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Reconsider Renting - Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Monday, November 24, 2014

For as long as I can remember, homeownership has been a home run on the American Dream scorecard.

When I graduated from college, my grandmother gave me two choices: live with her or buy a home. In her mind, to rent meant I was a failure financially.

“When you rent, you get nothing for your money,” Big Mama would lecture.

Since I didn’t have enough money saved for a home, I lived with my grandmother, who had been my guardian since I was 4. I hated that year of ridiculous rules. No shoes under the bed. Don’t turn the television knob to the left, only to the right (this was before remote controls). And Big Mama fretted I would be late for work, so she would wake me at 6 a.m. for a shift that didn’t start until 10 a.m.

After a year of this, I decided I had to move. But I still didn’t have enough money saved to buy a home. So I rented.

Every time I called my grandmother, she would berate me about renting. By the end of my lease, I had saved enough to buy a condo, thanks to a first-time homebuying program. I’ve never rented since.

I tell you this story for two reasons. I understand where my grandmother was coming from. Owning a home was the only way she knew of creating wealth for herself and our family. She didn’t trust investing in the stock market. I joke that the only bond she ever owned was the adhesive for her dentures.

However, in the 2000s, the benefit of homeownership became twisted and too many people were persuaded to pay insane prices and take out unsustainable mortgages in the quest to fulfill the American Dream.

Then the housing crisis smacked people back to common sense.

I’ve never been supportive of stigmatizing renters as financial failures. Although it’s true that homeownership has been the path to prosperity for most American families, it’s not the only path. If you buy a home before you are economically ready, it can drag you down financially. As we saw with the drop in housing prices, you can be left without a home and your savings.

A just-released study by HelloWallet, a company that provides online financial help as an employer-provided benefit, puts the debate of homebuying versus renting in perspective. If the cost of renting is less than that of owning a home and you save well, you can accumulate just as much wealth as homeowners do, the study contends.

“Buying a home is akin to a rite of passage, simply something people do when they can, regardless of their circumstances or market conditions,” Aron Szapiro, a consumer finance expert for HelloWallet, writes.

From 2005 to 2012, all home prices collapsed by 42 percent, Szapiro calculated using Case-Shiller housing data.

So, the question HelloWallet set out to answer was this: Could renters build more net wealth than homebuyers, while taking on much less risk, by forgoing homeownership and investing the yearly savings from renting in a tax-deferred retirement plan?

They could indeed, the study concluded.

“Over half of current homeowners, or over 40 million households, purchased their homes during time periods when average homebuyers would have been better off renting and investing,” Szapiro noted.

Of course, the key is that renters need to have the discipline to invest the savings they get from renting.

HelloWallet listed a number of findings in its study, but two stood out for me:

    Be careful about the bias built into “buy-or-rent” calculators. Many of the free online tools that are supposed to help determine if buying a home is right for you are heavily biased toward homeownership, the report points out. The calculators often compare homeownership to saving in an interest-bearing bank account earning low returns. “Since homes are a risky asset, an alternative investment should also present some risk, such as an investment in a mix of stocks and bonds aimed at building long-term wealth for retirement,” Szapiro says.

    Don’t overestimate the tax advantage of homeownership. An overwhelming majority of homebuyers — 80 percent — listed the federal mortgage deduction and other tax benefits as a reason to buy rather than to rent. Yet more than half of homeowners with mortgages don’t even take the deduction because they don’t itemize their federal tax returns. “We find that federal tax benefits for homeownership go largely to high-income families in high-cost areas, and even for these families, the benefit is fleeting,” Szapiro says.

For me, the take-away from the report is that buying a home is not a no-brainer. It never was. There’s much to consider and the old rules of thumb aren’t always true, including assuming that renting is a detriment to wealth-building.

For more information on renting apartments in  Raleigh, NC , contact Auston Grove Apartments.


Santa is Coming to Raleigh, NC This Week

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, November 19, 2014

If you live in an apartment in Raleigh, NC, Santa is coming to the Holiday Open House at a fun event this week. This will surely get you into that holiday spirit.

Holiday Open House and Santa at Cameron Village, November 20, 2014, from 5-8 pm at Cameron Village.

Cameron Village Holiday Open House always takes place on Thursday before Thanksgiving. This is the area's longest holiday celebration. This is a free event -- snow hill; wagon rides; entertainment on every block; refreshments;  gift certificate give away with purchase. Santa arrives at 5pm.

But, you better watch out... Santa Claus is coming to the annual open house! Head to the  Holiday Open House for clowns and jugglers; real snow sliding slope; The Raleigh Boys Choir; music and entertainment on every block; a window decor contest; gifts for the kids; and Santa himself! Bring your cameras! Also, Dave English will be at the Great Outdoor Provision Co. shop pickin’ on the infamous Black Owl Guitars from 6-8pm!

