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Everything posted by CountDown

  1. I'd followed the Tico Times since 1971 but in recent years I've only tracked the digital version. I'm guessing that their hard copy distribution was no longer cost effective, but I'll miss seeing it. I also miss the San Jose News (2nd largest English language newspaper) from the 1970s. It has been gone a long while but they'd offered me a job in 1973 and I still think I should have taken it! RIP to the hard copy edition.
  2. Blogs are like public diaries. Sharing insights and information discovered at the time. Sometimes for entertainment, to help others, or just a cathartic venting. Few people go back and update them (unless they're making a living from it!) Unfortunately that includes those who share what they've learned or needed to do, but which they don't subsequently pursue. It gets stale or flat-out wrong very quickly as you've seen. That's why we who've been through and followed the changes (e.g. in Residency) offer suggestions but still recommend heading for someone who makes their living at it and (hopefully) has the current info. Sorry Rick, that wasn't a useful answer, just an unfortunately true one.
  3. They are not legal. "Independent contractor" is still a working (as opposed to "own-and-manage") position. Some people confidently assert that since the client is paying a corporation instead of the individual that it is legal because they "aren't being paid." In reality most of those you encounter who are working illegally simply haven't been caught because the (real estate transaction for example) occurs via a lawyer and no actionable record of agent commission comes to light without someone pointing it out. As with illegal work in other countries, it happens, but the worker has no rights and stands to lose a lot. I know many who work(ed) here illegally, and a few who ticked off someone (client, lawyer, another Tico agent, or expat) and were reported. Not a situation I'd like to be in. So don't expect to be a "real estate agent" until achieving Permanent residency.
  4. If your vehicle is in a corporation you need more, according to the P.O. folk. In addition to plates, cedula copy, registration, you'll need a Personeria Juridica, showing you are able to act on behalf of the corporation, a receipt from BCR for (I believe) 1200 colones, plus the fee (again I vaguely recall) 15,000. They said it would take five days (your car without plates for five working days) while it is all sent to Zapote. That required small deposit receipt was to cover a clerk verifying that your Personeria is still valid when it gets to Zapote. That is also why it takes much longer than a personally-registered vehicle.
  5. For many years a Tica friend has told us to bring high thread-count towels as gifts. Kitchen towels, batch towels, whatever. Most of the towels here are lower thread-count. Each time we'd bring bundles of (Costco) towels. A handful of kitchen towels packs well and makes a number of good "gee I have something here for you" kind of presents when needed. Note, the lower thread-count dry faster but our many friends like "showing off" by having higher thread count out for guests. For kids the "flying saucer" toys (8"-10" propeller on a stick) are great, inexpensive toss-in-the-suitcase kind of toys for wide age range...
  6. The short answer in your case (in my opinion) is "yes". Waste the time. Imagine the joy of a policeman, in the event of an accident or infraction, having driver with a foreign driver license but no foreign identity card (cedula). Although U.S. driver licenses are commonly used for identification, even with cedula you'd need other i.d. (passport?) to prove your existence. Renting a car may be possible, but that requires a credit card. The billing address will likely not be "200 m N. Iglesia Cat., San Pedro,..." so I believe it may be more difficult. Perhaps those who have actually experienced it (C.R. license only, U.S. credit card, etc) can confirm. There is reference to it in another post on International Driver Permits that is active today.
  7. Remember, this is still vague. Nothing in the article mentioned servidumbre, just guard shacks controlling access to residential areas. It didn't clarify if "residential areas" were public streets or private access roads. Dana, your example is exactly why I posed the question. Is the residential finca served by a public road or private? If "free transit" only applies to public land then the question would be whether a servidumbre is public or private. Otherwise "free transit" might mean walking through your front yard (or living room!) Do property owners served by a servidumbre have the right to control access to their property? The article that CRF provided doesn't answer the question. Costa Rica is inundated with creative (and conflicting) laws that are unenforced. Unless the Municipality or other organization (e.g. ICE, fire dept, police, Sky, AyA...) takes issue with the gate on the residential finca it likely isn't a problem. The important thing is knowing that this question exists and perhaps getting a definitive explanation.
