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Resilience through an active lifestyle May 20, 2010

Posted by Sarah in BRAC, Moving, Relocation, Resilience, Road Trip, San Antonio life, Tools.
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The Installation Management Community will continue to provide services and infrastructure that support resilience, spirited fitness and well-being to enable strong Soldiers, Civilians and Families for a mission-ready Army.

When it comes to people with active lifestyles, Washington, DC, has a tendency to spoil.

Its unique location features a smorgasbord of historical venues and scenic terrain, making it easily accessible and passionately loved by outdoor enthusiasts.  Although DC is strong with its activity scene, San Antonio has much to offer to those with an active lifestyle as well.

Hiking

San Antonio offers about 109 miles worth of scenic and metro-area hiking trails, according to LocalHikes.com.  A hike deep in the heart of San Antonio is the San Antonio River Walk Loop.  It meanders 6.1 miles along the San Antonio River and will take the average walker 2.5 hours to complete.  It’s listed as an easy hike and allows the walker to visit shops, restaurants and historic landmarks, such as the Alamo, along the way.

Bicycle Riding

If you’re looking for a faster pace, San Antonio and its surrounding areas offer more than 1,200 miles of road that bikers frequently pedal. Ranging from 6.8 to 96 miles, the longest route listed on SABikeRides.com begins in Comfort and ends in Fredericksburg.  The site gives viewers detailed maps, places to stop for refreshments, and elevation levels.

If racing is your passion, visit the Cycling section at RunSanAntonio.com to view a list of races in the South Texas region.

As you can probably tell by the scarcity of stops, these are long rides out in the middle of nowhere. These are great if you want to lose yourself in the countryside and not see much city all day long.”

―SABikeRides.com regarding the Comfort to Fredericksburg route

Running

The Army Ten-Miler is one of DC’s most anticipated races. It took just 35 hours for the Army Ten-Miler to fill its 30,000 runner field – shattering last year’s registration record of six days.  If you missed the signup for this year’s race, no worries; Fort Sam Houston has its own Army Ten-Miler in January.  San Antonio hosts a variety of races, from 5Ks to marathons. You and your Family can sign up for these races by visiting the links below or visiting RunSanAnotonio.com.

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Triathlon

For those with a truly competitive spirit and who enjoy swimming, biking and running all within one race, San Antonio hosts triathlons that fit almost every active skill level.

“This was my first half-iron distance [triathlon] and I heard it was not an easy one to start with, but I had a blast and look forward to breaking my time next year.”

―Active.com member I’mTri-Ing! about the 2010 Tall Texan Triathlon

Triathlon, bicycle and running races can be found on Active.com.

Miscellaneous

There are many outdoor activists’ groups available on the Internet. Sites such as Meetup.com offer groups including:

Remember: Safety – First, last, and all the time. Always identify and assess risks involved when planning to run, bike ride or take part in any physical activity. Be aware of your surroundings, and if you decide to join an online activity group, be sure the group is legitimate.

DISCLAIMER: The Installation Management Command does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information contained on external linked websites. The appearance of external links does not constitute endorsement by the Installation Management Command, the Department of the Army, or the Department of Defense of the services or products offered on external sites. Links are provided solely for convenience.

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Decision: Rent v. Buy May 11, 2010

Posted by Sarah in BRAC, HR Plan, Moving, Real Estate, Relocation, San Antonio Economy, San Antonio life, Tools, Transformation.
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Illustration by Sarah Samoraj

For all who plan on making the move out west to San Antonio, one thing is essential: finding a place to live.

Deciding whether to buy or rent may be easy to some, but not for all. Whichever you choose, here are some websites to help you and your Family   decide which route is best.

Here’s to your future life in San Antonio!

I don’t want to make the commitment of purchasing something until I become comfortable with the various neighborhoods and find out where I want to live.”

– Tamara Elston, Transition Center Program Manager, U.S. Army Installation Management Command

MSN Money Article

The Basics: Why it’s smarter to buy than rent

Zillow.com

An online real estate site where you can search for homes for sale, find home prices, see home values, view recently sold homes and check mortgage rates.

TexasRealEstate.com

This website serves as a guide for people planning to move to Texas.

[Moving to San Antonio] is a good opportunity for me to own a home.  … I think my quality of life will improve, definitely.  I’ll be able to do something in the afternoons besides go to bed.”

— Andrea Pratt, Human Resources Specialist, U.S. Army Installation Management Command (currently commutes about four hours a day to and from work)

Rent.com

A website allowing you to search apartment listings.

ApartmentRatings.com

This website lists renters’ reviews on apartments.

Rentals.com

A website that lists rental homes and apartments.

Greatschools.org

“Involved parents. Successful kids.” Learn about a school through parent ratings and reviews.

SchoolsK-12.com

This site is designed around the needs of a relocating family with school-age children.  “Finding the right San Antonio schools in the right neighborhood has never been easier.”

San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department

This website lists parks and recreation places around San Antonio.

