BudgetBuyingCommunityHomesHousingOffice NewsReal Estate June 21, 2021

How Much Down Payment Do You Need for a House?

Before you start shopping for a home, you need to know what you can afford – and a big part of that depends on how much you can afford as a down payment.

But how much down payment do you need to be able to afford the house you want? The answer isn’t the same for everyone, but key information can help you determine the right amount to save. Also the mortgage programs to explore and other resources to consider to help you buy the right home.

What’s a Typical Down Payment Amount?

Beyond being able to buy a home with cash, many lenders and consumers view a 20% down payment with a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage as ideal. Whether or not it’s accurate is a different story, but that’s what people see as the gold standard.

However, the typical U.S. homebuyer is putting far less money on the table at closing. The median down payment is 12%, according to the National Association of Realtors 2021 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends report. Broken out into age groups, buyers 22 to 30 years old put down a median of 6% of the loan value, while buyers ages 31 to 40 put 10% down, buyers 41 to 55 put a median of 13% down and buyers 56 to 65 put a median of 18% down. Only seniors, ages 66 and up, provide a median of more than 20% of the loan value as a down payment.

Types of Low Down Payment Mortgage Options

The amount of down payment needed for you to be able to secure financing for a home depends on the type of mortgage you qualify for. Your credit score and history, current income and savings all play a role. To help you find the right mortgage program to fit your situation, seek out a professional financial expert who can help you explore all options.

Our recommendation is (for homebuyers) to find a (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development) counseling agency that can work with them one on one. HUD-approved counseling agencies offer free counseling, either in a group or one on one and can be found on HUD’s website.

Here are the mortgage options that can allow for a low down payment:

  • Conventional loan. A conventional mortgage is offered by a private lender, often a bank, credit union or non-bank lender, like Quicken Loans. A conventional mortgage that meets criteria from Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac may be purchased from the lender by these government-sponsored entities after the mortgage has been issued, and then sold to investors. Many banks and non-bank lenders offer conventional loans requiring less than 20% down. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac both have programs requiring just 3.5% down. If you’re putting less than 20% down, however, you will be required to pay mortgage insurance for a conventional loan, which increases your monthly payment.
  • FHA loan. A mortgage insured by the Federal Housing Administration often allows for a lower down payment and may be more flexible with credit score requirements than many conventional mortgages. An FHA loan is still issued by a bank or other lender, but it is approved and insured by the FHA. The minimum down payment required for an FHA loan is 3.5%, but mortgage insurance is required. The FHA allows for mortgage insurance at 1.75% of the loan amount to be paid at closing, or for mortgage insurance to be rolled into the loan.
  • VA loan. A loan insured by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs can help active duty military, veterans and their families purchase a home. With a VA loan you may have the option to have a zero percent down payment. There are limits to the size of the loan if no down payment is provided, and those limits depend on the location of the purchase.
  • USDA loan. The U.S. Department of Agriculture also offers a zero percent down mortgage program for properties located in eligible rural areas through its Rural Development Guaranteed Housing Loan Program. In addition to the rural setting, the USDA’s zero-down program is aimed at low-income residents looking to achieve homeownership.

In exploring your options, you may find you qualify for multiple programs. Especially in a housing market where multiple bids are common, keep in mind that the mortgage program you choose gets scrutinized by the seller when you submit an offer.

Right now sellers are looking for stronger down payments … but they just want to be sure you can secure financing. Some sellers may view a VA or FHA loan as less desirable than a conventional mortgage because the VA and FHA programs require additional steps for approval. While this doesn’t necessarily make them less likely to be approved, a seller may view them as less appealing than a competing offer with a conventional mortgage.

Private Mortgage Insurance

Private mortgage insurance serves as protection for the lender on the chance that the borrower defaults on his or her loan, and it is only required when the buyer has put less than 20% down. PMI may either be paid up front, at closing or in monthly installments as part of the mortgage payment. However, adding to the monthly cost can be a slippery slope toward becoming house-poor. It’s really the mortgage insurance that makes (a home) less affordable. To avoid taking on a monthly payment that’s too high, determine the monthly payment you can afford first and set your budget based on that, even if PMI considerations for a low down payment lowers your budget for a home.

