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Posts posted by Epicatt2

  1. I appreciate your points and the irony , if not hipocracy , that certain pundits and people who scream bloody murder about anything that they think smacks of socialism would so readily take advantage of socialized medicine in Costa Rica.No doubt they'll opt to do the same in the states. And I rather doubt that these people have suffered the fear and misery of being denied health care . Missing something in the empathy department for the millions of hard working Americans who have gone un or underinsured for many years I would have to say.

    Now what curiouses me most about the arguments against a national health insurance is trying to understand what exactly would be so horrible about setting up a national US medical insurance system that would work like CR's CAJA. Every US citizen would pay a percentage based upon his or her income. This is done in European countries, too.


    Not sure what a viable percentage threshold should be for such a US system but perhaps it ought to be on a sliding scale with max and minimum percentages again based upon one's income.


    Then there's the argument, "I have private insurance and so should not be obliged the assessement for this US socialized medicine."


    Well, I don't have any kids yet I am assessed taxes for the school system locally. I believe that is useful. I'm also assessed for public transporattion yet I almost never use it in the US. (I do use it a whole lot in CR and it works wonderful well for me there.)


    Anyway, maybe one of our Forums members can explain some of this simply, in a way that generally non-politically-minded me can understand it.




    Paul M.


  2. We visited a restaurant, approx. 20-25 mins outside Alajuela, on the road to the Poas volcanco that had one of the best city views of the lights of the surrounding areas. The entrance is set right beside the road, but the restaurant is higher up, to get the best possible view. Can't remember the name though :unsure: but very romantic setting, with a great meal. I think there was a hotel alongside of it.

    We recommended it to some friends, who actually went up there after their wedding festivities to set the mood....

    There are two places up there that I've been to, Patricia.


    One is El Mirador which opens right around dusk and has a wonderful view of the valley lights coming on itf you get there in time to watch it. Otherwise after dark the Valley is laid out like a myriad of jewels on black velvet. The menu is moderate to expensive and there are a couple amazing seafood platters (fuente de mariscos) a couple nice steak offereings, some pork, the usual chicken dishes and fish. I never had anything I did not like there and my favorite is the fuente de mariscos. BTW, one person cannot eat all of the larger of the two seafood platters. They will send a complimentary minivan to pick you up from your hotel in Alajuela. Definitely romantic views.




    The other place is quite a bit further up the volcano and is called Chubascos. It's a family style place with Tico offerings, but very well prepared. The rustic restaurant's building located in a foggy, verdant green setting with flowerbeds and other landscaping scattered about; very pastoral. In the flowerbeds are bushes of hortensias, hydrangeas with basketball-sized heads of blue flowers. Truly amazing. The Ticos love this place.


    All the food is good and it is advisable to get there early since the place usually fills up rather quickly. I imagine it's a good idea to call ahead for reservations.


    Here's a link to a review wth a phone number:




    On other place comes to mind as I write this and that is Pura Vida Hotel located 2 K north of La Corte in Alajuela in Tuetal Norte. Berni and Nhi are your hosts. Nhi cooks the most marvelous meals you could want. Space is limited to hotel guests and any empty tables may be reserved, usually on Fridays, but I wouldn't not check quickly to see about availabilty tomorrow. Prix fixe menu at the choice of the cook. Ecletic place that has nice gardens with little cabinas scattered about it and other rooms in the hotel building proper.




    Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!




    Paul M.


  3. Sorry to correct you

    It should be Roger A Petersen and it is $29.12 at Amazon.com for the 2009 edition



    You're right, I blew it on the author's first name but these prices are what show up on Amazon.com:


    The Legal Guide to Costa Rica by Roger A. Petersen (Paperback - June 4, 2009)

    Buy new: $18.48


    9 new from $18.38

    5 used from $16.61


    These are the same listings that I saw several days ago.


    Nonetheless I still say it's an excellent reference. If you are planning to move to CR it is well worth familiarizing yourself with the legal aspects of Costa Rica. That could save you beaucoup money and grief in the long run. { Forewarned is forearmed! ]




    Paul M.




    Let me add a suggestion . . .


    Buy yourself a copy of Richard Pedersen's "The Legal Guide to Costa Rica", which will give you an overview of making a will in CR, and other things like rental law as it aplies to the tenant, plus template copies of various forms (both in spanish and english) so that when you encounter one it won't be unfamilair to you.


