The problems with online portals for freelancers

This week a move away from the property market to discuss something that seems to be an increasing battle for me at the moment. That’s the pain in the backside for every Virtual Assistant and Freelancers life. Getting more work. Obviously this is a task that is done all the time in the background whilst we are working away on our client’s projects.

As part of the various marketing activities that are undertaken most freelancers do still use the various freelancer portals that are out there. We all know the main ones and I try and keep an active presence on a few of them. But there are some major draw backs to using these and it seems especially this month I’ve ran into rather more than I would like. So today we have a look at some of these issues that are making freelancers lives painful.

Yes, I’m a little mad at you as well

angry-person

This includes knowledge picked up along the way from my own experiences, articles, various friends, colleagues and family members.

It all looks so good in the beginning

The platforms are meant to bring together the freelancers and the people with the jobs on one easy to use web based platform where everyone can work together. The idea being that the freelancers don’t have to knock on quite so many digital doors to get a new client and work on board. So when you do go onto these platforms all looks good to start with. They are all typically free (apart from some of the more obscure or specialist ones) and usually when you have signed up and put in all your relevant details you get a certain number of free credit to use a month to apply for freelance roles. This generally is between 8 and 60 depending on the platform. But you can get more by upgrading to a paid subscription or just purchasing ad hoc credits. The platforms also allows you to market yourself and your services to the community for free as well. Seems good so far right?

Time is money

Some of these platforms are well laid out and it’s easy to find everything you need. As this isn’t time that you can spend on billing any clients you want to be able to use the platforms as quickly and easily as possible whilst still maintaining a high level of quality. Therefore, when you find and then apply for roles you want to do this at the touch of a button. However, some of these sites are incredibly slow at going from page to page. One in particular has so many pop ups, notifications and other gadgets that you’re constantly closing down other screens to be able to complete your application. This particular platform involves going through four screens before your full proposal is sent to the client. What an utter waste of time.

What are these businesses on?

Then we get onto the businesses that are actually on the platforms. Not all of them are fully fledged. Some of them are one man bands just like most freelancers. However, my experience is that everyone expects the highest calibre of work but at a fraction of the price. Seems to be the mantra for a lot of people these days. On these platforms there seem to be an increasing number of what I like to call “Joker” businesses. Either they have put no description of what the work entails and therefore how is anyone meant to accurately put together a proposal. Or they have a completely unrealistic view on the amount of work needed to complete versus the amount of time it will take to complete the job. Not forgetting the actual scammers out there that seem to go under different handles and just repeat the same old jobs. This really aggravates me as they should be nowhere near these platforms. The kind of jobs they put on are eBay posting jobs where they want you to post stuff for them under your own account. Doing research of apps or website advertising, which turns out to be free work you’re doing (I’m sure there is no job at the end of the rainbow). There are plenty more like that one especially around advertising things online. My biggest problem is with people unsure of what they want. So you get the job and then have a discussion about what’s required and it turns out the client isn’t even ready to start work yet. What a waste of everyone’s time and energy.

How much are you paying for this

At the end of the day I suppose all would be ok if these jobs were paid at an appropriate rate. But it’s not really the case most of the time. It’s like the modern version of slave labour. As mentioned above usually the jobs seem to go to the lowest bidder. I suppose that’s just simple economics and it is a supply and demand type business. However, the charges for getting work on the platforms you would think would be fairly uniform. Mostly are somewhere between 10 and 20 percent fees that taken out to cover their costs. One platform I have come across does something very strange with one off projects. The process should be that when you bid and put together your proposal you are given an overall figure that is seen by the client which includes a charge to the client for the job. Further down the line when you have done the work and requested payment the platform usually instantly knocks that fee off the amount they pay you. Fair enough right. On this platform though as soon as the client awards you the business the fee is taken out of your bank account. I was shocked and appalled at this as you haven’t even done the work yet. Especially with one off projects where you have agreed a fee upfront the fee can sometimes be quite large so why take out the money before you get the job completed. Madness.

It’s not all bad news

Some of these platforms are more on the ball than others and seem to have a lot less rubbish jobs, bad website design and incompetent clients to deal with. If you try it out it will be obvious after the first month which ones are any good. But, the concept is good I just think they could be executed a lot better. Sometimes it does lead to long lasting work with clients that know what they are talking about but you do have to spend a lot of time shifting through the detritus to find them and then there is no guarantee you will get the job if someone is prepared to work for next to nothing to do the job and you are not.

