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I do have bars on my rental house and it makes it a bit more difficult to clean, but not a lot. Fifteen minutes as opposed to ten. (They are large windows....)

 

As for screens, it depends on the house. The house I am in now, I put all my screens inside. And that is done like this:

 

1. The windows that open are jalousie windows http://www.coastalwindows.com/uploads/header/3-Coastal-Jalousie-Window-b.jpg that are placed between two pieces of 1x4 wood. In this house, when the jalousies are open, they extend beyond the wood frame on the outside, so I put my screens on the inside.

 

2. To install screens: go to hardware store and get good quality screening and a box of thumb tacks.

 

Go home and cut the screen material to fit your window, leaving an extra inch all around.

 

Using the thumb tacks, tack the screens in place, folding under the 1" margin.

 

3. Cost per window -- about $2.

 

4. The beauty of this system is that you can take the screening down to wash it in the washing machine (dust, dirt, mildew, etc) and clean the jalousie panes is easy from the inside.

 

If your windows are difficult to get to from outside, the only way I've found to clean them when there are bars is to use clean rags on your mop and do the best you can, use a ladder if possible or -- take out all the jalousie panes and lean out and clean the other parts of the window that way.

 

Keep in mind that this is if the jalousie windows run down the middle of the window with two "solid" panes on either side, which is very common in Tico-style homes.

These jalousies are what I have seen being installed above picture windows and what we want - at least on a couple walls that face our view - are picture windows with the jalousies above them and along the entire width of the picture windows. This design allows you to keep the jalousies open virtually all the time to create ventilation as the overhang of the roof will keep rain from coming in, and the angle of the jalousies themselves also help this. Since they're high up and not tall no one could get in through them so you can leave them open all night as well.

 

Are these jalousies - ones that are only about 8-12" in height - expensive or hard to find, or are they found all over the place and reasonably priced?

(Actually I would choose the ones that open vertically not horizontally like these, but you got the idea.) I didn't show the whole picture window, just the top.

 

jalousies%20crank%20windows%20above%20pi

Another option are these which are not jalousies but could be used instead. They are small enough that not even a child could get through them and you could always put a couple bars in front of them as well - since they would not block the view in any case, at the top (They crank open from the bottom towards the top.) :

windows%20at%20top_zps2hf6j1o3.jpg

Edited by elosodelcerro

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The first jalousies shown, is what is usually offered...but the glass can be slipped out....once you have 'disabled' the first one, from either side, If you want the vertical ones and it is a wide opening they would have to be inserted, in sections.

 

On one of our 'break ins' we came home to a nice tidy pile of jalousie slats...taken out from the top, where the intruder had gained entry.

 

Security bars should be consider for the whole window though...and when in the thin walls of a pre-fab building, the bolts can not be re-moved for repainting the sill and bars.

 

In our present home we have some jalousie window with screens that have been permanently inserted, behind security bars and have just 'temporarily' removed all of them to increase the air flow. Hubby just washed the screens from the inside with a pressure washer...

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The first jalousies shown, is what is usually offered...but the glass can be slipped out....once you have 'disabled' the first one, from either side, If you want the vertical ones and it is a wide opening they would have to be inserted, in sections.

 

On one of our 'break ins' we came home to a nice tidy pile of jalousie slats...taken out from the top, where the intruder had gained entry.

 

Security bars should be consider for the whole window though...and when in the thin walls of a pre-fab building, the bolts can not be re-moved for repainting the sill and bars.

 

In our present home we have some jalousie window with screens that have been permanently inserted, behind security bars and have just 'temporarily' removed all of them to increase the air flow. Hubby just washed the screens from the inside with a pressure washer...

Good info.

We will not put security bars up over our regular windows unless or until (!) we do get broken into. I hate the idea of being behind security bars. I will put them up over the top jalousies but not over the picture windows. Our home will be un-seen from the road, several hundred feet in behind a locked gate... and we'll have security lights and cameras and alarms and a dog and a sign that says "WILL SHOOT ROBBERS!" in Spanish, and yes, guns. So, hopefully we will not be broken into!

