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Renting A Room For Extra Income

Renting a room? I wish I had thought of it sooner, but one day many years ago I finally gave it a try. I had a thee-bedroom mobile home on small piece of property, and I soon found that it was easy to rent out not one, but both other bedrooms. I suddenly had thousands of dollars extra each year.

Many towns with high rent have a high demand for rooms. Single people share apartments with others, and inevitably have problems with splitting bills, what to do if one is late with their share of the rent, who made which phone calls, etc. When they see a room for in a nice home, with everything from local cals to cable TV included in the rent, they love the idea.

Renting A Room – The How To

Always include everything in the rent. You’ll avoid arguments about who owes what for utilities, or who watches the cable TV more. Cancel long distance, get a phone card, and just have local service. When utilities get too high, raise the rent. Just don’t be tempted into “share” arrangements for anything.

While others were fighting with landlords and roommate-friends, my renters stayed for years. They had no household bills to pay, and no money issues for us to argue about. They payed weekly or bi-weekly, according to their paydays, so they wouldn’t even have to budget for monthly rent.

Regulations in some places that prevent renting a rooms are rarely enforced, and are being legaly challenged more and more. It’s tough to justify a system that allows parents with ten kids to live in a house, while discriminating against a household of three or four – just because they are unrelated.

Look at the ads in the paper to determine what you can get for a room in your area. If there are several ads, renting rooms is probably common, and you’ll be able to get numerous calls off of a two-day ad. Weekends seem to be the best time to run your ads.

How do you choose a renter? Use your intuition, and have a list of questions to ask. Take notes. Where does he/she work? What is there phone number? What family can you call in an emergency?

You have to decide what you want for house rules, and be clear about what they are to avoid any issues. I personally won’t allow pets, smoking in the house, or late-night noise. Everyone does their own dishes, and keeps any mess in their rooms.

Potential Profits

When I lived in Traverse City, Michigan, you could get $100/week for a room in a decent house there. With two rooms rented, that would be $10,400 per year. This is mostly profit, since household bills don’t go up much with two more people in the house. If you don’t mind the company, that’s a lot of cash for renting a room or two.

Why Room Rentals?

Room rentals? Why would you want to make your home into a boarding house? Maybe you shouldn’t. I enjoyed having people living in my house, and most of them became friends. On the other hand, you might not like that arrangement. I hated being a landlord when I owned rentals that were not my home. Each of us is different.

Consider Your Room Rental Options

You don’t necessarily have to live with the room-renters, so consider all the options available. You could do any of the following:

1. Rent rooms in your own home and share common space with the renters. This is what I did for several years when I was single, and it worked fine for me.

2. Partition your home so you can rent rooms without sharing common space.You’ll need at least two bathrooms, and separate entrances to make this work.

3. Add an efficiency apartment for yourself, so you can have privacy, perhaps still sharing a laundry room with the renters. This is what we did when I married. It also opened up one my previous bedroom, increasing the rental income enough to pay for the new apartment in less than a year.

4. Buy a house just to rent it out by the room. This can be an excellent way to get cash flow out of homes that might not otherwise be such good investments.

5. Sublet a room in the apartment you rent. If this is okay with the landlord, it can be a way to afford a nicer apartment, or to get past financial hard times.

6. Use room rentals as a way to afford a house payment. If you are having trouble buying a home because you can’t afford the payments, you can buy a home with extra rooms and rent them out.

Consider The Money In Renting Rooms

The amount you can charge for rent will vary greatly in different parts of the country. Here is what I charged renting rooms in a mobile home in a small town in northern Michigan (a few years ago):

Small Bedroom: $65 per week times 52 weeks equals $3380 per year.

Medium Bedroom : $75 per week times 52 weeks equals $3900 per year.

Large Bedroom : $85 per week times 52 weeks equals $4420 per year.

Potential Annual Income (I had a couple weeks vacancy now and then): $11,700 per year.

This was a home that I lived in, remember. I included all utilities in the rent, and I tracked my expenses closely. Including repairs to the heating system, the refrigerator and roof, as well as utilities, garbage collection, cable television, local phone service, property taxes and insurance, my costs the last year I had the house were $3,900 (I had already paid off the $253/month mortgage).

How do you figure profit when you live in the home? Renting rooms in my home probably added $300 or so to the annual costs. Heating was almost the same cost, as was garbage collection, taxes, insurance, cable television, and phone service. A little more wear and tear and a bit more electricity were the only real additional costs. In other words, almost all the extra income was profit. Or if you want to look at it another way, I lived for free and had $7800 income from the home I lived in.

Do you want to have thousands of dollars of extra income every year? What would you do with that money? Think about that, and you have the answer to why you should rent rooms.

It’s A High Price To Live In The City

In any city where the majority of people are renters, the projected rise of a 5% increase in rent is anything but good news.

Over 61% of households in Los Angeles are inhabited by renters; one of the highest rates in the country. Under the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance (which limits annual rent increases to about 3%, as long as the same tenants are in the unit) tenants have some protection. However, this law only applies to housing built prior to 1979 (when the Ordinance came into effect); an ever-shrinking housing stock in this city.

As the increase in rent skyrockets, Landlords are motivated to get rid of longtime tenants paying below-market rent. Landlords cite they have been hit with significant increases in real estate taxes, and rising fuel costs, and deserve compensation.

