Updated Bay Area Real Estate Prices

When looking at the average home price in the Bay Area, $616,000, and then looking at what $616,000 affords you (a 4 bedroom home in Stockton or a studio apartment in the Mission District of San Francisco) it is best to make sure you have the down payment and can make mortgage payments, and buy. Even more importantly, don’t talk about the price of buying a home, the inflated real estate market, or the size of your potential new abode with anyone outside the area–unless they live in Boston or New York City.

“Low” and “High” are the two words you hear most when talking about real estate prices in the San Francisco Bay Area. Low inventory and low interest rates are driving up home prices, asking prices are high, and bids are even higher. Even after the dotcom bust of 2000-2001 when everything in the area seemed to be deflating, home prices continued to rise and it hasn’t stopped. In addition, in most Bay Area counties, a half million dollar home usually needs some work. It is rare to find a home for $500,000 or under that is ready to move into or livable. With high home prices only getting higher, and low inventory the investments you make in your home, whether with upgrades or more drastic remodeling projects, will only help the resale value.

Often Bay Area residents living in San Francisco and Silicon Valley turn to the East Bay for more affordable home options. However, prices are rapidly increasing in Contra Costa and Alameda counties, too. Alameda County’s median home price rose 20.6 percent from September of 2004 to September of 2005, and now homes are selling for an average of $579,000. According to the East Bay Business Times:

The Bay Area real estate market seems to have settled into a steady state, with few indicators pointing to any upcoming change.” said Marshall Prentice, DataQuick president. Supply and demand seem stable. We are keeping an eye on rising mortgage interest rates which could slow things down somewhat before the end of the year.

Home prices in the Bay Area are high, and thinking about them can get you low, but when you look at the natural beauty of the area, the proximity to the ocean, the mountains, wine country, and numerous cultural outlets it seems are fair price to pay. The Bay Area is one of the fastest growing communities in the country, and has relatively low crime rates, respectable schools, and location, location, location; you can understand the booming real estate market.

With home prices in the Bay Area getting higher and higher and the inventory getting smaller and smaller, buying a home in the Bay Area is proving a solid investment regardless of cost.

South African Garden Route Mossel Bay Town Travel Information

The town of Mossel Bay is along the Garden Route in South Africa between Mossel Bay and Storms River, the Garden Route runs parallel to a coastline which features lakes, mountains, golden beaches, cliffs and dense indigenous forests.

The Garden Route has a well-developed tourist infrastructure, making the region popular all year round. The harbour at Mossel Bay is one of the most modern commercial and recreational harbours on the southern Cape coastline.

The Information Canter at PetroSA (formerly Mossgas) informs visitors about the project and the production of synthetic fuels from Mossel Bay’s offshore gas fields. Other attractions include the Attequas Kloof Pass, Anglo-Boer/South African War blockhouses and the Bartholomew Diaz complex. Great Brak River offers a historic village with many opportunities for whale and dolphin watching along the extensive coast. Game farms hosting four of the Big Five enrich the wild and bird life.

Situated halfway between Cape Town and Port Elizabeth, beautiful Mossel Bay is a coastal village and harbour of the World Famous Garden Route. This popular holiday town is surrounded by a sunbathed peninsula and the refreshing waters of the Indian Ocean.

It is a busy summer destination as well as an ideal winter retreat. It is blessed with a mild climate all-year round but its most important feature is its status as the historical capital of the Garden Route.

Well-traveled pleasure boats dock regularly as well as other international seafarers using the modern docking facilities. Mossel Bay is a rapidly growing tourist destination as more and more travelers are discovering the Jewel of the Cape Garden Route. Bortholomeu Dias CrossBack in 1488 a man called Bartholomew Dias threw anchor in the Bay of St Blaize. “Aguada de Sào Bras” as it was originally known. This town was then developed as a busy export harbour for wool, ochre and ostrich feathers.

The many beautiful historical buildings in the town is evidence of the long ago happenings which the town as it is today. In 1601 the Dutch navigator, Paulus van Caerden, renamed it Mossel Bay, as he found that mussels were a most welcome addition to the diet of his crew. Today, mussels gathered in Mossel Bay each spring are rated by gourmets among the finest in the world.

Old Post Office Tree

Due to its rich history, there are many museums in the town to visit, there is the Maritime Museum which focuses on the sailing and ships of the early days of discovery, it is home to the impressive life-size replica of Bartolomeu Dias’s caravel, the ship in which he sailed into Mossel Bay in the year 1488. It also displays ship models of a bygone era, route maps to the East.

The Granery is another museum which has a permanent display of fresh specimens of wild flowers found in this region, and a good selection of photographs of the many mountain passes that link the coastal area to the Little Karoo. The Shell Museum houses a very large collection of shells, and demonstrates how they were used by man through the years as tools etc.

