20 Questions To Ask When Renting a House

While renting an apartment is as easy as a quick tour and signing your lease, when it comes to renting a house, it often is a bit more complicated.

The lease signing process is similar if you are going to rent a house or rent an apartment. However, you’ll probably have more questions to ask when renting a house.

You have more space to take care of, possibly a backyard, potential roof leaks, alarm systems and other things you usually don’t worry about when you live in an apartment complex.

Whether you have a private landlord or a property manager looking over the property, make sure you protect yourself before signing the agreement to make sure this is the best move for you. Here are 20 questions to ask when renting a house.

1. What is the application process?

Rental application on a tablet.

This should be one of the first questions to ask when renting a house.

Before looking at the place person, ask the landlord what the application process looks like and screen for the right tenant. Knowing the application process ahead of time will help you come in prepared for the showing. The application process will vary from house rental to house rental. Some landlords will require you to submit a credit report and reference, while others just accept an application and the security deposit.

Always ask if the credit report inquiry is hard, which affects your credit score, or soft, which does not. If the landlord doesn’t know, proceed with caution. Determine if the screening process is the right one for you, and always be skeptical of those asking for your personal information.

2. Will this be a year-long lease, month-to-month or something else?

Not every rental house comes with a standard year-long lease as many apartment complexes. There’s a lot of flexibility in dealing with a private landlord or property company for houses.

Ask the landlord what kind of lease they are looking to sign with the new tenant — may be one year and then month-to-month or three months at a time. Pick what works for you, your budget and your plans.

Make sure you read any clauses that have to do with the timeline of the lease agreement to go over payment, due dates and any early termination fees. If month-to-month, how long do you have to let the landlord know you’re leaving, for example.

3. When will the house be available for move-in?

As you start looking for your next rental house, it’s important to sync up your leases if you can. Ask the landlord when will the house be available for move-in so you can start thinking about timelines. This date should occur the day after a deep clean takes place, so the space is ready for the next tenant.

If you’re able to overlap a few days for both leases, do so as it will allow you to move a little slower and have enough time to clean your other apartment.

4. Who is responsible for yard work and upkeep?

questions to ask when renting a house, who is responsible for yard work

At your apartment complex, you never have to worry about how tall the grass is or any landscaping outside the apartment. But with a rental house, that’s the first thing on your weekend list. Ask the landlord if they will pay for someone to come cut the grass for you and landscape versus you doing it.

If you’re responsible, make sure that this service fits your budget. Also, the neighborhood may have specific landscaping requirements, so confirm this with the landlord, if applicable.

5. What is the parking situation?

Do you have to pay for parking? How many spaces do you get? Do you have visitor parking spaces? Do you have a driveway or do you have to park on the street? Knowing your parking situation may affect whether this is a good option for you or not, depending on your budget and safety concerns.

Your lease agreement should have a parking clause if it’s not free.

6. Am I allowed to paint the walls or perform minor renovations?

Upgrading your rental can quickly make it feel like home. Ask the landlord if you can paint the walls, change hardware in the bathroom or any minor renovations to level up the rental house. The landlord may agree to leave them on or ask for you to change things back upon moving out.

During your initial walk-through, ask the landlord about potential changes, make notes and then get them in writing with the landlord’s approval. This will save you big headaches later in your lease term when getting your security deposit back.

7. Is smoking allowed in the property?

These days, most establishments are smoke-free and many landlords are moving to do the same for their rental properties. Ask the landlord if it’s OK to smoke inside the home before applying for the home.

The smell of smoke is difficult to remove from surfaces, so make sure you’re not penalized later. If needed, your landlord should designate a space for you to smoke outside the home.

8. What is the pet policy?

Unpacking an apartment with a dog.

When it comes to pets, it can get tricky in rental properties. Between cats and dogs, breeds, weight maximums and how many pets may occupy the space, it’s important to have clear communication from the start. Ask the landlord the following:

  • What kind of pets do they allow?
  • What’s the weight maximum on each pet allowed?
  • How many may live in the home?
  • Do you have any restrictions on breeds?
  • Is there a monthly pet fee or just a one-time pet fee?
  • Is the pet fee non-refundable?
  • Do you need to clean up after your dog in the backyard?
  • Upon moving out, what’s the cleaning protocol for pets?

9. How often are the locks changed?

You may not immediately this of this question to ask when renting a house, but it’s important for your safety.

If the locks were not changed recently and you love the rental, ask the landlord to change them on his or her budget before moving in.

You never know who has a key in their possession, and you don’t want a strange coming into your home unannounced. Make a list of the locks needed for your landlord and put a deadline on it.

10. Which utilities are my responsibility?

Don’t assume what utilities you will need to pay in your new house rental.

Ask during your showing what utilities are your responsibility every month. For example, the landlord may take care of water and trash (similar to an apartment complex), and you’re in charge of everything else. Or you’re responsible for all utility bills.

Clarify this both in person and through the lease agreement to make sure you open the correct accounts.

11. When did you last replace the smoke detectors?

questions to ask when renting a house, when was the smoke detector last changed?

When you go see the rental home, keep an eye out for smoke detectors. Not having smoke detectors is a big red flag you can’t ignore.

Smoke detector units should be replaced every 10 years, and the batteries should be replaced at least once a year. Ask the landlord when was the last time they checked them and had the batteries replaced. Request the smoke detectors (and carbon monoxide if available) be inspected and tested to make sure they work correctly.