More information -

Holiday Shopping at the Mistletoe Madness Holiday Market - Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, November 11, 2014

If you live in an apartment in Raleigh, NC then you can get some shopping done at the Mistletoe Madness holiday market  from noon-4pm at the Ballentine-Spence House, on Saturday, November 15, 2014.

The  upcoming Mistletoe Madness holiday market is a holiday showcase event with a variety of unique vendors and crafters to liven up your holiday shopping experience. The vendors include everything local, from handmade crafts to art and gifts galore and there truly is something for everyone.

Enjoy live music with Christopher Anderson Reed, our very own local concert pianist, will be providing live holiday and seasonal music. You can also enjoy holiday refreshments, unique arts and crafts. Door prizes will be awarded every 15 minutes!

What types of Holiday Treasures will you find here:

  • Knit & crochet scarves and fingerless mitts
  • Hand-painted holiday & seasonal gourds
  • Handmade soy candles and tarts
  • Custom decorative paintings & murals for the whole family
  • Hand-painted ornaments
  • Sewing creations with a modern twist
  • Handmade children’s dresses
  • Handmade adult & children’s aprons
  • Hand-drawn greeting cards
  • Mixed media art of realism & abstract paintings
  • Seriously sweet hand-painted seasonal decorative art
  • Children’s toys & stocking stuffers
  • Holiday homespun wreaths
  • Earth-friendly, earth-inspired jewelry: necklaces, pendants, and earrings

More information  -

Gingerbread Houses and Ice Skating in Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Do you live in an apartment in Raleigh, NC? Do you love gingerbread? If so, you are in luck. The Ipreo Raleigh Winterfest, the downtown Raleigh festival that includes an ice rink from November to February, will launch its first Gingerbread House Competition this year.

And if you want to participate, you better hurry: The deadline to sign and submit your application is 5 p.m., Friday, Nov. 7. The competition is open to all gingerbread house makers, regardless of experience. The public will be able to vote for their top three favorites. I think this would be a fun competition for families!

The entries will be on display at the winterfest celebration on Dec. 6. Only 25 applicants can be accommodated. Entries will be selected on a first come, first served basis. So now is the time!

Prize packages include everything from tickets to local shows, gift cards to local businesses and more. Check the Go Downtown Raleigh website for more information and to download the registration form.

The ice rink will open on Nov. 22 and remain open until Feb. 1.


Millennials Rent Because They Want To – Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

In a survey, 41 percent of property owners and managers noted seeing an increase in millennial renters over the past year. This observation from landlords seems to support what many market analysts have been reporting: Millennials are foregoing homeownership for renting. In fact, homeownership of Americans ages 25 to 34 has declined nearly 8 percent since 2006.

But what is motivating the younger generation rent instead of buy? Here are five possible explanations.

1. Purchasing a home means acquiring more debt. The most obvious reason millennials are opting to rent is the crippling debt many find themselves with in their early 20s. According to the Institute for College Access & Success, 7 in 10 college students who graduated in 2012 have student loan debt. The average amount: a staggering $29,400 – and many others graduate even deeper in the hole. The amount of student loan debt has increased an average of 6 percent per year since 2008, and there is no sign of the trend stopping.

With student debt looming, it’s no wonder millennials favor a monthly rental check over additional mortgage debt. While mortgage payments can be more affordable than rent in some cities, recent graduates likely don't have the funds necessary to make a down payment. Beyond having money for a down payment on a home, some millennials simply don’t qualify for a mortgage. Whether they are saving up for a down payment or choose to rent as a long-term housing decision, renting allows millennials to move out quickly without the immediate financial squeeze that comes with homeownership.

2. Apartment life is more affordable than owning a home. In addition to the upfront cost of a down payment and a mortgage, managing a house comes with a lot of additional costs: Homeowners must pay property tax, maintenance and repairs, utilities and perhaps even association fees on top of their mortgage. An apartment requires rent and utilities, which is much more manageable for a millennial on a tight budget.

3. To take advantage of apartment amenities. Many apartment complexes offer amenities such as fitness centers, pools, a concierge and on-site maintenance – perks that don’t usually come with your first home purchase. Though renting an apartment in a building that has luxury amenities can come with a bigger price tag, the features cut down on other bills. Instead of paying for a gym membership and rent, renters in these buildings can pay one price and get both. In fact, the idea of having access to amenities is so appealing to some young people that they plan to rent for a while.

4. To enjoy city life. Many young people choose to live in urban areas because they like the atmosphere. They can walk to grocery stores, take public transportation, find night spots easily, see live concerts and access great restaurants. Millennials drawn to the energy of metropolitan areas likely can't afford to own a home there. If city living is a priority, they'll sacrifice homeownership to get the location, and that means renting.

