Check Out The Top 5 Happiest Cities In The United States, According To ‘National Geographic’

Check Out The Top 5 Happiest Cities In The United States, According To ‘National Geographic’

Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

A lot of places across the U.S. can lay claim as the happiest city in the country. Although not a completely objective list, National Geographic set out to determine which ones were truly the “happiest” based on measurable criteria. These are the top 5 of the places that made the cut in 2017: Boulder, CO; Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA; Charlottesville, VA; Fort Collins, CO; and, the San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande metro area, CA.

The study used 15 metrics to determine happiness across 190 metropolitan areas. These are some in no particular order:

  •      Healthy eating;
  •      Health and wellness, including physical fitness and even visits to the dentist;
  •      Acquisition of knowledge and continuing (ongoing) education;
  •      Engagement with and a contribution to the city’s civic life;
  •      Overall financial literacy and well-being;
  •      Ability to take time away from work, such as for a vacation; and
  •      Access to green spaces, waterways, and parks.
  1. Boulder, CO

Just 25 miles due northwest of Denver, the capital city of the State of Colorado, is the city of Boulder. Boulder, with a population of just over 100,000, is consistently listed as one of the best cities to live in. It is where the great plains and the Rocky Mountains come together to form some of the most beautiful scenic landscapes in the United States. What makes Boulder such a happy place to be? Well, who wouldn’t be happy living in a city that experiences about 300 days of sunshine a year?

The area’s moderate weather makes outdoor mountain living possible. The city has an elevation of more than 5,400 feet, situating it 150 feet higher than the mile-high city of Denver. Its population is made up of 30,000 students that attend the University of Colorado, the state’s flagship university.

  1. Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA

Sun. Music. Ocean vistas: these are just some of the elements that make the population of the Santa Cruz-Watsonville, CA metro area one of the happiest. It is an area on the northern edge of the Monterey Bay peninsula and is just 32 miles to the south of the city of San Jose. There is plenty to do and see in this city of just over 62,000 residents, home to the University of California-Santa Cruz and its famous mascot, Sammy the Slug (made famous in the movie “Pulp Fiction”). Whether it’s a stroll on the boardwalk, taking in the beauty of the many Spanish missions, or enjoying the eateries along the bay, there’s plenty here to make residents and visitors alike happy.

  1. Charlottesville, VA

Charlottesville has become synonymous with the University of Virginia. The university and its nearly 25,000 undergraduate and graduate students have called Charlottesville home for the past 200 years. It is a particular point of pride that the school was founded in 1819 by the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. Charlottesville is a small and quaint place to live; its population of 48,000 residents has often been called one of the friendliest in the country. But what attracts people to Charlottesville, beside the university? Despite its size, many people have found quiet and active pastimes: whether it’s strolling through its historic downtown mall, hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, or visiting one of the dozens of wineries or breweries in the area, there’s something for everyone.

  1. Fort Collins, CO

Another Colorado city that made it onto National Geographic’s top five list, at number four, is Fort Collins. 161,000 residents call Fort Collins home. The city is also home to Colorado State University and its 25,000 students. A main attraction that you can find is its craft beer industry, which produces more than 70 percent of the craft beer made in Colorado. And who wouldn’t want to live in a place that produces so much beer?

  1. San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande, CA

San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande metro area is the name for the largest metropolitan area located in San Luis Obispo County, California. The cities, together, have a population of over 260,000 residents. They are located at the midway point between the major cities of Los Angeles to the south and San Francisco to the north. California Polytechnic State University (“Cal Poly”) is located in this metro area, along with its 21,000 students, which help bring a young vibe to the metropolitan area. One of the most popular attractions that makes San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles-Arroyo Grande a happy place to live is its wineries and many wine tastings. Add the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center on the campus of the Cal Poly and a budding arts scene, and you will find this a pleasant place to be.

It is easy to see why these five cities top the list of happiest places to live in the U.S. What these cities share in common are a youthful university population, contributing to the intellectual capital in each of these communities. This is not the only factor; looking at the metrics determined by National Geographic, these five cities have many subjective and objective qualities that they share in common.