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eleanorcr    0

In a way, all your precautions just scream: "There's something of value here!" and some thieves might take it as a challenge. Obviously, your choice, but sounds like you are living in a prison complex.

 

There are so many ways that thieves can subvert your security, if they believe that it is worth the effort. There have been many robberies of people's homes where the thieves "thought" there was something there worth stealing -- stacks of cash, lots of valuable jewelry, etc. For instance, if they wanted to, they could detain you on the way into your property and force you at gunpoint to allow them into your house.

 

The best advice I ever had about security came from a Costa Rican friend who said... "Invite people into your house. Let them see what you DON'T have!" Of course, I don't really have anything, so it works for me! :D If you have people working for you, they might be questioned by thieves, even in a social setting such as a party. This has lead to some break-ins at some people's homes.

 

None of my business, I know, and your choices are your own -- just something to think about.

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You do realize that now you can't get a gun license until you are a Permanent resident, unless you managed to get one in the past...and if so, it won't be renewed.

 

By not being able to be seen from the road, means the intruders can take their time... :wacko:

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In a way, all your precautions just scream: "There's something of value here!" and some thieves might take it as a challenge. Obviously, your choice, but sounds like you are living in a prison complex.

 

There are so many ways that thieves can subvert your security, if they believe that it is worth the effort. There have been many robberies of people's homes where the thieves "thought" there was something there worth stealing -- stacks of cash, lots of valuable jewelry, etc. For instance, if they wanted to, they could detain you on the way into your property and force you at gunpoint to allow them into your house.

 

The best advice I ever had about security came from a Costa Rican friend who said... "Invite people into your house. Let them see what you DON'T have!" Of course, I don't really have anything, so it works for me! :D If you have people working for you, they might be questioned by thieves, even in a social setting such as a party. This has lead to some break-ins at some people's homes.

 

None of my business, I know, and your choices are your own -- just something to think about.

Your point of view is something to think about.

We actually won't have much but what we do have we don't want stolen. I know sometimes people break in just to steel sheets, towels, silverware, etc. We'd just rather not have anyone break in at all.

The sign I would put would be near the door which in order to see, they'd have to already be planning to steal from us.

I'm hoping it might make them change their mind.

They'd have to drive down a private driveway, climb over a fence, walk 50 yards to just see my sign.

Then they see the cameras, the lights coming on if at night, and realize they have to walk 50 yards back, climb over the fence with the stuff or hand it over, then drive out the private drive... knowing I may come after them with a shotgun...

 

It just *might* deter them.

 

To answer costaricafinca, no I did not know they'd changed the law to prevent owning a gun but they would not know that I did not have one; I just couldn't take target practice etc or otherwise prove I had one. However a bow and arrow might also be a good deterrent and an arrow into the back can be pretty serious as well. Honestly I would not want to kill nor permanently hurt anyone. I would just like them to THINK so. If I could have a gun I would get a shotgun and load it with buckshot, not to kill but to hurt and cause marks for identifcation of the robber.

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eleanorcr    0

eloso: I would rethink your security plans. Really, if you don't have "much" then you will not be a target -- unless -- your security makes it SEEM like you have something worth stealing.

 

Just be friendly and easygoing with people and laugh off any insinuation that you are "rich." For example: Whenever possible, I tell people I live on a "government pension." Government pensions are notoriously small, so that puts a thought into their head. When they tell me they have a house/lot/property for sale, I laugh and tell them I don't have any money and am renting a house and I don't know any "rich gringos." I travel twice a year to the US to visit family but when discussing this (always AFTER the fact and NOT before), I always manage to work into the conversation that my sons pay for the tickets.

 

There are all forms of security and you need to have a better strategy than just threats. They actually just don't work. And forget violence. It can only get you into trouble one way or another. The very worst thing you can do is make people feel unwelcome at your house. Now, you are just another "a$$hole gringo." What you want them to feel is "Don Oso" -- part of their community and fitting in.