I hope this has been informative, interesting and you liked reading it.

That’s all folks this week but I’ll be back again next week. Please subscribe to my Virtual Demon blog and I look forward to your comments and feedback.

5 of the most expensive homes in the UK

Last week we looked at some of the most expensive properties on the market place today. This week we are looking at some of the most expensive homes in the UK market at the moment.

So let’s take a look at some very pricey property. This is by no means an exhaustive list. Some of the properties are back from last week’s list and quite rightly so, such as supposedly the most expensive property 18 Carlton House.

How many bathrooms do you need?

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This includes knowledge picked up along the way from articles, various friends, colleagues and family members.

18 Carlton House Terrace

London

Estimated value: 330 million USD

18 Carlton House Terrace

One of the largest private homes in London. Situated within walking distance to Buckingham Palace this six storey, grade I listed building is said to boast 50,000 square feet of living space. But after that very little is known about the inside of the property as the last pictures were taken a long time ago.

Via primeresi and extravaganzi

Admiralty Arch Apartment

London

Estimated value: 200 million USD

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Apparently the $200 million asking price will be for one of four penthouses based in the Arch in the prestigious central London location. Expect period features, high ceilings and even membership to the private members’ club.

Via flickr

Updown court

Surrey

Estimated value: 123 million USD

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In an area notorious for celebrity homes this 50,000 square feet mansion stands out. With 24 bedrooms, 2 indoor and 3 outdoor pools, underground garage and heated $6-million-dollar marble driveway, 2 guest houses, 11 acres of garden and a helipad. What more could you ask for. Oh and don’t forget the 22 carved marble bathrooms.

Via blog.darioalvarez.net

One Hyde Park

London

Estimated value: 83 million USD

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This penthouse apartment that will set you back some. Situated in the leafy Hyde Park area this apartment boasts great views, 9,000 square feet, its own concierge service provided by the Mandarin Oriental hotel, swimming pool and spa. It seems to have an interesting history of appearing on the property market on several occasions and then being removed before reappearing again.

Via wikipedia

Hackwood Park Estate

Hampshire

Estimated value: Approximately 86 million USD

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This grade II listed national historical mansion and estate might be a little higher in the listing but the £65 million asking price is as yet unconfirmed. With 260 acres, 24 bedrooms and 20 bathrooms it really is a real country mansion in line with scenes from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. With mountains of history to its name the property includes 4 cottages, a coach house, stables and deer park. Not forgetting its own botanical garden and historical woodlands.

Via Dailymail

I hope this has been informative, interesting and you liked reading it.

That’s all folks this week but I’ll be back again next week. Please subscribe to my Virtual Demon blog and I look forward to your comments and feedback.

10 of the most expensive homes in the world

Moving on from the unusual properties that are out there. We are usually impressed by just how much things cost and how much square footage your hard earned cash can get you. Therefore, this week we are looking at some of the most expensive homes on the market at the moment. These homes are certainly a little more mainstream than last week’s list.

So let’s take a look at some very pricey property. This is by no means an exhaustive list. One of the properties is the Playboy Mansion of which I’m sure a lot of people would like to have a look inside. While some of these properties just seem to have far too many bathrooms they are all pretty spectacular homes.

How many bedrooms do you need?

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This includes knowledge picked up along the way from articles, various friends, colleagues and family members.

Antilia

Mumbai, India

Estimated value: Over 1 billion USD

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The number one in our list is this 27 story, 400,000 square foot skyscraper. Which is currently the home of Indian billionaire businessman Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani. Apparently it’s named after a mythical island in the Atlantic. There are 6 underground floors just for parking and the home needs a small army of staff to keep it running smoothly.

Via giahungphat

Villa Les Cedres or Villa Leopolda

France,

Estimated value: 1 billion EURO

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The first of a number of properties from France. This amazing home has actually recently come on the market. Formerly the residence of the King of Belgium. This property has 10 bedrooms, a ball room and stables all set in 35 acres in the south of France.

Via party.pl

The Nile Niami Bel Air Spec Home

USA

Estimated value: 500 million USD

pic3

The first of our homes based in the Los Angeles hill side. This 100,000 square feet home once completed will encompass a nightclub, casino and walls made from Jellyfish tanks.

Via dailymail

Le Palais Bulles

France

Estimated value: 455 million USD

pic4

The Bubble Palace and home of Pierre Cardin. Apparently it covers 1,200 square meters and has a 500-person capacity amphitheatre. All this combine with stunning views of the Mediterranean from the Cote d’Azur.