Owning a rental investment property hasn’t always been so profitable for Landlords. In fact, between 2000-2004, rents were not being increased because most tenants were vacating rental properties to buy houses or condos (300,000 apartments were converted to condos for sale during this time in Los Angeles).

This home-buying frenzy spurned investors to purchase an abundance of condos in cities like Miami, San Diego, and Las Vegas, hoping to flip them for a quick profit. However, a majority of these properties have been empty since the market faltered, and investors are now seeking tenants to help pay the mortgage.

Unfortunately, rent increases seem set to rise in the majority of markets, nationwide, and it seems that this trend is likely to continue for at least 3 years. Even with the expected 4% increase in paychecks this year, it is becoming increasingly difficult for most tenants to save enough money to buy a home; rents are rising because the payment gap between renting and owning remains wide.

So, if you are looking for a change of scenery, and are frustrated with the expense of finding a decently-priced rental in Los Angeles, then Miami, San Diego, and Las Vegas should be considerations on your relocation list. Not only are the rental prices affordable, but you also have the opportunity to purchase a property for a reasonable amount.

With rents scheduled to rise 14% higher than what they were in 2004, what hope is there to bridge the ever-widening gap between the haves and the have nots.

Sell Your House And Rent It Back Today

Are unpaid bills, medical expenses or lack of employment, or a cut in your wages threatening your home with repossession and foreclosure? Due to circumstances beyond their control, losing one’s home happens to even the best, most hardworking people. With more homeowners in greater debt than ever before, the rate of residential property repossessions and foreclosures is skyrocketing.

The thought that you may lose your home is anyone’s nightmare. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to stop the repossession and eviction process. One way to remain in your home is to sell your house and rent it back.

Here is how it works: contact a repossession rental specialist, who can stop repossession proceedings, then help you Eliminate debt problems by selling house for cash in days. You can use this instant cash to pay off your debts and become financially solvent while remaining in your home and paying a single low monthly rent payment to the repossession rental specialist company.

As soon as your financial position improves and you are maintaining a steady source of income, you may arrange to re-purchase your home through contacting this company. The price for such an arrangement can be fixed at the outset, allowing you to plan the buy-back. No taxes, fees or annual interest are applied. It’s as easy as paying rent in a timely manner and buying your property back once you are ready.

You might think this is unrealistic. This is not the case. Here is an easy way to visualize what’s going on: you are merely passing your mortgage off temporarily to a repossession rental specialist. When you’re ready to have it back you can. The specialist gets a cut of the monthly rent payment, and you earn time to pay off debts and build financial resources. “Sell your house and rent it back” is a financially beneficial strategy for everyone involved.

To learn about this new opportunity to avoid repossession, you should consider getting in touch with a repossession rental specialist without delay. This option is viable for many homeowners, but not all of them. If you want to live in your own home, are willing to organize your finances, and become debt-free, selling your house and renting it can prevent you from more serious financial consequences.

New data indicates that the rate of home repossessions and foreclosures is going up, with a growing number of people dealing with serious debt. There is something you need to know: Stop repossesion and eviction from your own home. Contact a repossession rental specialist, who can stop repossession proceedings, then help you Eliminate debt problems by selling house for cash in days. You can use this instant cash to pay off your debts. Once you recovered, you can simply contact the company and re-purchase your home. Sell your house and rent it back can be a profitable solution for all parties involved.

Renting Furniture As A Practical Option

High prices of furniture and office equipment are the most common obstacles any start up or home-base business face. With the current trend of setting up home businesses, it is still important to maintain a degree of functionality and professional appeal to your home office. After all, clients might want to meet with you at your office and you surely don’t want them to see you slump in your kitchen chair. They may not want to close deals on the counter top or the kitchen table. They surely cannot wait until your city office has been fully set-up and furnished. Buying furniture is only a practical option if you intend to keep your business at home forever. But if you’re waiting for the set up of your true office and want to keep doing business at home for the meantime you might want to try furniture rentals, furniture leasing, and equipment rentals.

There are certain advantages to furniture rentals, furniture leasing, and equipment rentals. First, no large payments. You get to minimize expenditures if you only plan to rent the item for short periods. This is an especially good option for renting audio-visual equipments for home presentations or an extra computer while yours is still being fixed. Also, you can use top quality equipment for minimum rent. A high grade equipment which you could not normally afford for your own office can be rented for a fraction of its cost for a period of time. Second, you have the unlimited access to the machine or furniture for the period you rent it. You don’t have to worry about moving it in with you come relocation time or finding a buyer that can give you a good deal. Third, business usually get easier credit for renting or leasing an equipment than for purchasing it. Because the financing company or leasing company maintains the ownership of your furniture or equipment, there is a lower need for additional forms of security. This translates to higher acceptance rates.

When you consider buying larger articles for furniture or office equipment you risk incurring payments or loans amounting to thousands of dollars. This will put a huge dent on your credit limit. With the proliferation of furniture rentals, furniture leasing, and equipment rental shops in the market and online, renting or leasing furniture and equipment is a viable and practical option.

Vehicle Financing Explained

Financing a vehicle is something that most people will have to do once, twice, or several times throughout the course of their lives. There are a few different ways that one can go about vehicle financing and those include:

• Vehicle Leasing
• Vehicle Loans

Both of these have their benefits and draw backs, and must be thoroughly considered prior to making any sort of decision. Either way you choose one thing that will remain the same is the fact that both will affect your overall income for several years to come. You will be required to fill out an application for credit, that will be used to determine rather or not you are eligible for financing, if you have a good credit score this could be easy, if not you may have difficulty finding financing for a vehicle. Typically the financing option will last anywhere between 3 to 5 years depending upon the amount of the loan, and your payment arrangements.

