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5 Best Caribbean Islands to Live in 2018 Revealed

Great article-some of my favorite Caribbean Islands made the list including St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic and Isla Mujeres, Mexico. Long ago when it was affordable, I lived on St John & St Thomas & I love it. Going on a trade mission the Dominican Republic in October 2018.

According to a new report from International Living, based on affordability, value, safety and lifestyle, these five islands made their list of the Top 5 Caribbean islands to live in 2018.

Vacation News » Miami Edition | By Monsef Rachid |2018  http://www.worldpropertyjournal.com/

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Ambergris Caye, Belize

Over the last few decades, expats have flocked to English-speaking Ambergris Caye, Belize, and there are good reasons for its popularity. (Among them the fact that in 2013 and 2014, TripAdvisor readers ranked Ambergris as the best island in the world.)

Ambergris and the small nearby islands are not overly developed, which means they’ve maintained a laidback vibe. Ambergris is Belize’s center for ocean sports during the day and for partying at night. In view of all this, it’s easy to understand why real estate prices have risen, especially for beachfront property.

Getting to Ambergris is easy because both of Belize’s domestic airlines–Tropic Air and Maya Island Air–have frequent flights to the island from Belize City. You can also reach Ambergris by water taxi.

San Pedro is the major population center on Ambergris, a town of roughly 18,000 part- and full-time residents. The once-sandy main streets are now paved. But golf carts are still expats’ favorite means of transportation from home to the beach, or to the dozens of restaurants, nightclubs, and friendly mom-and-pop stores.

Surprising to many, moving to Belize is easy–U.S. currency is accepted, credit cards are widely used and well-known U.S. brands are available too; they’re expensive, but substitutes are easy to find.

After years of 16-hour days as owners and operators of a Victorian B&B and cupcake shop in Richmond, Virginia, the easy-going lifestyle of San Pedro is just what Dawn Schick and her husband, Albert, were looking for.  And in 2010, they made the move.

“We’d been vacationing here several times a year for more than six years and decided this would be our eventual retirement home. But after years of hard work we thought, why wait until ‘someday,’? Why not take the plunge right now?” Dawn explains.

“We love being outdoors and the year-round warm weather lets us go snorkeling or paddle-boarding anytime we want. The marine life here is amazing. Swimming alongside rays, tropical fish, and turtles is like being in another world. We also love that it’s not touristy here.

“Life on the island moves at a slower pace, and that’s just fine with us.”

For between $2,700 and $2,900 per month, a couple can enjoy a comfortable retirement in Ambergris Caye–a budget that includes the cost of a house or apartment rental. If you own your own home on the island outright, then expats report it’s possible for a couple to live quite comfortably on less than $2,000 a month.

Roatán, Honduras

On the English-speaking Bay Island of Roatán, 30 miles off the coast of Honduras, you will find what is arguably the best-value island real estate in the region.

For less than $175,000, you could have a two-bedroom Caribbean home right on the water in a quiet neighborhood with no tourists–your own private getaway. If you stayed just part of the year, you could rent your place out to help cover your holding costs.

If you lived on Roatán, you’d have the sound of gentle waves and the rustle of palm fronds to wake you in the mornings. Looking out your window, you’d see clear, blue skies and the turquoise waters of the Caribbean. You could occupy yourself with a swim…enjoy a cup of coffee on your deck…or just sit back in your Adirondack chair, warm up in the sun, and take in the view of your own private stretch of beach…

On this tropical island, beachfront lots can be had for under $100,000. We’re talking established developments, with amenities like a community pool and/or shared or private docks. Utilities are in place. Construction costs are reasonable, and you can build a home to your specs.

There are also plenty of turnkey condos for well under $200,000–in resort communities on the beach. And if you’re okay with walking a few minutes to the water, or setting up on a hillside with views, you’ll pay even less for a lot, home, or condo.

