print Announces the Best Real Estate Blogs in San Diego

California’s second largest city and the United States’ eighth largest, San Diego is renowned for its idyllic climate, 70 miles of pristine beaches and dazzling array of world-class family attractions. No wonder moving companies are doing such a great business in the area.

San Diego County encompasses 18 incorporated cities and many neighborhoods and communities, including downtown’s historic Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, Coronado, La Jolla, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Escondido, La Mesa, Hillcrest, Barrio Logan and Chula Vista.

The city’s real estate market was hard hit during the past couple of years by the recession, but it is bouncing back. Home values rose in February of this year compared with February 2009, according to real estate professionals.

We thought this good news afforded the lovely city of San Diego a best real estate blogs post.

As with the other real estate posts that have gone up here during the past several weeks, the San Diego blogs can help a stranger learn about the city. Whether a user is thinking about moving or is just curious and looking around, the featured blogs offer opportunities to explore neighborhoods, taxes, mortgages and even prices of staples like utilities.

These blogs even help users find the best restaurants, doctors and dentists in the area, so if someone is planning on moving to the city, they can hit the ground running., run by Jim Klinge, has more than real estate listings for San Diego and the surrounding areas. You can find San Diego crime data and school information by neighborhood, as well as a short list of recommended service providers, which include everything from insurance agents to piano tuners to home contractors.

Klinge also has a video library that puts the user on the ground in San Diego with virtual tours of properties and luxury REOs in foreclosure, as well as tips and tricks for getting the most out of the real estate market.

The San Diego Home blog is run by Kris and Steve Berg, owners of San Diego Castles Realty. For more than a decade, they have helped literally hundreds of families purchase property, and sell homes and investment properties throughout San Diego County.

The site’s listings feed allows users to view the latest 25 properties that have come on the market in each neighborhood they cover. It’s a great way to take a virtual tour and see what is available in the city.

Peter Toner’s San Diego Real Estate blog features some great articles on home buying, the state of SD’s real estate market and tax credits, as well as fantastic tips for home sellers and renters.

San Diego Real Estate Market blog has a very healthy listings page, with hundreds of San Diego rentals and homes for purchase. The blog also offers visitors a real connection to the city through event pages that list large and small happenings in and around San Diego.

Users that are interested in the social scene will delight in SD Urban, which covers the city’s urban neighborhoods and features art, architecture, dining and community events. It’s authored by Paul Jamason, and really puts the user on the ground so they can see what is happening right now. A lively comments section and diverse blog roll add to the feeling that you are already part of the community.

Voice of San has a great home page with tons of SD housing news. The site is run by, a nonprofit news organization that focuses on in-depth and investigative reporting. They cover the issues that are crucial to the region’s quality of life: its politics, educational system, environment, housing, economy and more.

You can find really good reporting on this blog, and get an unbiased view of exactly where the real estate market stands in San Diego. Once you get your fill of housing, browse through the rest of the tabs and see what else is happening in this great surfer city.

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Finding Your Dream Work

NEW YORK, December 2, 2009 – They’re called “jobbies” — a blend of job and hobby — and the people who pursue them are “hobbers.” They allow us to do what we love with a paycheck (albeit it modest) attached. Many individuals who have found themselves without a “regular” job thanks to the sour economy are taking a fresh look at their professional lives and challenging themselves to pursue work that is more aligned with their passion and curiosity. This kind of soul searching brings with it a number of practical questions, including where to put a stake in the ground to launch this new chapter.

According to’s founder Sharon Sharon Asher, people who are starting fresh often narrow the field of possible locations by considering what resources a community offers that sync with their own interests. “Affordable living costs, a vibrant learning community and a solid foundation of small businesses and entrepreneurial enterprises are attributes that ‘hobbers’ may find most attractive,” says Asher.

Here are a few highlights of several “jobby”-friendly communities:

Athens, Georgia: Known for its beautiful, historical neighborhoods, warm Southern hospitality and, thanks to University of Georgia, a rich intellectual life, Athens provides an invigorating blend of college town, artist community and vibrant music scene to those seeking to set down new roots in a place with broad possibilities.

Gainesville, Florida: Home to the Florida Gators (and yes, also the real deal: Florida ‘gators), Gainesville nurtures a host of small startup companies surrounding the venerable University of Florida at Gainesville. Lovely older neighborhoods, affordable home prices and an easy Southern graciousness make Gainesville a worthy place to find or invent a “jobby.”