12. Which furnishings and appliances come with the house?

Whether you’re an out-of-towner or a long-time resident of your city, you need to know what’s included with renting a house. Some rental homes only come with the bare minimum — stove and fridge. Others come with more appliances, including a washer and dryer and even some furnishings.

Confirm the age of the appliances are and what will be in place when you move in. Include any repairs and maintenance in the lease agreement to avoid paying in the future. If applicable, ask the landlord to remove any remaining furnishings if you don’t plan to use them.

13. Is renter’s insurance required?

Renter’s insurance helps you cover the cost of your belonging in case of theft or fire in your rental home.

Some landlords require tenants to have it before approving their application. If needed, it will be in the lease agreement. Check out the lease to make sure they don’t require a certain policy amount or company.

In the end, it’s smart to have renter’s insurance, required or not, to protect your valuable belongings in case of an emergency.

14. How do I submit a repair request?

Man repairing a pipe under the sink.

Roof leaks, broken appliances, plumbing issues — repair concerns are often more extensive and complex in rental homes than apartment complexes. Read the lease to get familiar with repair request procedures.

Confirm that the landlord covers appliances, structural concerns and other home issues by hiring their people or letting you call someone. If it’s minor repairs, it might be better for them to let you deduct it from the rent payment if needed, but that’s still up to the landlord.

Make sure that you agree on a timeline from request to repair — often 48 hours — before signing the agreement. Many landlords will sit on a request for months before addressing it, leaving you inconvenienced.

15. Have you had any break-ins in the area?

Something often not listed on the house rental flyer, but vital to know is any past break-ins.

If possible, search the area around the rental home on a crime map and drive around at night to see if you feel comfortable. Follow up with the landlord and ask them if there have been any break-ins on the street and home, plus any relevant details.

Also, ask them how fast repairs occurred on the house, if applicable, to the break-in. It will help you make an informed decision on the property.

16. What’s your policy on roommates and/or subletting?

Depending on previous experiences, landlords tend to have specific restrictions regarding what type of tenant can live in their property.

A few don’t allow roommates due to rowdy house parties, and others aim to have only couples live in the house. Be honest with your potential landlord about the possibility of a roommate now or down the road.

Ask if your roommate will have a separate lease, or you will be in charge of everything — this may increase the risk for you.

Related to potential roommates, make sure to look over the clauses for subletting. Ensure that if you see a future when you’d like to sublet your room, your lease allows it and what kind of information you need to share with the landlord.

17. Do you allow for early-lease terminations?

While most standard lease agreements come with an early termination clause, landlords tend to have different policies around it. Life happens — so you need to make sure that you have a way out without being penalized, if possible. Confirm all fees associated with early lease termination as well as the timeline.

Ordinarily, the lease will say that the tenant must pay two to three months of rent for terminating their lease early. Sometimes less or it’s every month the property stays untenanted for the rest of the lease. This is important to note as you’ll need to prepare to cover these fees and give a good heads up to avoid losing your security deposit.

18. What payment methods do you accept for rent?

In the era of Venmo, Paypal and ACH, it’s hard to believe that some landlords still prefer checks for rent payments.

Ask them about the grace period for rent payments (past the first of the month) and how you can pay. But for those without a bank account or without checks, digital wallets are the way.

Confirm payment methods available and get it in writing. It’s important to always get a receipt after each payment, too.

19. Can I have guests stay at the house?

questions to ask when renting a house, can you have overnight guests?

Depending on the landlord, they may not want house parties or long-term guests to stay at the house. Check the lease for any guest-specific clauses, like quiet hours or stay maximums, and discuss them with your landlord.

Ensure that you specify how long a guest can stay without penalty and if there are any requirements or stipulations for your friend or family to stay over.

20. If I can’t reach you, who’s my backup contact for emergencies?

While your landlord will be available through phone or email to address repairs and other concerns, sometimes things happen or they go on vacation. Make sure you know who to call if you have a pipe issue or another emergency.

Maybe your landlord has a trusted handyman that is on call if he’s out. It’s important to confirm how to handle these situations while the landlord is out and get it in writing.

Be prepared with questions to ask when renting a house

Taking your time to go over details about this potential rental home, despite your excitement, will pay off and make the experience go a lot smoother. Our questions to ask when renting a house are just suggestions. You may have other things you want to know, such as additional details surrounding utilities, yard work or lease clauses.

The process can seem overwhelming, but as long as know the right questions to ask when renting a house, you’ll be on your way to a great living experience.

Source: rent.com

The 7 Most Common Questions About IRAs

An individual retirement account (IRA) can be an important part of retirement investing. But before investors save money in this type of plan, it makes sense to know the basics about who it’s for, how it can help, and which type of IRA is right for you.

This article will cover the seven most common questions people have about IRAs to help you decide whether it’s a good retirement investment vehicle for you.

1. How is an IRA different from a 401(k)?

Both IRAs and 401(k)s are tax-advantaged ways to grow money for retirement, but whereas a 401(k) is an employer-sponsored plan that is offered through a person’s job, an IRA is an account you can open on your own.

Benefits of 401(k)

On the one hand, a 401(k) can be beneficial to people who want to “set it and forget it”—and have money deducted automatically from their paycheck into their retirement account, without worrying about making payments.

Additionally, the maximum allowed yearly contributions to a 401(k) are larger than that of an IRA. For 2021, employees can contribute up to $19,500 to their 401(k), with an additional $6,500 in catch-up contributions if they’re over age 50. Employers can also contribute “matching” funds to your account, for a total of $58,000 (or $64,500 including catch-up contributions) per year.

