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Email from Readers

May 4th, 2009

Good day faithful readers. Here is another addition of “My Readers Write” Here you will find a few emails asking questions not covered in The REAL Costa Rica or this Blog…. or maybe they are but there is some other twist that I think might be of interest.

As some of these were sent more than 5 weeks ago, I do appreciate your patience. I am just bombarded with email, especially now that readership in The REAL Costa Rica and this Blog is exceeding 60,000 visits per month.

If this interests you, please read on.

I made two comments recently to Posts on your Blog, yet neither is there.  Why?

I do not have many rules about people commenting. The few I have are:

  1. You may not attack me or another person in a way that is rude, uses vulgar language, or is just over the top. That does not mean you cannot disagree with me or another person.  It just must be done in a polite manner. If I am wrong about something I posted here and you provide adequate proof (i.e not just your opinion), I will correct the original post, give you credit, and grovel.
  2. The comment must have something to do with the Post upon which you are commenting. Commenting about how much you hate Obama in a Post that is about a recipe for Gallo Pinto is just dumb and I will not allow your comment.
  3. No spamming. Any comment that even remotely smacks of promotion of a business or a web site totally irrelevant to Costa Rica will not be published. This includes links to any website that contains a virus, Trojan horse or any other malware that affects my readers.
  4. Any comment that disseminates wrong information about Costa Rica. This may include the many “urban legends” floating around. For those, I normally respond via email to let you know your information is not correct.
  5. Last… but maybe not least. Any comment that uses a false email address will not be published.

In your case, rule #2 was the issue for both of your comments.

We have a home in Costa Rica, and we are looking for the best book we can get on insects of costa rica with good pictures so we can key them when we find them.  Do you know of any such book.

Sadly, I have no bug books, so I cannot recommentd any.  However you will find what you are looking for by scrolling thrugh the books located in the Costa Rica Shop.

I’ve enjoyed your blog as a useful tool for some while now. Question,  have you heard of Cable Tica for internet? Any feedback would be  appreciated. We’re currently using a satellite service (know it’s illegal).

Yes, any satellite Internet service here IS illegal unless purchased from RACSA.  In my opinion, Cabletica is the best of all the Internet Service Providers, though to get Internet service,  you must order their cable service which not everybody wants or needs.

I will be moving in August to Ciudad Colon, just west of San Jose, to attend the United Nation’s University for Peace.  I will be bringing my 3 children (ages 9, 10, & 14) and am concerned about building codes in such an earthquake-prone area.  Is there something I should look for (like date of construction, specific building style) in an apartment building and in their schools?  I’m have a hard time finding anything online.

Building codes?  Building codes?  We don’t need no steenking building codes! Kidding, of course, but in reality, while they exist, there is no guarantee that the builder paid even the slightest attention to them… or if he did, followed them to the letter. I am guessing that if you rent in one of the newly developed areas and the place is less than 5 years old, you have a better chance of finding something “to code”. Saying that, the vast majority of homes (all but the oldest homes) are built with concrete reinforced with metal rods.  I live in a 20 year old home, and even the big earthquake (6.3)  a few months  ago did no damage, and we were only 15 miles from the epicenter. Also, as almost all home are single story,  the collapse of a building is not so much an issue. As for schools… most, I think, are pretty safe.  However if you are at or really near the epicenter of ANY strong (>5.0 for example) earthquake, the building construction is going to be pretty irrelevant.

Edited for clarity

… how do you handle the insistence of vendors quoting in Dollars but when offered a credit card billing in colones? … do you have any suggestions how to circumvent this underhandedness?   If I am quoted in $$ and my credit card account is $$, why am I charged the rate as if I were selling colones and receiving dollars?

First, and just a general reminder, I never shop anywhere that prices its goods in dollars. Although better than when I arrived here lo those many years, it still more often than not, is an indication that I will be paying too much.

Now for your question.  The reason (I am almost 100% sure) is because the vendor’s credit card processor is set up for colones, and not dollars. It would make no difference what your currency your card is using.

I am writing because I am a 28 year old American living in San Jose. I am finding it hard to meet people my age. I’m extremely outgoing and always up for an adventure. Please let me know if you have any advice for me!

I might as a matter of fact!  Click this link.  Once there, look for Calendar in the top right corner of the web page.  Click it and you will see that the Young Expats meet every Saturday in Escazu.  Click that link for info. I am presuming they are still active as they are on that site.  If not, please let me know via email or comment to this post.

18 Responses to “Email from Readers”

  1. tim on May 5, 2009 12:04 pm

    i am planning on staying in c.r. for the next winter i want to ship my harly in it currently has american plates can i ride the bike for the first 90 days while i am getting all current c.r. licenses,fees and duties paid i havent really found what i needed on the net i found info it really just created more questions thanks

  2. Nancy on May 6, 2009 11:25 am

    Yesterday’s blog that was sent out to my email came with an advertisement at the bottom showing a new build home for oly 99k with 20k down. It was beautiful, looked like up in the hills. I wanted to show my husband the ad however, it is gone. I did not write down the name. I am sure you have a lot of advertisers but I was hoping you could give me some clue of who, where and what that may have been. I have searched for it and have come up empty. Thanks in advance

  3. Tim on May 7, 2009 7:01 am

    Those ads are placed by Google and not by me so I do not what it was that you saw… sorry.