  8. Thanks CRF, that seems relevant (and from a year ago! You have an excellent memory!) I recall issues of impeding access to beaches but hadn't see that article about guard shacks. That rather defeats the purpose of a "gated community." The part about "chains or gates" being used for "surveillance" rather than impeding entry seems nebulous. Particularly if there is no guard shack, as is the case with many folk way out in the country. So two farmers way out in the country, who share a common entry (servidumbre) to their properties, may be required to let anyone cruise up their private road. Hmmm... and ciclista has it mirrored in the city.
  9. A friend's architect recently told her that Costa Rica law is (or may be?) changing such that servidumbres (e.g. private access/service roads) will become public roads. I have searched online in general as well as La Gaceta and have found no reference to such a change. The architect told her that it would prevent adding barriers (e.g. security gates) and would mean the removal of such gates on current servidumbres. Since most private roads shared by more than one property owner are defined as "agricultural servidumbre" it would potentially affect the security of many homes and housing developments. Again, I have found no reference to such a change online and the explanation is second-hand from someone's architect (although I'd heard it mentioned in passing previously.) So I'm posing the question to the forum in case someone can conclusively confirm (or reliably conclude it is an "urban myth.")
  10. Before you begin. The appraised value of property is what the taxing authority (i.e. Municipality) uses. It has no basis in actual value. (At least I know of none that are even close.) Property retains the same value regardless of market changes at least for a period of five years. It changes during construction, at which time the College of Engineers establishes a value for the construction. This is the new value used by the Municipality. Values may not be reflected in the Registro. However, here is how you check. Registro Sistema de Consultas Select "Bienes Inmuebles" Select which search value you'll use ...Choices are "numero de finca"(finca number), "nombre..." (either physical person or corporation name), "numero de identification" (number of cedula or cedula juridica of owner) Type in value (e.g. name of corporation owning property) Select property (click on name or number) Review information... (unlikely to contain a value) That's it. I haven't used the new "pay-as-you-go" system for property lookups. It doesn't have a "bienes inmuebles" option but others may have searched further. The one above has been in operation for a number of years.
  11. It depends upon the bank but most will require: Passport or cedula utility bill (doesn't have to be in your name) "source of funds" (tax return or letter from local accountant identifying source of funds) letters of reference (BNCR required those a few years ago) Opening an HSBC account recently they only required cedula, utility bill, and "source of funds" letter. If you're an ARCR member, I understand that they help people open accounts at BNCR. They can supply a copy of their utility bill. I don't know if they have requirements for your "source of funds". Check with Ryan.
  12. Wayne, sorry to tell you but ciclista has it right... It seems you haven't reviewed valuable resources (e.g. www.therealcostarica.com). Costa Rica isn't zoned, controlled, private, or other characteristics you'd expect in Florida, California, or Hawaii... It is a separate country with its own culture and foibles. I'd suggest an extensive review of the forum postings and therealcostarica.com for a better feel. Then visit multiple times... and not on vacation. Living here is vastly different. It can be wonderful or a disaster but it only meets one or two of your requirements and conflicts with the rest. If you're looking for a majority of your list, follow ciclista's advice and look elsewhere.
  13. Excellent! Was use of "bank letter" published somewhere and we missed it or just your experience with a recent renewal? Have you done this more than once? Did you renew at BCR or Immigration? Was your letter from BNCR or HSBC? Do you suppose Immigration would also accept it? Paul and others have often cautioned about the safety in having the physical teller receipts. For bank letters there have been only recounts by a few (success) and others (rejected). Ergo my questions. Without a published protocol I'd hate to reach my renewal again and have the BCR agent (or Immigration!) deny a letter as proof.
  14. Thank you Shea. I just saw this thread and after the "need to transfer x number of dollars for my temporary residency" comment, all subsequent posts addressed how to use the BNCR website. This potentially major problem for Chariot needed an answer... If Chariot doesn't understand that moving money between accounts doesn't qualify (and I've seen nothing indicating a change, but could be wrong) we'd miss the chance to help avert a tragedy. Glad you jumped in Shea! (although I'm not sure why this is in the Real Estate forum...?)
  15. Short version: Expats are expats. All are individuals. Tossing out generalizations to make them "stand up and be counted" while pitting one against the other is unnecessary and counter-productive. I'm completely against this thread. I'm sorry it has survived this long.