This is an island where “normal” people can buy a vacation home or permanent digs to live out their sunny, low-cost, and comfortable retirement. The infrastructure is good and getting better all the time, with a new power plant online and the recent opening of a hospital with specialist care and a 24-hour emergency room.

It’s still out of the mainstream, at least compared to other Caribbean island getaways, and that has kept prices affordable for real estate and day-to-day costs. A couple could live well on $2,000 to $2,500–that includes all expenses.

And it’s simply a beautiful place to look at, thanks to the tall, jungle-covered mountains, white-sand beaches, and blue Caribbean (turquoise within the reef and a deep azure beyond it). Living here, you’ll have no shortage of things to do, with plenty of parties, sunset happy hours, water sports, and other fun.

Roatán boasts an international airport–with regular flights in and out it’s accessible and it’s quick and easy to see family back home.

“The one word that always comes to mind when asked how I like living here is ‘contentment,'” says Ann Winters of her retirement on Roatán. “I have never felt so content anywhere.”

Ann and her husband Ron have much to be content about. The couple are settled into a three-bedroom house set amid lush vegetation, overlooking the crystal-clear Caribbean Sea.

“I immediately loved the sounds and smells of Roatán,” says Ann of what drew her to the island. “The sound of the ocean soothes me. I love the smell of the salt on the breeze and the way the air smells so fresh after a rain. I love the cooking smells in the downtown mercado (market) and along the streets of West End, the scents coming from the open-air fruit and vegetable stands and the fish and meat markets. The flowers in my gardens that attract hummingbirds and butterflies.”

Isla Mujeres, Mexico

Legend has it that an ancient Maya Goddess of childbirth, identified Isla de Mujeres as a sacred place. The name Isla de Mujeres means Island of Women.

It was the Spaniards in the 16th century who decided that Island of Women would, therefore, be a fitting name for this tropical paradise where they noted hundreds of idols and carvings of women.

Today Isla Mujeres, eight miles off Cancún on Mexico’s Caribbean coast, is a retreat for tourists and retirees alike and offers easy living in the sun year-round.

You can own a one-bedroom, two-bathroom penthouse condo with a view from $230,000 or rent a one-bedroom place for $700 to $1000 a month, according to local expats.

When it was time to retire back in 2008, Lawrie Lock and his wife Lynda drove from their long-time home in Canada’s Okanagan Valley to Isla Mujeres.

“We live on the windward side of the island, facing the open ocean,” says Lynda. “That’s where all the action is. We often see pods of dolphins feeding just offshore and sea turtles basking right on the surface.

“We’d vacationed on the western side of Mexico for many years. But when we discovered the Caribbean side back in 2002…Wow! The turquoise and green water, fresh sea food, and the friendly islanders here on Isla Mujeres, along with the warm weather, were too much to resist.

“We have a large circle of friends. Some live here full-time and others come for the winter months. Winter is our busiest social time and summer is our wind-down, re-group time.”

The island enjoys a warm tropical climate (low to mid-80s F for most of the year) and a laidback vibe; golf carts are preferred to cars as the main means of transport.

Every winter, the permanent population of around 13,000 is joined by thousands of snowbirds fleeing colder weather up north. At four miles long and less than a half-mile wide, this tiny Caribbean island is connected to the mainland by high-speed ferry service that leaves every 30 minutes during daylight hours.

There is plenty to do on Isla Mujeres. Naturally, water activities top the list as the nearby reef offers amazing opportunities for scuba, fishing, swimming, boating, and snorkeling. There’s even an underwater museum set up by an English sculptor to explore, if the local sea life isn’t enough. And of course, there is the seasonal migration of whale sharks which draws many to view and swim with them.

Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic

Most Americans have never heard of the little beach town of Las Terrenas in the Dominican Republic’s northeast, on the Samana Penninsula. That’s understandable–it’s a spot better known among Europeans. But it offers one of the Caribbean’s best-value escapes today.

Here you’ll find 19 miles of public beaches, and palm trees swaying in the breeze. And compared to other Caribbean islands, property in this little corner of the D.R. is a roaring bargain.

