Posts tagged with "Global Society"

Jake & Papa

Hailing from Los Angeles, California, brothers, Jake & Papa, bring new heat to the R&B scene. The duo recently released their tracks, “Patient” and “Baby Momma” across streaming platforms. Over the years, the boys have enjoyed regional success with uptempo R&B anthems that can be heard on radio stations across Southern California. “Patient” was discovered by teens on social media as different influencers dance to the track. In addition, a new music video debuted last week on YouTube. The video has garnered over 20K views so far and can be seen here. Stream the single and find more of their music on Spotify

Talk about a musical family background. The Harrell brothers came to the entertainment world at a young age out of a four-generations musical family. At five and six years old, Anthony Harrell and Grady Harrell III (elder brothers of Jake and Papa) joined their first cousin Canela Cox to form the group Papa’s Results, being trained and taught by Grady Harrell II, who was then signed to MCA Records prior to a prison term. The children appeared in his R&B hit single “Sticks and Stone” and Anthony provided the singing voice of “Young Michael Jackson” played by Alex Burell in the 1992 TV mini series, The Jacksons: An American Dream. Papa’s results lasted until Canela moved to Holland to follow her mother’s musical career. The brothers filled her spot with family friend Jeff Lee and changed their name to Serenade. They appeared on episodes of Saved by the Bell: The New Class in 1997, where Anthony played the regular role of Eric Little. As a duet comprising the two Harrell brothers Grady and Anthony, they recorded two independent albums, in 1999 and 2001.

In 2002, Grady and Anthony were joined by their brothers JR, Jake, and Papa and formed Brutha. Papa and Jacob were not raised by their father, as he had been convicted of fraud and was sentenced to 2.5 years in prison. The boys were raised on the music of their inspirations, which ranged from Sam Cooke to Stevie Wonder. Before hitting the “Big Time” they played graduation parties and bar mitzvahs. The band was discovered by Brian Mcknight, who introduced them on the 2003 Soul Train Holiday Special. In 2008, their uncle Donny “Drano” Harrell, CEO of Goodfellas Entertainment, and the late Shakir Stewart, senior vice president of A&R at Island Def Jam, invited the group to Atlanta to do a filmed audition in front of Jermaine Dupri and a range of producers. The audition resulted in a one-hour special entitled Jermaine Dupri presents: Brutha, broadcast on March 24, 2008, on Peachtree TV. Dupri was impressed and signed the brothers to the Island Def Jam Music Group. In 2007, Brutha made a special guest appearance on the Discovery Kids TV show “Hip Hop Harry.”

Since, Jake and Papa, re-invented themselves as a duo project and released two albums, “Athena’s Erotica 2.0” and “Sexual Welfare”. Fans are eager to see what’s next and if another album is on the way.

Follow Jake & Papa on Instagram.

Lanea Tacos and Tequila

Lanea

By Krishan Narsinghani

360 Magazine joined LA’s westside hotspot, Lanea, for an afternoon of taco madness and handcrafted cocktails.

Voted “Best Mexican Food on the Westside” and “Best Cocktail Bar in LA”, Lanea Cocktail and Taco Bar spiced it up for National Taco Day making their to-go options that much easier to pick up to celebrate the delicious holiday. From 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, October 4th, Lanea hosted a Drive-Thru Taco Stand to raise funds for the Santa Monica Firefighters Relief Fund. Customers could walk up or purchase in advance to pick up there order at an easily accessible drive-thru, located in the adjacent alley. There, guests could indulge in their favorite street tacos made to order from Chef Petra herself. Lanea offered free tacos to all firefighters and frontline workers as a courtesy for all their dedication and hard work during these times. Furthermore, the restaurant offered one free taco (of your choice) with the purchase of any hand-crafted cocktail ($9). A portion of all sales from National Taco Day went to the Santa Monica Firefighters Relief Fund.

A number of items at the National Taco Day Drive-Thru were offered including their “Taco & Tequila Happy Hour,” menu which featured tacos starting at $2 and canned or frozen cocktails starting at $9 (regularly $13). Happy hour specials also include $3 Chips & Pico de Gallo, $6 Chips & Guacamole and $4 Consome, which is bone broth with chipotle chickpeas, onion, and cilantro. Pick up their new “Hot Stuff,” homemade 4 oz. hot sauces, Salsa Verde and Salsa Rojo retailing at only $4.99, as well as their premium Tequila and Mezcal “Jet Fuel” Flights. The flights come with a sipping cup copita, sal gusano and an orange slice for your enjoyment. View the full selection of flights here.

