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Everything posted by eleanorcr

  1. Phil, you are looking for the value of a piece of land in Zarcero in 1993? Twenty four years later? In my mind, whatever you paid is what it was. Why would you even undertake a quest to find out how much that land was "really" worth? My advice would be -- if you are determined to pursue this -- to contact a local real estate agent or a real estate agent that handles property in Zarcero. They might -- MIGHT -- be able to help you. But property values can vary widely based on specific location so "farm land 1/2 a mile from the highway" is probably not good enough. The other option would be to go to neighbors of that property and see if you can find out anything from them. Someone might have bought/sold similar property in that neighborhood in that time frame.
  2. Good point, David. At SJO, walk right by those rental car desks, go outside and you will find the shuttle driver holding up a sign, sometimes with your name on it. I don't remember if there are rental car desks at LIR but if there are, the same advice applies. I did find out an interesting thing about car rental agencies and LIR airport: You will see shuttle drivers holding up signs inside the airport building and you will see shuttle drivers outside the building holding up signs. The agents inside the building are there because the agency has paid a fee to the airport. The last time I was there, I saw something like 5 rental car agents inside the building holding signs and a whole bunch of them outside holding signs.
  3. PaulaB - you won't have any problem traveling around as a single female. I've been driving all over Costa Rica on my own for something like 15 years with never an "incident." Of course, this implies that you don't do anything "stupid" like leaving your binoculars on the front seat of your car while you have lunch or carrying big, visible wads of cash in your wallet. Just use your good common sense and you will be fine. Renting a car is really the best way to get around. It gives you so much freedom and flexibility. My favorite agency is Vamos. They have clear and accurate descriptions on their website, good cars and excellent customer service. Others include Budget, Dollar, Adobe, Alamo and Solid. Stay away from anything that says "cheap car rentals." You get what you pay for. Liability insurance is mandatory in Costa Rica so be sure it is included in any quote you get. (Vamos always does this...) You can use your credit card insurance for collision and other things, but this means that if you have an accident, you would have to pay out of pocket and get reimbursed from your insurance company. For peace of mind, I think it's always worth buying a "full package." But that's a personal choice. Check the Vamos website -- they are the "gold standard" of rental cars and their information is accurate and up to date. They are typically booked up way ahead of time but even if you can't rent a car through them, you can get a lot of good information from their website. Note that there are no cars at either LIR or SJO airport - they are all offsite and shuttles will pick you up and take you to their offices. A driver will be waiting for you when you arrive. Pay attention to speed limits no matter what anyone else is doing. Speeding tickets can be brutally expensive. Once you are set up in a hotel, leave your passport at the hotel and keep a copy of the main page and the page with your entry stamp. Have fun! Forgot to add.......... book directly with the Costa Rican agency and not with a US agency or through a third party. Neither the US agencies or third parties such as Priceline or Expedia will give you an accurate quote, chances are. And it there is a problem, they will wash their hands of it. If you book directly, then the Costa Rican agency will handle any problems. (Not thinking too straight -- have the flu which is why I was posting at 4:30 am lol)
  4. If OP has done the drive.... 9 years ago.... or even 8 years ago (5 years ago?) ... it may not be relevant for you. Things have changed a lot in that time. In general: Safety is a BIG issue so not a great trip to take with a family; you will cross 5 borders so patience and paperwork will be important; you will need to register your car, have it inspected and pay the tax within 90 days of your arrival and keep in mind, the tax will be around 50% +- the value of your car, as determined by the Costa Rica government. A "gringo" in a nice car, loaded with stuff (and obviously with some cash and cards) is a very BIG TARGET these days.
  5. That sounds great! You will find that renting a car really is "budget friendly" since you won't have to take taxis or use organized tours or shuttles to get around. This is a very helpful website: www.yourtravelmap.com which shows you distances and travel times between many places and also directions. If you decide to explore the Nicoya Peninsula, this website is great: www.nicoyapeninsula.com You are doing a great job with paying off your debts and with those tickets! (I know how much work it can be to find those tickets.) I know you and your family will love Costa Rica, but try to look at things from the eyes of someone who would live here and not just a tourist.