Leasing a vehicle is completely different and has a variety of aspects that make it typically appealing to the average consumer. Some of the key appealing points in leasing include:

• Lower monthly payments
• Lower down payments
• Lower costs of maintenance

By leasing a vehicle, you will be gaining a vehicle with less money all the way around. Typically leasing a vehicle is cheaper than obtaining financing for one, and you will have a longer warranty than you would outright purchasing a vehicle. This could prove beneficial if the car ever malfunctions mechanically or otherwise. It is well known that when a car breaks down or any part of the vehicle malfunctions it could be extremely detrimental to the consumer as well as their pocketbook. With this type of warranty many items will be covered that would not generally be covered under a financing option.

The ultimate choice is yours financing versus leasing, it is all the matter of doing some extensive investigation and figuring out which option works the best with you and your financial situation. If you have no credit or bad credit, you will likely have to speak to a lender that specializes in these types of situations, there are many ways that even with a bad credit score that you can obtain the financing you need to obtain a reliable vehicle at a price you can afford.

Make Money As A Slumlord

Be a slumlord? Okay, I got your attention, now the truth. I really don’t recommend that anyone endanger their renters with unsafe housing. Much of what people call slumlording though, is simply providing reasonable housing for those with low incomes. It is of benefit to the renter AND the landlord.

Why Do People Rent Dumps?

People rent not-so-nice places because they can afford to. A house that needs paint, has old rusty hinges on the doors, and a dirt driveway – this is a house that cost less to buy, and therefore can be rented for less. Anything major that the landlord does to improve it will result in higher rents, and possibly drive the renter away.

In fact, this often happens. A few years ago my own town enacted its first rental regulations. The fifteen pages of new rules included many non-safety-related requirements, like a minimum of windows, to allow natural lighting, bedroom square-footage requirements, and no peeling paint.

These things are done in the name of low income renters, and yet the result is always the same: higher rent. With that and the regulations against mobiles homes, low income families are moving further away from town and jobs. I mention all this to let you know that if you offer an ugly, but safe and affordable rental, you are providing a real service.

Why Invest In Low Income Housing?

If a nice two bedroom house in a small town costs $130,000 and rents for $800, an old mobile home on a lot will probably cost $45,000 and rent for $500. Notice that the house costs almost three times as much, but the rent you get isn’t even doubled. This means the mobile gives you MORE CASH FLOW. That is why old houses and mobile homes (on land) are such good investments.

It’s important to note that you’ll have more risk and management problems with low income housing. Repairs come up more often, and rent will be late more often, on average. This is why you deserve a higher rate of return. Otherwise, who would want to provide low-cost rentals?

Treat your renters well, and make your places safe. Do these things, and you can enjoy a good return on your investment – even if some want to call you a slumlord.

save money on holiday in Spain

Had a great holiday recently for a fraction of the normal price. There are plenty of ex pats now living in Spain who regularly let out their apartments and with flights being so cheap I saved a fortune. I found the apartment I stayed in, which was fantastic, at the following internet address.

The Apartment cost me just £200 per week and there was four of us! The flights from the UK were just £300 given the flew out late at night. So it was a holiday for 4 people costing a total of £500.
Often the apartments you rent are somebodies home and as such they are really well looked after, especially as many of the people who own them are now retired. Of course you are expected to look after them and a small breakages deposit was required. In any event I got my deposit of £50 back straight away after the holiday.

We stayed in Benalmadena which was fantastic, it has a great beach, excellent marina and apartments themselves had a pool with water slides.
I can honestly say that given the amount spent we had a great time and to be honest it put much more expensive holidays we have been on in the past to shame – I won’t be going back to a travel agent again!
Holiday maker on a budget

Buy Or Lease Your Next Automobile?

Leasing a luxury car imposes lower costs, generally comparable to the interest rate of financing a loan. However, if you terminate a lease early or default on a monthly lease payment, you can face major financial penalties and ruin your credit rating. The decision of whether to buy or lease a vehicle also depends on your unique lifestyle. If you drive many miles each year and don’t mind paying repair bills, you probably should purchase your car. If, on the other hand, you exceed the mileage limitation or if the car shows considerable wear and tear at the end of the lease, you may find yourself paying large end-of-lease costs.

When you are thinking about getting a new car, one question always comes up: is it better to buy or lease? There is, of course, no one single answer. Each choice has benefits and disadvantages, so the choice depends on your own particular personal and financial circumstances.

A key issue is affordability. Is your job situation stable? Are you in overall good financial shape? The short-term monthly expense associated with leasing a car is much lower than the monthly payments required when purchasing a vehicle. With leasing, you pay only for the part of the vehicle’s cost used during the period of time you drive it. If you have the cash on hand, and you can pay the down payment and sales taxes – either in cash or via a loan – as well as the interest rate buying a car gives you that feeling of ownership and may be the best financial option.

If you want to get your hands on a luxury car, but you can’t afford the initial costs associated with buying one, leasing is your best option. Leasing a luxury car imposes lower costs, generally comparable to the interest rate of financing a loan. However, if you terminate a lease early or default on a monthly lease payment, you could face major financial penalties and this could ruin your credit rating. Before you decide to lease, make sure you adjust your budget for the monthly lease payment for the duration of the contract.

