Preparing for Winter (In Places That Don’t Get Winter)

In 2019, the city of Redding, CA received more snow in a single day than Boston had the entire season. Last year, sunny Tucson, AZ — where the average temperature is 84°F — experienced snow.

While every place experiences winter, being prepared for winter’s worst is no longer limited to northern states. Whether you’re in Albuquerque or Atlanta, San Antonio or Scottsdale, take these cold weather tips to ensure you’re ready for whatever comes this winter.

Slipping on ice — is not so nice.

Warmer states tend to have more of an ice problem than colder states. This is because these states and their residents are often less prepared to deal with ice and because temperatures can hover right around freezing. It might be rainy and in the 40s one evening in Georgia, only to freeze overnight and turn driveways into the world’s worst slip-n-slide.

Stock up on at least one of the following things — even if you don’t use them this year, they’ll last for years to come:

  • Rock salt: A bag of salt is your best bet because it melts the ice. Plus, there will be leftover traction (salt particles) once the ice melts. One downside: Rock salt doesn’t work as well at 10°F and lower.
  • Sand: Sand creates traction on top of the ice, but doesn’t melt it. Even in the coldest of temperatures, sand helps tires and boots grip better.
  • Kitty Litter: Kitty litter should really only be used in desperate times. It provides some traction but ultimately absorbs the water because it’s mostly clay.

A bag of water-softener salt can also work in a pinch, but your best bet is rock salt.

Put down some paper — invest in a scraper.

True story: this writer lived near Phoenix, AZ, then traveled to Colorado and learned the hard way that she didn’t have a car scraper.

A car scraper is a best and quickest way to eliminate snow and ice on your windshield. Even if you don’t use a scraper this year, even if you think defrosting will work fine, you never know! There are countless scenarios and places where a scraper will come in handy. Drop the 10 or 15 bucks now for a lifetime of protection.

Show your hands love — get some gloves.

Living in a warm place and buying the proper winter attire doesn’t make you weak, it means you’re smart! There’s no reason to suffer months of mild cold, because mild cold is still “cold.” Consider getting a warmer jacket, a pair of gloves, a headband or hat, and winter boots. Again, even if you don’t use them now, there’s a good chance you will eventually.

Traveling near or far — stock up your car.

Breakdowns do happen. Road closures occur. No one wants to skid into a ditch on a particularly frosty night, but unexpected occurrences don’t wait for when you’re ready.

Pack up your car with the following things to ensure you’ll be set for winter:

  • Blankets
  • Non-perishable food items
  • Water bottles
  • Reflective cones or signs
  • First aid kit
  • Paper towels
  • Phone charger (preferably a car charger, but consider buying a portable charger if your car doesn’t have charging capabilities)

Another true story: This writer was in a car that broke down on a country road at 8 p.m. on a Sunday in February. It took over an hour for AAA to arrive and the battery was dead. Everyone in the car was so grateful for the blankets!

Cold weather tips might seem pointless if you’re not in a place with cold weather, but recent years and patterns have shown otherwise. Ice storms, blizzards, and cold snaps can happen to anyone, anywhere. 

Wherever you are, RealtyHive is your local real estate expert. Whether looking for a home in super sunny El Centro or wanting to tough it out in Montana, our real estate listings have it all.

International Vacation Homeownership Options

Want to own an international vacation property? Better question: who doesn’t?! The great thing about vacation properties is that they not only provide you a home base for traveling but that you can even rent them out and make money. See the options for owning a beautiful bungalow in Belize or a quaint cottage in Canada—and benefit in the process.

RealQuick: Types of Vacation Homes

“Timeshare” is usually the word that pops into people’s heads when thinking about vacation homes, but there are plenty of other options. 

Cabins, beach houses, apartments, condos, and even hotel suites at resorts all are vacation homes. Virtually any type of property can be turned into a vacation home! And what’s more, these vacation home options are different than timeshares because you get to make the rules.

What to Do With Your Vacation Home

You can use your vacation home in three main ways: keep it just for yourself, rent it out yourself (such as through Airbnb or VRBO), or hire a third party to manage and rent it.

Keep It for Yourself

A lot of people get a vacation home (such as a cabin or lake house) and keep it as a standalone. They only use the property for their vacation purposes or perhaps allow family and friends to use it.