What the five top cities share that make them the happiest are high marks in personal pleasure, a pride in the community, and a sense of purpose. It also helps that these five cities are bikeable communities, have a low rate of crime, and have access to clean air and clean water (in fact, the correlation between access to clean water and happiness is strong). These factors increase the happiness of its residents and make them places that more and more people want to visit.

Want to know more about your neighborhood? Plug an address into NeighborWho’s property finder and see what you can find!

Help! How Do I Confront A Neighbor Who Lets His Dog Poop On My Lawn?

Help! How Do I Confront A Neighbor Who Lets His Dog Poop On My Lawn?

Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

When you find dog poop on your property, and you don’t own a dog yourself, you may be wondering how it got there. Not only is dog poop gross and hard to clean off your shoes, it is also an environmental hazard according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Just one gram of dog poop may contain over 23 million bacteria, many of which can be dangerous to both animal and human health. Parvovirus, coronavirus, E. Coli, whipworms, Coccidia, hookworms, Guardia, tapeworms, salmonella, Campylobacteriosis are just a few of the many dangerous illnesses that can be spread through dog fecal matter. These dangerous diseases can spread all over your lawn and inside your house, or be carried down into the groundwater where they can live for more than a year. Insects and other animals are also attracted to the dung, and they carry their treasures with them wherever they go.

Dog Waste is Not a Fertilizer

All the hard work of keeping your lawn green and healthy can be erased when Fido comes over to play unannounced. Dog poop can destroy your lawn by causing brown spots and discoloration. A once luscious lawn can become unsightly when dog poop takes over and leaves patches in the grass. Dog poop and urine produce excess nitrogen which can kill your lawn.

What Should I do to Stop Dogs from Using my Lawn as a Potty Station?

First of all, it’s important to refrain from making assumptions. Just because you find dog doo-doo on your lawn doesn’t mean that your neighbor was leaving it there on purpose. Stop yourself from acting rashly or out of anger: consider what might have happened, and that this one-time transgression may have been an accident. Did a stray dog pass through your neighborhood, leaving little gifts behind? Did your sweet but preoccupied neighbor forget to bring a plastic bag and promise to come back any minute with the bag? Did your neighbor’s large dog escape his enclosure once again and head to his favorite spot – your lawn?

  1. First, try playing detective to find out who or what might be behind this “dirty” deed. Using adequate precautions and distance, consider inspecting the specimen to see whether it came from a large or small animal. Ask nearby neighbors if they have been experiencing the same problem. Keep an eye out for any dogs passing by, and see if they stop on your lawn to do their business. Remember to never accuse someone of allowing their dog to poop on your lawn. Always get the facts straight first.
  2. Once you have conclusively determined which dog has been causing offense to your lawn, find a polite way to address the owner of the dog. Consider using “I” statements and avoid sentences that start with “you.” For example, you might say, “I noticed that your dog has been using my lawn to relieve himself. I am not sure if you are aware, but dog poop can have very dangerous germs. Is there any way you could either pick up the poop next time or find a different spot for him to do his business?”
  3. If the owner continues to allow his or her dog to continue to defecate on your property, you can always set up a camera, or take pictures as evidence. Remember, the law is on your side. Whatever you do, stay calm, do not harass, threaten, intimidate, or otherwise elevate the tension.

What Not to do When You Find Dog Waste in Your Yard

It’s okay to feel upset, irritated and annoyed when you find your lawn contaminated with dog waste. However, don’t turn your feelings into behavior that could invite retaliation. Here’s a list of what you should avoid doing when you are upset with your neighbor’s dog:

  • Don’t cause physical harm to your neighbor or his or her dog.
  • Do not light the dog poop on fire in front of your neighbor.
  • Don’t yell at your neighbor or cause a scene.
  • Don’t take the dog poop and toss it onto your neighbor’s property.
  • Don’t deliver the dog poop to your neighbor’s mailbox or front door.

What are my Rights as a Property Owner?