Located two blocks from the beach, Lanea is a spirit-driven cocktail bar and restaurant with an extensive variety of over 400 hand-selected mezcals and tequilas. Their authentic Mexican cuisine is prepared by Petra Zavaleta, who hails from Tepeaca, Puebla, and rose to foodie fame with her underground barbacoa pop-ups, and later opened their eatery Barbakush in East L.A. Praised as one of the best Mexican eateries on the Westside, Petra and her family source their lamb locally from Chino Hills and prepare their barbacoa in an earthen pit, cooking it slowly over an open fire. Offering several different styles of classic tacos on their handmade-to-order corn tortillas, as well as chips and guacamole, they are the perfect complement to Lanea’s unique cocktail menu.

“This year has already been a crazy year for us all and the addition of a record breaking pre-start to fire season elevates the stress on our firefighters and frontline workers,” says Lanea Proprietor Peter Trinh. “Petra and I, alongside our other partners, are really thankful and humbled by the local support as we continue to offer a safe, affordable outlet for the local community. So we wanted to do something to help us all band together to support and thank our firefighters and frontline workers further. Please join us on National Taco Day and check out our new to-go small batched canned cocktails, or our handmade gluten-free tacos, and help us support our hard-working firefighters.”

Lanea’s hand-crafted cocktails are still available to-go, and their Summer menu additions are here to stay. Sip on one of their frozen drinks such as the Horchata Colada crafted with Santa Teresa Rum, pineapple, horchata, almond milk and coconut, the Third Street Sling made with Hibiscus Patron Tequila, fresh lemon, passionfruit, and pineapple, or the Jungle Bird Scooter crafted with Vida Mezcal, fresh lemon, ginger, and campari. Starting at only $9, enjoy a variety of signature canned cocktails such as the Paloma made with The Chainsmokers’ JAJA Tequila (must try!) containing grapefruit tonic and Aperol, or the Margarita with Cazadores tequila, fresh lime, demerara, and orange liqueur.

Sweden Tourism Photography Credits to Martin Edström

Visit Sweden’s Healing Through Nature

Lockdowns, isolation, and working from home have caused elevated levels of stress for many people: 45% of Americans say they experience anxiety because of the pandemic, according to a UN report. But there are ways to alleviate the stress. Research shows that spending time in nature lowers stress levels – one of the many benefits of grabbing a few minutes to enjoy some greenery or planning a getaway in the great outdoors.

The positive effects were tested through Visit Sweden’s very own initiative, “The 72-Hour Cabin.” With participants from major cities who had demanding jobs, participants were examined before and after spending three consecutive days in the Swedish countryside where they slept in glass cabins next to water. The study proved that being outdoors surrounded only by nature dramatically reduced negative emotions and lowered stress levels.

In Sweden, 70% of the country is covered with forest, and nature is easy to reach, with open fields and meadows, old-growth forests, quiet lakes, miles of coastlines, and thousands of islands. Swedes have a unique Freedom to Roam, The Right of Public Access (‘Allemansrätt’), which maintains that everyone has the right to walk, cycle, ride, ski and camp on any land. With this, it is no wonder Swedes maintain an unusually close relationship to nature and draw from the healing power of spending time outside.

“Natural environments are an important resource for meeting the health challenges in our society. Research shows that time spent outdoors reduces negative emotions and stress, and promotes positive emotions, mental recovery, and performance,” says Cecilia Stenfors, a researcher at the Aging Research Center at Karolinska Institutet, Sweden, and the University of Chicago, USA.

