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So Much to Love (and Learn) About Fresno

iStock/Davel5957, Fresno Skyline

Almost everyone has heard of Fresno, California, but few people know all that this vibrant, mid-sized city has to offer. What began as a stop along the Central Pacific Railroad has blossomed into the fifth largest city in California. It boasts 300 days of sun per year, mild winters, and warm summers. That’s probably why U.S. News & World Report ranks it one of the 100 Best Places to Live–and why half a million people call it home.

Cost of Living

Nestled between the Sierra Nevada and the Pacific Coastal Range mountains, Fresno is no slouch when it comes to natural beauty. But affordability is arguably Fresno’s sexiest feature. In fact, New York Times recently named it one of the most affordable places to live in America. And for good reason: The cost of living is 22% below the state average, and the median home price is $212,000–on par with the national figures and nearly half as expensive as the average statewide home price. The median household income is an attainable $41,455, which means retirees, teachers, firefighters, and, well, normal people can afford to live here.


So where do people live in Fresno? Well, that depends on their priorities. Central Fresno, as the name suggests, is located downtown. It’s home to about 14,000 residents and has a walkability score of 75. High-Roeding is a larger suburban area northwest of town that features good walkability and easy access to the business district. For a more rural vibe, check out the open spaces of Woodward Park, tucked into the north edge of town, with a low crime rate and high walkability score.

Woodward Park
Image Credit: Dylan Bishop

Perhaps the most unusual residential area is Sierra Sky Park, a “fly-in” community where you can literally taxi a plane from the runway to your driveway.

Sierra Sky Park
Image Credit: Thomas Nebia

Check out our Fresno Neighborhood Guide for a deeper dive. And rest assured that no matter which neighborhood you’re in, you’ll appreciate a short commute–22 minutes, on average.

Points of Interest

Despite its reputation for dullness, Fresno’s attractions are definitely not dull. Forestiere Underground Gardens is a unique and special place–in fact, it’s a state landmark. Chaffee Zoo houses elephants, kangaroos, aquatic life, and many more of nature’s creatures.

Image Credit: Fresno Art Museum

For music lovers, there are multiple concert venues and a local philharmonic. Area museums include the Fresno Art Museum, The Discovery Center (geared toward kids), an African American museum, and one dedicated to Latino culture. Outside of the city limits, Fresno offers easy access to three jaw-dropping sites: Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon national parks. Each is just a few hours’ drive–perfect for day trippers and weekend warriors.

iStock/Ron_Thomas, Kings Canyon

Events and Entertainment

Fresnans enjoy a wide variety of events and activities, including the annual Christmas parade, which is now in its 88th year. Hit up downtown on Wednesdays to buy fresh, locally grown produce at the Market on Kern and on Thursdays for CArtHop, a food truck festival featuring live music. Nearby Clovis holds a number of events, including the twice-yearly Wine Walk (spring and fall) and the annual Craft Beer Crawl.

Christmas Tree Lane
Image Credit: Paul Schlesinger

Food and Wine

While Fresno is the Raisin Capital of the World, many Californians prefer their grapes in liquid form–and Fresno doesn’t disappoint. More than a dozen wineries are situated in and around Fresno. Take a tour, sip a pour, or order a bottle at one of 700 area restaurants.

Image Credit: Ziveli Winery

Steakhouses such as Fleming’s, Ruth’s Chris, and Manhattan are popular, as is Parma, an Italian eatery. Max’s Bistro and Bar is another hotspot for foodies, one that sources ingredients from the area’s abundant agriculture.

Image Credit: Max’s Bistro

To learn more about the humble greatness of Fresno, check out the “Things to Do in Fresno” blog post.

The post So Much to Love (and Learn) About Fresno appeared first on Movoto Blog.

The Cost of Housing Around the Globe

The Cost of Housing Around the Globe - Movoto.com - Infographic


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Shelter is one of life’s basic necessities. The biggest problem for millions of people around the world is that housing is often not affordable. What percentage of the average monthly income is required to afford the average mortgage payment? How much is rent in a local city compared to average New York City prices? This infographic examines the affordability of mortgages and rent in 102 countries around the world in a spectacular data visualization.

The post The Cost of Housing Around the Globe appeared first on Movoto Blog.

Special Interest Home Incentives for Single Moms Make Homeownership a Reality for Many

It almost goes without saying that taking care of a family on one person’s income can be burdensome. For this reason, single mothers may feel tempted to just focus on paying the bills each month.

