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Americans love their personal space. A new study by Point2 Homes finds that U.S. homes provide the most space per person when considering house sizes across countries. Americans enjoy 45 percent more personal space than the Brits or the French and 70 percent more space than homeowners living in Spain.

However, Australia still nudges out America when it comes to actual home size. Americans have the second largest homes among the nine countries studied, coming in at 1,901 square feet. Australians boast the largest at 2,032 square feet.

Point2Homes surveyed 29,000 people across nine countries — the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, and Australia. Though they’re living small, it seems Brits dream as big as their cousins down under. On average, respondents in the U.K., Australia, and Mexico identified a “good-size home” as one that contained more than 2,501 square feet. Americans settled on a smaller size to define this aspiration, between 1,501 and 2,000.

Source: “Home Sizes in the U.S.: Expectations vs. Reality,” Point2 Homes (Jan. 30, 2017)

Forget what you think you know about the best cities in the world – here are 10 that you’ll want to keep your eyes on

These ten cities are set for great things over the coming years, and each has something unique to offer. Bogotá is an upcoming international tech hub, while Panama City is a playground for the rich and famous. Vienna and Porto are cultural hotspots, and Cincinnati is a sensational place to bring up a family. Read on for more on these on-the-up locations, and a glimpse of some hot properties on the market.

Vienna, Austria

Vienna’s stunning architecture, such as its parliament building, town hall tower and statue of goddess Pallas Athene, enhances the city’s excellent quality of life. Photograph: Getty Images. Banner image: Downtown Cincinnati and the Roebling Suspension Bridge.
Vienna’s stunning architecture, such as its parliament building, town hall tower and statue of goddess Pallas Athene, enhances the city’s excellent quality of life. Photograph: Getty Images..

Sophisticated, affordable, clean, safe, aesthetically exquisite, and socially democratic, it’s little wonder Vienna regularly tops quality of life polls; the Mercer Quality of Life Survey recently named the Austrian capital number one in the world for the seventh year in a row. Geographically central, overflowing with work opportunities and excellent transport links, it has become a key European business hub. Equally, Austria now boasts one of the highest figures for GDP per head globally, according to the World Bank. A large student population ensures superb recreational activities and vibrant nightlife; Vienna’s bar and multicultural restaurant scene is on the up, while the city’s elegant café culture continues to flourish.“A beautiful city steeped in history, Vienna draws in vast numbers of tourists every year and benefits hugely from this financially,” says Julie Leonhardt LaTorre, Senior Vice President, Head of Operations, EMERIA, at Christie’s International Real Estate. “The government pours money back into the city’s infrastructure, meaning Vienna runs exceptionally smoothly, and residents have a very high quality of life.”

Panama City, Panama

High-rise condominium buildings line Balboa Avenue in Panama City, one of the most exclusive streets in the country. Photograph: Getty Images
High-rise condominium buildings line Balboa Avenue in Panama City, one of the most exclusive streets in the country. Photograph: Getty Images

Boasting a great combination of city, beach, and rainforest in a gloriously tropical climate, Panama’s economy is booming, partly due to the recent expansion of the Panama Canal, according to Bloomberg. Its capital is also rapidly becoming a playground for the super-rich. The new Soho Panama mall brought Chanel, Versace, Burberry, and Ladurée to the city, while the Ritz-Carlton hotel opens later this year. By 2024 its impressive transport, healthcare, and tax systems are expected to attract a further 7,000 super-rich residents. Meanwhile, a new Panamanian cuisine is beginning to emerge at hotspots like Manolo Caracol and Riesen.For savvy investors looking to acquire a luxury residence in this bourgening regional economic hub, Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate Panama Premier Estates is marketing this stunning waterfront apartment, which sits proudly above Panama City. Fitted with three bedrooms and several expansive living areas, this contemporary home is ideal for those wishing to take advantage of everything this exciting city has to offer.

Auckland, New Zealand

Beautiful Waiheke Island, with its pristine beaches and world-class vineyards, is just 40 minutes from Auckland City by ferry.
Beautiful Waiheke Island, with its pristine beaches and world-class vineyards, is just 40 minutes from Auckland City by ferry.

