Wednesday, November 22, 2017

A City Break In Among Gothic Towers Of Central Europe

Europe is the continent that brews the modern day Western culture that we see today. Such a rich history that is admired from all four corners of the world. This is due to the fact that many cultures, peoples, and senses of being are packed in tight, squashed together so that identities are strengthened. No more so than the city of Gothic architecture, fantastic beers, and large open green landscapes just outside the city walls. Prague, the capital of the Czech Republic, is an incredibly iconic city. You see it in movies as a strange, spooky yet ultimately romantic place. River boats cruise down the arteries, while people drink, eat, laugh and debate in the cafes, restaurants, and parks. This city is not to be confused with Eastern Europe counterparts, as due to its location it's entirely unique. With such countries like Germany and France on its western flank, and Romania and Hungary on it's east, it's a mesh of influences. 

Photo by Mary Kar

Getting there

Many people intent on traveling and exploring Europe, will often find that landing in either Berlin or London is the best options for all public transport and continental trains run through them. However, with the age of short burst flights and a wave of companies ready to make them, you should be focusing on cheap flights to Prague directly. It's by far the fifth most visited city in Europe, and thus the four million people that are drawn in are more than likely to be made way for. The prices can easily range in the two figure mark, but also shoot up to around 400 euros for those looking to pay for convenience and a little better than economy class.

Why it's iconic

Much like the countries that surround the Czech Republic, the nation has a vast history of Christianity. There are many different sects, but the most abundant is Catholicism. This is Prague is called the city of spires, as the gothic towers of churches and cathedrals loom high in the sky and can be seen for miles. The architecture isn’t the only mind-blowing experience, but the way the city has navigated its lifestyles around the Vltava River is akin to parts of Venice. The riverboats cruise gently downstream, and at night, the buildings, shops, homes and street lights leave the city truly a wondrous sight to behold.

Source Nillerdk

Food culture 

The Field is one of the best restaurants in the entire city, and it's little wonder it has three Michelin stars. It's simple and humble, with decor purely there for function rather than to please the eyes. Its cuisine is a wondrous mix of gamey animals, with hearty, rich recipes that are not only designed to taste splendid but to fill you up. The bistro culture is widespread around the city, as cured sausages with spices, herbs and salts can be accessed almost anywhere. The soups and broths will warm you from the inside, with a rustic slice of bread to be your other companion. Indeed the city is cold for most of the year, so the food has taken inspiration from the surrounding landscape mostly inhabited by farms.

A city break in this gothic outpost in the center of Europe is one of the most cultured experiences on the continent. The architecture is famous the world over, the culture is unique, and the food will put a smile of joy on your face. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

14 Things That Could Decrease The Value Of Your Home

As difficult and complicated as buying a home may be, selling your home can only ever be more difficult and complicated. Even if you’re ready for the challenge, your home may not be. Unfortunately, there is a lot that can affect the value of your home, some of which you can’t even control. Regardless, it’s always better to be prepared in these situations, rather than get your hopes up, only to be disappointed with the offers on your house. With that in mind, here is a list of fourteen things that could be bringing down the value of your home:

1. Messy House

While clutter won’t directly the value of your home, it does give potential buyers an excuse to offer smaller amounts in the selling process. This is because a cluttered home suggests that you don’t take care of your property, meaning that there could be damage that hasn’t yet been noticed. To avoid this, make sure that your home is clean and tidy for inspections and viewings.

2. Pebble-dash

Pebble-dash is a style liked by very few people, which explains why pebble-dashed properties sell for a lot less than similar ones without it. It’s also common knowledge that pebbledash was used to cover poor quality bricks, which might also put people off buying. Luckily there are solutions for pebbledash, so have a look and see which one is for you.

3. Bold Exteriors

Any type of bold exterior, including pebbledash, could easily put off people from buying your home, or, at the very least, decrease the amount of money that people are willing to offer for it. You might absolutely love having a lime green door or bright red walls, but other people might not, and this will cause problems. Therefore, if you want to sell your home, I’d start taking action to make everything a little more neutral.

4. Bold Interiors

The same goes for the inside of your home as it does for the outside. Haven’t you ever noticed that the walls of homes that just been sold are usually white or cream? That’s because it’s neutral, and no one can complain about a neutral home. Because of this, you should consider getting rid of any bold colors or wacky wallpaper. 

