ISSUE #399: March 19-24, 2012


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 /


Construction Log
Updates about Hacienda El Dorado

Rio Oro: the meeting happened but it was mainly to advise that they were getting information from a government source re. some plans they wanted to include... We've had several other interested parties, one with an unusual use for the land. We'll see.

Taxes are paid for this year..


Residencias Los Jardines
Property Management, Rentals, Re-Sales

Market Activity: --

Sales: There's an accepted offer on 115 but it is conditional on vacant possession. A case of bad timing. While the unit has virtually always been leased and as it was coming open again April 1, I leased it for a year to a German based company. The "bad timing" is that that lease preceded the offer which requires vacant possession such that the purchaser can live there. Now I have to try and re-locate the corporate client. The corporate client is empathetic since he had a house he couldn't sell and had to lease... so at least he's trying to work with us. Since there's a price difference, the parties involved are going to have to make up the difference for the sale to proceed. All information is on the table to all the people involved. We'll see if there is flexibility amongst the key players -to me, it's a no brainer- but not everyone sees it as I do. If not, the current owner will be happy with his client.

Unit 106B it's now off the market with a sale pending.

Other Activity: We had two other clients, one from Arizona and one from Oregon and a casual inquiry from Florida all looking to purchase -all three are in their early stages of decision making and researching their options.

Rentals: no new clients for rentals.

INTERNET Woes: last week I wrote: "We're still up and running without problems. I'm cautiously optimistic we've solved the problem." -this same comment applies to the past week.

WORK PROGRAMS: We've started re-landscaping the area where the hedge was removed. We're using three different types of plants which should adapt to the environment -tall, green for the background, medium red leafed for the middle ground and a lighter green for the foreground. All are disease resistant and low mtnc.

Minor repairs have been made in a couple area and we've started preparing the area in the parking lot for repaving.

LEASE CANCELLATION: as sometimes happens, one recent tenant partied to hearty and his business plan fell apart. He couldn't make the rent. I worked with him until it was obvious to both that this wasn't going to happen. We had had several chats and he realized I held a number of trump cards and it was decided he should move to different accommodations. Fortunately, the owner was mostly covered by the deposits...



Unit 103: $172,500   See Unit
Unit 115: $205,000   See unit
Unit 125: $140,000   See unit


Unit 102: $1,850 mo. Available April 1 See Unit
Unit 106C: $1,300 mo. Available Immediatly See Unit
Unit 116: $1,550 mo. Available April 1 See Unit

Site Plan-


UNIT #103
FOR SALE $172,500

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1000
Total area (Sq M): 93
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Floor(s): 1
Type: Detached
Furnished: Yes

1000 sf., single story, detached, two bedroom, two bathroom, with a nice covered terrace overlooking a nicely landscaped tropical backyard. Breakfast counter, dinning room table for 4, parking for one car. Vaulted ceilings in master bedroom and kitchen/dining 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 $140,000

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 #102
two bedrooms + full office

FOR RENT $1,850 mo.
Available April 1

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1922
Total Area (Sq M): 177
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2 1/2
Floor(s): Ground
Type: Apartment
Furnished: Yes

This two bedroom, 1922 sf (177m2) FURNISHED and well appointed home with AC, bright office, and covered parking is a single story home surrounding by manicured gardens in Residencias Los Jardines. It was completed 5 years ago and has been lovingly cared for since. It is situated on the ground floor of a two storey, horizontal duplex. This home has two split system air conditioning units for quiet, efficient cooling. It is in PRISTINE condition.


UNIT #106C
FOR RENT $1,300 mo.
Available Immediatly

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.


UNIT #116
FOR RENT $1,550 mo.
Available April 1

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1290
Total area (Sq M): 120
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2
Floor(s): 1
Type: Semi-Attached
Furnished: Yes

This 1,290 sf single floor home includes a 300 sf front terrace plus parking for one car and a separate, secure storage locker. It is and end unit and therefore attached on only one side by a 6 inch cement demising (common) wall, which prevents sound transfer.




