by Graeme Guttmann
As Thanksgiving begins this week and we head into the holiday season, schools are gearing up for the Winter break. Luckily, Houston and the greater area has plenty of options to ring in the holidays. From traditional lighting ceremonies and live performances, to fun and exciting options for kids and families, there’s plenty to do in the Houston area.
For some live entertainment, both A Christmas Carol and The Nutcracker will be playing through December 29th. The Nutcracker will be performed by the Houston Ballet at the Wortham Theatre. This Christmas classic, set to Tchaikovsky’s timeless score, is sure to put anyone in the holiday mood. Tickets start at $27 and go up from there. Performances of A Christmas Carol, presented by Alley Theatre, start at $39, with ticket prices increasing from there. This tale, a traditional one that should be seen around this time every year, is perfect for families and those just looking for a great experience at the theatre.
You can also check out Magical Winter Lights through January 5th at Gulf Greyhound Park. Not only is this the largest lantern festival of its kind in the US, but it also has a winter market square for any holiday goods you can imagine. Also, the festival is open Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve and Day, so the opportunities to attend are wide open.
Holiday in the Gardens at Moody Gardens is also another must see for any holiday festival lovers. In addition to the traditional decorations, attendees can also check out ICE LAND, an ice sculpture presentation. This year’s theme is an international look at the ways different cultures around the world celebrate the holidays. This one is perfect for kids, as they get to explore ice playgrounds and even slide down from the top of the Eiffel Tower on a giant ice slide.
Another great activity for kids this year is the Zoo Lights at the Houston Zoo. With new attractions this year, including an infinity light tunnel, a 4-D Enchanted Forest, and a Winter Wonderland. These attractions will be at the zoo through January 12, 2020, so there’s plenty of time to check them out.
In addition to all of these amazing attractions, there are plenty of local attractions that are sure to be attracting large crowds. From Thanksgiving Parades to lighting ceremonies, be sure to check out your local city websites in order to find the multitude of events that are available to you. There’s no better way than to ring in the holidays with traditional events or even non-traditional events that are just as exciting!
The decision between renting and buying may seem like a hard one, but that’s because it is. There are many factors that go into the decision to buy property versus to rent, ones that could affect you or your family’s future. I’m going to lay out some pros and cons of renting and buying so that you can make the most informed decision possible.
There are plenty of positives to investing in a property. For someone who is ready to settle down and raise a family or simply put down roots in a community that they see as a place they would like to make a long-term investment in. The Houston market is hot right now. According to the Houston Chronicle, home sales rose for the seventh consecutive month, especially for mid-priced single-family homes between $150,000 and $500,000. This growth is driven by increasingly low mortgage rates: on average, a 3.65% on a 30-year fixed-rate, 1% lower than this time last year. Another pro to consider when purchasing property is the fact that doing so builds equity. You’re not only investing in intangible benefits like stability and community, but also wealth- and equity-building. This is in great contrast to renting, because while you do that, you’re building none of this. While this doesn’t necessarily mean you’re “throwing away money” like some purport, it is something to think about when considering the long-term ramifications. Sometimes your mortgage payment can end up being even lower than a monthly renting fee, while also having the ability to do whatever you want to the property: paint, remodel, rent to others, etc. Ultimately, at the right stage in one’s life, buying a property is a very smart choice. It is an investment that builds not only wealth and equity, but stability and the ability to create a home and an environment that is perfect for you. This has so many benefits beyond wealth, like better a better lifestyle.
Despite all of these positives, there are some things to consider before buying a property. There are lots of unknown costs when it comes to owning a property. As the property owner, you are responsible for any maintenance, potential liability, and any other sort of expense that may not come to light until after you purchase the property. It is important to be aware, and be prepared, for these costs. With proper planning beforehand and good financial decision making, though, these costs are not detrimental to owning a property and could, in fact, help you improve the property before you resell it. There is also the possibility that your mortgage could end up being more expensive than renting. Additionally, the housing market is always fluctuating, and the value of your property could go up or down depending on many different factors. That’s why it is important to research the area in which you wish to move to be prepared for any sort of future fluctuations that could raise or lower the value of your property.
On the flip side, one of the biggest Pros of renting a property is flexibility. This is what makes renting a great choice for those who are not sure if they are ready to settle down and invest in a property, for numerous reasons. Each time your lease ends, you have the opportunity to move somewhere else. This could either be because of a career move or simply an upgrade to a better neighborhood or nicer property. Additionally, when you’re renting a property, you know what you’re going to be spending on rent each month. The landlord or property manager will cover any sort of maintenance that might come along with the property and, as a tenant, you are not obligated to pay any sort of property taxes. However, this flexibility can also be considered a con. Rent can increase when your lease is up. The landlord or property manager can sell the property to a different management company, which can be good or bad depending on who is taking over. These unknowns are definitely cause for consideration.
There is no single answer as to which one is better, renting or buying. There are times in a person’s life where it might be better to rent or buy depending on their circumstances. What you should do is evaluate your situation accordingly and find out what is best for you and what you are looking for at the current phase in your life. It’s also important not to just consider the financial aspects, but the personal aspects as well. Are you looking to settle in one area? Are you stable in your career or looking for opportunity elsewhere? What are you looking for in a community? All of these questions and more can help you decide what is best for you. While buying a property can be a daunting prospect, the best way to begin this lifechanging process is to be prepared. Being prepared can simply mean knowing where you want to live, but it also means knowing the financial ins-and-outs of the process so you, as a home buyer, can be as prepared as possible. This preparedness will make the process much smoother and much more pleasant.
Article by: Graeme Guttmann