What Is Real Estate Due Diligence?

There isn’t an Easy Button for doing your due diligence. It’s really a time-consuming process, and few people have any idea what to do.

Purchasing and owning real estate is always high risk — whether it’s a single family home that you’ll occupy or a 50-unit apartment building for income. You’ll hear experts say to make sure to “do your due diligence” when buying property, but what does that actually mean? What is due diligence?

The truth is, there isn’t an “easy button” for doing your due diligence. It’s really a time-consuming process, and few people have any idea what to do. So here is what it means and some of the steps you should consider and perform.

Do your homework

Due diligence means taking caution, performing calculations, reviewing documents, procuring insurance, walking the property, etc. — essentially doing your homework for the property BEFORE you actually make the purchase. If there are too many issues with the property — and that means too much potential risk and cost — then you can cancel your purchase agreement and look for a better property.

Here are just a few of the steps that apply to both personal residences and investment properties, although some may only apply to one.

Shop the marketplace

Make sure you know what the market has to offer. Too many people look at just a few properties, put in an offer and purchase. You should spend several months looking at properties before you buy.

Mortgage financing

Make sure the mortgage deal you get is fair and in line with competitors. Probably less than 20 percent of people get two bids for their financing, so they don’t know whether they’ve received a fair deal.

Pencil out your investment

If you’re buying an investment property, it’s vital to pencil out your deal. How do you know whether it’s a good deal if you haven’t done the math and compared it to other opportunities?

Property inspection

You probably had an inspection, but did you go to it? Did you review the inspector’s remarks on all the work that needs to be done? Then did you call a contractor or go to a home repair store to see how much it will cost to put the property in the shape you desire? Renovating properties is hugely expensive and high risk, so make sure you get estimates for the work before you decide to move forward with a purchase.

Insurance

Did you check to see whether an insurance policy can be written for the property? How much will it cost? Some areas, such as fire-prone or hurricane-prone areas, might not even be able to get a policy. And even if they do, it might be prohibitively expensive. Get some bids before you’re too far along in your purchasing process.

Homeowners association

Do you know how to review the HOA documents to avoid communities that are in disastrous shape, out of money or have significant construction issues? This is actually a pretty complicated task, but you don’t want to buy into a total mess of an HOA. If you do, you will feel some discomfort as the years go by and you have to deal with the issues and special assessments that you will be required to pay.

Title insurance & plat

Did you look at the title abstract and insurance policy? This will help you see if there are some issues that should concern you. Talk to the title insurance company agent and lawyer to help you review the documents. Also look at the plat of the property, have the easements plotted by title and walk the property for encumbrances.

Those are just a few of the many items that make up due diligence when buying real estate. Remember, you have to do these before you close escrow on the property. If you fail to do the proper tasks, problems might arise that were preventable, and might make your real estate experience less than palatable, or downright life changing! Or they might cause you to lose all the money you’ve put into the property.

Leonard Baron is America’s Real Estate Professor®. His unbiased, neutral and inexpensive “Real Estate Ownership, Investment and Due Diligence 101” textbook teaches potential real estate buyers how to make smart and safe purchase decisions. He is a San Diego State University Lecturer, blogs at Zillow.com, and loves kicking the tires of a good piece of dirt! More at ProfessorBaron.com.

Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.

Source: zillow.com

The Best Places to Live in Wyoming in 2021

Wyoming became an official state in the United States in 1890. Since then, this gem of America, with its roving bison herds, gorgeous mountains and sweeping plains and plenty of rodeos, keeps the spirit of the West alive.

The best places to live in Wyoming immerse you in all the benefits of the Cowboy State.

The state of Wyoming boasts a strong academic record, an economy with a mineral and tourism focus and one of the lowest costs of living in the country. The average price of rent in Wyoming is less than the national average. Plus, Wyoming has no state income tax — so money stretches further.

When you choose to live in one of the best cities in Wyoming, you decide to begin a brand-new adventure in one of America’s natural beauties. Take your pick from the following:

Casper, WY.

Casper first appeared on the map thanks to Fort Caspar, a stop on the Oregon Trail, the Wyoming Central Railway and an oil boom. Now “Oil City” is Wyoming’s second-largest city with a thriving rental market.

Casper provides ample education opportunities, with more than 25 schools and Casper College serving the area.