Down Payment Assistance

Even if a down payment as low as 3.5% feels out of reach, know that you have options to help you achieve homeownership without having to save for a decade. Down payment assistance programs are widespread throughout the U.S. to help provide the one-time funds necessary to afford a down payment. Some down payment assistance programs serve as a second lien on the home, which can be paid back slowly or forgiven after a certain number of years of owning the home. Other programs serve as a grant, giving eligible homeowners money for a down payment with no payback required.

A good place to start looking for assistance you qualify for is with your state government – most states have first-time homebuyer programs that include various forms of down payment assistance. A housing counselor, financial advisor or even your real estate agent can help you find a program to help you with your down payment.

Why You Should Save for More Than Your Down Payment

Before you calculate what you’ll need for a down payment based on every cent you have in savings, don’t forget that you’ll also need to cover closing costs and have some financial cushion once you’re a homeowner. Closing costs vary based on the cost of your home and where it’s located, but often add up to between 3% and 6% of the purchase price. Some down payment assistance programs will also cover closing costs, but that is a detail you should clarify in advance. After you close on your home, you should have at least a couple thousand dollars in savings to serve as a rainy day fund – in case your air conditioning breaks on the hottest day of the year or you discover a leak in your roof.

While you save up for these additional costs to purchase a home, don’t go overboard to try to reach your goal faster. Save an amount of money each month that’s within your comfort zone. You may opt to forego takeout meals for the foreseeable future to save more, for example, but eating instant ramen for months on end to drastically cut grocery costs is unnecessary.

 

 

Blog post by Chasity

Social Media Director

Agent NewsCommunityRecreational Activities June 7, 2021

Summer Reading List

These are my reading picks through the Summer. I hope you enjoy them along with other reading options through King County Library System which is now open for in person services. All online services and resources continue to be available as well. Visit there site here kcls.com

 

People We Meet On Vacation by Henry, Emily

When Poppy met Alex, there was no spark, no chemistry, and no reason to think they’d ever talk again. Alex is quiet, studious, and destined for a future in academia. Poppy is a wild child who only came to U of Chicago to escape small-town life. But after sharing a ride home for the summer, the two form a surprising friendship. After all, who better to confide in than someone you could never, ever date? Over the years, Alex and Poppy’s lives take them in different directions, but every summer the two find their way back to each other for a magical week long vacation. Until one trip goes awry, and in the fallout, they lose touch. Now, two years later, Poppy’s in a rut. Her dream job, her relationships, her life – none of it is making her happy. In fact, the last time she remembers feeling truly happy was on that final, ill-fated Summer Trip. The answer to all her problems is obvious: She needs one last vacation to win back her best friend. As a hilariously disastrous week unfolds and tensions rise, Poppy and Alex are forced to confront what drove them apart – and decide what they’re willing to risk for the chance to be together.

 

What Happened To You by Perry, Bruce Duncan

Have you ever wondered “Why did I do that?” or “Why can’t I just control my behavior?” Others may judge our reactions and think, “What’s wrong with that person?” When questioning our emotions, it’s easy to place the blame on ourselves; holding ourselves and those around us to an impossible standard. It’s time we started asking a different question. Through deeply personal conversations, Oprah Winfrey and renowned brain and trauma expert Dr. Bruce Perry offer a groundbreaking and profound shift from asking “What’s wrong with you?” to “What happened to you?” Here, Winfrey shares stories from her own past, understanding through experience the vulnerability that comes from facing trauma and adversity at a young age. In conversation throughout the book, she and Dr. Perry focus on understanding people, behavior, and ourselves. It’s a subtle but profound shift in our approach to trauma, and it’s one that allows us to understand our pasts in order to clear a path to our future―opening the door to resilience and healing in a proven, powerful way.

 

We hope you enjoy the books I have chosen for you. Visit kcls.org to view other wonderful books that are available. Kcls.org Libraries are now open for in person service but you can still reserve books online and do curbside pick up and drop off.