The decision of whether to buy or lease a vehicle also depends on your unique lifestyle. What does it mean to you to own a car? Do you bond with your car, or do you like having something new? If you plan to drive a vehicle for more than five years, buying it – through careful negotiations – is probably your best bet. On the other hand, if you would rather drive a new car every two or three years, leasing is for you.

You should also consider your actual transportation needs. Think about how many miles per year you drive and how you handle car maintenance. If you drive many miles each year and don’t mind paying repair bills, you probably should purchase your car. With leasing, contracts are made with assumptions of limited mileage, typically between 12,000 to 15,000 miles driven per year, as well as considerations of wear-and-tear on the vehicle. If you can stay within the stated mileage limits and keep the automobile in good condition throughout the duration of your lease, leasing is a reasonable option. However, if you exceed the mileage limitation or if the car shows considerable wear and tear at the end of the lease, you may find yourself paying large end-of-lease costs.

Houston First Mortgages

Planning for a new home, new property and other finances for the first time is not only a question of gathering money– it is a building a dream to create heaven for you and your loved ones. Though it is a hard fact that getting a mortgage loan is always a question of liability.

Houston based first time home mortgage companies offer easy solutions for those who are mortgaging for the first time.

They welcome first time homebuyers by offering programs to help you first-time homeowners by the home of their dreams. With their help you may qualify for low interest rates and reduced tax rates through the Housing Finance Agency (HFA) and the Mortgage Credit Certificate (MCC) program can help with reduced taxes. There are also low down payment loans available to qualified first time buyers and many more options.

Most Houston mortgage lenders offer first time buyers many loan options and assist the buyer in finding the best loan for them. For The Federal government has developed two loan programs to assist homebuyers that have a little or no down payment. These programs are called the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and the Veteran’s Administration (VA). These programs are not solely intended for first time buyers, and your loan advisor will be able to determine if you qualify for either program. FHA and VA loans can be especially advantageous when combined with a HFA or MCC first time buyer program.

First time buyer programs are designed to help borrowers who may not have enough money to pay the full cost of the down payment or the closing costs on a mortgage. These programs make obtaining a mortgage more cost effective.

Review of Blockbusters New: Online Movie Rental Service

Yes there really just giving it away. You probably know what I’m talking about its call Total Access. And as of November 1, Blockbuster Online subscribers can now bring in there online rentals and exchange them for an in-store rental free of charge.

Available Plans:

Blockbuster Online offers the following membership plans:

$5.99 per month – 1 DVD out at a time, 2 Rent(s) a month, Return online or in-store FREE – in-store game rental

$9.99 per month – offers unlimited DVD rentals and allows 1 movie rental at a time

$11.99 per month – offers 4 DVD rentals a month and allows for 2 movie rentals at a time

$17.99 per month – offers unlimited DVD rentals and allows for 3 movie rentals at a time

$23.99 per month – 4 DVDs out at a time, Unlimited rentals, Return online or in-store, FREE – in-store game rental

One thing we didn’t like about Blockbuster Online Movie rental Service plans—even though there is no penalty for returning movies late, the in-store rentals comes with a “date to be returned by.” But they have the no late fee policy; there is a 7 day grace period. This gives me plenty of time to watch all the movies before my next ones come in the mail.

Extra’s Bonus:
Once you have watched your online movie rental servicefrom Blockbuster Online, bring them to your local participating Blockbuster store. Keep your DVDs from Blockbuster Online with you until you’re ready to check out. And when you return them to the local store, that triggers the next rental on your queue and blockbuster sends you the next one.

Blockbuster Online is one of the best online movie rental service around, offering a wide selection of movies and games that are easy to find with the excellent online title search capabilities. If you’re a gaming enthusiast or are looking for an online movie rental service that allows you eight rental choices at once, then Blockbuster Online is the service for you. Also getting a free movie/game just for trying out there free two week trail is always a bonus

The Birth Of Eskimo Inuit Art Prints

Unlike Inuit sculpture, art prints from the Canadian Arctic are a twentieth century innovation in Inuit Eskimo art. One of the most significant events that happened during the development of contemporary Inuit art was when Canadian James Houston taught the Inuit to make art prints by incising designs into linoleum tiles, stone blocks and stencils from sealskins. He had previously studied printmaking in Japan since the Japanese were considered innovators in this art process.
One day in 1957, Houston met up with a local Inuit art carver by the name of Osuitok Ipeelee in Cape Dorset. Ipeelee had been studying the identical printed images of a sailor’s head on two cigarette packages he had. Houston demonstrated the process of printmaking to the Inuit carver by rubbing ink onto one of Ipeelee’s ivory tusk carvings and made an impression of it on a piece of toilet paper. Upon seeing the resulting graphic, the Inuit artist said, “We could do that.” This resulted in the birth of Eskimo Inuit art prints.
The Cape Dorset Inuit artists soon integrated the new print making methods into their Inuit art and by 1960, their printmaking was a growing business. Eskimo Inuit art prints by early artists such as Pitseolak Ashoona and Jamasie Teevee became much sought after artwork. Because of the success of Cape Dorset, other Inuit communities were encouraged to follow its example. So in addition to Inuit sculpture, art prints became another form of Eskimo Inuit art that found commercial success. Cape Dorset has an annual release of Inuit art prints each year and often sell out. Another Inuit community known for their Inuit art prints is Holman.

