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California Cities with the Worst Traffic

California is known for many things, both good and bad. For many, California is a premiere destination spot, due to the incredible weather, breathtaking landscapes and luxurious beaches. There is no shortage of reasons to take a trip to just about any city in California, but unfortunately that has some drawbacks. California cities are frequently bestowed the dubious distinction of having some of the worst traffic in the United States.

San Jose Traffic

When it comes to traffic, San Jose has some of the worst in all of California, although it does not garner as much attention as some of the other heavy traffic offenders in the state. While traffic in San Jose has always been a problem, it has gotten much worse in recent years. In 2014, the annual TomTom Traffic Index reported that throughout the year, regular drivers in San Jose faced up to 92 hours of traffic delays. When the same study was conducted in 2016, the number of hours skyrocketed up to 144 hours, and it is only expected to grow higher in the following years.

One of the main reasons that San Jose has been seeing more traffic is a direct result of largescale urban development in the city. The more people living in San Jose, the more cars are on the already crowded roads. During the peak travel hours, drivers can expect anywhere from 30 to 40 minutes of traffic delays.

Fortunately, San Jose is aware of the growing traffic problem and is looking for possible solutions. In 2016, Santa Clara county experienced a sales tax increase. The county has promised that the additional funds will be allocated to fixing the traffic issues in San Jose. Bay area planners are working on designs for express lanes as well as moving future housing projects closer towards areas with public transportation, which will hopefully reduce the number of vehicles on the road in San Jose.

San Francisco Traffic

San Francisco is one of the California cities that frequently ranks high on worst traffic lists in the U.S. Similar to San Jose, traffic has been steadily increasing over the last few years. The reason for the increased traffic is not solely because of an increasing population. Instead, San Francisco traffic largely comes from businesses, primarily from Uber and Lyft drivers. In 2016, the San Francisco Examiner estimated that there were around 45,000 Uber and Lyft drivers working through San Francisco. In addition, San Francisco also has several different taxi companies operating in the city.

San Francisco is also a popular tourist destination. As a result, there is not only increased traffic from out-of-state drivers bringing their vehicles to California, but there is a higher demand for Uber and Lyft drivers from travelers who flew in to the city and need transportation to get around. Companies like Uber and Lyft also face little in the way of regulations to operate in San Francisco, which attracts more drivers to those businesses. All of this ultimately leads to very congested roads. Because it is also a tourist destination, San Francisco roads are congested even during some of the later hours, when the amount of traffic would normally see a substantial decrease.

Los Angeles Traffic

When it comes to bad traffic in the country, few cities that compare to Los Angeles. For years, Los Angeles has been an icon of bad traffic. Like San Francisco, Los Angeles is almost always near the top of the list of worst traffic cities in the United States. In many studies, it was ranked as the number one worst city for traffic.

There are several different reasons why traffic in Los Angeles continues to get worse. One of the biggest reasons for Los Angeles traffic is bittersweet, since it has to do with the unemployment rate. Los Angeles has seen a significant drop in unemployment. In recent years especially, there has been a large spike of economic growth in the city. While it is good that so many Los Angeles residents have work, it naturally produces more traffic, especially because drivers are coming in from other California cities for work opportunities.

Another bittersweet reason there is so much traffic in Los Angeles has to do with the price of gasoline. Los Angeles has considerably cheaper gasoline prices, especially considering it is a large California city. The low prices encourage drivers to swing through Los Angeles whenever they need to refuel.

Sacramento Traffic

At least five of the major roadways in Sacramento are listed as some of the worst in the U.S. Part of the reason for this is the congestion, which is often experienced during most of the peak hours during the day. The Capital City Freeway (Business 80), is often cited as one of the worst corridors. Commuters unlucky enough to find themselves stuck in this area around 5 p.m. will find themselves traveling at 19 mph for seven miles, taking nearly twenty minutes to do so.

Only London is listed as having worse traffic then most large U.S. cities (which includes Sacramento). Part of the increased congestion over the last few years has to do with higher employment rates, commuter rates, and economic improvement that made it possible to purchase gas.

Best Public High Schools in California

If you live in California and have teenage children then you may be assuming that your children must attend a high school nearest to your home. However, California does have laws allowing both intradistrict and interdistrict student transfers. For example, your children are eligible to attend high school in the district where you work, if your home district is deemed unsuitable for some reason. You may also choose to transfer your children to a different high school within your home district, if you feel that the educational standards of the current school are too low. Regardless of the circumstances that are causing you to look for a new high school for your children, identifying the best California high school for them will require you to first identify your family’s educational priorities. Below are tips to help you identify excellent CA high schools which will meet the needs of your children.