  6. Wait... Ambassador Haney is Jewish? Who knew? I know he is black so I thought that would be the "racist rant" of choice. Why would anyone care? His religion (or race or sex) should have nothing to do with his Ambassadorship. And yeah, I would NOT want to be associated with ANY website or forum that allows any kind of racist or "religionist" posts.
  7. There's lots of math to do to get a handle on the information in this website. It would have been a lot easier if they had just put price per kilo or price per each, if that is appropriate. Here are some recent prices from my shopping expeditions: eggs - 30 eggs for 2,000 colones. (Haha - this is kind of a trick since I live near a big egg farm.) Eggs - are sold by weight and not by the each or by the dozen. A typical package has 15 eggs (mixed grades and sizes) and costs around 1,000 to 1,500 colones - mas o menos - depending on the weight. I bought some recently at a supermarket for 1,127 for 980 grams. 18 roll toilet paper supermax (Maxi Pali) - 6,500 carrots - 550 kilo 2 liter club soda - 1,160 bunch of spinach - 700 Pkg Jack Mejitos corn chips - 710 pkg of 6 gala apples - 1000 Tuna in chunks, in water - 930 sweet potatoes - 800 / kilo Lizano mayonnaise - 1,575 400 grams cantaloupe - 600/kilo Heinz Barbecue sauce (my luxury!) 1,500 purple cabbage - 1200/kilo Ketchup - 875 (about 350-400 grams) Blackberry jam - 935 Chunky salsa - 1,150 (about 400 grams) Package of pasta - 1,050 Assortment of Twinings black teas - 3,100 Tosh limon/green tea cookies - 1,325 Badi ground cinnamon - 625 Whole wheat flour - 1,000 (Bioland 1 kilo) Brown rice - 940 - (900 grams +-) I don't pay a lot of attention to meat prices. I buy meat from a local butcher who is a young man that was my English pupil many years ago. His meats are very good quality and I just buy what I want and don't really look at the prices. Sometimes he gives me an itemized receipt..... sometimes not. He grinds his own ground beef every morning and it's so lean, I usually have to add some fat of some kind. I NEVER buy meat at the supermarket! All you have to do, mostly, is just smell the meat department and you will then be saying, 'nononono'. The only meat I ever buy at the supermarket is for my dog (sorry sweetie....).
  8. Did you think that showing them your passport and cedula would make a difference? If they don't have any boxes.... they don't have any boxes. It's really up to the "central" Correos management to decide when to put in new boxes and not up to the local workers. They can say "We have had this many people applying for boxes and we now have a waiting list of this many people." but they don't make the decision. I wouldn't expect them to call you when box becomes available. It's just not how institutions like this operate. Perhaps they are wrongly rewarding the people who live in Cobano since it's easier for them to check in. But that's the way they have decided to handle it and that's the way it is. For your home address: I am sure you can refine your address to something that makes sense to both the Correo and whoever is sending you a letter. It may take a few tries. Perhaps the real question is: Do you actually have home delivery in Montezuma? On a side note -- can you just get your letter as an email and then print it out? Because the payment for apartados are due in January, I would pay close attention to this time frame. You can check the Correos de Costa Rica website about payment terms and at what date a box will become available due to non-payment. In the meantime, if you have a friend whose apartado you can use -- that's a good solution until you get it all worked out.
  9. Yay for good news, Dennis! So great you are finally caught up and don't have to look over your shoulder for the corporation tax police. haha One more hurdle crossed and out of the way.