As nature experiences are an effective way to provide a bit of normality after months of pandemic-related stress, anxiety, and loneliness. Below are five ways to incorporate a bit of green in your life, as illustrated by the Swedes:

  • You only need twenty minutes in nature to reduce stress, so there is no excuse not to pop outside for a few moments, even a lunch time walk will help clear your mind.
  • Boost your mental health by taking your meal outside. Swedes dine al fresco nearly all year round and enjoy foraging in nature’s own pantry. For inspiration, check out Visit Sweden’s outdoor dining and do-it-yourself cooking concept, Edible Country.
  • Enjoy outdoor activities like the Swedes with cooking, hiking, canoeing, and mountain biking, all of which have proven long-lasting effects on their well-being.
  • According to a meta-analysis from the University of East Anglia, published in Environmental Research, nature can lower your blood pressure, cortisol, and heart rate. For those living in cities, even surrounding yourself with indoor plants or even gazing at pictures or videos of nature can be soothing. 
  • When the time is right, book a trip to enjoy Sweden’s lush landscape and stay high up in the Tree Hotel, or experience a glass cabin, house boat, or maybe even a lighthouse.

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Chicago Living

By Krishan Narsinghani

Some call it America’s best fine dining town and others call it the Windy City. Chicago, IL is notorious for its bites and lake breeze, but 360 Magazine believes it’s one of the top cities to move to next.

It’s true that the winters are freezing, but the greater Chicago area has all four seasons and each one exudes a unique beauty. Midwest doesn’t only mean more sunshine and snow, but also affordable living prices and midwestern hospitality (which is important if you don’t already know people in the area). Opinions may vary, but Chi-town is cleaner than most metropolitan cities in the US and Summertime does not disappoint. Relax on the beaches of Lake Michigan or enjoy a nice hand-crafted cocktail at one of the many rooftops. Also explore the rich history and landmarks like The Bean, Navy Pier and Millennium Park – where Lollapalooza is annually held.

First, you need to find where you want to live in the city or outside the city. With over 70 neighborhoods to choose from, movers have tons of options depending on the culture and attractions they want to be associated with. If you’re looking for a superb nightclub scene, River North is your area. West loop is ideal for corporate workers and hot restaurants. West town has new ethnic eateries with wicker park nearby. The list goes on, but every part of Chi has its own vibe and treasures. Getting around the city is easy as public transport isn’t an issue.

In today’s market with COVID-19, it’s harder than ever to find proper living spaces in a major city whilst also budgeting within a reasonable price range. According to Chicago data collected by travel blogger, Lauren Monitz, “The median price for a home listing is $1,750 which is slightly over the national average.” For apartment renting, Zumper’s data showed that the average rent in Logan Square is as low $950 for a studio (and $1,095 across the city overall). Find a roommate and move to The Loop for an average of $2,810 per month. In cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, the average rent price is significantly higher.

A hidden lifesaver recommended for individuals looking to jumpstart their move is a platform called Zumper. Zumper is used by millions of renters to find houses, rooms, condos, or apartments for rent. It’s as simple as applying online. Submit digital rental applications and credit reports with their screening service, powered by TransUnion™. We’ve all tried to use countless rent/housing websites, but Zumper’s site maximizes quality. The inventory is updated in real-time, so users always see new rentals first. Try filtering by location, price range, bedroom count, pet-friendly, or amenity and set an alert to get notifications when a new listing is posted.

It’s always hard to take that first step and find the perfect place. Using websites and apps to navigate searches help legitimize you traveling in-person to visit a new home. It will also save energy if you aren’t wasting time on sites that don’t filter new apartments and homes, plus alerts to keep you in the know. Overall, Chicago has made a mark on our staff. It’s safe to say it’s one of the top cities in the US to live in.

Get The Most Money Selling Your Car

Sales is not everyone’s strong suit, and used car sales has its own stigma. But with the right preparation, you can have the confidence you need to get the most money selling your car. Here are a few strategic tips you can use when selling a used vehicle, no matter the kind or condition. 

Preventative Care

Getting the most out of your car in the future begins with how you take care of it today. Preventative care like regular oil changes and safe driving will help you get the most return when it comes time to sell your car.

  • Oil Change – Motor oil keeps your engine in proper working condition by lubricating its moving parts. This protective barrier also regulates engine temperature and prevents corrosion, which could lead to very dangerous and expensive damage that will show up on your vehicle history report.
  • Keep Clean – It may not seem like it, but keeping your car clean will help with your resale value. Taking your car through a touch-free car wash on a regular basis will help prevent paint from fading and could even prevent rust.
  • Safe Driving – A bit of a no brainer, but accidents dramatically decrease the value of your car. Even when repaired, a car that has been repaired following an accident is a red flag on the vehicle history report. Even if the outside looks good, the buyer has no way of knowing any residual effects of the accident and may choose to avoid the risk all together.