French and Italian vacationers have been coming here for decades–vacationing and then coming back to stay. Along with the tang of saltwater in the air and the scent of fresh-cut coconuts, you’ll smell French bread and croissants baking. The Italian influence is strong, too, with rich Italian gelato on offer and strong, Italian-style coffee. There’s steak, sushi, and grilled seafood, too.

Las Terrenas has everything going for it that a Caribbean island escape should. It’s not overdeveloped–there are no mega-resorts here, just boutique hotels. It has great dining, stunning scenery at every point, and a vibrant expat community.

The most incredible thing about it, though, is the real estate prices. A one-bedroom, one-bathroom loft apartment can be had for as little as $99,500.

A couple can live in this tropical haven for around $2,000 a month, although most choose to spend closer to $3,000 a month.

When Dan Williams decided to retire there, he had been working for eight years as an environmental engineer for the Missouri state government. At the time, he was 57 years old, single, and longed to retire to the beach.

“The country is a mini-continent, with a wide variety of terrain, from oceans to the highest mountains in the Caribbean, and everything in between,” he says. “The climate is wonderful. It is close to the U.S. and is economical. Weighed in the balance, it is the ideal country for me.”

After a few months in Sosúa on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, Dan decided to tag along with a friend who was taking a road trip to Las Terrenas.

Dan was enchanted and decided to relocate there. “I loved the beach, the vibe, the natural beauty, and the European flavor of the place,” he says. “It seemed like a hidden Shangri-La.”

Corn Islands, Nicaragua

The Corn Islands are two little dots of paradise just 50 miles off Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast–a retirement nirvana with white sands, gently swaying palms and blue waters where English is the official language.

Big Corn–about four square miles in size and with maybe 6,000 inhabitants–is just 10 miles (or a 30-minute boat ride) from Little Corn, one-fourth the size of Big Corn in both land mass and population.

On Little Corn, there are no roads, just a three-foot-wide sandy walkway…so no vehicles allowed.

It’s a truly undiscovered, little-developed escape. Many say it’s like the Bahamas or Grand Cayman 30 or 40 years ago.

If you’re looking for a “throw-back” getaway, you won’t find a better one in the Caribbean. Here a custom-built home with an ocean view a 15-minute walk to town and beaches can be had for $150,000. And that’s fully furnished.

“With no vehicle traffic on Little Corn and lots of hotels, hostels and restaurants, it’s fun to walk around and see what there is to see,” says Bonnie Hayman, IL Nicaragua Correspondent. “This is the place where the tourists go.

“Big Corn is more adventurous with fewer tourists. Many hire a taxi to travel from one gorgeous beach to another sampling the wonderful “Islander” food like coconut bread and rondon (fish/seafood coconut stew). Either way, a fabulous time is to be had on the Caribbean side of Nicaragua.”

The Corn Islands aren’t for everyone. Supplies that aren’t locally grown or pulled from the waters must be shipped in. With small exception, restaurants tend to serve variations of the same dishes.

“The cost of food on the island is slightly higher than on the ‘main,’ as islanders call mainland Nicaragua,” says Mike Hopkins who lived on Big Corn while housesitting on the island. “However, in general, costs are still less than U.S. prices. Weekly, my food costs averaged about $30. I also ate at some local restaurants, where meals and a couple of drinks ranged between $15 and $20. My total food and drink cost for the three-month period was approximately $610.”

The islands have a rustic charm, perfect for those looking for an off-the-beaten-track retirement.  The healthy reef is ideal for scuba diving, snorkeling, fishing, and lobstering. With friendly locals and very few tourists an authentic island experience is ensured.

Two Islands not making the 2018 list

The beauty and tropical appeal of St. Thomas and Grand Bahama are impossible to deny. However, they can be costly.

