The Albertan's Cometh!!!!!

ISSUE #196: July 7-12, 2008


The Albertan's Cometh!!!!!


When I started Residencias Los Jardines, I started writing a weekly news letter —determined to tell all the good, bad, and the ugly. I knew some readers would be interested in the construction process. I expected others might be interested in the lifestyle of two people who had decided to live outside the box. For others, the adventures of lita, the parrot and the cat took on an entertainment saga all its own.

Residencias Los Jardines is finished. We periodically have resales and rental availability. Some readers may be interested in this information.

More and more, the content will be dominated by events of our new project, "El Dorado" for short. While the future is always uncertain, I again aim to tell it like it happens —the good, the bad, and the ugly, and that is what follows.

In an effort to make the format more interesting and visually appealing and to field inquiries re. El Dorado, the news letter is now being distributed by Jan Kozak, Marketing Manager, Hacienda El Dorado. I will remain the author.


Sales: We are still working on closing the 8 --contracts signed on 6--money to follow next week and two house designs to finalize and price.

Magazine Ads: Another revamped Jan-inspired ad is below: this series has not yet appeared in print.



My brother and I went on Christopher Howard\'s real estate tour of Costa Rica in January. I had been to CR once before and liked the country for many reasons. Climate, the medical facilities available, the speaking of English (I do want to learn survival Spanish) and the friendliness of the people were a few of the positive things about CR. After looking at a number of great properties I decided El Dorado was for me. The quality and professionalism demonstrated by the developer was impressive. I liked the location near the urban area but still felt the rural nature of the property. On my recent last visit to CR Jan was gracious enough to show me the progress made on the site and they seem to be taking their time and doing the job the right way. I am enthused about seeing my house be built.

Pura Vida, Bruce Teipel July, 2008 (


Victor is Nicaraguan (born in the city of Rivas), but half of his life he has lived in Costa Rica. He is now 44 and lives with his spouse in Pozos de Santa Ana. She works at a fast food stand (Soda) at the Mega Super shopping center in Santa Ana. Their 16 year old daughter lives in Nicaragua where she goes to a high school.  He has a sister that lives nearby in Santa Ana and extended family relatives that live and work in the Limon area on the Caribbean coast.

At El Dorado, Victor takes care of anything related to block-, cement- and steel-work. Prior to working with us, he spent 11 years on a banana plantation outside of Limon. He then moved to San Jose where he worked as a security guard, he washed buses, worked in a factory producing concrete and also on various other construction sites.

His wife goes back to Nicaragua every 7 to 12 months to visit relatives and spend time with her family. Victor says he only goes back when there is an emergency. He says he needs to return to Nicaragua within the next few days. He owns 6 cows. It turns out that 2 of them were stolen, so he needs to go back and look for a safer place where to keep them.


Jungle Safari & Volcano Island Minigolf

Jungle Safari & Volcano Island Minigolf is currently the only minigolf course in Costa Rica, the idea was generated as a result of a search for a new, different and attractive way for the whole family to have fun. Through minigolf you have a colorful way of entertainment, you can relax and it takes you out of the routine.

There are two minigolf courses: one is located in TerraMall (Volcano Island), and the other one in Via Lindora (Jungle Safari).

Each course has its own specific theme. Volcano Island is inspired in action and adventure; it has a volcano-shaped fountain that is an eye catch for kids and adults. On the other hand, Jungle Safari is oriented with the exotic and wild; you may find different species of reptiles and amphibious watching over the players.

You can visit their web site to check special offers, and if you register you may even win free rounds. And don’t forget if you come in groups of 20 people or more you can get a special rate.

There are also birthday packages in which we make a mini tournament for the kids, the winner receives a gift so as the birthday boy or girl. You can even have private events and tournaments.



Tel.2282-0522 (Lindora)
Tel.2518-4653 (TerraMall)


Website Upgrade / Marketing: Photos of Residencias Los Jardines, the Santa Ana area and some of the houses are now available on line at:
Sales: The sale of 125 is now completed. The sale of 124 is scheduled to close Tuesday, July 15. We have two parties interested in Unit 107; we'll see what happens.

Staff Changes: The replacement for Esther continues in training; she's doing fine, just a lot to learn.

We terminated our Maitenance / gardener after two + years. He had accummulated 21 days of sick leave over the previous year. By law, we seem to have to pay the first three days per month of sick leave. He was taking his three days virtually every month. In addition, he wanted time off frequently for personal was a one way street with him leading no where. We got tired of it and dealt with it. Fortunately, we have a good person known to us who we've brought in as a replacement.

The full time gardener also has a bad attendance record--17 off in 11 months. It's time to deal with him as well. He doesn't seem to have learned from the mtnc. person's termination. Guess we will have to use a 2 X 4 to wake him up.

A Bedevilling Problem: Since the re-plumbing, I haven't received a complaint. We don't have enough experience yet to say it's "fixed" but we don't know that it's not fixed so here's hoping no news is good news.