  10. Of course, Monteverde is the "one of these things is not like the other." But it's a beautiful place to visit. And will give you an idea of what it's like in the higher elevations. Guanacaste is a province and all the others you list are towns. (Except that Puntarenas is the name of both a Province and a town. sigh...) Mostly, there is no convenient road that parallels the ocean and runs down the whole coast. There are areas where this is possible and areas where it is not. You may find yourself driving back to Rt 21, for instance, to get further south. Playa Hermosa is a pretty little town, about 30 minutes from Liberia airport. It's "big brother" Playas del Coco, is larger with more in the way of shopping. Tamarindo is probably the most Americanized town in Costa Rica and my least favorite. It used to be just a little surfer town but now it is chocked full of hotels, condos and more than 75 restaurants. Obviously, some people do like it, of course. Montezuma, on the other hand, is one of my favorites. Nice beach, not far from beautiful Cabuya and the lovely and wild Cabo Blanco Park. It's kind of "down the hill" and houses and B&B's dot the hillside overlooking the beach. To get to Montezuma, you will need to take Rt 21 "over the mountains" to Paquera and then west on that highway or take the ferry from Puntarenas to Paquera. Samara is another town I like a lot. Big enough to have just about everything you need but still has some authenticity. Great beach and the beach at nearby Playa Carrillo is one of the prettiest around. Puntarenas (Punta Arenas is in Chile, haha) is not worth spending much time. It is a commercial center at the end of a narrow peninsula that is mostly totally built out. Jaco also not one of my favorites but once again, some people like it. It is the second most popular location for sex tourism so there's that. But, as people who like it have pointed out, you can avoid that. Some people who live in the area use Jaco for shopping or conducting business. This is a very informative webpage. It is mainly aimed at tourists, but has a lot of good and valid information about various beach towns: https://www.anywhere.com/costa-rica/destinations/habitat/beach
  11. Um, well, I do have an Australian friend married to a Costa Rican and she did the whole residency application thing and was granted Permanent Residency. Perhaps things have changed... or... ?? This was about 2 years ago. Maybe 3. And yes, when she applied for citizenship, the hoops she had to jump through were different from mine - I applied through residency and she through marriage to a Costa Rican.
  12. Just to be clear: A spouse of a Costa Rica citizen can apply for residency and if approved, they will be granted permanent residency. But it is not "automatic" that spouses get residency. They have to apply and go through the process like anyone else. They just "skip" the temporary phase and go right to permanent.
  13. Thank you, induna, for your usual clear writing about the law. Possibly the most important point of your post is that there is policy and there is law. Policy can change things quickly and I think this is what we have seen with Migración border agents granting fewer visa days for some people who have a history of leaving the country every 90 days. I also want to emphasize your point (and my point) that the border agent has the power to make decisions and there really is no recourse. Of course, the point about tourists not having legal standing when they leave the country could cause some consequences for anyone who owns a business as a tourist. But there is a category that might be called "legal but working illegally" that is a whole other thing and probably brings in another government agency.
  14. "...People often assume a tourist is doing something illegal...." By this statement, Derrick102, I am assuming that you mean - "people often assume a tourist who has lived in Costa Rica a long time is doing something illegal." Perhaps, I don't really know what "people assume." Maybe you're right. I do think that a lot of people think that Perpetual Tourism is illegal. Which it isn't.... maybe.... or ? As I said, I don't go around asking people about their residency/tourist/citizenship status. But I suppose that if one has told people that they are a Perpetual Tourist and then operates a business, then people would think that that person is doing something illegal. And they would be right. Probably the biggest group of Perpetual Tourists are those who are not old enough to have a pension and don't have a convenient $60,000 to put in a bank. They just come here and live. I think this is probably true of a lot of young people who come and live here mostly for the experience. And mostly work illegally. And after a while, they leave, not intending for Costa Rica to be a "forever home" but just an experience. One of the gray areas to me is people who apply for residency and work during the time their residency is in process. I have no idea what that would mean to the employee and the employer. An employer who hires an "illegal" can be fined up to 12 months worth of the worker's salary. An illegal worker can be deported. But if the employee has applied for residency, does that make any difference? And it's probably tempting for those who have paid for and gone through the process of legal residency to "look down" on those Perpetual Tourists. Or maybe they are envious! lol..... There are very few countries in the world where you can just go and live and legally work as a tourist. There are exceptions, of course, but many of the countries where this is possible are not all that desirable places to live. I think that the government would just like to know who exactly is living in the country. How many news stories have we read about someone from the US (or other countries...) who has escaped the law in their home country and now living comfortably in Costa Rica. And yes, some of these were legal residents. But as the vetting process for Migración gets more sophisticated, these criminals should be weeded out and either not allowed in the country or deported. But if Migración doesn't know they exist, then it's difficult if not impossible. If I look into my crystal ball, I don't see the government making Perpetual Tourism illegal, per se, but perhaps just tightening up with giving out fewer days on a tourist visa for those who are obviously PTs. Obviously, my crystal ball has no special powers!