Single mothers don’t need to reduce their dreams to merely consisting of short-term goals. This is particularly true when it comes to owning a family home.

Various special interest home incentives for single mothers will help make the dream of an affordable home a reality.

Federal Housing Association (FHA) Loans and Rural Loans

Home Incentives for Single Moms

FHA loans are a great resource for moms looking for a good interest rate on a home purchase. With only a 3.5% down payment, moms receive a 96.5% mortgage loan. FHA loan terms offer several advantages, including:

  • Lowered Closing Costs
  • Easy Approval for Credit
  • Smaller Down Payments

Single mothers who live in rural areas should also consider Rural Housing Direct loans. These loans are 100% financing loans funded by the government. All homes will be in rural areas, and loan terms will typically be 33 years. As such, these loans are ideally suited for moms who don’t plan on moving from their family home.

Applicants will need to have a low income (typically 50 to 80 percent of the median income in the area) and must be unable to obtain credit elsewhere. While this program is not an outright grant, it is an extremely generous loan that makes the dream of homeownership a reality for low-income moms living in rural areas.

Buying a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Home

HUD homes are another indispensable ally for single mothers looking to buy a home. From housing choice vouchers to homeownership vouchers, HUD makes homeownership easier for single mothers. Additionally, public housing options are available through HUD as well.

HUD homes are available in every state, so it helps to visit their website frequently to see what is available.

Making Homeownership a Reality with an Individual Development Account

Home Incentives for Single Moms

Single parents looking for a home should consider using an Individual Development Account (IDA). An IDA is a matched savings account set up by community organizations.

These accounts help single income families save money towards a home or a child’s education. An IDA can even be used to finance a business as well.

The matching amount of these savings accounts will depend on the public or private organization doing the matching. Some matched funds will equal what the participant saves. Others may double the amount saved. Either way, shop around to find the best matching IDA program in your area.

Typical requirements for IDA approval include:

  • Meeting a Minimum Income Requirement
  • Contributing to the Account with Your Income
  • Having a Minimal Amount of Debt or No Debt
  • Lacking Assets in Excess of $5,000
  • And More

If approved for inclusion into an IDA program, you will have to complete a series of financial education courses on budgeting and saving. Prior to the purchase of your new home, you will also have to complete education courses on the purchasing process.

IDA programs also typically require economic training as well, which may be beneficial. Understanding how the purchasing process works will benefit your family now and in the years to come.

Which of these homeownership choices is right for you will depend on your own circumstances and housing needs. Still, the wide range of housing options available to single moms shows that homeownership can become a reality, not just a dream.

Movoto is a real estate agency dedicated to helping you find the perfect home. Part of that process is helping you discover information that simplifies the home buying experience. Movoto’s team of expert agents understand home buying from A to Z, so they can help get you into your dream home quicker and easier than you thought possible.

The post Special Interest Home Incentives for Single Moms Make Homeownership a Reality for Many appeared first on Movoto Blog.

A Guide to Keeping Your Pet Safe in Your Yard

If you have to spray your yard with pesticides or weed deterrents, allow the pesticides to completely dry before letting your pet back into the treated area. Keep your fertilizer use to a minimum, and verify that your preferred type won’t harm your pet. Use organic yard treatments whenever possible. For example, an all-natural mixture of water and cayenne pepper sprayed on vegetables in a garden can keep pests at bay while protecting the yields of home owners with green thumbs. Store yard equipment like clippers and lawn mowers, especially of the electric variety, away from pets to reduce the potential for injury.


You can encourage yard safety by limiting the destruction that your pet engages in by providing distractions. Stimulating toys and obstacle courses can keep your dog from digging up your yard or gnawing at physical structures. For especially rambunctious pets, a good way to maintain control is to use a leash when they’re taken outdoors. Keeping your pet indoors while you’re out and about can significantly decrease the incidence of potentially dangerous misbehavior as well.


Pools provide a serious threat to pet safety, especially if your animals are not agile swimmers. If your pet is not accustomed to swimming, use physical barriers to block access to your pool area. Since pools can be attractive to animals who want to take a dip because of the heat, consider taking some time to teach your pet how to swim. Verify that your pet is a breed that can swim with little problem, and take special precautions if your pet is elderly or brachycephalic. Maintain your pool’s chlorine balance to deter algae growth and complications that can arise if your pet eats algae or ingests an excess of pool-related chemicals.

