Category Archives: National Treasures

States with the Highest Property Taxes

One of the main responsibilities of a homeowner is to pay property taxes, and to avoid late fees or, even worse, foreclosures, property taxes have to be paid and paid on time. Property tax is used to pay for road construction and maintenance, schools and any municipal employees. According to CBS News, the average annual property tax is $2,089; and about $15 billion worth of homes are foreclosed each year due to tax delinquencies. Here are the states with highest property taxes.

Vermont median home value is $218,300, and average property tax is $2,934.
Michigan average property tax $3,168, and median home value is $117,500.
Nebraska tax is $3,228 with a median home value of $132,700.
Connecticut residents pay $3,301 in property taxes and median home price is $267,000
Texas average home prices is $132,000 and residents pay $3,327 property tax on average.
Wisconsin has an average home price of $163,000 and the property tax is $3,398 on average.
New Hapmshire property tax is $3, 649 and average home price is $233,300.
Illinois residents pay $3,939 in taxes and the average home prices is $169,600.
The residents of New Jersey have to pay #3,971 property tax on average; average home price is $307,700. High taxes are the reason why people are moving out of the state.

In many states, there is an option to homestead a property, which provides property tax exemptions; in addition; homestead exemption provides protection from losing your home to other creditors. In some states, the relief is only partial since some of it still used for local schools. Before you decide where to buy a house, make sure you know how much you will have to pay in property taxes and check if homestead exemption is available in your state.


Flickr Creative Commons: GotCredit (CC BY 2.0)
All photos used under this license.

Best Places to Celebrate Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of those holidays when people go and visit their family and friends and have at-home dinner together. Maybe it would be a good idea to change things up and have a Thanksgiving weekend getaway. Many cities offer Thanksgiving events, such as festivals, parades, and a variety of festive activities.

Chicago is known for its McDonald’s Thanksgiving parade. It is an annual event that is broadcast live where you can see marching bands, balloons, performances, and celebrity guests. It makes a great event for the whole family. Also, downtown shops make a great place for Black Friday shopping. Here is more information.


Flick Creative Commons: Randy Escalada

Another city that throws a grand parade is New York. Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade also has marching bands, clowns, balloons. Many TV, music, and stage personalities perform, such as Cirque du Soleil, Mariah Carey, and of course there is plenty for shopping and dining.


Flickr Creative Commons: Marit & Toomas Hinnosaar

Grapevine,Texas is known as the “Christmas Capital of Texas”. Thanksgiving starts off holiday celebrations. Here you can see the Light Show Spectacular and the North Pole Express. There are many other things to explore and enjoy in Grapevine. Here is more information on different events and places to go to.

Plymouth, Massachusetts is where America’s Hometown Thanksgiving Parade happens every year.  Various events and activities happen on Thanksgiving, from concerts, performances and historical reenactors to the new England Food Festival. Also, Plimoth Plantation is a great place to experience history and learn about early colonists. Here you can have Thanksgiving buffet or dinner. For tickets and more information click here.


Flickr Creative Commons: Scott Robinson

All photos are used under this license.

Historic Homes in America

Compared to Europe that is known for traditional medieval castles, US might not have that many palaces, but we do have hundreds of historic houses with great architecture.

One of the examples of such a house is Isaac Bell House. It was designed by McKean, Mead, and White for a broker and investor Isaac Bell Jr. It is a shingle style house that combines both European and Japanese elements. After Bell died, the house was rented out by Samuel Barger and his family until 1952, then it was used as a nursing home and now it is a museum.


Flickr Creative Commons: Amy Meredith

Castle Hill was built in 1926 by Shepley, Rutan, Coolidge, and Olmstead brothers, who also designed the landscaping. It is located on top of the hill and overlooks the Bay. It has many beautiful gardens, swimming pool, guest cabanas, and indoor ballroom. It was owned by Crane family and now it is owned by The Trustees of Reservations and is open to public. It is a popular place for weddings and other celebrations.


Flickr Creative Commons: Henry Sbyszynski

Located in Manchester, Vermont, Hildene, also known as the Lincoln Family Home. It is a Georgian Revival style house full of  beautiful trails, gardens, meadows and wetlands. It was occupied by descendants of Lincoln family until 1975, and then it was purchased by a non-profit organization. It is open for tours now.