You have a right to a clean, disease-free home and lawn. If a dog continues to trespass on your property without your permission and cause damage to your lawn, it might be time to seek the help of an experienced attorney.

Want to know more about your neighborhood? Plug an address into NeighborWho’s property finder and see what you can find!

These Are The Top 8 Home Improvement Scams To Look Out For

These Are The Top 8 Home Improvement Scams To Look Out For

Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

Home improvement scams happen with enough regularity that it pays to be wary. Think about the sad irony of it all: you’re just trying to make life a little better for you and your family, but what happens instead is you lose a lot of money. Home improvement scams can really be heartbreaking and create significant financial burdens.

The good news is that, with a little planning, you can hopefully make your home improvement plans relatively scam-proof. Here are the top eight scams to avoid.

Your Home Improvement Business has Contract Phobia Issues

One rule of thumb is to never do business with a contractor without a paper trail. If your potential contractor balks on this, you may want to consider no longer proceeding.

By and large, real professionals in the construction field understand that contracts are essential for good business practices. Contracts protect both the customer and business alike. They’re also important documents that spell out what work the customer can expect and for what price.

You’re Asked to Pay in Cash

Generally, homeowners are advised to never make large payments in cash. If something would go wrong such as shoddy work or no work at all, you want proof that you made a payment.

Thankfully, most construction companies are trustworthy. It’s the few others you have to watch out for: some scammers will simply take your money and run. They’ll quickly spend your hard-earned cash and you’ll never hear from them again.

Avoid Making Natural Disasters Even More Disastrous

In the event of a natural disaster, it may be prudent to be extra careful when considering which construction companies you use to help you rebuild. This is when some scammers swoop in, posing as well-meaning contractors. However, because of the scarcity of sufficient skilled labor available to match the overabundance of workers suddenly needed to service disaster areas, it’s easier than ever for scammers to blend in unnoticed.

Typically, the best contractors will be fully booked for a long time. Scammers, on the other hand, will offer you quick work for quick pay. The problem is, you’ll likely pay for it when you receive substandard work, if you get any work at all.

You may want to be especially careful about signing over your insurance check until you know exactly who you’re dealing with and their reputation.

They Request an Excessive Down Payment

Making a down payment before work begins is common practice. However, if the down payment amount exceeds 1/3 of the total project cost, this could be a major red flag.

If you feel the upfront fee is too steep, try negotiating with your contractor. The majority of businesses are willing to negotiate the down payment with you.

Unwilling to Operate with Permits       

It’s essential that your contractor has the appropriate permits to do the job. You’ll rest easy knowing that your contractor is properly insured and follows local building laws.

If the business you go with is unwilling to be transparent when it comes to permits, you may want to look elsewhere. It could be that your contractor is unlicensed. If that’s the case, you’ll likely risk paying a heavy price later on even if you save a few dollars in the short term.

Unwilling to Provide References

Quality companies are more than happy to provide references to prospective customers who ask for them. They have nothing to hide and stand behind the quality of the work they provide.

However, if you ask a contractor for references and they’re unwilling to provide them, proceed with extreme caution.

High-Pressure Contractors

The best contractors almost always have plenty of work to do. They’ll never use high-pressure sales tactics. They’re confident in their abilities. For that reason, they want you to be sure of what you’re signing up for.

If a contractor ever pressures you into a quick sale, this may be a major warning sign. Many feel that only scammers and companies with questionable work practices would do this.

The Project Price Keeps Increasing          

There are times for legitimate project prices increases. A good contract will make allowances for this, where warranted, so long as both parties agree to the extra work and payment with a new signature.

That said, price increases are sometimes a scam tactic. If you feel that price increases for your project are unwarranted, consider getting the opinion of a building inspector or established contractor in your area.

Additional Ways to Avoid Being a Victim of Fraud and Scams

Now that we’ve discussed specific ways that you could be scammed, here are a few additional practices that may help you avoid home improvement fraud.

Know your local laws: In some regions, contractors are only legally able to take a certain dollar percentage upfront before starting a project. Check your local and state laws to inform yourself on these laws.

