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Published: February 20th 2007
The past few weeks have been good ones in Costa Rica. The year didn’t start off all that well as numerous issues came up—but things are looking up, as is the weather.
Speaking of weather, the past few days have been bright and warm, which one would expect this time of year and coincidentally, as it has gotten warmer here in the wilds of San Ramon, it has gotten colder in many parts of the USA! I’m definitely enjoying living in the tropics right now!
We’ve had a fun group of people at the B&B during January with a mix of long-term (2 months!) and short-term guests. It’s fun to see our nightly guests—many of them new to Costa Rica—mixing with other guests who have been here for quite some time and already “old hands at Costa Rica.” Because we are small and in essence, guests are forced to mingle with each other, it creates a terrific atmosphere where everyone shares their experiences being here and oftentimes, their experiences in possibly relocating here.
This past month we had an absolutely terrific group of people, Sam, Sam’s wife Jane, and their friend Gale, stay with us
Pictures compliments of my B and B manager Terry!
for several days. I’ve never met people so excited about visiting Costa Rica and most importantly, so open to seeing new things and experiencing all the country has to offer! They packed a lot into their relatively short trip and it was fun helping them out and providing advice as they considered their real estate options. In a country where there are so many real estate opportunities and many more opportunities to meet unsavory real estate agents and developers, I’m so glad they took a long and hard look at their options and considered each one very carefully. It’s tough enough in the states knowing if a deal is going to be a good one, but in a foreign country where the language barrier is enough to hold most people back, they sure did their homework and asked all of the right questions. Some day, they’ll make terrific expats!
A new form of transportation for moi? A new me?!
I really like driving my 1991 Izusu Trooper. It’s rugged, fairly comfortable, and handles itself well on most roads, even those rocky non-paved roads such as my long driveway. However, it does take a beating and the car is
at the mechanic more often than I’d like it to be. And, since I am about four kilometers from downtown San Ramon, I hate it when it is in the shop and have to rely on others to get to town. It also is terrible on gas and at current prices here, it costs about $60 each time I fill up the tank. So, to economize, I’m considering alternative options. There are several. First, I could use the buses more often. I don’t mind the buses here (they are cheap too) and I use them fairly regularly, particularly for trips to San Jose. However, the local bus from my B&B to San Ramon doesn’t run often enough and never seems to fit in with my schedule. Second, I could use one of my bicycles more often. Who am I kidding?! The hilly roads would kill me not to mention the crazy Tico drivers! So, that’s a no-go and it’s just too far to walk (or jog) to San Ramon.
My friend Mike has been seriously kicking around the idea of buying a motorcycle and he’s about to do it. I had planned to buy one even before I moved
to Costa Rica (and after being inspired by the movie, “Motorcycle Diaries”) so he’s got me on this kick. We spent a day looking at bikes in just about every motorcycle shop in San Ramon, looking at dozens of bikes, new and used, and decided after the fourth and final store that San Ramon just isn’t a “bike town.” So, we are going to look elsewhere in the Central Valley until we each find a bike that suits us. He wants a fairly powerful bike that he can drive to San Jose/Escazu with and also do some off-roading; for me, I want something powerful enough to get me up these crazy hills but not so powerful that the top speed will get me, and perhaps others, into a lot of trouble! Yes, I know (for my friends back in Washington, DC) that buying a bike is totally out of character for me, but then again, I did move to Costa Rica, and so far have survived, and you all thought that was not me either. So, I’m doing it! In one of my next few blog entries, I promise to include a picture of me, on my new (or used)
I think the bike is just one part of my 360 degree turnabout that I seemed to have embarked on since I moved here. In the not so far off future I also plan to go bungee jumping and sky-dying—woops, sky DIVING. A bit closer to reality, I’ve also started going to the gym and I’m still plying away each day at my garden.
I’m not sure if all of these changes are the direct result of moving to Costa Rica. Perhaps I would have done some of these things if I stayed in the USA. Or, it is possible that my midlife change (not crisis!) of life came during my time here. I do think, however, that my more flexible schedule (i.e., I have more time to do new things!) and my getting to know more people who have a bit of a “renegade” spirit, has motivated me to try some new things. Don’t fret, though. I’ve ruled out many things that I’ll just never try at any place or anytime.
Finca shopping and development building….
One of my favorite pastimes since moving to Costa Rica is scoping out new fincas (large farms suitable for development) and determining whether there is potential in which to build a new community. I’ve walked many, many acres of land throughout the Central Valley in the last year or so, trying to gain insight on what areas provide good value, what characteristics make raw land suitable for development, and so on. Besides scooping up a few good deals, what is most interesting is the people you meet along the way—Ticos and gringos. You hear every story imaginable about the history of a particular piece of land and of course, every owner will tell you, “it’s the best piece of land in all of Costa Rica.” Just how can so many pieces be the “best?” My criteria has been: good views: mountains/valleys and/or ocean, proximity to a decent-sized town (15 minutes or less via a good, paved road) flat or gently sloping land, and besides price, of course, the ability to develop it without ruining the natural beauty of the area.
Unfortunately, I’ve seem many developments here that have recklessly carved up incredible farms and made them unrecognizable. Yes, you need roads for people to get to their homes and you also need good building sites for homes, but I do think some developments have just gotten way out of hand. I also believe that once you have your development set to go, take the time to develop home sites and home types that blend in well with the environment. Good land planners and architects are worth every dollar they are paid! I’ve seen so many developments that just look like hell after 5 or 6 (or more) homes go up because there are no controls on building. True, it is hard to stipulate or certainly enforce such requirements when it comes to new owners’ building their homes, but with a little extra effort and some ingenuity, it can be done. I certainly don’t want the “gringo legacy” in Costa Rica to be that we built a bunch of shoddy or poorly planned developments. I’m afraid in some cases it is already happening. I’m very glad my partners are as concerned about this as me. At the end of the day—or in years to come—I want to look back and be proud my name is on one of the fincas I helped to developed, particularly if it contains a vibrant community living the “pura vida” life!
Do you want my B&B?
As many of you know, I sometimes rent out the entire B&B at certain times of the year as it enables me to take off and explore other areas for a time. It also helps to fill rooms during particularly slow periods in Costa Rica. I’m fortunate that I’ve been able rent out the B&B for the first 10 days of April. If anyone is interested in renting out the B&B for the remainder of April, please drop me an email. I also have some opportunities to rent the entire B&B during July and September if April doesn’t work for you.
Thanks for reading and for your comments. More soon!
www.BoomersInCostaRica.com (4-day/3 night relocation/retirement tour!)
www.CostaRicaRealEstate.typepad.com (Boomers’ Real Estate & More Blog!)
www.AngelValleyFarmBandB.com (the B&B!)
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