Flickr Creative Commons: Shiran Pasternak

Of all the houses described here, this one looks the most like a medieval castle. Fonthill castle is located in Doylestown, Pennsylvania; it was owned by an architect and tile maker Henry Mercer and after his death it was left in trust as a museum of tile. It has 44 rooms, 200 windows, 10 bathrooms, and 18 fireplaces. Here you can enjoy the exhibits and take a look at Mercer’s extensive book collection.


Flickr Creative Commons: Jim

Last but not least is this beautiful estate of a New York lawyer Joseph Choate. It is also a shingle style house designed by McKim, Mead and White. It is known for its large gardens designed by Choate’s daughter and designer Steele. It is now owned by The Trustees of Reservation and is open for tours as well.


Flickr Creative Commons: Esther Westerveld

Most Beautiful Golf Courses in America

While it seems like golf is an easy game, it is very challenging and technical. You need to have a sharp eye and to get the swing right, you have to stay calm and focused even when frustrated. It is also a good exercise since it involves a lot of walking. In addition to everything, people enjoy the beauty of golf courses, with plenty of trees and lakes. Let’s take a look at some most beautiful and popular golf courses in the US.

Pebble Beach might be the best known place with 8 public and private 18-hole golf courses and outstanding views. It is believed to be one of the most beautiful courses. It has a great view of the ocean front and many people might find themselves taking pictures more than playing golf. Yes, it is pretty spectacular.

8464574545_2b8317357f_o (1)

Flickr Creative Commons: Christina Lauren

Augusta golf is known to have the most difficult holes, that are the 11th, 12th, and 13th and they are known as “Amen Corner”.  There are no sea views here like at Pebble beach, but it is considered one of the most beautiful golf courses nevertheless. It seems like you are in a botanical garden full of azaleas of different colors, roses, and honeysuckles.


Flickr Creative Commons: Ryan Shreiber

Cypress Point is a private golf club and it is known for it’s three holes (15th, 16th, 17th) that are situated along the Pacific Ocean. In 2013, it was #2 on the list of 100 Top Courses in the World. It is a beautiful combination of coastal dunes and magnificent ocean view.


Flickr Creative Commons: Mark Doliner

Pine Valley is a private golf club that has been ranked  #1 in the World many times (Golf Magazine). It is not only one of the most difficult golf courses, but also very scenic and relaxing with its hard-to-find entrance, hidden deep in the woods.


Flickr Creative Commons: Dan Perry


Underrated Vacation Spots in the United States

Many people choose  vacation spots outside the US. While this is a great way to see the world and enjoy other cultures, there are many amazing vacation spots in US.

Charleston, South Carolina

Flickr Creative Commons: Spencer Means

Charleston is one of the oldest cities in South Carolina. This historic charm has everything from great beaches to great historic neighborhoods. If you like historical places, there is a variety of tours available: walk tours, water, carriage, etc. This is a place where you can find  something of interest for any age. Other top attractions include South Carolina Aquarium and Magnolia Plantation Gardens. And who wouldn’t like to enjoy some sun! Charleston beaches are beautiful and not only can you nap in the sun, but there is plenty of ocean-side restaurants and bars.

New Braunfels, Texas


Flickr Creative Commons: rubengarciajrphotography

New Braunfels is an old-fashioned town and one for the top tourist places in Texas. There are a lot of water recreational activities to enjoy. One of the must see places is Landa Park where you can paddle board or take a tour on a train through the park. If you prefer fun water activities, you can go tubing, snorkeling or kayaking on the Guadalupe River. Some other great places to see are  Schlitterbahn waterpark, Comal River, and Canyon lake.

Orange Beach, Alabama


Flickr Creative Commons: Kevin Stephenson

Due to its beautiful white-sand beaches, Orange beach is becoming a popular vacation destination. In addition to beaches, it offers great dining experience, as well as nature hikes, boat tours, parasailing, dolphin and whale watching. Some other great places to visit are Adventure Island and the Wharf.

Tybee Island, Georgia


Flickr Creative Commons: JB

Known as Savannah Beach, it is a great tourist destination that has something to offer for every tourist. If you enjoy fishing, there are fishing piers and deep sea charters, for those who enjoy to explore different cuisines there are over 25 restaurants. For people who appreciate art and creativity, there are unique items to shop for such as paintings and jewelry.