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Increase your vigilance about pet safety as certain seasons and holidays approach. Allow your pet the comfort and safety of enjoying an indoor environment if you know that a fireworks display is scheduled for your neighborhood. Through the Halloween week, ensure that your pets are kept away from decorations, candy, and other foods that can be toxic to them. Consider installing shade structures and placing a water bowl with an automatic replenishment system in your backyard to keep your pets cool and hydrated. Remember that pets are especially vulnerable to heat-related issues during the early spring and summer, as they haven’t fully grown accustomed to the change of seasons.


Put up fences that can deter local wild animals that pose potential threats to your pets. For example, a fence with barbed wire can help guard your pets against roaming coyotes that may consider your pet to be prey. Similarly, you can reduce the instance of unwelcome visits from neighboring and curious domestic animals by being smart about what you keep in your backyard. Restrict access to pet food and water sources when your animal isn’t outdoors so that your yard is less inviting to neighborhood pets that are on the prowl.

The post A Guide to Keeping Your Pet Safe in Your Yard appeared first on Movoto Blog.

Bonsai Gardening At Home

Bonsai is a Japanese word that means “planted in a container.” Bonsai gardening is a horticultural art form that involves growing small plants into tiny trees. The gardener’s objective is to coax a plant into the shape and appearance of a tree with branches and leaves. Gardeners use a variety of growing techniques to direct this beautiful and innovative growth. Bonsai gardening is popular among people of all ages, and it is easily performed in the comfort of one’s home during any season of the year.


Bonsai Gardening

Source: thehorticult.com

“Bonsai” may be a Japanese word, but this art form began in China. Hundreds of years ago, Chinese people pursued a special type of gardening that involved growing tiny trees in containers. In the beginning, only the top echelon of Chinese society pursued this form of gardening. Later, as Japanese people borrowed heavily from Chinese culture, bonsai became a popular hobby in Japan. Bonsai eventually moved west into Europe and then into the United States. A bonsai tree was featured in the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904, which illustrates the rise of bonsai in the West.


Bonsai Gardening

Source: pinterest

Bonsai may be miniature trees, or they can also be larger dwarf-sized trees that grow in wooden boxes that are deep enough to accommodate the root systems. One of the first decisions a bonsai gardener will need to make is in choosing the plant to grow. A tropical bonsai will need protection from cold temperatures. A temperate bonsai will enter a dormant period during the winter, much like outdoor deciduous trees do. Most bonsai gardeners strive to keep their plants outdoors as much as possible. Even tropical bonsai can likely spend some time outdoors during the winter on sunny, mild days. Growing bonsai requires daily efforts to style and train the branches.

A suitable bonsai style for a beginner might be the shakan style, which features several branches at the top of the plant with a slanted trunk. Some bonsai might feature more than one plant in a container, resembling a forest or a grouping of trees. Other containers might have just a single plant. Watering the bonsai is a crucial part of care to ensure that the plant remains hydrated and vibrant. Slow and thorough watering is recommended to ensure adequate moisture in the soil. To train the plant to grow in the directions desired, the gardener will need to prune regularly. Pruning eliminates growth from the plant, and it also encourages the plant to grow in the desired direction.


Bonsai gardening is often an outward expression of the individual style and personality of the gardener. Bonsai gardeners often enjoy the process of designing a tree to adopt a specific shape and style. Re-creating a majestic tree in a tiny plant growing in a container is rewarding for many gardeners. Experience will help the bonsai gardener develop more growing skills to encourage the plant to adopt the desired shape.


Bonsai Gardening

Source: blog-images.barefootfloor.com

Although bonsai gardening requires ongoing maintenance, the process is not difficult. Keeping the soil evenly moist will be one of the most important tasks of the gardener. The plant will also need the correct amount of sunlight for optimal growth, and the ambient temperature will need to match the plant’s needs. For optimal growth, the gardener will need to fertilize the plant to provide it with important nutrients. Wiring branches helps the gardener direct the growth of the plant to make it resemble a tree. This practice is known as “styling” the bonsai.

Other Information

Joining a bonsai club or organization is an excellent way to learn more about this hobby. Bonsai clubs hold meetings of members to share knowledge and tips. Clubs often organize shows, which may involve competitive judging. A bonsai show enables the gardener to show growing techniques and results. Beginning gardeners can explore the displays of more experienced growers to learn tips and techniques. Entrants often have their plants critiqued by a panel of judges for prize awards. Bonsai clubs may hold workshops or classes with experienced gardeners teaching growing principles to students. By joining a club, a beginning gardener can meet other people who share similar interests in bonsai gardening.

The post Bonsai Gardening At Home appeared first on Movoto Blog.

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