The largest Polynesian city in the world, Auckland is a melting pot of international cultures. It also has one of the most business-friendly markets: the city accounts for 35% of New Zealand’s GDP and is growing at 2.9% annually, attracting new investment and entrepreneurs from around the globe.Auckland ranked as the world’s “hottest” market for prestige property this year in Christie’s International Real Estate’s 2016 Luxury Defined report. Strong local, expat, and overseas buyer demand fueled an incredible 63% annual increase in million-dollar-plus home sales.

“Living and working in Auckland means you get the best of both worlds – a bustling, modern city set in a stunning natural environment,” says Kim Harris of Auckland-based Bayleys Realty Group, an affiliate of Christie’s International Real Estate. “The city has a stable business environment, a growing economy, a diverse and skilled talent pool, a worldwide reputation for innovation, and an enviable lifestyle.”

Its most popular areas include Waiheke Island with its vibrant arts scene; Grey Lynn, famed for its chic feel and international food; Viaduct Harbour, full of superyachts and elegant dining, and Mission Bay, which offers a relaxed beach atmosphere.

Lisbon, Portugal

The Alfama district in Lisbon is made up of narrow streets, tiny squares, churches, and whitewashed houses. Photograph: Getty Images
The Alfama district in Lisbon is made up of narrow streets, tiny squares, churches, and whitewashed houses. Photograph: Getty Images

The reigning European Entrepreneurial Region of the Year, Lisbon has worked hard to support domestic business and market itself as an accommodating place for entrepreneurs since the Eurozone crisis. Startup Lisboa has helped found hundreds of businesses, with around 30% of new entrepreneurs coming from abroad. People here are warm, friendly, and laid-back but also energetic and ambitious, and more and more high-tech, tourism, and creative start-ups are appearing. The city runs on a “work hard, play hard” ethic, with its golden beaches and 250 days of sun per year offering plenty of ways to unwind. Culturally, Lisbon has a thriving arts scene, booming nightlife, and a range of fantastic restaurants.“A wonderfully good value coastal city with a relaxed vibe, beautiful beaches, a tremendous culinary scene, and terrific weather, more and more people are understanding how attractive Lisbon is,” says Julie Leonhardt LaTorre, Senior Vice President, Head of Operations, EMERIA, at Christie’s International Real Estate.

Cincinnati, Ohio, USA

Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium, which once made a top-150 list of American architecture, sits on the waterfront next to The Banks entertainment district.
Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium, which once made a top-150 list of American architecture, sits on the waterfront next to The Banks entertainment district.

Forbes recently named the Cincinnati-Middletown area the top up-and-coming city for college leavers, given the huge number of openings for graduates and a vibrant job market. The city is also an emerging food and drink capital: approximately 500,000 people attend Taste of Cincinnati annually, making it one of the largest street festivals in the United States. Key neighborhoods include foodie central Over-the-Rhine; European-style Mount Adams, full of young professionals and artisans; exclusive Indian Hill; well-educated Hyde Park; and family-oriented suburb, West Chester.“The city borders northern Kentucky’s lush Bluegrass region, where the conditions for breeding and racing horses are ideal. Several horse farms have recently been purchased by international buyers,” says Kathleen Coumou, Christie’s International Real Estate’s Executive Director. “These clients can take advantage of the city life, fine dining, cultural amenities, museums, ballet, symphony, and major league sports.”

Honolulu, Hawaii

Set against the backdrop of Diamond Head State Monument, Waikiki in Honolulu was once a playground for Hawaiian royalty. Photograph: Getty Images
Set against the backdrop of Diamond Head State Monument, Waikiki in Honolulu was once a playground for Hawaiian royalty. Photograph: Getty Images

The Hawaiian capital of Honolulu boasts great shopping centers, restaurants, and miles of beaches, leading to it being ranked one of The 50 best places to live in America by Business Insider. This modern Pacific city – which runs on a diet of tourism, entertainment, recreation, and exquisite scenery – also has superb air quality and low instances of cancer and heart disease.“In addition to wonderful weather all year round and beautiful natural surroundings, Honolulu is an energizing, multicultural city,” says Les Enderton, executive director of Oahu Visitors Bureau. Honolulu’s art scene has also taken off in recent times.