Our Lives

WEATHER: The winds have backed off considerably and it's been beautiful weather. We did, however, have several days of overcast, a shower (?), and some cooler temperatures... one becomes very picky when perfection is expected every day...

LITA'S BIRTHDAY: as a finale to this event, we were hosted at a private "estate" in Santa Ana. We hadn't been there, had a wonderful meal and talked with some interesting people -and, of course, the dinner conversation was great.

SNOWBIRDS LEAVE: Over the next week and a little beyond, a number of residents will return to their primary home. It's always sad to see them leave -now the challenge becomes to lease their units. The challenge is complicated because they want them vacant on their return and since the houses are their "homes" they sometimes have specific client restrictions in addition to the 6 - 9 month term. The more restrictions and more intransigence, the greater the challenge and the higher probability of lower occupancy -that's the trade off.

INFORMATION and TIME: It's been busy these last several weeks... nothing special... but when you're the holder of information and people need that information to make decisions, providing it takes a lot of time -El Dorado, purchase / sales, agreements, rental contracts and re-negotiations, staff supervision, on-going mtnc / repairs, office record keeping and reporting, and then our tenants of 10 years in Toronto are leaving and the place needs to be repaired... managing a property from afar is difficult, really difficult... our owners have boots-on-the-ground here (me) and even though they may not like everything that happens to their units, they don't have to worry about the mtnc. and lease admin. I'm now faced with. I would certainly gladly pay for someone in Toronto to do what I'm doing for our owners here.

TAXES AND COSTA RICA: The government is broke and doesn't have the capability to print money as easily as N. Am. or Europe nor does it have the ability to kick the can down the road as long as the bigger guys. CR can't / doesn't collect many of the taxes currently on the books and the government continues to spend money on overly huge burearacies as well as the perpetual bleeding off of funds in terms of corruption. The current government is trying to re-vamp the tax laws thinking it will solve their financial problems. This is very unpopular with Costa Rican's and may well have significant impact on foreign companies who might want to locate here, for expats living here, and for tourism. It's an important national discussion and while I doubt most of the proposed law will get passed -even if it gets approved by the Supreme Court (SALA IV) there are about 3,000 amendments to it which have to be dealt with and then a second vote in the legislature. It could take another 18 mo. and by then, a new government will be in process of being formed. However, below is one person's view over a week's news of what's going on in CR and the consequences:

Is It Possible To Confuse and Demoralize An Entire Nation In Just One Week?By John R. Holtz

During the last seven days I read a lot, watched the news and understood the language but only a little content while coming away glum and even more confused than usual.

While never purporting to be an expert on this country simply because there are none, last week has left me in total disarray about what we are, what we intend to do and why we intend do it?

Here in lies the contradiction of terms; both meaning as well as intent.

Most agree that we do have a serious, almost fatal national deficit challenge which could well result in Costa Rica declaring some sort of default or even bankruptcy unless cured, and cured soon.

The notable economists in January applauded 2012 with positive forecasts of a much improved economy. Yet in March, these same pundits decided that we really must have more government stimuli because the national economy is looking quite pale again. What has changed in less than three months?

Without ever so much as taking a breath, these soothsayers are now supporting a draconian tax plan not to mention a dramatic increase in the cost of living while arguing, collectively, this will indeed make our little country wealthy once more or at least sustainable for the future. Since when have we ever thought much about the future?

Can anyone argue that a highly taxed nation will increase its GDP and employment percentage? Has ever a country with mega-increased taxes created more meaningful employment, especially when most of that new found money will go to pay off debt?

It seems to me this tax is a Ponzi scheme and one humongous oxymoron. Tax the people in order to catch up on the national deficit will somehow translate into individual wealth? Did we just fall off the pineapple truck?

Ignoring all this convoluted tax stuff, it was announced that gasoline and diesel prices are to go skyward starting on Tuesday, tomorrow.

