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jincr

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About jincr

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  1. One particularly annoying habit I notice all too often in Costa Rica is the habit for men to use public streets as their own personal urinals, no matter the time of day, or who happens to be passing by. Now I consider that behaviour to be boorish, obnoxious, unsanitary, unnecessary, impolite and uncivil. Some people seem to think that calling others out for their bad behaviour implies that these people are a lower life form. Me, I just think it's calling bad behaviour what it is, uncivilized. It's true that monkeys are uncivilized, but not everyone who is uncivilized is a monkey. I understand how this concept can confuse some people. Maybe Midwestern USA schools are not as good as I had been told?
  2. Unfortunately some people never learn. Just look at some of the comments by 'true believers' in this forum. Amazing. The more you try to warn them, the more adamant they become that all is well. Poles had several years of warnings to get out of CHF debt and never did. No one here will listen either (except the wealthy smart money). The rest will get wiped out and plead ignorance. 'no one could have seen this coming' they'll say, and then beg the taxpayer to bail them out. Surely it couldn't be their own fault. It's just the way it is.
  3. Banks in Cyprus and Greece were/are backed by their governments, look what happened there. Maybe the ratings agencies are finally getting ahead of things, instead of waiting until after an institution fails to change their rating, lol.
  4. jincr

    House/Building inspector

    That's the guy, thanks jal, I knew someone would know him.
  5. Obviously CR is not nearly the basket case that Argentina and Venezuela are, but I do hear a lot of the same political and economic ideas that ruined those countries being promoted here. Of course CR will not blow up overnight, maybe not even this decade, but IF they follow the path that most latin American countries choose, bad news lies ahead. I think the cb here may actually have done too good a job. That's lead to an overvalued currency that makes it tough for the average tico to get a good job at Intel and to be able to afford a decent life for himself and his family. If you don't think people are struggling here, you mustn't talk to taxi drivers, shopkeepers or labourers like I do every day. A strong currency is fabulous if you have the productivity to stay competitive despite it, but a strong currency without the proper infrastructure, tax regime, justice system, protection of property rights, etc etc, is a recipe for disaster. It's just going to happen more slowly here than in other LA countries, unless some drastic changes (in the opposite direction) are made, soon.
  6. jincr

