15 Places in the World Where You Get Paid to Live There

1.     ALASKA

Considering Alaska’s reputation of very cold and dark winters, periods during which the sun doesn’t set and lots of barren land, it’s no surprise that local officials have resorted to paying people to move there. Newcomers can take advantage of the Alaska Permanent Fund, which takes money earned from the state’s oil reserves to give back to the community. Alaskans get almost $2,000.

2.     BALTIMORE, MARYLAND

Baltimore has been losing local residents to more prosperous cities for decades. It’s trying to win people back with the Buying into Baltimore program. People get $5,000 toward the purchase of a home in the city. Every year, there are two events: A spring/summer event and a fall/winter event. Another incentive is the Vacants to Value. It gives people up to $10,000 to purchase a formerly vacant, renovated house.

3.     CHATTANOOGA, TENNESSEE

Chattanooga, one of the most underrated cities in the country, is the first city in the Western Hemisphere to offer 10-gigabit-per-second fiber internet service to all residents and businesses. Called “GigCity,” it lures young entrepreneurs who want to create their own startups. GeekMove was a 2011 incentive program designed to financially assist computer developers interested in relocating there. It no longer exists, but it did its job. The city continues to grow and has many up and coming startups looking for geek talent.

4.     CHILE

The government launched a program, Start-up Chile, which provides up to CL$60 million ($90,000) in equity free funding across their programs and over $100,000 of perks as a participant. The country is looking to become the business hub of South America.

5.     CURTIS, NEBRASKA

This is where you should move if you are a golfer. There is a possibility for a free lot at the Arrowhead Meadows, a 9-hole golf course. It is nestled in the Medicine Creek Valley, with the Medicine Creek meandering throughout the course. The trick is that you have to build the home.

6.     DETROIT, MICHIGAN

Detroit has been in a lot of trouble over the last several years. The city even filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy in 2013. Many residents have moved away; some neighborhoods have been abandoned. But, as you know, when one door closes another one opens. Local official created an opportunity with the Challenge Detroit program. It encourages new career seekers and entrepreneurs to move to Detroit by paying them to live, work, play, give, and lead in and around the greater Detroit area for one year.

7.     HARMONY, MINNESOTA

The money people are paid comes in the form of cash rebate for new home construction. This small town has a population or just about 1,000 people. The Harmony Economic Development Authority (EDA) offers a cash rebate between $5,000 and $12,000 to people who build a home. Rebate amounts will be based on the final estimated market value of the new house.

8.     KAITANGATA, NEW ZEALAND

A town, no matter how small, with a population of about 750 will definitely want to attract more newcomers permanently. People won’t get cash but will get other financial benefits. They comes in the form of a home and land that are together worth no more than NZ$230,000. Jobs are also readily available, guaranteed. More than 1,000 need to be filled.

9.     KANSAS

Lincoln, for example, is investing in the future offering free home sites in a completely new subdivision. This is great especially for people who like the rural kind of life. Marquette, a small town of about 630 people, offers free building lots to families who want to live in “the heart of America.” Also, Rural Opportunity Zones are 77 counties that offer financial incentives to new full-time residents such as income tax waivers for up to five years and student loan repayments up to $15,000.

10. MAATSUYKER ISLAND, TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA

Work and housing are offered to people willing to move so far away—off the coast of Tasmania. The job is to take care of and live in the lighthouse and maintain the land and housing on the 460-acre isle. Observing the sea and swell conditions are also part of the responsibilities. The weather on the island is windy all the time and it’s cold for the most part.

11. MISHIMA VILLAGE, JAPAN

The village has come up with a very intriguing way of luring people there. Locals are targeting single people, who will get paid to go on dates. Japanese citizens will get 100,000 yen as moving expenses, as well as some money every month for the first three years of residence. If you have a child while there, you won’t have to worry about giving birth and education expenses. Everyone also gets a free cow.

12. NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT

As is the case with most cities who try to lure people there, New Haven is experimenting with home ownership incentives. People will get an interest-free, $10,000 assistantship to help cover closing costs or a down-payment on a home. It’s also 100 percent forgivable if the owners live there for five or more years. Make it eco-friendly and you’ll get up to $30,000. The city will cover up to full tuition to a Connecticut public college for any resident that graduates from a New Haven public school.

