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jincr

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About jincr

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  1. That's the guy, thanks jal, I knew someone would know him.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. @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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. My RE experience here is almost certainly unique, and probably opposite to almost everyone else posting here. Without going into details, I accepted a property in CR as compensation for a business transaction, although I really, really had absolutely no interest in Costa Rica and my first trip here was to check things out and decide if I would agree to this deal. My honest first reaction was, I can see why I never had the desire to visit CR before. I have lived in Bogota, Lima and Buenos Aires for years, and loved every minute of it. What I saw of San Jose made me cringe. One of the least attractive cities I have ever visited. The beaches though, are pretty spectacular, but way too hot for me, and what the hell would you do all day there? Who can afford the air conditioning bill? I've now been living on my property (which is a little bit of paradise in an otherwise sketchy country I'd say) for 8 months, and I am really enjoying it, much to my surprise. I'm in a small town in the hills of Heredia, and the air is fresh, there is no traffic, I have fruit trees and a garden, and the local town has all I need, even a couple of cool bars, where I am now known and where I have met quite a few very friendly locals, I spend my days fixing up my property, along with the help of my trusty gardener/handyman, who is one of the hardest workers I have ever come across (Nico). He is honest, reliable, and an absolute treasure trove of information (and local gossip, whether you want to know or not). My property is actually a collection of 4 small houses on a big lot, so I live in one and rent the others out long term, although I am considering short term rental for my own house for when I go back home for 6 months). The gardener acts as a security guard as well, although he's never (in 14 years on this property and 20 years in the immediate area) had a problem or even heard of one, except for the one person who came to an untimely end due to a lovers quarrel. So I don't know where all these people who are terrified of crime and home invasions are living, but it sounds like they chose the wrong area. The gardener's salary is around $100 a week (5 1/2 days), and he has living quarters on the property, which of course makes him a 24 hour security guard as well (along with the dogs). Split between 4 houses, it's nothing. I can leave the country for months and not even think about squatters or security. I don't have bars on any window in any of the houses here. I often go out and leave my doors unlocked in case the gardener needs to grab a tool or a cup of coffee while he works around my 'casita'. I have the benefit of neighbours and the fact the lush greenery means you can't see any of the houses from the street. It's kind of like a mini-gated community. There is always someone around, including several small children. I am 7 km from the town of Heredia, with its shopping malls and American chain restaurants (hey, it doesn't hurt to have a WalMart available for a one a month stock up on certain items), and maybe 20 minutes to SJ, if I absolutely must go to PF Chang's or something. I can get to Jaco in under 2 hours easily, if I don't go during peak times, which I am able to do. I spent 6 weeks in San Rafael de Escazu, while my little house was being renoed, and although I appreciated the upscale restaurants, the Starbucks down the road, the big modern movie theatre, etc., I wondered why on earth anyone would move from NA or Europe to live in escazu? It's not much different than most places in NA, except that it's more expensive. You could get the same climate in the southern US at a fraction of the cost or hassles of living in a foreign country where English isn't all that prevalent. If you're moving to CR, why on earth wouldn't you move to somewhere that has the advantages of fresh air, incredible landscaping/gardens/greenery/forests, organic food, friendly people and low costs (My café 'latte' at one of the local bakeries costs me $1) ? My tenants are paying more in rent than what it would cost to buy the place, although that doesn't account for property taxes, about the only 'extra' expense. My taxes here are 1/4 of what they would be back home. I am earning a decent return on my 'investment', and I get to spend my days improving my property, which is something I love to do anyway. I'm not sure what other retirees do in their rentals, read books? Lie in the sun? Not for me. I hired an arborist who is cleaning up the overgrown forest surrounding my place (untouched for 50 years I'd say) and he is charging me the astronomical sum of 2500 colones per hour, but I also must supply his gas and bar oil for his ancient but beautifully working chainsaw. So for $40 he trimmed branches that were 80 feet up, and felled a bunch of large cypress tress that had to fall between my house and the road, no small feat. I would have paid $1000, very conservatively, for the same work back home. I gave him $10 extra for such a great job and he was thrilled. So he's coming back tomorrow to continue (it took us a week to clear the branches and brush he cleared the first day). So yes, you can move to Escazu and pay $8 for a milkshake or $15 for a hamburger, and probably pay $50 for a repairman to visit, and you might wonder why you heard that retiring abroad was cheap, or you can move to a beautiful, tropical paradise 20 minutes away (in the right direction) and live like a king and pay what the locals pay, which is probably about 10% of what ex pats in escazu pay. Just my experience. I was going to put my place up for sale as soon as I got it fixed up, but now I am thinking this is my home for at least 6 months of the year, maybe more, for at least the next 10 years.
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