 

 

Social Media Director

by Chasity Rodriguez

Office News May 24, 2021

Farmers Markets Close To Home

It’s that time of year again for Farmers Markets and we are so excited! I have compiled a list of Local Farmers Market that are close to your home. This list covers Snohomish and Island counties so you can pick up essentials fresh from the farm at any of these locations. We sure did miss everyone last year and looking forward to seeing the newbies!

 

 

ARLINGTON

Arlington Farmers Market

10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Saturdays through Sept. 25th at Legion Park

140 N. Olympic Ave.; 360-659-5453 –  stillyvalleychamber.com/farmersmarket

 

BOTHELL

Bothell Community Market

4 to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, June 2nd through Sept. 29th at Park Ridge Church

3805 Maltby Road – parkridgemarket.com

 

COUPEVILLE

Coupeville Farmers Market

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 30th next to the library

788 Alexander St. – coupevillemarket.com

 

DARRINGTON

Whitehorse Market

9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Friday through Sunday, through October

1180 Cascade St. – nfmd.org/wa/darrington/1010884

 

EDMONDS

Edmonds Garden Market

9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through June 12th

Bell Street and Fifth Avenue; 425-774-0900 – historicedmonds.org/summer-market

 

EVERETT

Everett Sunday Farmers Market

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 31st

Downtown Everett at Hewitt and Wetmore avenues – everettfarmersmarket.com

 

LAKE FOREST PARK

Lake Forest Park Farmers Market

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 17th

Lake Forest Park, Highway 522 and Highway 104; 206-366-3302 – thirdplacecommons.org/farmers-market

 

LAKE STEVENS

Lake Stevens Farmers Market

3 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays, June 2nd to Sept. 29th at North Cove Park and The Mill

1808 Main St; 425-280-4150 – lakestevensfarmersmarket.org

 

LANGLEY

Bayview Farmers Market

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays through Oct. 16th at Bayview Corner

Highway 525 and Bayview Road; 360-321-4302 – bayviewfarmersmarket.com

Langley Street Market

11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays through Sept. 15th

Along Second Street – visitlangley.com

South Whidbey Tilth Farmers Market

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 26 and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Oct. 17th

South Whidbey Tilth’s Sustainable Agriculture Center

2812 Thompson Road – southwhidbeytilth.org

 

MARYSVILLE

Marysville Farmers Market

Noon to 6 p.m. Sundays through Sept. 26th (no market on July 4th), in the Grocery Outlet parking lot

9620 State St; 425-422-8356 – farmersatmarysvillemarket

 

MONROE

Monroe Farmers Market

2:30 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays May 26th through Sept. 1st at Galaxy Theatre

1 Galaxy Way – facebook.com/monroewafarmers

 

OAK HARBOR

Whidbey Farm & Market

11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursdays through Mondays through Dec. 30th across from the Blue Fox Drive-In

1422 Monroe Landing Road, Oak Harbor – whidbeyfarmandmarket.com

 

SNOHOMISH

Snohomish Farmers Market

3 to 7 p.m. Thursdays through Sept. 29th at Cedar Avenue and Pearl Street

425-280-4150 – snohomishfarmersmarket.org

 

STANWOOD

Port Susan Farmers Market

2 to 6 p.m. Fridays, June 4th to Oct. 8th, behind the Stanwood Police Station

8727 271st St. NW; 425-280-4150 – stanwoodfarmersmarket.org

 

SULTAN

Port Susan Farmers Market

10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays, June 5th through Sept. 25th, on Main Street at River Park.

skyvalleychamber.com

 

 

written by Chasity Rodriguez

Social Media Director

 

BudgetBuyingCommunityHomesHousingOffice NewsRetirementVacation homes May 20, 2021

Ask Yourself These Questions Before Purchasing Your Home

No matter how many HGTV shows you watch about flipping old houses that have happy endings, reality isn’t always as kind. Regardless of when the home was built and its current condition, if you find yourself in a situation where you’re getting ready to make an offer, ask yourself these questions first to make sure it really is the right house for you (and your budget).