5. To maintain flexibility and freedom. Recent college graduates want to have the freedom to move around. They're just beginning their careers and haven't decided when and where to settle. For this reason, renting an apartment instead of moving right into homeownership is often the smarter choice. Young people can move for a new job or to simply try out another city without being tied down to a mortgage. Rather than settling down immediately after college, millennials are focused on finding the right job, a city that fits their personality and trying new things.

For more information on renting apartments in Raleigh, NC, contact Auston Grove Apartments.


Dtown Oktoberfest This Weekend in Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

If you live in an apartment in Raleigh, NC enjoy Dtown Oktoberfest on Saturday October 25th. The Motorco Music Hall invites the community to don their lederhosen or drindl and raise a Spaten mug to Dtown Oktoberfest. The free, family-friendly event begins at noon.

Good beer and celebrations will be the order of the day with Motorco dressed as a traditional beer hall, inside and out. It wouldn’t be Oktoberfest without a little Oompah, so expect to hear music from The Little German Band accompanied by traditional dancers from 1PM-4PM. Fifteen dancers and musicians on stage and counting...

While Bavarian Oktoberfest-goers are said to consume 35,000 gallons of beer, Motorco can’t promise to fulfill that demand. However, there will be plenty of Paulaner beer from Munich, served in Liter & 1/2 Liter Steins. Parts&Labor will be serving Traditional German bratwurst with all the trimmings will be available as well as Guglhupf German pretzels.

The Little German Band

Oompah party music from America! Equally at home in a Bavarian fest tent or an American barbecue, the Little German Band and Dancers bring Oktoberfest to you year-round. Join us for "Ein Prosit der Gemütlichkeit", and maybe a Chicken Dance or two.

Stick around for the evening adult show from 6pm-11pm that will include themed dance routines from burlesque troupe The Vaudevillain Revue along with the Little German Band.


Save at the N.C. State Fair - Raleigh

Joseph Coupal - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

If you live in an apartment in Raleigh, NC you may be planning on heading to the N.C.  State Fair. But before you head over to the midway for all the fun and food, you may want to take note of a few days that can help you save.

First up is Preview Day on Thursday Oct. 16. It's all about the rides.

"It's a great time to come," explained Dept. of Agriculture Public Information Officer Heather Overton. "The gates open at 3:30 p.m. and that is the only time we offer a wrist band for $28. So, you can ride all the rides you want out here at the fairgrounds that day."

Thursday's advance admission is also $7. That's $2 cheaper than the full fare. And, by buying your admission tickets early through Oct. 16, you can also get the $7 dollar admission rate.

"You can buy advance sales online or at nine walk-up locations that are throughout the Triangle," said Overton.

And, if you can organize a group of 40 or more, you can also save on admission.

"You can get your admission tickets for $5 if you buy for a group," said Overton. "So, if you have a church group or community group, you can get organized, or you need 40 tickets, that's the best way to save money in advance."

You can also save big on the tickets for rides by buying early. Sheets of tickets are on sale in advance and are $10 dollars for 18 tickets. Ride tickets are normally a dollar a ticket.

"That's a savings of 45-percent," said Overton.

Senior citizens can get in free every day of the fair and there will be a special day on Tuesday, Oct. 21 with a free breakfast for senior citizens.

Military personnel get in for $5 every day, and on Oct. 22, dependents, retirees, and reservists all get in for $5.

Thursday, Oct. 23 is Food Lion Hunger Relief Day where you can get in free with a donation of five cans of food.

"In the 17 years we've done this event, we've raised 17 million pounds for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern NC," said Overton.

You can also bring in your own food or drinks in a cooler to help save money, but coolers will be inspected. Many entertainment acts are also free.


New Exhibits and Attractions at the the NC State Fair - Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, October 07, 2014

It is almost time for the start of the 2014 N.C. State Fair, and there are some new exhibits and entertainment planned. If you live in apartments in Raleigh, NC, this year’s state fair is going to be fantastic.