The Benefits:

  • Have a place to escape to.
  • Avoid paying for or finding accommodations while traveling.
  • It’s a financial asset.
  • The memories of spending repeated time in a vacation spot are priceless!

The Drawbacks:

By keeping it for yourself, the vacation property is only being used when you’re there. As is true with any property, it’s a significant investment. Some people also feel like they can’t travel elsewhere—they feel like they have to get their money’s worth. Not to mention, if you think owning one home is a lot of work, imagine owning two.

Rent It Out Yourself

Turning your vacation home into a vacation rental undoubtedly opens the door for additional revenue. With renting it out yourself, you are responsible for finding renters and managing the property.

The Benefits:

  • All the benefits of owning a vacation home, plus… 
  • Generates income off of a rental property.
  • Pays off the purchase over time.

The Drawbacks:

It’s a lot of work to rent out your place by yourself—many consider it a full-time job. It’s more convenient if you live near your vacation rental property, but nearly impossible if you don’t. You’ll have to do a solid job marketing it to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth. 

It should be added that if you don’t feel comfortable with others staying in your vacation home, this is not the option for you and that’s OK. Adding tons of stress for money won’t be worth it.

Rent It Through a Management Company

beautiful patio

Hiring a third party to manage and rent out your vacation rental eliminates a lot of hassle. With this option, a property management company takes over renting processes and also provides cleaning.

The Benefits:

  • All the benefits of owning and renting out a vacation home, plus…
  • Saves tons of time on cleaning and renting it out.
  • Makes it possible to own an investment property without having to live nearby.

The Drawbacks:

You’ll pay a fee for these services—it depends on location but some averages estimate 8-12% of the monthly value. Many who use management companies find it harder to use their vacation home themselves—at that point, they’re paying a fee and want the difference to be covered with extra renters.

Everyone has an option that works for them when it comes to owning a vacation property. But before you plan on laying poolside or start dreaming about what that added income will do for your finances, you need a vacation home! Look through RealtyHive to find your perfect property abroad.

Skip Denver—Move to These Western Spots Instead

The mountain views, the outdoor activities, the beautiful climate and bustling city—it’s no wonder why people have relocated by the thousands to Colorado cities like Denver and Fort Collins. However, all this hype has led to Colorado being one of the most expensive places to live. 

Spots like Salt Lake City and St. George (Utah), Casper and Cody (Wyoming), and Great Falls and Gardiner (Montana) have lots of the same appeal as those popular Colorado cities, but with even more benefits. Take a look at why you should consider moving west—but not where everyone else is going.

Just as Good as Denver—If Not Better

People love Denver for its access to the mountains, wonderful city life, amazing climate, and beautiful views. And don’t get us wrong—Denver is an amazing city! But all of those cities mentioned earlier have these same benefits to some degree. SLC is an up-and-coming spot that’s close to some of the best skiing in the country, and, like Denver, has a train you can take around town. Unlike Denver, it’s free in many spots—Denver’s costs $10.50, just to get to the airport.

Even Closer to Nature

Denver is highly appealing because of its proximity to Rocky Mountain National Park. But if your main draw to Colorado is being close to the great outdoors, there are plenty of spots that beat Denver by a country mile.

Cities in Wyoming, Montana, and Utah tend to be much closer to nature and take substantially less time to access what the West is known for. Gardiner, MT, Jackson Hole, and Cody (both WY) are anywhere between 10 minutes and an hour away from Yellowstone National Park (great for spotting those bison!). You can expect that driving time to double, even on a good day, to get into RMNP from Denver.

Less Populated

Not only are you physically further from nature in Denver, the sheer number of people living in the city turn that “hop, skip, and a jump” from the mountains into hours of standstill traffic on I-90. While some people make the trek every weekend to hit the slopes or hike the trails, most become disillusioned pretty quickly—solely because the traffic is so bad.

Living in a place that’s not as crowded makes life a lot simpler and a lot better for many reasons, which leads us to our next point:

Better Cost of Living

The absolute biggest draw to living in virtually any Western city that’s not Denver is the cost of living. To buy a house in Denver, a 2019 study showed you would need to make nearly $100k a year. But that’s not all. Higher population means higher everyday costs, higher insurance rates, higher “getting settled” costs (such as registering your vehicle), and potentially higher taxes. In Denver, you even have tolls every time you drive to the airport. None of these things are an issue when moving to cities in Wyoming, Montana, and less-populated places in Utah.

