Best Attractions To Visit In Australia

Australia is a truly remarkable country, and if you are lucky enough to spend your holidays in Australia this year then you are assured to enjoy a vacation you will never forget. The only problem is that there is so much to see and do in the country and thus it is virtually impossible to fit everything into your vacation period. Therefore, in order to help you narrow down your choices, the following list encompasses five attractions which should not be missed whilst visiting Australia.


  1. Great Barrier Reef

There is no better attraction to start off the list of best places to visit whilst in Australia. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reel in the entire world, in fact, it is so big that it has been said you would be able to see the reef from out of space! The following is just a taste of the fantastic sea life you can witness whilst visit the famous World Heritage Site; turtles, porpoises, dolphins, sharks, whales, and so much more!


  1. Uluru

A lot of you may recognize Uluru better by its former name; the Ayres Rock. This is a dream for those who like spectacularly sites and the magic of history. After all, The Aboriginals cherish this site believing it is the home of their ancestors’ spirits. Uluru is monumental in size; 348 meters in height to be precise. Not only is this a sight to behold, but it is an important piece of history too.

  1. Barossa

If you like wine, then you will love Barossa. Some of the most famous wine brands, including Orlando and Wolf Bass, come from the area. If you are visiting Australia in April, then Barossa is a must visit. This is because the Vintage Festival is held annually every April. Of course, you will get to indulge in some wine tasting, but there is also a lively carnival, scrumptious food, and talented bands on offer as well. Barossa is a great place to visit if you want a true taste of Australia.


  1. Sydney Opera House

Situated on the harbor you will find the fantastic Sydney Opera House. This is a place which offers so much more than music. It gives you a flavor of the country and is a truly remarkable building in its own right. The opera house encompasses the likes of; a concert hall, a studio, a playhouse, and two theatres. Thus, you won’t be short of things to see.


  1. The Great Ocean Road

There is no other place in the world which combines such beauty yet such a precious and historical quality as well. The Great Ocean Road is 243 km long and encompasses idyllic and absolutely beautiful beach areas which range from Warrnambool to Torquay. These two cities are Victorian locations and the Great Ocean Road itself is actually the world’s largest war memorial. It is dedicated to all those who died in WW1. There is no other place in the world quite like it. Of course, the scenery is in abundance throughout Australia. Greta Hunter Valley is another one of the best spots if you are looking to witness incredible sights and scenery.


So there you have it; if you are spending your holidays in Australia this year, then these five attractions should not be missed.

This entry was posted in Travel.

Knowing What To Look For In A Vacation Home

If you have kids, you know that any moment you get to relax and enjoy your surroundings is precious. Childless readers will forever take for granted those moments of quiet solitude where they get to curl up on the sofa with a good book, enjoy a morning coffee alone in the kitchen or to sip a glass of red wine in the bath. We love our kids and we love being parents but we also understand that parenting is a full-time job and that our kids (while wonderful) can sometimes demand more of us than we have to give. That’s why every family needs and deserves at least one vacation a year. It’s a time when Mom and Dad can relax and unwind in the son while the kids immerse themselves in an unfamiliar location with a different culture, different cuisine and (if you’re vacationing abroad) a whole other language. Kids are at their best when stimulated and while they vacation their senses are piqued by a range of different sights, sounds tastes and smells to broaden their minds and keep them occupied.

Image by Pixabay


Thus, if you’re a parent you likely already know the value of a vacation in giving you a much-needed opportunity to recharge your batteries so that you can navigate the responsibilities of parenting alongside working a full-time job and possibly even managing a side hustle in your free time. If, however, you’re serious about growing your money you’ve likely become frustrated by the pathetic interest rates offered by most high street savings accounts (let’s face it, 0.06% is never going to grow your money meaningfully). So where do you turn to grow your money? Well, you could opt for an online savings account which will be able to offer you a better rate. Online lenders have fewer overheads than high street banks and as such may be positioned to give you a more favorable rate. The money smart, however, know that the best way of growing your money is by supplementing your savings with some shrewd investments. But investment can be a capricious horse to hitch your wagon to in an unpredictable economy. Even the safest investment is a gamble and in an era where Bitcoin’s value is fluctuating with increasing wildness, stocks can tank practically overnight and Forex can be every bit as baffling and dangerous as trading stocks, those looking for the surest possible investment inevitably turn to property. Make no mistake folks, despite the unfortunate events of 2007-2008, a property is still the safest place to put your money. But if the prospect of being a landlady or landlord doesn’t necessarily appeal to you, perhaps you would get more out of buying a vacation home.  