Via habitat-bulles.com

Tour de Odeon penthouse

France,

Estimated value: 330 million USD

pic5

This one I really like, close to the sea and once completed will have great views over Monaco. This 5 floor penthouse has a giant infinity pool and slide from which to watch the world go by.

Via computerbild

18 Carlton House Terrace

UK,

Estimated value: 330 million USD

pic6

One of the largest private homes in London. Situated within walking distance to Buckingham Palace this six storey, grade I listed building is said to boast 50,000 square feet of living space.

Via primeresi

220 Central Park South Penthouse

USA,

Estimated value: 250 million USD

This 3 floor, 23,000 square feet apartment within an apartment building boasts 16 bedrooms and 17 bathrooms. Currently still being built. Eventually it will have great views over central park from its Manhattan location.

Via dailymail

Fair Field, Sagaponack

USA,

Estimated value: 248 million USD

pic8

Far field the home of billionaire Ira Rennert is set on the beautiful Hamptons coast line. Said to be one of the largest and most expensive homes in the USA. No one is quite sure, but it is said to have anywhere between 21 and 29 bedrooms and 18 to 39 bathrooms.

Via pinterest

The Playboy Mansion

USA

Estimated value: 200 million USD

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The infamous home of Hugh Hefner and his Bunnies. The home boasts 29 rooms including a 4-bedroom guest house. All of this is set in 5 acres of prime Los Angeles real estate.

Via agendainmobiliariatv.blogspot.com/

Admiralty Arch Apartment

UK

Estimated value: 200 million USD

pic10

Apparently the $200 million asking price will be for one of four penthouses based in the Arch in the prestigious central London location. Expect period features, high ceilings and even membership to the private members’ club.

Via flickr

I hope this has been informative, interesting and you liked reading it.

That’s all folks this week but I’ll be back again next week. Please subscribe to my Virtual Demon blog and I look forward to your comments and feedback.

10 off the most unusual homes you’ll ever see

I thought it was all getting a little too heavy with all this uncertainty in the air about the future of the property market in the UK. So onto something a little lighter this week. It’s always interesting to see how someone else lives and more importantly what kind of home they live in.

So let’s take a look at some very interesting property. This is by no means an exhaustive list. One of the properties is a hobbit like hole dug into the side of a hill and I being a big fan of Tolkien’s work was keen to see if there were more weird and wonderful living creations out there at the moment for us to feast our eyes on. However not all the wacky and wonderful constructions have actually been built to live in so those aren’t included in my list.

Would you live in a home like this?

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This includes knowledge picked up along the way from articles, various friends, colleagues and family members.

Giant Sea Shell House

Mexico,

shell house1 shell house2

Very colourful and no doubt designed by someone with a love of the sea. Looks like it might actually be quite cosy inside. I like the front of the building it’s like a mosaic of light and colour.

Via demilked

Stone house

Portugal,

Stonehouse portugal1 Stonehouse portugal2

This one’s a bit austere for my liking. It feels like it should be the house of some villain in some horror or sci-fi film. I’d love to know what it looks like inside.

Via patricia_ferreira

Boeing Jet house

USA, Oregon

Boeing house1 Boeing house2 

I reckon this guy was an ex-pilot that felt so comfortable in his aircraft that he needed to actually live in one. As with most airplanes though I expect the toilet to be a little cramped.

Via airplanehome

Star Trek apartment

UK, Leicestershire

Star Trek house1 Star Trek house2

Only a true Treky could come up with this marvellous replica of the inside of the spaceship. A real Sci-fi fans dream this I would say. Somewhere to really forget yourself and enjoy the fantasy.

Via mirror

Tree house home

USA, Florida

Tree house1 Tree house2

For all those people that still feel like 10 years old. Here it is a fully liveable treehouse situated on a farm I think. You definitely won’t worry about falling out of the bed on this one.

Via airbnb

Flintstones inspired House

USA,

Flinstone house1 Flinstone house2

These themed properties seem to keep popping up. It really does look like a cave. Maybe to bring back some of those cave man/woman instincts once again.

Via ghoofie

Worlds Thinnest House

Poland,

slimmest house1 slimmest house2

Now I’m a fairly tall fella but not too wide. But if you’ve got an extra bit of luggage your trying to lose this may not be the place for you. Also what happens when you invite someone round for a cupper?

