Monthly Archives: January 2018

Nobody wants the family heirlooms anymore?

Editors note:  I’m 64 and I havent used the shit my mother bought since I moved out in 1971.   That “Royal of Copenhagen” and “Waterford” went  out with the Queens old man!
But I still save it “for the girls” – who will never want the gawdy, pretentious, ostentatious stuff.   Sell it to Trump!   – SU

In this era of minimalism and mobility, who will take the china?


tea cups

My mother-in-law’s tea cups are parked in my dining room. (Photo: Lloyd Alter)

As an architect, being a minimalist is part of my training. It took 30 years for me to find acceptable dining room chairs. I don’t like clutter. Yet cluttering up my dining room is an old library cabinet filled with teacups and dishes that belonged to my late mother-in-law, items that my wife is not willing to part with.

My daughter was just setting up house when her grandmother died, so at least the dining room set and sideboard found a home. But for many people, it’s not so easy. Most baby boomers are already established and don’t need more stuff when they inherit it from their parents, and their millennial kids either don’t like it or don’t have a place to put it.

Writing in Next Avenue, Richard Eisenberg notes that nobody wants the big old stuff anymore. “Dining room tables and chairs, end tables and armoires (“brown” pieces) have become furniture non grata. Antiques are antiquated.” One expert in getting rid of stuff moans about the millennials:

“This is an Ikea and Target generation. They live minimally, much more so than the boomers. They don’t have the emotional connection to things that earlier generations did. And they’re more mobile. So they don’t want a lot of heavy stuff dragging down a move across country for a new opportunity.”

Or, more likely, they don’t have the kinds of careers that let them live in places with the room for all of it. Or they don’t  know how long they will live there.

How then, do we get rid of stuff?

Getting rid of stuff is hard, and it takes time. According to Eisenberg, it’s best to start early, while the parents are still around. Try and learn the history, the stories of stuff. You never know, some of these items might have real value. (Alternatively, the older generation might just start giving it all away, I have an old aunt who, every time I visited, would insist I take something home; once it was a can of barbecue lighter fluid left over from the ’70s. That’s one way to clear out a garage.)

Eisenberg has lots of other tips but the final one is the most important and most realistic:

Perhaps the best advice is: Prepare for disappointment. “For the first time in history of the world, two generations are downsizing simultaneously,” says [moving expert Mary Kay] Buysse, talking about the boomers’ parents (sometimes, the final downsizing) and the boomers themselves. “I have a 90-year-old parent who wants to give me stuff or, if she passes away, my siblings and I will have to clean up the house. And my siblings and I are 60 to 70 and we’re downsizing.”

garage saleTake some books! Please!? (Photo: Lloyd Alter)

This is so true. My mother-in-law moved out of her house around the time we were renovating and downsizing our own home; we literally couldn’t give the stuff away — hers or ours. We tried, using Freecycle and holding a big open house, but we still had stuff left over. Now that we live in a much smaller space, there’s not much room for anything I might want when my 98-year-old mom moves on from her apartment, which is chock full of stuff.

Chandelier over stairwellMy mother-in-law’s crystal chandelier lights up the stairs now. (Photo: Lloyd Alter)

Not only have tastes changed, but the way people think about stuff has changed; our needs have changed. Few people have formal dining rooms or a place for crystal chandeliers. (I stuck my mother-in-law’s over the stair landing.) With today’s disposable culture, it’s cheaper to buy a sofa from IKEA than it is to hire a truck and a mover for grandma’s giant sofa. Much of the older furniture won’t fit in today’s smaller condos; some of it won’t even fit in the elevator. Antique dealer Carol Eppel concludes:

“I don’t think there is a future for the possessions of our parents’ generation. It’s a different world.”

So, learn what you can about your parents’ or grandparents’ possessions and think about if there’s any value there, emotional or financial. If you don’t have room, you already know the answer — and you might as well have that difficult conversation sooner rather than later.

UPDATE: we have written a second post to pick up on the issues raised in comments and provide more resources. Read The story of (getting rid of) stuff


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Real vs. fake service dogs: What’s the difference? Why it matters!

More people are falsely claiming their pets are service animals, and states are cracking down.

What exactly is a working dog, and how can you tell if someone's service dog is fake?

What exactly is a working dog, and how can you tell if someone’s service dog is fake? (Photo: tirc83/istock)

The term “service dog” is used a lot in public these days. What was once an assistance animal for blind or deaf individuals, highly trained service dogs are now helping people with a wide range of disabilities, acting as seizure alert dogs, PTSD service dogs, alerting a handler with diabetes to when his blood sugar dips, and so much more.

However, as an understanding of the broadened range of what a trained service animal can do reaches the general public, and with the important work the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) has done to increase public accessibility and privacy for people with service animals, it has become common for people to call their pets service animals even when they don’t meet the legal definition.

A lot of people are interested in calling their pet dogs service animals for reasons that have little to do with mitigating the effects of a disability. Maybe it’s so they can bring their pet along on shopping trips, bring them on the plane with them during vacation, or get around housing restrictions for pets. Whatever the reason, claiming your dog is a service animal is no small thing. Those who want to have a dog as a constant companion or a working animal need to be aware of everything that claim entails legally — not to mention how it can effect the reputation of trained service animals everywhere.

Service dog versus therapy dog versus emotional support animal

There can be a lot of confusion about the different titles for dogs, particularly when it comes to public access. However, as Please Don’t Pet Me points out, “Differentiating between service dogs, therapy dogs and emotional support animals is not a matter of splitting hairs or political correctness. Each of these dogs has a very different job from the others and the terms are not interchangeable.”

Service dogs have been trained to perform specific tasks that help mitigate a handler’s disability.

therapy dog provides comfort to people, particularly in hospitals, nursing homes and schools. While therapy dogs receive training on how to handle themselves in public and around the people they’re comforting, they are not trained to do specific tasks to help with a disability.

Emotional support animals (ESAs) are pets that provide a high level of comfort to the owner and do not have to have any training.

The only animal that legally can go to any public place the handler goes is a service dog.

ESAs have some additional legal protection under the Fair Housing Act; a person whose doctor has recommended they have an ESA can have their pet living with them, even in housing that has pet restrictions. They also have some protection under the Air Carrier Access Act, which allows a person with documentation to have their pet travel with them. However, an ESA is still a pet, not a service animal, and does not have the same public access as a service animal. In other words, while you can have your ESA living with you in a no-pet apartment, you can’t bring your ESA to the grocery store or coffee shop.

The American with Disabilities Act has an excellent FAQ that helps clarify the differences among service dogs, therapy dogs and ESAs. It can be a bit confusing even for those familiar with the territory, so it’s easy to imagine the confusion and frustration of business owners or other service providers who have to deal with people who claim a therapy dog or ESA is a service animal.

A working dog helps a vision-impaired handler. A working dog helps a vision-impaired handler. (Photo: Cylonphoto/Shutterstock)

So how do you know if a dog is legally considered a service animal? Ultimately, it’s quite simple: A dog is considered a service dog under the law when that dog trained to perform specific tasks that mitigate the handler’s disability. It doesn’t matter the type of disability the handler has, or whether that disability is physical or psychological.