5. Dated Fixtures

If your door or cabinet handles or your taps are old or dated, then potential buyers could use this as an excuse to give a lower offer. Luckily, these are things that can easily be changed. It won’t even be too expensive, so you have no excuse not to.

6. Old Appliances

If you’re selling your home with all of its appliances, then you might want to take a look at them before you have any viewings. If your oven is rusty or your freezer doesn’t stay cold, then you’re not going to be able to charge extra for them when selling your home. In fact, you may as well charge even less, so that the new tenants have the cash spare to get rid of them.

7. Your Yards

Your front and back yards give potential buyers some indication as to how you have looked after your home while you’ve been living there. If the grass is freshly trimmed, you have a clean patio, and a thriving flower bed, then they will know that you’ve looked after it well. On the other hand, if your grass is overgrown, and you’ve got weeds everywhere, then they won’t be too pleased.

8. Pests

Never try to sell a home if you’ve got pests; As soon as any viewers notice, they will be out of there for a shot. Instead, use this exterminator, and get the problem sorted before you do anything else.

9. Structural Damage

Structural damage is a huge problem and is one that you are going to want to get fixed if you want the best price for your home. Usually, the cost of repairs is likely to be less than the value deducted in the selling process, so it makes sense to get it sorted as soon as possible.

10. Your Neighbours

If you’ve got unpleasant neighbors, then you are probably happy to be getting away from them. Unfortunately, if those viewing your home notice that your neighbors are less than friendly, then they may not want to buy your home at all, and will likely offer much less if they still do.

11. Noise Pollution

If you live near a busy pub or club, an airport, or a train station, then prepare to sell your home for a lot less than similar properties in different areas. Unfortunately, the noise pollution caused by these is going to knock a large amount of money off your property’s value. 

12. Bad Schools

A lot of people looking to buy a home either have children or will want children in the future, so will be looking for a property near a good school. Unfortunately, if the school’s closest to your home have a bad reputation and bad reports, then you might find that people will make smaller offers to compensate. 

13. Electricity Pylons

Electricity pylons are incredibly unsightly, but they are also a hazard, especially to small children and pets. If you’ve had an electricity pylon built near your home since you moved in, then it will have likely affected the value of your home. The same goes for cell phone towers and even wind farms.

14. Potholes

Potholes can cause a lot of damage to your car, which is why most people avoid them when driving. Unfortunately, if there is a large pothole in your street, then it’s a little harder to avoid. This could mean that people offer less money for your property. To avoid this, contact your local council and explain the situation; They may get it repaired for you if you’re lucky.

It’s always good to be prepared, especially with something as important as selling your home. Hopefully, this list means that, for better or worse, you know what you’re getting yourself into when you sell your home.

Moving Country Made Easy For The Whole Family

Even though you might think you are all settled in your home right now, you have no idea what the future may hold for you and your family. One day, you might have to consider moving house. More often than not, the main reason for moving home is a new job or career opportunity. But what if the reason you need to move takes you further than you had originally expected? Like, abroad for example.

No matter your reason for moving abroad, it will always be a daunting prospect. After all, you will be leaving your usual life behind and set up a new one for your whole family in a completely foreign country. Does that sound really off-putting? It might do at first, but there are various ways you can make the big move a lot easier for you and your family. Still not convinced? Read on for some great tips that can make this a totally smooth transition!

Give Yourself Plenty Of Time

This is a big move and one that you will need to spend lots of time preparing for. You’ll need to get mentally prepared as well as physically prepared with all your belongings. Once you’ve made the decision to move to a different country, you should sit on it for a couple of months to ensure that this is definitely the best option for you and your family. This will also give you time to iron out any worries and to try and find answers to all the questions you might have. It also leaves you with plenty of time for finding a moving company to help you out and arrange any storage that you may need for some of your belongings.

See If Work Will Cover Costs

If you are moving abroad because of a job transfer or a new position at a foreign company, you should always ask them if they will cover the cost of moving for you. Most reputable companies should cover all of the costs you incur from moving. If not, it’s worth seeing if they are able to offer you a contribution to compensate the expense you will incur. Before you do approach the company about any compensation, you should have a general idea of how much you will need to spend on the move. Ideally, you should take a look at MoveBuddies.com to get an idea of how much a moving company will charge. Don’t forget that you should also factor in travel costs, including airfares.

