11 Mistakes You Need to Avoid When Downsizing Your Home

By Ryan Smith

Whether you’ve decided to eliminate debt from your life, or finally convert that school bus to be free to live that nomadic lifestyle on the road, you’re now ready to downsize your home. But before you start downsizing the family home, it’s important to understand that there are many potential missteps along the way. This guide will help you navigate common mistakes so that you can make the most of your new, downsized lifestyle.

Downsizing your home into a smaller space can save money

1) Not setting goals before downsizing your home

While the financial benefits of moving into a smaller space can be plentiful, it’s important to set goals before you begin downsizing the family home. Here are the most popular reasons for downsizing your home:

  • Combat debt – The number one financial reason to downsize is because of the power it gives you to attack your debt head-on. Selling your current home and moving into a smaller one allows you to put the proceeds from your home sale towards your new home, reducing your mortgage payments or eliminating them altogether. How much easier it would be to pay off other high-interest debts if you didn’t have to worry about a mortgage? Before moving forward with downsizing, you may want to consider settling your unsecured debt for less.
  • Turbo-charge your retirement fund – Even if you don’t have debts to pay off, you’ll still need to consider saving for retirement sooner rather than later. But if the bulk of your income is going toward your current mortgage and bills, that’s easier said than done. By downsizing your home, you can afford a larger monthly contribution to your retirement savings.
  • Pay off your mortgage instantly – Depending on the amount that you still owe on your current mortgage, you could use the proceeds from selling your home to buy a smaller one in cash. Just think about how much money you’d be saving if you eliminated your mortgage payments.
  • Saving money after retirement – Once you’ve retired you’ll most likely be living on a fixed income dependent on your savings, investments, and social security benefits. Downsizing will allow you to not only shrink your mortgage payments but also reduces many of the costs with homeownership since smaller homes cost less to maintain than larger ones. This will also stretch your retirement savings out further than if you were to stay in a home that is too expensive for your retirement budget.
  • Reducing home upkeep and maintenance – Downsizing can provide physical benefits as well as financial. The older you get, the harder it’ll become to regularly complete chores around your home and yard. By downsizing, you’ll also reduce the amount of maintenance and upkeep your home requires.

2) Ignoring hidden costs

Although you’ll be saving money on your mortgage and utilities by downsizing, that doesn’t mean you can throw financial caution to the wind. When you’re house shopping, make sure that the home you’re considering either doesn’t require extensive repairs or maintenance or at least make sure that you can comfortably afford them. Also, ensure that your new home doesn’t come bundled with expensive property taxes and/or HOA fees that might eat into your savings. And if your downsize is taking you to more expensive markets, like homes for sale in New York, be sure to factor in the potential increase in the cost of living as well.

3) Forgetting to budget for your move

As you begin to realize how much money you’ll save by downsizing, don’t forget about the costs associated with moving to a new location. While you may be thinking about cutting your costs by doing all the moving yourself, take a moment to consider hiring a moving company. Not only would you have someone to pack, move, and unpack your belongings, but most movers provide insurance, meaning that you’ll be reimbursed should anything break. Since you’re already selling your current home and buying a smaller one, you should also think about downsizing all your belongings as well.

4) Not determining your lifestyle needs

After setting your goals, take some time to figure out what features you’d like to have in your new home. This is especially important when you’re downsizing as you’ll have less living space. If you’re downsizing because your kids have gone to college, then make sure that your new home will permit the lifestyle you want and that whatever belongings you’re taking with you will fit.hat king-sized bed might not fit in your new condo.

5) Paying for rooms you won’t use

When you stop to think about which rooms you use the most in your home, it’s probably pretty simple: the living room, kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom. If you’re not using your dining room, den, and third or fourth bedroom, why even have them at all? By thinking about what rooms you currently do and do not use, you can simplify your search for a downsized home.

The same tactic can be applied to your yard. If you find yourself spending little of your free time enjoying your yard—rather just maintaining it—then consider looking for a new home either with a smaller yard or without one.

6) Being unorganized

Good organization is key to any move but it will prove especially useful when you’re downsizing your home. So take some time to look through your garage, closets, and spare rooms for anything that’s collecting dust. That sword you bought at the renaissance fair eight years ago might be awesome but do you really want to keep holding on to it?. Start by rounding up these sorts of belongings and then work your way through old clothes, toys, old appliances, etc., and separate them into three piles: keep, maybe, and donate.

Get organized before downsizing your home

If you find that you still need help with organizing for your move, reach out to a professional home organizer for assistance. They are experts in helping you decide what you should keep and what you should get rid of. They can also help you get organized in your new home as well, something that will prove vital to making the most of your downsizing efforts.

7) Taking too much physical media with you

There’s a good chance that when you downsize, you won’t have room for all those old photo albums anymore. While you may want to hold onto some of the physical copies for sentimental reasons, the majority of those photos can be digitized. By uploading your photos to a hard drive or cloud service, you’ll save space and also protect them from any future wear and tear as well.

You can also digitize old CDs, DVDs, cassettes, VHS, photo slides, film strips, and documents as well. While you should hold onto the physical copies of things like birth certificates and social security cards, most other documents can and should be scanned and uploaded to a hard drive or cloud service instead to save space.

8) Trying to take all of your furniture with you

While your two-story home is more than capable of housing all of your furniture, your new home won’t prove quite so spacious. So before you start loading king size beds or sectional sofas onto a moving truck, keep the limitations of your new home in mind. Also, furniture that is too large for a room will only make a room look smaller, so you may want to consider getting a new couch that will truly work in your new space.

If you’re feeling intimidated by the process of selecting and placing new furniture, consider hiring an interior designer. By doing so, you’ll be getting someone who is an expert at squeezing the most potential out of a room and budget while also making sure it fits your taste and lifestyle.

9) Skimping on storage

In addition to saving important documents that you don’t require frequent access to, a storage unit is a great option for saving sentimental items like an old onesie that your child has long since outgrown or seasonal items like winter coats. Whether you’re downsizing temporarily or for the long haul, renting a storage unit is a great option for those items that you don’t have space for but just can’t bring yourself to get rid of.

10) Not creating a downsizing schedule

Moving is a ton of work, even before you add downsizing to the mix. Avoid getting too stressed out by the process by remembering to take it one step at a time. Set a timeline for yourself and create a schedule accordingly, rather than attempting to tackle everything all at once. By creating a downsizing schedule, you’ll stay better organized throughout this process while also reducing stress.

11) Choosing the wrong type of home

When you’ve made up your mind to begin downsizing your home, you’ll then need to consider what type of home you want to move into. The type of home you decide on will depend on factors like your finances, health requirements, and the type of lifestyle you’re seeking. With that in mind, check out our rundown of the types of homes you may consider downsizing to and why they might be for you.

Single-Story

Moving into a smaller, single-story home will prove to be the most familiar option for those downsizing out of their larger, two-story home. This option proves best for anyone looking to maintain a similar lifestyle to what they currently have.

Downsizing your home to a single story is a great way to save space and maintain your lifestyle

A single-story home will also provide you with more square footage than a condo, tiny home, houseboat, or van but will still require the most maintenance and upkeep compared to other downsizing options.

Condos

What you give up in terms of square footage when you move into a condo, more than makes up for in location. Buying a condo allows you to live downtown in a major city where purchasing a house may not be financially viable. Living in a condo also means you’ll be able to take advantage of amenities like a swimming pool, gym, tennis court, shuffleboard, etc. You also won’t have a yard to take care of either and major structural repairs are usually covered by HOA fees.

A condo is a great downsizing option for those looking to live a more urban lifestyle, close to restaurants, bars, and shopping. The limited maintenance also means that condos are a great option for anyone who is retired or soon to be retired.

Tiny House

Buying a tiny house is trending these days because they’re affordable and eco-friendly. In fact, while the median sale price of homes in the U.S. housing market is $312,500, the average tiny home costs between $30,000 to $40,000. And if you’re anything like most tiny homeowners, you won’t have a home loan, meaning you’ll save on mortgage payments as well. You’ll also be paying significantly less in heating, cooling, and electricity costs, so you’ll be saving money and reducing your carbon footprint at the same time.

With the combination of savings and environmental-friendliness, tiny homes are a great option for anyone looking to help their wallet and the environment.

Houseboat

Do you like the idea of combining a tiny home with a maritime lifestyle? If so, then a houseboat may be for you. Clocking in at an average of 600 square feet, houseboats typically provide the space of a large tiny home or smaller condo, but with the added benefit of waves lulling you to sleep. Houseboat living provides many of the financial benefits of tiny homes like low upfront cost, little to no mortgage, more affordable utilities, as well as some of the benefits of condos such as amenities like a pool, laundry facility, and easy access to grocery stores.

Living on a boat does, however, require you to spend additional fees on maintenance as your home’s hull will need to be cleaned once or twice a year and repairs do not come cheap as they require specialized labor. If you feel the pros of a nautical lifestyle outweigh the maintenance fees, then a floating home may be for you.