Kahala Avenue, the most desirable street in Honolulu, is home to a wealth of luxurious homes including this modern, five-bedroom, single-level home designed by Geoffrey Lewis that features high cedar ceilings, and an open-floor plan allowing dynamic indoor–outdoor living. Currently marketed by Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate Choi International, the outdoor pool includes water features and tiki candles, and steps opposite the property lead directly to the beach.

Calgary, Canada

The Peace Bridge, designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, connects the northern Bow River pathway and downtown Calgary. Photograph: Getty Images
The Peace Bridge, designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, connects the northern Bow River pathway and downtown Calgary. Photograph: Getty Images

The cool, cosmopolitan Canadian city of Calgary, Alberta, regularly ranks high on global living standard lists, and for good reason: low taxes, clean air, low crime rates, and an abundance of nature – the Canadian Rockies are an hour-and-a-half away by car – making life here easy to love. New businesses spring up daily, and, compared to Toronto and Vancouver, house prices here are low: the average price of a property in Calgary in the year to August 2016 was $457,000, significantly less than many other Canadian cities.The city is not only an auspicious destination for young professionals, but also for Canada’s leading real estate market. With a secluded garden backing onto the Heritage Pointe Golf Course, this luxurious, three-bedroom residence is being marketed by Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate The Alberta Collection. Expansive windows flood the open-plan, 3,830 sq ft property with natural light, and warm wooden furnishings and stone fireplaces lend the home a sumptuously rustic feel.

Bogotá, Colombia

Bogotá, the second highest capital city in the world, is an intriguing mix of skyscrapers and incredible scenery. Photograph: Getty Images
Bogotá, the second highest capital city in the world, is an intriguing mix of skyscrapers and incredible scenery. Photograph: Getty Images

Named by Forbes magazine as “the next capital of cool,” Colombia’s capital is an alluring mix of business and pleasure. Boasting a beautiful historic center, a thriving luxury shopping and dining scene, and an excellent cycling network, Bogotá is simultaneously becoming South America’s newest tech hub – Google, Facebook, and Microsoft have all opened offices, while local start-ups are booming. Huge improvements to security and stability have made Bogotá more attractive to both international investors and overseas home buyers, and and has boosted quality of life immeasurably.“The attitude of people in Bogotá is very driven, entrepreneurial, family-oriented, and outdoorsy. In terms of neighborhoods, Zona G is known as the Gourmet Zone, where the high-end and up-and-coming restaurants are located. Meanwhile, Zona T (which has a T-shaped area at its center) is most recognized for exciting bars and the best nightlife,” says Rick Moeser, Christie’s International Real Estate’s Executive Director for the Southeast Region, Caribbean, and Latin America.

Porto, Portugal

The historic center of Porto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, includes the picturesque Ribeira district on the Douro River. Photograph: Getty Images
The historic center of Porto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, includes the picturesque Ribeira district on the Douro River. Photograph: Getty Images

Recently named “Europe’s most compelling new food destination” by The Wall Street Journal, Porto’s restaurant scene is catching up with its outstanding wines, and the city is quickly shedding its title of “Lisbon’s little sister.” Portuguese chefs such as Nuno Mendes in London and George Mendes (no relation) in New York, have put the country’s cuisine firmly on the global food map. People are now flocking to sample both Porto’s cellars and dining halls, where the focus is on excellent local produce and “urbane rusticity.”Laid-back and low-key, Porto ripples with cobbled streets, Baroque churches, Art Deco architecture, food markets, jazz bars, exhibitions, and music festivals such as Primavera Sound. For those looking to embrace the region’s charms as a permanent resident or second-home owner, this traditional Portuguese quinta (“country estate”) in the Maia region just north of Porto may entice. Marketed by Christie’s International Real Estate affiliate Luximo’s, it has 10 bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a swimming pool, tennis court, and winemaking facilities attached to its own vineyard.

