‘Home Town’ Reveals One Thing in Your House That You’ll Regret Tossing

home townHGTV

“Home Town” stars Erin and Ben Napier know that there’s a fine line between classic and dated, so they need to be careful when it comes to their latest renovation.

In the episode “Big Apple to Little Catfish,” Erin and Ben meet with Susan and Seth, who have moved from a tiny New York City apartment to a big old house in Laurel, MS. The couple love the classic Cape Cod style of their house, and they want to keep its old-fashioned charm. Still, Erin and Ben know they need to make some important updates with their $140,000 budget.

Read on to find out how Erin and Ben update the house without taking away from its classic style, which might inspire some upgrades around your own abode, too.

Use limewash instead of paint to keep the character of brick

house
This home has a beautifully classic look, but Seth and Susan don’t like the dark brick.

HGTV

When Seth and Susan first see this old, brick-covered house, they aren’t impressed. Seth says he never pictured himself living in a brick house, and Susan says it seems a little dark from the outside.

So Erin and Ben decide to limewash the house, which, she explains, is not the same as painting it.

house
A limewash helps make this home look brighter.

HGTV

“Limewash is movable for about 48 hours,” Erin says. “So you have the opportunity to distress it, to rub it off. It’s really pliable.”

The team has the opportunity to show some of the brick through the limewash, giving the house back some texture.

When the limewash is finally set, the house looks great. The spots of exposed brick give the house an aged look. Now, Seth and Susan can hide the dark brick without losing its character.

You don’t need to demo a wall to bring in more light

staircase
Erin and Ben Napier couldn’t open up a wall to give this staircase more natural light.

HGTV

Inside, this old house is closed off and dark, so Erin and Ben get to work opening up some walls to let in natural light. However, there’s one dark area that can’t be opened up: the staircase.

So Erin comes up with the idea to fill the space with mirrors. She buys a bunch of old mirrors from an antiques store, knowing the classic gold frames will go with this home’s elegant style.

mirrors
These mirrors brighten up the space.

HGTV

When she finally puts the mirrors on the wall, they look great. The mirrors themselves are classically beautiful, and the light they reflect gives the staircase a more open feel.

“I love it because it reflects light, and it makes this darker area feel brighter, almost like you have all these windows,” Erin says.

Don’t toss your wainscoting!

dining room
Erin and Ben were determined to keep this millwork in the dining room.

HGTV

Erin and Ben are delighted to see some old wainscoting in the dining room, but when they widen the doorway to the kitchen, they realize that this old paneling will need to be removed or shifted.

While simply removing the paneling would have been easier, they definitely don’t want to ditch this old wainscoting. Why? Because it adds character to the room.

So they start the painstaking task of taking each panel off, and moving the pieces over so they’ll fit in the new space.

wainscoting
With some dark paint and new wallpaper, this dining room is back to its former glory.

HGTV

“We could have taken off that paneling. We could have popped it off, trashed it, and then just painted out however we wished,” Erin explains. “But it was beautiful and it made a lot of sense for that dining room to have the formal little moment of millwork.”

When the panel shifting is finished, Erin chooses some new paint and wallpaper, which highlight the elegant wainscoting. The room is now filled with classic charm, and it’s clear that these panels were worth the trouble.

A kitchen can have both a modern look and classic style

kitchen
This kitchen was small and dated.

HGTV

While Erin works hard to keep this home’s classic look, there’s one room that she’s eager to modernize: the kitchen. The original kitchen is small and dark, so Erin and Ben want to give it a 21st-century update. One way they do that is with a new quartz countertop. The countertops Erin chooses have gray veining with just a hint of gold. It’s so beautiful and elegant that Erin decides to use the same material on the backsplash.

kitchen
This kitchen has all the modern comforts and a classic style.

HGTV

“The veining is so much more defined,” Erin says of the quartz. “And once it’s on the backsplash, it’s going to look like abstract art.”