To be allowed to go everywhere with a handler, not only must a dog be able to do a job, but the dog must also stay under the handler’s control at all times. In other words, the dog needs to be leashed or harnessed and has to be able to mind his manners. A significant amount of training goes into a service dog’s ability to be polite in public. The International Association of Assistance Dog Partners has a standard for the minimum training requirements for public access.

There’s no overarching organization that deems a dog a service dog and provides certification as such. If you have a physical or psychological disability, your dog consistently and reliably performs tasks that help you with a disability, and your dog has the obedience training to behave in public, then your dog is legally considered a service dog — no paperwork, special certifications or listing in a registry required.

But as with any system, there are those who play by the rules and those who don’t. Many people willingly “certify” their dogs to get the official-looking paperwork that might wave off a questioning business owner. And that’s where things can get hairy.

Fake service dogs are a big problem

There has been a public backlash against people who take fake service dogs into public places, and rightfully so. It isn’t just about the issue of lying for your own benefit; it’s also about the danger the owner is creating for the animal, for other people, and for legitimate service dogs that may find themselves next to an unruly pet.

“Fake service dogs present a problem for legitimate service dog teams in a number of ways,” says Erin Kramer, a professional dog trainer and owner of Tug Dogs. “The first and most widespread is that by taking untrained dogs into public spaces and masking them as service dogs, when they do act inappropriately, it makes it more challenging for legitimate service dogs to be welcomed.”

One of the most common public spaces fake service dogs are showing up is aboard aircraft.

Airlines are required to allow emotional support animals on board flights under the Air Carrier Access Act as long as owners have a note from a doctor or licensed therapist. But the law is vague; it doesn’t define which human afflictions require an emotional support animal. Therefore, more people are falsely claiming their pets provide emotional support with a simple doctor’s note.

With the increase in animals on flights, airlines have reported more incidents of animals roaming freely around the plane, defecating or being aggressive. One airline is taking steps to help ensure that only trained, properly-behaving service and therapy dogs are allowed on its flights. Beginning March 1, 2018, Delta will requirepassengers provide vaccination or proof of health documentation 48 hours before a flight (along with the federally-required doctor or therapist’s note for emotional support animals). The company will also require owners have a signed note stating the animal is trained and will behave properly.

But planes aren’t the only places where fake service dogs are an issue.

For instance, many people put their dogs in shopping carts or allow them to sit on chairs in restaurants. Neither of these activities are allowed for service dogs. Or the owner may allow the dog to go sniff other people, or to seek out attention from strangers or to bark excessively — also behaviors considered unacceptable in trained service dogs. People claiming to have a service animal but who really have an untrained pet with them harm the reputation of legitimate service dogs and make it harder for people with working dogs to gain the respect of business owners, people who grant access to public places, and the public in general.

Service dogs don't sit at the table, unless for a very specific task that requires contact with their handler. People letting their "service dog" sit at the table with them is a sign the dog is probably a pet. Service dogs don’t sit at the table, unless it’s for a very specific task that requires contact with their handler. When you see people let their dogs sit at the table with them, that’s a good indication the dog is probably a pet. (Photo: Olesia Bilkei/Shutterstock)

“Illegitimate service dogs often end up unknowingly teaching poor habits to the general public by [handlers] allowing people to pet or interact with their (so called) service dog.” Kramer states, “If your dog is not performing a task for you, it’s no big deal to have them busy trying to greet strangers. However, when you have an actual service dog who is there to assist you in some way, you need them focused on their job. Service dog handlers already have to deal with the general public attempting to interact with and otherwise distract their dog. When someone has been able to pet and interact with what they believe to be a legitimate service dog, it can be confusing or disturbing when you have to tell them your dog cannot be petted.”

Fake service dogs can also cause problems for legitimate service dog-and-handler teams by being reactive or approaching other dogs to play.

“Fake service dogs can create problems while out and about for actual service dogs by reacting negatively, such as lunging, barking, growling, and other inappropriate behavior in confined spaces such as at restaurants and in shops,” says Kramer. “If a service dog is having to worry about another dog acting aggressively towards them, they cannot focus on their handler’s needs, and that can be downright dangerous.”

As a result, service dogs that have undergone years of training may have to be rehabilitated or retired after being attacked by fake service dogs — and such a loss is a significant one to the handler who needs a working dog to navigate the world.

The problems of fake service dogs go way beyond the perception issue. There’s also the impact on the well-being of fake service dogs.

Colt Rosensweig writes, “Service dogs are specially trained to deal with things like children racing up to them and invading their space, adults randomly reaching for their heads, shopping carts rattling by inches from their face, and crowds pressing in on them from every direction. These things can stress pet dogs out beyond their threshold. Some pet dogs will shut down in the face of such stress — this is very unpleasant for the dog. But some dogs will be so stressed out that they lash out. This is not only unpleasant for the dog, but dangerous to the dog, owner, and members of the public.”

The problem isn’t limited to people who propagate the fake service dog myth, but also to websites that claim to register dogs as service animals or ESAs. Not only does this confuse pet owners, who might think they’re playing by the rules by registering their animal, but the certificates or identification cards mailed out to pet owners who flash them in public can cause even more confusion.

States are cracking down on fake service animals

By the end of 2017, 19 states and several cities across the U.S. passed laws making it illegal to claim a pet as a service animal without proper certification.

Washington is the latest state to have a bill in legislation. The bill defines a service animal as “any dog that is individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of an individual with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” Also, the bill recognizes that a certified service animal’s job is to perform tasks for its owner and not just companionship for its owner. The punishment for violating the law would be a maximum fine of $500.

One of the reasons lawmakers in Washington wrote the bill was the ever-increasing presence of pets labeled as therapy and emotional support animals. “Just know that because your dog is therapeutic and you feel better with it, that’s not enough” Washington House Representative Joan McBride told KCPQ.

Currently, there is a no federal law prohibiting the false labeling of an animal as a service, therapy, or emotional support animal.

Are online service animal registries legitimate?

Unfortunately, the reality is most websites that offer registration or certification for service animals or emotional support animals are in it to make money and aren’t giving you anything of legal value. Not only is there no official certifying organization for service dogs, you don’t even need to carry certification for your service dog. The Americans with Disabilities Act does not require service animals to be certified or registered with any company or organization.

Service Dog Central writes, “There is no legitimate service dog certification or registration in the United States. Some programs will certify the dogs they train and test, and some do not. Those certificates are the only ones that actually mean anything, and they only mean anything if you have to go to court and prove your dog is trained. They are not required; they are merely useful documentation for the dog’s training, which could be substantiated by other means. You don’t need them for public access, or housing, or flying, or anything else.”