Valencia, Spain

Santos Juanes church and the Central Market beyond are some of Valencia’s most popular attractions. Photograph: Jorge Bellver
Santos Juanes church and the Central Market beyond are some of Valencia’s most popular attractions. Photograph: Jorge Bellver

Hit hard by the 2008 property crisis, Spain’s historic city of Valencia is now overflowing with real estate bargains, luring young Spaniards from other cities as well as international young professionals keen to take advantage of the coastal city’s low cost of living, warm climate, and attractive culture. Its rich and storied history lends itself to an extraordinary mix of cultures and styles, most identifiably in the city’s architecture, which ranges from old fishermen’s cottages in the Cabañal, to ultramodern flats overlooking the City of Arts and Sciences center, and beautiful façades in Carmen old town.Valencia is considered the most creative city in Spain. The way of life here is ideal for families due to the quantity and quality of schools – including international schools – and the many leisure opportunities,” says Francisco Ballester of Rimontgó, Christie’s International Real Estate’s affiliate in Valencia, Spain.

The city ranked as the world’s top “comeback” property market in the 2016 Christie’s International Real Estate Luxury Defined report, and posted an incredible 89% annual increase in luxury home sales. Thanks to a weak euro, property prices below the 2007 peak, and a surge in overseas visitors, Valencia’s luxury housing market is likely to continue on its upward trajectory.  

http://luxurydefined.christiesrealestate.com/blog/luxury-lifestyle/10-cities-to-watch-in-2017

Here are International Living’s picks for the top five places to escape to if politics is getting you down.

Top 5 Best Countries to Escape U.S. Election Results Revealed

1. Mexico

Mexico is the only place in the world where U.S. citizens can enjoy an affordable overseas retirement, live right on the beach at affordable prices, yet remain within minutes of the U.S. by car.

Plus, right now with the current exchange rate of the U.S. dollar against the deflated peso, Mexico is a huge bargain.

With its moon-lit fiestas, languid white-sand beaches, ancient colonial towns set in the rugged Sierras, and Mayan pyramids rising from the misty Yucatan jungle, it’s no wonder so many people are starting new lives in Mexico.

With rapidly rising fuel, healthcare, food, and travel costs back home, it’s nice to know that there are still places where it’s possible to live well without burning through retirement savings. Mexico is one such place.

2. Panama

Tropical beaches, First-World infrastructure, high-quality healthcare, welcoming people…there are many things to love about Panama.

Retirees are drawn here by the Pensionado program, one of the best retiree benefits programs in the world. Younger adults…some with children in tow…are moving here in increasing numbers to take advantage of the ease of doing business and the hip, international vibe.

For many, the low cost of living is a major factor in choosing Panama, as is the fact that Panama uses the U.S. dollar. Expats living here have seen their costs drop substantially.

3. Costa Rica

Costa Rica…the name alone conjures up visions of lush tropical rain forests and crashing surf on long stretches of white-sand beaches.

Costa Rica inspires these visions for two reasons. Number one, they’re true. Costa Rica is one of the most biologically diverse and beautiful spots on earth, with Pacific and Atlantic coastlines that are the stuff of legend.

The second reason that the idea of Costa Rica can instantly create pictures of tropical splendor is that it has been one of the most popular destinations for expats and second-home owners for decades.

One place that has been very popular over the years is Costa Rica’s Central Valley…a spot that cradles the country’s thriving capital of San José yet also offers rustic and rural pleasure in abundance, as well as a mild, spring-like climate year-round. The Arenal region, with its centerpiece 33-square-mile lake, is also increasingly popular. It is three hours northwest of San José…a region of farmland, pasture, virgin forest, and unspoiled lake views.

4. Ecuador

Ecuador really does have everything…from the Galapagos Islands to the Amazon basin and the Andes Mountains, from big, modern cities to small, quaint villages. And up until now, one particular area of Ecuador has been overlooked–and that’s its 937 miles of Pacific coastline and its beautiful mainland beaches.