Of course abstract art may not go with the style of this old home, but when this modern kitchen is finished, it has a timeless look. The white materials and wood hood vent give this space an old-fashioned look that Seth and Susan love.

Wallpaper can look modern in the right color

bedroom
This wallpaper was too dated to keep.

HGTV

Upstairs in the master bedroom, Erin and Ben want to continue with the classic theme, so while they remove the original wallpaper, they replace it with a similar look.

“Seth and Susan have bought a house that’s pretty formal, but also it’s very dated,” Erin explains. “I’m paying homage to some of the things that were original to the house, like trim and wallpaper, but not the colorful and crazy wallpaper that was there. It’s a more modern take.”

The new wallpaper is a little simpler and a little darker. It still has that classic look, but in a more modern style. To finish the room, Ben helps build an elegant wooden bed that fits the era of this home.

bedroom
Erin and Ben decide to put this wallpaper on only one wall for a more modern look.

HGTV

The post ‘Home Town’ Reveals One Thing in Your House That You’ll Regret Tossing appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

6 Ways to Summer-Proof Your Home

Not only are we living through a global pandemic, but we’re also living through what is one of the hottest summers in many states. Here’s how you can protect your home from the summer heat and other woes you may face this season.

The post 6 Ways to Summer-Proof Your Home appeared first on Homes.com.

Source: homes.com

What to do with Your Basement

Is your basement currently the deep, dark abyss where holiday decorations and outdated furniture get lost? It doesn’t have to be! Just because it is the bottom level of the house doesn’t mean you can’t make it a top priority on your home improvement to-do list. If you’re looking for a little inspiration on what to do with it, we have a few ideas.

For the Sports Lover
Transform your cold, dark digs into a space all sports fan could only dream of. Essentials you’ll need for the ultimate basement transformation may include big screen TV’s, a pool table, comfortable recliners, sports memorabilia and your own personal mini fridge. Your space will turn into a game day oasis for friends and family.

For the Athlete
Two words: personal gym. Save yourself time and money on those pesky gym memberships and build your very own dream fitness center. No longer will you have dart for the only open treadmill during primetime hours or worry if the person before you cleaned the machines. By purchasing your favorite pieces of equipment that will last, you can save yourself almost $2,000 each year on fees.

For the Entertainer
Do you find your family constantly hosting for holidays or celebrations? Wow them with an at-home bar, built by you. Stock the shelves with your favorite beverages, snag some awesome bar stools and let the fun begin! It’s the perfect place to direct everyone for an after dinner cocktail and some conversation. Just remember the rule of thumb, if you’re opting to build your own bar the average bar height is 42 inches to ensure that adults of all sizes can sit comfortably.

For the Artist
Always dreamed of having your own space to freely create masterpieces? Now is the time! Turn up the heat of your once cold and isolated basement with the warm hues of paints, pencils, and clays. Pick up some easels, fill the walls with things that inspire you and voila! Just keep in mind that because you’ll be in the basement with little light, choose a bulb with a CRI of 80 to 100 to reveal vibrant, natural hues.

For the Bookworm
You typically only see it on TV, but some homes do have beautiful built-in libraries. Build out shelving all around your basement, fill it with your favorite stories and cozy up on your favorite vintage chair to unwind from life with a good book. Are you making your own shelves? Cherry wood has a rich and warm red color that deepens over time, making it a perfect selection for shelving meant to be seen. Fellow book lovers might envy what you’ve done with your basement, and may even want to come browse your selections!

Don’t let your basement go unnoticed. Say goodbye to those stored away boxes and bags and hello to your new favorite place in the house. Have another idea? Share it in the comments below for other readers to get inspired by!

The post What to do with Your Basement first appeared on Century 21®.

Source: century21.com

How to Buy a Second Home that Pays for Itself

Recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that home sales were up more than 17% in June 2020 from the month before, and up more than 13% compared to the year prior. Those who have the means to buy a second home are wise to take on mortgage debt (or reorganize their current debt) in today’s low interest environment.