Van Life

The beautiful thing about living in a van is that it allows you to go on road trips whenever you want, and if you don’t like your neighbors it’s easy to move. Van life also allows you to spend more time outdoors, something that should appeal to anyone interested in reconnecting with mother nature. Monthly expenses are also extremely low, you just need to be willing to commit yourself to a minimalist and nomadic lifestyle.

12 Things to Consider When Buying a Lakefront Home

Buying a lake property does sound like a dream come true to a vast majority of people, but the process of choosing and eventually completing the purchase is often far from enjoyable. It involves a lot of calculations, conducting a serious search for the property that meets all your needs and requirements, multiple decisions, and analyzing the pros and cons of making this decision in the first place. If you still realize that you have made the right choice, here is a comprehensive list of things to consider when buying a lake property. Hopefully, it will not take ages to organize a housewarming party for your waterfront home from the moment you set off on your purchasing mission.

First, define the purpose of your purchase

Purchase-related decisions you make will depend on the reasons for buying the lake property you have in mind. For example, if you want it to be your primary home then you will need to hire top-quality movers like those at mod-movers.com to relocate your belongings as soon as possible, and you will analyze different parameters than when it is meant to be a vacation home or a rental property. However, certain factors are always important regardless of the purpose of your purchase. The lake property should be in the vicinity of a grocery store, a post office, and, ideally, a medical clinic as well. Otherwise, if you choose a remote, secluded location, you might get your privacy and peace, but spending time at your lake property may become stressful at times rather than relaxing and joyful.

Define your budget in the initial stages

Accurately determining the financial means at your disposal before buying a lake property is one of the critical factors in this process. The amount you are willing to spend will further influence the manner in which you prioritize the requirements. Bear in mind that this type of real estate is usually available at a higher price than the land-locked property. Also, know that the commission paid to a real estate agent is generally covered by the seller, but will be added to the asking price.  So, perform these calculations before you start and eliminate any doubt whether you can afford this investment.

Hiring a real estate agent is a must

You need an expert in the lakefront property market who can give you some useful advice and introduce you to all the crucial things you need to know when buying a lake property. An expert should help you buy waterfront real estate so that you can get the best value for your money, something that suits your needs and expectations. Also, this professional will provide you with an insight into the traits of the local area, water quality, lot characteristics, flood history, expansion possibilities and many more useful pieces of information you need to consider when making the final decision. Knowing how complex legal matters in a purchase of this kind can be, hiring a respectable real estate agent is surely an additional investment worth making.

Hire a professional to conduct a detailed inspection of the property you are considering

A detailed inspection of a lake property by a team of professionals is a must before buying it. The property that seems perfect on the outside can hide problems with mold and mildew or water intrusion inside. Also, it is important to check the quality of water, inspect elevation certificates, corrosion on your exterior and all those factors that might cause you problems or further expenses later on. 

Make sure you find out all about the hidden costs

Hidden costs can harm your budget considerably as soon as they emerge. Experts do not call them hidden without a good reason, because you become aware of them only after the purchase process has come to its end. Here is what you have to focus on:

Buying a lake property on a leased lot

It may happen that the lake and the shoreline that your lake property is situated on are owned by the local municipality, a public utility, or the state or federal government. What this means to your finances is that you will have to pay per month for the lease. Moreover, the lease can last from 20 to 100 years depending on the area you are considering. Understandably, these expenses can be a significant burden on your budget. 

High property taxes

Yes, your lake property will be subject to property taxes which can be sky-high if this is your second home. Furthermore, if your plan involves renting your lake home any time soon, bear in mind that then the rent becomes subject to income tax as well. Hence, it is of great importance to study all the local, state, and federal tax rules, or simply ask your real estate agent for an explanation, prior to completing the purchase.

How about insurance?

Considering the exposure to elements and various structures that can be present on your lake property, homeowner’s insurance can be very expensive. Do not forget to consider this factor as well when weighing the pros and cons of buying a particular lake property.

Repairs to HVAC and septic systems

These hidden costs can be avoided easily and completely if you conduct the above-mentioned thorough inspection before the purchase. You can also request that your real estate agent include a Homeowner Warranty as part of the closing costs so that your first year will be covered for certain repairs. Otherwise, you might suffer serious consequences in the form of costly repairs. 

Paying utilities at your lake home

Utilities at your vacation lake home can reach a very high price. If you want to avoid these expenses at least during a certain part of the year, “winterizing” your lake home during the winter months is prudent.

Homeowner’s Association dues

These are compulsory and are varying prices. Thus, it is a good idea to gather the necessary information on this topic in advance, either by using relevant sources online or asking the realtor for the details.

Final words

If buying a lake property has your unreserved attention and you follow the above-mentioned tips, you will be able to make the right investment, fix up your waterfront home before you move in if necessary and then finally relax and enjoy. While it is true that the whole process may stress you out, do not feel pressured and make the wrong choice or decision. Once the purchase is over, you will get the rightful satisfaction you deserve!

Should you invest in Los Angeles, CA waterfront homes?

Los Angeles waterfront homes s between a busy road and a beach

Los Angeles waterfront homes

The city of Los Angeles is among the world’s most desirable and widely recognized locations. In spite of its overvalued real estate market, it continues to attract renters and homebuyers year after year. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration if we said The City of Angels is a safe bet for real estate investors. Buying a home in LA is a dream-come-true for many people, but buying a water view home in LA is a special privilege. However, that privilege isn’t without its downsides. If you’re wondering whether you should invest in Los Angeles waterfront homes, this article will help you decide.

Waterfront homes are always in demand

Although LA is a big city, the number of homes for sale along the shoreline is not unlimited. That means the demand is always high. This is both a pro and a con. Beating the competition and buying a good waterfront property is not easy, but the demand will always be there when you decide to sell or rent. With the help of experienced waterfront property real estate agents, finding buyers and renters should not take long. Besides, buyers are willing to pay a premium for stunning views and proximity to a body of water. Rents can be significantly higher as well compared to non-waterfront homes, which means covering your holding costs and even turning a profit should not be an issue.

The investment will retain its value for years to come

The value of waterfront homes rarely declines thanks to the high demand and limited supply. Thus, you can expect a great resale value. You can spend years and years renting your home or living in it without worrying about the impact of future housing markets. 

Living near the water is like an eternal vacation

If you decide to spend more time in your waterfront home, your life can be very exciting thanks to all the fun activities the water offers. Swimming, boating, kayaking, water skiing, and diving are just some of them. Few people can resist the relaxed vibe and vacation atmosphere in these neighborhoods. If you move here full-time, your life will be like a never-ending vacation. Just think about it – millions of people save money for months just to spend a few days close to the water. They pay to do all those things waterfront property owners can do practically for free. Investing in a Los Angeles waterfront home means investing in an extraordinary lifestyle. Owning a home in an area popular with visitors normally means having excellent amenities within easy reach. You’ll have access to great shops, bars, restaurants, sports and wellness facilities, among other things. 

However, the other side of the coin is the lack of privacy. As you know, many LA waterfront areas attract too many visitors. After all, Los Angeles is one of the most visited cities in the US. Hence, you could see lots of strangers in your neighborhood on a daily basis. 

Waterfront communities are very sociable

After buying a waterfront home and moving in, you will notice that the community you are moving into is not your average community. Waterfront communities are usually more tight-knit. They are known for organizing community celebrations and events and having many clubs and societies linked to water-based activities. Thanks to a strong sense of community, you’ll be able to meet your neighbors and get involved in their activities in no time. Waterfront communities are also great for families with young children. Parents who want to raise children in a fun, friendly environment and spend more quality time with them should definitely consider investing in Los Angeles waterfront homes. 

When you invest in Los Angeles waterfront homes, you invest in your health

You can enjoy several physical and mental health benefits if you invest in Los Angeles waterfront homes. Did you know that water can be therapeutic? This home could be your personal stress-free zone. You can escape to your waterfront home whenever the hustle and bustle of big-city life overwhelm you. This property could be your weekend/vacation home, but you could also ask for assistance when moving in LA area and move here full-time. In addition to being relaxing, waterfront areas that are more secluded are also less polluted and less noisy in comparison to other areas. Furthermore, a large body of water usually offers the perfect setting for various water sports. The outdoor activities we mentioned earlier are not only fun but they’re also healthy for you, so why not take advantage of owning a property so close to the water? 

Owning a waterfront home comes with higher expenses

Waterfront homes are more prone to damage caused by water and weather conditions compared to non-waterfront homes. Consequently, insurance for a waterfront home can be much more expensive. If the home you are interested in is in a flood zone or has been flooded, the insurance price will be higher. In addition to insurance, there are many other expenses you should take into consideration, the main ones being regular repairs and maintenance. Maintaining a waterfront home involves numerous expenses traditional home owners don’t need to worry about. 