Prep for Success

Curb appeal applies to cars as much as it does homes. Getting more money for your vehicle can be as simple as cleaning it up and taking good photos. Prep your car, inside and out, for eye-catching photos from every angle including detailed shots. Wait for a nice day with optimum lighting and drive to a place with ambiance such as a park, atop a parking garage with the skyline in the background, or even just the side of a building with a clean wall. Don’t forget to eliminate distractions like garbage from the area. Great photos of a detailed car will naturally attract more attention and likely get you more cash in the end.

Getting more money for your vehicle can be as simple as cleaning it up and taking good photos. Great photos of a detailed car will naturally attract more attention and likely get you more cash in the end.

Transparency

After you’ve cleaned and photographed your car, put together a consolidated write up. You could even provide your own copy of the vehicle history report. Whether you’re sharing online or in-person, offering as much information as possible gives car buyers confidence that you’re not trying to hide anything. This transparency creates a foundation of trust which will help you secure your ideal asking price.

Understanding Value

Understanding the value of your car is the next step in getting the most out of it. The last thing you want is a situation where the buyer knows more about your car than you do. If you don’t know enough about the value of your car you could either undersell yourself or let someone talk you out of what your car is truly worth. Do a little research and look into pricing across sites such as Kelly Blue Book, Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, and local dealerships.

Key Factors

There are a few primary factors that determine the value of your car, though some of the details can be subjective. The vehicle’s mileage and condition are two standing factors no matter the make or model. The value of your car based on its year is somewhat relative. Typically, the newer the better, unless your buyer is a collector or there have been recalls associated with the year of your car. The make and model can be somewhat subjective because buyers desire different cars for different reasons (ie. electric, luxury, comfort, size). Ask yourself why you bought the car in the first place. 

Other factors that affect the value of your car:

  1. Owner Care
  2. Number of Owners
  3. Stock Accessories
  4. Aftermarket Upgrades

Unique Factors

Throughout the time you’ve owned the car, you’ve undoubtedly made some changes to fit your lifestyle. Have you added a roof rack to haul snowboards or mountain bikes? Did you add navigation and update the stereo equipment for a better road trip experience? Did you lift your truck and add bigger tires? These things can increase the value of your car.

Opportunity Factors

Something to keep in mind when you’re prepping to sell is demand. Today’s car market is unique. While many are working from home and driving less, Americans are much more inclined to own a personal vehicle to avoid public transportation. Furthermore, the cost of gasoline and climate change campaigns are inspiring drivers to reduce their carbon footprint. Both of these factors make electric and hybrid vehicles more attractive.

Something to keep in mind when you’re prepping to sell is demand. As more people are inspired to do their part in helping the environment, electric and hybrid vehicles have been more attractive to prospective car buyers.

Negotiating & Wiggle Room

Now that you’ve prepped, photographed, and posted your car for sale, it’s time to gear up for negotiating. Selling privately through sites like Craigslist, eBay or Facebook Marketplace will get you the most for your car. If you have the right connections, you may be able to park your car with a for sale sign in a high-traffic area to attract potential buyers. When you sell to a dealership, they have to plan for overhead, profit, and commissions. This means the purchase price needs to leave enough room for markup and less money for you.

If you’ve researched similar vehicles for sale in your area, as well as the appropriate value for your car based on the factors mentioned above, the final tip for getting the most money for your car is to include a little wiggle-room in the asking price for negotiating. For example, if your car is valued around $10,000 and nearby dealerships are selling the same vehicle for $9,000 to $12,000, consider listing your car with an asking price in that range, but $2,000 above your ideal sale price. Wise buyers will always make an initial offer below asking price, and if you have a cushion for negotiating, you should be able to offer a competitive rate that still gets you the most money for your car.

Your Trade-In is Someone Else’s Treasure

Whether you’re retiring a hand-me-down clunker or you’re growing from sports car to SUV, there is a buyer who will find what they need in what you’re selling. Getting the most money for your used car simply requires a little cleaning, research, and strategic negotiating. In the end, if the sale isn’t as important as your time, you can always donate your car to nonprofits like The Salvation Army or Habitat for Humanity, who are helping individuals and families rebuild their lives.

Brain Cancer illustrated by Mina Tocalini for 360 MAGAZINE.

