ISSUE #466: June 30 - July 6, 2013


Brian Timmons, Newsletter Author
Brian Timmons

Dear friends,

Note: the brian@eldoradocostarica.com address will be discontinued effective Wednesday July 10. All other addresses will remain functional.

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.

Brian Timmons
Residencias Los Jardines / https://www.residenciaslosjardines.com info@residenciaslosjardines.com


Featured house this week

UNIT #114:
FOR SALE: $235,000

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.


Residencias Los Jardines
Property Management, Rentals, Re-Sales

Market Activity

Sales: one call with a budget of $150,000

Rentals: 4 calls; two viewings--no commitments



Unit #114: $235,000 / See Unit


Unit #112: $1,250 mo. / Available Immediately / See Unit

Unit #113: $1,350 mo. / Available Immediately / See Unit

Unit #123: $1,650 mo. / Available Immediately / See Unit

Unit #124: $1,000 mo. / Available Immediately / See Unit

Site Plan



UNIT #114
FOR SALE $235,000

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.



UNIT #112
FOR RENT $1,250 mo.
Available Immediately

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

This 1,290 sf single floor home includes a 300 sf front terrace plus parking for one car. It is attached on two sides by a 6 inch cement demising (common) wall, which prevents sound transfer.



UNIT #113
FOR RENT $1,350 mo.
Available Immediately

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. It is attached on one side by a 6 inch cement demising (common) wall, which prevents sound transfer. The three other sides allow light, ventilation and garden views.



UNIT #123
FOR RENT $1,650 mo.
Available Immediately

Total Area (Sq Ft): 1516
Total area (Sq M): 140
Bedrooms: 2
Bathrooms: 2.5
Floor(s): 2 Story
Type: Detached
Furnished: Yes

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.



UNIT #124
FOR RENT $1,000 mo.
Available Immediately

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, + 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.



Our Lives

WEATHER: the rainy season continued with overcast skies and normal rains... the garden is happy.

All in a Week's Living in CR:

Canada Day: An annual event this time held at a nice place in Atenas. It was a beautiful day but the location was poorly marked (fortunately I knew where it was), and the bar-b-q venues (hot dogs, peameal (Canadian) bacon on a kaiser buns,and hamburgers) were unnecessarily slow to off the grills... (waiting 45 minutes in line and seeing 1/4 of the burner in use signifies a problem to me)...

July 4: We held our own celebration with turkey and expats...

Comment: Real Estate Activity: When I don't hear anything, I follow up with real estate agents who bring clients to Los Jardines. The story is virtually always the same: they disappeared... I don't know what happened to them... it seems that the few people looking are in no hurry to buy or to rent... anything, not just at Los Jardines. Sometimes I receive feedback from agents saying in effect, it's really tough to sell anything now, seemingly even great properties at distressed prices. I have several expats asking me to help them sell theirs... in each case the house has problems and is over priced. Perhaps they overpaid for the property to begin with (I've seen lots of this) and haven't yet brought themselves to reality. I also come face to face with people who have left CR and are trying to market and maintain a property here... absentee property management is tough... (I have the same problem in Toronto). Clients at Los Jardines don't know how fortunate they are.



News Items of the Week


  1. Video: clever and accurate except: (1) in reality she would have had to wait several hours before making it to the desk of the official
  2. Global Innovation: it's not the locally owned companies but the foreign owned ones in the tech and medical tech fields and the boots on the ground perspective... I haven't see any "innovation"
  3. Illegal booze: I was afraid that my source was out of business...and as of now, I still don't know...but this could be a tragedy, BIG tragedy...
  4. Banks and loans: the fight between de-dollarization and dollarization continues... with inflation last month at 0.02%...the lowest for years and interest rates for mortgages at 9+%, makes for good banking profits... A report this week said that BCR bank (government bank) was given a "D+" rating by one of the N. Am. credit rating companies. I didn't include this article because the content of the article didn't match up with the rating so my thinking was that there was a typo and that the "D+" should have been a "B+" but I didn't see any correction (that doesn't mean anything though).
  5. Inflation; 3.24% year to date with expected stabilization for the balance of the year... hummmmm. with private sector wages going up 6% between Jan and July increases, gas just going up and milk having gone up 10% over the past year... why am I skeptical of the government figures???
  6. J. Araya --current front runner for next president of CR... if the charge is true, he seems well qualified to be the next leader... not only is he known locally as Johnny 10% but he knows how to spend money he doesn't have
  7. Free Trade with Europe: Now CR products can enter duty free but at this end, CR will still collect import taxes
  8. ICE --same strategy (delay) as used so many times before but the cost of generation is interesting... my current electrical bill works out to about $0.2358 kwh
  9. Road improvement: the cynic in says that of the $135 mil. spent on roads, half is in real estate someplace, 25% on spent on substandard products (previous article) and 25% was improperly installed.