    ARCR has copies for sale as does Goodlight Books in Alajuela. In the US you can find it at Barnes & Noble bookstores or they can order a copy in for you. I've seen it offered on Amazon.com, too.


    The most recent edition came out in early 2009 and it is running around US$20 in paperback.


    Hope this is useful info.




    Paul M.


  5. I will add that I think you have to move here and stay before you know--and six months is not long enough. When I first moved, in stages of increasingly-long stays, I was as apprehensive as the next person. A lot of people, myself included for awhile, try to make it a hybrid life. We hedge our bets because we're not sure. ARCR has some data, and I think it shows that a whole bunch of gringos move back after a brief spell. I'm sure that many get here and find that it is not for them. I'm though anymore almost the opposite. I wish now for example that I would have sold my house in the US rather than renting it, since dealing with it is a hassle and I don't even like to return for the once a year or whatever it is when I have to deal with it. Heck, now that I think of it, it's been 11 months since I've been in the US and I have no desire to go soon. I probably need to go back this June, so will, but it's a hassle. I'm OK here.



    I want to respond to your paragraph above with some comments based on my visits of many years to Costa Rica.


    I (continue to) agree with you and many others that a person cannot know CR very well without staying there for an extended period. Because of not being able to do that, many people don't fully understand what living in CR will actually be like. The old saw, "Living in Costa Rica is different than vacationing there," is ever so true. That is why there is so significant a percentage of people who move back home after being in CR for a while. One must adapt to stay satisfactorily, and if one cannot it's then kind of a no-brainer that you'll prolly head back home!


    Before I applied for and received my Pensionado residency I had been coming to CR for more than 40 years. Granted it was only every two or three years and mostly for three weeks at a time or fewer, but it served to gradually dissipate any culture shock I would have had by coming down, boom, and staying. And being a Spanish major in college further mitigated any culture shock. I am convinced that being able to communicate well -or at least somewhat- in the local lingo is instrumental in allowing one to more quickly adapt to one's new surroundings abroad.


    Like you I found it valuable to have come to CR in dribs and drabs over an extended time, and even now I continue bouncing back and forth between the two countries. Not because I wouldn't be comfortable living in CR, but because I still have good friends in Florida and there are things I have not yet decided to give up, like professional live theater and decent access to books and movies at the drop of a hat. I wouldn't -and definitely won't- miss the cold weather we experience. And I do have decent medical coverage from work that I retained after retiring. But other than those several things, CR offers me almost everything I need or want.


    But until I retired and was able to stay in CR for three to four months at a time, so I could set up an apartment, get into a routine with daily and monthly bills, shopping, and other activities, and begin to make some friends and acquaintances, I could not see or feel that subtle difference of being in CR on a long-term basis. (I was essentially still vacationing because I was still working.) Costa Rica definitely offers up a more relaxed pace, made the more noticeable when I go back to Florida where everyone is essentially running to catch a train that is leaving the station.


    So for now this 'hybrid life' as you put it is serving me quite satisfactorily. I don't know when I will make a permanent move to CR since, for now, bouncing back and forth has its benefits. I own my home in Tampa and like it that way since I no longer have relatives in the area to stay with and if I 'd sold it I could not afford to rent even an equivalently small house (660 sq. ft.) to stay in for the times I am here.


    And doing the same, basic, everyday things in CR is noticeably less expensive than doing the same things in Tampa. And of this I am referring to being retired, not gallivanting all over every day , rather staying in and reading or working on the computer, doing chores, maybe a little gardening, preparing my own meals, watching a little TV, more reading, and maybe having dinner with a friend a couple times per month. So as long as I am able to afford paying the bills at each end I'll continue to bounce back and forth.


    And, truth be told this, for me, is still a trial period for living in CR even though I have been coming to CR for over forty years. It is just now a more 'hands-on' trial period, allowing me to steep myself in everyday things and activities there. So far it has worked pretty well and if I didn't have the things in Tampa that I want to continue doing, I'd be more inclined to make the permanent move south. Costa Rica still is not home, but it's getting closer to being so.




    Paul M.


  6. Henery, has posted a website in the USA...

    Henery, as long as he answers our Forums Members' questions on-topic and does not overtly self-promote it, may place that link in his sig-block.


    . . . As are allowed, other Members here on the Forums who have been similarly requested to constrain themselves.