See more about the Garden Route [http://www.travelinsouthafrica.co.za]

Grand Cayman Beaches – East Or West, All Are Best!

My tour of Grand Cayman beaches begins at the north-west tip of the island, in West End, and wanders down to the south coast, then along the road to East End before turning back north and west to the end of the road at Rum Point.

Barkers National Park

Barkers National Park: Has some beautiful beaches, unspoiled by crowds or fast food litter. There’s a price to pay, of course, and that’s the lack of amenities, apart from a few BBQ pits and picnic tables, you’re on your own here. You’ll need transport to get to Barkers but it’s worth it for the tranquility, even on many weekends.

The West End

Of all the Grand Cayman beaches, Seven Mile Beach is the big one. This is where it all happens. The sand is a fine, almost white powder, the water’s shallow, and there’s all the activities people want from a Caribbean vacation. Seven Mile Beach is where you find

parasailing, helicopter rides, jet-skis, tubing, and the usual fast food restaurants to satisfy picky kids (of all ages). Although it’s huge, Seven Mile Beach is mainly given over to resorts so for locals or those staying elsewhere it includes a number of public beaches, like ‘Public Beach’ off West Bay road, right next to Marriott Courtyard and Calico Jacks. It’s a busy beach with plenty of amenities, such as BBQ pits, cabanas, a playground for kids, and washrooms. Then there’s ‘Cemetery Beach’, which may not sound too inviting (I can’t imagine an Ad Agency coming up with the name) but it’s a great beach for snorkeling. It’s also a great beach, with trees for shade and picnic tables to make your stay more pleasant. It’s at the north end of seven mile beach, further away from the big hotels, but it has everything the more mature beachgoer needs; shade, picnic benches, and great snorkeling. Public access is also from West Bay Road.

Below George Town, off South Sound Road, are a number of small beaches, though the water is too weedy for comfortable swimming. Heading east along the south of the island, brings you to small sandy beaches at Breakers, Cottage, or even quieter spots like Half Moon Bay and White Sand Bay. At the aptly named village of Breakers, the beach is quiet but the sea isn’t. There’s no offshore reef to calm the waves here so even on sunny, pleasant days, they roll in all the way from the Atlantic and send spray flying onto the road.

Another place the waves sweep right onto the beach is a little farther east at Frank Sound, a rocky beach of bare, sharp ironshore. Not a traditional beach, in the sense of sunbathing or swimming, but it’s an interesting spot if you like rocky beaches and the creatures that go with them. Frank Sound also has the ‘world famous’ (world famous all over Grand Cayman, anyhow) blowholes. These are natural fissures in the ironshore that squirt water high into the air when the waves crash against the shore. This is a place to contemplate nature rather than work on your tan.

Grand Cayman’s East End beaches are the place for chillin’ — with the exception of the resort beaches where you have everything you want and more. East End Resorts, such as Morritts Grand or Tortuga and The Reef at Colliers Bay, have fine beaches and they’re surprisingly quiet and unpopulated. Resort people come in two types — beach folk and pool folk, and there are lots more pool folk — so even big resorts at the height of the season have idyllic beaches that don’t crowd you. Staying at Morritts gave us ample opportunity to walk and paddle along beautiful East End beaches that didn’t seem to have names but did have white sand, warm shallow water and nobody but us enjoying them. The tranquility at the East End of the island is amazing when you consider how small the island is and how many visitors it gets each year.

Continuing along the Queen’s Highway and North Side Road takes you past many more secluded, empty beaches where you can own the sand for the day. We never saw anyone on some of them. For us, it was like being Adam and Eve on vacation. Stay near Old Man Bay and you can have lunch or dinner at the excellent beachside BBQ there.

If you want more water sports, the end of the road brings you to two more Grand Cayman beaches, Rum Point and Cayman Kai. Rum Point is a public beach with golden sand, warm shallow water, trees to provide shade, a rocky point so safe even children can snorkel round safely, and an excellent, very reasonably priced, beach restaurant, the Wreck Bar. Of all the Grand Cayman beaches, we liked Rum Point best. We didn’t recognize it as a public beach the first time we saw it because it looked so much like a resort. Once we got over that we found it a great place to go. Boats or jet-skis can be rented from the Red Sail Sports shop on site, as well as trips on the catamaran and the glass-bottom boat.

Cayman Kai is a small public beach with a playground for the kids, BBQ pits and picnic tables. Like the busier Rum Point across the road, it’s popular with locals as well as visitors.

At Cayman Kai, we’ve come to the end of the tour. Only North Sound, the big bay that looks like a shark-bite, stands between us and our starting point at Barkers, which we can see from here because it’s always a clear day on Grand Cayman’s beaches.