Virginia Beach, Virginia


Flickr Creative Commons: Aaron Webb

Here is yet another place for a great vacation. For those who are not into water activities, there are plenty of shops, museums and amusement parks; others can enjoy Resort Beach area, Sandbridge or Chesapeake Bay. And for those who love adrenalin, there are some extreme activities such as flyboarding, hang gliding, and parasailing.




Career Outlooks: A Reflection of a New America

Can you guess the fastest growing job markets in the U.S based on how America is changing? The quickest growing occupations reflect a nation’s development and focuses. The top 10 fastest growing jobs, determined by, reflect interesting trends happening in the USA. The growth rate of each occupation was projected from 2012 to 2020, then ranked by the percent increase in employment. You can view the list of the top ten at the end of this post, or the full report here.

Personal Care Aides, OT Assistants, PT Assistants, and Home Health Aides are five of the top ten fastest growing occupations, all with something in common. Coincidence? Probably not. People with disabilities and injuries are getting more help than ever before – and it is only going to increase. American is moving toward a new system of health care that requires a lot more hands-on help. The focus is shifting to keeping each individual healthy instead of one healthy nation.

Flickr Creative Commons: Bernard Pollack

Flickr Creative Commons: Bernard Pollack

Additionally, Genetic Counselors and Diagnostic Medical Sonographers made the top 10. Meaning that seven of the ten fastest growing jobs are in the medical field. The Affordable Care Act and Obama Care significantly increased the percentage of Americans who have access to health care. Naturally, a higher demand for medical treatment would coincide with a higher demand in jobs in the healthcare field.
The other miscellaneous occupations that made the list are Insulation Workers, Interpreters, and Construction Helpers. Interpreters are used mostly in medical and legal situations when people need to communicate important information. As diversity expands, it makes sense that the need for interpreters does too.

Flickr Creative Commons: Stirling StoneWorks

Flickr Creative Commons: Stirling StoneWorks


Insulation workers and Construction Helpers go together as well, every new construction, and most renovations, require new insulation to be installed. The outlook for these jobs could be on trend with the housing market, which is also increasing. According to Forbes, demand for houses is on the rise, and combined with the fact that there is a shortage of available homes in relation to demand, new constructions are popping up all over the USA.

Another interesting point is that the majority of the jobs in the top ten fall into the middle class pay range. Since the recession officially ended in 2009, low income families have had a difficult time making it back into the middle class. Optimistically, the top fastest growing jobs indicate that the middle class is making their way back.


Here are the top ten fastest growing jobs in the USA:

10. Physical Therapist Assistants

2012 Median Pay: $52,160

Projected Growth Rate: 41%


9. Genetic Counselors

2012 Median Pay: $56,800

Projected Growth Rate: 41%


8. Occupational Therapy Assistants

2012 Median Pay: $53,240

Projected Growth Rate: 43%


7. Helpers–brickmasons, blockmasons, stonemasons, and tile and marble setters

2012 Median Pay: $28,220

Projected Growth Rate: 43%


6. Diagnostic Medical Sonographers

2012 Median Pay: $65,860

Projected Growth Rate: 46%


5. Interpreters and Translators

2012 Median Pay: $45,530

Projected Growth Rate: 46%


4. Insulation Workers, Mechanical

2012 Median Pay: $39,170

Projected Growth Rate: 47%


3. Home Health Aides

2012 Median Pay: $20,820

Projected Growth Rate: 49%


2. Personal Care Aides

2012 Median Pay: $19,190

Projected Growth Rate: 49%


1. Industrial Organizational Psychologists

2012 Median Pay: $83,580

Projected Growth Rate: 53%


What do the top fastest growing occupation tell you about America? Notice any trends that we missed? Let us know!

Most ‘Walkable’ Cities in the USA

A recent survey conducted by the National Association of Realtors found that millennials, currently ages 18-34, prefer walking to destinations over driving. America’s young adults want to live in neighborhoods brimming with local business and eateries – and all within walking distance of course!