“While we at International Living have nothing against St. Thomas or Grand Bahama–they’re thoroughly ‘discovered’ and that translates to more expensive,” says Jennifer Stevens, Executive Editor of International Living. “If money is no object, you might well like the polished escape either island can provide. But our list of 5 better-value picks in the Caribbean points you to lesser-known retreats where you’ll find a more laid-back vibe and lower costs.”

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

Located in the Caribbean, the U.S. Virgin Islands is made up of over 60 islands–most of them uninhabited. The three most populated, and most visited, are St. Thomas, St. John, and St. Croix.

The appeal of these tropical islands is the mixture of the exotic and the recognizable–an island paradise with modern comforts and a balance of Caribbean culture and American practicality.

While St. Thomas may be a nice place to live, the International Living report says “avoid” due to the high cost of living. Apartments rent for about $2,000 a month and to buy a two-bedroom house in a good neighborhood will cost about $285,000-plus.

Grand Bahama Island, the Bahamas

The Bahamas is often thought of as a paradise–an upscale group of islands with some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

And the Bahamas has many advantages–friendly to newcomers, there’s no foreign language to cope with, crime is relatively low, and the islands are positioned just off the Florida coast.

But the bad news is that properties aren’t cheap. Medium-sized residences in exclusive gated communities with ocean views often cost more than $2 million.

Grand Bahama is the closest major Bahamian island to the U.S.–about 55 miles off the Florida coast. It has become a haven for beach-lovers as well as divers, fishermen, golfers, and sports enthusiasts of all kinds. It’s also a prime destination for people who enjoy world-class shopping.

But living here costs a premium as it’s between 30% and 50% more expensive than in the U.S.

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My heart, hopes, prayers & love go out to Mexico and the many island countries including Barbuda, Puerto Rico, St John, St Thomas, St Croix, Cuba, Dominican Republic, the British Virgin Islands & others that have been hit so terribly by the hurricanes & earthquake.

 

  
What a great opportunity to own a beautifully renovated Colonial home in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. It would be wonderful as a vacation or permanent home so you could enjoy the magical city of Merida full of history, museums, art and delicious foods with many more nearby attractions to explore- including the beaches, golf courses & ancient Mayan ruins. Great investment opportunity!

      
You will love coming home at Casa La Ermita located in the charming neighborhood of San Sebastian in the historic center of Merida with many restored homes of great value in the area. Within a short walking distance from the house, you will find La Ermita de Santa Isabel church which is surrounded by a lovely garden with plenty of seating and children’s play areas. A kiosk in the center of the park beside the church is a great place for you to sit relax, listen to romantic serenades at night, watch dancing and enjoy different weekly cultural events.

      

Pre-Construction Price is $225,000 USD ($4,000,000 MX). The price will increase gradually as construction and renovation advance. So take advantage of the lower price now!
Included: 3 Bedrooms / 3 Baths with closets and Helvex faucets
Kitchen with modern concrete counter and wood cabinetry
Patio interior of glass with garden for light and ventilation
The house has two interior gardens
Pool with pump, filling well and water discharge well
And too many more features to list them all.

Please feel free to contact me regarding this historic home in one of my favorite cities in Mexico!

   

  

  

 

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Please join the Pinellas International Council this Thursday for the Certified International Property Specialist course, the Americas & the International Real Estate. This informative course is being taught by  Ileana Bogaert, Realtor® and the 2012-2016 National Association of Realtors President’s Liaison to Colombia.

Thursday, June 1, 2017 | 8:30am – 5:00pm at Pinellas Realtor Board, 4590 Ulmerton,Road, Clearwater, Florida.

This course offers you practical information on working with Caribbean, North, Central and South American investors.  Historical and cultural influences, regional relationship, and investment opportunities are covered along with a special focus on Mexico.

Instructor: Ileana Bogaert   Ileana Bogaert's profile photo

Ileana Bogaert, Realtor® CIPS, GRI, AHWD, TRC, CNE
Global Real Estate Marketing Specialist
2012-2016 NAR President’s Liaison to Colombia
Bogaert’s International Realty-Marco Island – Naples – Miami

SCHEDULE:
8:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.: Sign-in, networking, and breakfast
9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.: Course

Light breakfast and lunch will be provided.
Seating is limited and registration is required.