Via dezeen

Underwater House

Wherever there’s a lot of water,

under water home1 under water home2

For all those Bond fans out there and I include myself here. What would it have been to like to live like that Stromberg guy from The Spy Who Loved Me film in his underwater Atlantis. Well here it is!

Via ussubstructures

S-House

Japan,

s-house1 s-house2

Now I like to see a good amount of light where I’m living and not have to revert to using artificial lights all the time. But surely there’s a balance between that and a little privacy. Great Concept though.

Via inhabitat

Hobbit House

UK, Holme Valley

hobbit house1 hobbit house2

Another favourite of mine. Strangely enough only because it’s the home of Hobbits. It looks really cosy to me. Have a look at the video from the link below.

Via homesandproperty

I hope this has been informative, interesting and you liked reading it.

That’s all folks this week but I’ll be back again next week. Please subscribe to my Virtual Demon blog and I look forward to your comments and feedback.

 

Will it soon be impossible for the next generation to buy a home?

There is increasing speculation at the moment of a lack of property or property shortage. Certainly it seems the governments quota for new properties is not going to be met this year. As someone that has been a renter for my entire professional life it begs the question will the next generation be able to buy a home without help from family?

I came pretty close to buying a property when my circumstances were different about 10 years ago. I had everything in place and was just looking for the right place. Of course that was back in the days of the 100% mortgage. Since then circumstances have changed and I don’t see myself buying a place anytime soon. Perhaps in the hazy future things will change again and I’ll be looking for somewhere for the long term. But at the moment it feels like there are just too many hurdles to get over.

How much?!

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This includes knowledge picked up along the way from articles, various friends, colleagues and family members.

Housing crisis what housing crisis

Given everything else that has been happening recently the housing crisis seems to have been brushed to one side for the moment. However, these major issues seem to be back on the agenda as Brexit takes a rest for a while. The Charity Shelter have found that in a recent study 59% of people under 45 years of age have been put off major decisions such as starting a family or getting a new job due to the housing shortage. With the average age of the first time buyer increasing to 38 this doesn’t look good for those looking to get onto the property ladder in the future. Remember the government saying they would provide a million new homes by 2020. At the moment that doesn’t look like happening.

Deposit, mortgages and fees

Added to this the difficulties being imposed on us by government and the private sector in buying a new home. Most first time buyers will have to save up money for a deposit while renting or living at home. This is becoming increasingly harder due to the cost of renting and not everyone can live with their mother until they are 38. Mortgages are still not that easy to get and the deposits most of the time are still sitting at around 15-20% mark. Which leaves a lot of people having to crawl on bended knee to the very depleted bank of mum and dad. The biggest problem I find is the level of fees and extra payments that are involved in the process of buying a house such as conveyancing fees, solicitors fees, stamp duty, agency fees and so on. You need savings just to be able to afford the fees that you will incur. Even though lower deposits are making a comeback, most people that rent still can’t afford to save for a 5% deposit let alone a 20% deposit.

Why is this happening

The gap between the earnings we make and property prices (that includes all the fees as well) is steadily increasing around the country. Salaries haven’t increased a hell of a lot which means that the cost of living in the UK as a whole is increasing as well. Add to this the increasing cost to rent and increases in council tax mean that people are not saving but looking to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.

What can be done about it?

The government look like they are going to throw money at the problem. To both increase house building and ease general economic issues. But as well as this legislation needs to change at all levels. We still have legislation going back to post war times. The private sector is wary of buying land and building on it as where is the gain for them. So that leaves the government to step in and help out local housing authorities and smaller building companies. The government has also introduced schemes such as the shared ownership scheme. But these have their own pitfalls and are not suited to the majority of house buyers. Of course these kind of changes would benefit the future house buyers and home owners but probably not current homeowners and landlords.

I hope this has been informative, interesting and you liked reading it.

That’s all folks this week but I’ll be back again next week. Please subscribe to my Virtual Demon blog and I look forward to your comments and feedback.

 

The best places to buy investment property outside of London in the UK

Getting back to the UK property market. It looks as if buy to let investors haven’t been put off yet by Brexit or any taxes imposed by the government. Also if you’re an overseas investor the poor performing pound will mean there might be some property deals to be made. So excluding London where else are investors looking too in the UK this year.

Firstly, why are we looking outside of London and the greater London areas. It’s pretty obvious that the inner London and outer London areas are the best places for return on investment in the UK. But that also comes with a hefty price tag. Where as in these uncertain times you may want to look else-where for high rental yields and the ability to sell the property at a profit at a later date as well. With property prices that allow you to expand your portfolio further rather than waiting to see if you get a return on your investment first.