Edited by eleanorcr

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T&VSmith    0

I don't know about other areas but in our community literally everyone has a nickname. We were involved in Christmas festivities in the area.

Both my wife and I volunteer one day a week for the graduating class's English class. We know all the regular workers in the community.

My wife teaches weekly English classes for some of the local ladies. There are very few that do not have nicknames, even the seniors do .... It is very weird.

You know you fit in when the locals give you their nickname of choosing. Translated my wife's and my nicknames are the Cheena Lady (she is of Japanese descent) and I am the Pura Vida guy (due to my Pura Vida license plate on my Rhino).

These are MUCH better than some of the nicknames in high school!!!

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eleanorcr    0

Good for you! That's a good way to get involved in the community and should also be part of a "security plan." When folks start to like and accept you, they will also start protecting you. So if they are at a party or at the bar and some guy from Puntarenas says "Hey, I bet that gringo has a lot of stuff!" they will say... "Not really.... They are actually pretty nice, considering they are gringos." hahaha

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T&VSmith    0

Eleanor, it is also weird, 75% of them never say we are Gringos but rather Canadiense. We have had Tico friends into the house and they are taken with the pictures that we brought down with us. Most of them are wolves, ducks, geese, etc. in snow settings so it is always a conversation starter. They want to know if they are real and where they came from. It is always a good ice breaker and so many have been interested we can now talk about them in Spanish <g>

We had a Tico friend explain that Gringos are from the USA and we are Canadiense from Canada (it was not quite as simple as that as it took over half an hour) but the bottom line is that we should all be proud of where we come from. The one thing that does discourage me a bit is that some of the Ticos seem to look down on the Nicos and we have quite a few on the work force here and have found them to be equally nice.

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eleanorcr    0

That's a funny thing -- I've had Costa Ricans tell me that only people from the US are called gringos and I have had Costa Ricans laugh and tell me a gringo is anyone who is white! So people from the US and people from Canada and European. Not sure how this plays out with people of color from those locations! I know also that gringo is often used as a derogatory term and "just kidding" kind of thing and then just factual.

 

In my experience, Costa Ricans do love to know about the place you are from -- especially if there is ice and snow.

 

In my mind, the Costa Rican attitude towards Nicaraguans is a lot like the attitude of many people in the US along the border with Mexico. There has been tension between Nicaragua and Costa Rica for a long time and that attitude may just be an extension of that. But some Costa Ricans definitely have that "we are better than you" attitude.

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Marsrox    0

Just a note based on personal experience and observation regarding living securely in Costa Rica - or any other place on Planet Earth. Maybe this dialogue will help some newcomers take steps to live safely in this particular place.

 

We all seek/enjoy 'immersing ourselves' in the flavor of the local culture. It's not a 'vanilla' one like we left behind, but a kaleidoscopic salsa.

 

Of course, no one likes to discuss or worry about their personal safety, that's not fun. But 'pura vida' has both positive and negative connotations.

 

This forum allows us to share experiences that at first seem unique to us, but we learn they are common to all. I write this believing I have no more enemies here than you, maybe less.

 

As a US Peace Corps Volunteer in the Philippines from 1975-78 I was thoroughly immersed in the barrio life. 'Twitter'? I received hand-delivered telegrams teletyped on brown, recycled rag paper.

 

The first year I lacked electricity and the first six months I carried water in buckets from down the street for flushing the toilet, showering and washing dishes. The landlady kept pigs outside my kitchen window making food scrap disposal easy. Crying babies, arguments between spouses, sewing machines pumped by foot at 4am and loud sex was all part of it. The next-door houses were one meter away on either side of my plywood walls. For awhile, young children would stand around my open wood-louvered windows (no screens or glass) to observe myself and my American room-mate go about doing what people go about doing when only their basic needs are being met. We read a lot. Drank San Miguel at room temperature. Played chess by candlelight. The kids, some butt-naked, were entertained until they finally got bored.