Author’s Note: I moved to Wyoming from Colorado this past year and cut my car insurance and rental costs in half. 

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While Denver definitely has its perks, there are countless places in the West (and even other cities in Colorado, like Aurora, Canon City, or Pueblo) that can keep up with Colorado’s capital—if not surpass it. If you’re considering moving out West, work with RealtyHive to find your next home or sell your current one! Search today.

Must-Do Andalucia Adventures

Picture yourself walking through cobblestone streets and ancient architecture on a beautiful summer’s eve. Listen to a Spanish guitarist strumming along with the sounds of the nearby ocean. Grab some late-night tapas and sensational seafood with a loved one. That’s the great thing about Andalucia—you can do all of this and more.

Whether looking for your next property (3-bedroom condo near the beach, anyone?) or simply wanting to see all that Spain has to offer, RealtyHive has the Andalucian recommendations you need. Here are your must-do adventures in Andalucia!

RealQuick: What is Andalucia?

Andalucia is a region located in the south of Spain. It runs along the coast, and has a rich culture and history that differ from other parts of the country. This is because Andalucia was conquered and ruled by Moors (Muslims, typically from modern-day Morocco) for centuries. Andalucia is known for its scenic vistas, brilliant architecture, and incredible cuisine.

Eat

Paella—a rice and meat/seafood dish seasoned with saffron—is Spain’s most renowned (and tastiest) meal. Tapas (small plates or servings of food) are easy to find and order at most restaurants. For some regional fare, try jamón ibérico, a cured ham. It’s not uncommon for Spaniards to hang these ham legs in their closet!

But a little-known Andalucian secret is that many bars serve free tapas with a drink. This custom started centuries ago, when tapas were served to cover patrons’ drinks to prevent flies from landing in their cup! It’s a tradition that’s still upheld today, and it’s one of many reasons why people love living in Spain—Andalucia in particular.

Another important eating tip: Spaniards take at least two hours for lunch and siesta—it’s often the biggest meal of the day. Many shops will be closed in Andalucia during this time, and dinner is usually served anywhere between 8-10 p.m. It’s not unusual to see families with small kids out for a bite after dark!

Drink

Sangria is another renowned Spanish beverage, but we’d recommend an equally refreshing drink: tinto verano. It’s a simple mix of red wine and soda, and is the perfect beverage for those hot and dry Andalucian summers. Because it’s easy to make, tinto verano is a cheap and delicious summer beverage—and of course, it should come with a free tapa!

See

There’s so much to see and do in Andalucia that you could buy a home for sale in Spain and barely scratch the surface. But here are a couple of highlights:

  • La Alhambra: This Moorish castle located in Granada is an architectural wonder. Going more than once, even on one trip, is not unusual. Take a tour or get lost wandering around the beautiful and spacious grounds!
  • Flamenco: Flamenco shows abound in Andalucia, the birthplace of this captivating dance. FInding a show is easy, but if you can, certain cities have flamenco shows in caves—a fascinating way to learn more about flamenco and history all at once.
  • Museums: Pablo Picasso is just one of many artists from Andalucia. Visit Málaga to see his birthplace and some of his work!
  • Beaches: Who doesn’t love hanging out on a beach all day? Beaches line the coast of Andalucia and are full of quaint towns and gorgeous promenades.
  • Córdoba: This Andalucian city is a marvel! Visit the famous mosque with its candy cane arches and the Alcazar, a Moorish palace.
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From Marbella to Estepona, from Granada to Seville, Andalucia is a paradise for visitors and home buyers alike. If you’re like us and have a sudden urge to pack up everything and move to southern Spain, we can help! RealtyHive can help you navigate homes for sale in Spain, and specifically in Andalucia. Look through our listings today!

2023 Retirement Havens

It’s been widely acknowledged that Americans work too much and for too long. While retirement is seen by many as the perfect opportunity to travel, explore new passions, and enjoy the fruits of many years of labor, for many people retirement seems too expensive. With the high cost of medical care, lightening fast pace of life, and often extreme weather in the United States, it’s no wonder that many look to other countries to spend part or all of their retirement years.