REGISTRATION:  http://pinellasrealtor.org/education-and-events-calendar/

***This course is one of the courses required to earn the prestigious Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation. The CIPS Network comprises 2,500 real estate professionals from 50 countries and is the specialty membership group for global business practitioners of the National Association of Realtors®. The CIPS® designation prepares Realtors® to service the growing international market in their local community by focusing on culture, exchange rates, investment trends, and legal issues. Click here for more information about CIPS and the requirements to earn this prestigious designation.

Contact: Jan Dean
Email: JDean@tampabayrealtor.com
Phone: 727-216-3004
Pinellas REALTOR Organization
4590 Ulmerton Road
Clearwater FL 33762

Tibetan monks with horns Florida CraftArt st petersburg

Sacred Art Tour of Tibetan Monks 2017

From January 31-February 5th, Florida CraftArt welcomes eight exiled Tibetan Buddhist Monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery in India who will create a Sacred World Peace Sand Mandala that was designed by the Dalai Lama and depicts all religions in harmony.

World Peace Sand Mandala

Saturday, February 4, 2017 10:00am
Creation of Mandala
Sunday, February 5, 2017 12:00pm
Finalization of Mandala
Sunday, February 5, 2017 1:00pm
Dissolution Ceremony

During the closing ceremony on Sunday, February 5 at 1 p.m., the monks will dismantle the mandala, sweeping up the colored sand to symbolize the impermanence of all phenomena. It is meant to be a teaching to show that everything that exists has a beginning, a middle and an end. Then monks will then lead a procession to Tampa Bay where they will deposit the sand and perform a Buddhist blessing.

Joe Turner’s Come and Gone – Saturday & Sunday 3pm

American Stage Theatre Company at Raymond James Theatre-163 Third St. N, St. Petersburg

August Wilson’s Century Cycle, owners of a boarding house play host to a makeshift family of people with connections to slavery. Some stay days, some longer. Through Feb. 26. $39-$49.

The Golden Ticket – Saturday

Coliseum-535 Fourth Ave. N, St. Petersburg

The 86th annual All Children’s Hospital Charity Ball features dinner, dancing and an auction. Benefits Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Starts at 6 or 6:30 p.m. $250.

Frida Kahlo at The Dali     through April 17th, 2017  http://thedali.org/   downtown waterfront of St Pete

This exhibits gives us some insight into the extraordinary career and life of the great 20th century Mexican artist. More than 60 Kahlo pieces are on display, including 15 paintings, seven drawings and numerous personal photographs from the celebrated female artist. The outdoor portion of the exhibition includes a special collection of flowers and plants representative of those in Kahlo’s own garden at Casa Azul. I have been lucky enough to visit her beloved Casa Azul in the Coyoacán district of Mexico City with a dear friend. I was in cielo (or heaven)!

 

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.

logo_global_thumbCIPSwithname

This Thursday, August 11, 2016 from 8:00am – 5:00pm, the Pinellas International Council will hold another Certified International Property Specialist course-The Americas and International Real Estate. It will be held at the Pinellas Realtor Organization (PRO) at 4590 Ulmerton Road in Clearwater.

This course offers you practical information on working with Caribbean, North, Central and South American investors.  Historical and cultural influences, regional relationship, and investment opportunities are covered along with a special focus on Mexico.

***This course is one of the courses required to earn the prestigious Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) designation. The CIPS Network comprises 2,500 real estate professionals from 50 countries and is the specialty membership group for global business practitioners of the National Association of Realtors®. The CIPS® designation prepares Realtors® to service the growing international market in their local community by focusing on culture, exchange rates, investment trends, and legal issues. Click here for more information about CIPS and the requirements to earn this prestigious designation.