  15. Those of us who are long-time residents of Costa Rica have met Perpetual Tourists over the years, of course, but sometimes it's hard to tell! How do you actually find out that someone is a Perpetual Tourist? Are they so wound up in themselves that they brag about it? I know several people who I THINK MAY be Perpetual Tourists but who in the world would just out and out ask them? It's kind of like telling your friends you cheat on your taxes. Duh. All it takes is for someone to take offense and things are off and running. For instance -- suppose you are a foreigner and decide to live here as a Perpetual Tourist and open your own business. You have competition in your business from local Costa Ricans. Perhaps they don't appreciate you and your business and so encourage authorities to check on the legality of said business. As Ryan Piercy once said, "Perpetual tourism is not illegal..... but it's not legal." So... what are we to think? Yes, Perpetual Tourists own houses, have lived here a long time, own and operate businesses, etc. But there's always the specter of deportation looming and there's always the specter of the "less than 90 days" visa upon returning to the country. For some people, living "on the edge" works OK for them. For others, always worrying about their status would ruin the pleasure of living in Costa Rica. It's no secret that Migración is starting to look at arriving tourists who have a pattern of leaving the country every 90 days over a long period of time. When you arrive at Passport Control, the agent there is "king." He/she decides whether to admit you into the country and how much time you will have on your tourist visa. So just because someone has successfully been a Perpetual Tourist for years, doesn't mean it will continue.
  16. Patty: I am curious as to why you call Golfito the "Land of Broken Dreams." If you don't want to share your experiences, I understand. But really, adding that last sentence to your post is hard to pass by without wondering just what you meant by that.
  17. I'm not really a fan of either one of those, but they do occasionally have some good information. It's hard to know what is the wheat and what is the chaff, however, if you don't know much about Costa Rica. Some of their stories are questionable, at best. Prime example: an article about why more Costa Ricans don't order things internationally using the internet. Cultural differences, lack of computers at the family home, blah blah. Nowhere in this article did the author point out that the main reason is duties. I am not going to order something from Amazon, pay for the shipping and then have to go to the Aduana warehouse to pay the duties and retrieve my package. But this was not even mentioned in the article. They both have a bad habit of publishing - word for word - press releases from various companies, tour agencies and hotels. I mean, does anyone really care who provides the furniture for such and such hotel? If you are going to include them all: AMCostaRica.com (probably my least favorite...), The Costa Rican Times, Beach Times, the Voice of Nosara are some others. (I don't read any of these....) There may be more.... For a real flavor of the country, it's important to read the Spanish-language papers: La Nacion, Diario Extra, CRHoy (the most visited website in Costa Rica), La Republica, Prensa Libre and one of the best and most important - El Financiero.