Ecuador draws a wide range of foreigners: entrepreneurs, travelers, humanitarian workers, foreign officials, diplomats, business people of all stripes, and retirees looking to stretch their budget and experience a different way of life. Many expats are attracted by the country’s less-intrusive government and the tranquility of being removed from the terrorist and antiterrorist campaigns that make headlines in other parts of the world.

Generally speaking, the expats who have settled in Ecuador are those who tend to blend into society rather than live together in expat-oriented communities. Nonetheless, a bit of time in any town of significant size in Ecuador is all it takes to find the gringo haunts and watering holes.

5. Colombia

Colombia is no longer just a place for adventurers, speculators and risk-takers. It’s a country that’s hitting its full stride as an expat destination this year as the numbers of expat couples, younger people with portable careers, and single men and women who’ve found the ideal place to live or retire increase. And many of the preconceptions about Colombia being dangerous are at least a decade out of date.

Located at the northern tip of South America, Colombia is where the Pacific and the Caribbean collide with the Andes and the Amazon. It’s a country that is more beautiful, dramatic, and diverse than nearly any other. It offers sparkling colonial cities and world-famous resorts along the Caribbean.

Just three hours from Miami and Fort Lauderdale, Colombia welcomes nonstop flights into Bogotá, Medellin, Armenia, Barranquilla, and Cali.

In cities and towns in Colombia, expats find a perfect climate that’s neither too hot nor too cool (60 F to 80 F all year); amazing natural surroundings; plenty of cultural events; history-filled cities; superb healthcare; friendly people; and a welcoming country…all with a fantastically low cost of living–figure $1,500 a month for a couple, all in.

Learn about Venezuela on October 19 from 3:00 to 4:30 at the Pinellas International Council Marketing session at Pinellas Realtor Organization Thank you Ana Maria Tague for sharing your time, knowledge and experience with us!

 

 

lego plastic homes in Bogota-eltiempo-dot-com

A group of Colombians are transforming the serious problem of pollution by using plastic waste—and the Lego building model—as a solution for the thousands of people without houses.

http://www.goodnewsnetwork.org/colombians-building-houses-made-wasted-plastic-shaped-huge-lego-bricks  by Joao Freitas

Joao FreitasThe Bogota-based company, Conceptos Plasticos, seeks to reverse the damage that plastic causes to the planet and use it to benefit those most in need. The initiative was born out of Colombian musician Fernando Llanos’s need to build his own house in a difficult-to-access area in the center of the country.

Subsequently, this idea became architect Oscar Mendez’s graduation thesis. After several years of investigation, Mendez materialized a modular brick made of all types of processed, discarded plastic. The system works like Lego and is adaptable to all types of terrain and any climate.

“It has a social impact because in Latin America the housing shortage is terrible,” says Mendez, the owner of the company. “Forty percent of people living in Africa, Asia and Latin America do not have a house.” He also detailed the environmental and economic importance of using this type of waste to build modular homes.

Photo by Conceptos Plasticos
Photo by Conceptos Plasticos

“In Bogota alone, approximately 750 tons of plastic waste is thrown into the landfill site, of which only 100 are being recycled. We are making 100 homes out of the plastic in Dona Juana (the city’s landfill site), giving value to something that has no market.”

Conceptos Plasticos’s model home is 40 square meters divided into two bedrooms, a bathroom, living room, dining room and kitchen, and can be put together in only five days by four people who need no previous building experience. The houses are assembled without using any type of adhesive. This makes them portable houses that can be disassembled easily in order to transport and reassemble them.

Oscar Mendez, photo by Conceptos Plasticos
Oscar Mendez, photo by Conceptos Plasticos

And, anyone who’s played with Legos knows how no adhesive is required to build a sturdy structure.

When discussing the cost of making the houses, Mendez said they are a lot more economical than a house built from traditional materials. “We don’t charge per square meter built, but by kilogram (of plastic) processed,” said Mendez.