    I do notice that after his original post he has, strangely, not responded to any of the replies to it.


    Paul M.


  7. The question I get asked frequently (not by Costa Ricans) is "What is it with you and Costa Rica?" I tell people that I visit Costa Rica frequently and it's a beautiful country and the people are beautiful. How do you answer this question?

    Saludos Laurita,


    To answer your question:


    I tell them that I like the food (gallo pinto -and bananas that taste like they SHOULD), that I like the people (Ticos -and some of the Expats), that I'm there to escape from the oven-that-is-west-central-Florida in summertime to somewhere that stays in the mid-70s most of the time, and that I enjoy the rainy season in the tropics. I also make a point of teling them that CR is not for everyone, that it is a great place to visit, but that living there long-term can be quite a challenge compared to they are accustomed to back home.


    Hopefully those explanations manage to dissuade some folks from coming to tiquicia, leaving more of it for the rest of us who appreciate it for what it offers us and who aren't wishing every five minutes that it were more like 'back home'.


    So, that's my story and I'm stickin' to it . . . !




    Paul M.


  8. Mornin' All,


    Please keep in mind that if you can afford to pay the $96.40 per month for the Medicare, it is a good fall-back to have in the wings in case the CR med system wants to put your treatment or tests on-hold as they sometimes do. (Ronni can fill you in on that point.)


    If you do decline the Medicare you can rejoin it later, but there is a 10% surcharge per lapsed year tacked onto the (current) monthly amount at the point you rejoin, which Medicare says they may or may not assess to a lapsed person.


    Just wanted to pass that info along.




    Paul M.


  9. Hi,


    The are folks every so often who report that the put money into a project like this and then the project goes bust. Either the whole thing falls thru and nothing is ever actually built, or some projects wind up 'running out of funds' and the work on it shuts down.


    I'm no Realtor and have no real estate interest, but if I were in the market to buy something in CR I would consider a project that is mostly complete and already has some people who have purchased and are living there. They should make pretty good references for whether or not the place is worth buying into.


    If on the other had those folks living there cite a number of problems -or the development is complete and no one is living there -or the developer or sales personnel advises that the infrastructure is not 'quite in place yet, but will be finished soon', I would steer clear of the thing.


    Just some musings here, as if I were considering buying a property.




    Paul M.


  10. Forums Members,


    For those of you considering renting in Costa Rica, there is an article on the front page of the November 9, 2009 issue of AM Costa Rica which includes a link to the CR Rental Laws. These laws are important for the prospective renter to familiarize him/herself with to avoid being treated unfairly by the occssional unscrupulous landlord.


    For an english version of this law I would recommend getting a copy of "The Legal Guide To Costa Rica" by Roger A. Peterson. Copies are available at the ARCR offices in Casa Canada in San José, several of the bookstores in SJ or Alajuela (Goodlight Books) or online from Amazon.com. The book is retailing for around $20US. This book is updated periodically and the most recent edition as of this writing appears to be June '09.


    Hope this is useful for you.




    Paul M.


  11. Buying and using a MagicJack maybe an option also.

    We have one we brought with us when we went to CR

    and were able to make calls back home, over the

    internet, at the places we stayed.

    Hi Gary,


    I hear many complaints by folks who have problems with MJ. Some do have good luck with it, tho...


    I like Skype for the resaon that I don't need to bring any hardware along with me to hook into one computer or another, unless maybe you consider a headphone/mic set to be able to hear better with.


    What always sells me about Skype is that calls are free, computer to computer if Skype is installed on both computers, which is free to download. And now that most of my friends and family have Skype installed, my need to purchase minutes to call cell phones or landlines is greatly diminished.


    Some people argue the need to 'make an appointment' to call other Skypers, but when you are logged in you can see whether your friends and regular contact are logged into Skype, as well.


    Skype just seems less problemated and less expensive to me than MJ.




    Paul M.


  12. This topic has been very quiet...but, now the Law has passed (Oct 1, 2009) and "Insidecostarica.com" has reported some 12,000 homeowners will be affected with the luxury tax on homes at 0.25% to 0.55%. I recall this would be on homes valued at greater than $170,000 (may not have this number correct). Would appreciate if anyone has the "value number" and how the percentage would be applied. Specifically, how does the Govt identify or asses the value of real property ?



