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It’s not an accident that three of the five fastest growing cities are in Texas. It’s more like destiny.

They say the Lone Star State has four seasons: drought, flood, blizzard and twister. This summer 97% of the state was in a persistent drought; in 2011 the Dallas-Fort Worth area experienced 40 straight days in July and August of temperatures of 100° or higher. The state’s social services are thin. Welfare benefits are skimpy. Roughly a quarter of residents have no health insurance. Many of its schools are less than stellar. Property-crime rates are high. Rates of murder and other violent crimes are hardly sterling either. So why are more Americans moving to Texas than to any other state? Texas is America’s fastest-growing large state, with three of the top five fastest-growing cities in the country: Austin, Dallas and Houston. In 2012 alone, total migration to Texas from the other 49 states in the Union was 106,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Since 2000, 1 million more people have moved to Texas from other states than have left.

As an economist and a libertarian, I have become convinced that whether they know it or not, these migrants are being pushed (and pulled) by the major economic forces that are reshaping the American economy as a whole: the hollowing out of the middle class, the increased costs of living in the U.S.’s established population centers and the resulting search by many Americans for a radically cheaper way to live and do business.

To a lot of Americans, Texas feels like the future. And I would argue that more than any other state, Texas looks like the future as well — offering us a glimpse of what’s to come for the country at large in the decades ahead. America is experiencing ever greater economic inequality and the thinning of its middle class; Texas is already one of our most unequal states. America’s safety net is fraying under the weight of ballooning Social Security and Medicare costs; Texas’ safety net was built frayed. Americans are seeking out a cheaper cost of living and a less regulated climate in which to do business; Texas has that in spades. And did we mention there’s no state income tax?

There’s a bumper sticker sometimes seen around the state that proclaims, I WASN’T BORN IN TEXAS, BUT I GOT HERE AS FAST AS I COULD. As the U.S. heads toward Texas, literally and metaphorically, it’s worth understanding why we’re headed there — both to see the pitfalls ahead and to catch a glimpse of the opportunities that await us if we make the journey in an intelligent fashion.

Orginal article by: Tyler Cowen with Time Magazine

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Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

 

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Buying or selling a home is one of the hardest decisions anyone can ever make. You want a great space that will suit your everyday needs. And once you’re settled, you’ll probably want to make every inch of the place your own. So here’s a list of the top renovations you can do that will not only customize your space, they’ll also add value to your home.

1Concentrate on the kitchen

People spend most of their time in the kitchen (cooking, entertaining), so it’s the first place where you should spend your renovation money. Look for customizable counters, like granite instead of laminate. There are plenty of inexpensive cupboard options at places like Ikea. Fixtures also matter. Reach for incredible sink faucets, like those from Delta. Opt for high-efficiency appliances from companies like Electrolux. These are all little things that will add value to your house when you are ready to sell it.

2Finish an unfinished space

One of the best ways to up the value of your house is to create more of it. So if you have a large basement that’s unfinished, fix it up. Drywall the walls. Finish the ceiling. Add potlights. By adding square footage, you’ll end up with more useable space (and you’ll be able to ask for more money when it comes time to sell).

3Look to the bathroom

Another place people spend a lot of time in is the bathroom. Another renovation idea that will add value to your house is to focus on redoing the bathroom sink or shower. That doesn’t mean you need to spend a lot of money. Places like Rona and Canadian Tire offer great suggestions on how to spruce up a bathroom space without breaking the bank.

4Go energy efficient

The cost of oil, gas and hydro are going to keep going up, which is why so many people are opting for greener forms of power, like Bullfrog. Solar panels are even becoming de rigueur in high-income neighbourhoods. So look into making your home more energy efficient by getting new windows or buying appliances that waste less energy. Also, take the time to upgrade wiring or plumbing (outdated infrastructure will not only decrease the value of your home, it also makes it less insurable). As an added incentive, the Government of Canada now offers programs to help reduce costs of “greening” projects.

5Maintain everything over time

Little things also matter when it comes to increasing the value of your home. When you’re painting, make sure you tape everything so baseboards or flooring don’t get covered in paint. Add trim or crown moulding where possible. Use lights, curtains and rugs to make your space feel comfortably lived in. And always keep your space clear of clutter or waste (Bagster Dumpster in a Bag, a handy new product, will help you clear your space of almost anything).

When you start looking into renovating certain areas of your house, remember to always think about what would add value first and foremost. Once the time come to sell your house, you’ll be happy you kept these tips top of mind!

Orginal article By:    Sarah Kelsy  with Home & Living /Remodelling and Home Improvement

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Compliments of: Martha Small | Austin Portfolio Real Estate | 512.587.0308

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