Questions to ask:

Here are some questions to consider to help you determine whether this is your best option:

  1. Are you forcing the numbers to work?
    Being able to “afford a house” goes far beyond whether you can hypothetically secure the funds for a down payment and get a mortgage. It also includes all the repairs, taxes, maintenance fees, utilities, and who knows what else that pops up over time. Make sure you take all of that into consideration and be realistic about what you can afford.
  2. Does the home excite you?
    Not everyone is in a place where they’re able to hold out for a home that “excites” them, but if you are, why spend that much money on something you’re not that into?
  3. Does the home meet everyone’s needs?
    If you live on your own, this isn’t an issue, but if you live with a partner and/or family, make sure the house is a good fit for everyone—not just you.
  4. Are you willing to waive the inspection contingency?
    It’s a seller’s market, so if your attempt to make your offer stand out is to waive the inspection contingency, that could be a problem down the line. There could be something that comes up in the inspection report that completely changes your enthusiasm for buying the home.
  5. Are you ignoring the findings of the inspection report?
    If so, this may not be the place for you. If the inspection comes back with red flags trying to tell you this isn’t the house for you, listen to them. Once we begin picturing ourselves in a home or visualizing ourselves raising kids in a home, it’s really hard to walk away.
  6. Are you up to the task of making all the repairs the home requires?
    Please be aware that home improvement shows only show a tiny part of the entire renovation process. It is so much work. And also expensive. If you don’t have the skills to do it yourself, or the money to hire people to make the repairs, it’s time to pass.
  7. Does the house have a high turnover rate?
    Do a little research and find out the sales history of the house. If it changes hands frequently, that is not a good sign, and you should find out why that happens.

As heartbreaking as it may be to walk away from what you think could be your dream home, the reality is, it might not work out. And it’s better to know that now, than after the papers are signed.

 

Blog Post by Chasity Rodriguez
BudgetCommunityOffice NewsRecreational Activities April 27, 2021

5 Mother’s Day Gifts That Thrill

Mother’s Day is a special time to celebrate moms, although we don’t really need a reason to celebrate mothers because they are amazing everyday. Here are 5 gifts that we thought stood out and reasonably priced for that special mom.

 

Personalized Handwriting Cutting Board

This unique gift from Etsy showcases handwriting from you or a loved one engraved on a smooth, matte wood cutting board. Your mom can hang it as a display or use it to cook in the kitchen — the bamboo composite is harder than wood and helps keep out bacteria. This runs about $45.

 

Minted 60-Piece Custom Heart Puzzle

Puzzles picked up in popularity amid quarantine, so consider giving your mom a special one with a personalized photo of your choosing. This 60-piece matte puzzle also comes in a patterned drawstring pouch and hinged box with gold detailing for a beautiful presentation, and includes a reference artwork card that she can follow while building it. The price for this is also around $45.

 

Sips By – Personalized Tea Gift Card

Tea is often a great gift choice — and it’s hard to mess up. Sips By delivers four types of tea on a monthly basis, based on preferences and taste. Each shipment should cover about 15 cups of tea (more if she resteeps them) and the $45 gift card will cover three months of subscription. If you want to play it safe, this will be a solid choice.

Customs Pillows – All About Vibe

How about a Customized pillow? Every single pillow is custom made-on-demand by artisans in our their partnered factory based in Chicago, IL. Turn any favorite photo, or memorable moment into a soft, double sided and super-realistic pillow. A perfect gift for mom.

 

Winc Wine Club Membership And Gifts

Winc’s process involves a short quiz that determines her taste and with each new shipment, it learns slightly more to make more informed decisions and recommendations. If she enjoys a glass of red or white (or otherwise) every once in a while, you can be the source of that (responsible) delicious swig. There lots of offers to fit moms needs at a reasonable price.

 

 

 

 

written by Chasity Rodriguez

Social Media Director

Agent NewsCommunityHomesHousingOffice NewsReal EstateRetirementVacation homes March 22, 2021

Moving and Packing Tips Part 2

Here is Part two of Moving and Packing Tips. Pack a “first day” box with items you will need right away (dogs and cats included, hahaha….)

 

FIRST DAY BOX:

Moving, packing

 

scissors
utility knife
local phone book
coffee cups
teakettle
instant coffee or tea, soft drinks
pencil and paper
soap
bath towels
trash bags
shelf liner
paper plates
snacks
toilet paper
children’s toys and books

 

MOVING ESSENTIALS:

furniture pads
hand truck or dolly
packing tape
bubble wrap
newspapers or
packing paper
scissors
utility knife
labels
felt-tip markers
cornstarch packing
“peanuts”
plenty of boxes

 

Packing and moving

MOVING DAY: OLD HOME

Pick up the truck as early as possible if you are
moving yourself.

