Important Things You Have To Know Before Buying A Home

Finally I decided to make the big step of buying a home, I might be among the last of my friends and colleagues to do it. After being constantly discouraged by the market, I managed to find a place that made me sell my sole to the devil aka the bank. Since this is a pretty big decision, here are a few of the lessons that I’ve learned from my experience.

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1. Never rush!

A few years back everybody around me was buying a house, they all encouraged me to do the same, to invest my money, to own a place. Well….. I am very happy I didn’t listen to them! Even if the market might’ve been lower a few years back, the fact that 3 years ago I decided to pack my bags and move to a different city would have never happen. Also the fact that right now I am not buying that house alone made a huge difference. Just because everyone is doing it doesn’t mean you should also.

2. Know your limits

When shopping for  a house or an apartment it’s easy to lose focus. The pretty ones might steal your eyes and you might want to go a little bit higher just because of the “Instagram” ready look, but you have to know your limit! Especially if you depend on a bank for the money. Before you start searching do the math, find out exactly what is the price range and look ONLY in that range. Yes that 1 million dollar house looks amazing, but if you cannot afford it’s just wasted time.

3. Do the full math

Let’s say that you already know the price you are willing or able to pay, now it’s time to see the real costs. Even if the installment looks like something you can work with, try that for at least three consecutive months, see how that goes, is that something you are comfortable with? If not try to decrease the amount until you do, you need to still be able to enjoy life and afford stuff, that house will frustrate you really fast if all your money goes into it.

4. Try to see the big picture

By now you should know what is the price range and what you can afford to spend on a property, so it’s time to search. Either if you are depending on an agent or you are doing this yourself, make sure you look past the nice furniture! It might sound crazy but the most polished places I’ve seen were either very small or not well positioned.

In this area some little help might be needed, the best person would be someone who has nothing to gain from telling you what to look for ( a parent, someone with real estate experience etc.). You need to know what will bring you the most value for your money, also you need to know what you are willing to sacrifice. For me the most important things were the location and the size of the apartment, I wanted to be able to get around the city fast and but also have enough space for me, my boyfriend and my two cats. I had to sacrifice the neighborhood and the lack of parking space for a price that I could afford.

5. Don’t rush (again!)

Buying a place might take months and it should! You need to see what you don’t want in order to buy what you do want. Even if it’s frustrating AF to see a place and not get it, or have someone else take it right in front of you, you need to have patience, good things don’t happen overnight. I’ve seen people looking for years before actually making the purchase, so no worries, it will happen.

Buying a house was a huge step for me, even now that I am a few weeks before moving, I still cannot believe that I finally did it. Might not be the place I’ve always dreamed of, but it is definitely a great place to start and I already have a plan of reimbursing the money ahead of time so that I can get that one of my back.

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Traveling: Unlocking Malta

I have been dreaming to see the little island for a while now and since there was a direct flight from my hometown, I decided to squeeze the city break into this year, even if it would be in October. Not everything went accordingly to my plans, but looking back I have to say that Malta has a charm of its own.IMG_5982

For those of you who don’t know this, Malta is a country located in the Mediterranean sea, close to Seychelles, Italy, and Tunis. It’s capital Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it has so many influences from all over the world that it created its own culture from the mix.

What made Malta so famous? Apart from its financial laws that attracted many rich people, it’s the gorgeous landscapes and water. It even inspired the directors from Game of Thrones and many others to film in this amazing location. And yes the Azure Window is collapsed, but even so, the sightseeing from Gozo is absolutely gorgeous.

Even if October is usually a pretty good time to visit, since the temperature is nice and the water is warm, I wasn’t so lucky. I got to Malta on Friday afternoon, when it was sunny and warm, but in the 2 full days that we had there, it rained cats and dogs. The boats didn’t leave the harbor and I wasn’t able to get to probably the most famous place from there, the Blue Lagoon. Luckily we were able to do the other items from the list: Valletta, Sliema port, and Gozo.