    House/Building inspector

    There's a Canadian guy, I can't recall his name, who is quite well known, he has a website. He also builds homes here, using SIPs and other north American products/methods. His charges a fair bit, but he could save you from making a big mistake. A friend hired him for an inspection, and asked me to tag along, and I have to say, he knows his stuff. He was on the property for several hours. He does tend to ramble on a bit, but he will give you a good honest opinion and also can tell you what replacement costs are for a particular type of home. I'm sure someone here knows who I mean...if I can recall his name I'll get back to you.
  7. p.s. If you look at all the RE for sale in CR, you will see a lot of ads saying selling 'below market value', which is obviously untrue, but what I think they might mean is that the property is selling for below replacement cost, and although people tend to exaggerate in these ads, especially RE agents, I have seen some luxury properties for sale where it was definitely true. (Pretty easy to calculate replacement costs of a building if you know the square footage and local costs). So you might wonder why people are selling for below replacement cost. Good chance they were grossly overcharged or they spent foolishly. Doesn't really matter though, there's a good chance if you do your homework and research that you can buy a good property and home for less than you could possibly build it for, and you save all the hassles and uncertainties.
  8. I used to make my living trading the Canadian dollar, so I have a little insight. It sure looks to me that the loonie will hang around 75 to 85 cents for the next year or two at least. Once a major trend is established, it usually runs for several years, even decades. But things are changing so rapidly now I think the moves will be shorter. I have been short the loonie from above par to where we are now. I started to cover (buy loonies) this week. I am very happy to be able to buy at anything around 75 to 79 cents. I will probably go a little long the loonie at 75 cents, and really long at 70 to 72 cents. So what I'm saying is, I am GUESSING that the major part of the decline in the loonie is over. I very, very much doubt we'll see even low 70's let alone 62 cents, although I would love that. (Which maybe biases my thinking). Buying vs building: After my career in banking, I moved to South America and have several years experience building homes and small hotels. If you do not speak Spanish, and are not 100% at the site every day, all day, you will have some very bad experiences, generally just paying double or triple what you should be. Architects and or contractors will be arranging kickbacks galore if you are not on top of the cost of every load of sand, cement and piece of wood or metal that is used in the project. Scaffolding that you own will somehow disappear at the end of the project, no one knows where it went. Budgets are meaningless. Contracts are meaningless. If an employee (workman) decides to sue you, for any reason, you will lose. Your legal fees will be higher than the amount he sues you for. Labour laws are wildly skewed in favour of employees/contractors. These are just a very few minor examples of what you can experience. basically think of the average nightmare people have in north America building or renovating, multiply by 2 or 3 or 5 times, and you get the idea. If, and it's a big if, you can find a very reliable, honest contractor, whose references are impeccable, and whose many projects you have visited, on your own, can find time to fit you in to his schedule, and if you can be sure to be there to oversee things every day, you might have a good experience. if you are an experienced builder, I would highly recommend just hiring your own labourers for a monthly wage and do it all yourself. You better speak fluent Spanish though. Not trying to put you off completely, I am about to start another building project myself, but I now have years of experience and I know the exact cost of every bag of cement, every floor tile, every electrical switch. That's because I buy all materials myself. All I do is pay people wages, and I determine if they are worthwhile or not. If not, their contract is not renewed the next month (or week). If you do things this way, instead of being quite expensive to build here, you'll find it's actually incredibly reasonable. You can find good, reliable workmen, with just basic skills, not top electricians or carpenters, for $5 an hour. Very hard to find good electricians that are reliable and show up when they say they will, but pretty much every other trade is easy enough to find. Oh, and make sure they are all 'de confianza'. They must come with good references from other people that you know well. I could write a book on other things to do or not do, but this might give you some ideas. if you go into it with your eyes open you can save a lot more than 30%. But if you go blindly trusting the first smiling local you meet, you might just end up in a nightmare.
  9. I'm sorry, but it's absurd to say that you don't care that the value of your income or assets are declining because you are not going to convert them back into USD. The fact is, devaluation means inflation, so your colones will buy less and less every year. Even an uneducated street vendor understands this concept. Ask any argentine how they feel about the constant devaluation of their currency, and trust me, you will never hear 'oh, I don't care, as I never planned to buy anything that is imported, or to travel outside this country, ever again'. Obviously there are those of you who choose to be blind to reality, or who just have trouble with math. No skin off my nose, just don't come crying to me when you realize you can't ever afford to leave CR, when the SHTF.
  10. This is just the first step, preparing for the inevitable devaluation. A nice little advance warning to those paying attention. definitely good news for those with income and assets in USD, bad news for anyone holding colones. CR needs to devalue to remain remotely competitive/attractive to foreign investment and to help its export sector. Only question is will this be a controlled, steady devaluation or will it get out of control and happen too quickly? In my experience, once everyone realizes the colon will devalue constantly from now on, the process accelerates. Locals will demand wage increases, which just feeds into more inflation/devaluation. Just look at Argentina if you want to see how it will go, although it shouldn't be quite so extreme here, hard to find a worse government than the peronists, although Chavez and Maduro are sure giving them a run for their money, so to speak.
  11. Reading this is frightening, honestly. To get a decent return (over 6%) you have to first change your USD (one of the world's safest and strongest currencies) into colones, the currency of an extremely small country which is even more poorly managed than the USA. You need to lock it in for 6 months at least, and of course you are aware that bank CDs and term deposits are NOT sold on secondary markets, so unlike treasury bonds you can't sell them if things start to go south (or even if you just need the money for emergencies). Asking people on the internet 'is this institution safe?' is about as scary as things can get, unless you're just talking about your weekly grocery money, then who cares. I just shake my head in wonder at people who will put their hard earned money into emerging market currencies at institutions that they know nothing about. And even if you had analysts reports, you don't know whether to trust the analyst or the auditors for that matter. There is a reason these institutions have to pay people 6 or 7% to deposit money with them, It's because they are extremely high risk. As in, risk of losing everything. Otherwise, you might wonder why these banks aren't borrowing in international markets at 2%? Why would they pay you 6% if they could borrow from someone else at 2%? Obviously because no one with any savvy at all would lend to them at 2%. If you really want to earn 6 or 7 %, why not do it the smart way, and lend money in a private mortgage, where there is at least a 25% down payment, and the loan is in USD? That's not as easy to do as you need to find the right person to lend to, but it's about 1000 times better deal than lending to a sketchy credit union or what have you, and in colones no less. Crazy, absolutely crazy. I wouldn't care so much about people doing these idiotic things with their money except that when they lose it all they'll go crying to the government to raise my taxes to bail them out of their stupid mistakes, again, sigh.
  12. jincr