Familiarize Yourself with California Public High School Academic Standards and Ratings

In order to identify the top high schools in California, you must understand how California’s academic rating system works. You can request various types of academic data from the California Department of Education on a specific high school. The available data includes average test scores and Annual Yearly Progress (AYP) results for each high school. However, AYP results focus only on English and math test results.

Once you understand how California’s academic rankings work, you can view lists of top schools to identify the high schools in your area with the best academic ratings. For example, Lowell High School in the San Francisco Unified School District received the distinction of being included in the 2017 U.S. News and World Report list of top high schools not only in California, but also in the United States as a whole.

Inquire About California Public High School Extracurricular and Afterschool Programs

Academic standing is important, but you should also consider extracurricular programs when selecting a high school for your children, especially if any of your children have developed interests in particular activities such as sports, acting classes, or musical studies. Afterschool programs and groups, such as chess and A/V club, may also help your children to further their education in the fields that interest them.

Also check to see if the California high school you are considering offers an afterschool peer tutoring program. Your children can benefit from the extra assistance such programs provide if they struggle in school. If they are particularly gifted in certain subjects then they can use their knowledge to help their peers by applying to become peer tutors.

Check on the Teaching Styles at Various California Public High Schools

California public high schools must all adhere to the same list of basic requirements, but the way in which information is conveyed to students varies greatly from one school to the next. When you are looking for a high school for your children make sure that the teaching styles used in the school line up with the needs of your children. For example, children who learn best by doing might prefer schools where hands-on experiments are encouraged. Children who learn best by reading and memorizing may prefer schools where lessons are primarily given in the form of lectures.

Select Schools Which Suit the Personalities and Social Needs of Your Children

Your children will spend four years of their lives in the high school you select. Therefore, it is important for them to be socially comfortable in the environment. Introverted teens may prefer smaller schools, but extroverted teens may feel more comfortable among larger crowds. For that reason, if you have multiple children with very different personalities, you may find it beneficial to send them to separate schools. Likewise, parents of children close in age may consider separate schools so they can establish their own identities. Children may also favor the location where their middle and elementary friends are enrolling.

Visit the California Public High Schools on Your Short List

California public high schools are required by law to allow you to visit them to inspect the facilities, ask questions and gain an understanding of what your children will be doing during each school day. Exercise that right by calling each of the public high schools on your short list to schedule tours before you make a final decision. If possible, bring your kids with you on the school tours and allow them to ask questions as well.

Compare Your Choices to Lists of Top California Public High Schools

Once you have narrowed your California public high school options down to a list of three or four schools, compare them to various lists of top California schools. Every list ranks California’s high schools according to different criteria, such as test scores or parental reviews. For example, School Digger lists Piedmont High in the top 10 California high schools based on 2015 – 2016 academic test results. It rose to position seven from position 16, which it held during the previous school year.

Make sure that the list you are viewing of top California high schools uses the criteria you want. Then match those criteria against your short list of schools. Finally, discuss the results with your children. Your children will be much happier if they have some input regarding the final decision of which high school they will be attending.

The Five Healthiest Diets to Follow

One of the hardest things about dieting is simply picking which diet to try. There are numerous diets available, all of which advertise great success. One of the first things that dieters should look at is how much weight the diet plan claims the dieter will lose and how long it will take. Many diet plans look great on paper, but they ultimately promise results that are simply unrealistic. A healthy diet is one that sets realistic goals and can explain exactly why the dieter is going to lose weight. Listed below are some of the most recommended healthy diets with a proven record of helping dieters lose weight.

The DASH Diet

The primary focus of the DASH diet is to help the dieter lower his or her blood pressure, which greatly reduces the chance of hypertension. Since the diet involves eating healthy food, it is also great for any dieters simply looking to lose weight. The diet focuses on a balance of potassium, calcium, protein and fiber to create a healthy diet. This includes eating fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean protein and some low-fat dairy.

The specifics of the diet depend on how many calories the dieter wants to consume each day. Dieters can figure out the recommended number of calories based on their age and general activity level throughout the day. The DASH diet is sometimes informally referred to as the pseudo vegetarian diet, since it primarily involves cutting back on meats and adding more fruits and vegetables. Another big component of the diet is reducing the amount of salt in foods, since salty foods have a negative impact on blood pressure.

Because it is such a simple diet, the dieter will not have to adjust his or her spending to accommodate the menu. The diet is also very accommodating for dieters that frequently eat out at restaurants.

The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet was designed to keep the heart and brain healthy, as well as to assist with cancer prevention. Like DASH, the Mediterranean diet is also good for anyone that wants to lose weight. Unlike other diets, the Mediterranean diet does not focus on calories. Instead, it uses a modified version of the food pyramid to help determine what the dieter should and should not eat.