  4. Nate on May 7, 2009 10:33 am

    Just wanted to say THANK YOU for continuing to write this blog and for being diligent with your posts. Even if you do not hear it often, I’m sure many others are also grateful for the info you continuously provide, for the benefit of all of us out there. Don’t stop.

  5. Billy on May 10, 2009 8:21 am

    My ISP here in Texas requires a cable tv connection to obtain internet service. There is actually logic behind the seeming madness of the requirement. It is technical. Consumer information oriented also. The basic tv service gets the physical line to the address and covers the basic maintenance expense of the physical line. The internet portion is the fee for the ISP. If it were not packaged in this manner, then there would be a split fee cost for internet services to people only desiring that service OR a higher charge for ALL services to evryone. All info here as it has been explained to me…-:) !

  6. The American Homemaker on May 31, 2009 12:10 am

    I just came upon your site and blog tonight. I’m loving all the info! I have a question for you. My mother just reconnected with her birth family in Costa Rica (she was adopted into the states when she was two). We’re traveling to Limon this summer to meet them. I hear it’s really rural. I’m pretty nervous, but excited. We’d like to take a small gift to our new HUGE family. What is something that is inexpensive and small that would make a good gift for them? The family is very large with lots of cousins and we’d like to bring them each something from the US. Any ideas?

  7. Tim on June 13, 2009 12:11 pm

    Really… anything. The is called a detalle (detail in Spanish) and it is the thought that counts. Teeshirts, sweatshirts… you get the point

  8. Lisa on June 22, 2009 2:23 pm

    OK … so I get that you can not work in Costa Rica even if you have certain types of legal residency … what about having a placing and renting out rooms in it? Thats not working, yet its a way to make some extra cash to help survive.

    So lets say one decided they wanted to live in CR, did their research and against your better judgment bought property … could that be legally rented for money if you are not a legal citizen?

  9. Tim on July 2, 2009 8:32 am

    Sure… now what happens when you are deported because you are not here legally? Who manages the property? If you have all that money to buy property, why not just get your residency and be here legally?

  10. Jane on September 13, 2009 10:32 am

    Hi Tim,

    I sent you an “email” back in July regarding safety at night but never heard from you. You have stated how bombarded you get with email and I understand but I would still like to have your thoughts on my question.

    The problem is that I worry at night when my husband is not with me in our home in Santo Domingo de Heredia. I felt safe there until our attorney (a Tico) shared frightening stories with me about his own family member being robbed at their home in Guanacaste at gun point. He walked around our home and told me of all the worries he has about it. In my opinion our builder has created a literal fortress and it seems it would be near impossible to break in. We have bars on the windows, a cage around the front door, padlocks on the garage door, we’re situated on a corner under a bright street light, there is 24/7 security watch that we pay for, etc. But when a Tico tells me these stories it chinks away at my mental armor and I start to wonder. We actually live in the Quizarco subdivision which is nice but it is not a gated community. We love our neighbors and have made friends with both gringos and ticos. Life couldn’t be better except when I’m alone at night. I can’t expect another person to wipe away my fear but I just wonder if this fear is unfounded or if there is reason for concern? I hear conflicting comments about safety…on one hand I hear there is less violence and on the other I hear things like what my attorney told me. I do think it’s probably a waste of time and robs me of sleep when I’m there alone. Can you shed any light on my dilemma?

  11. Tim on September 18, 2009 10:10 am


    1. Change your attorney as the one you have is clearly ignorant.

    2. ANY home in ANY country at ANY time in ANY neighborhood can be attacked. Could it happen? Sure. Will it? Very likely not. You are in a nice area…