Video of Latin American Bureaucracy


Costa Rica tops Global Innovation Index in Latin America

July 3rd, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) Costa Rica was rated as the most innovative country in Latin America, according to the 2013 Global Innovation Index.

Exports and imports of high technology, the quality of its workforce, as well as strides in research, ecological sustainability, increases in new business, and advances in registering trademarks and patents are some of the reasons cited for Costa Rica’s rise of 21 positions on the Index, taking #38 in the world this year.

The Index uses 84 indicators to rank the performance of 142 countries in their abilities to foster innovation, such as infrastructure, human capital, business sophistication, and the production of knowledge and technology.

“Many of the new businesses created in the country are in areas that have to do with the ‘new economy,’ such as medical devices, high technology, software and digital animation, hence the country scores very well […] While we still have major problems to solve, there are areas in which we are the global benchmark,” said Alexander Mora, president of the Chamber of Information and Communication Technology.

Minister of Science and Technology, Alejandro Cruz, said that a 17% increase in enrollments for higher education put Costa Rica in a better position in terms of human capital and research. “The improvement in the rate of innovation is a clear sign that Costa Rica is moving to become a fully integrated knowledge-based economy with international markets,” Cruz said.

Both Cruz and Mora said that it is important to solve problems in accessing investment capital, further expand the workforce in the sciences and engineering, remove obstacles in new business creation, and to continue investments in education and telecommunications if Costa Rica hopes to maintain its position.

From: https://insidecostarica.com/2013/07/03/costa-rica-tops-global-innovation-index-in-latin-america

Tax police stop the makings of many a party at border

The Policía de Control Fiscal put a real damper on festivities late last week. The agency intercepted a truck carrying 48,823 containers of untaxed whiskey, rum, vodka and beer.

The agency said it received an anonymous tip about a truck carrying the goods. When the driver was stopped, he produced a document that the tax police said was faked.

The alcohol came from Panamá.

Prices of beer and hard liquor are such that smuggling and bootlegging can be profitable. Tax police and others at the Panamá border are aggressive and are known to confiscate even small amounts of alcohol coming from the south. They also are active in finding commercial stills in the metro area that produce counterfeit scotch, guaro and other drinks. Frequently these are packaged under legitimate brand names for distribution.

From: https://www.amcostarica.com/wednesday.htm

Caldera road users leave $ 4 million a month in tolls to the Sun Highway

Users of the San José-Caldera leave $ 4 million a month in tolls to the company Highways of the Sun

While the figure is 100% higher than the revenue provided by the dealership when he was awarded the route 13 years ago, by contract is entitled to an annual update of the amounts.

According to information provided by the National Concessions Council (CNC) in the month of May, this route tolls spent a total 174,588 vehicles.

Currently, people living or working in Escazu and Santa Ana must pay ¢ 300 per trip, while those traveling to Ciudad Colon, San Rafael de Alajuela and La Guácima, for example, should pay for two trips, ie between 950 and ¢ ¢ 1,500 daily.

The increased circulation of vehicles comes from Escazú, with 83,961 private vehicles per month, in second place is San Rafael de Alajuela with 23,517 cars and is third with 17,713 Columbus City vehicles.

This media secretary consulted Concessions, Ewdin Rodriguez, what the company expected revenue from the tolls in 2010, being the year in which the work opened. However, the official said that when it was awarded the contract "could not predict".

"The figures available are from November 2000 constant prices, however safeguards which are indexed to the start date," said Rodriguez. Under this provision the company had expected to obtain in one month, a figure close to $ 2 million, which means that as of today would have doubled the figure.

Crhoy.com tried to corroborate the figures Autopista del Sol, but the company refused to release information, while acknowledging that he had no impediment to doing so.

"Highway of the Sun provides this information to the CNC, they would be any data that could provide income, statistics or any number you need," said the spokesperson and head of PR company, Montserrat Courrau through agency communications counsel.


The expected annual income is part of the concession contract. The company has cameras, which are operated by management through the project supervisor.

"These cameras can observe 100% of all lanes at all toll stations of the project, which passing vehicles recorded during the 24 hours and the videos are support to verify the income reported by the dealership," said CNC.

According to Rodriguez, the tolls are set forth in the Concession Agreement, and were authorized by the Regulatory Authority for Public Services (ARESEP) before the contract was signed, so they are now regulated by a series of clauses.

