School in Magallanes
CR Communities has funded the building of additional classrooms in San Ramon near our residential projects. They still have a ways to go but it's shaping up!
When will the rains come?
We’ve had some spurts of rain lately and I would have that thought that by now the rainy season would be in full force with the typical afternoon/early evening showers but we have not seen that yet. Maybe I’m just forgetting as I enter mine fifth rainy season in Costa Rica. I’m sort of hoping they come soon (even though most people that realize I prefer the dry season), because this transition season is no fun. At least in the U.S. fall is a great transition to winter, but here it is as if the weather makers cannot make up their minds so they just make it overcast or cloudy for much of the day (at least where I live on the outskirts of a cloud forest). This only seems to last for a short while though. I like the rainy season (besides the rain!) because the mornings are so damn glorious here. It really is in a way “summer” every day of the year here with sunny days throughout the dry season and sunny mornings the rest of the year. Interestingly, there is a two week period, usually in July, when the rains stop.
A few of the guys building the classrooms
It’s a mini-summer in “winter time” and it’s just a climatic oddity I guess. If someone can explain it, please let me know! Even though they call roughly May to December “winter” or invierno, I would much rather spend winter in this climate than in Connecticut!
I read recently in AM Costa Rica, this country’s only online daily newspaper that the government is currently considering tough new smoking laws that will outlaw this nasty habit in all public places and bars and restaurants. I hope it passes as it’s my view that too many Ticos—especially younger ones—smoke, and smoke and smoke. Fortunately, at the B&B I don’t get very many smokers, and they strictly “take it outside.” I remember growing up with a smoker, my Mom, and a smoke-filled house is not a terrific memory (though there are many other good memories!). The current proposal will outlaw selling individual cigarettes, a common practice here and a 20 colones (3 cents) tax per cigarette or about 70 cents a pack. I think this a good thing and it does demonstrate this government can be progressive at times in this already fairly progressive country.
Monopolies no more?
Several of our real estate and tour clients happened to be in town a while back so we had a dinner at the B&B. I'm late in posting these photos, I know, for those of you who read this and were there!
As many of you know, Costa Rica finally passed—the last country--the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) to open up trade with the U.S. It includes all other Central American countries and I believe the Dominican Republic too (didn’t realize the DR was on this isthmus!). First, I wanted to mentioned that even though the government dragged it’s feet and it took forever, what’s impressive is rather than having it get debated by self-serving politicians, they put CAFTA out for a national referendum, where it passed narrowly. I do see some benefit in having citizens vote on major issues like this and sometimes wish my home country would do more of this. Second, and to everyone’s benefit, the country through CAFTA is now beginning to open up various services such as cell phone operators. ICE, the government telephone, electric and Internet monopoly is not happy with this and of course are using every legal means to slow down the introduction of competition including not funding for a time its own oversight arm—which would have had to shut down! However, I do have to give ICE some credit. While most monopolies are not customer-service oriented (and ICE isn’t), they have kept
the cost low for citizens who only earn around $400 to $600 a month on average. However, the problem has been that like most monopolies (think AT&T), quality and innovation has suffered. It’ll be a rocky transition to true competition as no one wants to face new market entrants, but I’m looking forward to it.
More money coming!
The World Bank Board of Directors approved recently a US$500 million line of credit to Costa Rica to boost the country's competitiveness and strengthen its public finances in response to the global financial crisis. It has to be paid back over 30 years with a 5-year grace period. The problem is that because of the global financial crisis, projections for slower growth are estimated this year and next year. As a result, the government will increase its expenditures from 16.1 percent of GDP in 2008 to 18.9 percent in 2009 in order to increase in social and labor-intensive infrastructure spending. Sounds like TARP to me.
In the private sector, the good news is that famed Wall Street investor Henry Kaufman plans to invest at least $50 million in an assisted living facility in Costa Rica, near San Jose. This
Mae, the B&B manager is on the left, and Jill (of the infamous "Bob & Jill" and their adopted Tico family!), and a tour and real estate client, is on the right.
is great news for those of us who have invested here to have someone of such renown (and who has bucked market trends and made money!), come to believe that Costa Rica is a good long-term investment. He sees the country continuing to attract baby boomers in droves because they either cannot retire in the same comfort in the U.S, or they just want a better, more relaxed lifestyle. And, at some point, as they get older, they’ll need a place to live if they are unable to handle their daily routines on their own.
We’re actually seeing more and more baby boomers bring their older parents to Costa Rica and expect the trend to continue. In fact, you can read an article on one such couple, written by my business partner, Preston, here:
You may need to sign up as a member of this site to read Preston’s article, but if you are even remotely interested in Costa Rica, it’s well worth it, and free.
Costa Rica’s now a”bio-gem”
Recently, the NRDC—Natural Resources Defense Council—named Costa Rica a “bio-gem” due to its plan to become completely carbon neutral by 2021. The NRDC also
inked a deal with the government to help it plant 30,000 trees in order to revitalize certain rain forests. This is an exciting development, though in comparison I’m feeling pretty good about our contribution with the 4,000 plants and flowers we planted in one of our residential communities, Pacific Hills. I’d imagine Costa Rica has a ways to go. I just wish I could name all of these varieties plants we put in—they look great however!
A lot of coffee, but still less….
In the reporting period ending May 1, for the 2008-09 growing and production season, Costa Rica sold 1.36 million 60-kilogram bags of coffee (60 kilograms equals about 132 pounds so we’re talking big sacks actually!). This is 18% less than this time last year and is about 85% of the country’s output. The price is also down with producers only garnering about $1.38 pound down from about $1.41 a pound last year. I guess it’s just tough all over!
That’s all there is for now. Thanks for reading!
www.CRCommunities.com (real estate and more!)
www.BoomersInCostaRica.com (4-day/3 night relocation/retirement/real estate tour!)
www.CostaRicaRealEstate.typepad.com (Boomers’ Real Estate & More Blog!)
Andrea (girlfriend of Preston) on the left, and Bea, a real estate/tour client/friend, on the right
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