (up 5.6 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,409 (down 4.6 percent since last year)

Largo is the third-largest city in Pinellas County, which means endless amenities and attractions for the whole family. History buffs will enjoy the Pinellas County Heritage Village, naturists will appreciate John S. Taylor Park and everyone will have fun at the Highland Family Aquatic Center.

If you have kids (or are planning to start a family in the near future), you will also be excited to know that Largo is close to some excellent elementary schools. Curtis Fundamental Elementary School and Pasadena Fundamental Elementary School both receive 10/10 grades from Great Schools.

Should you choose to move to Largo, you will also be just a short drive away from some of the nation’s best beaches including Indian Rocks Beach and Belleair Beach.

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Clearwater, FL. Clearwater, FL.

  • Distance from downtown Tampa: 23.0 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,295 (up 1.4 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,550 (up 4.9 percent since last year)

No list of cities near Tampa would be complete without mentioning Clearwater.

This coastal burg is one of the best places to live in the Tampa Bay area. Its picturesque beaches and trendy bars offer renters a uniquely fun and relaxed lifestyle.

This Pinellas County city is also an ideal spot for young professionals. Companies like Tech Data, BayCare Health System and the Suncoast Hospice Foundation have sizable footprints in the area and are always searching for new talent.

Clearwater is the most walkable city on this list. So, if you enjoy taking a stroll with your family in the evenings — it may just be the ideal place for you to rent your next apartment.

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Palm Harbor, FL, one of the cities near tampaPalm Harbor, FL, one of the cities near tampa

  • Distance from downtown Tampa: 24.0 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,235 (down 1.2 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,466 (down 2.3 percent since last year)

Renters who want to move to Pinellas County, but would prefer somewhere a little quieter than Clearwater or Largo, are sure to love Palm Harbor. This town is almost entirely residential, save for a few charming golf courses.

The real beauty of this city is its location. A short drive can get you to a wide variety of stunning parks, beaches and recreation areas. And just 30 minutes in the car will get you to Tampa International Airport and Raymond James Stadium.

If you decide to move to this quaint burg, you can’t miss the Taste of Palm Harbor festival in October. This annual event offers you the chance to try a plethora of delicious foods and drinks made by dozens of local eateries.

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Plant City, FL. Plant City, FL.

Photo source: City of Plant City / Facebook
  • Distance from downtown Tampa: 24.6 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $913 (up 6.1 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,160 (up 9.5 percent since last year)

Plant City is just off Interstate 4, which makes it a breeze to get from this small town to the heart of downtown Tampa. For most residents, this drive should take no more than 30 to 40 minutes.

Convenient commuting isn’t the only reason to live in Plant City, though. This historic burg also offers a large number of breweries, bars and restaurants. It is even home to the Keel and Curley Winery.

However, without question, the Florida Strawberry Festival is the main attraction in Plant City. This annual event lasts 11 days and features scores of rides, art exhibits and dining options.

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Tarpon Springs, FL, one of the cities near tampaTarpon Springs, FL, one of the cities near tampa

Photo source: City of Tarpon Springs, FL City Hall / Facebook
  • Distance from downtown Tampa: 28.0 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $931 (up 2.6 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,087 (up 3.5 percent since last year)

Tarpon Springs might be home to just 25,577 residents, but it boasts the highest percentage of Greek Americans of any city in the United States. As such, this picturesque town’s culture is quite similar to that of a small village in Greece.

Each year, Tarpon Springs hosts an Epiphany celebration in which kids go diving for a cross, and the local priest blesses the waters and the boats. The event attracts visitors from throughout the United States and abroad.

Of course, you don’t have to enjoy Greek culture to love living in Tarpon Springs. The city also features lots of parks, bars and recreation areas.

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Lakeland, FL. Lakeland, FL.

  • Distance from downtown Tampa: 35.5 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,138 (up 10.1 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,328 (up 1.9 percent since last year)

Lakeland is the largest city in Polk County. It is best known for its abundance of quaint antique shops and early 20th-century architecture. These features give it a look and feel that is unlike that of any other city in Florida.

This unique locale is perfect for families. It offers tons of recreation areas as well as some of the best schools in the area. Lincoln Avenue Academy is particularly popular with local parents.

Because it is on Interstate 4, Lakeland residents also enjoy easy commuting in and out of Tampa. In normal traffic, the journey takes around 45 minutes.

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Dade City, FL, one of the cities near tampaDade City, FL, one of the cities near tampa

Photo source: City of Dade City, FL / Facebook
  • Distance from downtown Tampa: 38.4 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,147 (up 6.0 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,308 (up 3.7 percent since last year)

Dade City is the county seat of Pasco County. By population, it is the smallest town on this list. As a result, it is also one of the quietest and most family-friendly.

Though Florida is generally quite flat, Dade City features a collection of rolling hills that offer residents some stunning views from their apartment balconies.

Like most cities near Tampa, Dade City offers an abundance of green space for renters to enjoy. Dade City Dog Park is especially popular with people who want to help their canine companions make new friends.

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Bradenton, FL. Bradenton, FL.

  • Distance from downtown Tampa: 45.6 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,331 (up 8.7 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,573 (up 10.5 percent since last year)

At just 14.18 square miles, Bradenton is the smallest city on this list. However, it packs a lot of amenities into its limited space. This Manatee County town offers residents a baseball stadium, a science and nature museum and a performing arts center.