One 40-square meter home costs approximately $130 per square meter built. That’s $5200

Learn more at the company’s website (in Spanish only)

IRAs Put International Real Estate Investments within Reach

The Spanish real estate market, hit hard by the financial crisis, is now what one analyst calls “a two-speed market.” In many locations, prices have bottomed out and are rising, while other areas may still have room to fall further. When you match attractive prices with the growing interest among many Americans in retiring outside of the U.S., you have a promising opportunity for real estate agents.

When I recently met with real estate delegates from Spain, many did not know that Americans can use their tax-advantaged retirement funds to invest in offshore real estate. They had a lot of questions about how to use Real Estate IRAs as a strategy to grow their business. They definitely saw the potential to sell more to their existing client base of American investors.

One of the strategies of particular interest to this group was purchasing the property in the IRA, then taking it as a distribution in the future. Because the IRA account holder cannot live in the IRA-owned property, it is typically rented out, creating an income stream for the IRA. When the account holder reaches retirement age, he or she can take the property as a distribution.

If the property was purchased with a Roth IRA, it can be taken as a distribution all at once without any tax penalties. If it were owned in a Traditional IRA, the account holder would pay taxes on the distributed amount. For example, Entrust clients will often purchase beachfront property, rent it out and take incremental distributions until the property is fully in their name.

There is no reason U.S.-based real estate agents shouldn’t take advantage of this same technique to grow their business and stand out from the competition. The Spanish delegates clearly understood the importance of asking every American investor client, “Do you have an IRA?”  Sometimes, you   need to look no further than your database to find more business opportunity—inside or outside the U.S.

By Jason Craig, President of The Entrust Group   –  http://rismedia.com

For more information, visit www.theentrustgroup.com.

 

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Villa Stargate, Grecia, Costa Rica MLS#7753614-AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com

 

 