Explain To The Kids What’s Going On

This isn’t just a nerve-wracking time for you and your partner - your kids might be really anxious about the big move as well! After all, they will be leaving their school, relatives, and all their friends behind. So, in order to reassure them, you should be very transparent with them and explain to them what is going on in as much detail as possible. Even if you think that they are too young to fully understand, you should still try and be transparent with them. Kids usually understand a lot more than what we might think!

Visit The Country Before You Go

Even if you have previously visited the company on vacation, you should still make a trip for a week or two before you move to get a proper feel for the culture over there. Rather than doing all the usual tourist things on this trip, you should spend some time exploring the expat community. There will be some expat groups and clubs that it’s worth checking in with so that you can speak to people who have previously been in your situation. They can answer any questions that you might have and can put your mind at ease. It’s also worth taking a tour of potential schools that you could send your kids to. Their new school won’t be so alien to them once they arrive for real! This trip will also be a great chance to take a look at some permanent accommodation.

Have A Physical Before You Leave

You don’t want to be surprised by any unexpected illnesses or health conditions once you move abroad, so it’s a good idea to go to your doctors and have a quick checkup. Ask for a full physical for your whole family, so that your doctor will give you all a thorough once-over.If you are moving to a country that has a problem with diseases such as malaria, typhoid, or yellow fever, they will also be able to give you advice on how to stay safe and healthy in your new country. 

Take Language Classes Before You Move

One thing that makes people very nervous is if their new country has a completely different language to their native one. If this is the case, then you should sign up for some language classes before you leave. Ideally, spend a couple of months before you move at these classes so that you know all the basics before you arrive at your new home. It’s also a good idea to find a language school at your destination so that you can keep up with these lessons. It’s super important to try and learn the language rather than just sticking with your own, even if you just socialize with fellow expats at first. Learning the language can really help you with getting around your new town or city and it also makes things like shopping and going to the doctors much easier. 

Don’t Always Be The Tourist

It’s perfectly fine to do the usual touristy things in your new destination for the first few weeks, especially if you have never visited before. But once you have seen and done all the usual stuff, you should start to work on settling in and embracing the destination’s local culture. That means you need to start finding some local friends outside the expat circle. It’s also worth shopping at local supermarkets rather than using ones that stock food from your home country. All of these things might seem like little things to do, but they can help you settle in quicker and get used to your new home a lot longer than if you simply tried to hold on to your home culture.

Accept Homesickness

You will find that you might feel homesick, down, and depressed in the first few months at home in your new country. This is absolutely normal and isn’t anything to worry about. These feelings should pass over time, especially the more you are able to settle into your new destination. When you do start to feel homesick, you shouldn’t try and ignore these feelings as that will just result in you bottling them up and they could express themselves in more unsettling ways. If you find that your homesickness starts to turn into a depression that you aren’t able to shift, then it’s worth seeing a doctor or counselor. They will be able to help you work through your feelings and they will also be someone who you are able to openly talk to without fear of judgment.

Give It Time

You shouldn’t expect to feel completely settled into your new home after just a couple of weeks. In fact, settling in is a process that could take longer than a few months! But generally speaking, most people will start to feel properly settled in after a year. So, as you can see, it is really important that you give yourself plenty of time to get settled in. If you feel very homesick and down in the first few months, it’s important that you give yourself more time. Try and push past them if possible, as they shouldn’t be around for too long. The more active you are in your social life, the quicker you will find that you can start to feel really settled in your new home!

Limit Contact With Home At First

Thanks to online tools like social media and Skype.com, it is now easier than ever to keep in touch with all your friends and family back home. It might be very tempting to chat to people back home as often as possible once you get there in an effort to combat loneliness and homesickness. However, that really isn’t a good idea. Ideally, once you arrive in your new country, you should try and limit contact with back home to once a week. Otherwise, you will only get more homesick and will end up missing everyone back home. Once you start to feel right at home in your new country, you can then start to increase how often you speak to everyone back home. Rather than spending a couple of hours skyping someone, you could always head out and try to make some new friends or start a new hobby!