Austin, Texas: Selected as the No. 2 Best Big City in “Best Places to Live” by Money magazine, Austin’s vibrant music culture, strong ties to its universities and entrepreneurial setting (its nickname is Silicon Hills) make the city one of the top candidate for hobbers. In addition, in 2009, Forbes designated Austin as one of the least stressful large metro areas (it’s relaxing just reading that sentence). “Keep Austin Weird” is the unofficial slogan for the city.

San Diego, California: Although not an inexpensive place to live, San Diego entices new comers with its mild climate, burgeoning life sciences industry, well respected universities and overall mahalo beach-focused way of life.


Renters Plot Their Next Move

Flickr: ShoobydoobyIt’s the big question — OK, the only question — in real estate: have we hit bottom?

Hard to say for sure, but recent data from a survey, coupled with recent economic data, indicate there’s light at the end of the tunnel. In our September survey, more renters took the plunge to become homeowners. Granted, it was modest: this group increased from 14% to 17% from the previous survey in June.

However, an increase is an increase, and although this group doesn’t get much press, it’s important for the health of our real estate market.

The ‘move up’ crowd gets a lot of attention in the housing market. These are the folks who own currently but are looking to move to a better home or better neighborhood. This group’s been basically frozen because they can’t sell their home, or get enough for their home, to move up to a new home.

That’s created a cascade effect that’s kept much of the market frozen. So if the renters get off the sidelines and start buying homes, which in turn frees up those sellers to buy a new home, that’s a great sign, and one that bears watching.

Other findings:

* 70% of respondents said homes are more affordable today than in recent months.

* 69% indicated they believe the economy is improving

* 19% cite declining home values as a primary reason for this improvement.

* 26% of survey respondents took advantage of these more affordable prices to move to a bigger house or neighborhood, down 24 percentage points from our June survey.

* Moving due to job loss or foreclosure stabilized at 7%.

* There’s been a 16% increase in respondents who said they hired a professional moving company, which may be another indication of an improving economy.


The Bursting of the Housing Myth — and a Glimmer of Hope for the Relocation Industry

flickr: inkdphotos A recent report about moving holds some important glimmers of light for the moving industry.

The Boston Fed study found that housing prices have become a key determinant in whether people move – if people can not get the price for their home that they think it’s worth, they won’t sell and move. That’s a shift: before, if you needed to move, whether for retirement or a job, selling your current home wasn’t a roadblock.

Now that housing prices have fallen so much, that type of activity has stalled, and migration patterns have hit generational lows.

So where exactly is the good news in this?

The biggest hindrance to someone selling their home, or putting their home on the market, is the perception that they’re losing. The home that 4 years ago was worth $300,000 is now worth only $250,000. They sell now, and they’ve lost, even if they only paid $200,000 for it.  

It’s a skewed way of looking at things.

Granted, there are many folks who are underwater on their mortgage, effectively shackling them in place unless they can either produce the cash to pay off the difference between the mortgage and the selling price, or convince their lender to do a short sale.

However, many people bought well before the housing boom. They’re not underwater. They have equity. They can move.

But the housing industry and government have beaten into our heads that your home is an investment. Expect a solid return year after year. Tap into your home to fund your retirement.

People are slowing catching a whiff of the the new reality.

That reality: Depending on where you live, that nice nest egg with a front porch is now 10%-50% less than what you thought it was.

That sucks, and you’re probably angry. But will that stop you from living where you want to live?

The longer the housing drag continues, this ‘I-shoulda-sold-in-2006 remorse’ will be less of a factor in peoples’ relocation decision. The regret over your ‘loss’ will lessen. You’ll feel better about selling.

The bursting of the housing bubble has been a painful process so far, and it’s still got a ways to go. But the sooner we get there, the sooner houses will be sold — and the sooner moving companies will see some daylight.

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print's Top Cities for a Fresh Start

Today we announced our list of Best Places for a Fresh Start. I’m pleased with the criteria we came up with to rank the cities, particularly the angle on volunteerism — this was one of four criteria, the others included housing affordability, economic growth prospects and our own data of where people are moving to.

I’m a pretty staunch believer that you can tell a lot about a community by how much it volunteers to help out others. Using that list helped boost a lot of cities that might not have made the list otherwise, like Columbus, Ohio and Minneapolis.

