Category Archives: Family

Raleigh ranks best place in NC to raise a family

A new ranking of the best U.S. cities for raising a family ranks Raleigh the top spot in North Carolina.  And Raleigh placed at No. 6 in the nation.

Charlotte landed just outside of Zumper’s top 10 cities to raise a family – at No. 11.

For the study, real estate website Zumper says it looked first at the 100 largest cities in the nation by population – those it also compares each month in its rent reports – and then whittled that list down to 95 cities after omitting places with overlapping or incomplete data. The report measured each city using 10 metrics, each of equal weight: rent cost per additional room; percentage of income spent on rent; percentage of income spent on mortgage; median household income; current unemployment rate; infant care costs; percentage of population under the age of 45; high school dropout rate; average commute time; and violent crime rate. The final score determined each city’s ranking.

Nine of the top 10 locales for raising a family were located in the South or the Midwest. Zumper credits that to lower mortgage expenses, shorter commutes, strong local economic conditions and lower infant care costs in those areas.

Raleigh scored 86.5 out of 100 possible points. Its highest score came in monthly housing costs followed by median household income, dropout rate, population percentage under 45 and crime. The City of Oaks received its poorest score in income percentage spent on rent.

Of the Triangle region, Zumper says: “Families considering a move to the area would also benefit from the strength of the Raleigh metro area as a whole, as neighboring cities Chapel Hill and Durham are both home to large universities and could be attractive places to start a family.”

Zumper ranked Madison, Wisconsin as the best overall city to raise a family and Baltimore as the worst.

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How to Save for a House and a Wedding at the Same Time

If you and your partner are planning a wedding and purchasing a home together, there are large expenses to take into consideration as you save up for both milestones. Couples are spending an average of $33,391 on their wedding, and first-time homebuyers are spending $18,000 on average for a home down payment ($10,512 with FHA loans).

With the average engagement period of 14 months, young couples may feel pressured to save up for both big-ticket events in a short period of time. Here are a few financial planning tips so you and your partner can strategically save for the wedding and home you both have always dreamed of:

1. Choose a Priority
With two large costs looming on the horizon, you and your partner need to sit down and decide if one takes priority over the other. If it’s the house, then plan for a smaller wedding or a nuptial celebration later on down the road.

“I’ve worked with a lot of couples who have saved for both, and it’s because one partner wants the wedding and the other partner wants the house,” says Kristin Carleton, a financial advisor with Towne Investment Group. “When you have one partner who really plans for the house and the other who is planning for the wedding, you end up trying to do both at the same time.

“You generally have to make a choice,” Carleton adds. “It’s very difficult to save for a big wedding and a large down payment at the same time.”

2. Set a Budget
First and foremost, you and your partner need to sit down and set a realistic budget for both the wedding and the house, so you know the exact amount you need to save.

“Part of that process should be talking to a mortgage broker or banker to find out what program you can fit into and how much of a down payment you want to put down on a house,” says Carleton.

Inquire with your mortgage broker on what terms you and your partner qualify for in a mortgage loan—for example, whether you need to put down 20 percent, or if you can put down 5 percent because you qualify for a first-time homebuyer program.

If family members are helping out with the wedding costs or down payment, be clear with them and communicate the amount of money that you will need.

3. Factor in Personal Finances
Once you have set your wedding and house budgets, organize your personal financial budget. Figure out how much you and your partner should spend and save each month, along with where you can make sacrifices.

Make sure that you are able to pay for your necessities (such as rent, utility bills and groceries), and consider what you can live without. This may mean no more happy hours with friends, Friday night dates or romantic weekend getaways until after the wedding and the move.

4. Open Savings Accounts
To stay organized, open two different savings accounts: one for the wedding and the other for your down payment.

“Otherwise, you are hiring the florist for the wedding and you go way over budget because you see an account with $20,000,” says Carleton. “I suggest that couples set up a direct deposit program straight from their paychecks before they have a chance to spend it.”

Separate accounts will ensure that you and your partner are saving money consistently from month to month. Unlike a down payment, which is a one-time expense, a wedding requires lots of smaller expenses that add up quickly—everything from the dress to the catering fees to the wedding rings. Giving your wedding its own savings account allows you to keep an eye on how much you’ve spent so far.

5. Adjust Your Timeline
Your budget is going to determine your timeline for your wedding date and house purchase. Be realistic and break your goal down month by month to figure out a workable timeline. Don’t set a high number and expect to get to it without a reasonable plan. For example, if you need to save $60,000 and you can put away $2,000 a month, it will take two-and-a-half years to hit your goal. Carleton also advises factoring in several additional months of saving, just in case hidden expenses pop up along the way.

6. Hold Yourself Accountable
After planning out your budget and timeline, you both need to keep each other on track.

“This is a really good exercise for couples to start communicating frequently,” says Carleton. In other words, it’s perfect practice for marriage.

“It’s a good way to set goals and see how you do working towards a big goal,” Carleton adds.

Additionally, budgeting apps like Mint and computer programs like Quicken are easy-to-use tools that can keep you on track toward your financial goal.

“The last thing I would say in terms of keeping people accountable is to make sure that you are on the same page,” says Carleton. “I think it’s important that each person gets spending money built into the budget. Spend it with no questions asked, and make sure your budget is realistic.”

By Marissa Hermanson,  a wedding and lifestyle writer

Raleigh’s economy ranks 2nd in nation, and NC State had a lot to do with it, report says

“Our great universities are the backbone of our economy! Because of the universities, we got RTP, and maybe Apple, Amazon etc…..certainly countless other tech jobs. This is the BEST use of our taxpayer dollars,” states Becky Harper of Harper Tate Homes, Re/Max United.

Raleigh has climbed higher up a list of the nation’s top cities for creating and keeping quality jobs, and N.C. State University is given significant credit for the city’s economic success.

The Raleigh Metropolitan Statistical Area ranked 2nd on the list of best-performing cities for 2017, according to the Milken Institute, a California think tank. The City of Oaks climbed four spots from the No. 6 ranking it held in both 2015 and 2016.

The index of top cities is designed to show how metro areas stand relative to others in the nation in terms of economic vitality. It measures growth in terms of jobs, wages, salaries and technology output, with an emphasis on employment growth.

The Provo-Orem, Utah area –home to Brigham Young University – topped the list after a second-place ranking in 2016.

Raleigh and No. 3 Plano-Irving, Texas, offer more welcoming business climates and lower costs than coastal tech cities, the report said. “Raleigh’s research and development-driven industries” contributed to its rise.

The report notes that while the Triangle is home to several major universities, N.C. Statewas the only local school to place in the top 25 of Milken’s 2017 index of the best universities for technology transfer and commercialization.

“The university’s Centennial Campus, which now houses more than 75 research centers and academic departments alongside a similar number of private, nonprofit, and government partners, expands the ability of academics and industry to collaborate and innovate,” the report says of N.C. State. “Through co-op and internship programs, the school creates strong ties to local industry, and tightens the relationship between curriculum and career by introducing students early to real-world applications and challenges.”

The Charlotte-Concord-Gastonia area was the only other North Carolina MSA to make the top 25. Charlotte came in 13th, dropping one spot from its 2016 ranking.

Durham-Chapel Hill (ranked 106th) dropped 21 spots, Winston-Salem (121st) dropped 17, and Greensboro-High Point (142nd) fell 21 spots from 2016.

BY AARON MOODY, News&Observer