Where’s a great investment

Property-Investment

This includes knowledge picked up along the way from articles, various friends, colleagues and family members. I’ve used data from LendInvest rental yields data for 2010-2016. The average yield this year is about 5%.

Manchester

By far the best yield to be found outside of outer London is a 6.8% yield in Manchester which comes with and an average rent per year of £8,320.

Blackburn

Of the two areas next up in the list Blackburn is an unlikely candidate but due to low house prices the area comes up with a 5.8% yield but that is tempered by one of the lowest average rent per year of £5,408.

Cardiff

Perhaps the more attractive proposition is the Welsh capital offering the same 5.8% yield and a more attractive average rent per year of £7,800.

Bournemouth

The south coast city has a yield of 5.6% and an average rent per year of £12,584. Which at this level of yield of the second highest on this list. However, do expect higher house prices on the South coast.

Canterbury

The first of the areas to the East of London offering a potential 5.6% yield and an average rent per year of £9.880.

Southend on Sea

Another seaside area again on the east coast offering a 5.6% yield and an average rent per year of £10,504.

Northampton

The ever popular commuter city giving similar yields to the next two areas on the list. A 5.6% yield and an average rent per year of £10,452.

Coventry

The yield may increase due to the high speed travel links soon to be introduced. Offering a 5.6% yield and an average rent per year of £8,684.

Luton

Perhaps a little too close to London this one. But again good future prospects and a potential 5.6% yield with an average rent of £9,308 per year.

Bristol, Liverpool, Milton Keynes, Oxford, Rochester, Oldham

All of these areas have a 5.5% yield with the average rent per year varying from £13,208 in Oxford as the highest and to £5,746 in Oldham as the lowest. But of course house prices are higher in the Milton Keynes, Oxford, Rochester and Bristol areas than the Liverpool and Oldham areas.

I hope this has been informative, interesting and you liked reading it.

That’s all folks this week but I’ll be back again next week. Please subscribe to my Virtual Demon blog and I look forward to your comments and feedback.

 

Top 10 best places to live in the world

Again we are thinking about the nicer places to live in the world. I was shocked and appalled to hear this morning of a bombing in Hua Hin in Thailand where I was only a few months ago. It’s such a lovely place and the beaches are fantastic. It’s a real shame but bad things can happen in good places. So continuing with a little bit of help from the research done by Mercer this year I thought I’d give you a list of places where you definitely should think about visiting.

When can I move

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This includes knowledge picked up along the way from articles, various friends, colleagues and family members. A large proportion of the data is based on a liveability list conducted by Mercer this year. It uses a number of different criteria to enable companies and organisations to better understand how they should compensate their international staff in terms of pay and allowances.

Vienna, Austria

The capital and largest city of Austria. Perhaps a surprise winner this year ahead of the more established cities of Vancouver, San Francisco and Melbourne. A cultural, economic and historical hotspot Vienna surely is a must on your bucket list. It looks like you can enjoy Vienna for anything upwards of around 80 euros a night. Looks like the best times to go are either before or after July and August which are typically busy and hot.

Zurich, Switzerland

So in second place we come to a city located on the north-western tip of Lake Zurich. It is the largest city in Switzerland and one of the places I’ve been too where the locals speak more languages than anywhere I’ve ever been. When I went there I mostly saw a lot of greyish brown financial type buildings and a lot of snow. Certainly as one of the wealthiest places in Europe it is not cheap but there are bargains to be had. The best time to go seems to be between April and October.

Auckland, New Zealand

Located in the North Island of New Zealand. Auckland is the largest and most populated urban area in the country. It has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world. According to its Maori name it is “The city of many lovers”. Of course you will have to factor in that return flight to your budget. For a daily budget for Auckland you’re probably looking at £32 for a budget stay and upwards of course if you want to stay in some nicer accommodation. The best times to go seem to be around September to November where you can expect temperatures of around 10-25 degrees. Also expect to see less tourists than in the Summer months around December to February. Visa wise the rules differ if you plan to work there but normally as a tourist a British passport holder can get 6 months in the country without a visa providing you meet the immigration requirements.