There are lots of job opportunities in Bradenton, especially in the healthcare sector. Companies like HCA Healthcare, HealthMarkets and Universal Health Services have offices in the region and regularly hire new employees.

Should you decide to rent an apartment in Bradenton, you will also have beaches like Longboat Key and Anna Maria Island just a stone’s throw from your front door.

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Spring Hill, FL, one of the cities near tampaSpring Hill, FL, one of the cities near tampa

  • Distance from downtown Tampa: 47 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $904 (up 1.0 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,359 (up 45.0 percent since last year)

Spring Hill is undoubtedly one of the most affordable cities near Tampa. With one-bedroom units averaging $904 per month in this Hernando County town, you’ll have a tough time finding better value for money anywhere in Central Florida.

Its low cost of living isn’t the only thing that brings renters to Spring Hill, though. This charming city features a wildlife sanctuary, an adventure park and a country club. It is also just a short drive to the world-renowned Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.

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Make one of these cities near Tampa your next home

Don’t delay. Find your home in one of these cities near Tampa with Apartment Guide today.

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

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Source: apartmentguide.com

10 Cities Near Boston To Live in 2021

The enchanting city of Boston is a beacon of history and culture. From the Freedom Trail to the thriving Financial District, the many charms of this city attract hopeful renters from across the globe. But one look at the average rent prices in Boston may leave you searching for less expensive relocation options.

Whether you are cost-conscious or prefer to live away from the big city vibe, rest assured that there are plenty of cities near Boston where you can still enjoy the best of this world-renowned region.

Here are 10 wonderful cities near Boston with access to the metropolis and unique charms of their own.

Newton, MA. Newton, MA.

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 9.9 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,641 (down 9.6 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $3,453 (down 11.8 percent since last year)

Newton is a quintessential New England town with 13 unique neighborhoods, charmingly called Newton’s “13 villages.” The communities offer something for every taste — from Chestnut Hill with its farmlands and chestnut trees to the prosperous business district of West Newton.

West Newton claims a convenient stop on the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority Commuter Rail, allowing Newton residents to bypass some truly awful Boston traffic and arrive in Back Bay in under 20 minutes.

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Concord, MA, one of the cities near bostonConcord, MA, one of the cities near boston

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 20 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,856 (up 5.8 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,725 (down 0.3 percent since last year)

The city of Concord is a fascinating mix of early-American history and modern natural wonders. The Concord Museum captures the uniqueness of the town since its incorporation in 1635, including Concord’s essential role in the American Revolutionary War. Historic houses in Concord display a charming style of architecture unique to New England.

The Walden Pond State Reservation offers locals and tourists a great place to hit the trails and go for a swim at lake beaches.

Outdoor adventures in Concord pair well with an inspiring visit to Thoreau House, the site of the transcendentalist poet’s home, and the legendary Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

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Natick, MA. Natick, MA.

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 21 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,118 (down 5.8 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,606 (down 5.7 percent since last year)

Natick is known for its Natick Town Center, a charming downtown with historic brick buildings and a cozy atmosphere. Residents enjoy many benefits, including access to a Community Center, the Sassamon Trace Golf Course and Memorial Beach.

On the opposite side of the town exists an entirely different scene with the massive Natick Mall. This shopping center draws in both business and excitement as the largest mall in Massachusetts.

Residents have the best of both worlds, with lovely farmlands in the eastern parts of Natick and the liveliness of the commercial area to the northwest.

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Salem, MA, one of the cities near bostonSalem, MA, one of the cities near boston

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 22.2 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,444 (up 0.5 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $3,049 (up 9.5 percent since last year)

Best known for being the home of the Salem Witch Trials, Salem is rich in history.

The downtown and harbor areas comprise a wide web of streets offering countless shops, restaurants and museums. For a change of theme, visitors can explore worldwide art and culture on display at the Peabody Essex Museum and the historic House of the Seven Gables.

While the height of Salem’s excitement peaks in the month-long celebrations in October, locals enjoy year-round nightlife and a vibrant party scene.

A change of pace is easy to find with the numerous seaside beaches and the expansive nature preservatory at Salem Woods.

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Framingham, MA. Framingham, MA.

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 22.7 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,876 (down 7.7 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,357 (down 15.2 percent since last year)

Framingham is a commercial hub that acts as a midway point between Boston in the east and mini-metropolis Worcester farther to the west. In addition to its strategic location, Framingham residents enjoy in-town attractions such as the Garden in the Woods and Jack’s Abbey brewery.

Framingham has several residential neighborhoods and is a popular town for city commuters as the MBTA Framingham/Worcester Commuter Rail offers a comfortable ride to both Boston and Worcester.

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Boxborough, MA, one of the cities near bostonBoxborough, MA, one of the cities near boston

Photo source: Boxborough, MA / Facebook
  • Distance from downtown Boston: 29 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,806 (down 17.8 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,868 (down 21.6 percent since last year)

The cozy town of Boxborough is ideal for those wishing to partake in the joys of countryside life while keeping the conveniences of the big city within distance.