Getting Your Security Deposit Back

For many renters the subject of the security deposit is somewhat of a touchy subject. Most renters assume they should receive their security deposit back in its entirety as long as there is no significant damage done to the apartment. However, this is rarely true as there are number of factors which contribute to whether or not the security deposit or a portion of the deposit will be returned to the renter when they vacate the premises.

Did You Do Any Major Damage?

Certainly doing major damage to the apartment such as putting holes in the walls, breaking appliances or tearing up the flooring may warrant the security deposit being kept but even in these cases the leasing agent must justify these costs. In other words the leasing agent cannot use one damaged item to justify keeping the whole security deposit. Rather the leasing agent is obliged to determine a cost to repair the item. If this estimate is large enough to justify not returning the security deposit the renter should be informed of the estimated cost of repairing the apartment.

Is Your Apartment Clean Enough?

All apartments should be cleaned thoroughly before the tenant vacates the property. This should include extensive cleaning of all rooms of the apartment including the bedrooms, bathrooms and any common areas. A cleaning should also include cleaning of all of the blinds in the apartment. Blinds can be rather difficult to clean and many leasing agents charge approximately $10 per blind if they deem there is a need to clean these items. This can add up rather quickly if there are a number of windows in the apartment.

Many leasing agents also perform a number of standard cleaning functions when any resident vacates the property. This may include items such as cleaning out the refrigerator, shampooing the carpet or repainting the walls. When these items are required, there is typically a fee associated with each item. In many cases, adding up these required fees results in a number which is likely already approaching the sum of the security deposit. Additionally, leasing agents often only allow for one hour of cleaning services to prepare an apartment for the next residents. This is rarely enough time to complete the work and therefore renters wind up being charged an additional fee at an hourly rate.

Have You Read Your Contract Documents?

Renters who want to have the greatest chance of having a large portion of their security deposit refunded to them should be very familiar with their contract documents. This is important while living in the apartment as well as while getting ready to vacate the apartment. It is important to be familiar with the contract terms while living in the apartment because it can prevent the renter from making decorating choices which are explicitly prohibited by the rental agreement. These types of decisions can be costly in the long run because they may result in the renter being assessed for perceived damages by the leasing agent.

Renters should also carefully review the contract documents as they are preparing to vacate the property. This is important because it may help the renter to clean and make repairs to the apartment in accordance to guidelines set forth by the leasing agent. Doing this will make it much more likely the renter will not be assessed exorbitant fees at the conclusion of the rental agreement.

Scuba diving Texas—a freshwater dive

Texas is a big state and people always associate this with Rodeos and cowboys. However, little is it known that there are also underwater adventure for those who want a cowboy marine adventure. With the many cities in Texas, so are the many dive sites in the place. But because of the Texas’s location, scuba diving Texas offers a different style, it’s diving in the freshwater lakes and ponds. It’s something not of the usual scuba diving adventure that most people think but rest assured, there’s something awaiting you under the Houston waters.

So, whether you’re in Austin, Waco, Houston, etc., there’s a dive site waiting for you to drop by.

Since Houston is always the common or central location for people visiting the place, then, let’s see what it offers for the scuba divers and learn what scuba diving Texas style is.

Houston has The Reef, which is mostly of rock formations with a 28ft average depth. It’s actually a 20 acre lake that opens to all swimmers, fishermen, boaters, and divers. Though it’s more of a water park than a dive site, young or novice divers can practice diving here and still enjoy the freshwater fish, turtles, shellfish, etc. With plans of a major expansion of the artificial underwater habitats, more fishes would be staying and inhabiting in here. There’s also the Twin Lakes, which is 31 acres of lake water and is 50ft in depth. There are wreck dives too, five underwater boats and one bus, and stripers, catfish, turtles, etc. swim through these wrecks.

Though scuba diving Texas is not as exotic and extreme as the ones in the open seas, rest assured that for those first time divers, learning divers and unskilled divers, you’ll definitely enjoy an underwater swim with the freshwater creatures— and mind you, these sightings cannot be viewed by those swimming in the deep blue seas.

So, if you’re not that comfortable and confident yet to try out the wild marine adventure, and you are more of a relaxed diver, then, enjoy scuba diving Texas style. Texas is definitely not just for those who love the land and its animals, but it also has something for those who love the waters.

If you’re planning to spend a vacation or visit someone in Texas, don’t forget to say hello to the freshwater creatures of Texas, they may not be that wild and exotic but they are beautiful beings in their own environment. Scuba diving is definitely not only for the open seas.

2006 Houston Astros Preview

2005 Overview:

For the second straight year in a row, the Houston Astros overcame a horrible start and spotty offense to capture the National League wildcard. Houston rolled past the Cardinals en route to becoming National League Champions only to lose in a 4 game sweep to the World Champion Chicago White Sox.

Despite missing the first month of the season, slugger Lance Berkman (.293 24 82 RBI) was able to establish himself as one of the best power hitters in the game while 3rd baseman Morgan Ensberg (.283 36 101) also emerged as a prime time offensive force leading the team in HR (36), RBI (101), and slugging percentage (.557). The ageless wonder Craig Biggio (.264 26 69) joined Jason Lane (.267 26 78) and Mike Lamb (.236 12 53) to help complete the rest of the starting lineup.