Benefits of an IRA

For people who may have money that’s currently sitting in a checking, savings, or investment account, an IRA might be a good place for it to grow and help prepare you for your future.

An IRA can also be good for people who are not offered a 401(k) plan through their employer. IRA contribution limits are less—$6,000 per year as of 2021, with an additional $1000 in catch-up contributions for people over age 50.

The bottom line, however, is that you don’t need to choose between these two different retirement plans. If you have access to an employer-sponsored 401(k), it’s often a good idea to contribute as much as possible, then supplement with an IRA if desired.

Recommended: How to save for retirement if you don’t have an employer-sponsored 401(k)

2. Traditional vs. Roth: How do they work?

The two most common types of IRAs are traditional and Roth. (There are other kinds, like SEP and SIMPLE IRAs, but those are geared toward people who are self-employed or running small businesses. If that applies to you, read more about SEP IRAs.)

The biggest difference in a traditional vs. Roth IRA is when your money is taxed. With a traditional IRA, you get a tax deduction when you contribute money—so the money going into your account is tax free, and when you withdraw it in retirement, it will be taxed.

With a Roth IRA, you don’t get a tax deduction when you contribute but your money grows tax-free—meaning that when you withdraw it in retirement, you won’t pay taxes on the withdrawals. While that may be appealing to some people, it’s worth noting that Roth IRAs have restrictions around income when it comes to opening an account. In 2021 individuals must make below $125,000 (people earning more than $125,000 but less than $140,000 can contribute a reduced amount); for married people who file taxes jointly, the limit is $198,000 (or up to $208,000 to contribute a reduced amount).

Recommended: Rolling over your 401(k) is a pain—here’s why it’s still worth doing

3. Which IRA type is best for me?

While everyone’s situation is different, and only you can determine which kind of IRA is best for you, there are a few things to consider. If you have money sitting in a 401(k) from an old job, you might choose to roll that money over into an IRA (some employers will also let you roll over an old 401(k) into your current plan). Even if your employer previously paid the 401(k) fees, many stop doing that and pass them on to you when you leave. Plus, companies can merge or go out of business, and if that happens it may be more difficult to roll over your money.

Since the contribution limits are the same for both a traditional and Roth IRA, neither offers an advantage in that regard. So if you do qualify for both, one way to figure out whether a traditional or a Roth IRA is best for you is to think about your current tax bracket and what tax bracket you’re likely to be in when you retire.

If you don’t expect to earn any passive income in retirement (for example, from investments or rental income) and will thus be in a low tax bracket, you may want to take the tax deduction today and open a traditional IRA. If, on the other hand, you’re currently in a low tax bracket and expect to make more during retirement, you might opt for a Roth IRA.

Recommended: Traditional IRA or Roth IRA: Which one works for you?

4. How much should I put into an IRA?

Your goal generally should be to try to hit that maximum of $6,000 per year—or as close to that as your budget will allow. The important part is to make contributing a habit, and let the power of compound interest take over.

5. When should I make IRA contributions?

One simple way to fund your IRA is to set up an automatic contribution once a month that takes money from your checking or savings account and puts it directly into your IRA. Then, you never have to worry about forgetting to contribute, and you won’t miss (or spend) money that you never see. Use our IRA calculator to help determine which contributions you can make.

You don’t have to contribute monthly—the frequency is totally up to you, and many people contribute once annually, after they receive a year-end bonus, for example, or before the annual deadline of when taxes are due in April of the following year. (For tax year 2020, however, the deadline for contributions and filing has been extended to May 17, 2021.)

But consider this: the sooner you put money into the IRA, the more time it has in the market. Of course, investing isn’t without risk, but more time in the market means more time to (hopefully) grow.

6. Does everyone benefit from an IRA?

There are some potential drawbacks of an IRA for high earners. Here’s what to consider for each type of plan.

Traditional IRAs

Anyone earning an income can open a traditional IRA and contribute to it, but in some cases, traditional IRA contributions may not be considered tax-deductible. For instance, if you’re single and you’re covered by a workplace retirement plan like a 401(k), your traditional IRA tax deduction starts to become reduced when your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI)—your gross income minus what you put into your 401(k) and medical premiums—is $66,000 for 2021.

For married couples filing jointly, where the spouse who makes the traditional IRA contribution is covered by a workplace retirement plan, the deduction starts to go away when that person’s MAGI is $105,000. For an IRA contributor who is not covered by a workplace retirement plan and is married to someone who is covered, the deduction starts to phase out if the couple’s MAGI is $198,000.

Roth IRAs

As mentioned above, you can open a Roth IRA and contribute the maximum to it only if your income is below a certain level. For individuals who make more than $140,000 and married people who file taxes jointly and make more than $208,000, the Roth IRA is not an option.

If you fall into one of these categories, what should you do? If you or your spouse has a 401(k), one option is to start by maxing out that contribution each year.

7. How do I open an IRA?

An IRA can be an important part of an individual’s retirement investment strategy. Between traditional IRAs and Roth IRAs, it’s likely that you will find a plan that works with your timeline and goals.

Like so much else these days, opening an IRA can be done online. Though all the IRA rules are complicated, the process of opening one up with SoFi Invest® takes just a few minutes.

Find out how to get started with your retirement planning, with SoFi Invest.