Now, I don’t expect anyone to read this list and say, ‘Hey, I’m gonna move to XXXX for a fresh start!’ Instead, I hope it’s a springboard by which people think about the things in their life that matter to them, and how they can apply that to where they spend their lives.

Then you can go about drawing up your own list of things that matter to you, and formulate your own ‘dream’ cities.

Here’s our top 20 cities:

City Popularity Job Growth Home Affordability Volunteerism Rate FINAL RANK
Austin 3 1 23 5 32
Dallas-Ft. Worth 7 4 15 19 45
Charlotte 9 18 16 10 53
Denver 1 21 19 13 54
Columbus, OH 27 25 6 6 64
Indianapolis 31 11 1 21 64
Washington DC, Balt 4 13 30 19 66
Atlanta, GA 8 16 13 31 68
Oklahoma City, OK 36 14 12 11 73
Houston 17 3 25 29 74
Las Vegas 2 5 18 49 74
Seattle 12 7 51 4 74
Minneapolis-St. Paul 40 24 10 1 75
Raleigh-Durham 6 8 28 33 75
San Antonio 19 2 32 32 85
Portland 16 23 45 3 87
Cincinnati 32 35 5 17 89
Pittsburgh 43 26 8 12 89
Memphis, TN 33 34 11 26 104
Cleveland, OH 30 50 3 22 105

The criteria:
‘Popularity’: We mined our own data to see where people wanted to move. We took that as an indication that these communities are seeing, or will see, an steady influx of newcomers. These newcomers bring with them new ideas, skills and outlooks that can help support the economy and that city’s sense of community. This type of ‘churn’ is vital.

We looked at the per-capita number of quotes for moving services requested to particular communities in 2008 and year-to-date 2009.

Economic prospects: We used’s list of the Best Places for Businesses and Careers to help determine the areas with the brightest job growth prospects over the next three years. This list was published in March 2009.

Housing you can afford: We used figures from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB)/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index. The report looks at the country’s largest metropolitan areas and the percentage of homes sold in the latest quarter that are considered affordable by the median average family.

An ‘Active’ Community: I believe people will be moving for different reasons in the future than they are now, and strength of community will be one of those factors. A strong component of a strong community is volunteerism — how active people are in helping out others in their community.

We used volunteer data from the Corporation of National Community and Service, an independent federal agency whose board of directors and CEO are appointed by the president.

Because of insufficient data on some cities, we were unable to rank them. The only city this might have affected reaching the top 20 was Nashville, for which we didn’t have data for housing.

Would love to hear more from you about the list!

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A New Life by Relocating – How to Make It Happen


Texas: Recession Doesn't Tarnish Lone Star's Shine

Although you’d be hard-pressed to name any region of the country that hasn’t had the recession sink its teeth into its hide, Texas has clearly been able to steer clear of the sharpest fangs. texas2 According to our data, Texas enjoys a health demand from people who are relocating or looking to relocate.

In particular, the cities of Austin and San Antonio are popular on a per-capita basis.

Our statistics look at where people are moving from, and where they’re moving to. We collect the data from consumers who request moving services from moving companies in our network.

Looking at data collected from 2007, 2008 and 2009, of all moving requests that involve Texas, 62% of those requests were people who expressed a desire to move to Texas; 38% were people who were looking to leave the State. To put this into some perspective: of moving requests involving Michigan in 2008, 71% were people looking to leave the state; just 29% were people looking to move to Michigan.

Texas cities also show admirable strength, particularly Austin. Its per-capita ratio is nearly twice that of the next city on the list, San Antonio. Most large Texas cities showed a great deal of demand for people to move to those cities. For this measure, we looked at interstate moves, as well as intrastate moves that do not include moves within that city’s MSA — we weren’t interested in someone who was simply moving from one side of town to the other.

The results: Austin: 60% of moving requests involved people wanting to move TO Austin; 40% involved people who wanted to move out of Austin.

San Antonio: 57% and 43% respectively;

Dallas/Fort Worth: 56% and 44%

Houston: 54% and 46%

The only city that bucked this trend was El Paso. Of all moves involving El Paso, 55% were people looking to leave El Paso; 45% were people looking to move to El Paso.

Other stats:

Tennessee Moving: Sign Me Up for the Volunteer State

Montana Moving: More Opt for Big Sky’s 2008 Relocation Survey