Canadian Summer Vacay with a Twist!

This year the family and I decided a vacation outside the continental US of A was what we needed. So after much discussion and a little favor pulling, we ended up deciding upon a road trip to the Canadian mountainous province of Alberta.

Turns out my wife, who’s actually 1/4 Canadian herself, has an aunt who lives in a city in Alberta called Calgary. Actually when I had a chance to research the area for things we could tour and do, I was surprised to find that Calgary is the third largest metropolitan city in the country at around 1.4 million inhabitants.

moraine lake - Canadian Summer Vacay with a Twist!

Come the second week of August we hit the road. Packed up the dog, our two kids and we hit the open road destined for the Great White North.

After a long and adventurous drive across 6 states, we arrived in Calgary to be greeted by Thelma and her family, welcoming us in to their amazing home in Cranston – a master planned gated community near Auburn Bay, another affluent neighborhood in Calgary.

The next day we spent planning the rest of our time in the Calgary area and decided upon visiting the nearby (1.5hr drive) Banff national park. My wife and I were excited at the chance to finally cross off Lake Louise from our bucket lists.

First I have to say…as you come up upon the Rocky Mountains it’s enough to take your breath away. We never expected quite what we would experience. Especially being from Chicago and all where mountains are few and far between.

lake louise - Canadian Summer Vacay with a Twist!

In what seemed like a very short drive, we were at the shores of Lake Louise starring out at what we’d previously only seen in computer wallpapers and screensavers. Talk about incredible. The turquoise blue waters with the mountain peeks in the backdrop. If you’ve not been here you really should go and see it for yourself.

Later we would visit another little lake called Moraine (I think how it’s spelt) where turquoise blue waters are taken to a whole other level of blue/green. Honestly this was my favorite place. (see photo)

After an early start the following day we drove up to Jasper. Here we went up the Jasper Mountain Tram – also a must see/do – where we could see as far as our eyes could see, the Rocky Mountain tops in all directions. It was amazing.

The village of Jasper is quaint and lies at the bases of many different snow capped mountains and even has wildlife walking the streets. Yes you heard that right…wildlife like bears and elk…IN THE STREETS.

When we return back to Calgary and I had some downtime, and me being in real estate, I began to research homes for sale in Calgary on Google.

Now saying that, I did intend on keeping this blog post short and sweet, I will be doing a follow up to how we ended up buying an investment property in Calgary. You heard that right…in the end we ended up shopping homes for sale in Beltline and you can read all about that leg of our trip in my next blog. So until next time…PEACE.

The Buyer’s Guide – New Houses vs Older Houses

The Buyers Guide New Houses vs Older Houses 300x133 - The Buyer's Guide - New Houses vs Older Houses
The Buyers Guide New Houses vs Older Houses - The Buyer's Guide - New Houses vs Older Houses

Whether you’re a first-time buyer or just trying to get a better deal this time around, you need to have goals that require you to save up some money before you can buy a house. Then, you might be faced with the decision of buying an old house or a new one. Could you use help making up your mind? Here we list a few things that will make it easier.

Affordability

Affordability - The Buyer's Guide - New Houses vs Older Houses

You surely have a budget for how much you can spend upfront on your home purchase. We advise you to keep that budget in mind. With a new house, you might end up paying as much as 30% more than you would over an old house. Of course, older houses might still make you spend that 30% in the long run, so keep that in mind.

Fixer-Upper

Fixer Upper - The Buyer's Guide - New Houses vs Older Houses

Older houses are more likely to require attention, fixing, replacing or upgrading here and there, and that costs money, time and effort. Are you okay with this? If you don’t mind and can afford to stay on top of all the maintenance tasks, this might be the best option. However, if you just want to save up time and effort, perhaps a new house is better for you.

The Record

The Record - The Buyer's Guide - New Houses vs Older Houses

With homes being such a significant investment, it is important to make sure a particular property is a good one. When it comes to new homes, things get a bit uncertain as no one has taken them for a test drive, so to speak. There are no records of any appreciation or depreciation.

Older homes have the benefit of existing records as to how much money it has earnt or lost to its previous owners, thus you are stepping on solid ground and know exactly what you’re getting your money into.

The Design

The Design - The Buyer's Guide - New Houses vs Older Houses

At first, you might not think it matters much, but design affects property buying too. And while you might have no issues upgrading the water heater, you might be peeved by a too dated design that you can’t modify as easily. If you’re looking into a modern design, perhaps older houses might not do it for you.

Have your Cake and Eat it Too

Maybe reading this list has you more undecided because both old and new houses have many advantages. Well, there is a way to have a bit of the best of both worlds. You can always just buy an old house with excellent foundations that will allow you to upgrade it over time giving it that shiny new set up that you don’t wish to compromise. Now you know, getting a house is all about affordability, time, effort, design, comfort and a bit of compromise sometimes.

5 Things to Know Before Buying Your First House in Chicago

5 Things to Know Before Buying Your First House in Chicago 300x133 - 5 Things to Know Before Buying Your First House in Chicago
5 Things to Know Before Buying Your First House in Chicago - 5 Things to Know Before Buying Your First House in Chicago

Contemplating whether or not you should buy your first property can be a daunting task. And the Chicago area offers so much variety, it might even be overwhelming. If you are a soon-to-be-home-owner, you need all the help you can get when buying a property.