Some waterfront properties come with strict rules

Local rules and regulations are some of the things you should investigate before you invest in Los Angeles waterfront homes. You might face some restrictions if you wish to renovate your home or increase its size, especially if it’s a neighborhood designated as historic. And some of the things you look forward to may actually be forbidden in your area. For example, you may want to have a dock or a boat launch, but are you allowed to build one on your property? The same goes for use of motor boats, wakeboards or jet skis. No one wants to pay a fine for enjoying their favorite sports and hobbies, so make sure you do your research before you start your search.

 

Seven Tips for Buying Water View Real Estate

Buying a waterfront property isn’t just like buying a land-locked property. Owning a waterfront property has its perks but it also involves a set of unique requirements and responsibilities. Living in one comes with a unique lifestyle, too. We have seven useful tips that will help you decide whether waterfront property buying is the right thing to do, and prepare you for the process if you choose to go through with it. 

1 Come up with a financial plan early on

Getting a mortgage pre-approval is of the utmost importance when buying a waterfront property — or any property, for that matter. Many real estate agents advise their clients (sellers) to accept offers from pre-approved home buyers exclusively.

This leads us to the second important reason to make a financial plan as early as possible: there is a lot of competition involved The number of waterfront properties you can choose from is traditionally much lower than the number of non-waterfront properties. Due to fierce competition, when there are multiple offers, you may end up losing a property unless you have your financing in order. 

Other things to take into consideration before waterfront property buying include property inspection costs, insurance costs, renovation costs, relocation costs, etc. If you wish to secure yourself during relocation and be safe and comfortable in your new home, this is not the time to cut corners. 

2 Choose the right body of water

Remember that you’re not just buying a piece of real estate – you’re buying the water view, too. Waterfront properties can differ greatly depending on the body of water they overlook. Some buyers are only interested in lakefront properties, while others prefer the ocean, a river or pond. What do you prefer?

Some buyers are so enchanted by the spectacular view that they disregard other factors, such as ease of access to the water and privacy. Perhaps you’re already picturing yourself and your partner watching the sun sink into the deep, blue ocean every evening, not counting on the noisy powerboats and hordes of tourists passing by. And just like that, your romantic dream turns into a nightmare. Therefore, research the body of water thoroughly before making an offer. 

Water bodies come in different sizes, depths, etc. If you plan on using a boat, find out about the water depth requirements for different types of boats. The quality of water is another important thing to check before buying a waterfront property, especially if you like to swim. The water could be polluted, or full of weeds or dangerous creatures you should know about. 

Additionally, bear in mind that shores gradually move over time. Hence, learning about the shoreline’s history and future erosion should be on your to-do list. 

3 Inspect the waterfront property

Another obvious tip on waterfront property buying is having a property inspection prior to making an offer. Spending some time on the water as well as the property itself is crucial, but you should also have professionals take a look at the property. Inspection costs are minimal compared to the peace of mind they provide. 

Since the property you are interested in is located near or on a body of water, an inspector should make sure there are no water intrusion issues. Another important inspection to conduct is a septic inspection. Repairing or replacing a faulty septic system could cost you thousands of dollars, so definitely have it inspected beforehand. 

4 Talk to the locals

People who live in waterfront communities are often very close with one another, which means your neighbors will probably be a big part of your life should you decide to occupy the property full-time. 

Having conversations with the local residents is a great way to get some first-hand information on the area. Talk to your potential neighbors and ask them everything you want to know. The locals will help you make a list of pros and cons in no time. They should give you their honest opinion that will help you form yours. 

5 Learn about the maintenance of waterfront properties

When it comes to its maintenance, a waterfront home is not just like any other home. Waterfront property buying comes with specific maintenance responsibilities. You must maintain both the condition of your home and the surrounding land. Unfortunately, waterfront real estate is generally more susceptible to damage caused by weather conditions than other types of real estate. 

By taking care of trees and shrubbery growth, you’re not only making your property look better, but you’re also protecting its structure as well as land. Maintaining the frontage of your property is one of the most important maintenance requirements. Your home’s break wall or docks can suffer serious damage, especially if it is located near a body of water that tends to have rough waters. Other important maintenance tasks include roof, deck, and siding maintenance.

You must make sure your waterfront property can withstand the harsh conditions it faces. Otherwise, you’ll be dealing with expensive repairs all the time. If the property you buy is durable, you won’t have to worry too much about rain, seawater or wind, and frequent repairs won’t be necessary. 

6 Learn about flood insurance requirements

Flooding is a common cause of damage to waterfront properties. Therefore, one of your insurance requirements may be obtaining a flood insurance policy. Since not all waterfront properties face the same level of risk, the cost of flood insurance varies. Naturally, if your home has a higher risk of potential flooding, the insurance cost will be higher. 

7 Hire an agent to help you with waterfront property buying

The number of real estate agents who can help you through the process of waterfront property buying is limited. Only agents who specialize in waterfront properties should be taken into consideration. Experienced agents know exactly which questions to ask and whom to include in the transaction. When interviewing potential agents, in addition to asking about their experience, ask them to provide client testimonials. 

Best Beach View Real Estate Investments for 2020

When you decide to invest in a waterfront vacation property, there are plenty of factors to take into account. But don’t worry – beachfront properties never go out of style, as everyone likes being near the ocean. Even if it turns out that you don’t like staying there, you’ll still be able to get a return on your investment through renting. With that in mind; we’ll take a look at the best places for such real estate investments in 2020.

Myrtle Beach, SC

While considering the best place for real estate investments in 2020, you’ll obviously have quite a lot on your mind. For example, if you want to have a valuable waterfront property that’s near an urban center, moving somewhere in Baltimore area may be what you want. On the other hand, if you want a true vacation home; have a look at this gem on the Atlantic coast – Myrtle Beach in South Carolina.

This place provides you with ample natural beauty, as well as a wide variety of different activities. Regardless of whether you want to go swimming with dolphins, do some deep-sea fishing, build sandcastles, or just relax on the beach; having a home here will do just fine. And if you choose greenery over sand – there are quite a few nice golf courses around. Plus, for those looking to invest in rental properties – there are great oceanfront homes here that will quickly net you sizable returns.

Panama City Beach, FL

Even if you’re not looking to buy waterfront real estate solely for rental profits, you will still want to consider places that are great vacation spots. After all, at the end of the day, the places where a lot of people go are the places that you will probably enjoy the most while on a vacation of your own.

With that in mind, we’re going to show you this huge stretch of pearl-white beaches – Panama City Beach, found in Northwest Florida. This is actually one of the most visited vacation spots by people from the Midwest and the South. And once you visit this place, you’ll realize that it’s one of the greatest areas for real estate investments in 2020, especially when it comes to waterfront properties. This area lends itself to both classic, historic appeal and an abundance of nature. If you’re looking for the quintessential American family coastal experience – buy a home here!

Gulf Shores, AL

Sure, there are plenty of reasons why Florida beach property is a good investment, there are also areas that are less obvious; like Gulf Shores on the Alabama/Florida state line! You’ll find that this place offers all the amenities vacation-goers need in order to be completely satisfied; in addition, it’s one of the best areas for real estate investments in 2020, at least among vacation home real estate. 

Many great day-trip destinations are situated within a couple of miles from this area, some of which offer unique family activities. Apart from that, there are numerous food festivals, concerts, and other interesting events that attract people to Gulf Shores; basically, it’s an all-year-round destination. And if you’re looking to invest in a rental property, that means one crucial thing – demand for bookings will stay high throughout the whole year. That’s something not a lot of shoreline properties can boast. The average home price is around $400k here, so take a look at all of the options.

Galveston Island, Texas

If you’re thinking of buying a home on Galveston Island, one thing is certain: you’d do well to learn the local lingo. There are IBC residents, or “islanders by choice”, and those Born On the Island – BOI. However, don’t worry – this is an extremely welcoming community, and while the locals have a lot of pride, they’re very pleasant to tourists and newcomers alike. 

While there are a few hotels in the area, most of the island is dominated by vacation rentals. And the local home prices are not so steep; meaning that this is a good investment regardless of whether you want to purchase a rental or a vacation home for yourself. 

Kauai, HI

Obviously, the merits of a vacation home in Hawaii aren’t such a huge mystery. This isn’t just a premier vacation spot for Americans; people from all over the globe flock here to experience the natural beauty of the Hawaiian Islands, along with the plentiful sightseeing opportunities and myriad fun activities. 

Indeed, the Aloha State is pretty much a dream come true for someone looking for a vacation home. But not many places on this island are quite affordable in terms of real estate; which is where Kauai shines. Especially if you intend on renting out your vacation home, you’ll find that the cap rates here are a little less than 5.5%. And sure, there are a few regulations to take into account; but you’re certain to attain a piece of real estate you’ll enjoy, and others will be happy to rent out if you want them to. 

Conclusion

As you can see, if you look hard enough; there are quite a few great opportunities for real estate investments in 2020, especially when it comes to waterfront areas. However, we advise you to take all the necessary precautions before investing some of your hard-earned money. Remember – regardless of how small the house is, you’ll find that real estate represents quite a sizable investment for any personal budget; something you don’t want to do on a whim. Do all the needed research to make an informed decision!