Locals here enjoy charming estates, lush greenery and a close-knit community. For schooling and other purposes, this town is often combined with nearby Acton as the Acton-Boxborough area.

Nature lovers enjoy the numerous Boxborough farms selling locally-grown produce. A breath of the wild is always at hand for residents who have access to in-town parks such as Flerra Meadows and the nearby Wachusett Mountain with its hiking trails and ski slopes.

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foxboro mafoxboro ma

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 30.1 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,144 (up 0.9 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $3,067 (down 5.3 percent since last year)

Written officially as “Foxborough,” locals refer to this town as “Foxboro” and the “Home of the New England Patriots.” The stunning Gillette Stadium here is the base of Massachusetts’ most beloved football team. During a game, locals across Massachusetts know to give Foxboro a wide berth as the traffic is as legendary as the team playing.

Luckily, Foxboro locals don’t have to leave town to have a great time. The expansive Patriot Place shopping plaza surrounding the stadium offers thrills such as an escape room and a themed cafe.

Fans of nature aren’t left out here — the Nature Trail and Cranberry Bog, as well as the numerous bucolic farms and scenic landscape nearby, offer much to explore.

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Bridgewater, MA, one of the cities near bostonBridgewater, MA, one of the cities near boston

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 32.3 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,878 (up 1.1 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,211 (up 1.5 percent since last year)

A college town with a youthful vibe and lively downtown, Bridgewater is home to Bridgewater State University and boasts the high energy and hip scene of an international campus.

Bridgewater and neighboring towns East Bridgewater and West Bridgewater are great midway points between Boston and Cape Cod.

Residents can take the MBTA Commuter Rail from Bridgewater Station to reach the big city in under an hour or enjoy a scenic drive over the Bourne Bridge to bask on the Cape beaches.

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Gloucester, MA. Gloucester, MA.

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 36.2 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: N/A
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,760 (0.0 percent change since last year)

Located on Cape Ann, Gloucester is a dream come true for those who want to live by the sea. This peninsula paradise has beaches on two sides and is right next to the famous town of Rockport. Locals enjoy fresh seafood and an artsy scene — many creative souls appreciate the breathtaking scenery these towns have to offer.

Keep in mind that summer is the high season for coastal towns like Gloucester, and many of the beachy parts of Cape Ann cater to tourists and elderly snowbirds. While Gloucester is not as touristy as Rockport, year-round residents here should expect the liveliness of summer and a much quieter reprieve in winter.

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Plymouth, MA, one of the cities near bostonPlymouth, MA, one of the cities near boston

  • Distance from downtown Boston: 39.8 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,151 (up 2.8 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,700 (up 4.5 percent since last year)

Often referred to as “America’s hometown,” Plymouth, founded by the Pilgrims in 1620, offers rich history alongside spectacular views of the ocean. The Mayflower II is on display in the downtown memorial park, not far from the monument protecting Plymouth Rock.

Enthusiasts of early American history will enjoy exploring the world-renowned Plimouth Plantation, where Plymouth residents enjoy a steep discount.

Locals and tourists alike love strolling downtown Plymouth with its waterfront shops and a picturesque harbor. Outside of the main commercial areas, scenic cranberry bogs and numerous nature parks dot the landscape.

Business picks up around Thanksgiving time, but unlike many other coastal parts of Massachusetts that host seasonal residents, Plymouth enjoys a steady population year-round.

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Make one of these cities near Boston your home city

Between a prosperous city life and oceanside charms, it is no wonder that Boston and its surrounding area have some of the most sought-after real estate in the country. Whether you want to bask in the rich history of the region or live an idyllic life by the sea, you can find your ideal place in one of these great cities near Boston.

Properties are in high demand, and space is exclusive, so start looking for your new home today.

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

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Source: apartmentguide.com

Free Spay and Neuter Services for Dogs and Cats

Luckily, there are plenty of free spay/neuter programs across the country. Some programs will qualify you based on where you live. Others will have an added income requirement. Whether or not you qualify for free spay and neuter services depends on the individual program.
One of the most expensive initial procedures your pet will need is getting either spayed or neutered. Luckily, money doesn’t always have to be a huge obstacle when it comes to getting that early veterinary care. If you know where to look, there are a myriad of free or low-cost spay/neuter programs across the country.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com
Brynne Conroy is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.

Should My Pet be Spayed or Neutered?

Friends of Animals works with veterinarians across the nation to bring low-cost spay/neuter services to American pet owners. First, you’ll need to pay a fee for a spay/neuter certificate from Friends of Animals. These certificates cost:
So far, we’ve seen programs with fairly strict income requirements. If we look to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, though, we’ll find an example of a spay/neuter program that is open to all residents even if you’re not a low-income household.
The ASPCA has also teamed up with PetSmart Charities to create a registry of low-cost spay/neuter clinics across the United States, covering an area far more vast than the three cities where the ASPCA runs low-cost spay/neuter clinics.
Free spay/neuter programs tend to be run by local government agencies. Look for these programs at the state, county and local levels.
And if this help exists locally, your animal shelter should know about it.

Do I Qualify for Free Spay and Neuter Services?