On the pitching side, starter Roy Oswalt (20-12, 2.94 ERA) was able to combine strong power numbers with excellent control in 2005 while Andy Pettitte (17-9, 2.39 ERA) bounced back from an injury-ridden 2004 season to pitch over 220 innings. Roger Clemens (13-8 1.87) at the age of 44 still was able to post respectable numbers joining superstar reliever Brad Lidge (4-4 2.29 42 saves) to provide the Astros with a season ending 89-73 record.

Off Season Moves:

The Astros didn’t make too many moves in the off season only because they really didn’t need to. Their biggest acquisition was signing free agent Preston Wilson (.260, 25 90) who was picked up to help provide more offensive stability and potentially replace Bagwell (who may or may not return in 2006). Reliever Trever Miller (2-2 4.06) was also added to help an already strong bullpen.

2006 Analysis:

Much of the same faces will return in 2006 with Craig Biggio (94 Runs) and Willy Taveras, who led the team in stolen bases with 34 setting the table for the rest of the lineup. The Astros are hoping Tavares will learn to become more patient in his sophomore year and produce more walks. If Bagwell doesn’t come back full-time, Berkman will likely move over to 1B with the newly acquired Preston Wilson expected to play leftfield.

Roy Oswalt is expected to once again return as the ace of the staff after putting together back-to back 20 win seasons. 33-year-old Andy Pettitte has lost significant time to injuries in 2 of the last 4 seasons so the Astros are hoping he can be healthy for an entire 2006 campaign. Clemens is not expected to return and his regular season performance will be missed. He was not offered arbitration in the off season.

Houston is looking to their number 3 starter Brandon Backe (10-8, 4.76 ERA) to find more consistency in 2005. While Wandy Rodriguez (10-10, 5.53 ERA) and Ezequiel Astacio (3-6, 5.67 ERA) will remain the likely candidates as the fourth and fifth starters. With Brad Lidge, Chad Qualls, former Met Dan Wheeler, lefty Mike Gallo and newly signed Trever Miller, the Houston bullpen is deep and perhaps one of the best in all of baseball. Expect the Astros to receive some competition from the Cubs and St. Louis in 2006. If the pitching can hold itself together and the offense at least match the same numbers as last year they should find themselves in the thick of things within the NL Central.

Renting a timeshare

Although it is not the best of the ideas to rent a timeshare but in some cases it works out to be more economical than other options. Timeshare rentals were not so easy to find earlier as the owners of timeshares don’t make any profit when they rent out their timeshare units and also very less people had timeshares. Over the past few years the popularity of timeshares has grown tremendously and there are many big names entering into the business now. There are over two millions American who have timeshares. The timeshare rentals are available because some owners have no other option but to rent out their units as they couldn’t use it due to their hectic schedules. The timeshares can be rented through timeshare resorts who rent the units on behalf of their owners. Timeshare units can also be rented through brokers dealing with timeshare rentals and sales. But always be careful while approaching the brokers because the timeshare industry has witnessed many frauds and scams due to some unscrupulous brokers. Make sure the broker is a licensed broker and reputable also. One can also rent timeshares on auction sites like eBay in travel section and also which is timeshare exclusive website.
But how will the timeshare rentals work out. Let us do some math. If you rent a hotel or a room in a resort the rent per night typically costs around $200 per night. Which means it is around $1,400 for a week’s vacation and if you have more people and if you need another room it will end up totaling $2,800. Compare this to a timeshare rental which may cost $150 per night. The total would be $1,050 only for 2-3 bedroom units. The benefits you get are immense. A timeshare unit gives you more room compared to a hotel suite and is better furnished. Typical timeshare units have two to three bedrooms, one to two bathrooms, a kitchen, a dining room, a laundry room and indoor or outdoor pool. Most of the timeshares are strategically located to the attractions. And they are located in some of the finest vacation resorts of the world. Timeshare resorts provide more amenities and conveniences compared to hotels. The timeshare resort also offer discounts on air travel, rental cars and tickets to many attractions. The resorts have many facilities like golf club, tennis courts, athletics, marinas and many more recreational activities. You can invite all your friends and family to the unit and have a gathering as well, all in the comfort of a luxurious unit.
But few things have to be considered before opting for renting a unit. Try to select the best location if possible like near the pool or other resort facilities. You don’t want to be left out when others are making full use of these amenities, the point is in busy seasons the pools and other facilities are overly crowded, so more near you are to these facilities the better chances you have. And do not hurry in deciding a timeshare unit; nowadays more and more units are being available as many big resorts have ventured into this business. So, shop around and go with the best price. Some timeshare units can be without kitchens, make sure you rent the one with kitchen as it can save you few extra bucks by saving you from eating outside. Also do your home work by researching about the resort from where you are renting the unit. In this age of internet, the resources are easily available which provides you with the reviews of the resort and more information to make you knowledgeable. It’s also a smart idea to rent the timeshare unit near the attractions which will save the cost of renting a car. Idea place would be one which is easily accessible to public transportation. One can also share rental units with other interested parties by dividing the unit into two. Renting a timeshare definitely makes a strong financial sense compared to hotels and motels.

Inland Beach Cottage Rentals: A Well-Kept Summer Vacation Destination

Each year, a large number of individuals and families make the decision to take a summer vacation. If you and your family are interested in scheduling a summer vacation, have you decided on a destination yet? When families set off to reach their summer vacation destination, there are many that end up at the same place, the beach.