    I posted the taxing rate schedule today on the Forums at:




    As to how the govt assesses the value of property, I suspect it has to do with who you (the owner) are and who is doing the assessing. (Don't mean that to be funny; it's just the Tico way, alas.)




    Paul M.


  13. I was hoping there would be more feedback on this post.

    What was offered was excellent advice. It covers most of what you will need to know about owning a place on the beach.


    Unless there is something else you were asking that was not speciified, and the only thing I can think of would be the new taxing surcharges applied to homses/properties over a certain value which I saw posted on another site. I'm copying it here for you, with no sourcing, which I do not have.


    Here is a table showing the tax rate on

    residential units appraised at 100 million colones and above:


    Property Value Tax Rates


    From ¢100,000,000.00 to ¢250,000,000.00



    From ¢250,000,000.00 to $500,000,000.00



    From ¢500,000,000.00 to $750,000,000.00



    From ¢750,000,000.00 to ¢1,000,000,000.00



    From ¢1,000,000,000,00 to ¢1,250,000,000.00



    From ¢1,250,000,000,00 to ¢1,500,000,000.00



    ¢1,500,000,000.00 and above…



    This was gotten somewhere (I don't know where exactly), from CR Tax Law, and the poster is an unusually impeccable source, IMO.


    FWIW you may find these figures useful for your consideration for buying beach property.




    Paul M.


  14. Um, thanks Paul. I'm happy with what I am currently using.

    Not a problem, Mark, but I put the info up in case you weren't aware that such an option (not having to have the computer on to get calls) existed and also so others here would be aware, too.


    That I had to have my computer on and be logged into Skype to receive phonecalls always seemed a drawback to me, by keeping one from receiving a call without preplanning with the other party so that I could be up and running to receive it. I was happy to learn that there was an option that bypasses that.


    That having been said, I've shopped around a few times but the phones I've found have been rather pricey, even though I've been assured that there are models that are now in the $25 range. Of course, having a Mac, in this case seems to limit options somewhat.




    Paul M.


  15. You're right Laura. It doesn't get much better than free!

    The only draw back for the free PC to PC calls is that both parties have to be online and logged in to the service at the same time. Aside from that, the call quality is usually pretty good and with Yahoo!, MS IM and others you can share photos and other stuff at the same time while you are online.

    Hi Mark,


    With Skype, there are Skype-friendly phones available that one can purchase and hook directly to your router. Then your computer does not have to be on with you logged into Skype to receive Skype calls from other Skype members. You can also buy a Skype phone number on a yearly basis and non-Skypers can call you at that number.


    The only thing that Skype does not permnt is to use their services to make emergency phonecalls as the calls don't ID on emergency call-center switchboards.




    Paul M.


  16. just checked the Blue Cross/Blue Shield website and it appears that Hospital CIMA is also in-system.

    Hi Moez,


    I know it looks that way online but apparently with my contract (State of Florida) with BC/BS of Florida, CIMA is not in system any longer.


    Doing some homework ahead of time, I had phoned and spoken with BC Customer Care and the person I talked with advised me that CIMA was no longer in-system. (Two separate employees on separate days said the same thing.)


    I could have used CIMA but it is now a sizeable deductible and BC only pays 60% of the balance, whereas using Clínica Bíblica it is a significantly smaller deductible and they pay 80% of the balance.


    Maybe the term I should be using here, instead of 'in-system', is 'in-plan'.


    Still hoping someone (other han Ronni) will comment on Hospital Clínica Católica, if they've had any experience with them.




    Paul M.


  17. As a retired Federal Employee of the USA I carried my Federal Employee Plan(FEP) "Blue Cross/Blue Shield" into retirement and it is a excellent plan and readly accepted at Clinica Biblica and CIMA and many hospitals in Panama. A few years back I needed in-hospital care at Clinica Biblica and my total responsibility on a multi-dollar bill was only $100.00 and Clinica Biblica did all the paperwork.



    Thanx for the comments on Hosp. Clínica Bíblica. Next time I have to use a hospital in CR, it won't be CIMA though they were fine. But because I also have Blue Cross (State of Florida) and CIMA is out-of-system and Hosp. Clínica Bíblica is in-system it's a no brainer, costwise.


    I also have heard that Hosp. Cínica Católica (also in SJ) is in-system for Blue Cross. Have you had any experience with them? I know Ronni has spoken well of them here on the Forums.




