Insight into the Real Costa Rica

ISSUE #344: Feb 8-March 4, 2011


Brian Timmons, Newsletter Author
Brian Timmons

Dear friends,

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.

Brian Timmons
Residencias Los Jardines /
Hacienda El Dorado /
E-mail: /


Construction Log
Updates about Hacienda El Dorado

Rio Oro: The contract is now done and ready for signing; that will happen this week with a 4 wk. completion date attached to it.


Residencias Los Jardines
Property Management, Rentals, Re-Sales

Palm Tree Removal: we're negotiating for machine time and to get into the back hoe's work schedule and that of the sub contractor.

Additional Maintenance Staff: Restructuring the teak columns in the main rancho at the large pool is proceeding. We're switching the method to increase productivity.

Very Active Market: We have verbal commitments two lease on three units -we have to update the Spanish translation of the current lease. We've had two offers on units for sale; both offers are currently in limbo as price separates the parties. We'll see if there is life yet in the discussions. In addition, I expect on Monday an additional variable thrown in which should create some activity. As a matter of observation, only one of the five above involve Americans -the others are Spanish, Venezuelan, French, and Mexican.


Unit 102: $265,000 Flexible - Owner Financing Available See unit
Unit 106A: $155,000   See unit
Unit 107: $250,000 Owner Financing Available See unit
Unit 115: $205,000   See unit
Unit 125: $160,000 Owner Financing Available See unit


Unit 106C: $1,250 Immediate See unit


Site Plan


UNIT #102:
For Sale $265,000

Flexible - Owner Financing Available

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1922
Total area (Sq M)
: 177
: 2
: 2
: Ground
: Apartment
: Yes

This two bedroom, 1922 sf (177m2) + parking and bodega, single story home located in Residencias Los Jardines was completed 5 years ago and has been lived in by a single lady who has lovingly cared for and cleaned it twice a week. It is situated on the ground floor of a two storey, horizontal duplex. It is in PRISTINE condition. The vendor is the original owner.


UNIT #106A:
For Sale $155,000

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1250
Total area (Sq M): 120
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Floor(s): 1
Type: Apartment
Furnished: Yes

This is a fully furnished 2-bedroom unit situated in a 2-story building, which has two units on the ground floor and two units on the 2nd. floor. Each unit is the same size (1,250sf) divided into 800 sf of interior space and 450 sf of covered front and back terraces. Units 106A and B are on the ground floor; Units 106 C and D are on the 2nd. Floor. The solid masonry demising wall (common wall) as well as the 5" concrete slab prevent sound transference.


UNIT #107:
For Sale $250,000

Owner Financing Available

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.


UNIT #115:
For Sale $205,000 

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1345
Total area (Sq M): 124
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Floor(s): 1 Story
Type: Attached
Furnished: Yes

This 1,345 sf single floor home includes a 200 sf private terrace plus parking for one car. It is attached on two sides by a 6" solid concrete block wall which prevents sound transfer. This is an extremely well decorated home with lots of natural wood built ins.


UNIT #125:
For Sale $160,000

Owner Financing Available

Total Area (Sq Ft): 662
Total area (Sq M): 61
Bedrooms: 1
Bathrooms: 1
Floor(s): 2nd Floor
Type: Semi-Detached
Furnished: Yes

This 662 sf, + parking for one car and 33sf locker is a one bedroom home on the 2nd floor overlooking the large pool. It is ideal for a single person or couple-or investment property.

UNIT #106C
FOR RENT $1,250


Total Area (Sq Ft): 1250
Total Area (Sq M): 120
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Floor(s): 1
Type: 4-plex
Furnished: Yes

This is a fully furnished 2-bedroom unit situated in a 2-story building, which has two units on the ground floor and two units on the 2nd. floor. Each unit is the same size (1,250sf) divided into 800 sf of interior space and 450 sf of covered front and back terraces. Units 106A and B are on the ground floor; Units 106 C and D are on the 2nd. Floor. The solid masonry demising wall (common wall) as well as the 5” concrete slab prevent sound transference.


Our Lives

WEATHER: Beautiful with little wind -this year we have had substantially less wind than in the two previous years AND and we are not getting the quantity of dust from our neighbors. While they have started the final phase of construction, so far, the dust effect hasn't been as bad -certainly more then we can expect in the future but less than the previous 3 years.