Remember, a vacation home is more than just an investment


Sure, a vacation home is an investment opportunity and one which, depending on where you buy, may be able to generate a steady stream of revenue for you all year round. But it’s so much more than that. It’s also a home away from home. It’s a place where you can enjoy all the pleasures and gratifications of a vacation with the added sense of security, comfort, and familiarity with home. Let’s face it, even the most travel thirsty for us gets homesick on vacation every now and then. We miss the little things and the sense of ownership that we have of our living space. As nice as it can be to stay in a hotel room, inevitably the novelty wears off after a while. Soon we begin to miss that feeling of being in a place that’s well and truly ours. Thus, a vacation home can give you the best of both worlds. Plus, there are significant tax advantages to buying a vacation home over buying a place on a buy-to-lease basis. And remember, every cent you spend on your property, its management, and its upkeep is tax deductible.


If you’re buying overseas, a vacation home could be even more advantageous. Many overseas properties represent a significantly smaller upfront investment yet offer great opportunities for higher capital gains and high yield rental incomes. Just look at some of these luxury properties in Indonesia which are going for a song when compared to similar domestic properties; If you’re buying abroad, however, be sure to recruit an English speaking lawyer in your chosen province. They will help you to negotiate the esoteric legalities of your chosen nation and ensure that you don’t face any hidden extra charges like land registry fees or legal fees.


A vacation home is not the same kind of investment as a buy to lease property. While you should look for a property with an appeal which will cater for a variety of different tenants’ tastes, it’s also somewhere you should enjoy spending time and look forward to seeing again when you leave. Thus, it’s not quite the same as shopping for a rental property or a home of your own. Here are some hints to help you with finding the perfect vacation home…


Getting to know the area

Before you even consider buying in an area, you will have done your homework and taken a look at rental properties in the area and taken a look at the kinds of rents they command from tenants. However, online research can only take you so far. It’s vitally important that you spend as much time as possible in the area yourself and rent one (or better yet more) property in the area so that you can see what it’s like from a tenant’s perspective. This will help to inform the buying process and give you an idea what you should be looking for. Try and rent for longer stays (at least two weeks if you can) to ensure that tenants will be able to stay for longer periods without getting bored. It’s also worth visiting in different seasons to get a feel for weather and crowd patterns. You wouldn’t want to pay top dollar for an apartment in a busy area only to find that it’s dead outside of peak season yet so busy during peak times that it’s an annoyance and an inconvenience for tenants.


Get the property choice just right


Even when you’re unshakably settled on an area, this is no reason to be cavalier when it comes to choosing the property itself. You should look for a property that’s under budget, especially when buying overseas. This will help you to account for unexpected costs and any fluctuations in currency exchange which could diminish your all-important profits. As important as it is for you to fall in love with the property, it’s also important not to fall for anything that’s too esoteric in design or surplus to requirements. Even if you have the capital to invest in a huge duplex apartment, this may alienate thrifty vacationers. If you want to keep the property occupied for as much of the year as possible, you’ll need to find something with broad appeal. If you box clever and choose a property that’s under budget if all goes well you should be able to upgrade to something a little bigger in a couple of years.


Calculating the costs


Setting up your homeowner loan/mortgage will likely be complicated especially if you’re buying overseas. Nonetheless, it’s also important to factor in the myriad extra costs in maintaining your vacation home. Some of these will be unavoidable, some you will be able to mitigate or even avoid altogether. If you expect to turn a profit or even break even you must calculate all of the costs incurred in the running of your property from property managers’ fees to utilities to property taxes and replacing or repairing wear and tear items around the properties that inevitably become worn or damaged through regular use.