Natural beauty and outdoor activities abound in Casper. The city continually appears on lists as a top place for fishing in the country; its North Platte river provides plenty of angling opportunities and gorgeous scenery for canoeing excursions.

Plus, historic downtown hosts various shops, a historic walking tour and delicious restaurants and cafes to enjoy here.

Cheyenne, WY, one of the best places to live in wyoming

Known as the “Magic City of the Plains,” Cheyenne serves as the capital of Wyoming. The Old West-inspired city is famous for producing the likes of country music legend Chris LeDoux and hosting the world’s largest outdoor rodeo, Cheyenne Frontier Days.

For a capital city, Cheyenne’s rental market is remarkably affordable, with the average three-bedroom apartment running under $1,100 a month.

The city itself has grown into a family-friendly place. The Cheyenne Botanic Gardens and Paul Smith Children’s Village, along with movie theaters, museums and city parks, provide plenty of activities year-round for little ones.

Plus, living in Cheyenne puts residents a short drive to Vedauwoo Recreation Area and Granite Springs Reservoir Campgrounds, beautiful hiking and fishing areas for those who want to escape.

evanston wy

Source: Rent.com / Classic Lodge Apartments

Standing at 6,800 feet with 300 days of sunshine a year, Evanston is an ideal spot for sun worshippers. Plus, the Bear River flows right through this spirited small town set near the Uinta Mountains, creating a beautiful backdrop.

Locals enjoy wandering the vibrant downtown district or golfing at the Purple Sage Golf Course during the summer months. Hunting, fishing and hiking flourish in the area, with Bear River State Park just a stone’s throw from the town.

Winter provides plenty of opportunities for skiing and snow-shoeing, ice-fishing, dog-sled races, parades and holiday celebrations.

Evanston’s recreation center, parks and public schools make the town an excellent choice for families who like to stay busy year-round.

Gillette, WY, one of the best places to live in wyoming

Gillette is the “Energy Capital of the Nation” due to its minerals and fuel production, but there is more to this city than mining. Adventurers and families thrive in Gillette, which serves as a base for travel to Devil’s Tower, Yellowstone and Mount Rushmore.

Campbell County Parks and Recreation provides the city with everything from team sports and an annual dodgeball tournament to swimming and rock-climbing lessons.

The community works hard to provide a rich social life for everyone. Local organizations put on year-round events like the Festival of Lights and the 4th of July celebrations.

Families arriving in Gillette will find excellent schools, a local community college and plenty of kid-friendly activities.

Adventurers and explorers will discover myriad getaway opportunities, fly fishing expeditions and unique sites to visit in this diverse and growing city.

Gillette, WY.

Jackson has become the Hollywood of Wyoming. The city is home to many celebrities, from Kanye West to Harrison Ford, and it’s no wonder why. Jackson, also known as Jackson Hole, boasts one of America’s best ski-resorts — Jackson Hole Mountain Resort — and some of the best scenery Wyoming has to offer.

Nestled in the Tetons, within the Bridger-Teton National Forest and National Elk Refuge, Jackson offers a sea of trees and mountainous views unlike any other.

The economy grows every year in Jackson, thanks to its diverse tourism market and thriving town culture.

The Snow King Mountain Resort provides adventure galore with an alpine coaster, adventure park and an ice-climbing park to satiate any fun-seeking resident. At the same time, the town itself boasts plenty of spas, cafes and delicious restaurants for a relaxing evening.

Lander, WY, one of the best places to live in wyoming

Lander brings the best of rural and city living together within the Absaroka Mountains. This little town comes with a whole lot of fun for the residents of gorgeous Wind River Country.

Renowned for the rock climbing and national parks nearby, Lander is the outdoor enthusiast’s best friend.

The Wind River Casino, Lander Brewfest and International Climbers’ Festival bring plenty of entertainment for the young adult crowd.

History and culture lovers enjoy traveling along the California and Oregon Trail, visiting ghost towns, panning for gold and attending Native American powwows while thoroughly enjoying the Lander cultural experience.

Lander, WY.

Home to the University of Wyoming, Laramie may just be the smallest state university town in America. Football, family and fun are a major part of Laramie’s community, with the whole town often closing down to watch the Border War game against Colorado State University — the University of Wyoming’s biggest rival.