You may think that all it takes is browsing through realtor’s brochures and picking the prettiest property. Think again. Buying a property takes some time, saving and patience. You are looking to find a perfect home at the end of the day and don’t want to shoot yourself in the foot.

Luckily for you we offer a few helpful tips and useful advice that will prove valuable, as we cover all the important details to keep in mind when looking to purchase property in Chicago.

First Thing’s First

First Things First - 5 Things to Know Before Buying Your First House in Chicago

Having a down payment set aside is crucial to buying a home. So, we recommend that you save up with as much advance as you possibly can, even better if you’re only starting to consider a purchase in Chicago now.

Don’t leave it for later so you don’t have to let go of the perfect property because you couldn’t come up with a down payment.

The rates might vary from 25% being the most common to as low as 3%. However, as in most markets, you must bare notice to the fact that you get your money’s worth, and the cheaper down payments typically come with Private Mortgage Insurance as the seller is covering their back.

Pre-Approval Saves Time

Pre Approval Saves Time - 5 Things to Know Before Buying Your First House in Chicago

Having good credit is paramount when applying for a loan, thus it is only reasonable that you make sure of where your credit stands before deciding on a definitive option.

Getting pre-approved for a home loan will tell you exactly where you stand and what your wiggle room is before you start roaming through Chicago looking at homes.

Know Your Needs

Know Your Needs - 5 Things to Know Before Buying Your First House in Chicago

Another very important matter is getting real with what type of home fits your lifestyle. The clearer you are in what you’re looking for, the faster you will find it, and more than likely you’ll save money in unnecessary features. If you do not need five bedrooms, then cross out 5 bedroom properties.

Plan Ahead

Plan Ahead - 5 Things to Know Before Buying Your First House in Chicago

We have recommended saving up for down payments and also getting pre-approved. On that same note, it would be wise to also check out open houses, parking space and think of your plans for the future. It will all help in the long run.

The Bigger Picture

The Bigger Picture - 5 Things to Know Before Buying Your First House in Chicago

Some properties might have everything you need, yet lack some things you want. Always be aware of the things you can change, the features that are just whims, and just general small things that you might forego. Compromising some of these might actually be a huge headache reliever.

All in all, we know from experience that if you invest but a little time and effort into finding a home, you will be saving yourself more than just money.

With a down payment, a preapproval, and all of your needs in mind, you are set for success and for finding the perfect home that Chicago has waiting just for you.

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5 Highly Rated Chicago Suburbs for Newcomers to Consider

5 Highly Rated Chicago Suburbs for Newcomers to Consider 300x133 - 5 Highly Rated Chicago Suburbs for Newcomers to Consider
5 Highly Rated Chicago Suburbs for Newcomers to Consider - 5 Highly Rated Chicago Suburbs for Newcomers to Consider

If you want to move out of your native country, and you are looking for a good place to put down roots somewhere in the world, you have to go to Chicago, in the United States! According to some magazines, Chicago has the best suburbs in the country, and we are going to tell you why.

Aurora Suburb

Aurora Suburb - 5 Highly Rated Chicago Suburbs for Newcomers to Consider

The Aurora suburb has been shown in statistics about three times, as one of the suburbs with the lowest crime rate in Chicago, and throughout the country.

It is characterized by its employment opportunities, safe streets and all the places that can be visited, such as parks, libraries, and many more places.

The Aurora suburb is a multicultural community! People from all over the world go there, and xenophobia is non-existent, as you can find Latin Americans, Europeans, and Asians living here.

Economically speaking, it is a place where most people are middle class based, and there are a few rich, and a few poor people. Salaries are attractive and property prices are in line with what you can earn.

Glenview Suburb

Glenview is considered one of the most diversified areas in Chicago, has a lot of services such as hospitals and schools. What most characterizes this suburb is being an entertainment area for all the public.

There are music spots, wonderful restaurants with delicious meals and also many other places to go out and enjoy with your friends.

Buffalo Grove Suburb

Buffalo Grove Suburb - 5 Highly Rated Chicago Suburbs for Newcomers to Consider

If you want to be nearby all the important places in the city, then the Buffalo Grove suburb is the best option to move. Adlai E. Stevenson High School is one that has won many awards and the best part of it is it’s located in this suburb.

There are approximately more than 35,000 people living in the suburb, who are friendly, confident and hardworking. Even having this amount of people, it has low crime statistics. Usually, new programs are created to improve the structure of the city in terms of public transport infrastructures to have low statistics of road accidents.

Arlington Heights Suburb

Arlington Heights Suburb - 5 Highly Rated Chicago Suburbs for Newcomers to Consider

It is said that Arlington Heights is more than 200 years old. This community is characterized by its good people.

The suburb usually uses a web page that notifies its locals about what is happening in the city and talks about any topic of interest. Most people do charitable work to help the elderly and disabled people.

This suburb has a large number of public schools. The young people can go out at night to chat and have a good time with their friends, adults can go to pubs and it has several beautiful touristic places to visit. The neighbors are very close and always try to help each other.

Longe Grove

Longe Grove - 5 Highly Rated Chicago Suburbs for Newcomers to Consider

This is a small suburb with a country atmosphere. If you like the outdoors, Long Grove is ideal, as you will love everything you see around the suburb. In Long Grove you can never be bored.

It has some very famous festivals that everyone loves. For example, during springtime, you can do several activities for the festivals of the season.

Without a doubt these are the best suburbs to move to in Chicago, the people are friendly, it has many beautiful touristic places to visit and a low crime rate.