SoFi Invest®
The information provided is not meant to provide investment or financial advice. Investment decisions should be based on an individual’s specific financial needs, goals and risk profile. SoFi can’t guarantee future financial performance. Advisory services offered through SoFi Wealth, LLC. SoFi Securities, LLC, member FINRA / SIPC . SoFi Invest refers to the three investment and trading platforms operated by Social Finance, Inc. and its affiliates (described below). Individual customer accounts may be subject to the terms applicable to one or more of the platforms below.
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Tax Information: This article provides general background information only and is not intended to serve as legal or tax advice or as a substitute for legal counsel. You should consult your own attorney and/or tax advisor if you have a question requiring legal or tax advice.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.


Source: sofi.com

The Best Places to Live in Illinois in 2021

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

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

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

Here are the best places to live in Illinois.

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

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

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

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

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

Bloomington, IL.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Evanston, IL.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oak Park, IL.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rockford, IL.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Choose among the best cities in Illinois

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

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

Source: rent.com

What Are Altcoins? Guide to Bitcoin Alternatives

There are many alternative investments available for people who hope to grow their money—from age-old collectibles like baseball cards, to new and somewhat confusing assets, like NFTs. Another alternative investment is cryptocurrency—and within that category falls another “alt”: alt coins, better known as altcoins.

Altcoins are crypto coins that are an alternative to Bitcoin, the original cryptocurrency and reigning crypto leader. There are many different altcoins—different types, and within those categories, different specific products.

This article covers everything you need to know about altcoins, including what they are, where to buy them, and examples of the more popular coins on the market. Familiarize yourself with altcoins here, then check out the top things you should know before investing in any cryptocurrency.

What Are Altcoins?

Bitcoin is just one of the myriad coins and tokens that comprise the cryptocurrency space. You’ve likely heard some of their names—such as Ethereum, Ripple, and Litecoin. These coins and cryptos are, in effect, alternatives to bitcoin.

“Altcoin” is a catch-all term for alternative cryptocurrencies to bitcoin. They’re altcoins. It’s that simple. Currently, there are more than 9,000 cryptocurrencies in existence. That’s a lot of altcoins.

How do Altcoins Work?

Like Bitcoin, altcoins rely on blockchain technology, which allows for secure, peer-to-peer transactions. But each altcoin operates independently from the rest, and each has its own sets of rules and uses. For example, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are mineable, whereas Ripple and Stellar are not.

That said, in general, most altcoins operate in much the same way: They’re traded among investors, with transactions recorded via blockchain in a distributed ledger.

Different Types of Altcoins

Most altcoins can be slotted into a few different categories, which can help potential crypto investors get a better grasp of the field. This is not an exhaustive list, as categories and subtypes are always changing. But here are some of the most prevalent types of altcoins:

Digital currencies

The digital currency category comprises most of the cryptocurrencies that investors are familiar with, including Bitcoin. They’re exactly what they sound like: currency in digital form. They can be acquired as a form of payment, through trading on an exchange, or through mining (when applicable), and are generally used to conduct transactions.


Unlike crypto like Bitcoin or Ethereum, which can be used on any platform, tokens are tied to their parent platform. For example, Tether and Golem are tokens used only on the Ethereum platform.

A utility token provides holders with some sort of service. BAT (Basic Attention Token) is an example of a utility token, meant to be used specifically as a method of payment on the Brave open-source browser.


Stablecoins are built to be stable—they are pegged to an existing asset like the Euro or the U.S. dollar. The logic is that by pegging the asset to an existing one, it should help stabilize value and reduce volatility.

In contrast, consider Bitcoin: while its value has risen substantially in recent years, its price is highly volatile. Values have dropped to less than $6,000 per coin to more than $60,000—all within a couple of years. Stablecoins are designed to reduce those wild fluctuations, and allow holders to sleep at night.

An example of a stablecoin is Libra (aka Diem), which is being developed by Facebook, and pegged to the dollar.

Common Altcoins

There are seemingly more and more altcoins hitting the market every day. Here are a few of the more common altcoins:

Ripple: Also known as “XRP,” this altcoin is used primarily on its namesake, the Ripple currency exchange system. It was designed for use by businesses and organizations, rather than individuals, as it’s most often used to move large amounts of money around the world.

Ethereum: Ethereum is a programmable internet platform used to build decentralized programs and applications, and its native currency, Ether (ETH), is the altcoin in question that can be traded by investors.

Litecoin: Litecoin is another popular altcoin, which is often referred to as “Bitcoin lite,” hence the moniker. It’s one of the largest and most popular cryptocurrencies on the market, and operates in a very similar way to Bitcoin.

Dogecoin: There are a bunch of “joke” altcoins that are on the market, and Dogecoin is perhaps the most recognizable right now. Dogecoin started as a joke (its genesis is actually an internet meme), although it has gained value in recent months.

Cardano: Cardano (ADA) allows developers to use the Cardano blockchain to write smart contracts and decentralized applications (dApps). ADA crypto is required to run programs like dApps. Cardano is also used as a medium of exchange.

Where to Buy Altcoins?

Looking to buy altcoins? They’re available on most any cryptocurrency exchange, like Coinbase or Binance. You can even trade cryptocurrencies with SoFi Invest® (if you live in an eligible state). Not all altcoins may be available on every platform, so interested investors should do their research before choosing an exchange.

In terms of actually trading for coins, the process can be as simple as depositing money into an account on your preferred exchange, and then trading either dollars or crypto for a targeted altcoin.

The Takeaway

Altcoin is a catchall term for cryptocurrency other than Bitcoin, the original crypto. There are a variety of different altcoins—from tokens to stablecoins—but many are available for interested investors.

