July 27, 2021

High Crime Rates Negatively Impact Property Values

 Aside from the threat to life, high crime rates impact property values.  Clearly, given a choice people would not want to buy a home in a neighborhood, or city with a high crime rate.   Fewer buyers means lower prices.   As as a result of some calls to defund the police, which is irrational, we are seeing a crime wave across the country.  Robberies, assaults and murder rates are way up in some of the largest cities in the nation.  

Regardless of your politics, it is time to call on elected leaders of both political parties to take action.  We need more cops on the street and they must be empowered to do their jobs.  This does not mean police brutality or use of force that is unnecessary; but given the criticism cops have faced, they are standing back rather than making arrests.  

This can't be allowed to continue because the murder rate in the United States is sky rocketing in many urban areas.  Also, dumb laws need to be eliminated.  California does not prosecute theft under a $1,000 in goods.  So thieves are going into stores with large plastic bags to steal up to the dollar limit.  Some stores in various areas are closing because the theft is unstainable.  In addition, some jurisdictions release criminals with no bail.  So crooks and murderers are back on the street the next day after an arrest.  This has to stop.

All Neighborhoods should have Neighborhood Watch to assist the cops with preventing crime.  High crime should be everyone's concern.  Aside from the threats to personal safety, it is costing people money.  Theft results in higher prices.  And high crime rates absolutely impact property values.  

July 26, 2021

Trading Commuting Time For A Larger Home At Lower Prices

 Years ago, when I was first married, we bought our first home in California 40 miles away from our work.  We were able to buy a large home at half the cost it would have been just 20 miles closer to work.  The end result was a 90 minute commute in bumper to bumper traffic, which we did for 8 years.  It was miserable.  During the winter, I left my home in the dark and I came home in the dark.  I did not see our home during daylight hours except on weekends.  We did not know how miserable it really was until we no longer had to do it with a job transfer, when we bought our second home.  

This is a common story.  There are many people around the world who commute 60 - 90 minutes or more each way to go to work whether driving, or taking public transportation usually trains in those regions that have them.  At least on the train you can read or nap.  The question is whether the trade off of buying a bigger home at a lower price is really worth it.  Certainly, for people with families that need more space, it may be the only option.  However, there is no doubt that it impacts quality of life.  

That is why when Covid hit and many people were given the option of working from home, they jumped on it.  So much so that now that they have been able to work from home, many are fighting going back to the office.  A lot of this has to do with commuting time, which in many cities is 60 - 90 minutes each way.  Fighting bumper to bumper traffic is stressful.  Certainly, after we moved and my commute fell to 30 minutes each way, I knew I would never take a job again that required long commuting distances.  

So when considering a home purchase, factor in both the cost of commuting in terms of time and money.  Just maybe it makes more sense to buy a smaller home closer into work if you are still required to go into the office.  The best of all worlds is the ability to work from home because then you can live virtually anywhere in the country.  

Living And Working In Another Country

Some people decide to retire to another country as a way to get a lower cost of living and or for the "charm".  Of course others often take work assignments paid for by their employers.  In either case, there are some things to consider.  Clearly, there are cultural and many times language differences between countries.  And for Americans that are used to having everything at their finger tips and many services available to them when needed, living in another country can be very frustrating. 

While foods are available in every major country in the world, there may not be the selection that is typical in an American grocery store.  And, the prices for food could be higher in many countries in the world than is common in the US.  And, then there are services.  There is enough competition in the US that when we need to buy services, we can usually get things done pretty quickly.  That is not always true in other countries.  

However, the most important issue is medical services.  Medicare coverage does not apply outside the United States.  So retired people would have to come back to the United States to access non emergency medical care.  But if something happens in country and travel is impossible,  there could be a huge problem.  Certainly, living or working in a country with substandard medical care could be life threatening.  And, since you would not be a citizen of that country, it may be necessary to buy additional medical insurance to provide for coverage and or medical evacuation.  If on a global assignment companies usually provide benefits necessary to deal with medical issues.  Those just moving to another country would be on the own.  There are lots of things to consider before moving to another country and or taking a global assignment.  Make sure you check all the boxes.   