Flickr Creative Commons: La Citta Vita

Flickr Creative Commons: La Citta Vita

The benefits of being able to walk to the grocery store, to work, or even just to the pharmacy are endless. This lifestyle trend saves millennials money in gas, which also means less fuel emissions. Additionally, saving many businesses within walking distance of residential homes encourages a more open and friendly community. Rather than going straight from their home to the car and off to the grocery store, residents are spending more time outside, making contact with their neighbors, and seeing other local retailers on the way. These benefits have recent graduates and young families flocking to cities where a walk-everywhere lifestyle is possible.

Flickr Creative Commons: zenjazzygeek

Flickr Creative Commons: zenjazzygeek

With this new trend on the rise, here are Redfin’s top five most walkable cities! They are scored out of 100 points.

New York: 87.6
San Francisco: 83.9
Boston: 79.5
Philadelphia: 76.5
Miami: 75.6

New York and San Francisco are no surprise – the two cities were built for pedestrians. The streets are lined with shops and restaurants, and packed full of people. Boston is not shocking either considering it was the first city to establish a subway system which relieved residents from the burden of driving.

Now for Miami and Philadelphia. When we think of Miami, skyscrapers and concrete come into mind – not a closely knit community dense with small, local businesses. If you spend more time in Miami, you realize that it is made up of many neighborhoods, all with their own walking culture. The same goes for Philadelphia; the urban city is sectioned into thirty neighborhoods, each with its own personality.

Weather also has to be taken into consideration. Would you want to walk around New York City in the middle of winter? Maybe not. Miami however, has warm weather year round. For this reason, it could be argued that Miami is more walkable because of its constant sunshine.

Would you move to one of these cities? Have you lived anywhere exceptionally ‘walkable?’ Let us know!


Cost of Living Across the USA

Flickr Creative Commons: ornello_pics

Flickr Creative Commons: ornello_pics

What is the cost of living where you live? You might be surprised at how your city compares to others across the USA.

Below are the costliest and cheapest places to live in the USA based off the US Census table: Cost of Living Index—Selected Urban Areas, Annual Average: 2010. The table compares cost of living in cities across the USA with the national average.

The cost of living for each city is ranked based on the cost of groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare, and miscellaneous goods. The national average of these costs are indexed at 100%. Each city with a composite index over 100 is more expensive to live in than the national average. Each city with a composite index under 100 is cheaper to live in than the national average.


The most expensive city in the USA: Manhattan, NY

Flickr Creative Commons: Daran Kandasamy

Flickr Creative Commons: Daran Kandasamy

Indexed at 216.7, Manhattan has the highest cost of living in the United States. The prime real estate is to blame for such a high index. In this city, studio apartments start out at around $1500 a month, and if you want an actual bedroom or two, you have to be willing to shell out at least three to four thousand dollars a month!

Here are the top five most expensive cities with their index:

1. Manhattan, NY – 216.7

2. Brooklyn, NY – 181.7

3. Honolulu, HI – 165.7

4. San Francisco, CA – 164.0

5. Queens, NY – 159.0

Did you notice that 3 out of 5 of these cities are in New York?

Now where are the cheapest cities in the United States?


The most affordable city in the USA: Harlingen, TX

Flickr Creative Commons: Vince Smith

Flickr Creative Commons: Vince Smith

With an index of 82.8, the city with the lowest cost of living in the USA is Harlingen, TX. Harlingen is a city on the very southern tip of the state of Texas, bordering Mexico near South Padre Island. With a population of over 65,000, it is a very affordable city to live in.

Here are the five cheapest cities in the United States with their index.

1. Harlingen, TX – 82.8

2. Pryor Creek, OK – 84.5

3. McAllen, TX – 85.0

4. Pueblo, CO – 85.6

5. Cookeville, TN 85.7

Manhattan, NY has a cost of living that is more than double the national average while Harlingen TX has a cost of living that is only 82.8% of the national average. It seems there is a correlation between the cost of living and the height of the skyline!

How does your city compare? Find out here!


All photos used under this license.


Surprising Cities Celebrities Call Home

Celebrities only live in Los Angeles or New York, right? Wrong! CNBC, with the help of, found a list of cities that are growing with celebrity residents. We narrowed it down to five cities that we didn’t know were occupied by so many celebs!