As usual, I got a flight from WizzAir and paid around 120 euros for 2 round trip tickets, we landed at the only airport in Malta and got around the island with the public transport. Even if the island is so small, the buses rout usually check a lot of places, we ended up making around 1.5 hours for 12km, so make sure you keep this in mind when you schedule the itinerary. You can pay directly on the bus or buy a card, for one trip the cost is around 1.5 euros, the card is around 15 euros for 12 trips, so the prices are more or less the same.

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After making a bit of investigation we decided to go with a hotel in Sliema and we used Booking to purchase it. Hotel Europa is placed across from the beach and if you are lucky enough you can get a sea view room, I wasn’t, yet the hotel was decent and the breakfast was good, it had a great value given the price of 230 euros for 3 nights. When choosing the location make sure it is close to shops, the harbor and public transport, unfortunately, Airbnb didn’t have a great offer for Malta and the prices were higher for studios or even shared apartments than it was for hotels.

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Malta’s second national language is English so that makes thing easier when it comes to communicating, I have to give this as a big plus, I was able to talk to the bus drivers to tell me where to get off the bus, or what route to take. Same goes for restaurants and shops.

One of the first misfortune to have in Malta was the fact that the Revolut card is not working with BOV (Bank of Valletta), when I wanted to pay at the hotel the money got windrow, the transaction left pending and the POS rejected it, in about half an hour we got our money back, but it was pretty unpleasant to have to pay everywhere cash. If you own such a card, mine is a Visa, make sure to have a backup card or enough money in cash, to save yourself the trouble.

Since we had such limited time to spend there we went and purchased the boat tickets for Blue Lagoon and Gozo, full day with open bar for 70 euros. Unfortunately because of the rain we had to exchange the tickets for the sightseeing bus in Gozo, cannot say that I regret it, since it was a nice trip, yet missing out on the Blue Lagoon made me realize that October might not be the best time to visit any country from Europe since the chance of rain is a high one. And to make things even more frustrating, before leaving for the airport the weather was amazing, sunny, people were swimming and the boats were leaving for the lagoon.

Most of the food I eat there was with Italian influence, but cannot say it was a remarkable one as I had in Italy. If you are a fan of the rabbit ( I am not, for me it’s as if I am eating a cat), then you will find a lot of places that serve it.

If you plan on booking a trip to this place, I recommend you do it in the summertime and if swimming is on your list make sure to bring water shoes since the shore is a rocky one. Also, don’t get impressed by the marketing that is made for the Aquarium, it might be a fun place to stop with the kids, otherwise you will spend more time in the line waiting to get in, than in the place itself.

Even if I didn’t manage to check everything from my list, I am not sure if I would return to this place. It definitely has its charm, yet it’s buildings with the neglected facades, the trash that was left on the streets, the holes from the grounds that were everywhere, wasn’t my cup of tea.  I would have to admit that the weather did play a big role in the fact that Malta didn’t impress me as much as Greece did, so I am trying to keep an open mind about this, who knows maybe I will return one day just for the blue water.

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Who Is Really Punished?

Today as I drove home another car almost hit me, I honked and the driver screamed something at me, naturally I did the same though we couldn’t hear one other we were both obviously very angry. The colleague that was in the car asked me if I would be mad if I had 1milion dollars and someone stole 5$, I told him that probably not. Then he asked me why did I let that man get me angry, those were 10 seconds from my day and yet I let it get to me. This got me thinking, why do we let 10 seconds ruin our mojo?

We live in a crazy world, we are in the century of speed and we don’t want to have anything in our way. If something as small as a hole in the ground happens we get angry and we want to punish those who did as wrong. But are we really punishing them or us?

A few weeks ago my best friend gave me this article, and even if it made sense at the time, it took my colleague’s remark to really understand it. We let other people take our time, without even realizing we are letting them win and we are giving them the power by not being able to let it go. To get to work it takes me around 10 to 15 minutes, the same for coming back, even in the most crazy traffic with the slowest drivers it will not be more than 25 minutes. So why let an idiot ruin my perfectly fine evening with his misbehavior?

We get easily affected by small and unimportant events, we then let them stay rent free in out minds for so long, thinking of ways we can make them suffer, get our revenge. In the end we only lose our health over nothing. Our lives are so easy that we afford to be disturbed by the lowest sound, when we should be appreciative of what we got.