With low 30-year mortgage rates, owning a rental property that “pays for itself” through monthly rental income is especially lucrative with a significantly lower mortgage payment. If you’re curious about buying a second home and renting it out, keep reading to find out about the major issues you should be aware of, the hidden costs of becoming a landlord, and more. 

Important Factors When Buying a Short-Term Rental

The issues involved in buying a rental home varies dramatically depending on where you plan to purchase. After all, buying a ski lodge in an area with seasonal tourism and attractions might require different considerations than buying a home in a major metropolitan area where tourists visit all year long.

But there are some factors every potential landlord should consider regardless of location. Here are a few of the most important considerations:

  • Location. Consumers rent vacation homes almost anywhere, but you’ll want to make sure you’re looking at homes in an area where short-term rentals are popular and viable. You can do some basic research on AirDNA.co, a short-term rental data and analytics service, or check competing rentals in the area you’re considering.
  • Property Management Fees. If you plan to use a property management company to manage your short-term rental instead of managing it yourself, you should find out how much other owners pay for management. Also, compare listing fees for your second home with a platform like Airbnb or VRBO.
  • Taxes. Property taxes can be higher on second homes since you don’t qualify for a homestead exemption. This means higher fixed costs each month, which could make it more difficult to cover your mortgage with rental income.
  • Competition. Check whether a rental area you’re considering is full of competing rentals that are never full. You can find this information on VRBO or Airbnb by looking at various rentals and checking their booking calendars.
  • Potential Rental Fees. Check rental sites to see how much you might be able to charge for your second home on a nightly, weekly, or monthly basis. 

5 Steps to Rent Your Second Home

Before purchasing a second home, take time to run different scenarios using realistic numbers based on the rental market you’re targeting. From there, the following steps can guide you through preparing your property for the short-term rental market.

1. Research the Market

First, you’ll want to have a general understanding of the rental market you’re entering. How much does the average short-term rental go for each night or each week? What is the average vacancy rate for rentals on an annual basis? 

Research your local rental market, the average price of rentals in your area, various features offered by competing rentals, and more.

Action Item: Dig into these figures by using AirDNA.co. Just enter a zip code or town, and you’ll find out the average nightly rate, occupancy rate, revenue, and more. Although some of the site’s features require a monthly subscription, you can find out basic information about your rental market for free.

2. Know Your Numbers

You need to know an array of real numbers before renting your second home, including the following:

  • Average nightly rate
  • Average occupancy rate
  • Fixed costs, such as your mortgage payment, taxes, and insurance for the rental
  • Property management fees and costs for cleaning between tenants
  • Additional fixed costs for things like trash pickup, internet access, and cable television
  • Costs for marketing your space on a platform like VRBO or Airbnb, which could be a flat fee or 3% of your rental fee depending on the platform

You’ll use these numbers to figure out the average monthly operating cost for your second home, and the potential income you might be able to bring in. Without running these numbers first, you wind up in a situation where your short-term rental doesn’t pay for itself, and where you’re having to supplement operating expenses every month. 

Action Item: Gather every cost involved in operating your specific short-term rental, and then tally everything up with monthly and annual figures that you can plan for.

3. Buy the Right Insurance

If you plan on using your second home as a short-term rental, you’ll need to buy vacation rental insurance. This type of homeowners insurance is different from the type you’d buy for your primary residence. It’s even unique from landlord insurance coverage since you need to have insurance in place for your second home and its contents.

Some vacation rental policies let you pay per use, and they provide the benefits of homeowners insurance (like property coverage, liability, and more) plus special protection when your property is rented to a third party. 

Action Item: Shop around for a homeowners insurance plan that’s geared specifically to vacation rentals. See our top picks for the best homeowners insurance companies out there.

4. Create a Property Management Plan

If you live near your second home, you might want to manage it yourself. There’s nothing wrong with this option, but you should plan on receiving calls and dealing with problems at all hours of the day. 

Many short-term rental owners pay a property management company to communicate with their tenants, manage each rental period, and handle any issues that pop up. Property managers can also set up cleanings between each rental and help with marketing your property. 