Cancer Discovery Reveals Key Process in Tumor Formation

A discovery from the University of Virginia School of Medicine may open the door to an entirely new approach to treating cancer: by disrupting a vital condensation process inside cancer cells.

Researchers led by Hao Jiang, PhD, of UVA’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics, discovered that cancer cells are exceptionally dependent on the proper condensation of a particular protein, AKAP95, during tumor formation. Blocking this process halted the cancer cells in their tracks.

“It is now clear that biomolecular condensation is a fundamental mechanism that underlies numerous biological processes in normal physiology and also in human disease including cancer,” said Jiang, of UVA’s Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics and the UVA Cancer Center. “Our work reveals a new level of regulation – how liquid-like the condensates are can affect their activity in cancer control.”

Cancer and Condensation

The process of “biomolecular condensation” inside our cells is an area of great interest for scientists. In essence, our cells use condensation to create little compartments for important biological processes. You might think of these compartments as virtual mixing bowls that cells manufacture as needed.

It has been largely unclear if this condensation process is important in cancer. Jiang and his team showed that both the formation of the condensates and their material properties are important for cancer, and their work suggests that disrupting condensation or changing the condensate properties may offer a new treatment strategy.

The researchers’ lab experiments show that the AKAP95 protein gets condensed in cells, and cancer cells become heavily reliant on it. For that to happen, the condensed proteins, which are liquid-like, must be just the right consistency. Hardening them, for example, significantly impaired tumor formation, Jiang and his team discovered. Disrupting the condensation process halted cancer formation entirely.

A treatment based on the discovery might take a similar approach. Disrupting the condensation of AKAP95, the research suggests, could prevent cancer from hijacking our cells.

While much more work needs to be done to determine the possibility of developing a treatment based on the discovery, Jiang is happy to have shed light on tumor formation and to have provided cancer researchers a new avenue to explore.

“I was completely enthralled by this mechanism, as I had never learned or thought of such a seemingly simple principle of molecular organization in textbooks, previous classes or training, but it actually makes great sense and has such a profound impact on almost all basic cellular activities. My lab is thus very interested in how biomolecular condensation regulates gene expression on various levels, especially in the context of cancer,” Jiang said. “Further studies in this field will likely provide us unconventional strategies in cancer treatment.”

Findings Published

The researchers have published their findings in the scientific journal Nature Cell Biology. The research team consisted of Wei Li, Jing Hu, Bi Shi, Francesco Palomba, Michelle A. Digman, Enrico Gratton and Jiang.

The research was supported by startup funds from UVA and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, along with Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program Breakthrough Award BC190343. The work used the confocal microscopy system at UVA’s Keck Center that was supported by National Institutes of Health grant OD016446.

Jiang was supported by the American Society of Hematology Scholar Award, the American Cancer Society Research Scholar Award (RSG-15-166-01-DMC) and the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Scholar Award (1354-19). Palomba and Digman were supported in part by National Science Foundation grant MCB-1615701. Digman and Gratton were supported by NIH grant P41-GM103540.

To keep up with the latest medical research news from UVA:

Subscribe to the Making of Medicine blog HERE.

 

The Millennial’s Financial Guide to Homebuying

Around 4.8 million millennials are turning 30 in 2020. This is the largest age bracket among millennials, according to CNBC. Many of them have families and are looking to buy their first home.

Compared to older generations, saving for a house hasn’t been easy for millennials. In 2017, millennials who bought homes paid around 39 percent more than baby boomers who bought houses in the 80s. With higher costs of living and rising student debt, it takes millennials longer to afford a home. Now, considering the economic impact of COVID-19, it’s tougher for people to make major life purchases.

But don’t fret. Knowing your mortgage options and proper financial planning will make a difference. If you commit to a budget now and work on your savings, it’s possible to purchase a house in the near future. Here are essential financial tips you need to know before buying a home.

When to Consider Buying a House

Before taking a mortgage, improve your credit score. Give yourself time to improve your credit. Make sure to pay your loans and credit card on time. If you have large outstanding debts, be sure to pay them down. Check your credit report and see if there’s any inaccurate information. Disputing errors like unrecorded payments can help improve your credit score.

Most conventional lenders usually approve a credit score of 680 and above, and some may approve 620. Conventional loans are offered by lenders that are not sponsored by the government. You can get them from banks, credit unions, and non-bank mortgage companies.