You can also look to other local cat rescue groups for similar spay or neuter services
The Spay/Neuter Assistance Program in North Carolina is administered through county animal shelters. For example, in the first three quarters of 2020, this program funded 233 spay or neutering procedures in Richmond County alone.
While they do work with veterinarians across the country, you’ll want to make sure one of them operates in your community before purchasing a certificate. You can find the closest veterinary clinic that accepts these certificates for spay/neuter services by using the Friends of Animals search tool.

How to Find Free Spay/Neuter Programs

In some states, you’ll find free spay/neuter programs at the county level. In North Carolina, state funding is commonly distributed in this way.
In our Richmond County example, the county animal shelter charges a fee even if you qualify for the program due to a low income. Presumably, this covers administrative costs, and the fact that the state doesn’t always pay the shelters back for 100% of every surgery.
Many states run a free spay/neuter program. It may operate directly through a state agency or through a state-designated community organization.

State-Level Spay and Neuter Programs

There are few cases where spaying or neutering is not the best decision for pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, you should always spay or neuter your cats. But there are certain breeds of dogs that can suffer adverse health effects if they are spayed or neutered depending on their gender or age. If you have a dog, err on the side of spaying or neutering. But also consult with your veterinarian.
Before you take your pet home, ask the shelter if they know of any local free or low-cost spay/neuter programs. This often comes up naturally, as most of the time you’re going to have to promise to spay or neuter your new pet as a part of the adoption process.
Currently the ASPCA offers low-cost spay/neuter services in:

  • Medicaid
  • SNAP/food stamps
  • Social Security benefits

If your income prevents you from qualifying for your state’s, county’s or city’s free spay or neuter program, look to other low-cost spay/neuter surgery providers in your area. These providers often work in tandem with an animal-focused nonprofit, which provides funding for these low-cost spay/neuter services.

A gray cat peeks its eyes over a wooden table while standing on a yellow chair.
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County-Level Spay and Neuter Programs

You must schedule your appointment ahead of time even for the mobile spay/neuter clinic.
For example, The Oklahoma state Legislature has a fund set aside specifically for its Pet Overpopulation Program. You won’t interface with the state of Oklahoma, though. Instead, you’ll apply through the Oklahoma Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA).
Yes! Spaying or neutering your pet reduces the overall pet population. This helps reduce the ever-present pet homelessness problem in the United States.
If you don’t qualify for a free program, you’re likely to be able to find discount spay/neuter services in your area

City-Level Spay and Neuter Programs

The local animal shelter.
If these upfront costs are preventing you from adopting your next furry family member, talk to the animal shelter. While not as prolific as free spay/neuter programs, you may be able to find ways to get financial assistance locally for these services, especially if you are from a low-income household.
After you have your certificate and have identified associated vet clinics in your community, you can call the clinic directly to schedule an appointment.

How to Find Low-Cost Spay/Neuter Services

2020 was quite a year. Mostly marked in terrible ways as the pandemic created a global health crisis and changed the ways we live.
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ASPCA

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) hosts low-cost spay/neuter services in a handful of cities across the country. These services can be performed at a traditional spay/neuter clinic, but in some cities they are also available via a mobile, low-cost spay/neuter truck that visits neighborhoods on a rotating basis.
Doing so can also provide your pet with health benefits. Spaying female cats or dogs can help them avoid uterine infections and breast cancer, while neutering male cats or dogs can reduce their chances of getting testicular cancer. But there was at least one silver lining: Americans adopted or fostered shelter animals in record numbers. Because so many people worked from home they felt they had the time to devote to a new pet or to caring for an animal temporarily.

PetSmart Charities

Adopting a new pet — especially a shelter animal — is a caring decision. It’s also a financial decision because the cost of initial medical services for a dog or cat can add up quickly.
Here’s the thing about being a pet parent: It can get expensive fast.

North Shore Animal League America

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Two vets pet a dog and cat at their office.
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Friends of Animals

Depending on state and local laws, there are other expenses involved with adopting a pet. Even if you don’t pay anything to spay/neuter your pet cat or dog, you may end up incurring fees for these often mandatory services:

  • $61 to neuter a male cat
  • $74 to neuter a male dog
  • $85 to spay a female cat
  • $110 to spay a female dog

Ready to stop worrying about money?
You may also want to look to low-cost spay/neuter services if you live in a state like North Carolina where you’re still going to pay some fees even with the “free” program. In a minority of cases, the fees required by the nonprofit program may cost less than the fees charged by the program sponsored by the local government.

Alley Cat Allies

Maybe you don’t have pet cats to worry about, but you do have quite a few neighborhood cats. Alley Cat Allies runs a program called Feral Friends that works to spay and neuter feral cats through trap and release measures. You can request a specialist reach out to you here.
However, the North Carolina program only covers the direct medical cost for low-income residents. If the shelter charges an administrative fee, you could still end up spending some money. The fee you pay is likely to pale in comparison to the cost of the actual spay/neuter procedure, though.

Ask Shelter to Help Find Low-Cost Clinic

Because spay/neuter programs are so hyperlocal, they’re as varied as kaleidoscopes. Some programs will come along with income requirements. Some won’t. In some states, the spay/neuter services in and of themselves will be free, but you’ll still owe some type of fee to the vet or animal shelter in administrative fees. In others, you’ll walk away without spending a penny to spay or neuter your pet.
The following list is a variety of programs though not an exhaustive list. Search your own state, county and local services to find what is offered close to you. You might be surprised at what’s available to you.
North Shore Animal League America runs a nationwide referral service for low-cost spay/neuter services called SpayUSA. For most of the listings, you need to obtain a referral from SpayUSA by entering basic household information. Some of these low-cost spay/neuter programs are only available to low-income households on programs like Medicaid, SNAP and Social Security.