But this college town isn’t just for co-eds. Albany County School District serves the younger students of Laramie, while its recreation center, Snowy Range ski area and nearby Medicine Bow National Forest provide plenty of indoor and outdoor fun for everyone.

Rock Springs, WY, one of the best places to live in wyoming

Rock Springs came about much the same way as many Wyoming towns. The railroad and coal mining made this little town, and thanks to these industries — Rock Springs grew into a melting pot of diversity.

The Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes live nearby on the Wind River Indian Reservation, and descendants of railroaders still reside in the city today.

Living in Rock Springs won’t break the bank. A two-bedroom apartment costs less than $800 — well below the national average. Plus, living here puts you a hop, skip and jump away from some of America’s most interesting landmarks, including Killpecker Sand Dunes and the Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

Kayakers and hikers can travel along the Wind River Canyon for outdoor fun, while the Rock Springs Historical Museum offers plenty for indoor exploring.

Saratoga, WY.

Saratoga’s name comes from the Native American word “Sarachtoue,” which translates to “place of miraculous water in the rock.” It speaks to the rich array of hot springs in the area, including Hobo Hot Springs and the Saratoga Hot Springs Resort.

Meandering down Main Street in Saratoga brings the spirit of the Old West alive. The quintessential small town has gorgeous hiking and camping grounds and miles of running river a stone’s throw from town, comfortable and historic lodgings like Hotel Wolf and plenty of good hometown cooking and shopping.

Saratoga provides its residents with a small but devoted school district, a community pool and a community center for entertainment. The city also boasts prime fishing locations, with a large population of blue-ribbon trout swimming in Saratoga Lake and the North Platte River.

Sheridan, WY, one of the best places to live in wyoming

Lovingly called “Wyoming’s Jewel” by locals, Sheridan lies nestled in the forested northern reaches of Wyoming’s Bighorn Mountains. The city was once home to Buffalo Bill Cody, whose wild west show sparked imagination and adventure across America. His Sheridan Inn still stands today for travelers to enjoy.

Sheridan’s school district provides excellent education, while Sheridan Recreation District offers sports and activities for all ages.

The city itself houses several dude ranches where horse-loving, trail-riding travelers can explore and stay. Sheridan also cultivates a unique and busy cultural atmosphere, with festivals and events filling the calendar. Locals love the legendary Don King Days rodeo and the Antelope Butte Summer Festival.

Find your own best place to live in Wyoming

The state of Wyoming offers cities and towns ideal for adventurers, nature lovers and families, alike. Affordability, natural beauty and a statewide community come together to create amazing options for renters looking to move to Wyoming. Find the perfect place for you to live in Wyoming today.

Source: rent.com

Everything You Need for Your Kitchen & Nothing More

Kitchens. They’re amazing spaces. They can be visually stunning. They must be total workhorses. They’re quite often the heart of the home. But they can also accumulate a lot of CRAP.

As I work to not only design but also fully outfit the kitchen for the Hood Canal Cottage, I’m starting completely from scratch. No hand-me-down casserole dishes, no knives I’ve carted around since college, no random herb scissors that I’ve never ever used. For once, I get to hand-select every tool and every object that comes into the space.

With that total blank slate, I find myself often thinking (ok, obsessing) about what I want this kitchen to have. As an avid cook, as we probably all are coming through Covid, I want kitchen tools that are really pretty, but also highly functional. And nothing else.

This kitchen, designed by Our Food Stories out of a refurbished old schoolhouse in the middle of the German countryside, is a total mood. Featuring deVol kitchen cupboards, tiles, shelves, light fixtures, hardware and more. This kitchen is certainly a showcase for the many of the pieces on my list of must-have kitchen tools – and of course, it does so beautifully.

This space immediately transports you to an idyllic rural retreat. I imagine walking through overgrown gardens, picking fresh roses and making multi-course Sunday lunches here.

I love how this kitchen keeps so many key kitchen tools close at hand. While I might not be doing quite as many open shelves at Hood Canal, there is a lot to be said for having key tools within arms reach.

There’s nothing that drives me crazier than a poorly outfitted kitchen. But an overcrowded kitchen can be equally crazy-making. You have to strike that balance.

For me, the key kitchen tools I turn to time and again include one good set of pots and pans, a cast iron skillet, a good set of wooden spoons and spatulas, a top notch cutting board (or several) and then all those little tools that you need when you’re in the middle of pulling together a recipe – measuring cups, knives, peelers, strainers, graters, zesters – all the speciality things that let you add the finer components of a dish.