CrimeSpot.com

This site lists crimes such as robbery, burglary and theft by date, time and place.

Texas Department of Public Safety Sex Offender Database

This website allows searches for risk levels and addresses of sexual offenders in San Antonio and surrounding area neighborhoods.

DISCLAIMER: The Installation Management Command does not control or guarantee the accuracy, relevance, timeliness or completeness of information contained on external linked websites. The appearance of external links does not constitute endorsement by the Installation Management Command, the Department of the Army, or the Department of Defense of the services or products offered on external sites. Links are provided solely for convenience.

Wall Street Journal: A Good Time to Buy? Yes March 31, 2010

Posted by Neal Snyder in Real Estate.
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A little stress relief for househunters in today’s economy — according to the Wall Street Journal’s real estate blog, homes are a good investment overall.

Many housing economists say that for borrowers who can get a mortgage and who have stable incomes, pulling the trigger on a house they like makes a lot of sense right now. (Of course, they also note that the days of buying high-end properties as high-yield investments are history, at least for the time being).

the headline goes on, “…but no need to rush.”

…the market is still oversupplied. And those who do make purchases need to be realistic about the potential for some future price declines.  … On the other hand, as mortgage rates are low for those who can get financing. “If you’re waiting because you think the price might get better, well, the mortgage rate could go in the wrong direction,” says John Burns, a real-estate consultant based in Irvine, Calif. He says it could be a good time to buy generally speaking in markets where values have returned to 2003 levels.

Based on the trends  HERE (House Almanac) and  HERE (Yahoo Real Estate – click “10 yr” on the market value graph) , even though values declined 2008-2009, San Antonio homes are worth far more than they were in 2003.

via A Good Time to Buy? Yes, But No Need to Rush – Developments – WSJ.

Do you have to be bilingual? and other San Antonio topics March 22, 2010

Posted by Neal Snyder in Relocation, San Antonio life.
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We have some more serious topics in the oven, but to keep things cooking, here’s a forum discussion covering a topic in the “embarrassed to worry about, but I have to ask” category:

Do you have to be bilingual in SA? courtesy City-Data Forum.

The short answer is no … but it helps to pick up a few phrases, such as por favor (please) and gracias (thank you).

Check the rest of the City Data forum for San Antonio for local opinions on other topics: restaurants, churches, attractions, schools. 

Also visit the main City-Data page for San Antonio. It lives up to its name.

School surfing March 12, 2010

Posted by Neal Snyder in Real Estate, Relocation, San Antonio life.
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Got kids?  Want ’em to larn reel good?

In other words, how do you find the best public schools before you take that househunting trip?

San Antonio doesn’t make it easy. With 19 different school districts in Bexar County, quality necessarily varies. Finding the right situation takes a little research. Here’s one method:

  • Get familiar with the workings of a school evaluation service like Great Schools (http://www.greatschools.org/). This site takes test scores and parent input to rate schools on a 1-10 scale. One can find ratings by school, and learn what schools are close to a particular location.  One of the many demographic maps on Cyberhomes (http://www.cyberhomes.com/maps.aspx) uses Great Schools data to match school ratings with ZIP Codes, helping you visualize where the good schools are — click on Neighborhood Characteristics, select school ratings, then zoom in on San Antonio.
  • Determine how much weight you want to give school quality against other factors, such as commute, house size, or crime characteristics. Cyberhomes has maps for those.
  • Get to know the names of the schools within the ZIP codes you are interested in, and double-check them on the school rating site. Keep in mind, the post office doesn’t usually talk to the committee drawing the school boundaries.
  • After selecting a house, but before making an offer, check the school boundaries one more time – is the school correct? Frequently, the school on the real estate listing does not correlate with school system information. Most district Web sites offer ways to pinpoint the school serving a particular street or address (here’s a list of San Antonio district sites). For instance, the North East Independent School District offers this service, where users can enter the street of a prospective residence and get the names of the relevant elementary, middle and high schools. It might be smart to check this information and correlate it with Great Schools before committing to a residence.

In San Antonio, if you do your research, it’s easy to find an affordable home where schools are well above average not only for Texas, but for the country.

Ratings are not the only indicators of school quality, and education is not the only factor in choosing where to live. Note also. boundaries, teachers and administrators change.  But when schools are a consideration, and you can’t audit the classse in person, knowing the rating removes a measure of anxiety as you relocate your family.

*Mention of commercial Web sites does not constitute endorsement by the DoD. All opinions are strictly personal and do not reflect the position of IMCOM, the Army or the Department of Defense.