Some websites offer a doctor’s letter for a fee to those who want to be able to have their pet considered an emotional support animal or service animal for various reasons. Others will register the animal in their database and send out identification cards and a certificate so that everything feels official, even if it isn’t. Some services will even charge an annual renewal fee to keep the animal registered, or to renew the doctor’s letter each year. Ultimately, while it might help you feel more official, registering your animal with one of these registration services doesn’t give you any additional legal protection or status for your pet. Still, some owners want that card.

Service Dog Central has a list of scam registration websites, and notes, “Not a single service listed above tests the dogs they certify, register, or ID. They do nothing to verify the dog’s training or the owner’s disability. All that is required is that the purchaser fill out a form with the information for the certificate and where to mail it, and include payment ranging from $35 to over $200 depending on the package being purchased.”

“Quite honestly, the registration of the dog on a website is the lowest of our priorities when we train or provide a service dog,” says Kramer. “Putting that goal first is a big mix-up in proprieties. I think focusing too much on how and where to buy a vest or register a dog misses the most important element of the service dog experience: having a dog who can do their job.”

Sometimes, having a card as identification to clip on to your dog’s vest makes it easier for those training a service dog to navigate public spaces without being hassled by store owners. But sometimes, whipping out that identification at the slightest questioning does more harm than good.

Legally, a business owner can ask only two things: Is your dog a service animal? And what tasks is the dog trained to perform? That’s it. Those people presenting the identification to business owners when questioned about their dog unwittingly train the business owner that documentation is available and should be presented. When a legitimate service dog team refuses to show documentation — because legally, they don’t have to — the business owner may think that this legitimate team is actually a fake.

Can you train your pet to be a service dog?

leash trainingWhile most dogs can be trained to do simple commands, most aren’t cut out to be service dogs. (Photo: Mat Hayward/Shutterstock)

Legally, someone can train a dog to be a service animal, but there’s a big caveat here: Most pets are not cut out to be service animals. Beyond being trained to perform specific tasks to help mitigate a handler’s disability, a service dog needs to have excellent behavior while in public and be calm despite anything happening around them. The world can be a stressful, scary place for a dog — from loud cars to construction noise, to the chaos of a busy store, to children running up, to people trying to get their attention to give them affection or food, to having to experience something new such as riding on a new form of transportation.

A service dog needs to have the mental tools to navigate that loud, hectic world for themselves while also paying attention to the needs of the handler and being able to do the tasks they’ve been trained to do. It’s not a job for any pet. Even dogs bred specifically for the temperament of a service dog “fail” service dog training school for various reasons.

So while there may be the option for you to train your dog as a service animal, it’s important to realize that your dog likely may not have what it takes to be an effective helper. You also have to realize it takes upward of a year of intense daily training of your dog, and continued training throughout the dog’s lifetime to maintain those skills, so it also might be something you as a dog owner don’t wish to take on — especially if your only goal is to legally be able to take your pet with you everywhere you go.

Training your dog to be a service dog needs to come from the right place and to happen for the right reasons because it’s a serious long-term commitment — and it also affects the reputation of legitimate service dogs everywhere.

How to train your dog to be a (legal) service dog

“There is a lot of confusion out there about what it takes to have a service dog who meets legal requirements and can perform the tasks required of them, or to turn your own dog into a service dog,” says Kramer. “With different regional regulations, conflicting internet information, and even many trainers not knowing some of the details, it can be challenging just to figure out how to get started.”

If you and a medical professional feel a service dog would benefit you, and you think your pet dog is an ideal candidate, the best place to start is to find a reliable trainer who has experience in training both service dogs and handlers. Not only is it important that the trainer have excellent skills with dogs but because you will be doing practically all of the hands-on training, they need to be good at teaching people as well. The trainer will guide you on the daily training and how to build up to advanced skills for your dog.

Do your research in finding the right trainer for you. Then set up an evaluation so the trainer can let you know if she thinks your dog will be able to handle the responsibility. Be prepared to hear that your pet should remain a pet. However, if both of you have what it takes to tackle training, then you’ll be able to move forward in what will likely be many months, if not a year or two, of daily work.

Kramer gives an overview of what to expect with her program: “We first ensure our clients meet legal requirements by having a doctor’s note indicating that in fact they would benefit from the use of a service animal. We then look at the team (handler and dog) to see how they interact, what weaknesses are present, and what tasks need to be trained.”

A service dog in training is not yet legally recognized as a service dog. However, some states are more lenient about providing public access to service dogs in training to help teach them how to behave in public. For instance, California allows a person with a disability who is training a service dog, or a licensed trainer to have the dog with him in a public place for training purposes. Check with your city and state to know the laws about public access.

Building your dog’s service skills is a long process. “We work toward the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test in the early stages of training, and then public access standards as set by Assistance Dogs International,” says Kramer “If, at the end of this rigorous process a client chooses to register with an online resource, they can do so knowing that their dog has met all the requirements and can actually do the job they need to do.”

Ultimately the final exam for a service dog is this: Can a service dog perform tasks that help a handler cope with a disability and be with that handler at all times, remaining calm in any public situation? Federal law allows businesses and organizations to remove a service dog that is out of control or that isn’t housebroken. Your service dog’s training and your abilities as a handler are the real access pass to public places, not some certificate bought online.

“Certifications and ID cards can be faked,” Rosensweig writes. “Impeccable behavior can’t be purchased for $50 from an Internet scam site. It can’t be obtained in a day. It takes an incredible amount of time and dedication. People who want to ‘take Fluffykins with me everywhere!’ are not the kind of people who will put in two years of training to make sure Fluffykins can handle it.”

However, if you and your dog can put years into training, then you certainly have the potential to become a legitimate team that can add respect to the reputation of service dogs and handlers everywhere.

Editor’s Note: The article has been updated since it was originally published in February 2016.


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Lindsey Graham’s loyalty to Trump goes unrewarded

Republican Presidential hopeful and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks at an event at the National Press Club on Sept. 8, 2015 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty)
Republican Presidential hopeful and U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) speaks at an event at the National Press Club on Sept. 8, 2015 in Washington, D.C.
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), once one of Donald Trump’s fiercest Republican critics, experienced a metamorphosis in 2017. The South Carolina Republican, who had been a frequent target of presidential mockery and derision, decided he’d transform himself into one of Trump’s closest Capitol Hill allies.

Graham attacked the press for its criticisms of Trump. Graham promoted conspiracy theories and anti-Clinton nonsense that Trump was likely to favor. Graham pressed the Justice Department to go after the author of the Trump/Russia dossier. Graham golfed with Trump and bragged about how nice Trump’s course was. Even after Graham heard Trump condemn immigrants from, in the president’s words, “shithole countries,” the GOP bit his tongue and refused to publicly acknowledge what we knew to be true.

And yet, in Trump World, Graham’s loyalty is worth effectively nothing. Politico  noted last night:

Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) “were completely dishonest” in their negotiations on immigration with President Donald Trump, White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley said Monday.

Gidley criticized a bipartisan deal on immigration brought forth by the lawmakers, along with four other senators, for failing to live up to their assurances to the White House.