 

My first assignment was in Santa Domingo, Albay working with the World Bank/Central Bank of the Philippines in coordination with three rural banks. My task was to locate qualifying small businesses and offer expansion loans. 'Small' meaning a guy growing 100 m2 of rice or two ladies selling abaca (a fiber) place mats to an exporter filling a container parked under the pili-nut tree. The interest rate was 18% and the micro-loan had to be backed by 400% collateral. I wrote contracts (in Bicol) pledging water buffalo and 125cc motorcycles. The process took months but I helped a few people.

 

Then I received two separate assassination threats in the form of notes slid under the door and into my sala. I took the second one very seriously. Certain school-teacher-type friends informed me that these messages were from either the chief of police or maybe the mayor, who didn't want 'competition' to their power/influence from any newly successful business people. Maybe I should find a 'better' job.

 

I was re-assigned by PCorps-Manila and became a track and field coach at a University.

 

The only theft during my years - and I owned nothing besides clothes and snorkeling gear and a Frisbee - occurred one night when I saw an arm extending through the louvered bedroom window searching for things laying on the rattan bed. I grabbed the guys' arm and started pulling, ending up with his T-Shirt which ID'd him as being from the local police dept.

 

Maybe he was not a cop, just someone wearing the shirt. He got away, jumping over the cement block wall with broken glass cemented on top. Ouch.

 

The take-away from this experience and some similar neighborly-deeds here in CR is that foreigners believing that 'acting generously' in their adopted community will inoculate them from theft or danger is not a certainty.

 

And I'll go rogue here for a moment with my opinion that its hypocritical to 'teach English for an hour a week in the school' or express a need to 'give back to the community' as a strategy to gain protection from theft. Do these things because you enjoy helping, teaching and meeting people. Otherwise its just a cynical ploy to avoid being robbed.

 

And it will make no difference anyway. Most of the nice people you help are not the 'dopers' or 'for-profit' thieves who will visit your home with bad intent.

 

I read a statement here from one revered contributor that she "lets people see how much she doesn't have" as a way to avoid home invasion. I won't argue with the success she's had so far.

 

But I note that conversations between Tico house-wives take place with one party inside the bars, the other outside the bars. Why? I must have a different circle of acquaintances after 18 years here, but the advice I hear is to not let anyone inside your house. Maybe I hear this advice because I'm a nosy journalist and ask the question 'differently' then you would to the wise abuelas I know.

 

The Ticos I know believe that for personal safety anonymity is the best shield. The warmest cocoon is found surrounded by family inside the walls of the homestead. I'll suggest that keeping a low profile would best serve the majority of foreigners living here.

 

We've all read the methods some have written about for self-protection.

 

Guns (a true magnet for thieves while increasing your likelihood of your suicide by 1,200%).

 

Warning signs (as if the crooks can read).

 

If you want warning signs, why not install some on outside walls with a red lightning bolt and a black 'skull-and-crossbones' signifying electrocution? Tell your neighbors you have hidden wires on the inside.

 

Obviously, unlike in Dubuque, the police aren't usually responding in a timely manner, and paying INS for insurance for stolen items leaves everything to be desired.

 

I've paid neighborhood gardeners and 'watch people' to hang around my house when I was out of the country. They didn't fulfill the job description, sometimes bringing over others to party. I over-paid the gardener and he could and did hire others to mow the lawn. Then everyone knew I was gone.

 

Over-paying for goods and services here (or anywhere not involving asking Sherpas to cross the Ice Fall again) is not a sign of 'kind generosity' but of ignorance of local prices and hence......

 

My present security strategy focuses on blocking others from a home invasion which would cause me bodily harm. Especially an event commencing when I sleep. I read one comment here that the writer would wait to increase security until AFTER he had suffered his first problem.

 

Could be his 'last problem'.

 

I live alone. Geese would make a better 'alarm' than a dog that could be poisoned but I'll have neither. I will have narrow, screen windows mounted above eye level (with bars) for my bedroom. The door to the bedroom will be heavy metal and double dead- bolted.