Image by Flickr


Avoid the temptation to build from scratch


If a property doesn’t come along that ticks all of your boxes it may be tempting to simply buy a plot of land and build your dream vacation home from scratch. While this is undoubtedly an appealing and romantic notion, it can quickly become unsustainably expensive and infuriatingly prohibitive. Getting to the build site regularly enough to keep a watchful eye on the project will be inevitably problematic and building in resort areas can be notoriously prohibitive. You’ll likely have to deal with coastal authorities and local building restrictions as well as unwelcoming local homeowners associations who won’t take kindly to an out of towner or foreigner making money on ‘their’ territory. You may also have to work with unreliable contractors and not be able to enforce any quality control over the project. Some coastal commissions are so controlling that they define which plants you can grow and some homeowners associations won’t even let you carry out rudimentary renovations on your home without a contractor approved by them.


If you know exactly what to look for and are prepared to play the long game in choosing the perfect property and location, you can benefit from not only a second home but a lucrative revenue stream.


How to Squeeze The Most Out of KL On a Budget

Image Credit

Kuala Lumpur is a large and frenetic city that is predominantly geared toward shopping and business tourism, yet there are still tons of family-friendly activities on offer in this huge city that is a melting pot of cultures, sights, flavors, and sounds.  


That said, Kuala Lumpur can be a rather expensive place to visit which is often multiplied when traveling as a family, particularly if you have more than one child – so this guide to kid-friendly things to do in Kuala Lumpur that won’t break the bank will hopefully make your life a lot easier and cheaper.


Of course, Malaysia as a country is relatively cheap in comparison to the majority of Capital Cities, indeed when you compare it to the likes of Tokyo or New York, for the cost of moving to Australia it’s an extremely cheap place to live and work – but if you’re comparing it to some of the lesser-known places within Malaysia or neighboring Indonesia, then Kuala Lumpur itself can be a little more expensive than you might first bargain for.


Now, if you happen to fall in love with Kuala Lumpur, or Malaysia in general, you might decide to look into purchasing a property, which is a relatively simple process for most ex-pats.  Indeed, it is very easy to find a real estate agent in Malaysia that will most likely speak English and be used to dealing with ex-pat inquiries.


These real estate agents can often help you find a very affordable second home, be this in the city, the sleepy suburbs, or on the beach in a quiet little paradise.  The great thing today, of course, is that if you buy a second home in Malaysia it can very easily be rented out meaning it can become a worthwhile investment thanks to the trend of websites like Airbnb that offer an extremely easy and low-cost way to rent your property out.  


However, before getting ahead of yourself and thinking about property, it’s a good idea to explore Malaysia, and in this article, we’re going to look at how to squeeze the most out of your time in Kuala Lumpur, particularly with a family, without breaking the bank.


  1. Take a Walk In The Park

The KLCC Park is a 50-acre park in the center of Kuala Lumpur. With its ample seating area, much greenery, and open water, it is a nice place to get away from the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur. It’s a place where you can sit and rest next to various water features as well as keep fit with its 1.3km jogging track. It has to be one of the top free things to do in Kuala Lumpur and the energy in the park is always welcoming, tolerant, and friendly.


To get to the park you can take the undercover and air-conditioned walkway from Bintang or jump on the metro to KLCC station; this is particularly helpful given that Kuala Lumpur is prone to wet season weather and, yet, at the same time, it can be like an oven in the city so the combination of air conditioning and being undercover makes a lot of sense.


  1. Admire the Petronas Towers

The Petronas Towers were the tallest buildings in the world until it was overtaken by Tapei 101.  Going into the tower itself can be pretty costly, at around 80 MYR (which is around 20 US Dollars) but admiring the impressive magnitude of the building from the outside (where you’ll be met with tons of other tourists taking selfies) is a free experience that is also a great place to sit down with a nice cold bubble tea and people watch.  


The towers are, of course, impressive by day, but they are even better at night when they are illuminated.  In terms of getting to the Petronas Towers, they are located right next to KLCC Park, which again, is stunning at night due to the free water show on offer. The free water show that gets displayed most nights is one of the best water shows in the world.  


Then, if you’re looking for a more romantic and perhaps more upmarket way to admire the towers (without the kids) go to the Heli Bar which is a bar on a helicopter pad with wonderful views of KL, and buy a cocktail to enjoy the Kuala Lumpur skyline, particularly at sunset, is a great way to spend an evening.  Admittedly this isn’t a free option, but for the price of a drink, it’s well worth it.