The White House official added, “To pretend [Graham[ is anything other than someone who wants open borders and amnesty is just disingenuous.” Hogan Gidley had related comments against Graham over the weekend.

Yesterday, in apparent reference to Graham, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders added, “It is almost appalling to me that you have a senator that isn’t stepping up, doing the right thing.”

Graham carried the president’s water for a while. Now Trump World is dumping that water on Graham’s head.

Brian Beutler had a good piece along these lines last week, mocking Graham for his foolish gamble.

The Lindsey Graham Theory of Groveling suffers from two obvious weaknesses that, when combined, fatally undermine it. First, Graham isn’t the only powerful person who seeks to curry favor with Trump by sucking up to him and abetting his misconduct. Second – in both the retelling of those around him, and in a recent, televised meeting with lawmakers at the White House – Trump has proven to be wildly manipulable, careening between incompatible positions whenever he engages new stakeholders. Trump is regularly driven to undermine his administration by Fox News hosts, who know Trump mindlessly live tweets their shows, and thus tailor their programming to influence administration policy and messaging.

Graham has thus humiliated himself for the most fleeting of rewards: convincing Trump of things that a person with less heterodox views can unconvince him of just as quickly.

I’d just add that nearly everyone who tries to curry favor with Trump seems to forget the limits of his loyalty. As we discussed after Reince Priebus’ ouster, Trump’s brief political career has been marked, repeatedly, by his rejection of those who’ve shown him nothing but deference.

The president has made clear he sees loyalty as something he expects to receive, not bestow. Graham apparently thought he was slowly gaining influence and favor in the White House by telling Trump what he wanted to hear. Let this be a lesson to others who follow the senator’s path: loyalty to Trump will go unrewarded.


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The Surprising Health Benefits Of Napping

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Have you ever felt so run down that you just had to take a nap? I don’t really enjoy naps because they make me feel groggy and gross, but sometimes it has to be done. Did you know that there’s a right and wrong way to take a quick snooze? Yup, it’s true. Studies have shown that you should not nap for more than 20 minutes at a time because it can put you into REM sleep, which isn’t the best for feeling refreshed. If you prefer, you can cut it down to about 10-12 minutes, but it might not make you feel rested enough.

Some people may argue that naps aren’t good for you and that they only make your energy levels worse, but they’re sadly mistaken. Napping has quite a few benefits to it including short-term memory boosts, relaxation when you’re stressed and more. Let’s check out what all the benefits of napping are and get you on the right track to successful short-term snoozing.

Table of Contents


What Is Napping?

I’m sure you already know, but napping is nothing more than a brief sleep that helps recharge your brain and body. It can be done in just a short amount of time or longer if needed.


How To Properly Nap

It seems silly, but there are proper and improper types of naps. I know I got into this briefly earlier, but I want to explain to you how you should properly nap, allowing you to get the most energy.


Pick A Napping Style

Depending on what kind of person you are, how stressed you may be and how tired you are, you can pick and choose how long your naps last for. It’s best to try to snooze for about 20-30 minutes. This will help your body refresh itself without giving you sleep inertia or disrupting your nighttime sleeping routine. Your body will stay in a lighter sleep mode rather than going into REM sleep. This is a deeper sleep that is going to make you feel even more tired after you wake up and you might not be as productive as you hoped. You can play around with nap times to see how long you can go without going into REM sleep and what time frames will give you the best results.


Where To Nap

If you find yourself getting sleepy at work, especially during night shifts, which happened to roughly 29% of people in a sleep study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, go out to your car and take a power nap. Workplaces usually aren’t “nap friendly”, but if you can get away with taking a quick snooze at your desk, go for it, but don’t get in trouble. Your best bet is to use your car to avoid being reprimanded.

If you’re on the road and you start feeling groggy, stop into a rest area, don’t park on the shoulder. If it’s nighttime, make sure you are in a well-lit area where there are people and keep your doors locked. You should never continue to drive if you are starting to get tired because it’s a safety hazard to you and everybody on the road around you.

Getting tired at school? I’ve been there a lot. My suggestion is to wait until you can get into the library and take a quick power nap there. It’s the quietest place in the school, especially college. Don’t skip classes, though.


Setting Up Your Nap Place

When you’re ready to take your nap, pick a dark room. Blocking out the light will help you fall asleep quicker. If it’s not possible to get into a dark room, get yourself a sleep mask. This will give you artificial darkness. These are also great for migraine sufferers who need instant darkness.


Find The Right Temperature

Whoever thought adult napping was so frustrating. If it’s too hot or too cold, chances are you aren’t going to sleep very well or you might have problems falling asleep. It’s recommended that the temperature of room or the area in which you want to nap stays between 60 and 67 degrees fahrenheit.

If you can’t control the temperature or you have limited means of doing so, keep a blanket or comfortable jacked handy and maybe even a little portable fan to keep your face cool. If you’re anything like me, you may find it impossible to sleep without some kind of white noise. In this case, install a white noise app on your phone or invest in one of those white noise machines.


Napping Length

Don’t feel like playing with nap numbers? Here’s a few suggestions when it comes to nap times.

2-5 minutes

This is an effective nap time for when you are so tired that you just can’t continue doing what you’re doing. I am absolutely notorious for doing this. Nano-naps are a good way to try to deal with some of this sleepiness. Lay your head down in a safe place and set a timer for 2-5 minutes and hope for the best.

5-20 minutes

This optimal & recommended nap time frame is best for increasing your motor performance, stamina, and increasing alertness. These are called mini-naps and work best when you have a couch or bed to lay on rather than a desk.

20 Minutes

This is the average nap time for adults. These types mid-day naps help rid the brain of information that’s unnecessarily stored in your short-term memory. These types of power naps also improve muscle memory and the ability to remember more important facts, especially if you have a test to take.

50-90 minutes

If you want to go through the complete sleep cycle in just short amount of time, this “lazy man’s nap” is a long nap that allows your body to reach REM sleep. This type of snooze is best for those who both physically and mentally tired. This type of sleep gives your body the proper time needed to repair itself.


Are Naps Good For You?

Naps are absolutely good for you. Although they have a lot of negative stigma, they are one of the most powerful tools when it comes to self-improvement. They have the ability to increase your productivity, intelligence, health and well-being. Did you know that a lot of famous individuals were known for their naps? Thomas Edison, John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, and Napoleon were always napping whenever they could. These were some of the most intelligent people, aside from Einstein, who depended on their quick snooze sessions.


Benefits Of Napping During The Day

Napping during the day is one of the best ways to help you keep your concentration and remain alert. NASA performed a study that proved 20 minutes of napping is more effective than 200mg of caffeine and a 40 minute nap is proven to increase how alert you are by 100%. Napping for a little bit after lunchtime can help workers make less errors at their job and students can study better.

Stress Reduction

Small naps, or snaps, can reduce the negative effects or bad emotions. Stress can lead to depression, could affect your performance at work or make other people around you cranky and upset. Depression isn’t something that you want to subject yourself for others to.