Make a list of every item and box loaded on the truck.

Let the mover know how to reach you.

 Double-check closets, cupboards, attic, basement
and garage for any left-behind items.

 

MOVING DAY: NEW HOME

Be on hand at the new home to answer questions
and give instructions to the mover.

Check off boxes and items as they come off the truck.

Install new locks. Confirm that the utilities have been turned on and
are ready for use.

Unpack your “first day” box (see list above for suggested
contents).

Unpack children’s toys and find a safe place for them to play.

Examine your goods for damage.

 

written by Chasity Rodriguez

Social Media Director

Agent NewsCommunityOffice NewsRecreational ActivitiesRetirement March 4, 2021

Spring Reading List

Spring Reading List

These are my reading picks through Springtime. I hope you enjoy them along with other reading options through Sno-Isle Libraries which is still offering contact-free pick up and return of physical library materials. All online services and resources continue to be available. Sno-Isle Libraries is now currently offering limited in-building services at select Sno-Isle libraries. Visit there site here, sno-isle.org

 

We Run Tides by, Vida, Vendela

Best friends Eulabee and Maria Fabiola have a vehement falling out after disagreeing on the nature of an act they witness while walking to their upscale all-girls’ school, and Maria Fabiola’s sudden disappearance soon after that exposes dark community secrets.

 

Sustainable Minimalism by, Seferian, Stephanie Marie

“Break the consumption cycle. There’s so much to do, and way too much to buy. Whether it’s through late night TV ads, social media, or other sources of influence, we are addicted to buying and then storing things. Sometimes we consume with no regret and other times we realize that we’re doing more harm than good to our wallets and our homes. It’s a constant cycle one that many are longing to break. Who wants their hard-earned money to go toward something that soon ends up in a landfill? A guide to eco-minimalism with a plan that is realistic. Manufacturing “stuff” exploits Earth’s precious (and finite) resources. And then there’s the harsh reality of where it all goes. Our discarded possessions ultimately head to landfills and contribute to environmental pollution, releasing greenhouse gases during breakdown and decomposition. Sustainable Minimalism is the solution. Empower yourself to incrementally incorporate the tenets of sustainable minimalism into your home and life. Learn to master the easiest tasks first and build upon your successes a practical and stress-free process.

 

 

I hope you enjoy the books I have chosen to put on our blog to read. Visit sno-isle.org to view other wonderful books that are available online. All online services and resources continue to be available. Sno-Isle Libraries is now currently offering limited in-building services at select Sno-Isle libraries. Visit there site here, sno-isle.org

 

 

 

written by Chasity Rodriguez

Social Media Director

Agent NewsBudgetBuyingCommunityHomesHousingOffice NewsReal EstateRetirementVacation homes February 25, 2021

Moving and Packing Tips

The process of moving is long and complex. Being organized, knowing what needs to be done,
and tackling tasks efficiently can make your move significantly less stressful. We have some moving and packing tips for you and a detailed list to keep you on task and help make your move successful.

 

SIX TO EIGHT WEEKS BEFORE:

 

Moving and packing

 

Use up things that may be difficult
to move, such as frozen food.

Get estimates from
professional movers or from
truck rental companies if you
are moving yourself.

Once you’ve selected a mover,
discuss insurance, packing,
loading and delivery, and the
claims procedure.

Sort through your possessions.
Decide what you want to keep,
what you want to sell and what
you wish to donate to charity.

Record serial numbers on
electronic equipment, take photos
(or video) of all your belongings
and create an inventory list.

Change your utilities, including
phone, power and water, from your
old address to your new address.

Obtain a change of address
packet from the post office
and send to creditors,
magazine subscription offices
and catalog vendors.

Discuss tax-deductible moving
expenses with your accountant
and begin keeping accurate
records.

TWO TO FOUR WEEKS BEFORE:

 

packing, moving tips

 

If you’re moving to a new
community, contact the
Chamber of Commerce and
school district and request
information about services.