If you have an excellent credit rating, you’re eligible for lower interest rates. This makes your monthly mortgage more affordable. It will help you save on total interest costs throughout the life of your loan. Make sure to shop around for loans and choose the lowest interest rate.

Know how much house you can afford.

Compare real estate listings to know what price range you can manage. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t buy property beyond your means. How do you know if your dream home fits your budget? You must understand your debt-to-income (DTI) ratio.

DTI ratio compares your gross income with how much debt you owe. If your DTI ratio is too high, your loan will not be granted. A low DTI ratio makes it more manageable to make monthly mortgage payments. This decreases your risk of defaulting on your loan and losing your house to foreclosure. Once you’re perceived as a low-risk borrower, lenders are more likely to approve your mortgage.

Lenders check these two important DTI ratios before approving a loan:

  • Front-end DTI ratio – The percentage of your income that pays for mortgage-related costs. It includes monthly mortgage payments, property insurance, and association dues. Your front-end DTI must not exceed 28 percent. This is the standard requirement for conventional mortgages which are not federally backed by the government.
  • Back-end DTI ratio – The percentage of your income that pays for your mortgage-related costs along with your other debts. This includes auto loans, credit cards, student loans, etc. Your back-end DTI ratio must not exceed 36 percent. But for federally backed government mortgages such as Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans, the DTI limit is 43 percent.

Know how much you can borrow.

To know this, get pre-approved for a mortgage. Speaking to a lender determines the specific amount you can borrow. It’s one of the best ways to know how much home you can afford. To do this, you must authorize your lender to review your credit report. Getting pre-approval does not require you to borrow from the lender. But once you’re ready to make an offer, you can choose one with the best rates and terms. Lowermybills.com mentions that “Like all things connected to home buying and mortgage rates, do your research.” Furthermore, they state that “If you find a rate you are comfortable with, and it gets you the mortgage payment in your price range, it might be a good idea to decide to lock in the interest rate.”

Know when and where house prices are low.

A year before buying, research local market conditions in your preferred area. Check common house prices and pay attention to big price shifts. There are periods when real estate prices are depressed or generally low. In other times, they can be awfully expensive. It also pays to check houses in low-cost locations such as less crowded suburbs. Homes in busy metropolitan areas and coastal states usually have expensive price tags.

How Much Down Payment Should You Save?

Ideally, homebuyers should make a down payment that’s 20 percent of the home’s value. For instance, if you’re buying a $250,000 house, your down payment should be $50,000. These days, you might notice buyers making a smaller down payment. This has its drawbacks, which come in the form of mortgage insurance costs.

Conventional loans come with an annual private mortgage insurance (PMI) policy, which is 0.25 percent to 2 percent of your loan amount. It’s typically required if your down payment is less than 20 percent. PMI is usually rolled into your monthly payments and is canceled once your mortgage balance reaches 78 percent.

Meanwhile, federally backed mortgages such as FHA loans come with mortgage insurance premiums (MIP). If your down payment is less than 20 percent, MIP is required. It’s paid both as an upfront fee (1.75 percent of the loan amount) and an annual insurance fee (0.85 percent of the loan amount). MIP is usually paid for the entire life of the loan, which makes it a lot costlier in the long run.

How do you save for your down payment?

Start gathering funds as early as you can. Saving your tax refund is a great source. As of 2020, the average tax refund is $3,100, which is a large amount that can bolster your down payment. You can also use work and holiday bonuses you get from your employer. Save cash gifts during birthdays, as well as windfall inheritance funds from relatives. To earn extra income, work overtime hours or get a freelance job on the side. This will take time. So the earlier you save, the better.

Low Down Payment Options for First-Time Homebuyers

More often, people do not usually have enough time to save for a higher down payment. They need to relocate because of a new job or a growing family. When this happens, you can opt for low-cost mortgages options. If you need a loan with low down payment and relaxed credit requirements, consider government-sponsored mortgages. These are loans meant for low to moderate income families who need assistance in buying a home.

FHA Loans
You can qualify for an FHA loan if your credit score is between 500 to 580. Your down payment can be as low as 3.5 percent if your credit score is 580 and above. If your credit score is below 580, your down payment must be at least 10 percent. All FHA loans require MIP regardless of your down payment amount.