13. NIAGARA FALLS, NEW YORK

This is a popular place with tourists but not so much with people who are looking for a permanent home. One way the city is trying to make folks reconsider is by giving those with student loans about $7,000 to pay it off if they live in Niagara Falls for two years. You’ll have to live in a specific neighborhood though.

14. PITCAIRN ISLAND, SOUTH PACIFIC

The island is one of the most remote on Earth. About 60 people live there and they want more company. Newcomers will get land, totally free. You show up and you get the land. In 2015 only one person made the most of the opportunity. Probably because living there will be like being cast away. There is only one store and you’ll have to order anything you need from the mainland, which is 3,000 miles away, every three months.

15. SASKATCHEWAN, CANADA

It’s good to be a graduate student in Saskatchewan. They are reimbursed up to C$20,000. The goal is to encourage more people to go to school there, which should result in boosting the local economy. The rebate is paid out over seven years, provided you file your taxes in Saskatchewan. It is applied to reduce the amount of income tax residents owe.

Published in: on July 27, 2017 at 12:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

Airport Runway Numbers Explained

Published in: on August 28, 2016 at 3:38 pm  Leave a Comment  

How to Save for your Dream Vacation

Vacation300x156Travelling can be expensive. Here are some tips on how to save now to make your Dream Vacation possible in the future.

1. Negotiate your bills

Apparently if you complain that your phone or cable or Wi-Fi bill is too high, providers will often panic about losing your business and thus negotiate a lower price. Who knows? It could save a few bucks, if you’re brave enough to make the call.

2. Sign up for a travel rewards credit card

You’ll rack up airline miles or hotel points just by living your everyday life. The best part is that most cards give you a special signup bonus in the form of oodles of points.

3. Forgo one expensive habit each month

Here are a few things you can do to save money: making your own coffee instead of buying from Starbucks, packing your own lunch instead of eating out every day. But actually dropping those habits forever would be sad. So pick just one to ditch each month, and watch your savings pile up over the year.

4. Save a buck a day

If you put away just a dollar a day, you’ll stockpile over $365 in a year without even noticing. Saving that dollar can be done by forgoing one of your habits (see tip #3). Over time, that will pay for the trip! Use an actual piggy bank for this (see tip #5).

5. Use an actual Piggy Bank

This famous trick works! You must also vow to dump ALL your spare change in your piggy bank every day and don’t spend it.

6. Mystery shop

Register online to become a mystery shopper– companies will pay you to make undercover visits to their restaurants and give feedback on customer service. The payout isn’t huge, but they’ll almost always comp your meal.

7. Cancel your cable

You know you’re only keeping it for the “Seinfeld” reruns. Stream them online instead.

8. Find a cheaper gym

There’s a good chance you can find one with a lower membership fee… like the YMCA. Or make a pledge to cancel your membership until you’ve saved for your dream trip, and load up on some fun workout tunes to work out at home.

Published in: on January 24, 2014 at 5:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

How to Pronounce Japanese Words

sushiHere are some Japanese words that most non-Japanese people often mispronounce.  This article will show you how to say these words the true Japanese way.

Anime – Japanese animation isn’t pronounced “A-ni-mei” like “animal” — it’s “ah-ni-meh.” The differences might sound subtle or trivial, but if you say it the “American” way in Japan, people may not understand you.

Bonsai – The art of crafting sculpture out of trees is mispronounced a lot as “banzai,” but that’s a Japanese cheer. The correct way to say it is “bohn-sigh.”

Daikon – The pungent Japanese radish, which seems to be more and more available in American supermarkets’ produce sections, is often pronounced “DYE-conn.” Try saying “dai-kohn,” where the subtle different in the first syllable is a softer “eye” sound, and the second syllable rhymes with “loan,” but cut off short.

Futon – The traditional Japanese sleeping mat (and cover — we grew up with thick warm futon that were used both beneath us and as covers) became popular with trendy American yuppies in the ’80s, with hippie stores cranking out clunky beds and convertible sofas that used futon cushions. But those stores’ employees and their shoppers always called them “FOO-tawn.” The Japanese pronunciation is a clipped first syllable, almost just an “F,” and a shortened second: “f’tohn.”