 Make reservations with airlines,
hotels and car rental agencies,
if needed.

If you are moving yourself, use
your inventory list to determine
how many boxes you will need.

Begin packing nonessential items.

Arrange for storage, if needed.

If you have items you don’t want to
pack and move, hold a yard sale.

Get car license, registration and
insurance in order.

Transfer your bank accounts to
new branch locations. Cancel
any direct deposit or automatic
payments from your accounts if
changing banks.

Make special arrangements to
move pets, and consult your
veterinarian about ways to make
travel comfortable for them.

Have your car checked and
serviced for the trip.

Collect items from safe-deposit
box if changing banks.

 

TWO TO THREE DAYS PRIOR:

 

Moving and packing

 

Defrost your refrigerator
and freezer.

Have movers pack your
belongings.

Label each box with the contents
and the room where you want it
to be delivered.

Arrange to have payment ready
for the moving company.

Set aside legal documents
and valuables that you do not
want packed.

Pack clothing and toiletries,
along with extra clothes in
case the moving company
is delayed.

Give your travel itinerary to a close
friend or relative so they can reach
you as needed.

Look out for the second part of this coming soon!

 

 

written by Chasity Rodriguez

Social Media Director

Agent NewsCommunityEventsHealthOffice NewsRecreational ActivitiesRetirement February 8, 2021

5 Tips for a Healthy Work-Life Balance

by Chasity Rodriguez

It’s the New Year, but you’re probably back to your same old work from home schedule—taking calls from your couch, working late hours, and even checking emails on the weekends. In the midst of this ongoing pandemic, our work life has merged with our personal life so that there’s little separation between the two. “Many employers are piling greater responsibilities on their staff and promoting a culture of open communication outside of traditional work hours. Due to fear of losing their jobs, many individuals working from home feel obligated to meet these demands,” says Jeffrey Ditzell, D.O., a psychiatrist based in New York City. When work and life are under the same roof, it can be difficult to keep them balanced.

As hard as it may be in these times, maintaining a healthy balance between your work and your personal life is essential for your mental and physical health. People who have blurred, or nonresistant, boundaries between their work and personal lives tend to have higher levels of stress and feel more distressed over time. Eventually developing all of the health issues that come along with it, but the good news is you can prevent this imbalance and all of the negative impacts of it by drawing a fine line between your personal and professional life.

“Setting firm boundaries is crucial for a strong work-life balance,” says Regine Muradian, Psy.D., a clinical psychologist based in Los Angeles. Learning how to establish boundaries will set you on the route to keep your work-related activities in control and prioritize more time for yourself, even when the pandemic is over. Here are five Tips for a Healthy Work-Life Balance that will help you build great WFH habits.

 

Establish set schedules for work

Designate when you will start and end the workday. When you set these times in stone (as best as you can), avoid checking your work email or accounts outside of your allotted work hours. Use technology to your advantage by using the various apps and digital reminders that make it more difficult for you to break your own rules and access things outside of work time. Although technology can feel like it’s taking over our lives and infringing on our work-life balance, we can actually use it to our benefit in helping us stick to the boundaries we know are healthy for us. This can mean setting time limits, turning off your active status, or even activating an auto-reply to let others know you’re not available outside your work hours.

 

Schedule time for mindfulness and movement

An imbalance between your work and personal life can be emotionally draining and cause burnout. Ensure you’re getting enough time each day to decompress and rest, which is necessary for your health and well-being. Make a habit to incorporate at least 10 minutes of mindfulness or yoga in your day. Prioritizing this time will help you check in with yourself in regards to how you’re feeling. To boost your mood and start the day with an energy boost, incorporate physical activity in your routine too. Pick any workout you enjoy and perform it regularly. This will enhance your mood and improve your experience of your day. Whether it is the first thing in the morning, during lunchtime, or before bed, creating time and space for consistent exercise and mindfulness will help you feel relaxed and rejuvenated.