The Albertan's Cometh!:
We've had three sets of people here in rapid succession all from Alberta. One bought 103, one family is looking at Los Jardines and El Dorado, and the other family have purchased two units at El Dorado and husband and daughter are getting a first hand view of what Mom did--so far, they family is still talking so guess Mom did o.k.

Internet: The most important service for our clients is water. The second most important is "internet". Since we isolated our system from ICE via a UPS, we have increased our reliability. Our equipment has performed quite well. However, we still are subject to ICE outages which have been frequent this past several weeks. Saturday, we incurred a different problem.

From 11 am to 4pm. our internet was down. But it wasn't down for everyone--all the time. Paul work and worked at diagnosing the problem. During the course of his investigation, he probably developed 6 different scenarios. In the end, the problem was that one of our tenants had hooked up a DSL wireless router. This became a black hole on our ethernet system such that only he had bandwidth and the rest of us were left sucking dry air. Five hours of consternation and only through perseverance was the problem solved.

Renting in Santa Ana (A Contribution from Jan): For the past week, I have been looking for an apartment to rent in Santa Ana. I am a single guy so do not need anything large, am happy with one bedroom, one bathroom apartments, but could equally rent a 2 or 3 bedroom home and move in with a friend.

First of all, I do not want to spend time visiting dozens of store buying furniture, appliances (fridge, stove, microwave, coffee maker, blender etc.), kitchen utensils (pots, pans, silverware, etc.). Second of all, I have an 8 months old puppy (Golden Retriever), which needs a reasonably sized enclosed garden or a patio outside of the house so that she can run around and be happy. Third, I do not want to spend time having to be contacting one of the companies that provide cable TV and internet connection (AMNET and Cable Tica). They are notoriously slow and require probably a dozen of different pieces of documents and ask for a signature on another dozen of different forms. I do not want to be having to contact ICE to have a phone line installed, etc. All of these formalities are tiresome and require people to be visiting different offices and agencies in different parts of the town. I simply want to move in, turn on my TV and be able to watch the news. I simply want to move in, connect my computer to the wireless internet network and get down to work. I don't want to deal with any BS.

I am now realizing that I might be looking for something that is essentially non-existent on today's rental market in this area.

According to my assessment, the vast majority of apartments listed for rent on today's market in Santa Ana/Escazu are unfurnished. They might be wired for cable TV and Internet, but it is up to the tenant to formalize the contract with the service provider. What many in Costa Rica consider a patio is usually a 2 meter by 4 meter area behind the house/apartment with a concrete floor enclosed by a 3 meter concrete wall. Unfurnished here means truly unfurnished oftentimes requiring the tenant to bring in his own appliances such as a stove, fridge, microwave, washer, dryer, etc. The bedrooms are oftentimes small, claustrophobic. The bathrooms equally are so small that you can barely turn around without hitting the wall with your elbows. 1 bedroom apartment of this type may rent for $500. A 2 or 3 bedroom may go for $700 or $800.

A 1 bedroom fully furnished apartment rents between $750 and $900. Such apartments however are generally located within gated condominium communities, which do not allow tenants to bring in pets. A 2 or 3 bedroom "fully" furnished apartment may rent for $1,200 if the furnishings are pretty simple. Bedrooms consist of a bed perhaps with a mattress. No tables, no decorations, no nothing. Kitchens generally include basic appliances such as a fridge, stove and a microwave, but the tenant still needs to go out and shop for the rest (plates, cups, glasses, silverware, pots, pans etc.) in order to be able to start cooking.

After having spent so much time on the road looking for that perfect apartment, I am becoming quite desperate and frustrated because I am not finding anything that meets all or at least most of my criteria.

I am also realizing that we at Los Jardines are priced extremely competitively, are very accommodating (re: pets for example) and make sure we make life easy and trouble-free for our tenants. We are definitely filling a special market niche of those tenants with North American expectations whose budget is up to $2,000 per month. Comparable units in other condominiums are priced well above $2,000. Historically, we have not been having difficulties finding new tenants. Rather, I would say, we have had to turn down many potential tenants in situations where we had no units available or we did not have units large enough.

Since the design and set up of Hacienda El Dorado is based on the model of Los Jardines, this analysis of today's rental market in Santa Ana should be a good news for us. With lot more units to play with and with a lot wider range of options, we should be able to accommodate a broader section of the rental market while still maintaining competitive rental rates. 

This 1 bedroom furnished apartment in Escazu goes for $1,500. See the photos below and compare them to the photos of our unit 124 (1 bedroom) which is currently available for rent at Los Jardines for $950 a month or to the photos of unit 123 (2 bedrooms) which is currently available for $1,600.

Units for Sale/Lease:

Unit 123 - Available for Rent

Total Area (Sq Ft):1516
Total area (Sq M):140
Floor(s):2 Story

This two story, detached 1,423 sf home + parking for one car has two bedrooms, 2 ½ bathrooms and a 2nd floor covered terrace.

The open railed wrought iron cement stair case leads to the 2nd level where the master bedroom with en-suite master bathroom as well as 2nd bedroom and en-suite bathroom are located. Also accessed from the 2nd floor hallway is the covered terrace.