Those speciality tools are the kinds of things that far too many kitchens lack. Or they’re the big bulky OXOX ones you get at a grocery store that feel chunky in my hand and will just clog up my limited drawer space in the new kitchen. She gonna be cute, but she’s not going to be big.

As the weeks have progressed, I’ve been slowly but surely amassing my ultimate kitchen wish-list. Each kitchen tool, appliance, or serving piece needs to have a very critical purpose and look damn good while doing it.

I thought I’d share my wishlist with you. It’s certainly not comprehensive. As I cook every evening some other thing in my San Francisco kitchen makes me think oh yes, I have to find the beautiful version of this for Hood Canal. But all the extraneous stuff I have in my SF kitchen also makes me want to pull my hair out. I’m constantly digging for my one favorite knife or pan or bowl.

I hope you find something below you’ve been searching for. If you spot a key kitchen tool that I’m still missing, please tell me in comments! I consider my ultimate quest to outfit the ideal kitchen.

I’m also regularly adding favorites for the kitchen in the Apartment 34 SHOP so be sure to check it out too!

all images by Our Food Stories

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Source: apartment34.com

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!

Amazon and the Amazon logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc, or its affiliates.

Source: blog.apartminty.com

How to Save Money on Business Travel – 21 Ideas To Reduce Trip Costs

It doesn’t matter if you’re an executive at a large corporation or a small-business owner. It’s likely you sometimes have to travel for work.

Business travel is also becoming more common. According to Statista, worldwide business travel spending has more than doubled since 2000. While spending has recently declined due to the COVID-19 pandemic, traveling for work is still a reality for some and should eventually recover.

Business travel often involves international travel or significant domestic travel. Trade shows, conferences, networking events, and meeting new clients can require you to hop on a flight to do business in a new city or country. With airfare, hotel costs, transportation, and general travel expenses, costs rack up quickly.

If you want to save money on business travel, you’re in luck. There are numerous ways to reduce travel expenses beyond just booking economy.

Saving Money on Business Airfare

Of all business travel expenses, airfare is often the costliest. Booking flights in advance and sticking with economy are the two most straightforward ways to cut travel costs. But there are other ways to find cheap flights and reduce airfare costs.

1. Book Cheap & Discounted Flights

If you’re trying to save on business travel, booking flights early is the best way to find deals. Last-minute flights are usually expensive, and the more time you have to shop around, the better.

But that’s not the only trick you can use to find cheap flight options.

  • Book flights with layovers, provided the savings are worth the extra travel time.
  • Use airline search engines like Expedia, Travelocity, and CheapOair to find low-cost airfare.
  • Try alternate airports to your closest airport if they have lower prices.
  • Book directly through an airline carrier since some airlines don’t appear on airline search engines.
  • Take a red-eye (overnight) flight.

You can also take travel planning a step further and possibly score free flights or serious discounts. One popular strategy is to buy airline miles during a promotion, which is essentially buying a future flight at a discount. You can also earn airline miles without a credit card by opening a Bask Bank account or even participating in focus groups.

As long as you browse travel sites for deals and remain flexible, there’s no reason your next business flight should be full price.

2. Avoid Airline Fees

Finding cheap airline tickets is an effective way to reduce travel costs. However, if you aren’t careful, unnecessary airline fees can turn an otherwise frugal trip into a significant business expense.

The best way to avoid airline fees is to read the fine print carefully and stick with the right carrier. Some airlines, like Southwest and United, are generally lenient with checked bag fees and carry-on luggage, and you can sometimes avoid paying for these conveniences altogether.

If your airline charges for checked baggage, consider traveling light and just bringing a carry-on. If you need a suitcase to pack business attire, use a luggage scale to weigh your bag at home to avoid paying for overweight baggage.

Finally, resist paying for airline fees like early boarding or picking your seat if you aren’t picky about getting the aisle or window seat. These sound like luxuries, but these expenses add up quickly and don’t necessarily improve the quality of your flight.

3. Skip Airport Parking

Another common airport travel expense is parking. If you’re traveling for a week or longer, the daily cost of airport parking adds up. For example, at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, 24 hours of parking is $18 in the economy lot, meaning seven days of parking is an additional $126.