Also, building codes vary by region. Although you should be able to rely solely on your contractor for this, it never hurts to do your own homework. A homeowner’s nightmare is paying full price for completed work that isn’t up to code. This could lead to potentially unsafe living conditions and make your house difficult to sell without potentially costly alterations.

By thoroughly knowing your local laws, you’ll likely be better able to spot a good contractor and, more importantly, a bad one!

Never make a deal with a contractor offering “leftover” or discounted building materials: Good contractors never do this. If you proceed, you could wind up getting ripped off.

Check out contractors through the BBB: The Better Business Bureau may have high praises for your contractor or quite the opposite. Checking into this is always time well spent. You can do your research at bbb.org.

There’s a lot you can do to try and protect yourself from home improvement scams. If you take a little time to prepare now, you may be happy you did later on.

Want to know more about your neighborhood? Plug an address into NeighborWho’s property finder and see what you can find!

Remodeling Your Home? Here Are 2019’s Top Design Trends You Need To Try

Remodeling Your Home? Here Are 2019’s Top Design Trends You Need To Try

Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

It’s a new year and time to give your home a fresh new look. Over the last few years, we’ve seen trends explode onto the scene. These have included floral patterns, ultraviolet shades, and unicorn-inspired holographic accents. With so many competing ideas, it can be hard to know where to start creating a clean and thought-out design or layout. The good news is that 2019’s up-and-coming trends are a little more understated. Here are six that you can mix and match to create a timeless, yet modern look that may still be in style in the years to come.

Color Play

One shade that is increasing in popularity this year is a deep, forested green hue. This shade works very well for accent pieces in home decor like table runners, throw pillows, and drapes. You can play around with contrast by pairing a warmer toned dark green with a cooler, brighter color.  

What about for your walls? One key to remember here is balance. Using too much of a dark shade can make a room look dim or smaller, but this dark green color lends itself well to stripes or as an accent pattern in wallpaper.

Statement Making Ceilings

Colorful patterned walls may get all the hype, but designers are exploring new frontiers by looking up — literally! Chances are, your rooms’ ceilings are blank canvases ready to be turned into stylish statements. Contrasting shades, bold stripes, and intricate patterns all work to draw the eye upward. This can create visual interest, an opulent feel, and make the room seem both brighter and larger. Remember to keep the walls a little simpler if you have a highly detailed ceiling.

Brass and Tin

For years, stainless steel has been the go-to metal for trendy accents. Change is coming in 2019. Two metals that are gaining in popularity are tin and brass. They both bring a different look to the room. Tin is similar to steel, giving rooms a cool shine without too much intensity. It also works well for stamped panels on the roof or backsplashes. Meanwhile, brass has a vintage gaslight-inspired vibe. This warmer toned metal is fantastic for rustic or cozy spaces. However, be aware that it’s softer. Brass may not hold up to constant use for fixtures like doorknobs.

Pattern Revolutions

Are you looking to update your rug, furniture, or drapes? Patterns are going to be big this year! The newest trend is to mix contrasting shapes and colors. This creates a fresh and interesting look.

A few ideas include rarely paired colors like pink and brown or mixing bold stripes with leopard print. The key here is balance. Try a bright color with a neutral one or an edgy pattern mixed with something more demure, like stripes.

Concrete

Here’s a twist no one saw coming: concrete inside the house?! It’s true! Designers are embracing this material and updating it for the home. You’ll see it being used for tiles, countertops, and even tables. The best part of concrete is that it’s an inexpensive and durable material that can offer a wide variety of looks. With the right application, your house will look clean and modern without a trace of a cold industrial feel.

Vintage Light Fixtures

If brass and tin weren’t enough, designers are also looking to the past for lighting solutions. Everything from 70s style recessed lighting to Titanic-era chandeliers are making a comeback. You can find modern versions of these in hardware stores or hit the antique store circuit for the real deal.

This is one of the most accessible trends. If you don’t want to change the entire lamp, just update the shade to give the space some vintage magic. When paired with modern bulbs, these let you enjoy dimmers, tinted lighting, or natural spectrum illumination.