There are many exciting and affordable countries in which to explore during your retirement, but people looking to maximize their money can find some of the best deals for retirees just south of the border in Central America and the Caribbean. This region is known for its impressive history, warm people, beautiful weather, ease of travel to the U.S., and relatively inexpensive cost of living, but the charms don’t end there. Here are some of the incredible programs offered to retirees in these countries.

Belize

Belize offers what they call the Qualified Retirement Program, or QRP. This program allows eligible applicants to permanently live, retire, and relax in beautiful Belize.

Benefits

  • Residence Card – You and your qualified dependents (spouse and children under age 18) will receive a residence card which allows you to come and go from Belize without a visa
  • During the first year you are enrolled in this program, you receive duty-free tax exemptions on your personal belongings as you bring them into the country. Qualifying items include personal boats, vehicles, and light aircraft.
  • Additional tax exemptions – QRP enrollees are exempt from paying Belizean tax on all income received from outside the country, any capital gains tax and any inheritance tax on received funds.

Eligibility

  • Must be 45 years old or older
  • Must have a pension, annuity, or similar funds of at least $2,000/month or $24,000/year from a source outside of Belize
  • You must deposit the funds from above in a Belizean financial institution
  • Must pass a security clearance by the Ministry of National Security of Belize
  • Remain in Belize for at least 30 consecutive days each year

Application Information: Application can by found on the Belize Tourism Board’s website

Ready to make the leap? Find a home in  Belize on RealtyHive!


Panama

Panama raises the bar on best places to retire with its world-renowned “pensionado” program. This program doesn’t just allow foreign citizens to live in Panama, but also includes incredible benefits for those that do.

Benefits

  • Discounts of up to 50% on entertainment (movie and theater tickets, concerts, sporting events) and hotels; 30% off bus, boat, and train fares; 25% off airline tickets and monthly energy bills and 15% off hospital bills (unless insurance applies)
  • One-time exemption of duties on the import of household goods (up to $10,000) and tax exemptions every two years on the import or purchase of a car
  • Grandfathered pensionado status. If the laws for acceptance into this program change, your status will remain unchanged

Eligibility

  • Must have a pension (or similar) of at least $1,000/month
  • Applications for the program as reviewed on a case-by-case basis and do not have a minimum age to qualify

Learn more about the pensionado program by checking out “Panama for Retirees” or find your perfect Panama home on RealtyHive

Application Information:  You’ll need an immigration lawyer in Panama to complete many of the steps. Learn more about the details of this process by visiting the Embassy of Panama website

Ecuador

While many people don’t immediately think of this South American nation as a prime retirement destination, Ecuador has grown in popularity in recent years. As one of the world’s most biodiverse places, this country is perfect for adventurous retirees looking for excellent value for their money. This program is a little less straightforward than others requiring a temporary visa for the first two years of residency and then a permanent residency visa can be applied for.

Benefits:

  • 50% off public transportation, airfare, cultural/sports/artistic/recreational events, and electricity/water/telephone services
  • Discounts on property, income, and vehicle taxes as well as a refund of sales tax
  • Pay no taxes on foreign income
  • Import household goods duty free within 6 months after obtaining residency

Eligibility:

  • Must show guaranteed income of at least $800/month, plus an extra $100/month for each dependent joining you.
    • Note: If the income comes from a source other than pension or Social Security income (like investment dividends or income from a trust), the amount of $800 per month for 5 years ($48,000) must be deposited in an Ecuadorian bank in advance
  • Cannot leave Ecuador for more than 90 days in calendar year during first or second year of holding the visa
  • Must have proof of private health insurance or must be affiliated with Ecuador’s social security system

Application Information: Ministry of International Relations and Immigration (Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores y Movilidad Humana) https://www.cancilleria.gob.ec/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/formulario_de_solicitud_de_visa.pdf

Colombia

From the 1970s to the mid-2000s, the news out of Colombia was not great for anyone looking for a peaceful retirement destination. Between guerilla factions, political unrest, and a deadly drug war, Colombia was seen as a dangerous place for tourists and citizens alike. These days, Colombia is a relatively safe country where you can enjoy incredible natural wonders and lively cultural. While Colombia’s benefits for retirees aren’t quite as robust or codified into law like in other countries, the low financial requirements and low cost of living make this a great choice for retirement.