Gyoza – The Japanese word for the Chinese “potsticker” dumpling is too often spoken as “gee-YO-za,” instead of “gyo-zuh.” Westerners seem to have an innate need to add extra syllables. They also do it to Tokyo, which should be just two syllable, “Toh-Kyo” but is often stretched into “Toe-kee-yo.”

Harakiri – The act of ritual suicide, which is also called “seppuku” (“stomach-cutting”) was an extreme way that samurai showed fealty to their lords when they failed, or when their lords died (or for lords to exit the world with honor after they failed). It’s most commonly pronounced “harry-carry” by Americans, which drives me nuts. It’s “ha-rra-kiri,” just like it looks.

Hiroshima – The city in southern Japan that suffered the first atomic bomb explosion, leading to the end of WWII, is today pronounced by Americans as “Huh-ROE-shi-muh,” but it’s actually “He-ro-shi-mah,” with shorter syllables and no emphasis. The “R” should be a little bit trilled, not a Western “R’ sound like “roe.”

Kamikaze – The word was popularized after WWII because of the suicide missions by the desperate Japanese military towards the close of the war. Today, I hear it in names for drinks or silly sushi rolls, and it’s often pronounced “kaw-maw-KAW-zee” instead of “kah-mi-kah-zeh.” Literally, it means “divine wind” or “wind of the gods”: “kami” is spirit or god, and “kaze” is wind. It refers to a sudden storm that blew out of nowhere and helped repel invaders in ancient Japanese history, and was poetically applied to the doomed young (barely men) pilots that were ordered in suicide missions to slam their planes into US warships because Japan had out of bombs.

Karaoke – This one gets me but it’s already so established it sounds forced if someone says it correctly. It’s like saying “bu-rrree-toh” Spanish-style in a Taco Bell. Americans universally say “carry-okee,” but the Japanese pronunciation is “kara-oh-keh.” The “R” in the “kara” part is trilled almost like an L, so it should rhyme with “ka-lah.” Karaoke is a shortened combination of two words (Japanese love to do this with words), “karappo” which means empty, and “okestora,” which is a transliteration of orchestra. Literally, karaoke means “empty orchestra”: music with no band. Cool, huh?

Kobe – The word wasn’t often pronounced in the US until the rise of the city’s namesake, super-expensive beef, and the rise of Kobe Bryant, the Lakers’ basketball superstar. Now everyone says it like the NBA player, “KOE-bee” instead of the more subdued “Koh-beh.”

Manga – With Japanese comics and animation becoming so popular in the West, I often hear both anime and manga mispronounced. The word for comics is “mahn-gah,” not “MAN-guh.”

Nagano – This drove me crazy during the Winter Olympics. It’s three short syllables with no emphasis: “nah-ga-noh,” not “NAAH-guh-noe.”

Napa – The long-leafed cabbage is pronounced “nah-pah,” not “NAP-puh.” That’s the northern California valley where they make wine, or the auto parts company. Sometimes, the differences may sound subtle, like the differences between “hat” and “hot” for my mom.

Okinawa – The GIs come back from the Pacific and call the former island nation that’s now Japan’s southernmost state, “OH-kuh-NAW-waw” — it’s as if the Japanese had a drawl, which of course they don’t. Try saying, “O-ki-nah-wuh,” with no emphasis on any syllable. (BTW, Japanese doesn’t really have intonation, that is, emphasized syllables, except that in conversation, I think some syllables do get emphasized.)

Origami – This one’s kind of tricky, because the main problem with the word for the art of Japanese folded paper, is the rolled or trilled “R” sound, which isn’t part of English. Many people say “oh-RI-guh-mee” (as in polygamy) but it should be more like “oh-rree-gah-mee.”

Panko – Japanese breadcrumbs, often used as a coating instead of flour batter for dishes such as fried shrimp, or in Wendy’s case, their new fish sandwich. Instead of “PAN-koe,” try “pahn-koh.”

Ramen – Yes, one of the most familiar of all Japanese words, a staple of college students’ diets everywhere, is often pronounced “raw-MEN” or “RAW-men” by non-Japanese. But the dish is actually a Japanized version of the word for the traditional Chinese noodle, lo mein, and should be pronounced with more of a rolled “R” sound and no strong emphasis on either syllable: “rrah-men.”