Thankfully, you can avoid parking fees entirely. One method is to take an Uber or Lyft to the airport. Alternatively, having a co-worker or family member drop you off is your next best bet. Public transportation is also worth the extra time if it saves you from expensive daily parking fees.

4. Book Through Rewards Websites

Booking your flight and hotel through a rewards website helps you save money on vacation and personal trips. But the right website can also cut business travel expenses.

Rakuten lets you earn cash back for shopping at thousands of partners. Creating an account is free, and once you shop at an eligible partner, you earn cash back in your account. You get paid quarterly as long as your account has $5, which is easy to do if you score cash back on a flight or hotel stay.

Rakuten has numerous travel partners, including:

  • Travelocity
  • CheapOair
  • OneTravel
  • Cheapair
  • Orbitz
  • Priceline
  • Holiday Inn
  • Extended Stay America
  • Hotels.com

Rakuten also has non-travel partners you can use to save even more money. For example, it lets you earn up to 5% cash back at thousands of restaurants, which helps you save if you eat out or take clients out for meals. Additionally, Rakuten partners with office supply companies, print shops, and electronics retailers, so you can save on a variety of business-related expenses.

It might seem strange to use a rewards website for business expenses. But if you’re trying to cut costs, every bit of savings counts.

Read our Rakuten review for more information.

5. Always Use a Travel Rewards Credit Card

If you’re a frequent business traveler, you need a travel rewards credit card. Typically, these cards let you earn points for travel-related expenses like flights and in-flight purchases alongside everyday spending.

You can often redeem points for discounted flights and even free airfare if you stack enough points. Plus, many travel rewards credit cards offer additional perks like hotel discounts, priority boarding, and airport lounge access.

Popular travel rewards credit cards include:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve Card: Earn a $750 travel bonus for spending $4,000 in your first three months; $300 annual travel credit; triple points on travel and dining; perks like lost luggage and trip cancellation coverage; $550 annual fee
  • American Express Platinum Card: Earn a $750 bonus for spending $5,000 in your first three months; $200 annual airline fee credit; quintuple points on flights and prepaid hotels; $200 annual savings on Uber rides and food delivery; various hotel upgrades and discounts; $550 annual fee
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred Card: Earn a $750 travel bonus for spending $4,000 in your first three months; double points on travel and dining; quintuple points on Lyft rides; perks like lost luggage and trip cancellation coverage; $95 annual fee

There are other travel credit card options, including lucrative cash-back credit cards. If you’re a business owner, you can also look at small-business credit cards like the Chase Ink Business Preferred credit card. This card has numerous travel perks and an impressive $1,250 account opening bonus if you spend at least $15,000 within the first three months of becoming a cardholder.

Ideally, your credit card should offer enough travel perks and other rewards to help you save money even with the annual fee.


Saving Money on Accommodations

Finding a pleasant hotel or rental can help foster a successful business trip. Ideally, the location is close to clients or any event you need to attend and has ample access to restaurants for client meetings. Ultimately, you want to strike a balance among comfort, convenience, and affordability.

That can be difficult to get right. The worst-case scenario is that employee performance suffers because of location or simply being too cheap when booking. On the flip side, always sticking with 5-star luxury suites isn’t cost-effective.

As with airfare, there are several tips you can use to reduce how much you spend on accommodations.

6. Negotiate With Hotels

As an independent traveler, calling a hotel and negotiating room prices isn’t always feasible. But business travelers have a slight advantage, especially when traveling in larger groups.

Hotel chains want to incentivize visits from business travelers because it’s reliable, repeat business. If you’re heading out of town for a conference or meeting, take time to call nearby hotels to see what they can offer.

If it’s a frequent trip and you plan to return regularly, let the hotel know. You might find the manager is willing to drop your room price or at least give a free upgrade to keep you happy.

7. Try Dosh Travel

Dosh is a popular cash-back reward app that pays you for shopping at hundreds of partners. Once you link a credit or debit card to Dosh, you automatically earn for shopping at eligible retailers. That’s different from apps like Ibotta that require you to preselect offers before shopping.

Dosh works with dozens of companies, including:

  • Walmart
  • Pizza Hut
  • Sephora
  • Macy’s
  • Uber
  • Old Navy

Currently, you can earn with Dosh at over 100,000 stores across the United States. However, Dosh is also a way to save money on your next business trip.