What Else Is Involved at Spay/Neuter Clinics?

While the uptick in fostering and adopting shelter animals over the past year is an exciting trend, that doesn’t alone solve the pet overpopulation problem.

  • Rabies vaccination
  • Other immunizations
  • Licensing for dogs in certain cities and municipalities

All you need to do to qualify for Pittsburgh’s free spay/neuter program is live within city limits. There are additional licensing and vaccination requirements for dogs, but you will not be asked for your income for eligibility purposes.
Your state program may or may not be limited to low-income households. Oklahoma is an example, but not necessarily the rule.
In 2020, puppy mills also kicked into hyperdrive, increasing pet overpopulation and negating some of the progress made in the fight against pet homelessness. Overpopulation continues to be a problem that can be directly addressed by getting your pets spayed or neutered. <!–

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You know who’s going to know your local low-cost spay/neuter clinics really well?

DC Studio Apartments Offering One or Two Months Free

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studio-apartments-offering-two-months-free

If you are in the market for a new apartment, this is the absolute best time to secure a new place. Apartments and neighborhoods where you never were able to get concessions are now giving away up to two months free. This is of course due to the fact that while many people were able to work from home, they took that opportunity to leave their Washington, D.C. apartments and move out to the suburbs or home with mom and dad or become digital nomads. That left many apartment buildings with vacancies to fill and that’s where your luck begins!

Last month we highlighted apartments with move-in specials. This week, we are highlighting DC Studio Apartments offering two months free. You’ll see there is a wide range of offerings from rent control apartments in Northwest DC to brand new luxury apartments in SE neighborhoods like Capitol Riverfront.

Act quickly, as soon as the summer heats up and there are more signs of movement in the District, you will see prices start to rise and rent specials dry up.


Hilltop-House-kitchen

Hilltop House

1475 Euclid Street NW Washington, DC.

844-259-7670

Studios starting at $1350

Get TWO MONTHS FREE

Hilltop House is in the Adams Morgan neighborhood in NW Washington, D.C. The building has mostly studios, but on occasion, a one or two-bedroom apartment comes available. The building is within walking distance of Safeway and Harris Teeter and many restaurants. All utilities are included in your rent price.


The Shawmut

2200 19th Street NW, Washington DC

844-300-2186

Studios starting at $1350

Get TWO MONTHS FREE on Studios

The Shawmut is a pet-friendly community in the Adams-Morgan | Kalorama Neighborhod. The building is in walking distance of many restaurants, grocery stores, and shops.

Apartments-with-one-month-free-2800-woodley

2800 Woodley

2800 Woodley NW, Washington DC

833-623-4036

Get One and a Half Months Free

Studios starting at $1495

2800 Woodley is a gorgeous building set back in a tree-lined residential neighborhood just four blocks from the Woodley Park Metro. The apartments have shining parquet floors, energy efficient appliances, and all utilities are included with your rent.

apartments-with-two-months-free-brunswick-house

Brunswick House

1414 17th Street NW, Washington DC

844-287-1930

Get Two Months Free on Studios

Studios starting at $1395

Brunswick House is conveniently located near the Dupont Circle Metro. It is also within a few blocks of Whole Foods Market and a number of restaurants. Brunswick House Apartments have hardwood floors and all utilities are included with the rent.

apartments-with one-month-free-DC-Meridian-Park-Apartments

Meridian Park

2445 15th Street NW, Washington DC

833-233-2513

Get Two Months Free on Studios

Studios starting at $1390

Meridian Park Apartments have a fantastic location between Adams Morgan and Columbia Heights. The apartment community is located right next to Meridian Park, walking distance to multiple metro stops and just blocks from two grocery stores.

Avec-on-H-1-Bedroom-AV1adBMx-Kitchen(1)

Avec on H

901 H Street NE, Washington DC

833-715-2382

Get Two Months Free on Studios

Studios starting at $1541

Avec on H is a brand new apartment community on H Street. The building has a two-block long rooftop with a pool, grilling areas, community garden, dog park and outdoor living rooms. The community also has a fitness center and clubroom. Right now they are offering two months free on studio apartments.

That’s our round-up of studio apartments in DC offering up to two months free. Want to see more options? Do a free search at apartminty.com and sign up for the mailing list to get notified as more specials come available!

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Source: blog.apartminty.com

The Cost of Living in Atlanta in 2021

It’s hard to resist Atlanta’s charm, food and culture — but how does it stack up against your budget?

Atlanta is widely known for its busy airport, pollen counts, mild weather and most recently, for lending itself as the background for several Hollywood movies.

Despite being a big city, Atlanta’s southern charm remains intact as it welcomes many transplants every year. It’s hard to resist a move to Georgia capital with its diversity and robust culture, but what does that entail from a budget standpoint?

While others look to more expensive hubs like Los Angeles and New York City, Atlanta’s cost of living remains significantly more affordable while still providing a thriving economy and amenities.