 

Are we all aware of the thriving business here in massive, if beautiful, quadruple-dead-bolted, metal but wood-looking doors costing over $1,000? The dead bolts extend deep into the door.

 

Sure, I won't outrun an earthquake.

 

Above my bedroom teak ceiling will be a 'malla' which is a metal grid, used as reinforcement when pouring a driveway, so anyone outside climbing up and prying off the tin roof when I'm not home will still have an obstruction to saw through. And yes, I will have rolled fiberglass insulation in between it all to keep the rain quiet and the room cool.

 

All other house outside windows will have bars.

 

I know, I know. People don't like burglar bars. Me either. My mother in Fort Myers, 85, mocks me, "I wouldn't live anywhere I needed to have bars on the windows." Jaja. She lives in a gated, check ID, over-45 community with guards driving around at night in golf carts. Last month, someone robbed the next door Wal-Mart and she found 5 police cars parked in her cul-de-sac. I asked her if they caught the guy. She was afraid to ask the cops.

 

So here in Costa Rica, if you live lacking guards on golf carts, gate ID checks and cops who show up en masse in 120 seconds or less for a shoplifter, bars are OK.

 

Here's an idea. Have them custom made, i.e. 'Arte hiero'.

 

For the second time here I'm copying the ornamental bars found protecting the 17th century cathedral in Reims, France. Elegent. On moonlight nights the shadows they cast are beyond romantic. I consider them a fantastic upgrade on all levels. Yeah it cost money, and you won't do it if you rent. My every good night's sleep is worth the investment.

 

If you have a large lot, a wall high enough such that the bad guys can't know if someone is home is critical. And no need to break the bank as any wall can be climbed. Just do enough wall, edged by some healthy, pointy veranera for privacy and you'll dissuade all but the most incorrigible.

 

I reject the concept that by 'building walls' or 'having bars' one increases one's risk by targeting you as someone with special wealth.

 

'Being Gringo' in Costa Rica has commonality with 'Being Black' in Baltimore. You are at risk.

 

Lastly, an outside, motion-activated wireless alarm system with back-up battery can 1.wake you up if your property has been invaded while the bad guys are still outside of the house and 2. likely cause them to retreat to a quieter place.

 

Am I being unduly paranoid or hysterical?

 

Ask Ryan Piercy. He's got more street smarts than the collective knowledge of this forum.

 

And in the 'nice guys finish last' category I'll reference the late shop-owner in Guanacaste who was Santa for the neighborhood kids and murdered at his hotel.

 

Market demographics show Ticos now prefer living in gated/guarded condo communities. Its not just for the swimming pool.

 

Next up, delicious jacote recipes embellished with ants.

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eleanorcr    0

Thanks for your long and thoughtful post. Some great "food for thought" there.

 

"...The Ticos I know believe that for personal safety anonymity is the best shield." I don't know how you remain "anonymous" when you are one of three gringos in a town of 3000 Costa Ricans? I do agree that "keeping a low profile" is a good idea and maybe that's the closest we can come to anonymity.

 

And yes, working with the community should be it's own "reward" but it's also a way of not being "stand-offish."

 

As has been noted before, all of Costa Rica is not the same just like all Costa Ricans are not the same. Each person will have to find their own way in their own community, based on people's feelings there. I write about my experience in keeping safe in my community and it has worked so far for 15 years. (And during a time when there was a rash of robberies by teenagers looking for drug money.) As for "not letting anyone into your house" -- I think that's just funny. You never invite your neighbor for coffee? You never have a cleaning lady? How about the taxista that delivers your refrigerator?

 

Still -- very thoughtful and thanks for taking the time to share your experiences.

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"and an arrow into the back can be pretty serious as well."

 

The words in the back ensure that you will go to jail.

I was being somewhat fecetious re the arrow. But, someone running off with your stuff gets an non-lethal arrow in the back and you go to jail?

Edited by elosodelcerro

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