Dieters have more freedom with the Mediterranean diet than they do with other diets. The diet primarily focuses on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seafood. The dieter is also allowed some poultry, eggs and cheese in moderation. The most important part of the diet is avoiding sweets and red meats. The diet is often referred to as an eating pattern as opposed to an official diet, which reflects how much freedom the dieter has. Any dieters who want something more structured are encouraged to seek out a different diet plan.

The MIND Diet

The MIND diet is actually a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets. The MIND diet takes the foods present in both the other diets to create a new one. The menu focuses on three servings of whole grains throughout the day, paired with a vegetable and an optional glass of wine. The wine should only have trace amounts of alcohol. Twice a week the dieter can have a serving of poultry, as well as a serving of berries. Dieters are also allowed to have fish at least once a week. Like the Mediterranean diet, the MIND diet does not focus specifically on calories, but instead revolves around simply eating healthier food.

TLC Diet

The TLC diet is a very straightforward diet. The goal of the diet is to greatly reduce the amount of saturated fat the dieter consumes. Saturated fats include fried foods and many dairy products. Another benefit of the diet is it provides a great source of fiber and it helps manage cholesterol intake. The diet is technically separated into two parts. One part of the diet focuses on lowering cholesterol, while the other is for weight loss. The principles of the diet are the same, it is just the number of calories that change.

The TLC diet includes many of the foods present in other diets. However, the TLC is a little more generous with meat. Overall, it is a very easy diet to follow, but it does involve tracking both calories as well as cholesterol.

Volumetric Diet

Unlike other diets, the volumetric diet focuses primarily on losing weight. The volumetric diet uses a unique theory. According to the diet, everyone tends to eat the same amount of food each day, no matter how many calories are present in the food. As a result, the diet does not focus on reducing the amount of food that a dieter consumes each day. Instead, it focuses on foods that are high in volume. By consuming foods that are high in volume, the dieter is less hungry, and will ultimately consume less calories. Essentially, the diet is about getting the most out of every meal.

The diet divides food into four separate groups based on density. Category one includes foods with the lowest density amount, such as fruits and vegetables. Category four lists foods with the highest density, such as chips, cookies and other sweets. The plan is flexible and allows for dieters to mix and match the categories.

While the volumetric diet can be very effective, it is a diet that requires a fair amount of willpower on behalf of the dieter. For dieters that are looking to make minimal changes to what foods they eat, it is worth considering the volumetric diet.

Six Cars to Consider Driving in California

Given the overall size of California, it should come as no surprise that there are plenty of roads throughout the state. With varying elevations and environments that fluctuate from the coast to the inland areas, roads in California have numerous differences and driving conditions. In addition, California is also a very popular tourist destination that increase road traffic. Even without tourists, the roads are normally busy with local drivers. All of these factors have an impact on what types of cars are best suited for driving on California roadways. While there is not one specific type of car that is best suited for California driving, there are a couple of different vehicles that stand out above the rest.

California Car Misconceptions

Before considering which cars are best for California roads, it is important to first look at some cars that many drivers mistakenly believe are appropriate for California. One of the most common depictions of California drivers in movies and television, show the driver with a top-down convertible. While it might seem like a convertible is great for the warm weather, it is actually not recommended in California and can even be hazardous, in fact. Driving with the top down in California means exposure to exhaust fumes and brake dust, especially in areas with higher traffic. Driving with the top down is okay in isolated areas away from traffic, but otherwise should be avoided. Likewise, most convertible sedans are longer than non-convertible vehicles, making them harder to park in metropolitan areas like Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Another common misconception is the lowered vehicle. These vehicles look stylish, which is why so many shows and movies feature them, but on actual California roads they are simply impractical. Being lower on the road means a reduced view of traffic, which is not compatible with the typical busy roads. Cars that do well in California should get good gas mileage, respond well, are comfortable (for rush hour commutes) and have a good track record for maintenance and road wear. The following cars meet these requirements.

Audi A8

The Audi A8 is a luxurious car that performs very well in rush-hour traffic. The Audi A8 features all-wheel drive and is built with an aluminum space frame. The frame gives the vehicle superior handling, which can be very helpful for driving through some of the more crowded parts of California. The car is designed for comfort and gets a fuel economy of 19/29 highway.

BMW 7 Series

The BMW 7 Series is perfect for drivers who are looking for top-of-the line handling. However, the BMW 7 Series does not handle as well in rush hour traffic due to the i-Drive controls. The controls use a knob, which many drivers find difficult to use during busy traffic, since they are constantly making little adjustments while moving through traffic. Drivers who live in or frequently drive through the more metropolitan California cities may want to consider a different vehicle. Otherwise, the BMW 7-series is fantastic for drivers that want an agile vehicle with great control and a 21/29 highway fuel efficiency.