Munich, Germany

The third largest city in Germany sits on the banks of the river Isar not too far from the Alps. People don’t just visit Munich for the Oktoberfest. It is a multicultural home, industrial and technological haven for many and a major cultural attraction too. If you’re going on a budget, you’ll be looking at least 100 euros a day depending on the activities you’ve planned to do whilst there your costs may increase. If you’re going for the beer, then go in February or March for the strong beer season. Otherwise try September and October for a nice autumnal feeling or indeed December as the city gets ready for Christmas.

Vancouver, Canada

Even though not the largest city in Canada it is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country. The coastal sea port city has become something of a property hotspot of late with investors rushing to get a good deal in a property market with increasing prices rivalling London and New York and good investment opportunities. On one side you have snowy mountains and the other classical beaches all in one setting. Obviously for us Europeans Vancouver isn’t exactly close. So the cost of your air fare needs to be factored into your budget. From a budget perspective you’ll need at least 100 Canadian dollars a day but if you’re looking at staying in your own room make it more like 200 Canadian dollars a day. If you’re looking to go skiing December to March is the best time of year. But if you’re looking to miss the Summer influx try before or after June to September. Fortunately, visitors from the US, commonwealth and most of western Europe don’t need a Visa for stays up to 180 days.

Dusseldorf, Germany

The second city from Germany in the list. Dusseldorf is seen by many as mainly a centre for business and finance but it also has a great reputation in the fashion world. On the river Rhine it is seen more and more as a young up and coming vibrant city. It looks like the best times of year to go are around May to October.

Frankfurt, Germany

The third city from Germany. Frankfurt is the fifth largest city in Germany. It has been said that as a financial centre it is unrivalled in Europe as it homes the head offices of the European Central bank for example. It is also home to many of the largest trade fairs in the world. A glittering array of steel and glass combine too great to effect in this multicultural city. Again the best time to go looks to be around May to October.

Geneva, Switzerland

The second most populous city in Switzerland. Sitting where the Rhone leaves Lake Geneva. It is primarily known as a centre for diplomacy around the world. But as one of the most expensive cities on this list to visit you may want to keep your trip a little shorter. April to August are the moths to go if you want to fully appreciate the lake and many of the activities around this open up around this time of year. If you’re going for skiing look around December time.

Copenhagen, Denmark

The capital of Denmark is seen as the coolest city of its Nordic neighbours. Situated on the eastern coast of the island of Zealand. It has been described as the financial centre of northern Europe. With good links to Sweden thanks to the Oresund bridge and a fantastic array of cultural and modern development make it a great place to visit. If you’re interested in festivals and events May to August looks like the best time of year. But if you’d prefer to get away from the party for a while Autumn and December maybe a better time for you.

Sydney, Australia

The most populous city in Australia and Oceania. The site of the world’s largest natural harbour Sydney has been an iconic destination now for some time. A vast multicultural city that is seen as the gateway to Australia by many, due to internationally recognised features such as Sydney Harbour. However, all this comes at a cost. Obviously it’s a long way to travel in the first place and secondly if you’re looking to stay as a budget traveller you’ll need at least 190 Australian dollars a day. But if you’re like me and prefer a decent bed to sleep on then you’re looking up to 320 Australian dollars a day. You’ll probably be going for a while so check the visa rules again. Most travellers seem to go around Christmas time as it’s summer over there at that time of year. But if you want to avoid the crowds you may want to consider September to November as well.

I hope this has been informative, interesting and you liked reading it.

That’s all folks this week but I’ll be back again next week. Please subscribe to my Virtual Demon blog and I look forward to your comments and feedback.

 

Top 10 worst places to live in the world

I was thinking to myself the other day of how lucky I am to be working in a nice city that isn’t too polluted and has all the amenities I need. When I thought about where you could be living instead. If you just check the news every day, you’ll surely see one place where a bomb has gone off or there has been a shooting or something equally tragic. With a little bit of help from the research done by Mercer this year I thought I’d give you a list of places I would not go to live.

No way, Pedro

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This includes knowledge picked up along the way from articles, various friends, colleagues and family members. A large proportion of the data is based on a liveability list conducted by Mercer this year. It uses a number of different criteria to enable companies and organisations to better understand how they should compensate their international staff in terms of pay and allowances.

Baghdad, Iraq

Baghdad is the capital and largest city in Iraq. It is also the second largest city in western Asia. The city is still trying to recover from the horrors of the Iraq war. This has led to major infrastructure problems throughout the city. Also there is still an ever present threat from ISIS in the area. Add to that growing economic concerns and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.