Improves Memory

Not sleeping enough can result in less productivity and performance. In terms of students, especially college students, napping will help retain over loaded information. Napping has the ability to improve memory and if you have the time to take an hour to 90 minute nap, your mental fatigue can disappear.

Increased Creativity

Napping regularly can greatly help improve your sensory perception. It also increases your creativity, which will then boost your work performance. When you take enough naps, your intelligence and creative ideas will come out. Just like you body, your brain needs its rest as well.

It’s A Money Saver

Naps save money? Yes they do! Rather than spending odd amounts of money on energy drinks or Starbucks, even though Starbucks is delicious, you can take a nap and naturally boost your energy levels more effectively.


Health Benefits Of Napping

Sure, snoozing here and there is going to make you mentally and emotionally feel better, but did you know that it can also be healthy for you in terms of your heart and muscles. If you are lacking sleep, it can lead to excess cortisol, which can then lead to a glucose intolerance and an increase in abdominal fat. Deprivation in sleep or napping can trigger diabetes and heart disease.

You see, your growth hormone only releases when you sleep and prevents you from certain health ailments. Not only that, but it helps with muscle repair and weight loss. A study was done with Greek individuals and it showed that those who napped for 30 minutes were less likely to suffer a heart condition. Without napping, working men have a 64% more risk of dying from a heart condition.


Immune System Improvement

Go ahead and rest yourself, because doing so can help you immune and neuroendocrine systems recover better. A 30-minute nap can help reverse the impact on your hormones of a poor night of sleep. A study was conducted in 11 healthy men between 25 and 32 over 3-day sessions. The first session had the men limited to only two hours of sleep. The second section allowed two hours of sleep, but the third day, these men were allowed to take two 30-minute naps throughout the day. Each one of these sessions allowed for eight-hours of sleep and the last night there was unlimited sleep.

After each day, the saliva and hormone levels of each man were measured to see how napping or not napping had an affect on them. Studies showed that after a two-hour night of sleep, they had a 2.5 fold increase in their levels of norepinephrine, which is part of stress and increases the body’s heart rate, blood pressure, and blood sugar. It was also shown that their levels of interleukin-6 dropped, which is a protein with antiviral elements, after one night of no sleep. Participants who napped showed normal levels.


It Lifts Your Spirits

Have you ever been in contact with anybody who’s sleep deprived? They aren’t the most cheerful person are they? Even if you don’t get enough sleep, you’re probably moody. A quick nap is an extreme mood booster, no matter how old you are. This is why when you encounter a sleepy toddler, you put them down for a nap and their mood is suddenly better.


Reduces Information Overload

A lot of times, people avoid taking a nap because they feel like they have too much to do. If you put in too many hours during the day without any rest, it can dramatically decrease your productivity. It has been shown that when people don’t nap, their performance on the task they do is deteriorated. However, those who take a 30-minute nap halted the performance deterioration. Those who took a one hour nap saw an improvement in their performance.


Boosts Sex Drive

Lack of sleep can have a very bad effect on somebody’s libido. Ladies, this one is for you. If you get just an hour more of sleep each day from napping, your likelihood of having sex is increased by 14 percent. Okay, so I guess this one was for the men, too. Let’s face it, if you’re tired, you aren’t going to want to be involved in any sexual activity. Your main concern will be getting to sleep at a decent time rather than having a little bit of fun beforehand.


Decreased Chance Of Weight Gain

A Stanford University study found that if you lack sleep, it triggers gherkin, which is a hormone that makes you want to eat more. It also lowers the level of leptin, which is the hormone that tells you you’re full. So, without sleep, you eat more and your body can’t tell you when you’ve had enough


Reduced Arguments

Studies have shown that just one night without a good rest can worsen arguments between you and your partner, or even your co-workers. You will become less accurate when it comes to reading emotions and you’re more likely to become more cranky.


No More indiscriminate Mistakes

Have you ever suffered from beer goggles? Sleep deprivation has pretty much the same effect. When men are sleep deprived, they found women to be more attractive and were more interested in casual sex. It does this by interfering with the frontal lobe of your brain, which is responsible for impulse control, sexual behavior, social behavior, and judgement.


Protection For That Erection

Sleeping less than five hours per day can decrease your testosterone levels by 10-15 percent, according to a study done by the University of Chicago. When you lack testosterone, you can suffer from weaker sperm, difficulty obtaining an erection and a lower sex drive. Sleep is core for testosterone production and if you don’t get enough of it, your body will produce other chemicals that will continue to mess with your testosterone. Protect that erection by taking naps when tired.


It Keeps You Sane

Sleep deprivation is a scary thing, which is why you need to nap when you feel it’s necessary. It can cause you to develop fake memories. A study was conducted by the University of California that observed those who did not get enough sleep. The study showed that those who did not get enough shuteye saw imaginary details in pictures after they were just read those details in a separate narrative after the fact. People who didn’t get enough sleep before the narrative didn’t have that problem. Those who don’t get adequate sleep can have their brain jumbled, causing some confusion.


It Reduces Anxiety

Anxiety is a scary thing, trust me on this. I am an anxiety sufferer and when I don’t get enough sleep, it only gets worse. Another study done by the University of California showed that when people weren’t getting enough sleep, they have a lot more activity in the areas of the brain that are associated with anxiety. The study also warns that those who lack sleep are at a greater risk for developing an anxiety disorder. Taking naps can help reduce your level of fatigue, reducing your level of anxiety.


It Can Prevent Dementia

Lacking sleep can lead to Alzheimer’s disease according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University. They studied a group of individuals and those who did not have enough sleep had greater deposits of B-Amyloid, which is a plaque associated with the disease. When you sleep, even if it’s just a mini-nap, your brain cleans itself, removing those plaques.


Skin Is Better

If you’re one for perfect skin, you’ll want to start napping. Sleep deprived individuals have more fine lines, loose skin, and uneven skin tones. If you stay up all night, you may age faster because your skin won’t repair itself.


Repair From An All-Nighter

Did you pull an all-nighter? I’ve been there and I was exhausted all day. If you’re lacking sleep, it can physically make you sick. Luckily, if you take a nap, you can regenerate yourself. A study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism found that men who napped for 30-minutes twice a day were able to reset their stress-hormone levels.


You’re Less Of A Jerk

Lack of sleep can lower your self-control, making you a jerk. You’ll find yourself yelling for no reason, being unreasonable, cranky, and all around mean. So, for everybody’s sake, take a nap and don’t be that guy.



If you think napping is the lazy way to get through the day, it’s not. Napping has many health benefits, as seen above. It’s helpful for the heart, brain, skin, and immune system. Not to mention, it’s a huge money saver because you won’t be spending your cash on energy supplements. The best way to nap is to lay on a comfortable mattress and snooze for 20-minutes. It’s vital to your health and sex life that you get enough sleep, even if it means taking a quick nap at your desk, in your car or in your home.


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Don’t miss the ‘super blue blood moon’ on Jan. 31

A total lunar eclipse from September 2015

Photo: Patrik Stollarz/AFP/Getty Images

January 2018 has been a month of lunar events.