If you want to get your feet wet, you can get started trading certain cryptocurrencies and altcoins using SoFi Invest. You can get started with just $10, manage your transactions in the SoFi app, and rest assured that your holdings are securely protected against fraud and theft.

Find out how to get started with SoFi Invest.

SoFi Invest®
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What is Normal Wear and Tear?

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

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

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

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

Understanding normal wear and tear

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

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

Normal wear and tear vs. damage

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

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

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

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

Examples of normal wear and tear

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

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

Here are some examples of normal wear and tear:

Moderate dirt or spots on the carpet

Dirty carpet being cleaned.

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

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

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

Small nail holes in the wall

Repairing small holes in the wall with spackle.

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

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

Warped cabinet doors that don’t close

Repairing a cabinet door.

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

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

Bathroom mirror loses its silver

Mirror in bathroom with water damage.

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

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

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

Clothes dryer thermostat gives out

Clothes inside of a dryer.

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

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

Door handle dents wall

Door knob.

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

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

Damage (not) done

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

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

Source: rent.com

How to Pick the Right TV Size for Your Room

If you’ve ever sat in the front row of a movie theater, you understand the problem of proportions. You don’t want to stare into an actor’s stomach for most of a film (or maybe you do, but that’s a blog for another time). The size of the screen matters as does how far you are from it.

It’s the same for the size of your home TV screen. You don’t want to have to sit so close that you lose half the picture or too far away that faces are minuscule, or you can’t hear the sound accurately. You also don’t want such a large TV that it overpowers your living room.

Whether your TV will hang on a wall or sit on a console, remember that bigger is not always better: it’s a good idea to figure out the Goldilocks-right TV size for your room.

How to measure TV size

The size of a screen is measured diagonally from corner to corner — not including the TV’s “frame.” A 65-inch TV is actually about 55 inches.

Besides the physical size of the screen, you’re also measuring clarity, otherwise known as resolution. That comes from the number of pixels (think of dots) that make up a picture on the screen. Those Impressionist painters were onto something; the more dots the better the resolution. And think about how far away you need to stand to see the beauty of the whole picture.

Older TVs and some current 32-inch models have resolutions of about 1 million pixels (720p) and newer, larger TVs have more than 2 million pixels (1080p).

Many TVs over 50 inches have 8 million pixels, making them 4K Ultra HD (high-definition). And the latest and greatest and most expensive TVs have over 33 million pixels (8K).

Where to place the TV in your room

Sure, hanging a TV on a wall frees up space in your room, but it also may change the nature of the room. The TV, especially if it’s a large one, becomes the focal point.

Perhaps you have a great piece of art you’d like to rest your eyes on or a large picture window overlooking nature. A console TV, which would take up precious real estate in your apartment, might be a better choice if only because you can move it easily. But if you choose to hang your TV, and if it’s possible due to the size of your room, find a wall that may detract less from some other area you feel is more important to look at.

Woman on her couch holding a TV remote.

Should I hang a TV on the wall?

People often hang televisions above a fireplace. However, it is not the best choice as a gas fireplace generates 20,000 to 35,000 BTUs of heat. Heat and electronics are not good friends. Mounting a TV above an electric fireplace is not as bad since that type of fireplace generates less heat. According to Bob Vila’s Home Advisor site, “Only mount a TV above a fireplace if the temperatures in that spot do not surpass 100 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Another reason you might not choose to hang your TV above the fireplace is that the TV will be too high, and you’ll have to crane your neck to see it. Plus, the viewing angle will throw off the picture quality.

TV manufacturers suggest mounting your television at eye level, but of course, the ability to do this depends on which room you’re going to watch television in. Will you be sitting in a living room on a low couch to watch TV? Lying in bed? Seated at tall bar stools at a counter?

In general, Samsung suggests mounting a TV 42 inches from the floor to the center of the TV, “should meet the approximate eye level of someone who is 5 feet 6 inches tall sitting on a standard couch.”

If you’re lying in bed, that’s a different story. You’ll want to put a TV on a tall dresser at the end of the bed or mount it to the ceiling.

No wall space? No problem

If you’ve really got a very small apartment and no wall to spare, maybe your apartment building does. Skip the in-home TV and watch movies and shows on your laptop. When you need a big screen, take yourself to your building’s media center.

How far away you should sit from a TV?

Base the distance you sit from the television on the TV’s size and clarity. And, of course, the room needs enough space so you will have enough space to sit those “x” number of feet away.

The electronic experts at Crutchfield recommend a viewing distance of 1.5–2.5 times the diagonal measurement for Ultra High Definition (1080p) TVs, and 1–1.5 times the screen size for a 4K Ultra HD TV.

For example, if you have a 40-inch 1080p TV, an ideal viewing distance is 5-8.3 feet. For that same size screen in a 4K version, you’d sit 3-3.5 feet from the screen. These measurements will make for optimum viewing.

TV on a console in an apartment.

What about the distance from the TV and sound?

TV is not just for seeing, after all.

The size of the TV doesn’t necessarily affect its sound output, but if you’re sitting too far you might have issues hearing. Rather than constantly bumping up the sound you might try a soundbar, wireless headphones or running the sound through your stereo speaker.

What’s the right TV size for my room?

Ultimately, there’s no magic formula, but you’ll want the largest screen you can get that doesn’t overpower your space and where its placement allows you to relax comfortably while watching it.

Source: rent.com

The Best State Capitals to Call Home

Capital idea!

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

Highlighting the best state capitals in America

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

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

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


The 10 best state capitals in the U.S.