Lexus LS400

The LS400 is a perfect car for drivers that want an affordable vehicle that can handle California roads. The LS400 does not particularly excel in a specific area in California, but it is relatively easy to find both new and used models all throughout California. The car is also one of the quietest vehicles available in California. It handles all the California weather conditions well and performs fine in both heavy traffic and on isolated roads. Fuel economy is moderate with a 15/21 highway rating.

Lexus LS430

The LS430 is a small, very agile car. It is great for quickly moving between lanes, even in heavy traffic. One of the optional features, which is strongly encouraged, is active cruise control. With active cruise control, the car can sense when it is getting too close to other vehicles. Drivers who live in areas with heavier traffic will appreciate this extra function, especially if they are interested in the LS430 for its ability to navigate through traffic. Fuel economy is comparable to others in this line.

GMC Sierra

While many drivers prioritize cars that are good in traffic, there are many drivers in California who live in the suburbs and do not have to worry about heavy traffic. Drivers who have a house in the suburbs will appreciate having a pickup truck that is large enough to fit multiple passengers and has plenty of space for hauling large items back and forth. With an 18/24 highway, the truck’s gas mileage is impressive.

Honda Civic GX

In recent years, California drivers have been encouraged to use hybrid vehicles to help the environment. The Civic GX is unique in California, since as of writing it is the only hybrid vehicle allowed in carpool lanes with only the driver. Overall, the Civic GX handles well on the road and is suited for both urban and suburban environments. One of the biggest downsides to the Civic GX is the fact that not all gas stations offer compressed natural gas in all areas of California. Drivers interested in a hybrid vehicle should first make sure they are in an area with accommodating gas stations.

Tips for Finding a Helpful Realtor

Finding a Realtor is an important step when you are trying to sell your home. Putting your home on the market as “for sale by owner” with no Realtor will make it much more difficult to sell. A professional Realtor will know exactly how to help you market your home and sell it quickly at a fair price. Although not always necessary, it is also beneficial to talk to a professional Realtor or purchasing agent if you are trying to buy a home. When you are trying to find a Realtor for the first time you must start by familiarizing yourself with the qualities that define a professional realtor, such as proper certification and a proven reputation. By using the tips below when you are attempting to locate and interview local Realtors you will be able to quickly identify a Realtor who can assist you.

Know What Defines a Realtor

The real estate industry consists of agents, brokers and certified realtors. Realtors are official members of the National Association of Realtors. NAR members are required to adhere to specific standards. You can choose to hire a real estate agent instead of a realtor, but the real estate agent in question may or may not adhere to those same NAR requirements. Real estate agents and brokers often work for larger real estate companies, which may be headed by officially certified Realtors. However, some real estate agents work independently.

Familiarize Yourself with Real Estate Terms

When selecting a realtor or real estate agent you must also have a basic understanding of terms relating to real estate. For example, an ABR is a realtor or real estate agent who is an Accredited Buyer’s Representative. That certification will mean nothing to you if you are selling a home instead of buying one. A CRS (Certified Residential Specialist) will be more useful to you because that certification means that the Realtor specializes in residential realty as opposed to commercial realty.

Only Interview Local Realtors

Limiting your realtor search to your local area is essential because only local Realtors can fully understand the area. A local Realtor will be able to tell you things about the neighborhood housing market and general features of the area that a Realtor living several towns over may not know. The inside information provided by a local Realtor can prevent you from encountering unpleasant surprises when buying or selling a home.

Interview More Than One Realtor

Do not assume that the first realtor you talk to will be the best, even if the realtor is local or comes highly recommended from a friend or family member. Interviewing more than one realtor will allow you to compare your options and quickly identify any weaknesses in the realtors on your short list. Make notes about each realtor you interview so that you can easily compare your notes later.

Read Realtor Reviews Online

Never take a realtor’s word at face value, no matter how many years he claims to have been in business or what credentials he produces. Read online Realtor reviews on unbiased websites to get a more complete picture of each Realtor’s capabilities and history. While reading online Realtor reviews, keep in mind that people typically review bad business transactions more than good business transactions. Therefore, a lack of reviews may be in a Realtor’s favor. However, in such cases you must do additional research to verify the Realtor’s history and reputation before making a final decision.

Investigate Each Realtor’s Existing Online Listings

After you have narrowed your choices down to a short list of two to four Realtors, go online and view all their real estate listings. Viewing current online listings for a realtor will help you to develop a sense of how that Realtor would list your home on the market. If you are unimpressed by a Realtor’s current listings or the current listings seem to have been on the market for a long time, then you can take that Realtor off your list and choose to do business with a different Realtor instead.

Ask the Realtors You Interview Many Questions

Regardless of how good a Realtor’s reputation is, you must ultimately be completely comfortable with your Realtor because you will have to work with him or her closely for an unknown period. To build trust with your chosen Realtor you should question him or her about each step of the process, regardless of whether you are buying or selling a home. The questions you ask can help you to stay informed and gauge your Realtor’s knowledge and experience level. If a Realtor has difficulty answering basic questions for you then he or she may not be experienced enough to meet your needs.