USDA Loan
The U.S. Department of Agricultural approves home loans if your credit score is 640. Down payment is not required but is definitely an option. To get a USDA loan, you must purchase a house in a USDA-approved rural area. This includes many suburbs and around 97 percent of land mass in the U.S. Moreover, your household income must not be over 115 percent of the median income of your area. USDA loans come with a guarantee fee, which is paid as an upfront fee and an annual fee rolled into your monthly payments.

VA Loans
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs offers special loans to active military members, veterans, and qualified military spouses. VA loans are flexible with credit scores, but it’s better if your credit score is at least 620. Down payment is also not required but is an option. However, instead of a mortgage insurance premium or guarantee fee, VA loans require a VA funding fee. Paying at least 5 percent down payment helps reduced this added cost.

Worried about poor credit? There are local housing agencies per state that can help you. Your state agency can assist you in looking for housing options that can accommodate your low credit score. They can also provide down payment assistance for mortgages. Just get in touch with your state housing agency soon.

The Importance of Saving a 20 Percent Down Payment

Making a 20 percent down payments eliminates private mortgage insurance costs. This reduces the amount you need to borrow, which effectively lowers your monthly mortgage payment. The higher payment also decreases your loan-to-value ratio, which is the amount of your loan compared to your home’s value. It also allows you to secure a much lower mortgage rate.

To give you a better idea how it affects your mortgage payments, let’s see the table below. It compares the same mortgage. One made an 8 percent down payment, while the other made a 20 percent down payment.

30-year Fixed-Rate Mortgage
Home price: $350,000
Interest rate: 3% APR
Mortgage5% Down Payment20% Down PaymentDown payment$17,500$70,000Borrowed amount$332,500$280,000Monthly payment$1,401.83$1,180.49Total interest paid$172,160.03$144,976.87Loan-to-value ratio95%80%Total PMI cost$18,038.130

In the example above, making a 20 percent down payment reduces your borrowed amount to $280,000, while 5 percent only reduces it to $332,500. Your monthly mortgage payment will be $221.34 lower with a 20 percent down payment. As for interest cost, you save $27,183.16 more in total interest with a 20 percent down payment. Meanwhile, with a 5 percent down payment, you still need to pay $18,038.13 on top of interest charges. Basically, you’ll gain more saving in the long term if you make a higher down payment.

Need help with your mortgage budget? Use this mortgage payment calculator to estimate your monthly mortgage payment, total interest, and PMI costs.

Here’s a tip: If you take an FHA loan for the low down payment, there is a way to remove MIP. If your credit score is at least 620, you have the option to refinance into a conventional mortgage after a few years. Refinancing is basically taking out a new loan to replace your existing one. You can refinance to a conventional loan with a lower rate. You may consider this option to get rid of costly MIP charges.

The Bottom Line

Now that you know your housing options and requirements, you can better prepare your finances. As early as now, start improving your credit score to qualify for a loan. Borrowers are offered lower interest rates when their credit score is high. It’s also ideal to save up for a 20 percent down payment.

Next, keep track of your debt-to-income ratio. As long as you don’t accumulate large debts, you should be eligible for a mortgage. Moreover, start checking home prices at low-cost areas. If you time your purchase when house prices are generally low, you can score a better deal.

If you can’t make the 20 percent down payment, there are low-cost mortgage options to choose from. Check out FHA loans and USDA loans. If you’re a veteran or military member, you’re qualified for VA loans. Just take note that government-backed loans come with extra costs, such as mortgage insurance premium for FHA loans. If you take advantage of these options and plan your finances, soon you can purchase your own house.

Paxti’s Pizza Porter Ranch Signature Dish

Patxi’s Pizza Porter Ranch

By Krishan Narsinghani

Established in San Francisco, Patxi’s Pizza opened up it’s second SoCal location in Porter Ranch, California at the end of July. The patio has ample seating while following strict six feet social distancing guidelines. Having tried Chicago deep dish several times, Patxi’s recipe does not disappoint. Try mix and matching signature favorites like the half Spinach Pesto (vegetarian) and half Old Chicago Style (meat) on one pie. The sauce is zesty and packs a flavorful punch reminiscent of that in Little Italy. Pro tip from the servers – try a little honey on the crust! The new obsession.