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

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

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

10. Honolulu, HI

honolulu hawaii

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

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

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

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

9. Des Moines, IA

des moines iowa

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

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

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

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

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

8. Columbus, OH

columbus ohio

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

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

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

7. Boston, MA

boston massachusetts

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

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

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

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

5 (tied). Denver, CO

denver colorado

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

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

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

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

5 (tied). Boise, ID

boise idaho

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

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

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

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

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

4. Madison, WI

madison wisconsin

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

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

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

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

3. Cheyenne, WY

cheyenne wyoming

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

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

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

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

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

2. Austin, TX

austin texas

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

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

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

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

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

1. Salt Lake City, UT

salt lake city utah

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

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

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

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

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

The best state capitals by rank

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


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

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

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

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

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

Source: rent.com

The Best Places to Live in Wisconsin in 2021

When people think of Wisconsin, they usually think of cheese, the Green Bay Packers or its largest city, Milwaukee.

The best places to live in Wisconsin are scattered throughout the state and include communities both big and small. After all, this Midwest state is home to 777 cities, each with its own strong community and unique personality.

So, whether you’re looking for an apartment while attending one of their excellent universities or colleges, making a move for a new job or looking for something new and different, there is a city and community waiting for you.

Here are 10 of the best places to live in Wisconsin.

Appleton, WI.

Photo source: Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau / Facebook
  • Population: 73,637
  • Average age: 40.8
  • Median household income: $58,112
  • Average commute time: 22.3 minutes
  • Walk score: 41
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $918
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,281

Creative outdoor murals line the buildings, while cute boutiques, cozy coffee shops, and delicious food is found throughout historic downtown Appleton.

The city is among more than a dozen that make up the Fox Cities community and overlooks the Fox River.

It’s family-friendly and has a dense suburban feel with highly-rated schools. It’s also home to Lawrence University, a residential liberal arts college and conservatory of music.

Eau-Claire, WI, one of the best places to live in wisconsin

Photo source: Visit Eau-Claire / Facebook
  • Population: 67,250
  • Average age: 40
  • Median household income: $55,477
  • Average commute time: 20.9 minutes
  • Walk score: 47
  • Studio average rent: $608
  • One-bedroom average rent: $722
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $844

Whether it’s gathering with friends and neighbors to enjoy some of the many live music options throughout the city, including the Jazz Fest in the spring, followed by Country Fest, Rock Fest and Blue Ox Music Festival in the summer, or taking in some local art or walking along the historic bridges, Eau Claire is known for its welcoming vibe.

It’s especially welcoming to independent artists who create art installations, building murals and more.

According to a study released by Smart Asset, Eau Claire is also the third most livable small city in the country.

Fond-Du-Lac, WI.

  • Population: 43,145
  • Average age: 42.8
  • Median household income: $52,724
  • Average commute time: 22.4 minutes
  • Walk score: 49
  • Studio average rent: n/a
  • One-bedroom average rent: $822
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $895

Fond du Lac is a family-friendly community with a strong sense of history. The Fond du Lac County Historical Society connects residents to the local history of the town.

The public library and several sporting centers offer programming year-round and there is no shortage of restaurants and bars to enjoy dining and imbibing.

Green Bay, WI, one of the best places to live in wisconsin

  • Population: 104,984
  • Average age: 39.8
  • Median household income: $49,251
  • Average commute time: 22.8 minutes
  • Walk score: 45
  • Studio average rent: $955
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,152
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,252

Most people know Green Bay for its football team (Fun fact: the Green Bay Packers football team is the only NFL team owned by its fans) but there is more than football in this northeastern part of Wisconsin and at the mouth of the Fox River.

While it can get cold during the winter months, Green Bay residents love spending time outdoors whenever possible. Easy access to the Fox River also means water-based activities such as fishing.

As the state’s oldest settlement, it’s also known for its family and business-friendly community.

Kenosha, WI.

  • Population: 98,545
  • Average age: 40.5
  • Median household income: $55,417
  • Average commute time: 29.2 minutes
  • Walk score: 51
  • Studio average rent: $1,254
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,344
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,581

Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan and at the northern border of Illinois, Kenosha is sometimes called a bedroom community between Chicago and Milwaukee.

Outdoor activities are popular, whether it’s water-based activities on Lake Michigan or playing a round of golf at one of the Kenosha County golf courses.

Kenosha is also home to Carthage College and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

La Crosse, WI, one of the best places to live in wisconsin

  • Population: 51,965
  • Average age: 39.1
  • Median household income: $45,233
  • Average commute time: 19.2 minutes
  • Walk score: 60
  • Studio average rent: $773
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,100
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,245

Nestled along the Mississippi River, La Crosse is the largest city on Wisconsin’s western border. It’s home to a few colleges, including the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Western Technical College and Viterbo University.

La Crosse has charming historic homes that have since been converted into bed and breakfasts, such as the Castle La Crosse Bed and Breakfast, while the Dahl Auto Museum pays tribute to the eight oldest Ford dealership under continuous family ownership in the nation.

Nature lovers can enjoy scenic views from 600-foot-high Grandad Bluff which overlooks the city of La Crosse.

Madison, WI.

  • Population: 249,409
  • Average age: 39
  • Median household income: $65,332
  • Average commute time: 23.7 minutes
  • Walk score: 64
  • Studio average rent: $969
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,350
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,935

Madison is the home of Wisconsin’s state capital as well as the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It’s also one of the best cities for millennials.