    3. Really… changes attorneys

  12. gail reagan on October 6, 2009 2:50 pm

    No questions, just some observations from a recent trip to CR.
    My husband and I arrived and stayed in San Jose for 2 days and nights, drove to Playa Chiquita south of Puerto Limon, stayed for 2 days and nights, drove to Nuevo Arenal (basically, as that was the nearest town.) Stayed 3 days and nights, drove to Tamarindo, stayed 2 nights and days, back to Aleluja for 1 night, flew home.
    LOVED the country. Loved the visit. Much better roads and driving than we had expected BUT – a BIG but – TRUCKS and bicyclists were the worst!!! The latter driving at night, in the road, totally dark – no reflectors, light, nothing! The former were almost uniformly dirty (spewing pollution), overloaded, underpowered, in dreadful repair, and driven by lunatics. In areas where there are lots of trucks – BEWARE. Ditto those suicidal cyclists at night.
    Biggest adaptation was to the schedule of the day. Sun (and howler monkeys) rise early, go down early, by US standards. People on their way to work in large numbers at 4 and 4:30 in the morning, hidden away by 7 p.m. Planned our days accordingly.
    Rental car agents (Avis) tried their best to claim “scratches” to their vehicle. Fortunately, due to this site and a few others, we had taken comprehensive photos of the rental car at the time of rental, before it ever moved an inch. All “new” damage was clearly visible on the photos, and miniscule to boot. Nice try guys, makes me wonder “Why bother?” Do they get to pocket the money, or what?
    Stopped twice by road blocks of Tourist police. Both wanted passports, driver’s license, car rental agreement, info regarding our starting point and destination for the day (or night.) One officer, on one stop, spoke passable English, the rest (numbering a total of probably 10-12 together)little or none. Seems a good thing to train the “Tourist” police to speak the language of the tourists.
    The other two stops were both along the same road, both lone police officers,standing in the middle of the road, in full daylight, altho neither had badges. Neither spoke more than a few words of English, first one wanted to impose a fine, payable on the spot or later at a “bank” with a 30% tax. We managed to convey that we’d take the ticket and go to a bank, suddenly there was no problem, no ticket, just drive safely.
    Second one didn’t try for money, but REALLY wanted to see and handle our passports, etc. Made us rather nervous, but they were given back. No explanation given for our stop. We tried to report the “police” but no one at the phone number we were given seemed even slightly interested.
    AGain, because we had read this site, we knew not to give out money on the spot, especially when we had done nothing wrong. This info was reinforced by several of our hosts, who said it is a rip-off played on tourists.
    No real concerns about crime, safety, etc., until we arrived in Tamarindo. Our hosts met us at our car at their gates, and said “Take everything from the car, thieves will break in and steal it.” Armed private guards along the road, in front of horrible, but fortunately empty condos, made for feeling of being under constant seige. Beautiful scenery, but very high personal price to be there.
    Can’t wait to go back, comments appreciated.


  13. Jim Rhyner on October 10, 2009 10:47 pm

    I have read so much about the friendly, family oriented, religious Ticos and how understanding they are toward guests in their country. If that is so, how come there is such a high rate of crime that it is unsafe to walk at night? I know the poverty rate is high but that is also true in Pakistan, Indonesia, Yemen and other countries where I have gone for walks at night; of course I was careful what neighborhoods and business areas I walked in. The only country I have not felt safe to walk anywhere at night was the Philippines.

  14. Jane on October 13, 2009 5:41 am

    Thank you, Tim, for your comments about the security of our home. I had to laugh at your suggestion to fire our atty. 🙂

    Unfortunately, a few nights ago one of our houses (we actually have two, side by side, one “was” for my in-laws) was broken into. The robbers hopped the fence, cut the lock on the inside gate (door cage) and kicked in the front door which is made of solid hardwood. They only took the TV, thankfully and it looks like our insurance will cover everything. I don’t write this to dispute what you have said because I realize that probably happened because the house is uninhabited. We have been talking about getting timed exterior lighting and now definitely will!

    Yesterday we were offered the opportunity to have a tico/gringo couple rent the house. We were offered $350 per month and a year’s lease. Being from the US that sounds terribly low, and I have done a little research and even in Costa Rica that is low for that location. It is a 3 bedroom, 2 bath with a good sized yard, nice back terrazza, etc.

    What are your thoughts on the rent figure we were offered? Other friends have said perhaps as much as $600 but we are willing to go as low as $450.

    Any suggestions regarding rent or extra security would be greatly appreciated!


  15. Judith on October 14, 2009 12:47 pm

    My husband and I will be staying in San Jose, for 1 month beginning Jan 4, 2010. We are going for medical reasons and are looking for an inepensive place to stay that is safe. Not real cheap, but a hotel seems to be out of the question for that length of time. We are both in our early 70’s and need to be in the downtown area. Not sure what the area is called, but checking on it now.

  16. Judith on October 18, 2009 10:23 am

    Jane, My husband and I will be in San Jose, Costa Rica from Jan. 5, 2010 until Feb. 6 or 7 and would like to rent a place that is safe and not a tourist area. We are 71 and 72 going for extensive dental work. We would need to be able to get to the Barrio Tournon area from wherever we stay. Not sure if your home is in San Jose, but if it is and you would want to rent it for 1 month we may be interested. We live in a very nice area on a golf course in the Nashville, TN area and our neighborhood has experienced the same problems you have. Sincerely, Judith

  17. Tim on October 23, 2009 2:41 pm

    Kind of depends on whether you want them as tenants or house sitters. If to have the home occupied, then the rent is not as important. If renting for income, talk to a local realtor.

  18. Jane on November 27, 2009 9:34 am

    Hi Judith,

    Sorry, I just now checked in and saw that you had replied to my post in October! Our home is in Santo Domingo de Heredia which is about 15-20 min from San Jose. If I had checked earlier perhaps we could have set something up but for now we aren’t sure what that month holds for us. We may have visitors.

    We have had excellent dental care in CR. My daughter, age 24, had major work done including implants. The dentist we used in Santo Domingo de Heredia was top notch. She even paid my daughter two house visits just to see how the healing was coming along in between office visits in addition to a daily phone call. It was actually the surgeon who did most of the work but the dentist carefully watched over the entire process.

    I hope your and your husband’s experience will be as good! I’m sure it will be much cheaper than would be in the US. We saved almost $10,000.