Right now, for example, Atlanta rents are 49.23 percent lower on average than in New York. However, while its cost of living is 1.1 percent above the national average, this is quickly changing as housing demand increases with newcomers. Get to know the cost of living in Atlanta, from transportation to goods and services.

Housing costs in Atlanta

Atlanta’s housing market — whether you’re renting or buying — is not for the faint of heart. The average rent in Atlanta has gone up 0.11 percent to $1,655 per month for a one-bedroom in the past year. This average rent fluctuates dramatically per neighborhood and amenities offered.

Midtown, Old Fourth Ward and Buckhead are among the most expensive neighborhoods with average rents between $2,180 and $2,500 per month for a one-bedroom. Neighborhoods close to the average rent in Atlanta include Morningside, Westside, Home Park, Kirkwood, Edgewood and Lindbergh.

But if you’re looking to stay inside the city and save a little, you can find an apartment in Ormewood Park for $1,382 a month on average or Embry Hills at $1,260 per month.

The average home price in Atlanta at this time is $380,418. However, this is mainly dependent on the neighborhood. As of March 2021, home prices are up 7.7 percent compared to last year, according to Redfin. Most homes sell in less than 30 days.

cost of living in atlanta - brunch

Food costs in Atlanta

We can’t talk about Atlanta without food. The city currently houses incredible chefs across every cuisine, thanks to its diverse population. You can find anything from Southern fare to authentic Thai, Malaysian, Filipino, Mexican and more locally.

Atlanta’s cost of living for groceries is about 5 percent above the national average. Expect to see eggs for $1.25, ground beef for $4.61 a pound and bread for $3.65.

Utility costs in Atlanta

In the South, we love porch weather. Thanks to Atlanta’s mild winters, you get to enjoy the outdoors most of the year.

But, the city didn’t get its nickname “Hotlanta” for nothing, so know that in the summer, your energy bill will go up.

Thankfully, Atlanta’s utility prices are 15.3 percent below the national average. You can expect your total energy costs to be around $120.82 each month.

For the internet, the city has a limited amount of providers, but your bill will hover around $67.49 a month.

Atlanta skyline.

Transportation costs in Atlanta

Yes, the rumors are true — Atlanta’s infamous traffic is real. The city takes a spot on the worst traffic listicles year after year. The average commute is 35 minutes, according to a recent study. However, once you’re off the highway, the stress tends to diminish as you have more options to get out of your car and get around.

Hop on MARTA, Atlanta’s public transportation system, and use the rail and bus system to navigate the city. The options amount to a 49 transit score. It’s not as expansive as the subway in New York, but it makes your commute a little easier to Buckhead, Midtown, the airport and OTP (outside the perimeter).

MARTA allows frequent riders to save by offering a 7-day pass for $23.75 and a monthly pass for $95.

MARTA also connects with the Atlanta Streetcar that navigates the downtown and Edgewood neighborhoods with 12 stops. A round-trip Breeze card will cost $5 (with up to four transfers), and one ride on the Streetcar costs $1 (with no free MARTA transfers).

Atlanta’s bike score is 46, but some neighborhoods are more bike-friendly than others. Midtown, Old Fourth Ward, Inman Park and Cabbagetown have bike lanes all over that quickly drop you on the Atlanta BeltLine Eastside Trail. The BeltLine loop connects all of the city’s 45 neighborhoods. With a walk score of 55, you can also get to know the City in a Forest via foot.

If you decide to drive, motorists are wasting up to $1,043 annually and 50 hours searching for parking. You’ll also spend on average $2,233 a year on gasoline.

All in all, the cost of living for transportation in Atlanta is about 2 percent above the national average.

Atlanta skyline in Piedmont Park.

Healthcare costs in Atlanta

Whether it’s a routine check-up or a more serious health mishap, navigating healthcare systems is never easy. Since everyone’s health situations are different, it’s difficult to come up with overall healthcare spend in Atlanta, but here are some cost guidelines.

In Atlanta, you have access to quality healthcare at Emory University and Grady Memorial Hospital. Atlanta healthcare costs are 2 percent above the national average.

A regular doctor visit costs $119.80 on average while a prescription drug can set you back $459.02 on average (without insurance of some kind). You can pick up ibuprofen at your local pharmacy for $8.71 on average.

Goods and services costs in Atlanta

Beyond essential bills, Atlanta remains on par with the national average across different categories. You’ll goods and services will hover around 2.3 percent above the national average.

Atlanta’s neighborhoods are very pet-friendly, so if you get a pup to walk around the city with you, vet services cost $56.23 per visit on average.

More a movie buff? A ticket to a new release on average costs $14.15.

For exercise, you have plenty of choices from pilates, yoga studios, kickboxing and even 24/7-access facilities. A yoga class will average more than $17, but many luxury apartments in the city include a small gym as an amenity if you’re looking to stay on budget.

Luckily, you can have a great time for free as well around the city with plenty of outdoor opportunities at city parks like Piedmont Park and the Atlanta BeltLine.

