Edit Blog Post
Published: September 8th 2006
It is weird! In the past two weeks, I have had two dogs try to bite me! This occurred while looking at properties in the Central Valley. The first time, I was leaving a house in Escazu, high above San Jose, and I was petting a seemingly friendly dog, and then all of a sudden, he just tried to take away a piece of my flesh on my arm. Luckily, he missed my arm.
The second time, I was at my friend George’s house in Puriscal. His dog was on a leash but he just came up behind me and tired to take a bite out of my arse! I’m no rump roast but what is it with me and dogs??? I suspect both dogs may have smelled my own dogs on me. So, in the future, I’m not getting friendly with or close to any dogs but my own!
I’ve been traveling around the Central Valley nearly daily in the past few weeks scouting out properties for my new tour company, “Boomers in Costa Rica,” (www.boomersincostarica.com) and (www.costaricarealestate.typepad.com) so I’ve gotten to know the roads of the Central Valley quite well. The roads in this
area are pretty decent—even most of the secondary roads—but the signage is not. For example, we know how to get to Santa Ana (just outside of San Jose) from San Ramon, but getting back is more difficult. There’s virtually no signage leading you from Santa Ana to the airport (or Alajuela) which gets us to the autopista and on to San Ramon. Sure, there is an on-ramp near the Marriott hotel to the autopista but good luck finding any signs leading to the entrance! You really have to feel your way around. We did figure it out after about three tries.
That is the thing about Costa Rica. There are roads leading most everywhere and some are in worse condition than others, but there you are driving along following the sparse road signs, and all of sudden, you come to an intersection, and there’s no sign! I believe improving the road signage would be a major improvement to the country’s roads. I know there are many other things that need to be done here but it would just be so much more easier to drive in this country if you knew where you were going! Well, having better road
signage doesn’t deal with the fact that no matter where you drive, gasoline is very expensive here!
Automatic bill pay….
After over a year of living here I finally signed up for automatic bill pay with Banco Nacional. Prior to this here is what I had to do:
--Go to the “Cruz Roja” or “Red Cross,” and pay my electric and phone bills (land line and cell phones). Then I had to go to the local pharmacy and pay my Internet bill. I would need to do this at a set time each month or my services, particularly my electric and phone service, would be shut off. And yes, we’ve ended up in the dark a few times but not any more luckily.
--I’d also have to go to a different place—a local convenience store—to pay my water bill.
--Oh, and my DirecTV bill would be paid each month by credit card.
So, it would be three different stops to pay all my bills each month. We’re not talking a ton of money mind you, but we are talking major inconvenience, particularly when there are lines.
Automatic bill pay from my account at Banco Nacional
is terrific! It automatically takes the funds from my account and pays all of my bills each month. So, if I’m out of town, I know my bills will be paid and I can relax.
I also really like my personal banker, Christopher, at Banco Nacional. When I’m there, if I’m having trouble communicating in Spanish with a teller, he’s bilingual, and always there to help. He even set up all of my bills for automatic pay. I just left copies of my bills with him and less than a day later, he had them all set up! If you move here, find a personal banker who speaks English and treat him/her well! Plus, with automatic bill pay, there’s more time for spending on your hammock!
Comparing Central Valley towns….
As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been touring various towns in the Central Valley, getting to know them for our upcoming tours. Here’s my take on the towns I’ve visited. Keep in mind, these are just one man’s opinion; so if you plan on moving here, see them for yourself and decide!
I really like Grecia. Not just because Grecia means Greece in English and
I’m a Greek-American but because I like the size and climate of the town, not to mention the location of the town, a hop, skip and a jump to the airport (about 15 minutes). It’s also a good size town with all of the services you would need. I think Grecia is more congested than San Ramon (where I live now) but it still has a small-town feeling. There are some beautiful properties in the hills above Grecia with stunning views of the Central Valley, and in some areas, real estate is still reasonably priced. Unlike San Ramon, however, Grecia does not have a movie theater—but I’m told one is coming very soon.
Apparently National Geographic rated Atenas as the “best climate in the world.” You’ll have to see for yourself but I found it to be too hot—certainly hotter than San Ramon—and my sense is that they get some rain too, but perhaps not as much as the San Ramon area. Compared to San Ramon, I do think Atenas is a pretty town with a really nice town square and some interesting, Gringo-run shops. However, I think San Ramon and Grecia have more to offer in
terms of shopping and services. Atenas does have some stunning properties and the views are amazing, but like the Pacific coast, the prices are going up and except for a few pockets, I’m not sure there is any longer as much value there.
What can I say about San Ramon? It is my new “home town.” Actually, I live in Los Angeles Sur, about 3.5km north of San Ramon, but San Ramon is my town. I do not think San Ramon is as pretty as some other towns in the Central Valley and some think it is a bit remote since it is the farthest most western town on the way to the Pacific coast. However, it is only about 40 minutes to the airport in Alajuela and one hour to the beaches near Puntarenas so I think the location is pretty strategic. San Ramon is also a very friendly town. Nine times out of ten when I am in town or heading to town, I always run into someone I know and they are all very friendly. What I also love about San Ramon, along with a few other towns nearby, is the fact that
I can go into town and almost always park in the same block as the shop I’m visiting. It makes it so easy for grocery shopping or checking for mail at the post office, etc. I do wish San Ramon had a few more restaurants beyond the “casado” variety of offerings. On the real estate front, compared to almost any other town in the Central Valley, San Ramon is still a bargain with some beautiful lots for building still available. My friend Jose has two sites: Rancho Lobo (www.rancholobo.com) which is located just above my B&B (www.AngelValleyFarmBandB.com), and Butterfly Dance (www.butterflydance.co.cr), which is just outside of San Ramon on the way to Puntarenas. My friends Ben and Jim also have properties with ocean views near San Ramon (www.iguanalandcompany.com).
Escazu and Santa Ana
Both of these towns are near San Jose and would be rightly considered suburbs of the capital city. If you want a real bagel or some of the same stores you’d find in shopping malls in the U.S, these are towns to live in. If you want real furniture, artifacts and rugs imported from India, these towns have them. If you liked gated communities with stunning
(and pricey) homes, Escazu and Santa Ana are tops. If you need to be in San Jose frequently, these towns fit the bill. If you want a slice of America in Costa Rica, you should live here.
These towns aren’t for me as I don’t want the traffic and congestion around these towns or to live like I did in the U.S. But for good schools, many services and incredible shopping, these towns are great. You’ll also pay through the nose for a home here but if you like the convenience and the quality of the offerings here, these towns cannot be beat.
That’s all for now! Thanks for your comments and for reading!
Tot: 0.097s; Tpl: 0.062s; cc: 7; qc: 23; dbt: 0.0145s; 1; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 3;
; mem: 1.2mb