SPEAKER: Jorge Cantero
Jorge is licensed in real estate in the state Florida since 1985, and previously a recipient of a New York State Broker’s License. Mr. Cantero’s international experience prior to that was a result of being involved in the chemical industry with a series of multinational companies, and having extensively traveled in Europe, Latin America and Asia.

Mr. Cantero’s specializations include residential resales, marketing of foreclosures; and in particular serving inbound international investors and residential real estate exchangers.

Mr. Cantero is a Past President of the Residential Association of the Miami Association of REALTOR®, and was the recipient of the Association’s Educational Award in 1994, and of the REALTOR® of the Year Award for 1995. Furthermore, he is a member and director of numerous committees of the Miami Association, Florida Association and National Association of REALTORS®.

In addition to having earned the designations of Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS), Certified Real Estate Brokerage Manager (CRB), Certified Residential Specialist (CRS), and Graduate, REALTOR® Institute (GRI), Mr. Cantero holds a Master Degree in Chemical Engineering from New York University (NYU), 1972.

SCHEDULE:
7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.: Sign-in, networking, and breakfast
8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.: Course

Light breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Seating is limited and registration is required.

REGISTRATION:
PRO Members ($95):
Click here to register.

~~~PRO Members – would you like a scholarship to help pay for this course? The REALTOR® Professional Development Scholarship is available for you, courtesy of the Pinellas REALTOR® Foundation and the Affiliate Business Partners of PRO. Click here to learn more and apply. Note: the scholarship does not cover any additional costs associated with obtaining the certification. If you’re interested in the scholarship, REGISTER AND PAY FOR THIS COURSE FIRST, then fill out the application on the webpage linked above. We request that you register and pay for the course first to guarantee your spot since scholarships and seating are limited. If you are awarded, we will issue you a check.

Non-PRO Members ($95):
Click here to register.

For more information, please Contact: Jan Dean at  JDean@tampabayrealtor.com
Phone: 727-216-3004

Please join the Pinellas International Council for our monthly International Marketing and Networking Session. The event is free but we do need you to register on the PRO website in advance-Wine and small bites are provided by the PRO Affiliate Business Partners. Thank you!!  http://pinellasrealtor.org/education-and-events-calendar/

Hope to see you there!

 

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You may also contact: Martha Vasquez
Email: martha@marthavasquez.com

 

Happy New Year     Feliz año nuevo     Bonne année 

Frohes neues Jahr      Feliz Ano Novo    Godt nytt år     Gëzuar Vitin e Ri 

 新年快         Gelukkig nieuwjaar      Ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος   Tau Hou hari

Felice anno nuovo    Shona Bhliain Nua     明けましておめでとうございま

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New Year’s is the oldest holiday still being celebrated. The Babylonians celebrated the New Year as early as 4000 B.C. At that time, the New Year began on the first new moon after the Vernal Equinox. The celebration continued for eleven days, with each day having a different purpose and activity.

Some of the most widely used superstitions include the following: Kissing at midnight to ensure that the affections & relationships that we have made will continue for the next year. Filling up your refrigerator & pantries with food to ensure that you will have plenty of food throughout the next year. Putting money in every wallet in the house to ensure prosperity.  Also all of your bills should be paid before New Year’s Day to ensure that prosperity will be welcomed in your home but do not pay any bills on New Year’s Day or you will ensure a year of paying nothing but debts. You should not eat beef because cows mostly stand still. You should not eat poultry because they scratch backwards. Pigs, however, constantly root forward for food. So if you eat pork on New Year’s, you will be moving forward in a positive manner throughout the year. Wearing new clothes will increase your chances of receiving more clothes. Throughout the world the custom of making noise to ring in the New Year has not changed since ancient times as this is to scare off any evil spirits.