With Dosh Travel, you can earn up to 40% cash back for booking a hotel through the app. Dosh works with more than 600,000 hotels globally, so there’s no shortage of choice.

You need at least $25 to withdraw your balance, but a single hotel stay can easily earn this amount. Additionally, Dosh partners with local restaurants and Uber Eats, so you can save money taking clients out and feeding your employees. With partners like Walmart and Office Depot, you can also earn cash back for buying office supplies, which can help you reach $25 faster.

Read our Dosh app review to learn more.

8. Consider Airbnb

If your company is traveling with multiple employees, it’s likely everyone needs their own room. Ultimately, that means a substantial hotel bill, even if you negotiate prices or find a deal.

Before you spend thousands of dollars on multiple hotel rooms, search Airbnb’s business accommodations. The platform has grown beyond vacation rentals, and you can find top-rated homes and boutique hotels that also have collaborative workspaces. Plus, Airbnb listings also mention nearby activities and attractions you can use for team building.

Airbnb isn’t always cheaper than hotels, but large groups are likely to save money. Even when you factor in cleaning charges and service fees, Airbnb has some remarkably low nightly prices. Plus, you can negotiate with hosts to get a lower price, and your amenities are likely better than a single hotel room.

If you want to save money and increase your comfort, using Airbnb for your next business trip is certainly worth it.


Saving Money on Food

It’s standard practice for employers to pay for employee meals during business trips. And taking clients and potential customers out for food and drinks is common during business travel. But expenses like client dinners and catering for your team add up quickly unless you implement some money-saving tips for food costs.

9. Schedule Breakfast & Lunchtime Meetings

The practice of wining and dining exists for good reason. For existing relationships, taking clients out shows them you appreciate their business. Similarly, taking a prospect out for food and drinks helps establish a more personal relationship and lets you discuss business in a less formal environment.

However, dinner is almost always more expensive than breakfast or lunch. If you treat a client to a nice dinner with a main course and drinks, you could easily spend $100 or more for the meal, depending on where you go and how many diners you have.

For example, at Scarpetta, a popular Italian restaurant in New York City, most dinner entrees range from $30 to $45. If you add two drinks and an appetizer, that’s another $50 or so for your bill. With an 18% tip, you’re paying around $140 for dinner for just you and one client. When you multiply that by several dinners over a business trip, expenses rack up quickly.

To save money on client meals, schedule breakfast or lunch meetings instead. The brunch menu at Scarpetta, which runs until 3pm, is noticeably cheaper than the dinner menu, with most entrees costing $18. Even with drinks, brunch or lunchtime dining likely brings your bill down to around $80, saving you over 40% on your meal with a client.

For breakfast, you can also find trendy restaurants and cafes suitable for client meetings, like La Parisienne, where a breakfast meeting for two costs around $40 to $50.

You don’t have to go to fast-food restaurants to save money on taking clients out. Instead, research several restaurants with affordable lunch and breakfast menus in the city you’re traveling to so you have some options.

10. Use Corporate Meal-Delivery Services

You may also need to feed your team on business trips. For that, you can save even more using corporate food-delivery services instead of catering companies, time-consuming reimbursement, or cash per-diem allowances.

For example, if you’re running a team event, try using DoorDash for Work to order everyone’s food. Perks of DoorDash for Work include:

  • No delivery fees
  • Lower service fees
  • Easy-to-create group orders
  • Spending limits and reimbursement options to let employees expense their meals

Uber Eats also has a corporate option that lets team members place group orders. As an employer, you can create rules like stipends and hours during which you cover employees’ expenses.

11. Scout Ahead for Cheap Food Joints

Often, if you book accommodations in a city’s downtown business district, you’ll find yourself surrounded by expensive restaurants and bars. But if you’re a mile or more out of downtown, you can probably find cheaper restaurants that are still suitable for client meetings and employee dining.

When booking accommodations, scout the area for affordable restaurants and nearby grocery stores. You should also search for quick and cheap restaurants or even food trucks that are nearby. That’s especially handy if you’re attending trade shows or events and only have time for a quick bite during a lull in the day.

12. Book Cooking-Friendly Accommodations

You don’t need a hotel with a complete kitchen for business travel. But having a microwave and small stovetop means you and your employees can cook some meals rather than relying on hotel food services and eating out constantly (a boon for those on special diets or with food allergies or restrictions).