July 25, 2021

Quality of Life - Family & Friends

 Quality of life could mean different things to different people.  For some, it is about shopping, entertainment and restaurants nearby.  For others, maybe it is all about sports, fishing, hiking and camping nearby.  For everybody, quality of life should involve good medical services nearby because as we get older, we will all need medical care of one sort or another.   

Aside from amenities that contribute to quality of life, we all need family and friends nearby to complete the picture.  Reports indicate that people with family and friends regularly in their lives live longer.  That could be because people are social animals.  Human beings need interaction with others to be happy.  I know, I know some people are loners.  They choose to live a solitary life.  The problem is, the day will come when someone needs help.  Crap happens and when it does, it is nice to have family or friends you can depend on.    

In addition to doing things outside the home with family and friends, ultimately our homes are a meeting place bringing people together for meals, life events, parties etc.  And whether we live in a small home or a mansion, making it people friendly is not that hard to do.  Get rid of clutter so there is space for people.  Buy comfortable furniture in and outside to accommodate at least 6 - 10 people at a time.  Cook together.  The old days of Mom being in the kitchen alone doing the cooking to bring it out to a dining room are long over.  Put your guests to work helping to prepare a meal.  It is both fun and makes doing it easier for the hosts.  

Heart is where the home is.  At Paragon we help people sell and buy homes designed for entertaining.  We know that family and friends are the key to a happy life.  Living in a comfortable home whether big or small is part of the story.  

July 24, 2021

Everybody Loves Italian Food - Home Cooking

It seems that everybody loves Italian Cooking.  But what most people in the United States think of as Italian cooking is mostly Southern Italian cooking because most of the immigrants that came to America were from Southern Italy.  So mostly foods prepared with red sauces, rather than white sauces.  Of course, things like pizza, which was invented in Naples, Italy, spaghetti and meat balls, sausage, ravioli and lasagna are most common.  And, it might be that the reason for so much use of tomato sauce is because the Spanish, who controlled much of Southern Italy for decades brought the tomato back from the new world and introduced it to Europe probably through the bottom of the Italian boot.  But Italian food is so much  more.  

As someone who grew with my Italian mother always in the kitchen, I came to realize the value of the kitchen in every home no matter what your ethnic origin.  Since I started cooking about 10 years ago, I know how important it is to have all the mixing bowls, platters, big pots, great knives, all sorts of utensils and of course olive oil, the food of the Gods, for good home cooking.  That is certainly true related to Italian Cooking.  

Veal is cooked by Southern and Northern Italians differently.  Northern Italians invented Veal Marsala with a brown gravy, Veal Piccata with a lemon sauce and Veal Milanese, which is breaded Veal cutlets.  And then there is Oso Bucco, cooked for hours which is a Veal Shank often served with polenta, a kind of the Italian version of grits.  Southern Italians created Veal Parmesan covered in cheese with a red tomato sauce usually served with Spaghetti.  

And then there all the fish dishes.  The stuffed calamari, which is incredible with or without red sauce.  Obviously, Italy is surrounding by the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas, so every kind of fish is on every menu again often cooked differently from North to South.  Bacalao, which is served in all Mediterranean countries is dry salted cod.  Most of the Italian cold cuts that are very expensive like Prosciutto, Capicola and various hams come from Northern Italian.  Some of the salamis and peperoni's come from Southern Italy.  

But I get back to the importance of the kitchen in every home.  Foods cooked from scratch take a lot of time and effort.  The reward is mouth watering meals that will keep family and friends coming back for years.  Kitchen renovations provide the best return on investment.  So, if you are thinking of remodeling for sure put some of your money in creating a gourmet kitchen.  Then buy a good Italian cook book and start having some fun.