In Britain the custom of first footing is practiced. The first male visitor to the house after midnight brings good luck. Usually they bring a gift of money, bread, or coal, to ensure the family will have plenty of these things all the year to come. The first person must not be blond, red-haired or women as these people are supposedly bad luck. SO, I better not be the first person to cross your threshold, being a blonde woman!!

The Druids gave a gift of mistletoe, the sacred source of fertility. It would give you a fruitful year in the number of children, cattle and crops and thus wealth.

In Ireland the direction of the wind blowing at New Year would indicate the trend of politics in the coming year. If it blew from the west it would bring the Irish good luck, if from the east the English would have the luck. Also on New Year’s Eve if they ate a very large supper they would have plenty of food for the coming year.

In France dinner parties are thrown for the entire family customarily include special dishes like foie gras, oysters and champagne. They exchange kisses and wishes, saying, “Bonne Année”, Bonheur, Sante, Amour, Argent (“Good Year”, Happiness, Health, Love and Money).

In Germany people would drop molten lead into cold water to tell the future from the shape it made. A heart or ring shape meant a wedding, a ship a journey, and a pig plenty of food in the year ahead. People also would leave a bit of every food eaten on New Year’s Eve on their plate until after Midnight to ensure a filled pantry. Carp brings wealth. Traditionally jelly filled doughnuts with or without liquor fillings are eaten. Finally a tiny marzipan pig is eaten for more good luck. (Hmmm, eating a lot & eating pig seems to be a recurring theme.)

In Denmark they stand on chairs and then jump off them at midnight. Leaping into January is supposed to banish bad spirits and bring good luck.

January 1st is an important date in Greece because it is not only the first day of the New Year but it is also St. Basil’s Day. St Basil was one the founders of the Greek Orthodox Church, who was kind and generous to the poor. St Basil’s cake, baked with a silver or gold coin inside, is eaten. Whoever receives the coin will have good luck throughout the year. Pomegranates & grapes also bring good luck.

Italians call New Year’s Eve Capodanno (the “head of the year”). Traditionally, they wear red underwear.  A lentil stew is eaten when bell tolls midnight – one spoon per bell. This is supposed to bring good fortune; the lentils represent coins.

In Spain celebrations usually begin with a family dinner, including shrimp, lamb or capon. Wearing new, red underwear on New Year’s Eve brings good luck. It is traditional to eat twelve grapes, one on each chime of the clock, make a wish and then toast with sparkling wine such as cava or champagne. This tradition started in 1909, when grape growers in Alicante needed a way to get rid of the large surplus of grapes they had had that year.

In Puerto Rico and in parts of South America children enjoy throwing pails of water out the window at midnight. Some believe that this rids their home of any evil spirits.

In Bolivia families make beautiful little wood or straw dolls to hang outside their homes to bring good luck.

In Brazil the lentil is believed to signify wealth, so on the first day of the New Year they serve lentil soup or lentils and rice. The lentils are supposed to resemble coins. Grapes are also eaten. Brazilians traditionally dress in white, to bring good luck into the New Year.

Mexicans celebrate New Year’s Eve, Año Nuevo, by eating 1 grape while making a wish with each of the twelve chimes during the midnight countdown. Homes and parties are decorated with colors such as red, to improve lifestyle and love, yellow to improve employment conditions, green to improve finances and white to improve health. Mexican sweet bread is baked with a coin or charm hidden in the dough. When the bread is served, the recipient whose slice contains the coin or charm will have good luck in the New Year. Another tradition is to make a list of all the bad or unhappy events from the current year and before midnight throw it into a fire, symbolizing the removal of negative energy from the New Year.  At the same time, thanks are given for all the good things.

In Costa Rica in addition to eating the 12 grapes, they run across the streets with luggage asking for new trips and adventures in the upcoming year.

In Venezuela, many of the traditions are very similar to the ones from Spain. Those who want to find love in the New Year wear red underwear and yellow to have happiness.  If you want money, you must have a bill of high value when it is time to toast and if you want to travel, you must go out carrying some luggage.

In India people try to finish uncompleted work and pay off all debts before the end of the year. People buy new things for their homes or new clothes.  Animals are washed, groomed and decorated for the festival.