The N.C. State Fair, which runs Oct. 16-26, will feature the following new, free and returning acts:

  • Neon Anteaters - These purple and blue creatures are quadruped stilt walkers that will be roaming the fairgrounds. They will be doling out “slurpy kisses” at the flower show during their daily strolls.
  • Izzie - This face-painting fairy will be moving around on her bicycle dragon, Glitter, and stopping to tell stories in Kiddieland.
  • Tumbleweed Crossing Wild West Show - This special effects show will feature student performances and comedy gun-fight scenes. It will be located near the rabbit barn and will perform daily at noon, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. On Saturdays and Sundays, a 10 a.m. show will be added.
  • The Farmer Phil Show -  These shows, held daily in Kiddieland Fun Park, include juggling, yo-yo and magic routines while teaching audiences of all ages a little about farmers and agriculture.
  • Roberto the Magnificent - Earning a silver medal at the World Juggling Championships at age 15, Roberto has been entertaining audiences with his comedy show for more than 20 years. You can see him performing daily on the north side of Dorton Arena.
  • Down to Earth Aerials - This group dazzles fairgoers with high-flying feats on the north Dorton Arena lawn. This show feature twists, turns and heart-stopping stunts.
  • Brad Matchett - This comedy hypnotist returns with more shows this year. He will perform nightly at 7:30 p.m. in the Folk Festival tent, with an additional 9 p.m. show on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. This family-friendly hypnotist show is often held to standing-room only crowds.
  • Roaming acts will include: Popping Penelope doing her balloon act in front of the Expo Center; stilt-walking by Zachari; Walking Tree Man; and Living Statues.
  • Other returning favorites include: The One Man Band, Kenya Safari Acrobats, K-9s in Flight, Fire Safety Show, Hansen’s Spectacular Acrobatic Sensations, Dale Jones Juggler, Circle C Racing Pigs and Melvin the Wacky Wheeler.

And make sure to check out the nightly fireworks show at 9:45 p.m.


  • Head to the north lobby of Dorton Arena for a new exhibit honoring North Carolina’s involvement in World War I. Historians in uniform will be on hand to answer questions.
  • The Ag Today tent on the south side of Dorton Arena will show the latest in precision agriculture, including an unmanned aerial vehicle.
  • The Hunt Horse Complex will celebrate the Year of the Horse with a full schedule of events, including headline shows, a parade of breeds and free, five-minute riding lessons.

All grounds entertainment and exhibits are free with admission to the fair. Advance tickets for the N.C. State Fair are on sale now.


Music and Festivals around Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Wide Open Bluegrass Festival takes over downtown Raleigh and Big Boss Brewing puts their own spin on Oktoberfest this week. If you live in an apartment in Raleigh, NC here are a list of events this week.


The Wide Open Bluegrass Festival's Bluegrass Ramble kicks off Tuesday with shows around downtown Raleigh. The lineup includes Mipso, Bluegrass Parkway, The Danberrys and many more. Tickets are $25 for day passes or $75 for a three-day pass.


"The Voice" competitor Kat Robichaud plays Slim's in downtown Raleigh Wednesday night. Tickets are $10.


Big Boss Brewery celebrates Munich's Oktoberfest and the UK's Real Ale Week with Casktoberfest Thursday. Guests will have their choice of beer from the "largest selection of cask ales ever assembled in North Carolina."


Even more bluegrass music is coming up this weekend. Wide Open Bluegrass starts Friday at Red Hat Amphitheater with a lineup including Sam Bush and Bela Fleck. The Street Festival is free and features bands like Chatham County Line and The Duhks on stages around Fayetteville Street.

The Best “Quick” Meals in Raleigh, NC

Joseph Coupal - Tuesday, September 23, 2014

If you live in an apartment in Raleigh, NC and you need a quick bite to eat, there are plenty of options in the Triangle. Here are some of the favorite restaurants in Raleigh that deliver food quickly without it feeling like "fast food."

Guasaca: Make your way to the counter to order an aprepa, which are like Venezuelen pita sandwiches, filled with beef, fish, pork and a variety of toppings. With a side order of chips and guasaca sauce, this is a speedy and filling meal. I like the avocado chicken arepa. Open for lunch and dinner.

Jasmin: This is a local chain that serves Mediterranean food like kababs, zaki, hummus and gyros. If you skip the fries, you can get a healthy meal in minutes. Try the chicken shawarma with a Greek salad on the side. Open for lunch and dinner.

Seaboard Cafe: Tucked away inside Logan's Trading Company, Seaboard Cafe frequently has a line at lunchtime for their yummy sandwiches and salads. The line moves quickly though, and you'll have your reuben or grilled tuna salad sandwich in no time. You can't go wrong with their daily specials! Open for lunch.

Noodles & Company: Pasta is great, and at Noodles & Co. it is quick, inexpensive and filling. It's a chain, but I get consistently good food at their Cameron Village location. Another plus for those watching what they eat: Their menu clearly displays calorie counts in every dish. Try the Bangkok Curry or the Whole Grain Tuscan Linguine. Open for lunch and dinner.

Snoopy's: Since 1978, Snoopy's has been serving hot dogs in Raleigh. It's simple food, served right and fast! Try the beef frank with mustard, onions and chili with some crinkle-cut fries on the side. Open for lunch and dinner. Both Hillsborough Street locations and the Wake Forest Road location are open till 3 a.m.

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