Bangui, Central African Republic

Bangui is the largest city and capital of the Central African Republic. With large natural resources in minerals and even wildlife you would think that they could use that to solve many of the problems around starvation, deforestation and illiteracy. But the occasional war and political destabilisation do nothing to help the situation.

Sana’a, Yemen

Sana’a is the largest city and capital of Yemen. Forget the ongoing war with Saudi Arabia and the constant bombings etc. This is a city where over half of its inhabitants look to humanitarian aid for fresh water. Also of the water that is available no one knows when this will run out.

Port au Prince, Haiti

The capital and city with the largest population in Haiti. Really still seen as unsafe for travellers this city has struggled this year with political problems in having no elected leader and an issue of perhaps modernising too fast and not having basic infrastructure in place such as a reliable sewage system. All leading to general lawlessness and violence on the streets.

Khartoum, Sudan

Khartoum is the capital and second largest city in the Sudan. Located at the confluence between the White Nile and the Blue Nile. Apparently a breeding ground for ISIS converts Khartoum appears to have massive problems with health and sanitation where a growing populace and a lack of infrastructure are leading to health problems for the population.

N’Djamena, Chad

N’Djamena is the capital and port city on the river Chari in Chad. An unfortunate story of massive potential due to a wealth of oil reserves but let down by corrupt governments funding seemingly everlasting civil wars that ravage the already devastated population.

Damascus, Syria

The capital and second largest city in Syria. You only have to pick up a newspaper or turn on a TV to see that civil war has ravaged Syria and Damascus as the capital seems to be bearing the brunt of this. Now it seems the terrorist group the Islamic State is the new enemy, but this hasn’t stopped refugees fleeing the country in their hundreds and thousands.

Brazzaville, Congo

The capital and largest city of the Republic of Congo situated across the river from the larger city of Kinshasa. Even though rich in natural resources such as oil. The vast majority of the population lives in abject poverty. The country is rife with civil war and conflict.

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo

The much larger city of Kinshasa is located on the other side of the Congo river from Brazzaville. The Capital and largest city in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Unfortunately, a typical story of rife corruption and in efficient government leading to dire health care problems due to lack of clean drinking water for example. In turn leading to war and despair across the country.

Conakry, Guinea Republic

The capital and largest city in Guinea. Even though it is rich in mineral deposits and natural resources it is still one of the poorest countries in the world. This is causing wide spreads strikes and violence throughout the city.

I hope this has been informative, interesting and you liked reading it.

That’s all folks this week but I’ll be back again next week. Please subscribe to my Virtual Demon blog and I look forward to your comments and feedback.

 

5 tips for property management abroad

I’ve been doing more and more work in the property investment sector recently. I think there’s obviously an opportunity due to Brexit in the UK. But I’ve always been interested in how investors/landlords manage their properties from the comfort of their own homes whilst their property is in another country thousands of miles away.

Unless you’ve got access to your own private jet or have a relative close by that you trust then most investors and landlords are going to want to use a property management company to manage their property when they can’t be there. Today we take a little look at some tips for finding the right property management company for your circumstances.

Let’s kick back and let the experts handle it

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This includes knowledge picked up along the way from articles, various friends, colleagues and family members.

Done your homework

Obviously there is a large amount of research to be done before hand. Such as looking into the law in the country you are choosing to rent the property in, finding out the truth about how long the rental market is where your property is located and do you plan to use the place at all yourself with friends and family or is this purely an investment to be rented out for the local market.

What’s the difference between a property manager and a rental manager?

I didn’t know there was a difference between the two but apparently there can be in some countries. But increasingly property management firms do both roles. So the rental manager is like a letting agent in the UK and will advertise the property, find people for the property and check those tenants in and out of the property. The property manager is more about the physical property itself. They look after any repairs, regular maintenance and bills for the property. If you are looking at a property management company that does all of these things on your behalf you may think great I don’t have anything else to do. Or you may want to question certain parts of this as all the control is now out of your hands. Some investors or landlords may want to find and bring their own tenants into the property or look towards the upkeep of the property themselves through local contacts. It may be worth seeing what scenarios ideally suit your properties situation.

What to look for in your property management company?

Some tips when looking for a property management company include:

  • Pose as a renter to see what properties are offered at different times of year to see how long the rental markets actually are?
  • Ask for recommendations from other landlords and investors renting property in the local area.
  • What are the reputations of the companies like?
  • Look online to see which property management companies come high on a search done by your target market in the property area.
  • What contract do they offer? How much % of rent are they charging you? Does the contract cover everything that you need to be covered when managing the property?
  • How easy are they to communicate with and how quickly do they get back to your queries?
  • Once you have a shortlist you can interview these and ask them about their understanding of the market and how they would treat/manage the property. You’ll be able to judge who you can work with as well.