Summer vacations at the beach are a vacation “hotspot.” Everyone loves the sand, sun, and waves. There are an unlimited number of advantages and disadvantages to vacationing at the most well-known beaches. The main disadvantage is the crowds. If you were to select a popular beach, such as South Beach, Daytona Beach, or Virginia Beach, you could be one of thousands vacationing in the sun.

When it comes to beaches, there are many who believe that only coastal locations can be home to a beach. This is just simply not true. The shoreline of a large river or lake can easily be turned into a beach; in fact, many of them are. These beaches are often referred to as inland beaches. When it comes to inland beaches, there are many individuals who are concerned with the lack of accommodations. One of those accommodations includes a hotel.

While it is true that a large number of inland beaches do not have onsite hotels, many have something even better; private cottage rentals. Private cottage or cabin rentals are found along the banks of many popular lakes in the United States. Many cottage or cabin rentals are right along the shoreline. Cottage and cabin rentals are often compared to traditional homes. This is because most come fully furnished with multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, and a kitchen.

Many inland beach cottage rentals are popular due to their close proximity to the water. In many rental locations, the shoreline in front of your cottage rental is privately yours. This may allow you to spend your days and night relaxing beside the shoreline. In addition to private shorelines, many cottage rentals are grouped together, almost like a community. Despite being grouped together, many rentals are an appropriate distance away from each other. To service the community of vacationers, common services and facilities can often be found nearby.

Just a few of the many facilities, services, and activities found in or around inland beach cottage rentals may include public boating, fishing, and swimming beaches. If your cottage rental is not supplied with a washer and a dryer, there is often a public laundromat located close by. In addition to a laundromat, you may find a small general store within walking distance or a short drive from your cabin. General stores are popular around many inland beaches.

If you are interested in vacation at an inland cottage rental in the United States, you have a number of options. There are hundreds of inland beaches found all across the country. A large number of beaches can be found in the Finger Lakes Region of New York State and along Lake Michigan and Lake Huron; these beaches are often found in Wisconsin or Michigan. In addition to inland cottage rentals in the United States, rentals can also be found in Canada.

Does an inland beach cottage rental sound like an exciting vacation for your and your family? Whether you are vacationing with the whole family or just your partner, you can enjoy a fun, romantic, or relaxing vacation with your own private, inland cottage rental.

Wine lovers have a place in Hungary

We are talking about the Agora wine competition which dates are between 4-6th July 2008 and the place is Balaton Wine Region at the Ramada hotel, on the Balaton lake in Balatonalmádi.

The vinagora is a traditional, international wine competition, regularly organized since 1992 and it’s part of the VinoFed (Organization of Big International Wine and Spirit Competitions) and enjoys the professional patronage of OIV(International Wine and Spirit Organization), and UIOE(International Organization of Winemakers).
Since 2000, the biennial event has figured among the ten most recognised wine competitions in the world.
For the ones of you who are taking wine seriously, consider that VinAgora has developed the most up to date wine judging IT system of the world! It was successfully used during the Mondial du Pinot Noir in Switzerland, and at Vino Ljubljana in Slovenia. Worthless to say the jury is composed by experienced, internationally acknowledged wine sommeliers and judges who will give to each participant a detailed wine description with results of his/her own wine(s). The awarded wine gets the opportunity to participate at the 17th Budapest International Wine Festival in September.

How are the wines assessed? On the basis of three criteria:
On the score received for the quality of the wine, on the number of elements defining the character of the wine and on a list of the most characteristic elements of the bouquet and flavour.

If you will miss this chance, September the harvest month will refresh your throats with the international renown 17th Budapest Wine and Champagne Festival and Fair. The official dates are 10-14 September.

For nearly two weeks 15 countries and 200 vineyard will introduce and showcase 3,000 different wines for sampling! Wine tasting is the central part of the festival, but there are plenty of opportunities to participate in any of the numerous events organized around the Buda Castle. On Saturday a colossal parade with around 800 representatives from the various wine regions will stage a procession and a show with dancing and music around the Buda Castle district dressing in folk costumes. Not to be missed!

Wine classes, lectures, workshops, parades, folk music and classical music concerts and even court jesters. Also chefs and restaurants will set up stalls featuring delicious food with suggested wine pairings.

If you are definitely not missing these events in Hungary and in Budapest it is advisable to book your hotel in advance. There are many accommodation solutions for every budget. Students, families, young travellers or backpackers can find youth hostels or hostels offering bed nights form 9 euros at the Moha Hostel, the Goat Hostel, Grand Hostel of Budapest, Domino Hostel, Marco Polo Hostel, Mellow Mood Central Hostel, Riverside Youth hostel, Karat Hostel. Families and wine lovers may prefer private apartments in Budapest city centre around the castle itself like the Anna Centre apartment, Apartment St. Michael, Navigare Budapest Apartments, Akademia Budapest Apartments, Arcadia Apartments Budapest, Gabriella and Elizabeth Apartments Budapest, Budapest in flat, Aida Budapest Apartment.

How to Choose the Perfect Maui Vacation Rental

Have you recently decided that you would like to stay at a private Maui vacation rental, as opposed to a hotel? If you have, you may be pleased with all of your options. On the beautiful island of Maui, there are a large number of vacation rentals for you to choose from. You should also know that private rentals come in a number of different formats, which include apartment rentals, homes, villas, and condos.

