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For a certain generation, Long Beach will forever be associated with the lyrics of rap songs penned by the likes of Snoop Dog and Doctor Dre. But far from the exciting and dangerous ghetto depicted in mid-’90s MTV videos and songs, Long Beach is actually home to one of the nation’s most dynamic economies and most productive work force.

Many people may be shocked to learn that Long Beach, rather than a place besotted by pawn shops and neon-speckled liquor stores, is actually one of the Los Angeles area’s most coveted upper-middle-class enclaves. The city has a median home price of almost $550,000. That’s as high as San Diego’s and positively stratospheric when compared with typical cities in the Midwest.

And while no one questions Mr. Dogg’s street cred, his demography may be a little behind the times. Long Beach is one of the safest areas of Los Angeles. You’re far less likely to become a victim of violent crime within the Long Beach borders than some other areas of the city, such as Compton. In fact, Long Beach ranks very favorably among all U.S. cities for violent crime. In short, it’s a pretty darn safe place to live.

This is somewhat offset by the high rates of property crime, an unfortunate California staple. The city still compares favorably with other areas within the Los Angeles Metro Area. A good rule of thumb is not to leave your car doors unlocked, anywhere in the state of California.

Long Beach features the largest port in North America, the Port of Long Beach. This drives not just a booming local logistics industry but also the strongest manufacturing sector of any city in the United States. Unlike its Rust Belt sister cities, Long Beach has actually gained blue collar manufacturing jobs over the last two decades. This is reflected in the city’s very solid median income of $53,000. While Long Beach has traditionally had relatively high official unemployment, for those in the skilled-trades class and higher, finding a job within a week is all but guaranteed. That’s not to say the city doesn’t suffer from economic woes. It has a large population of undocumented immigrants, many of whom live in extreme poverty and don’t participate in the official economy. But the overall economic picture ranks the city among the most productive in the country.

The city, like other locations in Los Angeles and California as a whole, has a wide spectrum of schools, when measured by scholastic performance. While most of the city’s schools aren’t the school-to-prison-pipeline conduits found in other urban centers, Long Beach has its share of scholastic cesspools. That said, the city also has some of the Los Angeles area’s most outstanding public schools. The lessons here is that anyone seeking to move to the area, especially those with kids or planning on having them, should take great care to make sure their kids will be attending a school that puts them on the road to Stanford rather than San Quentin.

All said, Long Beach is a suitable, if expensive, place to purchase a home and raise a family. With the steep prices, however, most potential home buyers will be interested in taking out a mortgage.

Which mortgages are best for Long Beach home buyers?

A mortgage is, in its simplest form, a kind of secured debt with a home as the collateral. The loan has a definite starting and ending date as well as fixed, periodic payments, usually made on a monthly basis. There are many types of mortgages that don’t meet all of these criteria. But the ones which are typically best for first-time and primary-residence home buyers do.

The best kind of loan for a home buyer seeking a primary-residence property, as opposed to an income or investment property, is what’s called a linearly amortizing home loan. This means that the monthly payments stay the same throughout the life of the loan. It also typically means that the first payments in the mortgage’s life mostly go to paying down the interest, whereas the later payments over the mortgage term pay down the principal. This is the simplest and easiest form of loan to administer and is highly recommended for home buyers due to the lower risk profile versus other mortgage types.