The second-largest city in the state, Madison is a progressive urban city that is both affordable and offers great employment opportunities.

Outdoor lovers will appreciate the hiking and biking trails and the walkable downtown has bookshops, coffee shops and restaurants around every corner.

Milwaukee, WI, one of the best places to live in wisconsin

  • Population: 599,058
  • Average age: 37.8
  • Median household income: $41,838
  • Average commute time: 27.5 minutes
  • Walk score: 70
  • Studio average rent: $1,276
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,428
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,803

Milwaukee is Wisconsin’s largest and most populated city, with almost 600,000 residents calling it home.

Located in the southern part of the state and along Lake Michigan, it’s known for its many cultural offerings, from the architecturally significant Milwaukee Art Museum to the Milwaukee Repertory Theater to its wildly popular annual Summerfest, one of the largest music festivals in the world.

It’s also home to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette University campus as well as two major professional sports teams: the Milwaukee Bucks and the Milwaukee Brewers. Several Fortune 500 companies have headquarters here too, including WEC Energy Group, Northwestern Mutual and Harley-Davidson.

Wauwatosa, WI.

Photo source: Discover Wauwatosa / Facebook
  • Population: 47,772
  • Average age: 43.9
  • Median household income: $82,392
  • Average commute time: 24.6 minutes
  • Walk score: 57
  • Studio average rent: $1,221
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,504
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,962

Wauwatosa, sometimes called Tosa by locals, is just 15 minutes west of downtown Milwaukee. Residents love the small-town feel and having easy access to independently-owned shops and restaurants.

A major employer is the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center and Wauwatosa is home to several colleges and universities.

Tosa Village, originally called Hart’s Mill in the 1800s, is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike as the thriving historic district includes parks, cultural attractions, restaurants, and bars.

Architecture fans will appreciate a trip to Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1956 and completed in 1961. The church is on the National Register of Historic Places and among Wright’s last works and completed after his death.

Waukesha, WI, one of the best places to live in wisconsin

  • Population: 71,536
  • Average age: 41.3
  • Median household income: $65,260
  • Average commute time: 26.7 minutes
  • Walk score: 33
  • Studio average rent: $898
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,012
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,299

Waukesha is a city of neighborhoods, filled with strong schools, great shops, and an abundance of green spaces to play.

An active farmers market during the summer takes place in downtown Waukesha, where families and friends meet up.

It’s ideal for those who want a suburban environment with access to urban amenities and residents include families as well as young professionals.

The city is also conveniently located close to Milwaukee, just 18 miles west of the largest city in Wisconsin, and 59 miles east of Madison, making it easy to get to either place.

Experience the best cities in Wisconsin

Wisconsin checks off a lot of checkmarks when it comes to living in a vibrant Midwest state with great attractions, schools, outdoor and recreational activities.

Whether you’re looking for a slower pace of life or the energy of a busy city, there is a Wisconsin community ready to welcome you. We hope this list of best places to live in Wisconsin helps you choose your next home.

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

Best Neighborhoods to Move to in Nashville | ApartmentSearch

High-rise building in Nashville's city.Are you thinking about making Music City your new home? With its vibrant downtown, ample outdoor space, delicious southern food, and country music galore — there’s so much to love! Whether you’re a young family on the move or a mobile, dog-loving professional, these cool neighborhoods in Nashville have a little something to offer everyone. Learn the best suburbs of Nashville and which one is right for you with this handy neighborhood guide.

The Gulch

The Gulch is the fastest-growing neighborhood in Nashville, and for good reason. Packed with restaurants, shops, bars, fitness studios, and some of Nashville’s trendiest apartments, this area attracts young professionals who enjoy being center of the action.

Nashville is also one of the best U.S. cities for dating — making this small neighborhood a prime location for singles. The Gulch is the perfect home for anyone with the “work hard, play hard” mentality. So, you’ll have tons of unique things to do and fun, young people to do them with!

12 South

This neighborhood spans half a mile along 12th Avenue South – hence 12 South. And it has become one of the most desirable places to live for young, remote-work professionals and families alike.

12 South is a highly walkable neighborhood, so you’ll find no shortage of hot eateries (like Burger Up and Urban Grub), coffee shops (like Frothy Monkey), and stylish clothing stores (like Reese Witherspoon’s own Draper James!). 12 South attracts Nashville natives and excited transplants alike, and it’s an excellent option for someone who always wants something to do or see.

East Nashville

While East Nashville isn’t as walkable as many of the other neighborhoods on this list, it has plenty of perks that make up for it. A hub for musicians and various creative types, East Nashville residents enjoy the neighborhood’s laidback, inclusive vibe and ample green space.

While some may describe East Nashville as “the hipster neighborhood,” it’s home to a diverse mix of creatives, young families, and professionals. You’ll find everything from rental houses to apartment buildings in this lively, on-trend neighborhood. But it’s likely a better option for those with their own vehicle.

The Nations

The Nations is one of the more affordable neighborhoods on this list – though, with how many people move to Nashville a day, it may not stay that way for long. This area was largely industrial only a few short years ago but is now exploding with restaurants, breweries, retail establishments, and residential developments.

Located around the central district of 51st Avenue and about 10 minutes from the heart of downtown, the Nations is an up-and-coming neighborhood that’s attracting a mostly younger crowd. This is a great place to look if you’re on a tighter budget and want all the amenities of a vibrant city. This hotspot will be on everyone’s list of cool neighborhoods in Nashville before long!