First, there was a full moon on Jan. 1. The January full moon is always called the Wolf Moon, a name credited to howling wolvesthat were sometimes heard by Native Americans and European colonists at this time of year.

But that doesn’t seem like such a big deal. After all, we get one full moon every month — but not this January! That’s because there’s another full moon Jan. 31. It’s actually a blue moon, the name for a second full moon in a single month.

This blue moon will be even more special since it will occur during a total lunar eclipse, which begins in the early morning of Jan. 31, according to NASA. This means not only will we have a blue moon on Jan. 31, but for the Western U.S., Hawaii and half of Asia, the moon will also be a blood-red color as it enters the deepest part of the eclipse.

supermoon is the term given to the moon when it’s at its closest to Earth in its orbit, which varies a little bit since the moon’s orbit isn’t a perfect circle. This January’s supermoon will appear about 11 percent larger than usual, according to

A total lunar eclipse occurs when the moon, sun and Earth are aligned, and Earth’s shadow is cast on the moon. The spooky red color happens because the red light that passes through our atmosphere is bent. suggests thinking of the atmosphere as a lens that shines the light onto the moon, creating that crimson color even though the moon is completely in shadow.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated since it was originally published in December 2017.


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Five interesting facts that will make you stop sucking

by Christine Lepisto (@greenanswer  –


That’s the number of plastic straws the average American uses in a lifetime.

500 million

Every single day, Americans toss 500 million plastic straws in the trash. That’s 175 billion straws per year.

Top Ten in the Ocean

According to the Ocean conservancy, plastic straws are in the top ten marine debris items (here’s looking at you, cig butts and single-use shopping bags in positions #1 and #2!)


At the current rate, this is the year in which the weight of plastic in the ocean will exceed the weight of all the fish in the seas.

2.3 million

The Strawless in Seattle campaign encouraged business to voluntarily give up plastic straws, keeping 2.3 million of the persistent tubes out of the environment.

Bonus fun fact: the first artificial straws were paper

Compostable paper straws are often suggested as an alternative when you just can’t stand to sip with your lips. Did you know that the first straw was invented from paper, by winding a strip around a pencil? The inventor, Marvin Chester Stone, patented the artificial straw in 1888, offering a replacement for natural rye grass straws that dissolved in the beverage and imparted a grassy taste.We dug up these fun facts after tripping over the Strawless Ocean Stop Suckingcampaign in the mainstream media. The clever ad features a number of celebrities getting “sucker punched” by an (artificial) octopus tentacle in slow motion.

Could this widespread attention to the issue finally be the last straw?


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Only 20 Percent Of Total Bitcoins Remain To Be Mined

Bitcoin miners passed a significant milestone over the weekend, when they mined the 16.8 millionth bitcoin from the cryptocurrency’s planned total of 21 million coins. This means that 80 percent of all bitcoins that will be in existence have already been mined. According to estimates, bitcoin will reach its final coin figure sometime in 2040. (See also: How Does Bitcoin Mining Work?)

Over the years, bitcoin has adjusted the number of coins in circulation through a complex calibration of miner rewards and problem difficulty. Bitcoins are awarded to miners who solve complex mathematical problems through intensive computation. The reward number is halved every 210,000 blocks, per bitcoin’s original algorithm.

Immediately after bitcoin’s launch, miners earned 50 coins as reward for solving problems. It was cut to 25 in 2012 and 12.5 in 2016. In two years, miners can expect 6.25 bitcoins as rewards. The difficulty of problems has kept pace with rewards. As the number of rewards has decreased, bitcoin’s problem difficulty has increased, thereby making it more difficult and computation intensive to earn the coin. (See also: 5 Best States For Bitcoin Mining And The Worst.)

What Does This Mean For Bitcoin?

Scarcity has an important role to play in bitcoin’s price. The latter entity is expected to skyrocket as demand and scarcity increase. In December 2017, Nicholas Gregory, CEO of CommerceBlock, a provider of tools for smart contract platforms, said that high transaction fees would keep bitcoin in business even after the final coin is mined.

Transaction fees on bitcoin’s network have surged after increased media attention and interest from investors resulted in skyrocketing prices for the cryptocurrency. According to, miners earned $22.7 million cumulatively in transaction fees on December 21, 2017, right after bitcoin’s price briefly flirted with $20,000.

Bitcoin’s high transaction fees and scarcity have helped position the cryptocurrency as a store of value. This approach is in direct contrast to other cryptocurrencies, which are striving for low transaction fees and greater consumer traction. They have adopted other algorithms, such as Proof of Stake, in order to achieve this aim. But bitcoin remains unique as the progenitor and original cryptocurrency.

“Unlike your MP3s or digital movies, bitcoins cannot be copied, and this weekend 16.8 million of them have been mined, hoarded and a large number of them have been lost. To many cryptocurrency investors, this makes Satoshi’s invention a very valuable digital asset, unlike anything the world has ever seen,” wrote Jamie Redman, a reporter for

Investing in cryptocurrencies and other Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”) is highly risky and speculative, and this article is not a recommendation by Investopedia or the writer to invest in cryptocurrencies or other ICOs. Since each individual’s situation is unique, a qualified professional should always be consulted before making any financial decisions. Investopedia makes no representations or warranties as to the accuracy or timeliness of the information contained herein. As of the date this article was written, the author owns small amounts of bitcoin. It is unclear whether he owns other bitcoin forks.

Read more: Only 20 Percent Of Total Bitcoins Remain To Be Mined | Investopedia
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6 awful things that happen to your body when you don’t get enough sleep

by Melissa Breyer (@MelissaBreyer) –

Little Nemo

Promo image | Little Nemo in Slumberland by Winsor McCay, 1906 (Wikimedia Commons)

A UC Berkeley neuroscientist explains some of the surprisingly dramatic ways in which a lack of sleep affects the mind and body.

We all know we are supposed to get a good night’s sleep. And many of us – aside from you fortunate sleepers who have the time and talent for slumber – don’t get enough of it. Eight hours? Hahaha, says the chronic insomniac, the parent of small children, the person who has to be at work at six in the morning. And so it goes for the underslept: immediately insert coffee, wade through foggy morning, suffer from darkened eyes and enhanced irritability.

But according to Matthew Walker, PhD, author of “Why We Sleep” and professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, the deleterious impact goes way beyond feeling groggy and grumpy during the day. In the video below, he explains just how seriously sleep or lack thereof can have an impact on your health – here are the six main takeaways, with further explanation in the video.

1. A lack of sleep prevents your brain from being able to make new memories.

2. Too little sleep leads to a boost in the development of a toxic protein in the brain called beta amyloid, which is associated with Alzheimer’s disease

3. Sleeping just five or six hours a night affects the reproductive system in men, leading to a level of testosterone of someone ten years older.