Action Item: Create a property management plan and account for any costs. Most property managers charge 25% to 30% of the rental cost on an ongoing basis, so you can’t ignore this component of owning a short-term rental. 

5. Market Your Space

Make sure you appropriately market your space, which typically means paying for professional photos and creating an accurate, inviting listing on your chosen platforms. Your property manager might help you create a marketing plan for your vacation rental, but you can DIY this component of your side business if you’re tech- and media-savvy. 

Action Item: Hire a photographer to take professional photos of your rental, and craft your rental description and listing. 

Risks of Purchasing a Short-Term Rental

Becoming a landlord isn’t for the faint of heart. There’s plenty that can go wrong, but here are the main risks to plan for:

  • Government roadblocks. In destinations from New York City to Barcelona, government officials have been cracking down on short-term rentals and trying to limit their ability to operate. New rules could make running your business more costly, difficult, or even impossible. 
  • Your home could be damaged beyond repair. If you read the Airbnb message boards and other landlord forums, you’ll find an endless supply of nightmare rental stories of houses getting trashed and rentals enduring thousands of dollars in damage. 
  • Housing market crash. If the housing market crashes again like it did in 2008, you might find you owe more than your second home is worth at a time when it’s increasingly difficult to find renters. 
  • Reliance on tourism. As we’ve seen during the pandemic, circumstances beyond our control can bring travel and tourism to a screeching halt. Since short-term rentals typically rely on tourism to stay afloat, decreases in travel can affect the viability of your business, quickly.
  • High ongoing costs and fees. Higher property taxes, property management fees, cleaning fees and maintenance costs can make operating a short-term rental costly in the long-term. If you don’t account for all costs and fees involved, you might wind up losing money on your vacation home instead of having the property “pay for itself”.

The Bottom Line

A short-term rental can be a viable business opportunity, depending on where you want to buy and the specifics of the local rental market. But there are a lot of factors to consider before taking the leap. 

Before investing hundreds of thousands of dollars, think over all of the potential costs and risks involved. You’ll want to ensure that you’ve done comprehensive research and have run the numbers for every possible scenario to make an informed decision.

The post How to Buy a Second Home that Pays for Itself appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.

Source: goodfinancialcents.com

How To Grow Microgreens at Home for Fresh Sprouts All Winter Long

how to grow microgreensViktoriia Hnatiuk / Getty Images

That verdant, tangled nest atop your avocado toast looks adorable and tastes like springtime itself. But if you think the only way to satisfy your yummy microgreen fix is to hit up the local hipster cafe or via delivery, guess again.

Growing your own tiny shoots at home doesn’t require a green thumb at all. In fact, this gardening project is as fast and easy as it gets. Microgreens need very little space and maintenance, and can be harvested in less than two weeks.

And if you’re trying to start off 2021 on the right foot with a healthier eating plan, microgreens are a nutritional powerhouse.

“Many of these plants are four to six times higher in vitamins and antioxidants than the same fully grown plants,” says Susan Brandt, master gardener and president of Blooming Secrets.

Read on for more about how to grow microgreens, including the tools to gather and kits to make it easy Here’s to fresh sprouts all year long!

What are microgreens?

Photo by Urban Farming Concepts 

Microgreens are tiny edible seedlings produced from vegetables and herbs. Basically they’re what happens if you let a sprouted seed grow a little bit but not completely mature, says Brandt.

“These young greens reach about 1 to 3 inches in height and are classified as baby plants, which means they’re bigger than a sprout but smaller than a baby green,” adds Oscar Ortega, maintenance care manager at FormLA Landscaping.

As for which types you can try at home, the menu is vast and depends only on the flavors you prefer. For starters, consider radish, broccoli, arugula, Swiss chard, spinach, amaranth, sunflower, and various lettuces like endive, mizuna, mustard greens, and chicory.