Chock full of gorgeous, historic townhouses and tree-lined streets, Germantown has become known for its culinary scene. Boasting several critically acclaimed eateries, like Rolf and Daughters, City House, and Henrietta Red, residents of this beloved neighborhood will never go hungry.

Thanks to its location, only a few blocks from downtown Nashville, Germantown has prime access to the sports arenas, music venues, and other attractions in the city’s hub. This neighborhood manages to feel slower-paced and quieter than many other options and has a little something for everyone.

Sylvan Park

A young family looking to settle down should take a good look at Sylvan Park. Known by locals to be safe, quiet, and one of the best neighborhoods in Nashville to live, historic Sylvan Park is full of people who genuinely love their little community.

A quaint, walkable area, Sylvan Park boasts plenty of beloved, locally-owned restaurants, boutiques, and easy access to McCabe Park. Whether you’re raising little ones in Music City or simply enjoy a more residential feel, Sylvan Park is a growing neighborhood you shouldn’t overlook.

Make Your Move to Nashville with Apartment Search

Is there a Nashville neighborhood calling your name? Now that you’ve got an area picked out, explore available apartments on ApartmentSearch! Narrow your search by apartment size, rent amount, amenities, and more. Nashville can’t wait to have you home!

Source: blog.apartmentsearch.com

What are Uninhabitable Living Conditions?

Tenants are entitled to a safe and livable rental property, regardless of how much rent they pay.

According to most state laws and housing codes, it’s the landlord’s responsibility to provide habitable living conditions, which means the rental unit meets basic requirements such as reliable heat, plumbing, electricity and solid structural elements.

Your rights apply when you first sign a lease, and throughout the rental term. Generally, landlords should also do minor repairs and maintenance when required.

But what if major problems crop up that affect your everyday life, health or safety? Uninhabitable living conditions can include anything that’s unsanitary or poses a danger to occupants residing there. Here are some common issues you might face, and what to do about them.

Common uninhabitable living conditions you might face as a renter

Anything that makes living on the premises difficult or impossible or that is an obvious building code violation falls under the term uninhabitable living conditions:

Rodent or insect infestation

Rat eating food on a plate in a dirty kitchen.

Bedbugs, cockroaches, fleas, mice, rats or bats all make your rental unit uninhabitable. Cockroaches can spread disease, while rodents can damage apartment walls, electrical systems, plumbing, and roofs. Mice or rat droppings pose health hazards including Hantavirus, a serious respiratory infection.

Structural issues

Holes in the floor or walls, a leaky roof, broken exterior doors, crumbling ceilings – they’re all potentially dangerous hazards that could prevent a tenant from staying.

Mold, mildew, lead or asbestos

Poor indoor air quality usually makes your rental uninhabitable. If you see traces of black on walls and ceilings, that’s likely hazardous mold, which may cause allergic reactions or respiratory problems. Mildew, chipped lead-based paint or deteriorating asbestos insulation can also be unhealthy.

Inadequate utilities

Tenants are entitled to sufficient hot water and enough heat to stay comfortable during the winter months.

Exposed electrical wiring

Exposed electrical wiring.

Loose, live or improperly grounded wires can cause a fire or injure someone if touched. Faulty outlets, flickering lights or any other kind of electrical issue can make your place unsafe to live in. Power failures related to the city grid, however, are not under your landlord’s control.

Plumbing problems

Toilets that regularly clog, overflow or won’t flush, along with leaky pipes and sinks that don’t drain all violate the basic requirements of your lease.

Defective appliances

Landlords who provide appliances as part of the lease should make sure they’re safe to use and in good working order, especially stoves and refrigerators.

If you can’t prepare or store food in your unit, it’s uninhabitable.

Air conditioning that doesn’t work in states that experience dangerously hot summer months also qualifies.

Unsafe common areas

Stairwells, elevators, hallways and entrance or garage doors should be well-lit and in good working order. If they’re not, they could be classified under uninhabitable living conditions.

moldy ceiling

How do I report uninhabitable living conditions?

Depending on where you live and how severe your issues are, you have recourse if you think your rental unit is unsafe or dangerous. Here’s what to do:

  • Report any issues and defects immediately: It’s important to document all problems: Take photos and video, and keep detailed notes. Your lease might explain how to give notice – such as by registered mail – so be sure to check.
  • Follow up regularly: Keep track of when you alert your landlord, what response you received, and whether the problem was addressed. If your landlord promises to fix the issue, find out when and how it will happen.
  • Reach out to local housing authorities: If your complaints are ignored, this might be your next step. They’ll advise you of your rights and outline where you go from here. Some states have government agencies that can impose fines or take legal action on your behalf.
  • Withhold rent: In most areas, tenants with landlords who don’t address uninhabitable living conditions can stop paying rent until the problem is fixed. Or, you can pay for repairs and deduct costs from your rent. There are different procedures to follow depending on where you live, so consult with a lawyer or housing authority first.
  • Move out: While your lease might say you need to give three months’ notice before leaving, if you have a serious problem that affects your health – like rats or mold – you can move out without giving notice.
  • File a lawsuit: You might want to speak to a lawyer specializing in landlord-tenant disputes. Some offer deferred fee services so you only pay if you win.

Protect yourself by being proactive

One way to avoid dealing with uninhabitable living conditions is to avoid renting one in the first place. Inspect every apartment or condo you visit, paying attention to how the place is maintained.

And since laws vary from state to state, be sure to read up on your rights as a tenant by contacting the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or financial advice. Readers are encouraged to seek professional legal or financial advice as they may deem it necessary.

Source: rent.com