  1. Sunway Lagoon Theme Park

Again, this option isn’t free, but it’s such a good family day out that it’s worth including.  The theme park is a little way out of the city center in a suburb known as Petaling Jaya but is worth the journey as it combines a water park, a wildlife park, and a more extreme theme park with roller coaster rides.  It even has a zoo.


In short, this is a great place to splash out on with your family.  In particular, the water park has a surf beach, wave pool, numerous slides a manmade river to float on, and the world’s largest man-made surf beach.



  1. Watch The KLCC Lake Symphony Show

In front of the Petronas Towers, and the shopping mall of Suria KLCC, each evening at 7 pm you’re in for a treat as the fountains turn to live with color as they dance to music.  This is a very well choreographed show that is known as one of the most stunning yet low-key water shows in SE Asia. It has a wonderfully calm and welcoming family-friendly atmosphere, with people of all cultures, gathering around on the steps of the lake to see the spectacular show.


  1. Perdana Botanical Gardens

The Perdana Botanical Gardens is a beautiful park of 200 acres that surrounds a lake.  This meticulously landscaped area is great for cycles, joggers, or just for those that wish to wander around and absorb the atmosphere.  


It has several WiFI hotspots within the park and plenty of private areas to sit with your family to enjoy a picnic.  Indeed, one of the best ways to escape the midday heat is to find a shady spot with a picnic blanket, load up Netflix on your mobile device and watch a film together as a family.  


Several sheltered areas make for a great ‘den’ environment when the rain starts to pour down – and it can be a great adventure to dash one of these shelters where you can then watch the lightning show and hear the thunderous rumbles as the rain pelts down on the ground.  In terms of getting there, it’s just a 10-minute walk from Chinatown.


  1.  Mosque Masjid Jamek

If you’re looking for a bit more culture, Masjid Jamek Mosque is an important landmark within Kuala Lumpur that has Indo Saracenic architecture and is surrounded by palm trees – making it the ideal backdrop for stunning photographs.  


There’s an obvious need to dress modestly, meaning to cover your legs, shoulders, and arms plus remove your shoes before entering.  The mosque is an active religious site and is understandably closed to tourists during certain times to allow for prayers.


  1.  Free Walking Tour

The free walking tours in Kuala Lumpur are put on by the city council.  If you’re interested in experiencing a free city tour, log on to to book your place.  The walk covers the main areas of Kuala Lumpur and provides plenty of information about the history of the city, the culture, and the food.  It’s also a great way to meet people from all different cultures.


  1.  Batu Caves

A short train ride out of the city and you’ll find yourself at the iconic Batu Caves, which are formed from limestone and are home to the most famous Hindu shrines outside of India.  


Here, you’ll find plenty of monkeys, pigeons, and even bats throughout the cave… when you walk up the many steps you are likely to find yourself surrounded by monkeys intrigued by the snacks you might be enjoying.  


You can enjoy a free and engaging half-day out at the caves without having to pay a penny, but if you want to explore inside the cave you’ll require a guided tour which is quite pricey in relative terms.


  1.  I Love KL

If you’re into social media, then the photo opportunity spot that’s next to the I Love KL sign is a must.  You’ll find this next to the KL City Gallery.

  1.  Canopy Walkway

In the treetops of the KL Forest Eco Park, you can find a set of rope bridges that will take you along the tree line.  It’s not exactly in the jungle, which can feel a little misleading given the marketing message attached to the experience, but it’s still well worth a visit.   It’s a fun free thing to do with your family that provides an amazing visual contrast of the nine hectares of the natural forest you’re in, with the skyscraper-lined skyline of KL in the distance.

Visit Okinawa for Island Relaxation

Japan is often seen as a hectic place to visit, especially when you look at some of the big cities. A visit to Tokyo probably isn’t going to be a quiet experience, with so many people and things to see and do. But Japan can be a relaxing choice too if you’re looking for somewhere to wind down and let go of all your daily stress. The island of Okinawa, the biggest in the Okinawa Prefecture, is one of the best places to go if you’re looking for somewhere to relax. From stunning beaches to relaxing spas, anyone who needs a break can find some top places to unwind.