The savings can add up quickly. For example, if you book a room with a stovetop, you can make a quick breakfast of eggs and toast rather than eating out each morning. That means you’re spending $1 to $2 at most for breakfast instead of $10 to $20 going out. However, if the cost of the room is significantly more expensive than a room without a kitchen, the savings likely aren’t worth it, so consider how impactful potential food savings is when booking accommodations.

For long business trips, companies like Extended Stay America have rooms with a full kitchen and let you save up to 31% on nightly rates if you book for 30 nights or longer. Booking an Airbnb is also ideal for saving on food since you typically have access to a full kitchen.


Saving Money on Transportation

While transportation usually doesn’t cost as much as airfare or accommodations, getting around a new city can still be a significant business travel expense. If you want to cut costs, there are several tricks you can try.

13. Use Rideshare Apps

As a business traveler, your first instinct might be to use an airport car rental service or even a higher-end rental company like Silvercar. However, when you consider car rental upsells and various hidden fees, it can be challenging to find a cheap car rental option.

Plus, if your trip consists of meetings and conferences, you won’t spend much time behind the wheel, making your rental car a near waste. In that case, you’re better off using rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft to travel.

Uber and Lyft also simplify corporate travel budgeting. For example, companies can set travel stipends and track ride history to ensure employees are only expensing business rides rather than personal.

If you’re responsible for approving reimbursement requests, you can quickly check the time, pickup, and drop-off location of every ride an employee expenses. If a ride seems like it wasn’t for business purposes, ask for clarification so your company doesn’t accidentally pay or attempt to take a tax deduction for personal employee expenses.

14. Book Accommodations in the Right Location

In an ideal world, you can skip renting a car or using rideshare apps altogether by booking accommodations within walking distance to wherever you need to go for your business trip.

If you’re attending a trade show or conference, check to see if they have arrangements with nearby hotels to offer special prices for attendees. Alternatively, book your own accommodations within walking distance. Even if you pay slightly more per night, the savings on a rental car or rideshare apps is probably worth it.

15. Save Money on Gas

For some business trips, renting a car or driving your own vehicle is more economical than taking a flight or using rideshare apps. But if you’re driving, anything you can do to save money on gas helps make your trip cheaper.

For starters, use a gas credit card to earn rewards for refueling. Popular gas credit cards include:

  • CitiBusiness AAdvantage Platinum Select Mastercard: Earn 65,000 bonus miles for spending $4,000 within your first four months; earn 2 AAdvantage miles for every $1 you spend at gas stations and car rental companies; earn unlimited 1 mile per $1 you spend on other categories; $99 annual fee that’s waived for your first year
  • Costco Anywhere Visa Card by Citi: Earn 4% cash back on gas for the first $7,000 per year and then 1% thereafter; 3% cash back on restaurants and travel purchases; 2% cash back on Costco and Costco.com purchases; 1 cash back everywhere else; no annual fee
  • Wells Fargo Propel American Express Card: Earn a $200 bonus for spending $1,000 in your first three months; earn unlimited 3% cash back on gas, restaurants, rideshares, transit, flights, hotels, and car rentals; earn 1% cash back everywhere else; no annual fee

To complement your gas credit card, use apps that help you find cheap gas stations, like GasBuddy. With GasBuddy, you can also get up to $0.25 off per gallon by signing up for Pay With GasBuddy, a free fuel rewards card you use like a debit card to pay at the pump and save.

Finally, when driving, use an app like Waze to avoid traffic and find the most efficient route possible. That’s especially important in an unfamiliar city where you don’t know your way around very well. Driving more efficiently helps reduce fuel consumption, ultimately saving more money.

It’s essential to conduct a cost-benefit analysis of driving versus flying and using rideshare apps or a rental car. But if the savings point toward driving, there’s no reason to pay full price at the pump.


Other Tips to Save on Business Travel

If you can cut down on airfare, accommodation, and transportation costs, you’re already on track to keep business travel more affordable. But there are other tips you can use to save money and keep trip planning simple.

16. Have a Trip-Approval Process

If you want to cut business costs, you need to understand your annual expenses to identify areas of wasteful spending. Therefore, every business budget should have a designated portion for business travel expenses and an approval process for trips.