Solo Traveling: Why You Should Do It At Least Once!

As a woman, I am very happy to see a change in the old-fashioned mindset that says we are not made to do things on our own like men do it. We are very much capable of taking care of ourselves, so why not travel alone?

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If seeing a man traveling alone is not strange or out of the ordinary, the same cannot be said about a woman who is doing this, but the millennial generation might be the one to finally break the pattern and show the world women can be solo travelers and can be even more successful than man are. So why don’t we see the number go sky-high? Is it more dangerous for us? Or are we just too afraid to go out of our comfort zone? My money is on the last one.

When I first started working, I received a project that required me to move to The Netherlands for 3 months. All my friends and colleagues keep on asking me if I wasn’t afraid and if I was comfortable with being alone for such a long period. Truth being said, I was terrified by the fact that I would be all alone in a foreign place and not speak Dutch, yet I kept on reassuring everyone that I will be OK. In the end, it was the best thing that could happen to me, because I got the chance to learn so many things about myself.  I became the self-independent woman that I always dreamed of being, I had enough time to rethink all my life, attitude and plans and it also gave me the confidence to do everything on my own.

In the time spent in Rotterdam I got to eat alone in a restaurant and not feel bad about it, read in the park or in a coffee shop, write in a coffee shop, visit a new city on my own, drive in a different country, go shopping alone, meet new people and have small talk. I learned that I don’t need someone else to survive and that I will always have me to count on. The experience started out as a terrifying one, with me being afraid to leave the hotel room, taking the wrong subway and eating only from the supermarket, but ended up with a new me, a more confident and happy version of myself.

I will not lie to you and say that I would like to have more experiences like this, I love to travel with my partner and my friends, but I am not afraid of doing this on my own either. It is this type of experience that teaches you what are your strengths and reassures you that you are able to take care of yourself, you don’t depend on anyone to survive.

Clearly if you decide on doing this make sure you travel in a safe manner, it doesn’t matter if you are a woman or a man, you should always make sure you take all the necessary measures to travel risk-free. Also, make sure you oblige the countries rules, there might be places where as a woman you must be accompanied by a man all the times, so plan ahead.

As kids, we are told so many lies and we learn to accept them as general things without questioning. Women are not weak and don’t need Prince Charming to save them from the big and mean world, they are very much capable of taking care of themselves. Having the experience to travel alone should be on everyone’s bucket-list since it will teach a valuable lesson, that you have all it takes to be independent so embrace the challenge and book the trip, you will definitely not regret it.

About Happiness

Our expectation in life is to be happy, or so does anyone say these days if you ask them what they what to have in life. So the desire to be happy is what is driving people to keep on going, unfortunately, most of us will never reach that nirvana, since there isn’t a place or time when we will just stop and be happy. Why? Because we don’t define it correctly, so what is happiness?

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I will start the list with what happiness is not since I believe we first need to see where we are failing so that we can find a way to succeed, and only after will I describe what happiness is for me.

1. It has nothing to do with money.

There was a meme that got shared a lot on social media, that stated that is better to cry in a Ferrari than on a bicycle, yet Denmark is here to prove us wrong since it’s in top 3 countries to live in and Copenhagen is rated the most bicycle-friendly city. So it looks like it’s better to work out on a bicycle than stay overweight in a car, whatever label it is. Having money has nothing to do with being happy, the wealthiest people I know are obsessed with making more since they are afraid of not having enough.

2. It has nothing to do with material things

We live in a consumerist economy that teaches us that happiness is directly liked to the things we own. In order to be happy, we NEED that new phone, that new SUV and we absolutely need that designer bag, we are failures if we don’t have to dress in the latest fashion. The worst thing is that we start to think like this, we tell ourselves that  we would be so happy if we could afford that 3 bedroom apartment, even if we would be the only person to live it in, that we would feel so good if we could replace that the car with the latest BMW, even if it still works fine. What we fail to see is that the more things we gather around us, the more pressure we put on us to maintain those things, so the more dissatisfied with our life we become.