How to Buy Waterfront Real Estate

When people say that water view real estate is different than other types of property, they’re definitely not wrong. If you ever buy a piece of waterfront property, you’ll quickly realize what they’re talking about. Namely, there’s really nothing like the unique feeling of having a body of water within view and reach – all on your own piece of land! However, compared to land-locked properties, this kind of real estate will likely turn out to be more complicated to inspect, purchase, and maintain. There are some factors that you need to take into consideration with this type of real estate, that you possibly haven’t thought about before. Luckily, we’re here to give you a quick rundown!

Careful Inspection

As you’ll soon see for yourself, waterfront homes require careful and thorough inspection before you decide to invest in one. Water can be pretty hard on buildings. A waterfront home may have structural issues or even water leaks in the basement. There could be corrosion on the outside of your home due to salt air if you’re near an ocean shore. On the other hand, a lakehouse might suffer from mold or mildew problems due to rising moisture. Naturally, all of these things can be avoided if you buy the right home; but you want to get an expert to inspect the premises first. You want to do tests on the nearby water quality, get some elevation certificates, as well as other surveys and inspections. With a waterfront property, all of this is incredibly important. 

What Kind Of Water Would You Want?

It’s a pretty simple question when posed like this – but indeed, it is a key question: what kind of water do you want near your water view real estate? Trust us, waterfront home locations are an incredibly important factor when you’re choosing where you’ll move. After all, not all bodies of water are the same. If you’re someone who’s yearning for the smell of salt in their nostrils, you’ll obviously want to opt for a beach home. On the other hand, you may be a freshwater fisherman, looking to have some quiet time in a boat on a nearby lake. If that’s the case, you should look for a lakehouse. 

Take A Walk Around

If you’ve decided to buy a specific piece of water view real estate, there’s something you’ll need to do first – take a long walk. And no, we don’t just mean it to clear your head. You need to have a walk around the property itself and see if the water and the adjacent property are really as good as you’ve been led to believe. 

There could be all kinds of hidden issues with waterfront real estate; for example, the house might require repairs due to leakage.  Or you could be faced with a beautiful view, but not accompanied with proper access to the lake. Plus, the lake itself may seem gorgeous from afar, but could actually be choking in debris and weeds when you get up close. All of this could be a deal-breaker if you’re buying a water view home. After all, if you don’t like the backyard of a land-locked house you’ve bought – you just do some landscaping and change it. But if you’re buying a waterfront home, you’ll be hard-pressed to change the lake itself. 

Watch Out For Hidden Expenses

When it comes to water view real estate, you could be looking at some hidden expenses that you, as a buyer, might not be aware of right from the get-go. For example, sewer and water utility expenses will probably be higher than with an inland home; that’s something to take into account over the long term. Plus, if you’ve got a boat, think about the lift and dock fees. And depending on the infrastructure, the upkeep for your well and septic tank if you’re thinking of buying in a more remote locale. 

Find A Deal

Naturally, buying your very own waterfront property can really be a dream come true. But there are many people who grow disillusioned with owning water view real estate or have debts that they need to resolve. The point here is, even with lucrative waterfront spots, you may be able to find a good deal. So shop around once you choose your area and don’t settle for the first thing you see. And don’t worry about home amenities too much, if you find a spacious home. Stuff like your home library, entertainment setup, or your home gym can be easily relocated.

Devise A Strategy

You need to ask yourself if you’re going to live on this water view real estate full-time. This will largely determine your financial strategy for the purchase, going forward. For example, if you want to live there all the time, you’ll have to bear the brunt of the expenses for buying the house. But, if you only intend to use it as a vacation home, more opportunities arise. You can rent the house out while you’re not staying there and put a significant dent in the mortgage payments. Think Airbnb.

Find An Expert Agent

As you might have gathered – buying and owning water view real estate isn’t simple. From headaches like structural issues, sale complications, and potential title issues, the handling of such a property in a transaction requires close supervision by an expert real estate agent. Don’t even consider going into such a purchase without a specialized waterfront realtor by your side. USAWaterviews.com has many qualified water view experts on the Agents page.

So, if you want to buy a piece of water view real estate, find a good moving company through a place like Master Moving Guide – and start your shore life anew!

 

The Best Places to Buy a Winter Home in the U.S. 

Having a winter home sure sounds nice. A quiet little place where you can head off during those cold winter months. Now, you can go to a place in the mountains where you can enjoy skiing and hiking. Or, you might even choose to retire to a nice waterfront home and enjoy a year-long vacation. There are many reasons why you might want to buy a winter home in the U.S, and many places where you can do so. The only question that remains is which place is the best for you.

Figuring out where to buy a winter home in the U.S. is not easy. There are some important factors that you need to take into account in order to make a wise decision. These factors, which include your budget, your lifestyle preferences, and where you live during the rest of the year, play a major role in figuring out the best place to get a winter home in the U.S. Unfortunately, there is not much we can do about those factors, as they vary wildly from person to person. What we can do is look at the winter living conditions and the price of real estate in different places around the U.S. And, to keep things nicely spread out, we will limit ourselves to one place per state. This should give you a starting point for where to look for a fabulous winter home to buy.

St. Petersburg in Florida

When talking about U.S. states that have the best winter weather, Florida is usually the first one that comes to mind. After all, it’s hard to beat the Sunshine state when it comes to mild winters. So, it should come as no surprise that one of the most popular places to buy a home in the U.S. is St. Petersburg.

A lot of people choose to retire in Florida since both the weather and the lifestyle are so calm and mild. Mind you, there are a lot of places in Florida where getting beach property is a good investment. But, we feel that St. Petersburg stands out due to its comfortable lifestyle and affordability.


The people living there are quite friendly and welcoming which makes St. Petersburg ideal for
retirement and there are fewer tourists per capita compared to many other Florida resort areas.

Median home value: $154,800.

 

Mount Hood in Oregon

Mount Hood in Oregon is perfectly suited for people who actually like winter. If you’re a fan of
hiking through snow or going on adventurous camping trips, Mount Hood is the place to go.
The beautiful nature of Mount Hood will leave you breathless while you explore it. And, trust us,
with nearly 100 camping areas, there will be more than enough for you to explore for years to
come. Furthermore, if you are a fan of skiing, you will have a wonderful time in Mount Hood
Meadows.

Median home value: $288,900

South Lake Tahoe in California

South Lake Tahoe is a bit more pricey than the abovementioned places. But, we feel that it is
truly one of the best places to buy a winter home in the U.S., if not the whole world. The lake
itself is enormous. It has over 70 miles of coast which provides ample fun for its residents
throughout the year. During the winter you can enjoy skiing on its north end and hike all around the Lake.

Lake Tahoe is mesmerizingly beautiful, even during the winter months.

The nature surrounding South Lake Tahoe is well-preserved. This makes it ideal for any nature
lover who wants to escape the noise and the hassle of big cities during the winter months. So, if
by chance you are looking for a place to unwind, South Lake Tahoe is the place to go.

Median home value: $442,700 (we did warn you it’s going to be a bit expensive).

Beaufort in South Carolina

Winters in Beaufort, South Carolina are very mild. The temperature averages around 59°F
(15°C). This makes Beaufort ideal for anyone who wants to avoid standard winter weather.
There are plenty of things to do, including fishing, golfing, biking and visiting beaches so you are bound to find something to enjoy during those mild winter months. A lot of people even opt for getting a waterfront home as it can be quite nice to drink morning coffee with the sea air in your lungs. But, before you go shopping for waterfront homes, just know that you will probably have to invest a bit in fixing it up.

Median home value: $222,600

Ludlow in Vermont

The idyllic winter retreat is a warm place situated in a small town with the quiet snow falling while the sounds of nature surround you. Well, if this winter bliss sounds like something you will enjoy, then consider getting a winter home in Ludlow, Vermont. This little town has only about 2000 residents, which makes it ideal for anyone looking for a bit of peace and quiet. And, if you are up for a bit of adventure, you can head off to the popular Okemo Mountain Ski resort and enjoy some winter sports.

Median home value: $273,600

Keaau in Hawaii

If you are up for a bit of a change during your winter months, Keaau in Hawaii is the place to
go. Any person who enjoys warm weather will love it here since the average winter
temperature is around 77°F (25°C). Along with that, you will be able to explore flora and
fauna that you’ll never see in the continental US. We wouldn’t be surprised if you ended up
retiring here, as the place is quite calm with about 2700 residents and beautiful landscapes to
explore.

Median home value: $278,000

Top reasons why Florida beach property is a good investment

Are you considering getting a second home? Well, Florida is definitely one of the best places for investing in such a thing if you are financially and emotionally ready for making this step. Yes, it’s not going to be easy nor cheap, but there are many reasons why this is a good idea. You will be able to rent it out and make this a source of your income; you can also use it for your getaways and family vacations which should now be significantly cheaper; and, this can be a potential retirement plan for you. After all, there is a good reason why so many people are moving to Florida each year. But, if you need some more persuading to help you make the decision, here are other top reasons why Florida beach property can be a good investment.