  16. "Truer words were never spoken." My compliments on your insight. Costa Rica has it all. Left, Right, Weird, whacked... and everything in between. Most are very nice people, so this thread just gets their hackles up and has no other purpose.
  17. Micololo, it is tough to understand your post. What in particular is the issue with the technical review by the College of Architects? Could you elucidate? They review the plans and assign a (normally low) value of the construction. The Municipality does the "ok for our local restrictions" review, then you start building. You can grow by 10% of the original plan and make changes as you go. It is much more flexible than in the U.S. or many other countries. The principle blocks are the 300 sq meter limit (without additional information) and the distance from water sources (nacimentos)... (which is not the College, but a general requirement.) CD
  18. Dan, welcome to the forum. Assuming your corporation is only holding your land, it should be an "inactive" corporation. No filings are required (and therefore no cost.) So the answer is in two parts: Verify that your attorney has your corporation listed as "inactive" Stop paying management fees Beyond that, until you use (or sell) your land you'll only need someone to pay the property tax annually, cut the grass/weeds occasionally, and to ensure that no squatters settle there. If squatters live on it for a year and make improvements (almost any structure) they can claim it for themselves. Everyone here knows this but I mention it anyway.
  19. Fiabamom... one bit of useful information might be where the house is located? CD
  20. Good question... or may be. I really don't understand it. Someone else may have a better feel for what you're asking, or perhaps you could elucidate?CD
  21. I agree that joining CAJA is simple and can be of great value (and my bill is $27/mo for both of us) but I've spoken with a number of expats whose bill is $60-$120 a month! When you join CAJA the "Inspector" determines your monthly rate based upon your income ($600 or $1000 for Pensionado and Rentista) and your expenses. The nominal ratio is 13% of the difference. It also depends upon his/her attitude that day. They have flexibility. ARCR provides an alternative if you don't want to chance it yourself. The last I heard the per-couple rate was about $40/mo (if at least one is over 55) and $62 (both under). I personally didn't take it, and it worked well for us, but while sitting in the CAJA office waiting to see if they'd assign me a higher rate the $40 was looking pretty good. And yes, all new residents will be required to join, but I would (and did!) anyway because it is cheap insurance for emergencies and minimizes paperwork. Plus, I'm a resident here and what little I pay (for what hopefully I'll never need to use) helps "the system" that my Costa Rican friends and neighbors rely upon.
  22. Check out "Vista del Valle" in Naranjo, actually on the left just past the exit for Grecia from the Autopista. Mike and Johanna have the most renewable and eco-friendly approach I've seen, and they encourage their employees to engage in other renewable pursuits. I believe they have building sites as well... Of course the great music on Saturday and Jazz Brunch on Sunday makes it a great destination anyway. CD
  23. By all means come and visit Costa Rica! But please read every single entry on The Real Costa Rica (TRCR) before considering whether to move. Most important: read both the positive AND negative parts. TRCR is the only truely balanced presentation that doesn't sell C.R. or justify having moved here. Even the really good work done by Andy Browne (boomers offshore) presents the negatives in a humorous manner. It makes it a more inviting production but masks how much a negative experience might really affect you. For instance, are you willing to stand in lines for long periods (hour or more at times), wear insect repellent all the time, wait in the rain for a bus, or drive slowly over rutted or pothole strewn roads? If you move almost anywhere in the country (except San Jose) those are common practices. Some people find them unbearable, others of us shrug them off. If you're a tolerant, positive sort of person (and a Type 'B'), who knows or is willing to immediately learn Spanish, your chances are better. It is a different country and culture, and I enjoy it. Personally, I enjoy every area of the Central Valley and for different reasons. Without more knowledge of your personality, wants/dislikes, and more... I couldn't suggest a particular spot. I echo PV in that you need to spend a few months before you'll have an inkling whether C.R. is for you. If you plan to rent, are you ok with an apartment? close neighbors? noise (car alarms, horns, loud music)? The more "no" answers the higher the cost and difficulty finding a spot. The $200-500 rentals either have those characteristics or are very remote in the country. Otherwise rents zoom up over $1000, with nice Escazu condos asking much, much more... and little room to garden. If you'd share a bit more information perhaps forum members can help narrow your search. CD
  24. Grandma... you don't need to tell her to check it. When she logs on a popup will alert her to the PM.
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