Explore Beautiful Beaches


As an island, Okinawa has some lovely beaches that you don’t want to miss. You can discover beaches all over the prefecture if you wish, but if you’re starting from the main island, you can easily find a few choices. Some options include Manza Beach and Moon Beach, where you can enjoy soft sand and plenty of activities. The best beaches are often regarded to be those on the smaller islands like Miyako. As well as spending time relaxing on the sand, you could take a gentle trip on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) or perhaps spend some time snorkeling.


Relax at a Top Hotel


Just choosing the right hotel can make a huge difference to your trip. If relaxing is your aim, you can’t go wrong with a hotel like The Ritz-Carlton Okinawa. A luxury hotel should give you everything that you need to unwind. You can choose your own private suite, get some treatments at the spa or spend your time playing golf. If you travel as a family, your children might enjoy getting to do their own thing with kids’ activities available, so you can find time to relax without them. Choose the right hotel, and you’ll have some fantastic drinking and dining options too.



Enjoy Local Culture


Spending time exploring the local culture is always a good way to relax. Whether you like to walk around museums and galleries or spend some time learning something new, you can find plenty of fun but quiet things in Okinawa. Start with the Okinawa Prefecture Museum and Art Museum for both historical artifacts and a diverse range of local art. If you’d like to try out a local craft, you can visit Kume Island and try your hand at weaving their Kumejima Tsumugi silk fabric. Or you could try pottery making at Ikutoen on Tsuboya Yachimun-Dori.


Try Local Cuisine


Cooking and eating food are both great ways to relax. You can spend time focusing on a mindful task, as well as indulge in delicious new foods. If you want to learn to cook some local cuisine, you can try a cooking experience with Taste of Okinawa. You start by visiting Makishi Public Market to explore ingredients, then enjoy a hands-on demonstration.


If you’re looking for more of a slow-paced trip to Japan, Okinawa is a great place to choose. Spend your time relaxing instead of being surrounded by color and noise.

This entry was posted in Travel.

The Ultimate Guide to Moving To Australia

Image credit


Many people hold a dream of moving countries. Perhaps for adventure, perhaps for a new beginning for their families, increased job opportunities, a healthier lifestyle – there are so many reasons we may decide to make a big move overseas. One of the popular destinations for emigrations is Australia. The golden beaches, friendly locals, blue skies and relaxed pace of life are big draws – but more so is the booming economy, which has gone 25 years without a recession. Take a look at the skyline in Sydney and you’ll see it packed with cranes, steel structures and evidence of construction that shows things are still booming.


However, emigration remains a pipe dream for many. There are significant hurdles to overcome if you are determined to translate this vision into a tangible reality. It is essential to do thorough research before making such a life-changing move, especially if you are taking a family with you. Many expats experience feelings of isolation and that can have a significant impact on mental health. With no support network within thousands of miles, any problems in finding employment or housing can be exacerbated. So it definitely pays to be prepared, financially and otherwise. Getting your facts straight and your plans carefully laid before booking that plane ticket definitely pays off – here’s what you need to know, from the practical to the surprising facts:


Vast Spaces

You may have a vague concept of this one, but a lot of immigrants are shocked to discover just how vast the country actually is – more than three million square miles. If that sounds a bit abstract, just consider that this country is the same size as the whole continent of Europe. So if you have any plans to tour the country, you are going to need a lot of time and energy to even come close to seeing the whole thing. It also means that even if you have friends or relatives in Australia already, they may be geographically very distant, unless you choose to locate in the same city as them. The vast majority (around 90% of Australians live in cities, so it’s not unusual for the suburbs of Melbourne, Canberra or Sydney to be the first place expats look to go. But as such a large country the vast wildernesses and impressive national parks are a sight to behold. The Blue Mountains and Uluru are some of the most stunning sights that planet holds – so make sure that your plans include some of the landscape outside the urban centers. There are more than five hundred National Parks waiting to explore, so those who love the wilderness will never be short of options.