4. Sleep deprivation has an impact on the immune system and predicts your risk for developing numerous forms of cancer.

5. A lack of sleep wreaks havoc on the cardiovascular system.

6. After being awake for 19 or 20 hours, mental capacity is so impaired that you would be as deficient as someone who was legally drunk while driving.

I suppose it all makes sense; the body wants sleep for a reason. But spelling it all out like that really drive the point home. For help in the forty-winks department, see the related stories below … and get some sleep!


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He just wanted to talk. Then he wanted a hug. This woman’s story is a must-read for men.

When Lily Evans set out to walk her dog, she had no idea the story of that walk would later go viral on the internet.

When she took to Twitter to recount her experience, she opened with a simple question, one that many men have probably wondered for a long time — though women already know the answer.

(Before you click through to the thread itself, note that Lily’s Twitter account is expressly for adults and may be NSFW.)


All Twitter images from Lily Evans/Twitter, used with permission. A transcript of the excerpted tweets is available at the end of the story.

The walk started off normal enough. Until she ran into a seemingly friendly stranger.

A man eating on a nearby bench offered her dog, Echo, a treat.


He eventually asked her if she lived in the area — which could be considered slightly intrusive — but all in all, it was just small talk.

But then she ran into him again shortly after.


Evans says his friendly banter — maybe innocent, but more likely not — was making her incredibly uncomfortable.

And yet he continued to linger.


Then he invaded her physical space with an out-of-nowhere hug.

“I was terrified,” she wrote.


Evans hurried home, petrified the man would follow her.

He didn’t. But the experience left her shaken and upset. Worst of all, she says, she has been through this many, many times before.


Her story went viral in a hurry, with over 44,000 retweets, 68,000 likes, and thousands of comments.

“The response from other women has been pretty heartbreaking,” Evans writes in a Twitter exchange with Upworthy. “Many, many women have used this as an opportunity to share their stories of harassment, assault, or even just being very frightened.”

The replies to Evans’ tweet thread is littered with similar stories — seemingly “nice” guys on the street or public transportation who push small talk far past its acceptable boundaries.

Though she’s glad her story made other women feel more comfortable coming forward with their own experiences, Evans hopes it also leaves an impression on men who read it.

“I had several guys ask me how they can be more non-threatening, and that’s exactly what I was aiming for.”

“I got a lot of replies from men saying, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry that happened, but we aren’t all like that! Some of us are nice guys,'” she says. “And while that’s true, my point was that strangers cannot know what your intentions are until it’s too late.

She hits on an important point: It’s not inherently wrong or creepy to strike up a conversation with a stranger, but women truly never know when a simple “hi” is going to turn into them being followed and harassed.

“I had several guys ask me how they can be more non-threatening, and that’s exactly what I was aiming for,” she says. “I just want men to be more self-aware and understand that when a woman they don’t know is skittish, it’s nothing personal. We’re just trying to be safe.”

View transcript

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Quit Your Job And Move Abroad: The Cheapest Places To Live In 2018

The skyline of Lisbon, the top place to move on the cheap in 2018. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

It’s the ultimate fantasy: Escape the 9-5 by moving to a place where it’s so cheap you barely need to work — and could even retire early. The Panama-based Live and Invest Overseas advises people on how to do just that, and the company has just announced its list of the 10 best places in the world where you can move in 2018 and live very well for very little.

We caught up with Kathleen Peddicord, publisher of Live and Invest Overseas, who told us why each of these places made the coveted list. And for more great affordable travel spots, check out “The 33 Cheapest Places To Travel In 2018.”

A pretty street in Lisbon. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

1. Lisbon, Portugal 

Topping the list of places where you can live on the cheap — Lisbon. “This is a very pleasant place to be and our top pick,” says Peddicord, who describes Lisbon as a “noble and elegant city” full of “awe-inspiring landmarks that were constructed during the Golden Age of Discovery.”

According to Peddicord, Lisbon — and all of Portugal, for that matter — offers a competitive cost of living that is among the lowest in Western Europe, thanks to an “enviable tax situation” and plenty of real estate bargains. It’s possible to live here comfortably but modestly on a budget of as little as $1,300 a month, including rent, food and more. If you want to buy, a 538-square-foot apartment in one of the lowest-cost neighborhoods can sell for $90,000.

Other things that make Lisbon appealing: centuries-old, pastel-colored stone structures, formal gardens, parks with elaborate fountains, roads laid with cobblestones in contrasting colors and “sea scenes that are like works of art,” said Peddicord.

An old pink building covered in green vines in Cali, Colombia. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

2. Cali, Colombia 

Medellín ranked near the top of last year’s list. This year, Cali has taken the spotlight, thanks to rental rates that are 25% to 30% less than in Medellín, making it an extra-attractive bargain. “For so long the world has been too afraid to spend time or money here,” says Peddicord. And that has helped made Cali, a city of 2.5 million inhabitants in Colombia’s Valle del Cauca, a steal. Plus, it’s now safe.

Another appealing aspect of Cali: It’s located at an altitude of almost 3,300 feet, so it has an agreeable climate. “Afternoons can be hot, but with the approach of sunset a refreshing breeze sweeps through the city,” says Peddicord. “Early mornings are crisp and perfect for being outdoors.”

A beautiful city, you’ll find towering palms along wide boulevards, tree-shaded streets and plenty of parks and green spaces. And the people (Caleños) are polite and friendly. “They’ll bid you good morning or good afternoon when you pass, and they’re always up for conversation,” says Peddicord. “Spending time here, you’re reminded how nice life can be when it’s built on these kinds of basic values.”

Just how affordable is Cali? A couple can live here for as little as $987 a month, including rent. And you can buy a three-bedroom, two-bath apartment in a great location for as little as $45,100.

View of a historic street in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

3. Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic 

The Dominican Republic has one of the fastest-growing economies in Latin America, and its capital, Santo Domingo, is the place to be. Established in 1496, this is the oldest European city in the Americas, and its charms run deep. “The structures at the heart of this old town are classic Spanish colonial but simpler, statelier and somehow more refined than their counterparts across the region,” says Peddicord.

Look for lively streets, a busy harbor and a city that’s becoming the epicenter for tourism investment across this country. There’s a newly opened JW Marriott, and an Intercontinental and a Hard Rock Hotel are also underway. On the Plaza de España, you can dine at alfresco restaurants and watch the buzzing harbor. “Carnival is bringing a ship a day to Santo Domingo’s cruise dock,” says Peddicord.

All of this tourist growth translates into better infrastructure and modern conveniences like five-star restaurants, shopping malls and movie theaters. A couple can expect to spend about $1,450 a month to live here, including rent and food.

Another highlight of moving to the Dominican Republic: It has one of the easiest and quickest residency and naturalization programs. “The country is rolling out the welcome mat for anyone interested in living here full time,” says Peddicord.

Could you live here? A home on the water in Ambergris Caye, Belize. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

4. San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize 

Looking for well-priced Caribbean beach living in a cozy and welcoming community? The fishing village of San Pedro town on Ambergris Caye is where you’ll find it.