And yet another reason to move to Costa Rica!

~~~~~~~~~~

By Jason Holland, https://internationalliving.com/articles/the-top-five-overseas-havens-for-effortless-healthy-living

Since moving here I haven’t had arthritis in years,” says Robbie Felix of her healthy new life in Manuel Antonio, on Costa Rica’s Pacific coast. “The clean air in the rainforest, the ocean…it’s like breathing medicine. I’m very healthy for someone with a chronic illness. I surf. I walk on the beach. I exercise.”

Robbie, in her early 60s, has the chronic illness lupus. But she found relief from her symptoms (including arthritis and skin allergies) after arriving in Costa Rica. And she’s not alone. Robbie is just one of the many expats who no longer needs a raft of medications since moving down here.

“My high blood pressure has come down almost completely.” says Nel Cameron, 68, who lives in Escazú, a suburb of Costa Rica’s capital, San José.

So what is it about Costa Rica that causes your blood pressure to plummet and your dependence on meds to go fade away?

There’s a phrase in Costa Rica, sort of the unofficial national motto: Pura Vida. It literally translates to “Pure Life,” but it’s more accurate to say “Life Is Good.”

It’s an attitude shared by most Ticos, as Costa Ricans call themselves. They value time with family and friends. They work hard, but you won’t find them sacrificing playing soccer with their kids at the park by staying late at the office. They know that a well-balanced life, where you spend time in your community or doing things you enjoy, is key to good health and wellness.

It makes for a low-stress lifestyle. And most expats find that, soon after arriving in Costa Rica, they adopt the Pura Vida way of life, too. They slow down. They get out of the habits they had for years when they were part of the daily grind. They enjoy coffee on their back porch, enjoying the scenic vistas of the Central Valley or Lake Arenal. Or breakfast with their toes in the sand with friends, after a long walk on the beach.

Reducing stress and learning to enjoy life is only one way expats find themselves improving their mental and physical health. Just about every Costa Rican town of any size has a feria, or outdoor farmers’ market, at least once a week. Most expats adopt the local habit of doing the majority of their shopping there. The price is right. With pineapples for $1, heads of lettuce for 75 cents, tomatoes for 50 cents a pound, and other bargains, you can load up on a week’s fresh fruits and vegetables for about $35. You also have fresh fish like snapper, tuna, or dorado (mahi-mahi), straight off the boat, for $5 to $6 a pound.

With these prices—and the abundance of fresh, whole foods—you can’t help but have a healthier diet. It’s common for expats to eliminate the need for some prescriptions. And lose significant weight—20…30…40 pounds or more—in the process.

Harry and Barbara Jones, a 60-something couple, live in Grecia, in Costa Rica’s Central Valley. They’ve found that living like the locals—shopping at the local farmers’ market for fresh fruits and vegetables, for example—allows them to cut their monthly budget to well under $2,000. Another benefit of their newfound healthy eating habits: “I’ve lost 30 pounds since moving down,” says Harry.

Diet is just one part of the equation. You have no shortage of options for exercise in Costa Rica, thanks to the warm, tropical weather year-round. On land, you can take long walks on the beach, trek through jungle, or hike vigorous trails to mountaintops with panoramic vistas. Watersports like surfing, standup paddle boarding, and kayaking are hugely popular on the coasts, with plenty of schools and instructors to help beginners of any age.

“One of the things we like is that it is quiet and peaceful. Its country living at its finest,” says Ian Douglass, 46, from Manhattan Beach, California, of his life on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coast. “Clean air, unprocessed food, good waves, natural beauty, and the beach. I think these are things we should be allowed to enjoy every day.”

In the beach areas, it can be hot and humid—too much for some, just right for others. But head to the Central Valley and you’ll enjoy cool mornings where you need a sweatshirt and afternoon highs in the mid-80s F, with little humidity.

Jeff and Allison Spencer, 60 and 58, respectively, were educators in Arizona before retiring early and moving to the Lake Arenal region, which features a consistent, spring-like climate.

“In general, I really enjoy the weather. The breeze keeps things cool and keeps the bugs away. Even on rainy days, it’s nice and cool. March to April it’s dry. But we do have a lot of rain during rainy season, usually a sunny morning and rainy afternoon—that’s typical. But I wouldn’t trade that for the heat and dust in Arizona,” says Jeff, who adds, “The great temperatures year-round allow us to enjoy kayaking, biking, and hiking whenever we want.”

Of course, just walking out your front door can provide a lot of exercise. Many communities in Costa Rica are also very walkable. If you live in a town in the Central Valley or in one of the many laidback beach towns, you can get around mainly on foot for trips to the grocery store, local restaurants, and the like. If you’re in more outlying areas, there is excellent bus service and cheap taxis, so there’s no need to depend on a car.

With all these factors, it’s no wonder that one of Costa Rica’s regions, the Nicoya Peninsula, was named one of the world’s Blue Zones by researchers. They discovered that locals live longer on average, thanks to a combination of diet, climate, and lifestyle. I can’t say you’ll live longer as an expat in Costa Rica. But you’ll certainly be healthier.

By Jason Holland, https://internationalliving.com/articles/the-top-five-overseas-havens-for-effortless-healthy-living-part

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100m N Miguel Arriba, Grecia, Costa Rica MLS#U7753234-AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com

 