In case you missed it, one liter of regular gasoline will jump up to 706 colons and diesel to 645 colons. At 500, average exchange rate that comes to about $1.19 per liter or $5.43 per gallon for regular and diesel is increasing from $1.14 per liter to $1.28 per liter to a whopping $4.85 per gallon.

Filling that big- black Hummer will cost about $120 and change.

In turn it was announced last week that buses are receiving a 13.8% (Not 13% as advertised) hike in fees and that will impact most workers of this country resulting in just one more way to bite into the people´s ability to purchase.

However, La Nación reports that the per kilometer taxi meters will give passengers a small 5 colon break. Sounds like a contradiction and one that will not last terribly long. I sort of expect a taxi strike real soon.

We spend millions of dollars to promote and sell the image of Costa Rica represented by our lovable, sleepy sloth when we now have two athletes who are truly internationally recognized for their accomplishments as well as their country. The Government made a deal to pay them for becoming symbols of Costa Rica. Ah! The government, as in other cases, reneged on that promise; also last week.

Hannah Gabriel (world boxing champ) and Nery Brenes, a world class runner who both proudly carry the Costa Rican banner wherever they go, will receive 29 million colones ($58,000) of the promised 117 million ($234,000) colones when awarded the “Claudia Poll Prize” in national athleticism.

Once again the government made a deal, and like so many times before, the terms and conditions change with the wind. After the contract is signed, the real negotiations begin.

As a matter of further pride, on March 24 we have the Costa Rican mountain climber, Warner Rojas, who will attempt to conquer Mount Everest – at a discount but will also proudly carry our CR flag.

On the subject of payments, it was discovered last week that the new Medical Director of the CAJA had to resign even before taking up his post. It seems like he owes some 1.4 million in past health insurance premiums that were never paid. This is not a good sign for a quick and efficient turnaround of our highly publicized public healthcare system.

Staying with health, also last week it became a news item that 77% of Costa Ricans do not manage a healthy weight. The answer is obvious! It is impossible for 77% of Costa Ricans to purchase and prepare healthy food stuffs!

While some say we are such a “happy nation”, perhaps the “happiest”, the National Nutrition Society says something uniquely different. “…contributing to our eating disorders and the national trend to obesity is one of, anxiety and compulsion”. (I endorse that theory.)

Never let tourism off the hook. Baffle me with the bull! (These guys are experts at it.)

While last week the ministry of tourism (ICT) told us how good things have been, are and will be in the future, the PROTUR group said, “Say what? This cannot be!"

True, unless affluent, it is difficult to imagine a family of four paying $172 to enter and exit Costa Rica and never promised to even see a monkey or clean beach. That is the cost of hidden entrance taxes on airline tickets, the cost of entrance at immigration and of course, the charge to leave Costa Rica.

The newest proposal to increase government income, also revealed last week, is to charge $5.00 to leave Costa Rica by land or sea which historically has been free. Does that include the cruise line passengers? I believe it does but am not sure because the question was never answered except with a blank look as in”…Ooops! We did not think about that.”

However, all this fret might well be for naught.

The 123% increase in water rates will likely be reduced to 5%....but who knows?

To top the week off, the highly touted Route 1856, the Juan Mora Porras 160 kilometer road which runs alongside the Rio San Juan by Isla Calero ran out of money to continue. Doña Laura inaugurated that road in February of this year to show Nicaragua that “Yes, we can by golly!” but work came to a standstill less than a month later. However, she did promise emergency funds to get the road completed. The source of those funds was never mentioned and who is “golly”?

Difficult to do but “Yes,” it is possible to confuse and demoralize an entire nation within one week. Perhaps the trick to sublime happiness and be a charter member of the “Happiness Club of Costa Rica” is to ignore all this and just down some Imperial beer and shout out “pura vida!” every 15 minutes instead of “I´m mad as hell and won´t take it anymore,” (Network).

Sources: just about every news outlet in Costa Rica for one week.

*John Holtz can be reached at


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

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