 

The finance bits

Of course you will have to look into the insurance and tax implications of all this as well. As your property is in a different country there appear to be a couple of main things to look at. Can you get insurance contracts done in English in that country if not can you get this reliably translated or do you need to get cover in the UK which maybe more expensive but enables you to have peace of mind that all is covered. On the tax side of things, you most likely will be paying tax in the country of the property and a slightly reduced rate in the UK as well look out for this as the tax man surely will be. But again your current accountant may be able to help you out with this for an increased fee if you’re not comfortable using the services of an accountant in the country of the property.

What else are you using the property for?

I touched on earlier how you are currently using the property and what the future holds for it can be a factor when researching which property management company to use. If it’s just an investment and the property will remain empty until the property management company find tenants for it then that’s fine you don’t need to think about this part. But if you currently use the property for family/friend’s holidays. Have a load of your own stuff in it or are worried about the condition of the property then you need to think again. As these could lead to peak season times when the property isn’t available to be rented as well as potentially putting potential tenants off as it contains lot of your personal knickknacks. This all depends on your objectives for the property that you would have researched initially and should align with those. You’re probably looking for the property to make you some cash or for a getaway for you once and a while and be a nest egg for the future.

I hope this has been informative, interesting and you liked reading it.

That’s all folks this week but I’ll be back again next week. Please subscribe to my Virtual Demon blog and I look forward to your comments and feedback.

 

10 apps for the property market

Continuing from last week’s theme of technology in the property sector. The situation in the UK is still not clear and in these times of uncertainty many agents, investors and even the public may shy away from the new technology coming into the market place.

But if you’re out there looking for new apps in the property space then have a little look at some of these nice shiny innovative apps that might interest you. You may be bored of using the same old apps or if you’re just interested in new applications in general then some of the technology here may interest you. Hopefully these apps should enhance the experience for all the stakeholders in the market place.

                                             New apps for the property sector

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This includes knowledge picked up along the way from articles, various friends, colleagues and family members.

Hubble

What does it do: Matches landlords and tenants of flexible office space in London.

Platform: Web based

Price: 5% of rent If you’re looking to rent space out. Or as a renter you’ll be only charged for the rent of the space set by the office.

Landinsight

What does it do: Helps developers to find land in the UK, identify its current owner, carry out a valuation and compare to other nearby plots.

Platform: Web based

Price: A free trial is offered but then there is a range of price plans from £50 per month to £300 per month as well as tailored packages to suit your needs.

Fixflo

What does it do: Platform on which tenants can report problems and landlords can arrange repairs.

Platform: Web based

Price: A 14-day free trial is offered. They have a couple of packages from 35 pence per unit per month to 55 pence per unit per month. Prices excludes VAT.

Vieweet

What does it do: An augmented reality platform app.

Platform: Available on iphone at App store and android at Google play

Price: The 360-degree starter kit will set you back $240 not including delivery and VAT.

Splittable

What does it do: An app to make shared living simple.

Platform: Available on iphone at App store and android at Google play

Price: Free

Movebubble

What does it do: A collaborative site for property owners, agents and renters.

Platform: A collaborative. Available on iphone at App store and android at Google play

Price: Free

Settled

What does it do: Allows you to upload your property details and then advertises them on different property portals such as rightmove and Zoopla for you. They then help you through the process of selling your home until completion.

Platform: Web based

Price: Either an upfront payment of £399 or £499 in 3 months’ time or when you sell the property whichever comes first.

Knocker

What does it do: On the move property search app that allows you to view property prices, details and book a viewing of the property whilst your stood outside

Platform: Available on iphone at App store

Price: Free

Patch Property

What does it do: Got an iwatch? Then this is the app for you. Apparently like Tinder but without the weird stuff for properties.

Platform: Available on iphone at App store

Price: Free

Roompik

What does it do: Apparently helps you look for a new room to rent whilst also having a look at the current renters in the property. You can also advertise a room to rent as well.

Platform: Available on iphone at App store and android at Google play

Price: Free 

I hope this has been informative, interesting and you liked reading it.

That’s all folks this week but I’ll be back again next week. Please subscribe to my Virtual Demon blog and I look forward to your comments and feedback.