This is a very nicely furnished home with a good floor plan for those wanting two floors.

Read More

Unit 114 - For Sale

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1290
Total area (Sq M): 120
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Floor(s): Single Floor
Type:  Attached
Furnished: Yes
This 1,290 sf. (plus covered parking for one car and two lockers 67 sf.) single story, semi detached house, with garden terrace, two bedrooms is a beautiful executive style home. This home consists of two large bedrooms one with six piece en-suite bathroom with additional access to separate full shower. Each bedroom has large closets with extensive built-ins for personal organization. The vaulted living room and bathroom ceilings provide a feeling of grandeur while allowing the warmer air to rise and exit through the ceiling ventilating system. There are four TVs (one in each bedroom, one in the living room and one in breakfast / dinning room.) This is a beautiful well appointed home.

Read More

Unit 124 - For Rent

Total Area (Sq Ft): 662
Total area (Sq M): 61
Bedrooms: 1
Floor(s): 2nd Floor
Type: Semi-Detached
Furnished: Yes
This 662 sf, + covered parking for one car, is a one bedroom home on the 2nd floor overlooking the large pool. It is ideal for a single person or couple.

Read More

Unit #107 - For Sale

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1716
Total area (Sq M): 158
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2.5
Floor(s): 2 Story
Type: Detached
Furnished: Yes

This 1,716 sf. (plus parking for one car) two story, detached house, with three terraces, two bedrooms (one on each floor) and upstairs master suite is a beautiful home. This home consists of two VERY large bedrooms (one on each floor) with en-suite bathrooms and a powder room, each with large closets with extensive built-ins for personal organization. The vaulted living room and ground floor bedroom ceilings as well as the master bedroom on the 2nd floor, provide a feeling of grandeur while allowing the warmer air to rise and exit through the ceiling ventilating system. There are three TVs (one in each bedroom and one in the living room.) This is a beautiful home. There is a rough-in for a dishwasher in the kitchen area.

Read More


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July 13, 2008
New Mortgage Option for Foreigners in Costa Rica
(Costa Rica Pages) Real Estate is blowing up all over Costa Rica from everything to luxury beach front vacation homes in Jaco Beach to pent house suites in a metropolitan park tower. Costa Rica is building it all… and fast.

Foreign Bank will Lend to U.S. Residents Purchasing Real Estate in Costa Rica.

July 12, 2008
Heading South: More entrepreneurs discover Latin America
(Business Week) Jon Morris, chief executive officer of Rise Interactive, a 15-person Internet advertising company in Chicago, shifted his outsourced design and Web development staff from India to Costa Rica in 2005.

July 12, 2008
Anti-Poverty Minister Steps Down Temporarily
(The Tico Times) Fernando Zumbado, Housing Minister and rector of the government's social programs, announced he is "temporarily" stepping down from his position while he is investigated for hiring allegedly questionable consulting services for a program aimed at improving living conditions in shantytowns.

July 12, 2008
U.S. Citizen Arrested
(The Tico Times) David Albanese, a U.S. citizen wanted by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation on charges of kidnapping, was arrested in San José yesterday following a joint operation by the International Police (Interpol) and the Costa Rican Department of Intelligence and Security (DIS), according to Interpol.

July 12, 2008
Costa Rican Beauty... Miss Universe

July 12, 2008
Strong Economic Adjustment Coming
(Inside Costa Rica) The head of the Banco Central de Costa Rica (BCCR) - Central Bank - Francisco Gutierrez warned that the nation will have to make a strong economic adjustment in the face of the tough international situation.

July 12, 2008
Exchange Rate Moves ¢6 Colones Overnight, Hitting A Record Sell Rate High of ¢528
(Inside Costa Rica) The exchange rate took a sharp increase of ¢6 on the sell rate overnight after going up and down by a few tenths of a colon during the past month or so.

July 12, 2008
Cellular Customers Have To Wait Until Next Year For New Lines
(Inside Costa Rica) The promise by the Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE) for additional GSM lines by the end of this year seems to have vanished. Some 134.000 people are currently on the waiting list to get connected.

July 12, 2008
President Arias Announces The Elimination of Toll Booths
(Inside Costa Rica) Costa Rican president, announced following a cabinet meeting held in Pacayas, Cartago, the elimination of toll booths on the autopistas General Cañas, Próspero Fernández, Florencio del Castillo, adn the carretera a Limón. The move is eliminated the congestion at the toll booths in an effort to save on gasoline consumption.

July 12, 2008
Fewer Traffic Accidents in San José Attributed to the Vehicular Restrictions
(Inside Costa Rica) The expanded vehicular restrictions of San José us being attributed for the reduction of traffic accidents during the first 15 days after going into affect, according to the Policía de Tránsito (traffic police), who are very pleased with the results.


Weather: Normal rainy season weather with many mornings overcast and rain later in the day.

Lots of time spent on showing off and discussing the advantages of living in CR and in showing rentals and in training the new gardener.
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