    Our dream/intention to live in CR

    @costaricafinca Yes we pay the gardener's caja etc and when the property changed hands we paid his liquidacion, which amounted to about 600k for 2 years. So even though he never lost his job, we paid him as it really doesn't matter to me if he gets paid sooner or later, and the bill was sent to the former owner, who will look after it. Again, these costs are generally split by four families on a large property, so the liquidacion cost $300 each, approximately. Not going to break anyone. But it could be a good point to remember, if you bought a property with a long term employee, it'd be good to know that the previous owner had paid his liquidacion for all the time up until the new buyer took over. I doubt the new owner would be on the hook for it, but you never know.... Anyway, as I said, my situation is somewhat unique I'm sure, and it just happens to suit me perfectly. Being able to share the costs of maintenance etc sure helps. Even the location of this particular property makes it more secure than most, being on a very long (5 or 6 km) small road which eventually dead ends and there is only one way out. There are also quite high natural barriers. So if crime really was a problem here (doesn't seem to be) I think there are much easier targets.
  13. jincr

    Our dream/intention to live in CR

    The good news is the devaluation will make CR more affordable to everyone that has income or investments in dollars. Prices are definitely out of whack here. I'd say a 20% devaluation would start to get things back to where CR should be. just a very rough guesstimate.
  14. jincr

    Our dream/intention to live in CR

    sorry that you didn't seem to understand my posts Eleanor, I clearly stated I did not buy here but received a property as part of a settlement. I also did not say the big risk is failure of financial institutions (although that is certainly possible) but the much more obvious one of devaluation. I don't mind criticism at all, but helps if you at least get your facts right, otherwise you're just totally misrepresenting what I wrote. And if you think you're going to be quick enough (or even allowed) to pull your money out of a bank here before a devaluation happens, well, you deserve what's going to happen to you I'm afraid. When governments devalue they usually do it after denying it will happen over and over. Then they surprise everyone by doing it on a weekend, so you can't do anything about it. if you were even remotely aware of the Argentinian devaluation, which was textbook, you might not be so smug. The government even took people's USD deposits and converted them to pesos at the pre devaluation rate and then devalued! Incredible but it happened, and not that long ago. In fact, my neighbour down the street here was wiped out in that little debacle, and we are talking about a large amount of wealth, that was cut by 80% overnight. I don't expect anything quite so dramatic here, but to not even warn people about the possibility is irresponsible to say the least. If it was such a good deal, don't you think people from all over the world would be changing their euros and yen and dollars into colones and earning themselves 9%? You might want to ask yourself why the smart money is not doing that. Final point, it makes perfect sense to own real assets if you expect devaluation, which is the same thing as inflation. So please spare me from further economic lessons, you're a danger to people's financial well being.
  15. jincr

    Our dream/intention to live in CR

    Oh, and one last thing, as an ex-financial services employee with 25 years international experience in currency and debt markets, i would, in the absolute strongest possible way, urge anyone to avoid at all costs putting any money in any financial institution here, especially to earn a return in colones. I absolutely guarantee you that the colon will devalue significantly at some point in the (near? probably not, likely within 3 years) future, more than wiping out any interest that you might get, and that says nothing about the security (or lack thereof) of your principal. Think Argentina, although CR is not nearly so hopeless as that basket case, yet. But the government here is heading down the same road. If you think that earning 6% or 9% is a low risk proposition, well, I have a nice bridge for sale in Guanacaste that you also might be interested in. People recommending such an incredibly risky 'investment' of other people's life savings, without even a casual nod to the devaluation risks involved, should be ashamed, jmho. Not that you should jump into buying RE either. I am all for renting, especially in a foreign country. I just personally like to spend my time adding value to a property, and I have some skill and experience with that. And, I have found an almost perfect property for my interests. But even so, at some point I will want to sell, and I fully realize that will be a multi year process.
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