Patxi’s Pizza is best known for its deep-dish but other favorites include Thin Crust Pizzas, Signature Piadina’s, and Dessert Pizzas (try the apple one). After one meal, you’ll be converted to their foodie fanbase. The restaurant will host indoor seating for up to 80 guests when it is safe to do so and is currently utilizing their two patios that seat up to 40 guests for safe, patio dining. Not to mention, it’s conveniently located at The Vineyards Shopping Mall so you can walk off those calories and shop in the area.

Early favorites at Patxi’s Porter Ranch include the Chicken Tikka Masala, a deep-dish pizza with spicy tikka masala sauce, spinach, herb-roasted chicken, red onion, roasted garlic, tomatoes and cilantro. Guests have also been loving the 100% Vegan Deep-Dish Pizza. The homemade sauce and dough are already vegan-friendly, but to our surprise, top-off your pie with gooey vegan mozzarella cheese.

Something special about the ambiance arouses when entering the dining establsihment which took a moment to figure out. The impressive service from not only the server but also the owner of this branch made not only guests, but also his staff, feel important and attended. From their exceptional service to homemade sauce and dough to the gooey cheeses, it’s time we all join the Patxi’s family.

See Patxi’s featured in LA’s Best COVID Curbside Restaurants.

Hotel illustration done by Mina Tocalini of 360 MAGAZINE.

Exceptional Chefs at Green Pearls Hotels

Green Pearls hotels can be found all around the globe, with each destination and venue offering uniquely unforgettable experiences. One of the greatest features among the Green Pearls hotels are the exceptional chefs. Below, are some of are favorites.

The Smiling Gecko Project’s The Farmhouse

The Vietnam War and the Khmer Rouge’s reign of terror destroyed large parts of Cambodia’s infrastructure and the population still suffers from poverty and hunger. But, the Smiling Gecko Project enables families to help themselves following the devastation that many Cambodian people face. With the Smiling Gecko, projects have been defined based on four pillars of education, agriculture, handcrafts/production and tourism/gastronomy to aid in the fight against poverty.

The Farmhouse and restaurant are the perfect example of Smiling Gecko project. Built in 2015, the idea was to accommodate tourists and students involved in the project. The Farmhouse offers a sustainable training and employment place for local residents and offers secure jobs with humane working conditions. They are able to earn a living and sustainably support themselves and their families.

One of the success stories of the project is that of chef Mariya Un Noun.

“I garnish my food with love,” says the 30-year-old chef. Her story begins in the slums of Phnom Penh in Cambodia. After only being able to attend 3 years of school growing up, Mariya Un Noun now works as the Executive Chef at the Smiling Gecko Farmhouse.

The mother of two children came to Smiling Gecko in 2014, where she quickly attracted attention with her passion and talent for cooking. Since the opening of the Farmhouse Smiling Gecko restaurant in 2015, Mariya has played a crucial role in the development of the menu. The young Cambodian interprets local specialties in her own creative way.  A partnership with The Farmhouse gives young European chefs the opportunity to work with Mariya in the farmhouse and to bring the soul of Cambodian cuisine to the world.

Dolomites’ Hotel Paradiso Pure.Living

On the other side of the world, in the newly opened 100% holistic vegetarian Hotel Paradiso located on the Seiser Alm, another chef surprises her guests with creativity and skill.

Opened in July 2020 after extensive renovations, Paradiso Pure.Living is the first vegetarian and sustainable hotel on the Seiser Alm, the largest high alpine pasture in Europe which is nestled in the middle of the Dolomites.

The concept is based on the vision of a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. It is the owners’ wish to inspire guests to take ideas home with them and integrate them into their everyday life. The 100% vegetarian cuisine offers a delicious, natural variety and at the same time contributes to the environment. This vision comes to life with chef Federica Scolta.

Born in Abruzzo in 1982, Scolta’s path leads her through Italy after studying international relations. She gained her first experiences in simple Trattorias, but her talent and passion led her to well-known starred restaurants, where she continued to develop her passion and skills.

 “Being vegetarian is a choice for life, it means becoming aware that what we eat is transformed into energy to support our body, soul and spirit.”

At the Hotel Paradiso Pure.Living, Federica, as a chef, follows a 100% vegetarian approach in the knowledge that this concept promotes personal health while reducing the carbon footprint in our fragile environment.