    Paul M.


  18. I'm sorry but this, "The best suggestion is to leave names, places, and anything else that could serve as a significant identifier out of your posts and only describe your situation in general terms." is the very reason why HONEST, hard working folks with a dream to retire and live in CR will continue to be taken advantage of.


    Look at it like this, we all can agree that well over 50%(MANY argue the number is higher) of all of the "persons who deal in real estate here in CR" sales or developments, are working illegally and many are here simply as tourist. Now, I know the law system here is a little or a lot different that in the States or Canada, but do you think that if I was an illegal alien selling a bunk product, working illegally in a foreign country that I would have a leg to stand on in any court battle. NO way!!

    Motivation (& All Forums Members):


    Nonetheless, citing names of persons and businesses here on the Forums and/or bad-mouthing them no matter what they've done to you or someone you know is not going to be allowed on the Forums. Doing so can invite a lawsuit per Costa Rican law for the poster and for the Forums. Therfore it will not be permitted. Asking questions about or offering a general description of one's problem without including specific identifiers as to busines name, or location, or the persons involved will be allowed but leave contact info for yourself as the poster, so that other Forums members may contact you off-Forums for the specifics if they so desire.


    If you want to go ahead and post specifics in spite of this warning, you will be summarily banned from the Forums and any such post(s) will be removed. No further discussion on this point will be entertained.


    This decision is for the protection of Forums members and for the Forums.


    If you do not like this, too bad. If you have complaints about moderators or moderating decisions do not post them here on the Forums. Send them to the moderators or to the list owner. Posting such complaints to the Forums will also get you removed. Sorry if you don't care for this decision either. There is a link to contact the moderators near the bottom of the main Forums page.


    Now, let's get on with things, OK?


    Paul M.

    Forums Moderator


  19. I have no problem naming names...in fact, I would love to as long as I am sure that I will not be in some sort of legal trouble by doing so. I, obviously, don't know the laws or how to make certain that I am protecting myself.



    It is really best that you don't name names or places on these Forums. That protects you and us at the Forums from having to deal with any actionable content or litigation thereto.


    The best suggestion is to leave names, places, and anything else that could serve as a significant identifier out of your posts and only describe your situation in general terms.


    You may however suggest that anyone wanting specifics contact you off list.


    The laws in Costa Rica are different than in the US and it is best not to invite a denuncia.




    Paul M.


  20. Sadie,


    I think you have answered your own question. Why would you want to throw good money after bad?


    The example you give is why we repeatedly offer the same advice to people considering moving to Costa Rica:


    1] Live in the country as a test run for three to six months -or longer if possible.


    2] Rent, don't buy anything during the test run


    3] Never buy property sight unseen and when visiting the potential purchase, make sure the all the infrastructure is in place.


    Sorry you got snookered into something that seems to have been grossly misrepresented.


    Keep in mind that you are not the first to fall inti this sort of trap.


    Good luck to you!


    Paul M.


  21. Hi Ernie (if I may),


    It seems to me that you have figured out where the 'donation leakage' was and that you have corrected that. Don't feel too badly; many have done similar.


    It is nice to see that you have finally met your adopted family in person and know (more about) them first-hand.


    Here is some information I found on The Real Costa Rica, put together by Tim:


    "Public, Catholic, and some of the private European schools operate on the Costa Rican schedule which runs mid February to the end of November. Schools following the United States curriculum operate on a United States calendar starting the middle of August and finishing in June with a month off for Christmas in December and January." -Angela Passman


    More on the schools can be found at:




    I hope this answers some of your questions.




    Paul M.


  22. Mark,


    I think that part of the problem with the CAJA is that for certain medical conditions or tests the CAJA puts the patient(s) on a waiting list. For the tests this is often because it is not cost effective in the eyes of the govt to do a test for just one person, so they hold off until there are enough patients needing the test to make it cost effective. This does not well serve the patient who nay have some worsening problem, like certain cancers, as has been clearly described by one of our own Forums members.


    The same can be true of certain medications not available from the CAJA, but which perhaps may be gotten from the private sector.


    So at times expedience can be obtained by eschewing the CAJA and paying out of pocket to use a private doctor or clinic.


    This explanation may be a bit simplistic, but I think it would be a reason for choosing other than the CAJA at times.




    Paul M.


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