There’s no end in ways to incorporate these tiny sprouts into your meals. Juice fans can toss microgreens into daily shakes, while egg lovers can fold them into omelets and breakfast tacos. Microgreens are also delicious sprinkled on salads, pizza, stir-fries, and burgers, and tucked into sandwiches in place of plain ol’ lettuce.

What you’ll need to grow microgreens

Photo by Urban Farming Concepts

If you love to reuse and repurpose, check your recycling bin for containers to plant a microgreen garden. The pros suggest egg cartons, old takeout or berry boxes, foil muffin tins, small paper or wax cups, or the bottoms of milk containers.

“Look for relatively shallow containers of about 2 inches, and create drainage holes in the bottom,” says Ortega. Line up your containers on a large baking sheet or tray so they’re easier to move.

As for the seeds you’ll need, the experts favor organic or non-GMO versions such as the ones from the Hudson Valley Seed Company or Sustainable Seed Company. Mainstream companies like Burpee also offer options.

You’ll also need potting or starting soil (some companies make special microgreen soil mixes), a spray bottle to water, scissors for clipping, a salad spinner, and markers so you can note the planting date and the variety, says Brandt.

Want to make it even easier? Check out these all-in-one microgreen kits, which include seeds and growing trays—you just add sun and water.

Best kit for first-time growers

Harvest these greens in just seven days.

Lowe’s

Not sure you’re the DIY gardening type? Consider this low-cost microgreen broccoli kit, which comes with two seed packets and two trays ($13, Lowe’s).

Best kit if you already have seeds

Soil mix is included in this starter kit.

The Home Depot

This option comes with a bag of vermiculite, which is a growing medium, as well as two cute containers with protective tops. You can pair any microgreen seeds with this kit, though beet, arugula, kale, and radish are suggested ($26, Home Depot).

Best kit if you’re fancy and fearless

A dozen seed choices means you’ll be swimming in microgreens.

Amazon

If you’ve sown seeds before and are ready to take your DIY gardening to the next level, check out this kit with 12 seed types (mung, lentil, adzuki, etc.) and stackable trays ($123, Amazon).

Sowing microgreens

Photo by Urban Farming Concepts 

To plant seeds, cover the bottom of your container with an inch or two of potting mix or soil, and scatter a layer of seeds on top. Press seeds gently into the dirt, cover with a thin layer of soil and then spray your work with the bottle to moisten. Place a plastic lid or wrap over the top, and remove it once the seeds have started to sprout.

“You can grow microgreens on a sunny windowsill, chair, or bench in your kitchen; in a mini greenhouse; or outside on a balcony or covered porch if your weather is temperate,” says Brandt.

Aim for about four to six hours of sunlight a day, but if your area isn’t that bright, consider an LED grow light to shine more rays.

Watering and harvesting microgreens

Photo by Urban Cultivator 

Check your seeds daily, lifting the cover and misting the seeds lightly with the spray bottle.

“After about three days, you’ll see some seeds germinating, and this is when you can remove the plastic top,” says Brandt.

Keep the soil moist until you see germination, and then water when you notice that the soil has dried out, says Ortega.

“The best time to pick your sprouting veggies is when the first leaves appear, which is usually 10 to 14 days after planting,” says Brandt. Snip just above the soil level with your scissors.

“Depending on the type of microgreen you’re growing, some varieties will regrow after you harvest them,” says JT Wilkensen, maintenance care manager at FormLA Landscaping.

Once you’ve picked your bounty, give them a whirl in the salad spinner to clean and store in the fridge, where they’ll stay fresh for about five days.

Check the temperature and light

Photo by Amy Renea 

Don’t let your delicate seeds get too cold!

“Most seeds do best at 70 degrees Fahrenheit, so if your space is cooler, think about using a heat mat for a few days while the seeds germinate,” says Brandt. Most greens can grow at a colder temp, but the process slows below 50 degrees.

Have spotty growth in your seed cups?

“If you see the microgreens coming up in an irregular pattern, rotate the tray every couple of days so all of the sides get equal access to the light,” suggests Brandt.