Ponce City Market in Atlanta, cost of living in atlanta

Taxes in Atlanta

Understanding what county and part of the city you live in will make it easier to decipher your taxes. In Atlanta, the sales tax rate is 8.9 percent — that’s 7 percent for DeKalb and Fulton counties and 1.90 percent additional for the city of Atlanta. In this case, if you spend $100 shopping at Ponce City Market, you’ll pay $8.90 in sales tax.

The state has two sales tax holidays a year, including a back-to-school event. Georgia does not tax grocery items. However, prepared food, alcoholic beverages, dietary supplements, drugs, over-the-counter drugs and tobacco all require taxes applied to purchases. The state’s income tax rate is 5.75 percent for the highest bracket currently.

How much do I need to earn to live in Atlanta?

Most financial advisors recommend keeping your rent payment at 30 percent of your gross income or less. You would need to make at least $66,200 annually to afford a one-bedroom apartment on average in Atlanta. Currently, a one-bedroom costs $1,655 per month on average.

For perspective, an average Atlanta resident makes around $69,000 a year. Want to know where you stand with your current budget? Use our rent calculator to get a high view of how it would change after moving to Atlanta.

Living in Atlanta

Everyone says come to Atlanta in the fall for its beautiful autumn colors, crisp 70-degree weather and outdoor hiking. Yes, it’s not always “Hotlanta.” The cost of living in Atlanta offers access to big city amenities while still finding small corners for recreation and the outdoors. The city’s technology, supply chain and other industries are quickly growing for more job opportunities.

Find great apartments for rent or homes to buy in Atlanta today.

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

Source: rent.com

The Best Places to Live in Nevada in 2021

Nevada is typically thought of as a hot, dry desert with Las Vegas being the main reason people visit or choose to live there. But the state offers so much more!

The best places to live in Nevada include many family-friendly cities, some of which are close to beautiful lakes and stunning mountains. There are places for boating, hiking and even winter sports, like skiing and snowboarding.

On the financial side of things, it’s one of the few states that doesn’t have personal income tax! So take a look and explore the best places to live in Nevada.

Boulder City, NV, one of the best places to live in nevada

Boulder City is small, family-friendly and pretty safe—which is very different from the larger, more famous city of Las Vegas that lies only 30 minutes away.

It has small-town vibes and a very tight-knit community, making it an attractive place for young families wanting the fun and excitement of Las Vegas without living in such a vast, bustling city.

Plus, you’ve got Lake Mead and the Hoover Dam nearby for outdoor recreation.

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Carson City, NV.

Nevada’s state capital, Carson City, is fairly unique to most other cities in Nevada, with it being close to anything you might enjoy, be it outdoor recreation or big city lights.

Because it lies much further north than Las Vegas, its weather isn’t always hot and dry. You can enjoy all four unique seasons, including some snow in winter.

You’re also less than an hour away from the beautiful shores and mountains of Lake Tahoe, where summer swimming and boating are popular and winter skiing is available.

Plus, there’s Reno nearby in case you want to explore a Vegas-like city that’s not quite so large.

Carson City itself still has great restaurants in its downtown area and is family-friendly. Even with all of this great stuff, it’s still one of the least-crowded cities in America.

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Fallon, NV, one of the best places to live in nevada

Because it’s fairly quiet and mellow, Fallon draws in both young families and retirees who are looking to live life at a slower pace. This has given the town the nickname of the “Oasis of Nevada.” There are also many military families due to the naval base nearby.

It’s a great place for those that are adventurous and enjoy exploring since it’s within two hours of Lake Tahoe, the Nevada state capital of Carson City and Reno’s bright lights.

Plus, there are plenty of community events and festivals throughout the year for locals (and visitors) to attend.

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Henderson, NV.

As part of the greater Las Vegas city, Henderson is big city living, but in the suburbs. It’s less than a 30-minute drive to get to the strip, with many of Las Vegas’ great restaurants and shopping spots located even closer.

Henderson is very focused on building a safe community and bringing people together, so there are lots of great events and activities going on. One of the most popular is a downtown art festival, where many local artists and art-lovers gather each month to support each other.

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Las Vegas, NV, one of the best places to live in nevada

One of the most well-known cities in the world, Las Vegas draws in a diverse crowd of tourists and residents alike.

There’s never a dull moment and something for everyone is easily found at every corner. Restaurants, shows, shopping and even major league sports are all part of Vegas.

Because it’s a large city, it’s divided up into neighborhoods, some of which give residents a “big city” feel and others that are a little bit quieter and calm.

Plus, the location is ideal —in just a few hours, you can find yourself at the beaches near Los Angeles or the mountains of Utah.

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Laughlin, NV.

You’ll find Laughlin nestled right on the Nevada-Arizona border, near the banks of the Colorado River.

It offers adventurous desert living, where off-roading is a favorite pastime and it’s warm and sunny, making it perfect for anyone that enjoys swimming frequently in the Colorado River.

You’ll always meet new people in Laughlin as its economy thrives on tourism — it’s full of casinos and resorts that bring in new crowds every day of the year.

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North Vegas, NV, one of the best places to live in nevada

North Las Vegas is the happy medium for anyone wanting to feel like they live in the hustle and bustle of Vegas, but without feeling like they’re in the overcrowded streets of downtown and the Strip.

It’s been experiencing a revitalization and the city has been recently focusing on improving safety, entertainment and diversity in the area.