Moving abroad can be very difficult, especially if you have your whole family with you. But all of these tips should make it a lot easier for you hopefully!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Fossil Fuels Or Renewable Energy? How To Cut Household Bills

The cost of running a house is high, and it’s about to get higher. As usual, the cost of energy is increasing and forcing homeowners into a vulnerable spot. To fight back, you may be looking into alternative methods to power your property. Green and renewable technologies are popular, for example, because they save money and the planet. However, even though fossil fuels get a bad rap, it is possible to use them without breaking the bank. 

Here’s what homeowners need to know about powering a property on an affordable budget.

Renewable: Plan For The Long-Term

One thing that is unavoidable with clean energy is the price of the initial investment. Solar panels cost, on average, more than $5,000 for around 20 square meters of a property. Turbines are even more expensive because they need a plot of land, power cables, and maintenance work. If you do want to cut costs, you can’t expect it to happen overnight. The high price of the equipment and installation means the prices won’t come down for another five years. Still, if you plan on staying in your current home for the foreseeable future, it will pay off over time. 

Fossil Fuels: Be Smart

Being clever doesn’t refer to you but your house. Don’t get offended but lots of homes are dumb in the sense they don’t use smart technology. From the best smart thermostat to automated lighting, a steady stream of electricity costs less. Usually, the high cost of energy is down to overuse or constantly starting up the central heating. Applications and smart meters allow you to regulate everything from the lighting to the heating and even security. That way, there is no reason to create more power than you need and pay the price at the end of the month. 

Renewable: Become An Entrepreneur

Don’t assume you are the customer and the seller is the client. That is the dynamic for now, but you can flip the script if you like. How? Well, you do it by creating excess energy from renewable sources and selling the power back to the companies. Or, the local authority may give you a fair price to offset their budget costs. The great thing about clean energy is everyone wants a piece to help the planet. So, the more you have, the more money you can make to reduce the cost of living. And, Mother Earth doesn’t get hurt in the process.

Fossil Fuels: Don’t Turn On A Switch

It’s easy to flip a switch but much harder to create energy yourself. However, a little bit of elbow grease goes a long way financially. Take a fire as an example. With a log or coal burner, you can heat up the whole house without using the central heating. That way, there is no need to fork out on the high cost of electricity. Getting a fire started takes time yet it’s worth it in the end. Plus, with coal, it will burn all night and into the morning. 

Ultimately, cutting energy costs needs a mixture of both to be effective.

When It's Time For Your Kids To Leave The Nest

Even if your kids are only very young right now, you might be worried about the day that will come when it’s time for them to move out. It’s something that most parents are anxious about - the fact that one day their kids will grow up and be ready to leave the nest. You might wonder how they will cope on their own in the big, wide world. Thankfully, there is plenty that you can do to help them land on their feet when they start to carve out their own path in the world. 

One of the first ways you can offer them a helping hand is by assisting them when they are ready to move into their own place. Here are some great tips to do just that!

Help Them With The Deposit

These days, more and more adult kids are living with their parents because they just can’t afford to rent or buy their own place. Because of this, most parents are contributing a little to their children's first deposit. No matter whether they are going to rent or buy, your child will need to be able to put down a deposit as a downpayment on an apartment. So, if you are able to, it’s worth seeing if you can contribute something to help them save up. It doesn’t matter if you can only spare a small amount - after all, every little thing helps!

Organize Storage For Excess Stuff

There’s a chance that your child won’t be able to afford such a large apartment when they first moved out. If they are moving to student accommodation for university or college, then they will be living in very small quarters! So, they won’t be able to take all of their belongings. If you are unable to store it in your home, then you can help your child organize some storage for everything. Bulk storage can often work out very reasonable, and it’s a safe and secure option for all the belongings they can’t take with them. 

Offer Them Your Car

If your child wants to carry out their move on their own, it’s important that you let them and don’t insist that you help them out. After all, this is their first chance at doing something for themselves completely independently! However, it would be a nice gesture to lend them your car for the move. That way, they won’t have to spend too much money on using an expensive moving company.

Bring Some Cleaning Equipment

If your child does want you to help them move out, then don’t forget to take some cleaning equipment with you. Once you get to their apartment, you can help by getting on with all the cleaning that will need to be done. You can do all this while they are busy unpacking all their things. 

Don’t be nervous about your children growing up and leaving the next - it’s perfectly natural and will be a great chance for them to embrace life as an adult!