Chinese New Year is celebrated on the second new moon after the winter solstice. Firecrackers and noisemakers will chase away evil spirits. The fabulous dragon and lion will dance in the streets. People will wear red, the most auspicious of colors, and red envelopes with lucky money will be given to children. Tangerines are often given for good luck, but odd numbers are unlucky, so the tangerines are given in pairs.

It is traditional in Japan to spend a full week preparing for the New Year to arrive. The house must be thoroughly cleaned and all debts must be paid. All disagreements must be resolved and forgiven. Before midnight, 108 bells ring, to symbolize the elimination of 108 troubles. With no troubles, disagreements, debts, or disorder to contend with, all are free to welcome in the New Year with every expectation of peace and prosperity. The day after New Year’s is First Writing Day, when people write their hopes and dreams for the New Year.

Round shapes (representing coins) bring prosperity for the coming year in the Philippines. Families have large amounts of round fruits on the dining table and eat exactly 12 fruits at midnight (grapes). Some wear polka dots for luck.

In the USA black-eyed peas and rice called Hoppin’ John is eaten. An old saying goes, “Eat peas on New Year’s day to have plenty of everything the rest of the year.”  Most people toast with champagne at midnight. The dropping of the ball from the top of Times Square in New York City started in 1907.  The custom came from the time signal that used to be given at noon in harbors. New Year’s Eve is traditionally the busiest day of the year at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

Well, I need to go now and get my things in order to ensure that I have the best New Year ever.  I’m off to the store to buy some black-eyed peas, greens, lentils, grapes, and champagne. When I return I must make sure to put money in each wallet in the house. Then I will make sure to wear red, yellow, green and white. At the first stroke of midnight while jumping off a chair and holding a suitcase, I will be eating 12 grapes and making 12 wishes, hoping that I don’t choke or fall on my head. Yikes, I can’t forget the kisses! Wow, I certainly will be quite an interesting sight on New Year’s Eve. Ridiculous photos to follow, I’m sure. So Happy New Year to you all. I wish you happiness, good health, wealth and great friends to enjoy throughout the year!

Justin Trudeau said last month he would remove the visa requirement for Mexicans

Mexico News Daily | Tuesday, October 20, 2015. President Enrique Peña Nieto made a telephone call to Canada last night to congratulate the winner of yesterday’s federal election, one of whose campaign promises was to remove the controversial visa requirement for Mexican visitors. Peña Nieto spoke with Prime Minister-elect Justin Trudeau shortly after the Canadian politician and leader of the Liberal Party gave a victory speech in Montreal.

justin trudeau

Trudeau came from behind to win a majority government, taking power from the Conservatives under Stephen Harper and pushing aside the previous front-runner, the New Democratic Party. In a statement, Peña Nieto said Canadians and Mexicans enjoy a historical friendship that can be further strengthened through political, economic and social ties. Canada is Mexico’s third largest trading partner and its fourth largest source of direct foreign investment.More than 96,000 Mexicans live in Canada, the second largest Mexican community abroad, after the U.S.

Meanwhile, 60,000 Canadians live full-time in Mexico and many more visit. Last year, 1.7 million Canadian tourists visited Mexico, making Canada this country’s second-largest source of foreign visitors, again second to the U.S.President Peña Nieto said via his Twitter account the two countries have the opportunity to begin a new chapter in their relationship, one that has been rather frosty in recent years though he did not say so. Relations soured after the Canadian government in 2009 set a new rule requiring Mexicans to obtain a visa before entering Canada.Trudeau said in September he would remove that requirement if elected. Accusing Conservative leader Stephen Harper of having soured relations between the two countries, he promised to “do right by our continental neighbor,” according to a report by The Canadian Press.He observed that since both nations are members of the North American Free Trade Agreement there should not be travel barriers for citizens. – See more at: http://mexiconewsdaily.com/news/visa-opponent-wins-election-in-canada

Annalisa Weller, Realtor®, Certified International Property Specialist

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