Four California Job Industries Taking a Downward Turn

Depending on who is asked, California’s job market is either one of the best in the United States or it is on the verge of collapse. Even labor experts have a hard time agreeing on whether the job market is growing in California. Part of the confusion comes from how many different businesses operate in the state. It is possible for unemployment to significantly decrease in California, while at the same time companies are going out of business. For many, the California job market can be extremely lucrative, but there are several job industries that should be avoided because they are on a steady decline.

Manufacturing Jobs in California

In the past, California was well known for manufacturing jobs. Although California is still responsible for 11 percent of all manufacturing jobs in the U.S. it has decreased over the last two decades, but not across all sectors. As a whole, not all manufacturing jobs are in danger. In fact, many smaller manufacturing businesses are doing well, such as small companies that make ethnic foods. Larger manufacturing industries, such as companies that produce frozen food, are moving away from California.

A large part of the reason for larger manufacturing companies moving away from California has to do with business regulations. Larger companies face less regulations in many of the nearby states, such as Nevada and Texas. Less regulations ultimately help save the company money. For larger businesses especially, these savings can be quite significant. Another growing problem is that many manufacturing jobs in California are now performed by machines, instead of actual workers.

Job applicants are still able to find manufacturing jobs in California, but it can be a very fierce marketplace, since there are only so many businesses willing to hire new employees. Most of businesses hiring are small companies, which ultimately limits how many job openings are posted.

One exception is medical companies, which still see a great deal of business in California. Both Orange County and San Diego are huge medical hubs, so even with higher operating costs it is still worthwhile for large medical manufacturers to stay in California. Recently, aerospace industries have increased their manufacturing capabilities, but experts still suggest that it has yet to be determined as to whether the aerospace industry will be able to sustain the recent uptick in production.

Entrepreneurs

Opening a business in California is very risky. Similar to manufacturing jobs, part of the difficulty comes from how many regulations California has. It can sometimes take upwards of two years for a business to open in California because the business owner is forced to work around all the state labor laws. In addition, new businesses have to pay exceptionally high electricity prices in California. The California Environmental Quality Act also hurts many new businesses. While the law is very important for preserving the environment, it ultimately means that new businesses are forced to spend even more money to ensure they meet the necessary environmental standards for the state.

One of the reasons why freelance work is so prominent in California is because of regulations. Freelancers are essentially able to enjoy many of the same benefits as someone starting his or her business, but freelancers do not have to worry about regulations. Of course, this only works for certain jobs, most notably tech related jobs. There are many high paid freelancers who could easily land a job with a major business, but they prefer to remain independent to avoid stricter regulations.

Agriculture and Food Processing

Both agriculture and food processing jobs have steadily been declining in California. While California is known for having luxurious weather, it is also known for long droughts. Unfortunately for anyone interested in agriculture, most of the profitable crops require water to grow. Because less food is being grown in California, food processing jobs have ultimately been on a steady decline. There are some agricultural industries that do well even with the droughts, but these jobs are too limited to be considered reliable.

Semiconductors

At first it might seem like the semiconductor industry would be booming in California, due to all the tech companies. However, creating semiconductors requires polishing the surface of silicon blanks, which are then used for chips in various electronic devices. Polishing silicon requires a great deal of water, with some semiconductor fabrication plants having the same water output as a small city. In a state known for heavy droughts, semiconductor production is simply too expensive. While some companies can get by with less water, they ultimately operate much smaller businesses, meaning there are very few job openings available.

Residents living in California and those who are considering a move to the state should not become disheartened by employment prospects. Certain parts of the state, as well as certain industries are doing very well. As with many states, the economy has taken a while to recover, with some industries lapsing behind others. Knowing which industries to avoid, which are risky and which hold greater promise for employment and longevity is the key to living and working in California.

How to Decide Between Buying a New Car and a Used Vehicle

One of the hardest decisions drivers have to make when considering a vehicle is whether they want to buy a brand-new or used vehicle. Part of what makes the decision so difficult regarding new or used vehicles is the lack of a right answer. Every driver has his or her own driving situation, which has a direct impact on whether a new car or a used car is better. Drivers are encouraged to view both the advantages and disadvantages of owning a new or used vehicle to help determine which type of vehicle best suits their situation.

Advantages of Buying a New Car in California

There are numerous benefits to buying a brand-new car. Drivers who want to have top of the line technology should consider buying a new car. New technology has become significantly more appealing than in the past years. In the past, new technology typically referred to superior sound systems and a couple of other minor perks. With the growth of technology in recent years, having access to newer technology means vehicles with Bluetooth connectivity and access to advanced GPS features. In addition, there are many new safety features available through driver assistance technology, such as automatic emergency breaks, adaptive cruise control, options for blind spot monitoring, warnings for lane departure and cameras that display a rearview while backing into a parking space.

