Don’t Underestimate the Cost of Living When Deciding Where to Live

I live in the suburbs of Chicago, and recently, after 11 years in the same apartment building, my husband and I re-entered the renter’s market.

When we first began renting at our last apartment, the two bedroom apartment was a bit too big for us.  Three kids later, we were bursting at the seams.

However, we were shocked to see that 3 bedroom apartments in our location rent for $1,300 to $1,800 a month.  Houses can rent for as much as $2,500 to $2,800 a month.

Houses Are Often Out of Reach

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How to Negotiate Lower Rent in Your Current Apartment

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In this market, many new renters are freely negotiating with prospective landlords on the price of rent and having success.

However, what if you are currently locked into a lease and don’t really want to move?

If you have been in your apartment for several years, before the downturn of the housing market, you may be paying up to a couple hundred dollars more than new tenants.

Luckily, there are still ways you can negotiate a lower rent payment.

How to Negotiate Lower Rent in Your Current Apartment

Know the market.

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How to Get a Bargain When Apartment Hunting

The uncertainty in the housing market along with more stringent lending standards is driving more people to rent rather than buy.

Even though there may be more people in the renting market in addition to the usual renting population, there are also more people turning the homes they own into rental units rather than having their home languish on the market for months or years.

This means that the rental market, like the housing market, is currently a renter’s market.

Here are some tips to take advantage of this and get a bargain when apartment hunting.

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Could Changes to the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP) Benefit You?

In 2009, the government rolled out the Home Affordable Refinance Program (HARP). The program is meant to help those who are underwater on their mortgages refinance into a more affordable monthly payment.

Unfortunately, some of the requirements for participation in the program limited its effectiveness.

In order to expand the program so that it reaches more homeowners, some changes have recently been made to HARP.

Main Changes to HARP

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Condo Fees You May Not Be Aware Of

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Many 20-somethings graduate college and move to the city.  Not quite ready for homeownership, many of them may consider buying a condo.

Recently, I observed a billboard for a condo building in downtown Chicago that piqued my curiousity because it clearly was seeking to attract young professionals.  I went home and looked on their website, which was sleek and obviously catering to the 20 to early 30s crowd.  There were beautiful pictures of the high rise from the outside, pictures of the inside of different condos highlighting the beautiful city view, floor plans, and even interviews with a half dozen of the residents (all of them young professionals except for the token near retirement empty nester).

What really caught my interest was their page that declared, “You Can’t Afford Not To Buy!”

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Homeowners Insurance Coverage: Are You Truly Covered?

One of the biggest purchases you make is your home. It is an expensive item to own, and its protection is quite important if you want to maintain financial freedom.  After all, if something happens to your home, it can be quite expensive to fix.  Insurance is purchased to help you afford unexpected problems, and this includes homeowners insurance.  However, it is important to realize that not every situation is always covered by homeowners insurance.

Before you consider that your entire home, and everything in it is covered, it is important to double check what is actually covered by your policy.  You may need to purchase additional insurance coverage if your homeowners policy is lacking.  Here are some of the more common items not covered by some homeowners insurance policies:
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Is a Home Security System Worth the Expense?

Home security system

I have a friend whose husband travels frequently for work.  After one of these trips, she mentioned how poorly she had slept because she had been listening for intruders.  I knew that she had a home security system, so I asked the obvious, “Didn’t the security system make you feel better?”

“I don’t use that!” she said in a voice filled with disdain.  “I don’t want to pay $30 a month for that!”  (She and her husband bought the house about five years ago, and the system was already installed.)

I bit my tongue from saying more, but by not using the security system she already has, I think she is making a big mistake.  People have the tendency to think they are safe in their homes and that other people’s houses get broken into, not theirs.  However, it only takes one incident to shake this view.  Still, many want to know — Is a home security system worth the expense? Continue Reading