Punishing Climate

Many dream of the azure skies and pristine beaches of the Gold Coast, but the reality is that the climate in Australia can take some adjusting to, particularly if you are coming from a temperate or colder region. Summer temperatures can hit extremes of over 40 degrees Celsius and are predicted to rise to the 50’s by 2040. Heat waves around Sydney have literally melted the roads. The problem is made worse by the fact that the ozone layer above Australia is extra-thin. This concentration of atmospheric gases is our protection from cancer-causing UV rays, and means that the sun is this country is quite dangerous. Ask any Aussie about ‘Slip Slap Slop’ and you’ll see what is meant by this. A huge public awareness campaign, it instilled in the consciousness of a generation of Australians that they must always wear a high factor sunscreen, a shirt and a hat during the summer, and you would be advised to follow the same procedure – so be prepared to spend a bit more on sunscreen. Due to the high and dry atmosphere, large areas of Australia are also highly prone to bushfires, with the country experiencing around 50,000 per year. With soaring temperatures, high winds and lots of dry vegetation, conditions are unfortunately ripe for such incidences. The damage the cause can be ruinous, destroying homes and wildlife and endangering life. Although most are confined to the rural bush areas, its still a sensible policy out there to ensure the area around your home is cleared of natural debris, such as leaves and branches, regularly. However, despite all this, the image of eternal sunshine is also a little bit of a myth. When its high summer in the southern regions, its actually wet season in the north of the country. As you may expect in a country this size, there is significant variance between locations. Brisbane has quite a tropical, humid climate, while Melbourne has a well-earned reputation for having four seasons in one day! In fact, you may be surprised to learn that you can even ski in Australia. There are several ski resorts located in the Southeast, an area known as the ‘Australian Alps’.


Applying For A Visa

If you are planning a move, it’s vital to have the right legal status with your visa. The Department of Immigration and Border Control in Australia has a very clear and helpful website which will talk you through the application process step by step. You can apply for a working holiday visa, designed to let 18-30 year olds study, work and travel for up to one year, but does not allow dependent children.  You can also apply for an employer-sponsored or 457 visa, entitling you to live and work in the country for four years, but you will need to have a firm job offer from an employer on the approved register. Workers may bring partners and children, but if you want to change jobs, your new employer must agree to sponsor you, and if you should lose your job, you only have 28 days to secure another. Permanent residency will allow you to stay indefinitely. Most are offered as part of the country’s points-based skilled migration programme, which is only offered to certain professionals, based on the country’s skills needs and economic aims. In order to qualify, you must pass an English language test, have a certain amount of experience in an occupation on the Australian consolidated skills shortage list and meet the age requirements.  The list currently spans around 200 occupations, but each state or territory has its own list – and these will change regularly. You may also need to take a skills assessment to have your qualifications accredited. If you do pass these criteria, you are then entitled to Medicare, Australia’s healthcare scheme, to sponsor some relatives to become permanent residents and to travel to and from the country for five years from the date of issue, after which you will need what is known as a ‘resident return’ visa.


Going to the doctors or accessing emergency and specialist medical care in Australia may be different from the system you are used to. Medicare, should you qualify for it, works on a refunds based system, but you may well have to cover the difference between the bill and the standard state payment. Generally, you can expect to pay about half the costs of a standard visit or specialist appointment from your own pocket. If that is unaffordable you can find bulk billing doctors. These are physicians who will only charge the Medicare rate, meaning there is no gap to self-fund. But what happens in an emergency? Most Australians opt for private healthcare insurance, because it allows more choice, plus they will get some of the cost back through government rebates, but there is also a very good public hospital system. Not everything will be covered by the insurance – for example, some companies will not pay for the costs of anaesthesia. Its worth investigated several different policies to find one that suits your individual needs.

Finding a New Home

Actually finding a place to live when you’re thousands of miles away is quite a big ask, and there may be factors to consider such as access to work, schools for children and the availability of public transport. Near the main cities, rental prices are generally quite expensive, with the average cost of renting a house in Sydney hitting 593 AUS dollars per week – but sought-after areas can command even higher prices. Landlords are not permitted to rent properties to tenants unseen, which means that things may be difficult to arrange if you are not able to visit before making your move. It’s most advisable to allocate a few weeks after you move to house hunting, and do as much research as you can about prices and neighbourhoods ahead of the move. There are websites that rent out temporary, furnished accommodation that you can use while looking for a more permanent base. You will need a lot of prepared paperwork too –  photo ID, proof of employment and salary, proof of an Australian bank account, letters from previous landlords or mortgage statements and two character references, so make sure to have all this in order. Competition fr rental properties in popular locations is fierce, and properties go quickly, so make sure to be prepared to pay a deposit and provide paperwork on sight if you find a place you like.

This entry was posted in Travel.