  18. It's pretty exciting! And such a major change can be scary. But don't let it scare you too much. The biggest problem with Costa Rica is: too much to see and do! So do some research and planning ahead of time, especially because you have kids, and you will be fine. Rather than focus on the "touristy" things, I would focus on the areas that you think might be suitable for living. You could spend time in three or four areas that are all different and then see what you think. With the amount of time you have, moving around a bit won't be too disconcerting. And no, you can't just pick one place and use that as a "base." Travel times to get to various areas are too much for that to be workable. Lots of the websites you will see on the internet are about "touristy Costa Rica" so be careful of that. If you are interested in an area that can be considered "touristy" - such as the Arenal area - then you can avoid the hotel and tours promotions and seek out the "this is what it's like" information. While aimed at tourists, the anywherecostarica.com website does have a lot of good information about various locations. www.yourtravelmap.com is a great resource for distances, travel times and directions. The Waze app works great in Costa Rica and can help you with locating things, maps as well as traffic reports. AirBnB is a great resource for finding lodging - renting a small house or cottage. There are several English-language newspapers but most of them are not very good. The exceptions are Tico Times and The Voice of Guanacaste. Either of these provides good, if limited, stories and are well-written. Others.... not so much. As I said before, you could plan on renting a car only for part of your visit since that can be quite expensive. If you decide to do that, then it's important to rent some lodging that is not too remote and is accessible to walking or bus travel. So.... city, beach, small town, rural..... it's up to you! I wouldn't worry too much about schooling for your kids. Living in a place you love is way more important. You can always do some homeschooling to augment their education if you feel the need. (I have friends who do this....) Let us know about your progress and we will be with you all the way! PS: The more Spanish you know before arrival, the better off you will be.
  19. If you buy a business class ticket, you can bring a lot of stuff in checked bags. Check with the airline to see how many free ones they allow and what the cost is if you go over that. Still.... MUCH cheaper than shipping stuff. And you get that nice business class service. As for your dog -- also check with various airlines about bringing your dog and flying with your dog in the cabin, etc. At 14 pounds, it shouldn't be a big deal. Mostly you will need vet papers indicating vaccinations, general health, etc. Note that some airlines will not fly dogs in hot summer months.
  20. What is it about San Jose that is appealing to you? (I'm kind of playing devil's advocate here... ) If you are looking for Spanish classes, they are available in many many areas. If you are looking for public transit, this is available everywhere. And yes, you can live out from San Jose or in a small town and still be less than 3 km from a tienda to buy coffee or whatever. I live in a very small town where toucans nest across the street and howler monkeys are moving through this morning but I am only 200 meters from shopping: hardware, supermarket, "department store" (clothes, sheets, towels, school supplies, umbrellas, etc). If you are "city people" and don't mind the noise, traffic, pollution and love the "action" and the many restaurants and shops available, then it could work great. But just like New York City is not New York, San Jose is not really representative of the rest of Costa Rica. Santa Ana or Escazu are the two that pop to the front of my mind. Paseo Colon, definitely no. Way too busy. As for what type of place to live in; condo, apartment, etc -- that's entirely up to you and what kind of surroundings you feel comfortable in. Just keep in mind that in the San Jose area, security is always an issue. Others will have other opinions but these are mine. My advice would be to come here and spend a couple of weeks looking around and visiting various areas before deciding where you want to live long term. Making that decision without "boots on the ground" is not the best idea. If you have applied for residency, where have you visited before in Costa Rica? What are your goals for living here?