Best of San Antonio: A photo gallery March 10, 2010

Posted by Neal Snyder in Relocation, San Antonio life.
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If you’re wondering what you’ll experience in San Antonio, take a look at this Riverwalk-free Flickr gallery

Yet another good reason to move… December 4, 2009

Posted by imcomtransformation in Moving, Real Estate, Relocation.
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Home buyer tax credit extended
The $8,000 federal homebuyer tax credit was set to expire on Nov. 30, but President Barack Obama recently signed the Workers, Homeownership and Business Assistance Act, which extended the tax credit to those who purchase a home or have one under contract to April 30, 2010.
Obama signed the new law on Nov. 6. It goes into effect immediately.
The $8,000 tax credit is still for first-time homebuyers or for those who have not owned a home in three or more years. The new law expands the program to include homeowners who have owned a home for five or more years, and qualifies them for up to $6,500 in tax rebates.
The law also extends unemployment insurance for up to20 additional weeks. It extends the Economic Recovery Act small-business tax cuts for an additional year and expands the act’s reach to larger businesses.
The extension of the homebuyer’s tax credit is good news for local Realtors who have reported an increase in sales in the region, primarily by first-time homebuyers.
“What I have seen is a lot of use (of the $8,000 tax credit) in the under-$200,000 market,” said Mark Dingeldein, a Realtor with ERA D Lee Edwards Realty. “It has been very popular and successful.
I’ve probably worked with five different people that have used that.”
By Eric J Weilbacher,
The Herald-Zeitung
Excerpted from San Antonio Roundup Newsletter, published by Barbara Morgan, D’Ann Harper Realtors, Web site, barbmorgan.com.

Texas Veterans Land Board September 2, 2009

Posted by imcomtransformation in Moving, Real Estate, Relocation, San Antonio Economy.
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Check out this opportunity for veterans relocating in Texas…
History of Texas Veterans Programs
Texas, unlike many other states, has been historically a “cash poor” but “land rich” state. Since the days of the Texas Republic, Texas has given its veterans land in recognition of their military service. In the days of Sam Houston, that debt for service was paid to Texas veterans in grants of land. Following World War II, this tradition was continued with the creation of the Texas Veterans Land Board (VLB) in 1946 to administer a new program which would provide low-interest, long-term loans to Texas veterans for the purchase of land.

Since its inception, more than 120,000 Texas veterans have taken advantage of this self-supporting program without costing the taxpayers a single penny. The program is funded by issuing bonds authorized by the voters; the bonds, as well as the cost of administering the program, are paid for by the veterans who participate in the program.

In 1983, the Legislature created the Veterans Housing Assistance Program to assist Texas veterans in purchasing a home. Texas voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment authorizing the issuance of bonds to fund the program.

In 1986, the VLB expanded the Veterans Housing Assistance Program, adding the Veterans Home Improvement Program to provide below-market interest rate loans to qualified Texas veterans for home repairs and improvements to their existing homes.

SA is nation’s best-performing city in recession June 18, 2009

Posted by imcomtransformation in San Antonio Economy.
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San Antonio Business Journal
June 17, 2009

San Antonio has been ranked the strongest metropolitan area in the country for economic performance, according to a new report from the Brookings Institution.

The Washington, D.C.-based think tank has begun analyzing the impact of the recession throughout America’s metropolitan areas. In the first of a series of quarterly MetroMonitor reports, Brookings ranked San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Austin, Houston and Dallas as the top five metro areas in the country in economic performance in the wake of the recession.

Brookings ranked the top 100 metropolitan areas based on six key indicators — employment, unemployment rates, wages, gross metropolitan product, housing prices and foreclosure rates. This initial MetroMonitor report covers the first quarter of 2009.
The five worst metropolitan areas in the country impacted by the recession are Jacksonville, Fla.; Lakeland, Fla.; Tampa, Fla.; Bradenton, Fla.; and Detroit.

“All metropolitan areas are feeling the effects of this recession, but the distress is not shared equally,” says Alan Berube, research director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings and co-author of the report. “While some areas of the country have experienced only a shallow downturn, and may be emerging from the recession already, people living in metro areas that are now performing weakest economically should prepare themselves for a long recovery period.”

Howard Wial, director of the Metropolitan Economy Initiative at Brookings and another co-author of the report, argues that the report shows that a national fiscal and monetary policy will not be enough for stimulating the economy.

“Many (metro) areas will need targeted assistance, and since states have no funds available, the federal government will have to step up to fill the void.”

Concentrations of industry activity have both helped and hurt some regional economies during the recession. For example, metropolitan areas in states with specializations in energy and government employment — such as Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana — have largely been insulated from the recession. However, metropolitan areas in states like Michigan and Ohio that depend heavily on the automotive industry have been impacted by the downturn in the economy, the report shows.

San Antonio is home to Randolph Air Force Base, Fort Sam Houston, Lackland Air Force Base and Brooks City-Base. The 2005 Base Realignment and Closure decision alone is providing a significant economic punch to the Alamo City’s economy through the consolidation of high-paying military health care jobs and more than $2 billion worth of new construction activity.

A separate report released by The DiLuzio Group LLC outlining the impact of BRAC showed that Fort Sam Houston alone would experience a 11,500 increase of personnel. The Army post will also gain 7.9 million square feet of space. Construction activity due to BRAC alone should create 46,000 construction jobs during the course of the building programs, the DiLuzio report showed.