Sake – Rice wine has become a staple in not just Japanese restaurants and sushi bars, but everywhere. But Americans who love the stuff (I can’t stand the taste of it) usually say “saw-kee” as if it were spelled “saki” instead of “sake.” Try saying “sah-keh.”

Shiitake – I hear the much-loved mushroom called “shee-TAW-kee” when it’s actually “shi-tah-keh.” The first syllable is more clipped than “shee” and the second is more clipped than “taw.” The last syllable is not a long “ee” but a short “eh.”

Sudoku – The hugely popular numeric puzzle game is often mispronounced. Sudoku should be really easy. It’s like it’s spelled: Soo-doh-koo. But I constantly hear it said as “So-doo-koo,” “So-doo-koh” or “Soo-doh-koh.”

Tempura – Instead of “temp-OH-ra” or “temp-POUR-uh” for the Japanese fried shrimp and veggies dish, try saying “tem-pu-rrah.” The “U” should not be stretched out, like “poo,” and should be more like the “oo” sound in “look.”

Teriyaki – I hear the marinade called “terry-YACK-ee” all the time, instead of “teh-rri-yah-ki” (with a slightly trilled “R”).

Tokyo – You’d think this one would be easy, but many people, including broadcasters, say “Toe-kee-yo” instead of “Toh-kyoh.” It’s two syllables, not three! The same goes for Kyoto: it’s “Kyo-toh” not “Kee-YO-toe.”

Tsunami – The March 11, 2011 earthquake off Sendai in Japan resulted in lots of media coverage of the resulting tsunami, and it’s driven me nuts to hear “soo-NAH-me,” when it’s pronounced just like the way it’s spelled, with the “T”: “tsu-nah-me.” Extra credit to a couple of NPR anchors and reporters who say it right even though others on the network don’t.

Udon – The traditional fat noodle is a staple in Japan, and Americans are starting to order it in restaurants to, but they have a habit of pronouncing it “ooooo-DAWN.” Try “oo-dohn.” The “oo” part should be short, not dragged out. And the “dohn” part kind of rhymes with “don’t.” My stepson Jared, who used to work in a Japanese fast-food restaurant years ago, wanted to yell at customers who said udon wrong.

Wasabi – Thanks to the TV commercials for Budweiser and the explosion of hip acceptability of sushi, the green stuff you mix into soy sauce became well-known, though it’s usually pronounced “wuh-SAH-bee.” It should be more precise and not so broad: “wah-sah-bi,” three very clipped syllables with none emphasized more than the others.

Published in: on November 8, 2013 at 10:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

How to Pack for a Trip

Travel Clothing Expert’s Recommendations

  • Start with fabrics that resist wrinkling and dry quickly mainly synthetics such as polyester and plan on mixing and matching.
  • Make sure every top you take goes with every bottom. Chose neutral colours for below the waist.
  • Khaki is best. Navy blue or black also work, and hide the dirt.
  • Add several tops in brighter colours or patterns.

“It’s where you get all your life,” says Barbara Rodriguez,, head of design and production for Tilley Endurables. No one will notice if you’ve worn the same black slacks three days in a row, they’ll pay attention to the top.

Prepare for the Unexpected Weather

For the tropics, take something warmer for a windy, overcast day, or to don when you’ve stayed in the pool too long. If it’s supposed to be cool, throw in something light in case it turns hot.

Packing List for Spring/Fall Weather

For Men:

  • Three pairs of socks.
  • Three pairs of underwear.
  • Two long-sleeved shirts for daytime; two for evening.
  • Two T-shirts (one often doubles as a pyjama top).
  • Two pairs of slacks, casual for daytime, a navy pair for evening. (A second pair of daytime slacks for a trip of two weeks or more).
  • Light hikers for daytime, black dress shoes for evening.
  • One black belt.
  • One item for extra warmth (usually a cotton turtleneck), and a short-sleeved shirt in case it’s hotter than expected.
  • One waterproof windbreaker, either worn to the airport or rolled up and packed.
  • One broad-brimmed hat or baseball cap, depending on how much sun protection I think I’ll need.
  • A plastic clothes hanger, for wash-‘n-wear stuff.