Experts share their insights into the most sought-after comforts and conveniences in urban homes. from February 12, 2016 / Luxury Lifestyle

Cities are back in a big way: discerning buyers are increasingly looking for homes that offer convenience and culture without the commute, and global growth in the 21st century is becoming more concentrated in urban environments. According to McKinsey and Company, this phenomenon is especially evident in the world’s top-ranked “megacities,” which are experiencing extremely high rates of growth, making them global centers for the booming luxury sector. With both emerging entrepreneurs and retirees moving to central cities, “Today’s buyer is looking for a mixture of old and new, period features combined with the newest, most cutting-edge features,” according to James Forbes of Strutt & Parker in London. “The desired look is more homey and far less ‘hotel’ and impersonal. At this top end of the market, buyers…want things to be extra special and individual.” Craftsmanship and materials are of great importance, whether buyers are investing in renovated older buildings with period detail or newer properties built with an eye to green, eco-friendly design. This week, Luxury Defined shares insights from real estate experts in the world’s megacities to find out more about what today’s affluent home buyers really want. Read the rest of this entry »

Chinese New Year 2016

Monkey is the 9th animal in 12 zodiac signs and the first of the Metal Cycle. The Chinese have Five Elements (Metal, Water, Wood, Fire and Earth) that are incorporated into the lunar calendar. The Official Celebration lasts for 7 Days (February 7–13, 2016) and is a public holiday for Chinese. Cities throughout the world with large Chinese populations, like New York City, close schools for the first day.

Red is for good fortune so you will find red cutouts in windows, red lanterns hanging in doorways & in the streets, people wearing red clothes and red envelopes of money given. Traditionally, the year of the monkey is a good year to deal with finances.

It is important not only what foods are eaten this week but also how they are prepared, served & eaten. The most common Chinese New Year foods includes dumplings, fish, niangao (rice cakes) and spring rolls. In Chinese, the word “fish” sounds like ‘surplus’ and it is extremely important to have a surplus at the beginning & end of the year to ensure more surpluses.

The fruits eaten include tangerines and oranges because they are round and “golden” in color, which symbolizes fullness and wealth. Many countries eat rounded foods to symbolize coins or wealth during their New Year’s celebrations as well. It goes back to ancient times.

It’s about family. Unlike most countries New Year celebration, the Chinese New Year is not a time for parties & getting drunk. On Chinese New Year’s Eve after the parade, the streets are usually very quiet because families get together for “reunion dinners” with members who’ve returned from other areas. The day before is considered the largest travel day-like combining Thanksgiving & Christmas travel days in the USA. In mainland China officials expect 2.91 billion trips to be taken.

Supposedly, people born in the Year of the Monkey are intelligent, witty, curious and playful. The years 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992 and 2004 were also assigned as the Year of the Monkey. I have a few of these in my life. How about you?

So  “May you always have more than you need!”      年年有余 (Niánnián yǒu yú /nyen-nyen yo yoo/)

Lots of luck for this Monkey year.    猴年大吉 (Hóunián dàjí)

and Happy New Year!!   新年好 (Xīnnián hǎo)

Costa Rica mountain top, ocean view estate is a 2008 custom built pool home by one of San Ramon’s premier engineers. Enjoy the panoramic 270 degree view of the Gulf of Nicoya, 35 miles of coastline, as well as, most of the Nicoya Peninsula.

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The gated, private and secure property is 4,850 ft. above sea level and is situated on 4.5 mountaintop acres, just five miles from the conveniences of downtown San Ramon. The property maintains Costa Rica’s eco, sustainable philosophy with solar-powered electricity. There are 15 grid tied solar panels.  The power company gives the current owners credit for any power that is generated in excess of what they use. Featuring a 50’ solar heated lap pool, the main house (casa) is approximately 2,500 sq.ft. and the furnished guest cottage (casita) is approximately 595 sq. ft.

There is a level, cleared building site close by (on the property) which could accommodate another house, for a possible family compound, business retreat, or B&B.

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Equipped with a spacious Gourmet kitchen with a refrigerator and freezer purchased in 2014, that are two separate energy star units, 27 cu feet each. The home’s modern amenities include a front loading washer and gas dryer. Enjoy the jetted bathtub after walking the surrounding nature trails featuring rain of gold orchids.

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San Ramon is in the Cordillera de Tilarán mountain range, the temperatures tend to be very mild year-round: 20-27 C (66-80 F) offering a very livable environment. June through October is considered the rainy or “green” season with November to May considered the “dry season.”

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The beautiful tropical wood ceilings, imported Spanish tile floors throughout and the saltwater, solar heated lap pool will make this an enjoyable vacation home or permanent oasis.

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Located one hour from downtown San Jose, 45 min from SJO airport and 45 min from the beach.

Go to http://Coastal.506.nu to learn more or  Click to see more: Property Details

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Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

(727) 804-6566
AnnalisaWeller1@gmail.com

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