You don’t need an extensive corporate travel policy to take a client out for lunch or drive across town for a meeting. But for out-of-town trips, it’s worth getting management involved. Ideally, employees should submit a trip summary that includes:

  • The purpose and length of a trip
  • The employees who are attending
  • A rough estimate of cost

The summary should then pass to human resources or management for approval.

While this might seem redundant, this process is useful for tracking costs and whether trips result in business development. Plus, as a business owner, you might find that you can skip certain trips or involve fewer employees after reviewing the details more closely.

17. Create a Travel Stipend

A trip approval process helps an organization budget for business travel expenses and forces teams to put more thought into deciding to travel in the first place.

But your business travel policy should also outline a daily employee stipend.

Creating a travel stipend for business travel benefits everyone. For employers, a travel stipend makes budgeting simpler. For employees, a stipend helps clarify limits and ensures there aren’t any awkward post-trip conversations about expensive restaurant or bar tabs.

You should also decide on a reimbursement method. One option is to open a business credit card for traveling employees. For example, Ramp lets you create unlimited virtual and physical cards for employees and pays 1.5% cash back. Plus, there’s no annual fee, and Ramp also collects and stores receipts automatically to help track spending.

Alternatively, you can let your employees spend with their own cards and submit expenses for reimbursement. However, ensure your employees know they need to provide receipts.

But weigh the pros and cons of leaving it in your employees’ hands. Making employees pay for expenses means they have to front significant costs like hotels and flights. That could put employees having financial issues in a tight spot they’d rather not discuss with their employer. And it also means they get to leverage their own credit card rewards that otherwise would have gone to the business.

18. Look for a Corporate Travel Agency

If you’re booking a simple business trip, working with a travel agency probably isn’t worth it. Travel agents used to be incredibly helpful because they could find exclusive deals and would book your trip for you. These days, booking travel plans online is straightforward, and you can find travel deals with a few searches.

But if you’re planning a complicated business trip with multiple employees and hotel bookings, a corporate travel agency could be worth it. Agencies charge a fee to ensure a smooth journey, but it could pay for itself if it prevents one of your employees from taking time out of their day to plan an entire trip.

19. Always Keep Receipts

Another simple way to save on business travel is to keep receipts for tax season. There are numerous tax deductions for self-employed individuals and small-business owners, but you need to track expenses to claim them accurately.

Business travel expenses are also deductible. Examples of deductible expenses include:

  • Travel by train, airplane, bus, or car between your home and business destination
  • Shipping baggage or business products to other work locations
  • Using your car for business purposes
  • Accommodations and business-related meals
  • Tolls, parking fees, and rental car usage for business purposes
  • Dry cleaning
  • Taxis and shuttle services

Keeping paper receipts is one way to track your spending. Alternatively, personal finance apps like MoneyPatrol let you save receipts on your smartphone to ensure you’re ready for tax season.

20. Plan Ahead

If you leave trip planning until the last minute, it’s almost impossible to find low prices or deals. That means paying more for flights, hotels, and transportation. Plus, feeling rushed is a surefire way to have a worse trip and potentially forget a critical part of planning.

Give your organization more time to plan trips whenever possible. Ideally, your company should have a calendar of upcoming trips throughout the year to help budget and plan business travel.

That responsibility can fall to department heads or relevant employees, but it needs to be prioritized if employees regularly travel for work.

21. Prioritize Impactful Savings

One of the worst ways to reduce business travel spending is to save money in a way that hurts your business’s image. For example, if you take a client out for lunch, choose a decent restaurant instead of a fast-food joint and cover the bill.

Similarly, there’s little point in nickel-and-diming your way toward a cheaper travel budget. If you spend hours agonizing over rental car prices to save $15, that’s hardly worth your time as an employee.

Ultimately, you should focus on efficient trip planning and tackling major expenses. Find cheap airfare and accommodations, consider sending fewer employees on trips, and always maximize rewards with the right business credit card.


Final Word

Business travel can be a significant expense. But as long as you plan and budget accordingly, there’s no reason for business trips to hurt your bottom line. In fact, business trips are an excellent way to increase business revenue if they create new opportunities.

Just remember to factor upcoming trips into your annual budget and create a trip-approval process and travel stipend. You can also conduct a yearly business checkup to review whether business travel costs have paid for themselves with new opportunities.

Source: moneycrashers.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