For Women:

  • Four or five tops.
  • Jeans, daytime slacks, dress pants and a kilt.
  • St least one cotton turtleneck.
  • One long-sleeved white blouse.
  • One sweater.
  • One large white T-shirt.
  • Socks, pantyhose and knee-highs.
  • Undergarments.
  • Pyjamas.
  • A dress jacket
  • Raincoat or rain jacket.
  • One pair of runners, one pair of dress shoes.

These lists include what you will wear on the plane. The rest will fit into one carry-on bag each.

For Cruise or other Jacket-and-Tie Occasion

Put your dressier clothes into one suitcase and check it.

Plastic Bags

There are several methods of packing some involving plastic bags and tissue paper and one that advocates wrapping everything into a huge bundle. These appear to be aimed at reducing wrinkling, something you needn’t worry about if most of what you take is microfibre.

Lay each matching top and bottom out flat and folds them into layers.  These are then stacked in the carryon bag.  You can easily reach down one side, find the appropriate “package” and remove it.

No Gaps

Make sure every space in the bag is filled. Stuff socks and underwear inside shoes. Fill an empty corner with a rolled-up T-shirt. Put pyjamas in last.

Remove Old Airline Tags

Finally, remove old airline tags from luggage you intend to check to avoid confusion at the airport.

Bon voyage!

Credit: Doug English

Published in: on March 7, 2011 at 5:12 am  Comments (1)  

How to Travel Safely

Here are a few tips that should keep you happy and healthy whether you are frolicking on a Mexican beach, climbing mountains in Nepal or presenting a business plan in Hong Kong.

Staying healthy during your travels requires that you use common sense, follow reasonable precautions with respect to food and water and become knowledgeable of the health risks in the countries on your itinerary.

Immunization

If your family doctor is not familiar with travel medicine, book an appointment with your local travel immunization clinic. Travel health experts will tell you what immunizations you need and what antimalarial or antidiarrheal medication you should take with you.

Some immunization series take many weeks to complete so book your appointment at least two months before your departure.  Carry a copy of your immunization records with you during your travels.

Look into medical insurance plans. It’s a must.

Insect repellent

Travellers should also protect themselves from insects and take mosquitoes seriously. Many potentially serious diseases are transmitted by insects. Diseases such as malaria, yellow fever, dengue fever and encephalitis are transmitted by mosquitoes.  A good insect repellent, containing DEET, long pants and sleeves and mosquito netting for the sleeping area all provide important protection.

Avoid bare feet

Proper footwear can protect the traveller from cuts and reduce the risk of tetanus (lockjaw) infection.

Emergency care in foreign countries for serious cuts could not only mean exposure to contaminated needles but in turn put you at serious risk of contracting HIV, Hepatitis B and the Hepatitis C virus.

If choosing to walk bare foot, there also exists the possibility of picking up bacteria and infections from direct skin contact with sand or soil contaminated by dog or cat excrement.

Drink only bottled or boiled water.  Be careful of Ice Cubes.

Contaminated water is one of the leading causes of diarrhea. Drinking only bottled or boiled water and carbonated beverages is the best way to avoid this condition.

Water can be purified with a variety of chemical disinfectants or portable purifiers.

A word of warning – a Five Star hotel is not necessarily a guarantee of a safe water source.

Well Cooked

Make certain your food (pork and seafood) is well cooked and still hot when served. This will save your digestive tract from upset and infections.

Avoid Milk

Milk products should be avoided unless they are pasteurized.

Prescription Drugs

Carry an adequate supply of prescription medications to last for the duration of your trip.

Prescription drugs should be carried in their original containers with proper labels. Keep a record of your medications with the trade name of the drug as well as its generic name.

Take your anti-malarial medications as recommended. Also be mindful of the risk of acquiring AIDS, Hepatitis B and C from sexual contacts, unsterile injections or blood transfusions or tattooing.

Swim at your own risk

Stay out of slow-moving fresh water lakes or rivers. These waters may harbour parasites that can cause a worm infection called Bilharzia. Ask before you swim or use the ocean or chlorinated pools for a healthy swim.

Road Safety

Motor vehicle accidents are the major cause of accidental death in travellers.

Since rules of the road are not obeyed or non-existent in most developing countries you should avoid riding on a motorcycle, driving at night in rural areas and traveling in overcrowded or poorly-maintained vehicles.