Signing up a New Employee on Workmen's Compensation: For this part time worker (2 mo. contract), we had to sign him up and pay $23 for his insurance. We completed 3 forms, and two photo copies and took them to the INS office in Santa Ana. Forty minutes later and 14 more pieces of paper he was initially registered; confirmation is suppose to come in a couple weeks.

CAJA payment: done monthly, hand filled out forms for each employee, delivered to one of their offices with a check based on their day's exchange rate. They changed this such that it could be done on line. There was no phase in, and no ability to continue to hand submit the hard copy. Out with the old, in with the new; the new required 45 pages of instructions and no one had been trained on the new system. Chaos!!!

The Varilla Bridge: This is a critical bridge linking San Jose with other parts of the country to the north. (After all, the San Jose - Caldera highway is out of service to repair a section of road which sank out of sight and one of the two remaining roads is limited to one lane part time as a repair is made to that road for the same reason. Re. the Varilla Bridge -4 repairs had been tried in the past- the last repair lasted less time than it took to repair. So it was decided to do a major repair -the bridge was taken out of service for 2 1/2 months at great traffic chaos resulted. The repairs were to last 70 years. The concrete started to disintegrate in less than 10 days.

Pump Replacement: Again, we had a critical pump fried by a power surge. We looked all over the west side of San Jose and in San Jose itself. We ended up 5 hrs. later at a place 1 hr. from Los Jardines. We got one but it took 7 hrs. (We'll try to rebuild the other to have it as a back up.)

Setting up a bank account -Scotiabank: We started in mid November buy submitting a full page of requested documents with lawyer notations and certifications, and then adding 4 additional documents not listed in the official statement of required documents, and then having to re-submit 4 documents which had become lost from the 20 or so we had already filed, three follow up calls, we did open an account in early February. We were elated!. Yesterday I get called from a Scotiabank in Heredia stating that they were holding an NSF check and I needed to come and pick it up or tell them to re-submit it. Why? Not only had the account not been set up in the bank were we had submitted all the documents and had signed all the papers, the contact information wasn't correct. The for had no place to include a phone extension number, the fax number in an alternate box as a phone contact and then couldn't figure out that if we had a fax and that maybe they could contact us that way and I don't know what the third phone number was all about,... I had to go with the accountant since I had no idea where the bank in Heredia was, spend one hour and 20 miles through heavy traffic to tell them to re-deposit the check. To get the bank account returned to the nearby bank, at least two of us will have to go there, and fill out a bunch more paper work and maybe,............. on a side issue -after 4 years of trying, I still can't get the main Scotiabank system to send me my CC statement- it has to be done by hand and the call up system (a roll-a-dex) failed this last time.

Buying Poly-urethane: We're refinishing the cana brava around the ranchos. I wanted poly-urethane which is an epoxy based system--you add part A to part B and stir and apply. Great except they couldn't get the right part A with the part B so it had to be returned.

A Refund: Rio Oro construction was due a refund based on overpayment of INS which is based on historical average so whenever there is a change in work load there is a lag in the correct amount to be paid, or in our case, refunded. A year later we get notice that we are owed $2300. A month after the notice, we told to go pick it up -downtown San Jose, main office. While I don't know all the details because Paul did it, it took 4 hrs, and substantial patience -the only person who knew about it was on holidays (it was Friday); the 2nd. in command was at a meeting, directed to window 40 and wait, only to be told that it was the wrong window, go to window 48, she didn't have a clue, 30min. of discussion, call in someone, and some how, a check was issued.

Luxury Home Tax: Last year in great haste and confusion the government introduced a newly created ENTIRELY NEW system for calculating the value of homes -142 pages of very detailed and in many cases highly complex algorithms which only a post graduate engineer could figure out if he were on drugs, As was expected, most of the Ticos ignored it. The government estimated that 15,000 or some homes qualified. Something like 4,000 people actually paid; this year, 1000 fewer, ie. 3000, paid it.

Conclusion: In the past 10 years, I've seen a lot of changes but none of those changes make be think that this country will ever become efficient or effective and that's why I love it... and hate it... and love it... Paul argued that the country was designed as a make work project. I disagreed by saying this thesis required a design and organization and my argument was that I saw no evidence of that... what CR is, in my opinion, is best described as co-existing chaos with no hope of changing because there is no recognition of a need to change fundamentally. Adding technology, eg. computers, to chaos doesn't eliminate the chaos, it just adds to the rapidity and complexity of chaos.

Brian, Lita, Hugo, irreverent Vicka, the pigeon toed parrot, and the newbies - Chico and Chica


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