As nice as it is to have options, in terms of your overnight accommodations, it can make making a decision seem like a huge and overwhelming task. There is good news though. With a small amount of thought and careful consideration, you can easily find the perfect Maui vacation rental for you and your trip.

The first step in finding a great Maui rental is creating a budget for yourself. This is particularly important if you are traveling on a limited budget. Even if money is not a concern, a travel budget can still do you wonders. Having a set budget in place can make finding a vacation rental easier, as you may be able to eliminate those that are too costly. It is also important to note overpayment; why pay more than you need to?

Next, it is important to examine and compare all of your options. As stated above, you have a number of private Maui vacation rentals to choose from. For that reason, do not choose the first one that you come across. Doing so may later result in disappointment. Instead, you should visit an online travel website and start comparing all of your options. Speaking of which, there are websites that are designed for Hawaii trips only, as well as those that specialize in private rentals, like homes, cottages, villas, apartment rentals, and condos.

When comparing Maui vacation rentals, there are a number of factors that you will want to keep in mind and take into consideration. One of those is location. Don’t spend your vacation on the road traveling to participate in or see the Maui activities and attractions on your vacation to do list. Instead, examine location. You will want to choose a rental that is conveniently located. Doing so can save you money in travel expenses, as well hassle.

Perhaps, the most important factor to take into consideration is rental fees. When examining Maui vacation rentals, always compare rental fees. Some vacation rentals can appear identical in nature, but have very different rental rates. As a reminder, do not overpay. Instead, search for the best deals. Also, examine extra fees, such as cleaning fees and security deposits, as they are often required for private rentals.

Vacation rental features should also be examined and compared. You will want to choose a Maui vacation rental that can give you want you want and what you need. After all, that is what vacations are all about. Features are particularly important if your Hawaii vacation is an extended trip. Despite variances, many travelers like having internet access, an onsite swimming pool, a private garden or patio area, as well as a dishwasher.

In short, since you do have a number of different options, in terms of private Maui vacation rentals, take the time to find the vacation rental that is perfect for you. By doing so, you are less likely to be disappointment and you won’t be left second guessing your decision days before your vacation.

Canadian Immigration and Real Estate

Living Quarters: Canadian Options

As with most countries, Canada offers a wide variety of options when it comes to choosing a place to call “home.” The choice you make will depend on several factors, including your budget, your space needs, and your desired location.

Below are some of the options you may want to consider:

– Room for rent – Some individuals who own a house or an apartment may rent out separate rooms in those dwellings. All of the tenants share the bathroom(s) and the kitchen.

– Studio apartment – These apartments are small and were primarily designed for just one person. Most consist of a single large room – that contains the kitchen and bedroom – and a separate bathroom.

– Apartments – Larger apartments are also available. These can range in size from one to three bedrooms. They also have separate living rooms, kitchens, and bathrooms.

– Duplex – A duplex is a single home that has been divided into two separate living areas. Each area is completely separate from the other, but residents may share a yard or driveway.

– Townhouses – Townhouses are small houses which are built in rows, so that they form a chain. Most of the homes in the chain are similar in appearance.

– Houses – Homes of all shapes and sizes are available throughout Canada. You can also choose to have a home built specifically to your specifications on an available lot.

– Condominiums – Condos are essentially apartments or townhouses that are owned, not rented. Owners are responsible for all of the internal upkeep on the property and must pay property taxes. They also pay a condo association fee which covers the costs of outdoor maintenance, such as lawn mowing.

Besides these options, there are also two other important choices you need to make: furnished or unfurnished and rent or buy.

Furnished or Unfurnished

In Canada, you can find homes and apartments that are furnished. This means that all of the necessary furnishings are included in the living area, such as beds and chairs. Furnished apartments and homes may be a good option when you are first moving to Canada, especially if you are immigrating from a distance. The cost of transporting your own couches and beds could be quite expensive.

Most people, however, choose to live in an unfurnished dwelling so that they can decorate in a manner they see fit. Some unfurnished homes and apartments will still come with kitchen appliances, such as refrigerators and stoves.

Rent or Buy

This is an important decision because it will also influence which types of property from the list above you focus on during your search for a place to live. Most new permanent residents choose to rent an apartment or home initially, so they can get a feel for the area, find a steady job, and do some leisurely research on the real estate available in their price range. However, there are also many newcomers to Canada who jump right in and purchase a home.

If you do choose to buy a home, townhouse, duplex, or condominium, then be aware that you will need to have money for a down payment. Most banks and mortgage providers will require a down payment of at least 10% of the total cost of the house. That means if you want to buy a $100,000 home, you’ll need a $10,000 down payment.

If you opt to rent an apartment, a room, a home, or a duplex, then you will also need to be prepared to pay some money upfront. Most landlords in Canada expect you to pay first and last month’s rent after you sign the lease. Many landlords will also require you to provide a reference’s contact information. The reference MUST be someone living in Canada. Your employer, for example, may be a good reference.

Regardless of whether your rent or buy, you can expect to pay between $350 and $2000 a month depending on the living quarters you select. As a general rule, you shouldn’t spend more than 50% of your income on housing costs, including your utility bills and mortgage/rent payments. That means you’ll want to establish a budget before you start house/apartment hunting in Canada.

Also, keep in mind that housing costs vary considerably, even within the same province. You can save money on your housing if you do some research and focus on areas outside of major cities.

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