It is not just technology that has improved in recent years. Fuel efficiency has undergone many changes. Newer cars will often have drastically better fuel efficiency compared to older models, even models that are only dated by a few years. For many drivers, fuel efficiency is very important, given the rising costs of gas. Some vehicles can get 10 to 15 more miles per gallon than the older models.

One of the more obvious advantages of buying a brand-new car is the lack of any wear and tear on the vehicle. Drivers know exactly what kind of condition a brand-new car is in. With new cars, drivers can also ensure the vehicle is always brought in on time for any tune ups. In addition, new cars come with generous warranty coverage, which typically lasts between three to five years. Some cars will have a warranty valid for a certain number of miles. Either way, the warranty provides a level of security that used vehicles cannot match.

When it comes to physically shopping for a brand-new vehicle, drivers have plenty of options. Drivers can always go down to a dealership and ask about the latest model of a vehicle. Even if a dealership does not have a specific model available, there is a good chance they can reach out to another dealership that has a larger stock. Many dealerships also offer deals and financing incentives for drivers that purchase a brand-new vehicle over a used vehicle.

Disadvantages of Buying a Brand-New Car in California

When it comes to buying a brand-new car, the biggest disadvantage is the price. While financing incentives help offset some of the expenses with a brand-new car, the new car will still cost significantly more than a used car. Because of the higher cost, buyers will also have to pay more in sales tax. On top of that, buyers also have to pay more for insurance on a brand-new vehicle. Finally, the overall value of a car significantly decreases once it is driven off the lot. In most situations, this is not a problem as buyers expect to use a brand-new vehicle for years before they even think about trying to sell it or trade it in, but it is still something to consider.

Advantages of Buying a Used Car in California

One of the biggest advantages to buying a used car is the price. Used cars are significantly cheaper than buying new cars. Even cars that are only a few years old experience a significant price decrease, making them a much better option for buyers on a strict budget. Similar to a brand-new car, the price decrease not only applies to the base cost of the car, but it also applies to sales tax and the cost of insurance. Buyers have an easier time securing a loan for used vehicles, since they are not required to borrow as much money.

Buyers also have the advantage of doing more in-depth research on vehicles they want to purchase. With brand-new cars, there are only initial reviews. With used cars, the buyer has years of vehicle reviews to consider.

Disadvantages of Buying a Used Car in California

There are two big disadvantages with buying used cars. The first is actually locating the specific vehicle. For cars that are only a few years old, this is generally not a problem. If the buyer is looking for a more specific model it becomes much harder. The next disadvantage is the condition of the vehicle. Buyers must be very careful when they are purchasing a used car, otherwise they risk buying a vehicle that will require a significant investment to actually drive or a car that will require constant and frequent maintenance.

Buyers should always get a vehicle history report before agreeing to purchase a used vehicle. Whenever possible, it is also a good idea to get the vehicle inspected by an independent party, just to make sure there are not any obvious operating issues.

Tips for Determining How Many Bedrooms You Need

When you decide to move into a new home or apartment the first thing you have to determine is how big your new place needs to be. When figuring out how large your home should be, one of the most important determinations you must make is how many bedrooms you need. You might think that you need one bedroom for each of your family members, but that is not always the case. Families grow and shrink all the time and it is important for your new home to be able to meet all of those needs. You cannot anticipate every family need that may require a bedroom, but you can use certain information, such as whether you plan to have more children, to get a rough estimate of how many bedrooms you may need at any given time. You can use the tips below to calculate your family’s bedroom requirements and select a home that is an appropriate size for you.

Start With a Basic Count of Bedrooms Required for Sleep

You may think that counting the number of bedrooms your family requires for sleep means counting your family members, but that is not necessarily true. If you have children who like to share a bedroom, then one room for two children might suffice. Additionally, if you and your spouse share a bedroom then you only need one bedroom for both of you. Therefore, you must determine a starting number of rooms based on which family members will be sleeping together and which family members will require their own spaces.

Consider the Occupancy Rules for Your Area

Your kids may think that sharing bedrooms is fun, but your area may have rules regarding occupancy. Such rules exist for safety reasons. Therefore, you must check with the local housing authority in the area where you plan to live to see what the minimum number of bedrooms your family must have is. You must also keep in mind that, if you choose to rent a home or apartment rather than buying one, your landlord will have his or her own personal occupancy requirements for the property in addition to state or local occupancy laws. For instance, an apartment building may limit the total number of occupants based on the number of bedrooms in the unit, such as four occupants in one-bedroom units and six in two-bedroom apartments.