  21. Paul's point is a good one - however, the rainy season doesn't always "behave" in that way. Costa Rica is famous for its "micro climates" where it can be sunny in one place and 10 km away, be raining. Plus, the rainy season in some parts of the country -- the Caribbean, for instance -- is different. I do agree that it would be a good idea to come during your kids' summer vacation because you will get to experience the rainy season in all its glory. haha. If you want to stay in the same place for the whole two months, I would advise staying somewhere "central" with easy access to good highways so that you can visit other parts of the country. If you rent a house or apartment, you can always take off for a couple of days to do some exploring. One place that I would recommend is San Ramon. A nice small town with plenty of facilities, easy access to Rt 1, the main highway, and not over-developed or urban. Consider what kind of atmosphere you and your family feels most comfortable in: Urban, rural, small town, beach, mountains. A lot of people have a dream of "I'm moving to Costa Rica and living at the beach." But the reality is often not what they imagine it to be. Still, worth exploring while you are here, of course. Keep in mind that the weather is milder in the mountains and at higher elevations can be quite cool. But typically, rain goes with elevation. Here are some websites you might find useful: www.yourtravelmap.com -- lists travel times between main points as well as directions for getting there. www.thebusschedule.com/cr/ -- public bus schedules for getting around the country. www.anywerecostarica.com -- this website is mostly aimed at tourists but does have good descriptions of many places in Costa Rica. For your two months, you could consider renting a car for part of the time and other times, just using public transportation. Renting a car for two months will set you back quite a bit so perhaps two one week rentals would give you the luxury of having your own car and for other times, just use the bus or local taxis. You can plan on spending a lot of time checking out prices of rental property and prices in the supermarkets, the farmers markets and the hardware store, etc. You can also check out the local schools. Key to your successful two months will be learning as much Spanish as possible for you and your kids. Just some ideas -- I'm sure others will chime in with "helpful hints." Oh yes, a good map. I suggest the one produced by Costa-Rica-Guide which you can buy on Amazon. It has a toucan on the front.
  22. Stoic - I am totally confused by your post! I can understand that if you use the Rentista category of residency that you won't have enough money to "set up a homestead" - but - what does residency have to do with setting up a business? What kind of business are you thinking of? Besides -- if you use the rentista category, you can always rent until you get your permanent residency which will give you plenty of time to look around and see where you want to be. Why 4 years? "establishing residency elsewhere" -- why would you establish residency elsewhere? There is a lot of controversy over the "perpetual tourist" model which is a person who moves to Costa Rica and has no intention of becoming a legal resident and remains in the country only by leaving the country every 90 days to renew their tourist visa. It is frowned on but not illegal - yet - and restrictions by border agents can make it difficult. Why would you have to be actually IN Costa Rica to "get a better idea of residency options." When you say "residency options" - do you mean, a better idea of where to live or a better idea of legal residency? Perhaps you are using the term "residency" in two ways: where you live and the legal terminology. If this is the case, then that accounts for a lot of my confusion. In this forum, when we say "residency" it generally means "legal residency status."
  23. It might be a case of "You get what you pay for." It would be a LOT cheaper to live in Nicaragua, but that could be quite unpleasant and downright insecure. It would be cheaper to live in Guatemala but the gap between the rich and the poor (with not much of a middle class) makes things difficult unless you totally isolate yourself. Of course, there are many other countries to consider other than Central America. Costa Rica is expensive because of several things: no oil so gas prices are high which makes everything high; a clear-cut list of salaries for various workers, from maids and gardeners to doctors and lawyers; the employer expense of being required to pay pension and Caja for employees as well as aguinaldo; bloated bureaucracy and red tape from the government. All these contribute to the cost of living. However, what you get in return is a stable government with a stable economy and a healthy middle class. Young Costa Rican friends who are parents of a young child and are both working just bought a car. She works as a clerk in a bakery; he works as a gardener. Yes, you can live on less if you live like a local. Caja expenses can be relatively high - but we have seen that what people pay is all over the map! And if you are from Canada (or the US), you should be used to paying through the nose, either directly or through taxes, for health care. As for private school -- I would not say that is a "requirement." I know of several immigrants (from Europe and the US) whose kids are going through or went through the public school system. With a bit of home schooling added, their kids are fine and have not lost any opportunities that they were interested in for doing so.
  24. Yay! That's great news! I commend you for making such progress. It feels good, doesn't it?
  25. Sorry, Dennis, but your first post was not clear. Thanks for providing some pertinent details. If you buy a car in your name, you can certainly register it in your name and your tax situation with your corporation has no bearing. They don't "punish" you for being behind in your taxes by not allowing you to buy and register a car. Good to know you are clearing up the old taxes. I know you will be relieved when that is done.