You’ve still got the Strip and main city nearby, plus endless restaurants and shopping, but at the end of the day, you don’t have to deal with constant traffic and tourists walking everywhere. It’s not too close, yet not too far away!

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Reno, NV.

The “biggest little city in the world” is one that’s full of surprises. Reno is typically known for gambling and casinos, but it actually has many great ski resorts for winter sports. But it’s not just winter that makes it exciting—it’s less than an hour to Lake Tahoe, so expect exciting and fun summers.

Reno has one of the best bar scenes, most of which are open 24-hours. And because it has so much room to grow, many large businesses are building offices in the area, further stabilizing the already-stable economy.

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Sparks, NV, one of the best places to live in nevada

If you’re a fan of Reno, then you’ll probably also like Sparks, which is a small town that’s basically a suburb of Reno. It’s close to all of the excitement that the bigger city offers with a relaxed vibe.

And with the growth of Reno’s business sector, Sparks is seeing a lot more development to accommodate the increasing number of jobs and residents in the area.

There’s a pretty diverse age group, with everyone from college students, young professionals, families and retirees mingling throughout the city.

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Sun Valley, NV.

As yet another town near Reno, Sun Valley is also seeing much growth but is still more rural than the main city center and Sparks. Many of its residents actually like that there are very few stores and restaurants in the area, as it keeps it quiet and not many random tourists end up wandering through.

Because of its lack of city recreation, there are many community events that provide opportunities to get to know your neighbors and interact with the other locals. It’s full of humble, eccentric people that are always welcoming to newcomers and outsiders.

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Find your own best place to live in Nevada

Las Vegas isn’t the only place to live in Nevada, especially if you’re looking for a little less of the “big city.”

There are plenty of other cities and suburbs that give you everything you could imagine. From community events to all-year outdoor recreation — you only need to open your mind up to the possibilities of Nevada.

Source: rent.com

Renting an Older Home: 5 Red Flags to Look Out For

Often, the oldest homes are in some of the most desirable neighborhoods and are more affordable than something brand new in the same location.

It’s tough to beat the charm and character you’ll find when renting an older home or apartment.

However, it is important to remember that older buildings come with their own unique set of quirks.

While some characteristics commonly found in older homes are easy to upgrade or simply based on personal preference, there are a few red flags to keep in mind that might make or break your decision when considering signing a lease.

1. Potential utility costs

Ask your new landlord if they are willing to share a previous month’s utility bill so you can get a sense of how much you’ll be spending on utilities. Efficiency wasn’t necessarily a priority in the past, and things like electricity, heating and water can add up quickly.

Many older homes run on gas heat (or oil!), often a new expense for many.

Ask if any previous tenants have experienced any electrical issues, and take note of outlet placement as this is something you can’t really change once you’ve moved in.

Interior of older home.

2. Check out the windows

Older homes and older windows can often mean cold drafts in the winter months.

Ask your potential landlord if the windows are single or double pane windows — this will be critical when it comes to outside noise and maintaining the temperature you want inside the home.

3. Test appliances and fixtures

Older buildings have their quirks, and it’s likely you’ll deal with one or two if you decide to move forward with renting.

Make sure you know what you’re signing up for by giving things a quick test when you view the unit – flush the toilets, turn on the sink, turn on the stovetop, see if you are familiar with the heating system, etc. For example, if you notice things like slow-flowing drains or a toilet taking forever to flush, it might be a sign of larger plumbing issues down the line.

4. Ask about maintenance and repairs

There’s no way around it – older homes and apartments are generally going to require more maintenance and repair than brand new buildings. Ask the landlord about any major projects or upgrades they have planned for the near future.

Plans to replace kitchen appliances may entice you to stick around. Plans to replace the roof could deter you depending on your situation. As things age, they start to wear out, so be aware that you’re more likely to deal with regular maintenance issues.

Older home, kitchen interior.

5. Watch out for lead paint

Lead paint was banned in the U.S. in the late 70s, so if the building you’re considering existed before then, watch out for lead-based paint in the home or apartment.

Federal law requires landlords to warn tenants of the presence of lead paint at a rental property, which many do through a Lead Warning Statement built into the rental agreement. Additionally, landlords must provide renters with EPA-approved information on lead-based paints and potential hazards — it’s required.

Don’t hesitate to approach this topic before you get to the lease signing process, and keep an eye out for any noticeable peeling paint that may exacerbate the issue.

Renting an older home

Older rental properties might not have all of the luxury amenities of a brand new building, but you are more likely to find a one-of-a-kind space to call home.

Keep these considerations in mind when renting an older apartment or home. Make sure it’s the right fit for you.

Source: rent.com

The Best Places to Live in Georgia in 2021

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

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

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

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

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

Alpharetta, Georgia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Athens, Georgia.

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

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

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

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

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

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Atlanta, GA.

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

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

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

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

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Augusta, Georgia.

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

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

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

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

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

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Columbus, Georgia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Decatur, Georgia.

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

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

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

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

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

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Macon, Georgia.

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

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

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

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

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

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Marietta, Georgia.

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

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

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

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

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

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Sandy Springs, Georgia.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Savannah, Georgia.

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

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

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

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

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

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Find your own best place to live in Georgia

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

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

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

Source: rent.com

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