Benefits:

  • Can be converted to a Resident visa after 5 years

Eligibility:

  • Must be at least 18 years old to apply
  • Must have a pension of at least 3 times the Colombian monthly minimum wage (approximately $766 per month as of June 2049)
    • A second, almost identical program allows for qualification with non-pension income such as interest or dividends. This program requires at least 10 times the monthly minimum wage or just over $2550 per month

Application Information: Application can be found by visiting the Minister of International Relations website

Author’s Note: This article contains research done in June 2019 and should be considered a starting point of research only. Tax, benefit, real estate, and other laws are constantly changing and you need to consult relevant licensed professionals when making big, important decisions.

perfect day hurricane free aruba

Hurricane Free Tropical Paradise

When envisioning life on an idyllic island paradise, you’re probably dreaming of soft sand, clear water, and hot and sunny days. And for the most part, you’d be spot on. While the locals will tell you that the monotonously perfect weather in paradise will grow old to you, that’s only part of the story.
 
For those who move, even part time, to these tropical dream locations are often caught off guard by hurricane season. According to the Hurricane Research Division of the Atlantic Oceanic & Meteorological Laboratory, there are three major hurricane strikes to the U.S. every five years and 88% of major hurricanes have hit either Florida or Texas, so U.S. residents aren’t unaware of the ferocity of these storms, but the severity in the Caribbean is on a different scale.
 
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to avoid these storms altogether? Get to enjoy the sun and the sand, but never worry about the next “big one” coming in? It turns out, you can have your paradise and keep it too with these tropical paradises that lay outside the hurricane belt.
 
**Note: These are the islands that are generally considered safe from hurricanes and many haven’t been hit for decades or even centuries, but the weather is an unpredictable force and there’s never a 100% guarantee that these islands won’t be affected in the future.
 

aruba-clear-beach

Aruba
This small Dutch island nation set just nine miles off the northwestern coast of Venezuela is home to blond sand beaches and soft tradewinds making it the postcard perfect island location. With an area of about 69 square miles and a population just over 100,000 this nation is comparable in size to the Midwestern mini-metro area of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, but packs a diverse punch. Aruba is home to 90+ nationalities and ethnic groups whose native traditions and cultures are celebrated on the island. Looking for a more active experience? Aruba is the shipwreck diving capital of the world and boasts the most sunny days of any island in the Caribean.
 
curacao beach

Curaçao
After seeing Aruba on a hurricane-free list, it should follow that Curaçao is next. Located approximately 50 miles east of Aruba, Curaçao covers an area about the size of Honolulu, Hawaii’s metro area, but has about one-sixth of the population. Visitors to Curaçao are delighted by the traditional Dutch architecture, the Old Town of Willemstad is a UNESCO World Heritage site, as well as the incredible natural features like world-renowned SCUBA sites and other points of attraction like the floating market in the Punda district, museums, and more.
 
bonaire sea view

Bonaire
No discussion of the ABC islands would be complete without Bonaire. The westernmost island in the group, Bonaire lays approximately 100 miles east of Aruba and 30 miles east of Curaçao. This island nation has a population just under 20,000 and is well known for eco-tourism. Bonaire is home to many lizards, donkeys, and bird who call the immense Washington Slagbaai National park home. Those interested watersports often find Bonaire the perfect place for divers and
snorkelers because of the massive coral reef, designated a national park, located just off the island’s shoreline. Arguably the best part about Bonaire? The island is home to the Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary, one of only four places in the world where flamingos breed.
 
tobago aerial view

Trinidad and Tobago
Located about 10 miles off the northeastern coast of Venezuela, Trinidad and Tobago is a twin-island nation known for beautiful beaches, rowdy Carnival celebrations, and incredible weather. The nation has seen more hurricane activity than others in the region, due to its location between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, but is still generally considered safe and mostly hurricane free. Whether you’re looking to kick back to the sounds of a traditional steel drum band or are looking to paddle amongst the twinkling particles of a bioluminescent beach, Trinidad and Tobago have something for everyone.
 
panama island paradise

Bocas del Toro, Panama
This island chain off the Caribbean coast of Panama has never experienced a hurricane. The crystal clear waters, including the popular Starfish Beach and excellent surfing conditions, make this a popular spot for adventure-seekers. Nine islands make up the chain meaning you can choose from a variety of accommodations ranging from luxury resorts to off-the-grid lodges and there’s no shortage of incredible beachfront views.
 