Decide Whether Your Family Will be Expanding

You cannot purchase a home with a number of bedrooms equal to your current number of family members if you plan to have any sort of family expansion. The addition of more children, for example, will require more bedrooms. It is also quite common for adult children to move home when they experience upheavals, such as divorces. If you have an adult child then you need to consider that possibility. Family expansion does not always occur because of children. Your parents may move in with you to be closer to their grandchildren or for medical reasons. That change in your family dynamic will also require an additional bedroom.

Determine Whether Any Family Members Will be Leaving Soon

Families do not only expand, they also shrink. If you expect your family to become smaller shortly then you will not need as many bedrooms as you may have originally anticipated. If you have adult children who are getting married or leaving for college soon then you do not necessarily need to factor them into your bedroom calculations when you move. It may suffice for them to sleep in the guest bedroom or on the couch when they visit. You may also be able to purchase or rent a smaller home or apartment with fewer bedrooms if you must move an elderly or disabled family member from your home into an assisted living facility.

Make Sure You Have Enough Guest Bedrooms

How many guest bedrooms do you need? That is an answer that varies from one family to another. If you have a lot of siblings or friends who like to visit then you will need several guest bedrooms. Extra guest bedrooms are also required if you plan to host family holiday gatherings or parties. On the other hand, you will only need one guest room or no guest bedrooms at all if you are the one who tends to visit other people, rather than hosting them in your home.

Remember That Spare Bedrooms May Also Be Needed for Purposes Besides Sleep

When purchasing or renting a new home you must also decide how many extra bedrooms you need for non-sleep purposes. For example, any of your family members who work from home may require home offices, which can be set up in spare bedrooms. You may also need to use one spare bedroom as a child’s play room, library area or a room for your family pets to have to themselves.

Calculate the Total Bedrooms Needed

After you have considered your family’s size and immediate needs, factor in any additional room requirements, such as home offices or guest bedrooms. Then you will be able to calculate the total bedrooms needed for your family. By doing so, you will guarantee that each family member has enough space while helping to keep your family healthy and happy.

10 Ways to Maximize Your Common Living Areas

Common living areas, such as living rooms and dining rooms, are gathering places for your whole family. If your family is like most families then a lot of your time will be spent enjoying common areas together. You may think that you need a large house in order to have the space your family needs for all of the activities you enjoy. However, you can create the common living space you need, even if you live in a small house or apartment. A little creativity will allow you to convert a common area that has a lot of wasted space into an area your family can utilize to its full potential. You must simply learn how to use the attributes of the space, such as high ceilings, large windows and alcoves, to your advantage.

Begin with a Clean Slate

Whether you are moving into a new home or trying to redesign a common area in your existing house or apartment, it is essential that you start with a clean slate. The room must be empty in order for you to figure out how much space you have and the best way to utilize that space to suit the needs of your family.

Identify Your Needs and Create Zones for Those Needs Within the Space

It is beneficial when redesigning a space to sit down with some paper and a pencil to sketch a plan detailing what you need. Home office areas, children’s play areas and dining areas may need to be incorporated into a plan for a single room, depending on the size and layout of your home or apartment. Creating zones to meet each of those needs on paper first will help you to keep your design process organized.

Purchase Furniture with Multiple Functions

Once you have a plan for the space in question you must start to furnish the space. If you have concerns about your common area being too small then you should be sure to purchase furniture pieces that can serve multiple purposes. Couches that convert into guest beds, coffee tables with cabinets or shelves and foot stools with internal storage areas are just a few examples of multi-purpose furniture pieces that can help you keep a space functional without making it look crowded.

Put Some Furniture on Wheels

If you have a very small apartment then you must make every effort to keep the space feeling open while having access to all the items you need. Putting your furniture on wheels will offer you the best of both worlds because you can roll furniture pieces such as your coffee table, couch or book shelf out of the way, as needed.

Use the Vertical Space in the Room

Your home probably has a lot of unused vertical space in the common living areas. Put up simple shelves on pillars or over doorways to create extra storage while also adding some decoration to the room. You can also hang artwork to make any living space feel larger and more inviting.

Use Area Rugs and Other Décor to Section off the Space

If you are using your common area for several purposes, such as a family room and a home office, you need to keep the spaces separate. An easy way to create and define borders within the room is to purchase area rugs. Use different colored rugs to give each zone in a large space its own unique style.

Create Custom Shelving Whenever Possible

If you feel like your common area has no space then you must create the space you need. Many rooms have alcoves or nooks with odd shapes, but those spaces can still be utilized. All you must do is create custom shelves for those areas. In some cases, it you will find that custom cabinets or drawers are beneficial as well.

Remove Non-Load-Bearing Walls to Increase Space

If your home has very small rooms, you may be able to turn them into one larger space. However, you must only have walls removed by professionals, as they must be not be load-bearing walls. By removing unnecessary walls entirely, you will have a much easier space to work with.