Travel safe.

Published in: on January 31, 2011 at 3:21 pm  Comments (4)  

Tips for taking your laptop on vacation

Ready for vacation? Let’s check out the list of items you’re ready to pack:

Swimsuit, shorts, t-shirts, sun block, Edmonton Oiler visor, paperback copy of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, laptop computer.

Uh, laptop? You bet.

25% Off CouponOur addiction of being Internet-connected means many of us bring a laptop on summer vacation. The popularity and low price of small, trendy Netbook computers have found their way into the vacation suitcase but if you really want everything to work properly, a bit of pre-vacation planning is in order. Done right, you can keep up with your office business and clients who will never know you are wearing only a Speedo and are answering their email while a bikini-clad waitress places a fresh Bud Light Lime in front of you. So, let’s review:

Internet connectivity; Let’s face it, a personal computer is not much good unless it is connected to the Internet, so knowing where you can “connect” is Rule # 1. Therefore, before you head out, Bing or Google “free Wi-Fi” and specify the city or town you are heading to. It will list the various Starbucks, Second Cup and others who offer free ‘Net connectivity. Cut the search results out and paste it into a Word document you save on the laptop. Be thorough and select several hot spots. Remember to keep in the spirit of the arrangement by buying a coffee while you hang around and tap away in your Facebook account.

Pack NO critical data: Always assume the worst: That your laptop is going to be lost or damaged when you decide to use it as a leveling wedge for your tent trailer. So, other than copies of your iTunes or Zune music, keep very little important data on the local hard drive. This means all of your email should be Web based – as opposed to using Microsoft Outlook – and all of your documents should be stored in the “cloud.” Google Docs offer plenty of free space and Microsoft’s Skydrive provides for 25 (free) GB of storage space. If you must use Outlook, make sure you have a dedicated SMTP server to send email. For example, if your main email account is with Shaw Cable, the hotel you are staying at may not allow access to the outgoing Shaw email server; meaning you can receive email fine but you will be unable to send email. In Shaw’s case (and like most other ISP’s) you can always access a Web based version of your email.

If you DO have to pack some important files to work on, consider using a great little (free) application called Dropbox (www.getdropbox.com) that lets you synchronize files among three computers (EG: Home, office and laptop). Again, the message is there is more than one updated copy of the files you work on and it is a web-based, “cloud” application.

Use Remote access: If you DO need to get to your office data or your home personal computer, get familiar with the Remote Desktop Connection in your Windows XP or Vista Accessories folder. At the very least you can access the company server and from there you can RDC to your office computer. Other options like Go to My PC from Citrix allow you access any computer through any firewall, provided you set it up first. Go to the Micsoft.com website and download a great little (free) tool called The Windows Server 2003 Administration Tools Pack (if you have a Win XP laptop) or the Microsoft Remote Server Administration Tools if you’re running Windows Vista with Service Pack 1 (SP1). This way, you can set up all your remote connections beforehand and get single click access to the home, office or other necessary PC’s. By the way, make sure your laptop is password protected. You don’t want junior accessing the corporate server during your afternoon snooze.

Other: Many new portables don’t ship with an old style telephone modem anymore so you may want to include a PC card modem. You will be thankful of this when you realize the cabin you rented does not have hi speed or satellite Internet access. Alternatively, you can pick up a Rogers 3.5G Rocket Stick – ZTE MF636 USB Modem for $175 per month sans plan. This USB combo modem and memory storage device that gives you email and internet access on your laptop and lets you store up to 4GB of data. Meanwhile, Telus is pitching its Sierra Wireless USB 598 Mobile High Speed Internet Key for $50/month on a 1 year contract.

Make sure you bring a couple of sets of headphones. Here, I recommend the Bose Mobile In-ear headset which is really made for your mobile phone but also fits your PC, BlackBerry and iPod. It’s pricey at $159 but it provides the absolute best quality sound and you can adjust the in-ear fit with the three, soft contoured tips they supply. This device works best with an iPhone that lets you take calls and switch back to your music with a single touch ease.

Furthermore, the headphones are loose enough that you can always hear the waitress ask if you’d like a coupla more Bud Light Limes.

Published in: on August 3, 2009 at 4:05 am  Comments (80)