Having a Rental Income

Probably one of the biggest reasons why people decide to invest in beach properties in Florida, or anywhere else in the world, is because of potential rental income. We say potential because there are many factors that will determine whether this investment will be a success or not. First, you have to consider all the expenses associated with renting a property. So, before you rush in and make a purchase, take into account expenses like mortgage, insurance, taxes, maintenance, and remodeling. All these things can easily break the bank if you have not thought this decision through. It would be a good idea to talk to an accountant and other landlords in the area to see how you can make your investment bring you a steady rental income.

So, if you are investing in a beach property for the sole purpose of renting it out, you have to make it appealing to renters. Make your beach property stand out. It must be unique and interesting. For example, you can create the ultimate coffee set up on your patio, or create children’s playground to attract families. Do not forget that you may have to remodel, as well as maintain your property at all times. 

Having a Second Home

However, if you are not concerned about maximizing your income and you want to do something special for yourself and your family, you are in for a treat. We all know how boring and monotonous living in one place for the rest of your life can be. So, if you already have a chance to own a second home, go for it. You will be surprised how much this decision will spice up your life. You will start to belong to another community, make new friends and neighbors, and start new traditions with your family. Just imagine how much your children can benefit from this. Every day will be filled with new experiences and memories. So, if you think that you can cover all the expenses that come with owning a second home, go for it. Just make sure to fix up your waterfront home before you move in.

Having an Easy Getaway

When moving in your area, you are probably going to end up in an environment similar to the one you had lived in so far. But, as we previously mentioned, if you have a chance to buy a beach property, do it to make things more exciting. This goes for houses on the beach, near a lake, on a mountain or in the countryside. These will become your families’ getaway and there are many reasons for that. First, you will not have to worry so much about the money as you will not have to pay for the accommodation, which is usually the most expensive part of any trip. Then, you can decide how often you wish to stay. And, most importantly, you will be there alone without any other guests or tourists. It will be completely up to you who you will invite. Also, you can play music, invite people over, make parties, celebrate your holidays and many other things without worrying about bothering a stranger in an adjoining room.

No More Vacation Planning

Yes, many people are thrilled when planning a vacation. But, if you are one of those who want to have a stable plan every time, then owning your own beach property is probably the best idea. You will not have to make complicated preparations for the trip. The keys are yours, so all you have to do is pack light, go to your second home and the vacation can begin. You will not have to spend days planning for it, looking for a vacancy, nor even looking for a place that is pet-friendly if you plan on going there with your furry friend. Also, if you plan on spending a lot of time there with your dog, make the most out of it and look for the best waterfront locations for dog owners too. Not every Florida beach allows pooches, so do some research before you buy.

Having a Retirement Plan

You probably know that retirees love Florida. So, buying a Florida beach property can be a good investment and preparation for your retirement. Just think about it. You will not have to worry about finding and relocating to an entirely new place once you are retired. Then you will not have to worry about preparing your new home for living there. Everything will be in place already. Most importantly, you will not have to pay rent or live in a senior residential facility for the rest of your life. Your second home will be waiting for you. The transition will also be eased because you will know your neighbors and where everything is located. So, once you retire, the only thing you need to do is throw an ultimate housewarming party and then go to the beach and enjoy the Sunshine State. Life is going to be so much easier knowing that you are all set for retirement. 

Natural Mosquito Repellents: What works best?

Reclaiming Your Backyard: Reviewing the Efficacy of 20 Popular Natural Mosquito Repellents

Natural Mosquito RepellentMosquitoes can be a big problem for travelers, outdoor enthusiasts, and even homeowners. Once they get settled, they breed very quickly. Killing insects that only live for a week or two may feel like rearranging chairs on a sinking ship. However, mosquitoes are not just an annoyance. Their bites can cause significant short-term discomfort, and spread diseases that could turn into chronic conditions.

Adequate protection from mosquitoes is an important part of life during the summer in many areas, and year-round for people living in regions that do not dip below freezing. People can cut down on their exposure by wearing protective clothing and hats, but this can only be so practical in the heat. Most people turn to insect repellents as a way to enjoy the outdoors without all the bugs. Fortunately – since mosquitoes have been around for millions of years – humans have had a lot of time to test different options and see how well they work out.

Some plants have a long history as effective mosquito repellents. Sometimes it can be difficult to verify how useful they are and separate the myths from science. Looking at research helps homeowners to decide which natural repellents might be best for them. Many of the most popular known repellents feature in studies, particularly concerning the use of the essential oils. The results typically vary based on the concentration, and whether or not they are used with other oils. People who are starting to learn about essential oil benefits may want to start with tested products to ensure they achieve a safe/effective concentration and application. If you’ve just bought a waterfront home and want to find new and interesting ways to keep your backyard mosquito-free, the following plants and oils may help.

Note: Although essential oils are often marketed as totally natural and may seem to be perfectly safe, they are not appropriate for everyone. Applying undiluted oils directly to the skin can cause irritation, allergic reactions, or other significant effects. Some may choose to apply small amounts to see how their skin reacts before attempting a full application. Parents should consult with a doctor knowledgeable about these oils before using them on infants or children.

 

First Things First: DEET Has Its Place

Diethyltoluamide (DEET) is a manmade solution that has been used widely as an insecticide and repellent since the 1940s. It remains one of the most effective options people can use to protect themselves against mosquito exposure. Since its origin, people have wondered about the long-term effects of DEET exposure. This has led them to pursue natural repellents with variable results. At times, DEET may be the best option on the table. This is particularly true in areas where serious diseases run rampant and are quickly spread by mosquitoes. It may also be the best choice for older infants, children, and those who cannot use particular kinds of essential oils.

The most common side effect of DEET is skin irritation, not unlike many essential oils in higher concentrations. With prolonged or heavy exposure, DEET is associated with headaches, nausea, or dizziness. People may want to discuss the matter with their doctors to get relevant information based on their personal risk. For people who only need to minimize the annoyance of mosquitoes outside their homes for an hour or two at a time, natural repellents may be a viable alternative to try.

Citronella

Citronella Candle for Mosquito Prevention

When people look for natural mosquito protection, citronella is one of the most common choices. Citronella is a combination of oils from different types of grasses. It can repel insects in a few ways. Most typically, its strong scent masks the location of certain foods pests might seek out. Unlike many components of insecticides, it does not kill mosquitoes.

As a popular part of insect prevention, citronella comes in a variety of products. These may include:

  • candles
  • sprays
  • pellets
  • lotions (often containing sunscreen)
  • products for pets

Some homeowners grow citronella grasses in the yard (typically more successful in warmer climates). People should keep in mind that proximity is key for citronella’s use. Burning a candle or placing pellets nearby might be effective in areas with low insect activity, but less so in regions with heavy insect involvement.

The length of time citronella lasts depends on its application. In some cases, people can buy a natural repellent spray with a concentration of oil of citronella that they can apply directly to the skin. Studies suggest that putting a small amount of citronella oil on human skin can be highly effective for about 1-2 hours. It is important to follow manufacturer guidance on application. Sprays may not be appropriate for infants, young children, or other vulnerable populations.

Sources:

Comparative mosquito repellency of essential oils against Aedes aegypti (Linn.), Anopheles dirus (Peyton and Harrison) and Culex quinquefasciatus (Say)

Repellent activity of herbal essential oils against Aedes aegypti (Linn.) and Culex quinquefasciatus (Say.)

Essential Oil Repellents- A short Review

Clove

Cloves come from a tree that is often grown in Indonesia. The flower buds give off a scent that repels certain types of mosquitoes. Although the living plant has benefits as a natural repellent, it cannot thrive outside in any area that drops below freezing. Homeowners in moderate areas may be able to sustain it in a pot that can be brought inside for colder weather. Otherwise, the dried buds, known as whole cloves, and an oil made from them are widely available.

Clove oil is very strongly scented. Most of the time, people suspend clove oil in olive oil or coconut oil before putting it on their skin. Efficacy depends greatly on the concentration. Research suggests that clove oil is most effective as a 100 percent essential oil applied directly to the skin. This practice may act as a repellant for up to four hours. It is still highly useful at a concentration of around 50 percent, with the other half being geranium or thyme oil. One study showed that this combination lasted as long as 2.5 hours. However, people should take care of using clove oil at this level. They may find that concentrations above 25 percent could irritate the skin.

Sources:

Comparative mosquito repellency of essential oils against Aedes aegypti (Linn.), Anopheles dirus (Peyton and Harrison) and Culex quinquefasciatus (Say)

Repellent activity of herbal essential oils against Aedes aegypti (Linn.) and Culex quinquefasciatus (Say.)