 

Spend more time with your loved ones

Set aside time regularly to do the things you love with those you love. Plan special dates that you’ll look forward to and don’t overlap with your work hours. This may include attending an online workout class, having a Zoom happy hour with friends, taking a walk with your partner, or anything else you want to make sure you fit into your day or week. You can also invest in more family time by checking in with your loved ones virtually and attending events, like birthdays and anniversaries. If you have any family events that may occur on a consistent basis, build your work schedule around those events instead of building those events around your work schedule, if possible.

 

Develop a new hobby to fuel your personal interests

The COVID-19 pandemic is the perfect time to reflect on your interests and adopt a new hobby that you love. If you’re WFH, you’re probably saving a lot of time and money on commuting, so why not put it toward a new activity or skill? Maybe it’s joining that 8 a.m. running club in your neighborhood, or growing flowers in your home garden, or perhaps learning a new language. Think about something that feels good to you and will help you decompress. This may be a good time to avoid the news, social media and just do something for yourself. Finding purpose in a hobby will not only spark your inner creativity but also uplift and motivate you.

 

Use your vacation days

While there may not be much to do on a vacation during a pandemic, you still need that time off for your mental health and well-being. Do something that comforts you—maybe it’s taking a staycation and doing a movie marathon or spending a week in your favorite city. During your vacation, make sure to mute all work-related emails and accounts, if possible, and just focus on having fun. Additionally, throughout the year, don’t be too hard on yourself—take breaks every so often for that much-needed “me time.” Reflect and evaluate when you need time off from work, which will shift you closer to the type of balance you are striving for. It is a process for most people, so reviewing and tweaking your schedule, habits, and boundaries regularly is important.

 

 

By Chasity Rodriguez

Social Media Director 

CommunityRecreational Activities February 1, 2021

What is Solo Camping and How You Can Safely Do It

 

I know exactly what you’re thinking, solo camping must mean camping alone, SOLO, right? Yeah, that’s correct. It’s something that has gotten more popular over the past few years and I am finally giving in and wanting to try it out myself. I even went out and got some gear for it already! Last summer I had already given you guys lists of places to go camping. They’re still available too! So you can check out my previous lists here and here. But in today’s post I am going to be talking more about what it really takes to successfully camp alone. 

Knowledge

This one might seem kind of obvious, but it is important. You need to make sure you are 100% ready if you are going camping alone. That means you know you have all of the tools you need, you have researched the campground or area you will be camping at and you have even let a friend or family member know where you’ll be staying and when you plan on being home. This is something I would ease into. If you have never gone camping in a group before, I would recommend starting there. When you first learn how to swim you don’t jump right into the deepest part of the pool without practicing in the shallow end, right? I would say camping with friends or family is probably more fun than going alone!

Proper Tools

The next step to being prepared is making sure you have the proper tools for camping. What you need is simple. You should make sure you have:

  • A tent, so you have somewhere to sleep
  • Food, so you have stuff to eat
  • Water, so you don’t die of dehydration
  • Fire Starter, so you can stay warm. This is important!!!
  • Utensils for cooking
  • Enough warm clothes
  • Storage for your food to prevent wildlife from getting to it
  • Lamp for light. It gets dark when you go camping too!

These are just the basics too. I’m sure seasoned campers will say there’s more you need too! Like a cover for your tent if it rains and stuff like that. But I am just trying to help out beginners because that’s what I am! If you have any other suggestions for what you need for camping, please let me know!! And if you want your own camping checklist, then download one that I made here!

An Adventure Plan!

Now unless your plan is to just sit around camp the entire time you are gone on your camping trip, you need to have some sort of game plan on what you want to do or else you’ll be so bored the entire time you’re gone! This is another reason why it’s important you research where you will be camping before you get there. How else will you know what that area has to offer? The whole point of camping and traveling is to get out and have new adventures and see new places! So plan out some places to check out BEFORE you get to the campground so you have plenty of options to choose from when you get there.

Camping is a great way to get out in nature. And there’s so many ways you can camp these days. You can rent special glamping tents at some places, you can camp by tent, you can rent or buy an RV or trailer to camp out of, or even rent a cabin. You can even rent campsites out of people’s backyards thanks to apps like Hipcamp now. And now with the option to go camping by yourself it adds a whole new element to the game. So get out there and explore!

 

 

 

Written By: Nikki Allen