The post How To Grow Microgreens at Home for Fresh Sprouts All Winter Long appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

How to Install Crown Molding Like a Pro

Looking for a DIY home refresh? Crown molding may be just what you need! In this video tutorial, our experts walk you through how to install crown molding like a pro.

The post How to Install Crown Molding Like a Pro appeared first on Homes.com.

Source: homes.com

8 Fire Safety Tips 8 Nights of Hanukkah

If you and your family celebrate Hanukkah, this week will involve lighting the menorah. But in all the holiday fun, it’s easy to forget that having an open flame in your home is always cause for greater safety measures. Here are some tips for a safer holiday.

  1. Place your menorah on a sturdy, non-flammable surface: Your menorah, especially when lit, should rest on a stable fixture in your home. You and your family’s guests may accidentally bump into a wobbly table and knock it over. Non-flammable surfaces like glass, metal, or marble work best.
  2. Keep the menorah and matches out of children’s reach: Make sure that your menorah is positioned in a place where your children can enjoy it, but is out of their reach so they don’t hurt themselves. Be sure to store all matches and lighters safely after each candle lighting; kids may find them if left out.
  3. Never leave a lit menorah unattended: All the excitement of the holidays can sometimes lead to carelessness. When burning, the menorah should always be under some sort of supervision.
  4. Place menorah out of reach of pets: Furry friends are eager to join in on the holiday festivities. They could be drawn to the new object in your home and want to investigate, so keep it at a height where they can’t get their paws on it.
  5. Use only non-flammable menorahs: This may seem like an obvious tip, but it’s worth reiterating. Any ornamental menorahs made by your kids in arts and crafts should be admired, but not used in your Hanukkah ceremony.
  6. Don’t walk around with lit candles: Choose the area of your home where your menorah will be lit, then keep it there. Don’t carry your menorah from room to room to avoid potentially dropping it.
  7. Decorate with care: The area surrounding your menorah often receives extra decorations. That is absolutely fine, as long the adornments are non-flammable and not likely to tip over and displace the menorah.
  8. Place your menorah in a secluded area of your home: You’re already going to put your menorah out of reach of children and pets, but it’s equally important to keep the menorah out of your home’s general flow of traffic to avoid accidentally knocking it over.

 

Following these helpful fire safety tips will ensure that you and your family have a pleasant and safe Hanukkah celebration.

The post 8 Fire Safety Tips 8 Nights of Hanukkah first appeared on Century 21®.

Source: century21.com

10 home features that have fallen out of favor

Trending: 10 home features that have fallen out of favor:
1. Bold color schemes
2. Industrial-style kitchens
3. Kitchen islands
4. Granite countertops
5. TVs in the kitchen
6. Over-the-stove microwaves
7. Raised-panel cabinets
8. Wall-to-wall carpet
9. Distressed wood walls
10. Mediterranean-inspired suburban McMansions

The post 10 home features that have fallen out of favor first appeared on Century 21®.

Source: century21.com

Popular Housing Markets During the Pandemic

There’s something weird happening with the real estate markets today. Normally in a recession, demand for rentals goes up while demand for houses goes down. But if there’s anything 2020 has taught us, it’s that everything is turned on its head right now. 

Instead, we’re seeing an interesting trend: despite the ongoing pandemic, home-buying is experiencing higher demand now than they have been since 1999, according to the National Association of RealtorsⓇ (NAR). If you’ve been hoping to buy a home soon, you’re probably already aware of this weird trend, and excited. But is it the same story everywhere? And is a pandemic really the right time to buy? 

How the Pandemic is Changing Homeownership

This pandemic is different from any other in history in that many people — especially some of the highest-paid workers — aren’t being hit as hard as people who rely on their manual labor for income. This, coupled with an ultra-low mortgage rate environment and a new lifestyle that’s not fit for a cramped apartment, is creating the perfect storm of high-dollar homebuyers. 