Repellency of Essential Oils to Mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae)

Lemon Grass

Getting rid of Mosquitoes with Lemon Grass

Lemongrass is an herb that many homeowners like to grow in their gardens. It can only be grown as an annual in most regions of the United States. As a plant or oil, lemongrass may be a functional way to distract mosquitoes. Lemongrass and citronella oils are closely related, coming from the same family of grasses known as Cymbopogon.

Most research covering the efficacy of lemongrass relies on oil, not the whole plant. Specifically, people typically need to place the oil on their skin in some form to receive the benefit. One study noted that lemongrass in coconut oil was effective at preventing mosquito bites for up to two hours. There is evidence to suggest that combining lemongrass oil with other essential oils known for their repellent qualities may provide the best overall protection.

As with citronella, proximity, and quantity makes a significant difference. Many homeowners in the southeastern U.S. could grow lemongrass in their yards. When planted directly into the ground, it can reach a full height of 3-6 feet and offer a natural hedge against insects in the area. Generally, experts believe that the living plant is more appropriate for culinary use than mosquito prevention.

Sources:

Comparative mosquito repellency of essential oils against Aedes aegypti (Linn.), Anopheles dirus (Peyton and Harrison) and Culex quinquefasciatus (Say)

Repellent activity of herbal essential oils against Aedes aegypti (Linn.) and Culex quinquefasciatus (Say.)

Lavender

Lavender is an herb that has lots of possible uses, among them fragrant, culinary, and medical. Lavender may also be an effective insect repellent. Similar to other herbs, it can grow a few feet tall. When planted heavily and strategically, lavender can provide natural protection for homeowners’ yards and patios. The plant can be grown in almost any part of the U.S., but most varieties thrive best in a low humidity environment. This means that people who live in regions with high humidity may want to keep the lavender in a pot indoors or use lavender oil instead.

As a way to block mosquitoes specifically, people might consider a combination of oils in a spray or other direct application. Lavender oil is extracted from the pale purple flowers and is widely available at a variety of concentrations. The right concentration creates a notable difference in efficacy. Some research indicates that lavender oil with a low concentration (i.e. 5-10 percent) may not be effective against mosquitoes at all. At a 100 percent concentration level, however, it could repel certain types of mosquitoes for more than an hour.

People should remember that a widely-accepted and natural ingredient of many foods and health treatments may not always be safe. Lavender oil is generally regarded as safe diluted in another oil but can be a skin irritant at high concentrations. Consumption of lavender oil could be poisonous.

Sources:

Laboratory Evaluation of Mosquito Repellents Against Aedes albopictus, Culex nigripalpus, and Ochlerotatus triseriatus (Diptera: Culicidae)

Essential Oil Repellents- A short Review

Thyme

Fresh Thyme

Thyme is another herb popular in cuisine that has certain properties to repel insects. People often plant thyme in the garden as a way to prevent specific types of insects (e.g. cabbage worms) from infesting their vegetable gardens. The thyme emits a toxic aroma that deters pests. For humans, thyme oil at a higher concentration can be very effective at repelling various species of mosquitoes.

Thyme is most useful as an oil applied to the skin. Specifically, 100 percent essential thyme oil garners the greatest benefit. Protection at this concentration could last up to four hours, depending on the type of mosquito. Homeowners might want to research the most common varieties near their homes, as this difference varies from 105-225 minutes. Using oil at less than 50 percent may not be particularly effective unless it is part of a combination of other natural repellents. Burning thyme can also provide a degree of protection nearly equal to oil, but only lasts up to 90 minutes.

Fresh thyme can be somewhat difficult to grow, especially from seeds. Homeowners may prefer to buy a plant to put in their gardens. The small shrubs can reach a maximum height of one foot. The soil temperature needs to be about 70 degrees Fahrenheit for the thyme to thrive, making it a seasonal or temperate climate plant.

Sources:

Repellency of Essential Oils to Mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae)

Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing

Catnip

A member of the mint family, catnip has multiple uses for humans and pets. People may be familiar with catnip as a way to attract cats. Its strong scent can also work to repel mosquitoes and cockroaches. Some research indicates that catnip can be exceptionally effective at blocking mosquitoes. However, it is more useful as a spatial repellent than a contact repellent. Evidence suggests that catnip may outpace DEET with this approach. This means that catnip may be better for homeowners to grow and use as a proximity-based repellent in their yards.

Catnip oil is widely available for people to buy. However, researchers struggle to find ways to make the oil useful as a contact repellent. The natural chemical, nepetalactone, is very good at repelling mosquitoes. In a controlled environment, the plant may minimize mosquito bites for up to eight hours. Once converted into an oil applied directly to the skin, efficacy only lasts 1-2 hours. One study noted that catnip oil could be a practical topical repellent, but only in a specific combination with other oils.

As a highly-invasive species, catnip is relatively easy to grow but can be difficult to maintain. Planting in pots may help homeowners control its growth. Catnip naturally attracts cats, so people should factor this into the placement of the plant.

Sources:

Repellency effect of forty-one essential oils against Aedes, Anopheles, and Culex mosquitoes

Comparison of Contact and Spatial Repellency of Catnip Oil and N,N-Diethyl-3-methylbenzamide (Deet) Against Mosquitoes

Lemon Eucalyptus

Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Mosquito Repellent

Lemon eucalyptus has a reputation for repelling mosquitoes, but in a way people might not expect. The plant itself, though technically an herb, can grow up to 60 feet tall. This growth is ideal in its native Australia. The fresh scent makes the leaf and the oil a mainstay in many cosmetic and cleaning products. Homeowners can grow it outside if they live in the southern half of the United States, or otherwise keep it as an annual. The plant can serve as an effective spatial repellent, but the byproduct of the essential oil distillation is much more useful.

People may be aware that lemon eucalyptus oil is not known as a particularly ideal preventive for mosquito bites. This is because the oil only lasts for about an hour. However, researchers discovered that the leftovers from the oil’s manufacturing were far more effective. In fact, at a 50 percent concentration, PMD (the acronym for the byproduct) can provide 100 percent protection for 6-7 hours for one type of mosquito. For other species, a topical application could last 11 hours.

Keeping the plant in the yard gives up to 75 percent protection, particularly from occasional burning of the leaves. Homeowners who want to use PMD will likely notice a greater effect. They should confirm that they are applying the byproduct and not the oil itself, which has a much lower efficacy.

Sources:

Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing

Peppermint

Like catnip, peppermint oil seems to be more effective as a spatial repellent than a topical one. As a moderately invasive species, peppermint can thrive almost anywhere. Homeowners should take care in placing it as it can take over other plants and herbs in the same area. Some people prefer to plant it using a wood mulch to minimize its growth or put it into a pot. When planted in full sun, the living peppermint retains most of its repellent qualities.

Although peppermint oil is widely available, it is not particularly useful on its own to block mosquito bites. Part of the problem is that peppermint as a contact repellent appears to be most effective at 100 percent concentration, but most people cannot tolerate it at that strength. When applied directly to the skin at this level, the oil can cause skin irritation. In addition, peppermint only prevents mosquito contact for about 45 minutes.

Peppermint oil does pose some interesting ideas for people who want to inhibit the spread of mosquitoes where they live. Mosquitoes naturally thrive near areas with standing water. This is the spot larvae grow into adult insects. Placing a small amount of peppermint essential oil into this standing water may prevent the larvae from hatching, and stop many adult mosquitoes from breeding in the area.

Sources:

Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing

Larvicidal and mosquito repellent action of peppermint (Mentha piperita) oil

Essential Oil Repellents- A short Review

Neem

Healthy Neem Tree

Oil from the neem tree can be particularly viable as a mosquito repellent and insecticide, but it may not be as available for planting. Neem grows naturally in India and reaches an average height of about 45-60 feet. The oil comes from the seeds and is quite bitter with a heavy scent of garlic.

Studies performed in India indicate that a low concentration of neem oil burned in a kerosene lamp can repel many types of insects. As an oil applied to the skin, it may be less effective but could last as long as four hours. Neem remains a questionable choice due to the lack of concrete evidence. People have been using neem for centuries as a natural repellent, but it has been more difficult for researchers to establish precisely how effective it is. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency allows 100 percent cold-pressed neem oil for food uses, due to its generally low toxicity. However, application to the skin in undiluted form may cause contact dermatitis.

If homeowners can locate the seeds, they may be able to grow neem trees inside or outside. Neem oil is also available for purchase. Neem trees prefer a warmer climate that does not drop below freezing for extended periods of time. It grows best in regions with moderate humidity and regular watering and can be grown indoors.

Sources:

Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing

Essential Oil Repellents- A short Review

Basil

Basil is an American staple herb, with a variety of subspecies that look, smell, taste, and function differently from one another. The essential oil of several different kinds of basil can provide adequate or even ideal protection as a spatial or contact repellent to mosquitoes and other pests. Both the plant and the oil are reasonably accessible.