Alternatively, you can create half-walls with window-like openings to give the illusion of one larger room. If you have children or plan to entertain guests then a half-wall between areas like the kitchen and living room may be beneficial because it will allow you to see and chat with your family members or guests.

Divide Your Space Using Curtains or Other Items When Necessary

If you already have a living area that seems too large then use curtains, room dividers or pocket doors to create two separate spaces. The advantage of any of those techniques is that the space can easily be opened again in seconds to create one larger area. Therefore, it will be like having several rooms in one.

Use Colors to Your Advantage

Color is a very valuable design tool in any space. To make one large area look like a single room, using similar colors throughout the entire space is necessary. Dividing a large open space into several smaller zones requires each zone to have its own color scheme. Therefore, how you choose to use colors in your home will depend on your personal design goals for your common living areas.

How to Set a Disciplined Diet Plan

Dieting is very difficult, in no small part because there are so many different diets from which to choose. There is no such thing as a perfect universal diet. Dieters need to find a plan that fits their nutritional, lifestyle and even their financial needs. Many dieters ultimately give up on their diet after a short time. One of the biggest reasons dieters stray from their plan is because they are unsatisfied with the results and believe that the diet does not work. Unfortunately, dieting is something that always takes time. Any diet claiming quick or immediate results should be viewed with suspicion. One of the traits that all effective diets share is that they stick to a disciplined plan. There are a few different ways to create a disciplined diet plan.

Setting Realistic Goals

The first step to creating a disciplined diet plan is setting realistic goals. When setting goals, it is recommended to come up with two different numbers. The first is a short-term goal, followed by a long-term goal. Some diets only use a long-term goal, but having both is recommended because the short-term goal helps lead into the long-term goal and it gives the dieter a consistent sense of satisfaction. Since the dieter feels like he or she is always making progress towards his or her long-term goal, it helps a dieter to stay motivated and disciplined.

A common example of a short-term diet plan is losing one pound every two weeks. Two weeks is an optimal short-term goal because the dieter does not have to wait too long for results, and it actually gives the diet enough time to start making an impact. However, part of setting realistic goals means coming up with a fair number of pounds to lose. Losing 10 pounds in two weeks would certainly be ideal, but it is unrealistic to set that as a short-term goal. Dieters who go to the extremes ultimately end up hurting their health by trying to achieve such rapid weight loss. They can also set themselves up for disappointment with numbers that are simply not obtainable.

Dieters can set a larger short-term goal if they are patient and want to celebrate larger successes. For example, instead of setting the goal to two weeks, dieters could make their short-term goal to lose five pounds after a month.

The long-term goal is simply the weight that the dieter is trying to lose. One mistake that dieters make is setting the end goal as their final desired weight. A plan like that only works if the dieter is looking to lose a minimal amount of weight. For example, a dieter that only wants to lose 10 pounds could theoretically make that his or her end goal. If the dieter wants to lose more, like 50 or 60 pounds, it is recommended to use a tiered diet system. The first long-term goal could be losing 20 pounds in a year. Once the dieter sees he or she was able to achieve that weight, they create a new diet plan for the following year, where they lose another 20 pounds.

Understand How to Lose Weight

On paper, a diet sounds very simple. While on a diet, the dieter consumes healthy food and exercises to lose weight. While that captures the essence of a diet, it is ultimately an oversimplification. Understanding nutrition is an important part of dieting, since it allows dieters to identify what type of food is or is not healthy.

One of the most common and dangerous mistakes when planning a diet is skipping a meal, usually breakfast or lunch. The human body needs energy to function, which is why having three meals a day is so important. It is even more dangerous if the dieter is also trying to exercise, because now he or she is burning more energy than his or her body is used to, while consuming less food to stay energized. In addition, cutting out meals just increases the chance that the dieter will lose discipline and eat more for his or her remaining meals.

The key to losing weight is burning more calories in a day than the dieter consumed. When dieting, the dieter needs to pay close attention to the calories on whatever foods he or she eats. It is highly recommended to plan out meals in advance, since the dieter will know exactly how many calories he or she is consuming each day. It is also important to take into account all parts of a meal. There are many soft drinks that are very high in calories, even diet branded brands. Healthy foods like salads can end up being very high in calories if they use certain types of dressing.

Diet Flexibility

Under ideal circumstances, the dieter will stick to his or her goal and always achieve the short-term and long-term goals. It is very rare for this to actually happen, though. Having discipline not only refers to following the diet, but sticking with the diet if something throws it off. Sometimes dieters might end up a few pounds off from their goal weight or they have too many calories in one day. These are all perfectly normal with a diet. The important thing is the dieter does not become discouraged if his or her diet slips.