“I didn’t want to pay someone else’s mortgage to have three roommates,” says Amy Klegarth, a genomics specialist who recently purchased a home in White Center, a suburb of Seattle where she was formerly renting. “I moved because I could afford to get a house with a large yard here for my goats, Taco and Piper.” 

Whether you have goat kids or human kids (or even no kids), you’re not the only one looking for a new home in a roomier locale. According to the NAR report, home sales in suburban areas went up 7% compared to just before the pandemic started. In some markets, it’s not hard to understand why people are moving out. 

Where Are People Going?

Apartments are small everywhere, but they’re not all the same price. For example, homes in cities tend to be 300 square feet smaller than their suburban counterparts. Some of the hottest home-buying markets right now are in areas where nearby rents are already too high, often clustered around tech and finance hubs that attract high-paid workers. After all, if you can’t go into the office and all of the normal city attractions are shut down, what’s the point of paying those high rental costs?

According to a December 2020 Zumper report, the top five most expensive rental markets in the U.S. are San Francisco, New York City, Boston, San Jose, and Oakland. But if you’re ready to buy a home during the pandemic, there are nearby cheaper markets to consider.

If You Rent in San Francisco,  San Jose, and Oakland, CA

Alternative home-buying market: San Diego, Sacramento 

  • Average rent: San Francisco, $2,700, San Jose, $2,090; Oakland; $2,000
  • Average home value (as of writing): San Diego ($675,496) and Sacramento ($370,271)
  • Estimated mortgage payment with 20% down: San Diego ($2,255) and Sacramento ($1,236)

Big California cities are the quintessential meccas for tech workers, and that’s often exactly who’s booking it out of these high-priced areas right now. Gay Cororaton, Director of Housing and Commercial Research for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), offers two suggestions for San Francisco and other similar cities in California. 

San Diego

First, is the San Diego-metro area, which has a lot to offer people who are used to big-city living but don’t want the big-city prices. An added bonus: your odds of staying employed as a tech worker might be even higher in this city. 

“Professional tech services jobs make up 18% of the total payroll employment, which is actually a higher fraction than San Jose (15.5%) and San Francisco (9.3%),” says Cororaton.

Sacramento

If you’re willing to go inland, you can find even cheaper prices yet in Sacramento. “Tech jobs have been growing, and account for 7% of the workforce,” says Cororaton. “Still not as techie as San Jose, San Francisco, or San Diego, but tech jobs are moving there where housing is more affordable. It’s also just 2 hours away from Lake Tahoe.”

If You Rent in New York, NY

Alternative home-buying market: New Rochelle, Yonkers, Nassau, Newark, Jersey City

  • Average rent: $2,470
  • Average home value (as of writing): New Rochelle ($652,995), Yonkers ($549,387), Nassau ($585,741), Newark ($320,303), or Jersey City ($541,271)
  • Estimated mortgage payment with 20% down: New Rochelle ($2,180), Yonkers ($1,834), Nassau ($1,955), Newark ($1,069), or Jersey City ($1,807)

Living in New York City, it might seem like you don’t have any good options. But the good news is you do — lots of them, in fact. They still might be more expensive than the average home price across the U.S., but these alternative markets are still a lot more affordable than within, say, Manhattan. 

New Rochelle and Yonkers

Both New Rochelle and Yonkers are about an hour’s drive from the heart of New York City, says Corcoran. If you ride by train, it’s a half hour. Both New Rochelle and Yonkers have been stepping up their appeal in recent years to attract millennials who can’t afford city-living anymore (or don’t want to be “house poor”), so you’ll be in good company. 

Nassau

“NAR ranked Nassau as one of the top places to work from home in the state of New York because it has already a large population of workers in professional and business services and has good broadband access,” says Cororaton. If you have ideas about moving to Nassau you’ll need to move quickly. Home sales are up by 60% this year compared to pre-pandemic times. 

Newark or Jersey City

If you don’t mind moving to a different state (even if it is a neighbor), you can find even lower real estate prices in New Jersey. This might be a good option if you only need to ride back into the city on occasion because while the PATH train is well-developed, it’s a bit longer of a ride, especially if you live further out in New Jersey. 