Using basil oil offers the best protection against mosquitoes. Some studies suggest that 100 percent basil oil used with vanillin can provide several hours of mosquito repellent. In other studies, a lower concentration of oil seems to block mosquitoes for 1.5-2.5 hours. People might want to consider purchasing a natural repellent product to minimize health effects from the undiluted oil. Basil oil may contain natural carcinogens that could be harmful in excess quantities.

Basil is relatively easy to grow almost anywhere in the U.S. Although it prefers a warmer climate to thrive outdoors, homeowners often can grow it indoors with a great deal of success. The fully-grown herb can reach about 24” in height, depending on the type. It needs plenty of sun and well-drained soil. In certain areas, it may regrow from one year to the next. Otherwise, people can grow it readily from seeds or cuttings.

Sources:

Comparative mosquito repellency of essential oils against Aedes aegypti (Linn.), Anopheles dirus (Peyton and Harrison) and Culex quinquefasciatus (Say)

Repellent Activities of the Essential Oils of Four Sudanese Accessions of Basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) Against Anopheles Mosquito

Litsea

Evidence to establish the repellent ability of litsea is somewhat scant. As part of a combination of other oils, it may be helpful as a spatial or topical repellent. Drawn from the leaves and flowers of the litsea plant, litsea oil is widely available by itself or with other essential oils.

Research showing litsea’s effectiveness often relies on several oils, which may make it harder to discern its individual efficacy. One study noted that oil of litsea used with other oils provided 100 percent protection for up to eight hours, but was difficult to apply to the skin. Another claimed that low or moderate concentrations of litsea oil could serve as a very effective repellent placed near people.

Litsea oil comes from a shrub that can grow to be about 23’ tall. This shrub is found almost exclusively in East Asia. There is evidence to suggest that homeowners in mild climates with a sandy or loamy soil that is properly watered and drains could possibly grow litsea in their yards. It is not particular to the amount of sun required and could thrive in both full sun or part shade.

Sources:

Repellency effect of forty-one essential oils against Aedes, Anopheles, and Culex mosquitoes

Excito-repellency properties of essential oils from Melaleuca leucadendron L., Litsea cubeba (Lour.) Persoon, and Litsea salicifolia (Nees) on Aedes aegypti (L.) mosquitoes

Geranium

Geranium Flowers in Home Garden

Geraniums are a lovely flowering plant that many homeowners like to keep in their yards. Geranium oil has noted abilities to repel several different kinds of mosquitoes. In most cases, it is the oil that can block mosquito bites, not the plant itself. However, there are many types of geraniums. Certain kinds, such as the lemon-scented geranium, give off a citronella scent that might serve as a minimal spatial repellent.

One problem that a lot of essential oils have for repellency is how quickly they evaporate off the skin. At high concentrations, geranium oil has some staying power. One study reflected two-hour protection for geranium oil at 75 percent concentration. When combined with clove oil, other research indicates that geranium oil at 50 percent concentration could act as a repellent for 1.25-2.5 hours. Geranium oil can irritate the skin in higher quantities, but possibly less so than other oils like clove or peppermint.

Although geraniums function largely as an annual in many growing zones of the U.S., people could bring them indoors in the fall and replant outside in the spring. This is likely to serve more of a design function than as part of a broader plan to prevent insects from invading the space.

Sources:

Laboratory Evaluation of Mosquito Repellents Against Aedes albopictus, Culex nigripalpus, and Ochlerotatus triseriatus (Diptera: Culicidae)

Repellency of Essential Oils to Mosquitoes (Diptera: Culicidae)

Cajeput

Anyone who is familiar with the strong scent of tea tree oil can appreciate the benefits of a close relative, the cajeput tree. Cajeput trees are natives to Australia and come from the Meleleuca genus. The essential oil is made from the twigs and leaves of the tree and is known to have numerous health properties. Cajeput oil is similar to niaouli oil because they come from the same genus, but they are not the same. People looking to buy these oils should confirm that they understand the difference between tea tree, cajeput, and niaouli oils.

Many mosquitoes are simply a nuisance, but others carry diseases that could harm or even kill humans. One study considered different oil combinations’ ability to repel mosquitoes carrying yellow fever, malaria, and encephalitis. Cajeput oil was one of the most effective and could last about eight hours if properly placed on the skin.

Although the oil may be useful for preventing mosquitoes from establishing a home in the yard or biting humans, evidence of the tree’s use as a spatial repellent is limited. Those who live in dry, desert conditions could possibly grow the cajeput tree. It features a spongy bark that comes off in sheets and may be considered an invasive species in parts of the U.S. Cajeput reaches an adult height of 20’-40’ and will grow quickly in almost any kind of soil.

Sources:

Repellency effect of forty-one essential oils against Aedes, Anopheles, and Culex mosquitoes

Niaouli (Paper Bark Tea Tree)

Many people who were irritated when using tea tree oil to treat a sore or insect bite might want to try its gentler cousin, niaouli. Niaouli oil comes from the paperbark tea tree, from the Meleleuca genus that also includes tea trees and cajeput trees. This oil is fairly easily accessible and has some promising effects in the prevention of mosquito bites.

Since oils from Meleleuca trees are so closely related, studies often look at them together for efficacy. One study showed that niaouli oil ranked one of the highest in long-term mosquito repellent. Another compared a variety of related oils at a lower concentration, around 5-10 percent. When first applied or used as a spatial repellent, the oils were almost 100 percent effective. However, the benefits wore off rapidly after the first hour, as the oils evaporated. This may indicate that the method of topical application makes a significant difference in its overall usefulness. Since Meleleuca is a common allergen, people may want to test their reaction to it before planting it or using the oil regularly.

Originally found in Australia, the paperbark tea tree also grows very well in Florida. There, it is considered an invasive species. The paperbark tea tree can thrive in many parts of the southern U.S. It grows best in moist regions where homeowners can achieve a good balance of watering. Planted in full sun, it can grow over 40 feet.

Sources:

Repellency effect of forty-one essential oils against Aedes, Anopheles, and Culex mosquitoes

Development of Melaleuca oils as effective natural‐based personal insect repellents

Violet

Using Violets as Mosquito Repellent

Essential oil derived from the violet flowering plant may be a useful mosquito repellent, but the plant itself might not. Some evidence suggests that the plant acts as a ground cover providing necessary protection for mosquitoes to thrive. As such, homeowners may want to take care when planting violets outside in large quantities.

Violet oil is easy to locate and buy in the U.S., but its repellent qualities have not been studied very heavily. A 2006 study showed that violet oil was one of the most effective essential oils used as a contact repellent, providing 100 percent efficacy for about eight hours. The oil may offer adequate protection, particularly when used in conjunction with other oils. This use may require a higher concentration, which could irritate the skin. Homeowners may want to seek out a skilled aromatherapist or ask their doctor about violet oil.

There are dozens of varieties of violets, and some may be more attractive to mosquitoes than others. Homeowners often like to grow violets indoors, largely because they need warm soil in which to thrive. Violets prefer lower or indirect lighting, making them ideal for an indoor or shady area.

Sources:

Repellency effect of forty-one essential oils against Aedes, Anopheles, and Culex mosquitoes

Patchouli

When people think of patchouli, they may already have a memory of its unique scent. For centuries, cultures have used patchouli as incense, perfume, and an effective insect repellent. The strong, earthy smell is unlike any other and goes a long way. Using patchouli oil may be the most practical application, but the plant is also known to discourage mosquitoes from lingering.

Undiluted, patchouli oil alone may provide up to two hours of mosquito protection when applied to the skin. When compared to lower concentrations such as 10 percent or 50 percent, the 100 percent concentration lasted much longer. One study yielded a result longer than five hours for patchouli mixed with turmeric and Zanthoxylum limonella oils. However, patchouli even in very small quantities can be overwhelming. People should take care when putting it on, as the scent will carry some distance.

Fortunately, patchouli as a flowering herb can also function partly as a spatial insect repellent. Native to East Asia, it can grow to 2-3 feet with fuzzy leaves and violet-colored flowers. A member of the mint family, it needs plenty of space to spread out. It can thrive in a pot or anywhere in the garden that receives partial sun exposure.

Sources:

Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing

Comparative repellency of 38 essential oils against mosquito bites.

Synergistic mosquito-repellent activity of Curcuma longa, Pogostemon heyneanus and Zanthoxylum limonella essential oils.

Palmarosa

The technical classification of palmarosa is Cymbopogon martinii, making it a close relative of lemongrass and citronella. As such, it may not be surprising that palmarosa is useful as a mosquito repellent like its cousins. Its sweet, rosy scent makes it an ideal perfume or spray. The oil from the plant offers the best protection against mosquitoes.

Research is beginning to show that palmarosa can be effective against mosquitoes for hours longer than most oils or oil blends. One study resulted in 100 percent protection for up to 12 hours, far exceeding many other options. The efficacy seems to rely on a 100 percent concentration. This situates the lemon grasses as the most complete and longest-running protection that homeowners can use as an oil or spray. Some research indicates that palmarosa may be safer for human use at a higher concentration than other grass oils, and most essential oils in general.