3. It has nothing to do with beauty

If you haven’t yet seen Model Squad series from E!, then you have missed nothing, yet this show is all about the “glamorous life” of models. Yet even the most beautiful women of Earth, that walk Victoria’s Secret runway are told that they are to fat or too skinny to take up projects. Even these women have insecurities and are self-aware of their beauty. From what I was able to get from the show, they are not the happiest people and their life is not as fancy as it sounds. Linking beauty and the XXS size to happiness is only another myth.

4. It’s about mental and physical health

Reality is created by each and every one of us in our brains. If two people would describe the same experience, chances are they would see it in a completely different way. Taking care of your health is one of the most important things, your body needs to function in a correct way in order to feel good. Just imagine the moment you are down with a severe cold or a nasty headache, would you be able to feel happy about seeing a beautiful sunrise?

Sometimes we have to lose our health in order to fully appreciate it and to start taking care of ourselves, but trust me when I say that you need it if you want to experience happiness and well-being.

5. It’s about the ability to forgive

Holding grudges might be more harmful than you think, some studies even linked to getting fat. Betrayal is never a pleasant experience, yet it is up to us how much we let it affect us. Whenever you feel like you are incapable of forgiving someone, remember that it is possible that you also hurt or betrayed someone, we are humans and we make mistakes and that is why we need to try to be the bigger person and put it behind us. Resentment is opposite to happiness, so try to eliminate this from your life.

6. It’s about the power of letting go

Sometimes people leave us, other times we lose them, life is not fair and it’s not easy, some events cannot be prevented and time cannot be turned back, so we need to make peace with the past in order to enjoy the present. Letting go might be even more painful than forgiving someone, but it’s necessary to be relieved from the ghosts. The good memories will always be there and you should hold on to those, but the rest needs to be released.

7. It’s about appreciating what you have

One of my favorite songs as a kid was Sheryl Crow – Soak Up The Sun and it’s lyrics got stuck in my brain: “It’s not having what you want / It’s wanting what you’ve got”. If you are able to read this, then you have access to the internet and you have a computer, most likely you are not hungry and you have a roof over your head, this is more than most of the people from the planet have. Getting mad over the waiting line at Zara, or the misspelled name from Starbucks or the wrong order from whatever restaurant is not worth it. Imagine your life without water, in a war zone or with a terminal phase disease, I hope by now you start appreciating all the great things from your life because you are among those who won the life lottery.

8. It’s about the journey

Making a dream come true is an amazing feeling, but so is working to make it happen, every step of the way is a reason to be proud and … happy! There is no final destination, there is always the next dream, the next great thing, so you need to start taking pleasure in the current journey.

9. It’s about living the moment

Concern about what the future will bring us, regretting the things we did in the past, we forget to live the only moment we have, and that is the present. There is no time machine, we will never know what is to come and we cannot change what was done, but we can do something about the current moment. Tomorrow should not be taken for granted, so make the most of today.

10. It’s all about love

Whether is the love you have for your body, for the people around you, for the world around you or just for life, all comes back to the love you are putting out there. Happy people are the ones that smile to the world, that embrace human connection, that is constantly in love with life. It all circles back to love, whatever you do, there is no happiness that you can achieve by yourself.

If you got all the way to this point, I hope you understood that you are happy and your life is a happy one, you just have to realize it. Happiness will never be a constant state, there will always be ups and downs, there is no such thing as a constant happy life, it’s just a normal life, one where you take advantage of what it has to offer. So whenever you find yourself wishing for that happy state, just have a look around, there is a huge chance it’s already good.

It’s OK to do Nothing Every Once in a While

I am not sure about you guys, but for me to take a whole weekend to do nothing seems almost impossible, there is always something that I need to do, travel somewhere new, travel to my hometown, write an article, something to do on the freelance job that I have or to gather the information I need for the courses I want to do. If these don’t fill out the weekend than doing the housework definitely do. Or at least this was until last weekend when I decided to do absolutely nothing.