This coming year in home decorating is going to be a great one for people who like to experiment with colors and patterns without going overboard. Many of the upcoming design trends are actually a nod to bygone eras, but updated for modern sensibilities. With an eye toward balance and proportion, you can experiment with a number of these trends. This will help you give your home a look that’s both comfortably grounded and still creative!

Want to know more about your neighborhood? Plug an address into NeighborWho’s property finder and see what you can find!

Winter Got You Down? The ‘Hygge’ Lifestyle May Be Exactly What You Need To Overcome Seasonal Blues

Winter Got You Down? The ‘Hygge’ Lifestyle May Be Exactly What You Need To Overcome Seasonal Blues

The winter blues, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), is a very common medical condition that is easily self-diagnosed. In fact, millions may be affected and not know that their negative feelings can be diagnosed. The winter blues may present as feelings of hopelessness, depression, and fatigue, causing one to withdraw from social activities or family contact.

‘Hygge’ may be part of the answer to combating SAD. You may have been hearing more and more about it, but you may not quite understand what it is yet. ‘Hygge’ is actually a Danish lifestyle concept that encourages adopting habits that foster a sense of well-being, with an emphasis on coziness and comfort – which is what we need during the cold days of winter. There is also an emphasis on familiarity: in the hygge sense, this means valuing and taking pleasure in experiences that may be considered to be ‘ordinary’.

Understanding the Winter Blues

The winter blues affect millions of people in the U.S. every year, and is generally attributed to the lack of sunlight during darker and colder winter months. The shift in seasons is known to affect the body’s internal clock and cause a drop in certain brain chemicals. One may be affected physically and emotionally due to the following:

  • Lower melatonin levels. Melatonin is a hormone that helps regulate sleep and mood.
  • Decreased serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that regulates mood.
  • Disruption in the circadian rhythm controlling sleep and wake cycles.

Traditionally, the medical community has responded with different types of treatments, including light therapy, psych drugs or sleep medications, cognitive behavior therapy, along with regular exercise and outdoor activity. Yet, many people still dread the coming winter months and find it extremely difficult to ‘carry on’ as usual after the summer and fall seasons pass.

What is Hygge?

Hygge has been practiced in Danish culture since the 1800s. The word is derived from the Norwegian word that means well-being. The idea behind hygge is the promotion of a lifestyle that is “cozy and comfortable”. For many Danes, hygge is a way of life – one that embraces cozy comfort in clothing, foods furnishing, and in your daily activities.

Bringing Hygge Into Your Life

There are many simple ways to bring Hygge into your life. Here are a few to consider:

  • Drinking warm beverages and eating hot foods. This includes teas, warm milk, and comfort food like casseroles and soups.
  • Creating a cozy, comfortable, and familiar environment by adding pillows and throws to a room, wearing knitted sweaters, and sitting by a fireplace.
  • Curling up with a good book or relaxing to soft music.
  • Bonding and snuggling with family.
  • Venturing outdoors to enjoy green spaces and nature when possible.  

What Hygge is Not

When you consider what hygge is not, picture the average employee who puts in long hours on the job, with little time left for family, friends, and his or herself. The few hours spent at home are consumed by scratching the next item off the “to-do list” or by shuffling between electronic devices. What a person living a non-hygge lifestyle considers relaxation or recreation is really just another list of activities to fill empty hours – and without the benefit of close personal interactions. Here are other ways you may not be living a the ‘hygge’ lifestyle:

  • Only consuming cold foods and beverages.
  • Staying isolated or avoiding family and friends.
  • Allowing your body or environment to become physically cold.
  • Spending an excessive amount of time on cell phones, tablets or other electronics.
  • Making constant purchases just to stay on top of trends in fashion and technology.
  • Setting too many strict rules for yourself and not living in the moment.

If you want to practice hygge, then live ‘a simple life’: this means enjoying the things you already have with the people who are closest to you. Taking pleasure in the little things in life can not only increase your happiness, it can also put off the winter blues.

Want to know more about your neighborhood? Plug an address into NeighborWho’s property finder and see what you can find!

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