Growing palmarosa at home may not be much more difficult than growing other types of lemongrass. It needs a mild, humid climate, but can thrive in a variety of soil types. Homeowners might like to grow palmarosa along with other grasses to act as a privacy screen or protection against insect infestation.

Sources:

Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing

Zanthoxylum Limonella (Makaen)

Makaen Trees for Mosquito Repelling Oil

Zanthoxylum limonella, more commonly known as makaen, is a tree that grows in various parts of Southeast Asia. Trees from this genus have many uses, among them spices and oils. Essential oil from the makaen tree could provide useful protection against certain kinds of mosquitoes for moderate periods of time.

Studies show that Zanthoxylum limonella oil can block mosquitoes for a variable amount of time, depending on its concentration and combination with other oils. For example, one study indicated that the undiluted oil provided 100 percent protection for almost three hours. Another study established complete protection at 20 percent concentration for about an hour and a half. When combined with turmeric and patchouli oils, it lasted more than five hours.

It is difficult to prove the effectiveness of the makaen tree’s efficacy as an insect repellent. However, it is a pleasing shrub that is relatively simple to grow inside or outside in a mild climate. Many people keep it indoors as a small shrub. The essential oil comes from the seeds. The berries can be dried and crushed to create the popular Sichuan pepper spice.

Sources:

Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing

Comparative repellency of 38 essential oils against mosquito bites.

Synergistic mosquito-repellent activity of Curcuma longa, Pogostemon heyneanus and Zanthoxylum limonella essential oils.

Vanillin

It makes sense that vanillin is a major component of vanilla extract. It is only one component and can be somewhat difficult to derive from the vanilla bean. When used as a conveyance for essential oils known to function as a mosquito repellent, vanillin can make the effects last hours longer.

The major problem with a lot of essential oils that repel insects is that they do not tend to last very long. Once applied to the skin, they evaporate relatively quickly, leaving the wearer unprotected. In addition, undiluted essential oils pose a host of potential health risks, especially for people who are not very skilled or knowledgeable about safe applications. Vanillin can provide a viable solution. The size of the vanillin molecules requires longer to break down, allowing the solution to release the potent oils over a longer period of time. Depending on the oil used, vanillin can increase an oil’s efficacy from less than two hours to more than eight hours.

The availability and price of products containing vanillin tend to wax and wane based on demand for the vanilla bean. Vanilla beans are difficult to harvest and take years to cultivate. Recent shortages have driven vanilla prices up, affecting vanillin as well. As such, homeowners may not have a difficult time locating natural mosquito repellents using vanillin as a carrier, but they may have to pay more for it.

Sources:

Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing

Coffee Grounds

Coffee Grounds for Preventing Mosquitoes

Coffee can act a little like a sneak attack for mosquitoes. The brownish water looks somewhat like a leaf infusion, which can attract female mosquitoes looking to lay eggs. However, in strong quantities, coffee extract in water could actually repel mosquitoes or make the larvae less likely to develop. Burning coffee grounds could also work as a simple spatial insect repellent.

One study looked at coffee’s effects on mosquitoes that often carry dengue fever. Water sources that contained higher concentrations of coffee were less attractive to the female mosquitoes, and they were less likely to lay eggs there. Since coffee generates a significant amount of waste, this might pose possible solutions for people living in regions where mosquito breeding could spread serious or fatal diseases.

Homeowners looking for a way to discourage mosquitoes or other insects from building homes in the yard might consider placing coffee grounds around the garden. Coffee grounds are a natural byproduct of the coffee-making process, so they are usually easy to obtain for those who drink it. Using the grounds as a topping for the garden is safe for many plants. It creates a strong scent that discourages mosquitoes, ants, and slugs. Burning the coffee grounds should be done with care, but may also be effective. The smoke acts as its own repellent to mosquitoes, flies, and wasps. Burning increases the strength and the duration of the scent, which may keep insects at bay while people are enjoying time outside.

Sources:

Coffee and its waste repel gravid Aedes albopictus females and inhibit the development of their embryos

Other Helpful Tips for Reducing Mosquito Populations Around the Home

Dealing with mosquitoes is a common problem for many homeowners, especially during the warmer months of the year. It may be less of an issue for some condo owners, but – even then – this knowledge can come in handy at some point in the future. Many mosquitoes are little more than a nuisance, but it is difficult to tell the difference between a mosquito carrying nothing and one carrying Zika or malaria. A few extra precautions can make a big improvement.

Homeowners should know that mosquitoes breed in standing water. Standing water means water that is not moving or filtered in some way. This means that people should try to avoid leaving standing water on their properties, especially in the summer. Standing water might include:

  • ponds without an effective filtration system
  • puddles after a rainstorm
  • wading pools and children’s water toys
  • open rain barrels
  • buckets used for watering or washing

Residents may not be able to eliminate these sources entirely, but they can minimize them. People can tightly seal water containers that they need to use on a regular basis.

Once the mosquitoes have established themselves in an area, homeowners might have to work a little harder to get rid of them. Most insect repellents operate by discouraging mosquitoes from coming near. Few natural options also function as an insecticide. Cinnamon oil may hold some promise to kill mosquito larvae before they hatch, but can be toxic at a high concentration. Products marketed as insecticides often contain artificial ingredients and poisons that could be harmful to humans as well as insects. People should take care when handling and applying them, especially around surfaces they use regularly.

Keeping mosquitoes outside mostly calls for attention to the home’s openings. Making sure there are no air gaps around doors and windows makes it harder for insects to sneak inside. Closing doors and windows allow the home’s cooling system to work more effectively. When windows and doors must be kept open for a time, homeowners can reduce their exposure by confirming that screens are in good condition.

As people explore the vast quantities of research out there about natural insect repellents, they may discover many more options not included on this list. Some claims may be harder to substantiate, even if certain cultures have been using them to prevent mosquitoes for thousands of years. As such, homeowners should take care to do their own research before assuming that any suggestions are either safe or particularly useful. Some of the most popular options to use as natural repellents, such as clove oil, require a concentration high enough that they could cause problems if applied incorrectly.

Products on the market can make it seem easy to use undiluted essential oils for a variety of purposes. However, people need to be wary of the way they use oils. Some options that are safe for humans may repel pets as well as insects. Others are only appropriate for uses that do not require direct contact with human skin. By gaining necessary information about the various oils’ efficacy and benefits, homeowners can find multiple possible routes they can take to cut down on mosquito bites and keep the pests off their properties.

How To Make your Waterfront Property Accessible

by Lucy Hudson

The total value of waterfront homes was $134 billion in June 2018, according to an article in Forbes. The same article indicates that due to changing climate conditions, changing tastes, and bounce back of non-waterfront homes, the overall average sales price of homes has gone down. However, waterfront homes are still the epitome of luxury and an enjoyable holiday retreat for people on vacation. So focus should be on making your waterfront home climate change proof and accessible so that it can be more comfortable for both you and potential tenants.

IoT technology for convenience

The easiest way to explain the Internet of Things (IoT) is that it involves smart devices communicating with each other in a network. Smart home devices come in the form of appliances, electronics, and speakers, which enhance independent living — especially for people with mobility problems and disabled people. For example, there are smart coffee makers that automatically start making coffee every morning, and window blinds that open and close themselves. There are also thermostats that adjust themselves automatically and learn your routines, and lights that go on and off without you touching a light switch. You can take control of these devices with an app on your phone, or simply use voice control to turn them on and off.  Personal assistants such as Amazon Echo and Google Home allow you to control various devices using voice control.

An entryway that is friendly to everyone

Placing a mat that says “welcome” at your front door will do nothing to help people with mobility problems get to your door or through it any easier. If a person using a wheelchair cannot access your home via the stairs, then ramps are a great solution. A modular ramp is great for all types of stairs and entrances. These ramps are usually made of high-grade aluminum, are semi-permanent, durable, and easy to maintain. However, if you want to make a ramp one of the primary features of your home, you can opt for a permanent wooden ramp. A permanent ramp is a better option for beachfront elevated homes. The ramps make it easier to get to the door but the entryway should have door frames that are at least 32 inches wide. If not, use offset hinges on the door to allow it to open wide enough to fit a wheelchair.

Don’t forget the bathroom

Accessible features that you can add to your bathroom include showers with rolling seats for people who cannot stand, and grab bars for balance. The shower should also be well lit and have a hand-held shower head with a 60-inch hose. To reduce the risk of slipping in the shower, install a non-slip floor and a walk-in tub. The soap, lotions and other stuff you use in the bathroom should be placed in an area that is easy to reach. In addition, install a riser on a toilet to make it easy for people to use who have trouble bending.

There are many other things that you can install or add into a waterfront home to make it accessible. However, it’s best to start by adding features that make movement in your waterfront home easy for people who are disabled or have mobility problems as they are the most in need of improvements.