Still worried about a hurricane derailing your Caribbean good time? It’s worth keeping in mind that hurricanes are more likely to hit Miami than anywhere in the Caribbean. To keep your plans even more secure, plan your visit outside the traditional hurricane season (May to December), choosing one of the locations above, and purchasing the proper insurance can put you at ease.

hand holding world abroad

Is moving abroad right for you?

As winter turns to spring (and in some places, back to winter) people often get a little restless and dream of leaving their soggy, April-showered home for the sunny beaches of the Caribbean or Latin America. For most people, this is just a daydream, but for others this can set the groundwork for an adventure of a lifetime. While there are many reasons that moving abroad is not the right choice for everyone, here are some questions to ask yourself to see if moving abroad (even seasonally) might be the right choice for you.

  • You’re easygoing

Regardless of whether a country is geographically an island or not, to Americans who are accustomed to having everything done quickly and with a customer-service smile will be shocked to see how “island time” operates in this region. “Today” might mean today as in the next remaining hours of the actual day, but it could just as well mean tomorrow, later this week, or maybe next week. Ditto for “tomorrow”, “later”, and “sometime”. Side note: this holds true for everything not just time. Sometimes you’ll wake up and you might not have water for your shower. Sometimes your neighborhood goats will take over your yard and not allow you to leave in your car. You’re going to have things happen out of your control and how you respond to them will make or break your time abroad.

  • You have a lot of patience

While the Caribbean (not including Mexico and Central America) has roughly one-sixth the population of the United States, the time you spend waiting for nearly everything seems almost tenfold. Need to go to the bank? There’s a line. Waiting for a bus? Get in line. Want to buy movie tickets? Line! Bring a bottle of water and a book with you at all times and just enjoy these little time-outs, it’s all part of island time.

  • You’re open minded

One of the most natural reactions to culture shock are thoughts of “this is weird/uncomfortable/illogical” and so on. If you’re going to be stuck on how things run at home, moving abroad is probably not for you. If you’re willing to step over those thoughts (and toss your used toilet paper in the trash can..we’re serious!) then you might be a perfect candidate for life abroad. A dash of humility, an open mind, and a sense of humor are vital to making your experience a positive one.

    1. You’re innovative

Innovation might seem like a strange prerequisite for life abroad, but go with us here. Things break all the time in the Caribbean. Between the salt, sun, and sand there are a lot of elements working to break down your house/vehicle/devices/body/etc and there is often a remarkable shortage of common goods. Need moisturizer? Better bust out the coconut oil. Have a leak? Grab the duct tape! It’s best to brush up on your MacGyver skills and watch a couple of “life hack” videos before you go!

  • You’re financially capable

Life in the Caribbean can be as luxe or budget as you make it, but even the least expensive Caribbean locations require some way of supporting yourself. Those who choose to take this adventure during retirement can see additional benefits (see Panama for Retirees for more information on how Panama entices retirees), but those who are not retired will need to find a way to sustain their lifestyle. While it is possible to work in some Caribbean and Latin American countries, it is advised to make arrangements before leaving your home country. Do not show up in another country and expect to find work. Another popular option is to work online (thus not requiring a work permit in your new country), but those coming from the United States should be aware that this income will be taxed by the U.S. government and possibly that of your host country. Also, internet speeds vary wildly around the globe, so long story short, do your research and have a plan before you go!

Still think moving abroad is the right choice for you? What are your biggest uncertainties or questions? Let us know in the comments below! Want to see the housing options available in your chosen location? Check out the great deals on RealtyHive available here.

Off the Beaten Path: Exploring Panama’s Hidden Gems

When researching amazing places to visit, invest, or relocate to Panama often makes the short list. With a business and foreigner-friendly government, easy access from the United States, and a wonderful year-round average temperature, Panama has a lot to offer.
 