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For a hyperactive person as me, it is important to be busy all the time, to have something on the agenda and to have the day planned. At work I like to organize what I have to do for the day and check each item as soon as it is done, I even do this with the days from the calendar. The same goes for when I am home, I like to plan the work that I need to do for freelance and then what I have to do for the blog, the at least one article per week rule. Having two cats these doesn’t allow me to postpone the cleaning day either, so that should also be on the list and since I am always saving for something (travel, house, gadgets, etc.) I need to do the cooking every once in a while as well.

Since I work a 9 to 6 job, most of the stuff that I need to do outside work happens during the weekend. But even with the amount of work that I had pilled up, this weekend I decided it will be all to myself. Do nothing all day, enjoy the morning coffee, go out to the mall, do some shopping, eat out and then get some more coffee. And what goes perfectly with this? Well, buying some new books! Such a perfect day can only be ended with a good movie and some time spent with friends. But only to start again with doing nothing in the morning. Overall an unproductive weekend that boosted the batteries for the week to come.

If at first, I felt guilty for doing nothing for two days, and even worst when I knew that I have stuff that requires my attention, but somehow it felt good to break the pattern every once in a while. Even if the tasks still needed to be done, the weekend manages to make me understand why it’s healthy to be lazy and how postponing work can make you more productive. Unlikely that I can have 2 weekends in a row like this, but my appetite for doing nothing increased and now I am planning my next escape from the responsible me.

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Creating a habit out of doing nothing might not be the best idea, especially if you are still young and want to get as much as possible out of your time, but neither is having your agenda full all the time. Always thought that I should wait to go on that spa to relax, but found out that I can have just as much my alone time in my own town and apartment.

Book Review: A World Worth Seeing by Brian Nelson

How to better start autumn than with a traveler’s journal? If you ever wondered what it would be to quit your job and go see the world, then you found exactly the book you were looking for!

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A World Worth Seeing is the type of book that will make you want to get on a plane to your dream destination and never return to your mundane living. It might sound idyllic, but as the author is describing easier than it sounds. Narrated in a friendly manner you will be taken on a journey across the globe, with personal notes on each visited destination and photos of the iconic attractions. Even if you are among those who didn’t think travelling is for them, you might experience a change of heart just as you turn the last page.

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In the first chapter you will learn more about Brian’s life and how he ended up making the decision to leave America and go see the world, along with some very important information related to travelling, from visas to safety measures, costs, languages, weather and ways of sustaining yourself when you are abroad and you have to work for your next meal. You will also find tips and tricks for different parts of the world, like never getting your passport stamped in Israel since you will be denied entering other Muslim countries, or the type of vaccines you need to have before traveling to Africa, or even where to exchange money so that you get the best rate in Myanmar. Answers to questions you didn’t even know you have to ask are present in this first chapter entitled Vacation 101.

The next 5 chapters will be divided by each continent and contain the itinerary Brian took to check all major attractions from North and South America, Australia and the Pacific Islands, Europe, Asia, and the Middle East and Africa. I have to say that I would have loved for him to go a little bit deeper with the description of each place he visited, but given the huge amount of cities that would have to take us a while to be able to finish reading.

As I read about places that I also checked I smiled and saw them once again but this time from a different perspective and part of an itinerary. Small dots on a map that are holding so many memories, some that happened and some that are waiting to happen. Creating a map is not always easy, neither is knowing what to expect when you get there, so reading about the alternatives are always welcome. I love the fact that now I have a roadmap of all the countries from each continent, not to mention inside information about locations that are not so easy to reach, for example North Korea, Venezuela, Columbia, Cambodia or Kenya, places that I never thought I would be interested in, are now part of my “master plan” as well.

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Travelling the world is on the bucket list of many of us, unfortunately not all have the courage to give it all up and live the dream, some of us are still influenced by the media and never get to leave their home country because “it is not safe out there”, failing to see that the danger is leaving inside their own mind. Reading the adventure of a traveller that is not doing this for the media, or to get money from advertising, is the best feedback about the world you can get, to see each country through his eyes makes you realize how lucky you are to be borne on a place like Earth. As the author finishes his book you are warned: “World travel can be addictive“, but this type of drug is exactly what we need to feel alive.