1.  Alpine, NJ

Flickr Creative Commons: Ken Lund

Flickr Creative Commons: Ken Lund

Who would have guessed that the small state of New Jersey would be home to so many celebs?! CNBC reports that Oprah, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Stevie Wonder (and more!) all have homes in Alpine. Set on the banks of the Hudson, the city is popular because of its exclusivity, and proximity to New York (


2. New Orleans, LA

Flickr Creative Commons: Bill Staney

Flickr Creative Commons: Bill Staney

New Orleans is home to more than just jambalaya and beignets. Famous residents include Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Harry Connick Jr., and Lil Wayne. CNBC attributes their residency to new tax breaks offered by Louisiana for film and television productions.


3. Atlanta, GA

Flickr Creative Commons: Brad Clinesmith

Flickr Creative Commons: Brad Clinesmith

It is reported that Jane Fonda’s loft in Atlanta is up for sale at no less than $1.95 million. Who will purchase the home to join Jeff Foxworthy, Janet Jackson, and Elton John as Georgia residents? Click here to see some celebrity homes in Atlanta!


4. Montecito, CA

Flickr Creative Commons: Damian Gadal

Flickr Creative Commons: Damian Gadal

With sweeping ocean views and temperate weather, who wouldn’t want to live on the northern coast of CA? The small town of Montecito is full of celebs, and its homes are among the priciest in the nation. Residents include Al Gore, Christopher Lloyd, Steve Martin, and Rob Lowe.


5. Jupiter, FL

Flickr Creative Commons: Dan DeChiaro

Flickr Creative Commons: Dan DeChiaro

Many celebrities live in this growing town just north of Palm Beach including Celine Dion, Burt Reynolds, and Tiger Woods (who neighbors Michael Jordan’s beach home). Want to be their neighbor too? Check out these luxury homes in Jupiter.
For the full list of cities you didn’t know celebrities live in, head over to CNBC!


Unbelievably Scenic Road Trips

By: Mary Gramer, Social Media Marketing Intern

The best road trips include great music, tasty snacks, and of course, picture-perfect vistas. The journey to these beautiful destinations will make your jaw drop.


1. Northern Coast of California

Flickr Creative Commons: Keirn

Flickr Creative Commons: Keirn

Northern California is home to vast redwood forests, wineries, and stellar restaurants. Not to mention, the entire drive is lined with idyllic sea views.  You might even see whales and sea lions! This is a drive you don’t want to pass up.

For more activities and routes:


2. Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

Flickr Creative Commons: Graeme Maclean

Flickr Creative Commons: Graeme Maclean

If you plan it right, your drive to Horseshoe Bend, AZ can include sweeping Grand Canyon panoramas and stellar looks at the Colorado River. You have to park ¾ of a mile from the Horseshoe Bend, and walk to the site. Rest assured, this walk is scenic too.

Interested? Go to for more info


3. Grand Marais, Minnesota

Flickr Creative Commons: Pete Markham

Flickr Creative Commons: Pete Markham

To get to Grand Marais, MN, You will likely pass through Duluth, a town right on Lake Superior. The route from Duluth to Grand Marais follows the shore of lake superior through dense forest, and rocky shores. You will want to stop along the way to snap some pictures.

For tourist info, go to


4. Blue Ridge Parkway

Flickr Creative Commons: Mary Anne Baker

Flickr Creative Commons: Mary Anne Baker

The Blue Ridge Parkway spans 469 miles from the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in North Carolina to the Shenandoah National Park in Virginia. With more than 15 places to stop and take in the view, hiking trails, and restaurants, hotels, and gas stations along the way you can spend your whole trip looking out over beautiful landscapes.

Want to take this scenic route? Plan your trip at


5. The Ozarks, Arkansas

Flickr Creative Commons: Jake Bellucci

Flickr Creative Commons: Jake Bellucci

The Mountain Region of the Ozarks in Arkansas contains rivers, wildlife, lakes, and of course mountains, that are sure to make your drive a memorable one. Once you make it to the heart of the Ozarks, there are cabins to stay in, trails to hike, places to fish, and waterfalls to explore.

To check out the activities in the area, go to


Have you gone on any exceptional road trips? Share them with us!

All photos used under this license.