While Panama City is often the port of entry for many visitors, the country offers so much more than just its cosmopolitan capital city and legendary canal. Here are some of the experiences and places you need to add to your Panama bucket list.
 
Bocas del Toro
This archipelago chain offers no shortage of picturesque beaches, swaying palm trees, and aquamarine waters. The islands are a hub of surfing, rainforest exploration, and Panamanian natural beauty. Here you can rent an over-the-water villa, enjoy a trek through the forest, or catch a glimpse of dolphins playing offshore. Plan to start your adventure in Bocas Town, the capital of the province, on Isla Colón and explore from there.
Bucket List Item: Get your real-life Ariel on by swimming among the starfish at Starfish Beach.
 
Barú Volcano
Located in the Chiriquí province and with summit elevation of 9,200 feet, Barú Volcano is the highest point in Panama. The inactive volcano is located just outside Boquete, near the border with Costa Rica, and would-be visitors should be aware of the extreme climb and sometimes below-freezing temperatures that await them at the top. The easiest and most practical way to arrive at the summit is via a Jeep 4×4 operated by a local tour guide.
Buck List Item: Witness the sunrise from the highest point in Panama and stand in one of the few places in the world where you can see both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans with the naked eye at the same time.
 
Los Cangilones
Los Cangilones is a geological formation pushed up from the ocean during the creation of the isthmus of Panama. Another attraction starting from Boquete (the canyon is actually in Gualaca), these unique rock formations are cut by turquoise waters leading to a unique swimming experience. The area is accessible by vehicles making this a great opportunity for adventurous exploration for all ages and skill levels.
Bucket List Item: Experience a swimming excursion unlike any other with turquoise water and an open,yet cavernous, feel.
 
El Valle de Anton
Home to the world’s second-largest extinct volcano, El Valle de Anton is home to many natural exotic attractions. Here you can visit the El Nispero Zoo and Serpentario, check out the sites at Aprovaca, an orchid nursery and conservation center, and explore the many waterfalls and markets dotting the region.
Bucket List Item: Check out the Butterfly Haven where you can be surrounded by 100s of beautiful jewel-toned butterflies.

st patty party

Best St. Patrick’s Events in the Midwest

Looking for plans this St. Patrick’s day? Well thank that four leaf clover cause you’re in luck! Here we have compiled some of the biggest and most popular St. Patrick’s day events in the Midwest. From family parades to night time bar crawls, we’ve found it all, so there is no excuse to not have a blast this St. Patrick’s day.

Green River, Chicago, Illinois
 


 
 
Get Lucky Marathon, Chicago Illinois
 


 
 
St. Patrick’s Day Bar Crawl, Chicago Illinois
 


 
 
Shamrock Shuffle, Chicago Illinois
 


 
 
Indianapolis, Indiana
 


 
 
Irish 5k Trot, Ireland Indiana
 


 
 
St. Patty’s Day Parade, Muskegon, Michigan
 


 
 
Irish On Ionia, Grand Rapids Michigan
 

 
 

Parade & Celebration, Saint Paul, Minnesota
 

 
 
LuckyPalooza, Saint Paul, Minnesota
 


 
 
St patricks weekend at FINNEGANS, Minneapolis Minnesota
 


 
 
Irish Fest, Milwaukee Wisconsin
 


 
 

St. Patricks day Parade, Milwaukee Wisconsin
 


 

happy couple on beach

14 Picture Perfect Places to Spend Valentine’s Day

Thinking of getting away this Valentine’s Day? Check out some of the most beautiful and romantic spots on the planet!

Montego Bay, Jamaica
 


 
 
Iceland
 


 
 
Maldives
 


 
 
Tulum, Mexico
 


 
 
Mátala, Greece
 

 
 
Colonia Del Sacramento, Colonia, Uruguay
 


 
 
Pig Beach – Big Major Cay, Exuma, Bahamas
 


 
 
Lake Zakrzówek, Krakow, Poland
 

 
 
 
The Pyramids of Giza, egypt
 


 
 
Kings Canyon National Park, California
 


 
 
Rome, Italy
 


 
 
Udaipur, Rajasthan, India
 


 
 
Glaciar ojo del Albino, Argentina
 


 
 
Paris ,France