“This is a small town of expats from all over the world working together to create the life they all came in search of,” says Peddicord. “They’re opening businesses, indulging artistic interests, planning community events and inviting each other over for beach barbecues.”

On this tiny island in Belize, golf carts are the preferred means of transportation, and the coast is dotted with five-star hotels, along with high-end condo communities, restaurants, art galleries, supermarkets and wine shops. Peddicord says that she wouldn’t describe property prices as a steal, but she says that “they can be a bargain compared with elsewhere in the Caribbean.” A rental off the beach can run as low as $1,000 a month, and expats can expect to spend about $1,965 a month total on rent and living expenses.

The best part: “If your dream of a new life overseas is all about soft white sand, lapping azure sea and swaying palm fronds, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, should be at the top of your I’m-going-to-go-have-a-look list,” says Peddicord.

Photo By Guillaume « Frozman » CALAS – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

A view of Saint-Chinian, France.

5. Saint-Chinian, France 

Provence is well-known, but it’s expensive. A south of France alternative is the Languedoc, home to Saint-Chinian, which Peddicored describes as a “quintessential French country village where everyday life is like something out of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.”

“Sitting on a hill in Saint-Chinian (a very pleasant thing to do, by the way) you can think you are in the middle of nowhere,” says Peddicord. “But, in fact, Spain is near enough that you can pop over for dinner and Paris is just three hours away by TGV.”

This town is notable for burgeoning wine industry, as well as its property prices, which half of those of Provence and the Côte d’Azur. (A couple will spend about $1,628 on rent and living expenses.) One advantage: It’s possible to live in Saint-Chinian without a car, due to excellent train and bus service.

The people of Saint-Chinian are also very friendly. “Americans often think of the French as rude and aloof,” says Peddicord. “In Saint-Chinian, the reality is nothing to do with the stereotype.”

Sunset on the highest mountain of Abruzzo, Italy. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

6. Abruzzo, Italy 

With its pretty Adriatic coastline lined with beachside cafés, mountains for skiing and rolling vineyards, Abruzzo is a slice of heaven — and it’s Italy’s best-kept secret. It’s also the richest region in this part of Italy, according to Peddicord, and it’s a place where “small, historic towns are working hard to attract investment to save their historically significant but nearly deserted streets.”

Nowhere is this more true than in Città Sant’Angelo, which has historic churches, a contemporary art museum and — this will make you feel right at home — an outdoor outlet mall that feels like something out of Southern California.

“Abruzzo has everything Tuscany offers and more — at a fraction the cost,” says Peddicord. A couple could live here comfortably on $1,400 per month or less, including rent.

A panoramic view of Ljubljana, Slovenia. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

7. Ljubljana, Slovenia 

Slovenia is a Central European country that became an independent nation in 1991, joined the EU in 2004 and has finally shed its turbulent past.

These days, this mountainous region with 29 miles of Mediterranean coastline combines the best of all worlds, and its charming capital of Ljubljana is the place to live. “Ljubljana is a modern city with all the amenities of 21st-century living that manages to retain a small-town charm,” says Peddicord. “Local farmers bring their produce to market in wooden carts each day.”

The city also offers easy access to beaches, olive groves and ski resorts, as well as Venice, which is only two-and-a-half hours away. Or you can head just 45 minutes north of the city to Lake Bled, where you’ll find a the charming Bled Island, medieval Bled Castle and pristine mountains and forests.

What’s the cost to combine this Old World charm and real-world infrastructure? Peddicord says that a penny-pinching couple could live in Ljubljana for as little as $1,059 a month.

The waterfront in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

8. Playa del Carmen, Mexico 

This little beach town on Mexico’s Riviera Maya was once a sleepy fishing village. No longer. These days “Playa” (as the locals call it) is home to over 10,000 foreigners. “Expats make up 7% of its total population,” says Peddicord. “In the 1990s the population was growing so rapidly that Playa was the fastest growing city in Mexico, and growth has continued strong in the 2000s.”

The appeal? It’s one of the safest areas of Mexico, plus, “the regional economy is stable and jobs are plentiful,” says Peddicord, who points out that expats in Playa own and operate bars, teach English and manage real estate offices. Many are also raising families here, thanks to an excellent international school founded by expats.

Another plus? “Playa’s population is incredibly eclectic for such a small town,” says Peddicord. “From young couples to retired couples, from families to groups of students, it seems to appeal everyone alike. It’s also a welcoming destination for the LGBT community, with several gay bars around town.”

“When it comes to day-to-day living, you’d have no trouble finding anything you’d want or need,” says Peddicord. This little town has 12 supermarkets and two Walmarts. The cost of living the beach life in Playa is more than reasonable and one of the many attractions for the large expat population. A couple could spend well under $2,000 per month, including rent, utilities and transportation.

In a private pool in Bali. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

9. Bali, Indonesia 

“Bali enjoys a well-deserved reputation as one of the most beautiful tropical islands in the world,” says Peddicord. “Multi-tiered Balinese temples adorn even the smallest villages. The locals are unfailingly friendly and some of the most serene and pleasant people you are likely to find anywhere.”

Adding to its appeal: a picture-postcard coastline with world-class diving, surfing and more. And for expats, Bali is heaven. There are plenty of bars, cultural events and dining options that range from excellent street food (for a pittance) to white-glove restaurants. You can also visit galleries, study yoga and go golfing. “There are always many interesting options for how to fill your days,” says Peddicord.

Peddicord’s pick for the best place to live: the small town of Sanur, an unpretentious suburb of the larger city of Denpasar. “Quiet and laid-back, Sanur feels far removed from the crowds of tourists who flock to Bali for vacations and honeymoons,” says Peddicord.

It’s possibly to live affordably in Sanur — and to indulge in a five-star, luxury lifestyle. “Whatever your budget, you’ll find that you can live substantially better for less money in Sanur,” says Peddicord. And you’ll meet plenty of like-minded foreigners “who have become enchanted with the laid-back lifestyle this town excels in.”

What’s the cost of paradise? On Bali, a couple can live really well for about $1,671 a month.

Da Nang, Vietnam at sunset. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)

10. Da Nang, Vietnam 

Da Nang is the third-largest city in Vietnam, but according to Peddicord, it feels like an old movie, full of retro sophistication that lends an aura of yesteryear. “Were it not for the skyscrapers, bridges, malls, endless stream of motorbikes and the whir of air conditioners, today’s Da Nang could easily be 1960s Da Nang,” she says.

The appeal to expats? A nice lifestyle that will cost a couple $1,175 a month — or less. Plus, it’s a place with “economy on fire, led by forward-thinking executives, many educated overseas, with an entrepreneurial spirit unparalleled in the region,” says Peddicord.

Da Nang’s location is also part of its appeal: It’s equidistant between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. And it is the designated tourism jewel of Vietnam, with several UNESCO World Heritage sites nearby, including My Son with its ruins of Hindu temples, pretty Hoi An and the ancient capital of Hue.

For more great affordable travel spots, check out “The 33 Cheapest Places To Travel In 2018.”

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