If You Rent in Boston, MA

Alternative home-buying market: Quincy, Framingham, Worcester

  • Average rent: $2,150
  • Average home value (as of writing): Quincy ($517,135), Framingham ($460,584), or Worcester ($284,936)
  • Estimated mortgage payment with 20% down: Quincy ($1,726), Framingham ($1,538), or Worcester ($951)

Boston is another elite coastal market, but unlike New York, there’s still plenty of space if you head south or even inland. In particular, Quincy and Framingam still offer plenty of deals for new buyers.

Quincy

If you like your suburbs a bit more on the urban side, consider Quincy. Although it’s technically outside of the city, it’s also not so isolated that you’ll feel like you’re missing out on the best parts of Boston-living. You’ll be in good company too, as there are plenty of other folks living here who want to avoid the high real estate prices within Boston itself.

Framingham

Framingham is undergoing an active revitalization right now in an effort to attract more people to its community. As such, you’ll be welcome in this town that’s only a 30-minute drive from Boston.

Worcester

“Now, if you can work from home, consider Worcester,” says Cororaton. “It’s an hour away from Boston which is not too bad if you only have to go to the Boston office, say, twice a week.” Worcester (pronounced “wuh-ster”) is also a great place for a midday break if you work from home, with over 60 city parks to choose from for a stroll.

Renting Market(s) Average Rent for 1-Bedroom Apartment Housing Market Options & Avg. Monthly Mortgage*
San Francisco, CASan Jose, CAOakland, CA $2,700 San Diego ($2,255) Sacramento ($1,236)
New York, NY $2,470 New Rochelle ($2,180) Yonkers ($1,834)Nassau ($1,955)Newark ($1,069)Jersey City ($1,807)
Boston, MA $2,150 Quincy ($1,726)Framingham ($1,538)Worcester ($951)

*Average home mortgage estimates based on a 20% down payment.

Should You Buy a House During a Pandemic?

There’s no right or wrong answer here, but it’s a good idea to consider your long-term housing needs versus just what’ll get you through the next few months. 

For example, just about everyone would enjoy some more room in their homes to stretch right now. But if you’re the type of person who prefers a night on the town, you might be miserable in a rural area by the time things get back to normal. But if you’ve always dreamed of a big vegetable garden or yard for the family dog, now could be the right time to launch those plans. 

Another factor to consider is job security. And remember that even if you’re permanently working from home today — and not everyone has this ability — living further from the city could limit your future opportunities if a job requires you to be on-site in the city.

Finally, consider this: most homes in outlying areas weren’t built with the pandemic in mind. For example, “… open floor plans were popular, pre-pandemic,” says Cororaton. “If the home for sale has an open floor plan, you’d have to imagine how to reconfigure the space and do some remodeling to create that work or school area.” 

Here are some other things to look for:

  • Outdoor space
  • Area for homeschooling
  • Broadband internet access
  • Proximity to transport routes
  • Office for working from home

Is It More Affordable to Buy or Rent?

There aren’t any hard-and-fast rules when it comes to whether it’s cheaper to rent or buy. Each of these choices has associated costs. To rent, you’ll need to pay for your base rent, pet fees and rent, parking permits, deposits, renters insurance, and more. To buy, you’ll have an even bigger list, including property taxes, maintenance and upgrades, HOA fees, homeowners insurance, closing costs, higher utility bills, and on.

Each of these factors has the potential to tip the balance in favor of buying or renting. That’s why it makes sense to use a buy vs. rent calculator that can track all of these moving targets and estimate which one is better based on your financial situation and the choices available to you. 

In general, though, most experts advise keeping your housing costs to below 30 percent of your take-home pay when setting up your budget. The lower, the better — then, you’ll have even more money left over to save for retirement, your kid’s college education, and even to pay your mortgage off early. 

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Source: goodfinancialcents.com