"The toll rates are adjusted according to economic conditions as set out in the contract clauses and variations or changes are the result of a setting that may be higher or lower than the current rate, therefore, is not of a rate increase, but an economic adjustment of the same, "said Rodriguez, who did not respond to the query of whether next year will increase thereof.

ARESEP spokeswoman, Carolina Mora, said regulator involvement can occur when there is disagreement between the State and the company.

"It would be true to say that ARESEP approves these rates since the concession contract defines the mechanism and update them," said Mora.

From: https://www.crhoy.com

Banks fear new financial regulation more expensive credit in Costa Rica

The country's bankers warn that the new prudential regulation which currently analyzes the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (Sugef), will have a high cost to the supervised institutions, and that would raise the price credit in Costa Rica.

So it was told to the National Financial System Supervision (Conassif) as part of its comments on the Draft Regulation on Liquidity and Modification of Prudential Regulations, the consultation period ended last week.

With 11 changes will reform financial system regulations. Among other things, harden the credit provisions and becomes more rigorous assessment that banks, financial institutions and cooperatives make their clients as well as its internal operating liquidity.

Costa Rican Banking Association (ABC) and the Chamber of Banks and Financial Institutions agreed that the new rules will veto the option of getting a loan in dollars for some customers, giving them only the possibility of colones.

After closing the deadline for receipt of comments, the Sugef Conassif and begin an analysis of the documents. José Luis Arce, president of the Council, detailing avoided when the new rules could be incorporated monitoring.

"The issue is crucial because it is the first of a series of reforms of banking regulation that will have permanent tools to try to mitigate adverse impacts on the system as capital inflows or foreign exchange risks," he said.

Gradual change. The vast majority of new measures governing gradually, as the general estimate, ie the entity has to reserve for any contingency, 0.5% of its total loan portfolio.

Some participants expect the change involve a high cost. The National Bank, for example, estimated that comply with the rules will cost between ¢ 25,000 and ¢ 30,000 million million.

The change will involve an adjustment in the rates will have an impact for customers, said Bernardo Alfaro, Credit and Risk Manager of the National Bank.

"It should be noted that credit standards induce proposals for entities to be more selective and demanding in the granting of credit, besides that expensive," he said Maria Isabel Cortes, executive director of the ABC.

In turn, explained that the regulations will make the funding liquidity of the banking-is more expensive, because the entities must seek long-term funds and reduce the generation of income from the loan portfolio and investments.

For Guillermo Quesada, President of the Chamber of Banks, regulation comes at a difficult time for the slowdown in the economy and employment.

"It will impact the availability and cost of credit to the productive sectors, which may further complicate the economic situation," he said.

The implementation of these new rules was identified as one of the requirements demanded by the Central Bank for deletion guideline limit the growth of credit issued by the bank earlier this year.

From: https://www.nacion.com

June inflation was negligible, thanks to a slowing economy

Inflation in June was negligible, just .02 of a percent, according to figures provided by the Banco Central.

That brought the accumulated inflation for the year to 3.24 percent, according to INS Valores Puesto de Bolsa, S.A. which keeps track of these types of data.

The Bolsa said that the low inflation was an indication that the economy was decelerating and that prices were expected to stabilize for the remainder of the year.

The data also shows that private employees received a pay increase less than inflation. The Consejo Nacional de Salarios ordered a 2.4 percent increase in the minimum wages for the second half of the year.

The report of the inflation for the year is likely to have an effect on negotiations with the government and public employees.

The Bolsa said that food and non-alcoholic drinks had a negative effect on inflation. Prices of tomatoes, rice, powdered milk, among others, declined, it said. Rents appeared to be higher, it added.

From: https://www.amcostarica.com/wednesday.htm

Lawmaker: Johnny Araya has left city of San José on the brink of financial crisis

July 3rd, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) Yolanda Acuna of the Citizen Action Party (PAC) said yesterday that the city of San José is on the brink of financial crisis due to “mismanagement by the former mayor of San José, Johnny Araya.”

Acuna said that reports by external auditors show that the municipality has a budget of ¢56 billion, and that annual revenues are not covering annual expenses.

“Debt during Araya’s administration has grown enormously, increasing from ¢ 29.8 billion in 2011 to ¢ 42.7 billion in 2012,” Acuna said.

Acuna also said that the municipality’s deficit has been on the rise since 2010.

“In the first quarter of 2013 the city recorded a loss amounting to ¢ 2,545,000,000. The reports reveal that Johnny Araya was unable to efficiently manage the municipality, and left it indebted,” Acuna said.

Acuna said the hope is for the public to be aware of the situation in which the next presidential candidate left the municipality. Acuna said that while she does not plan to pursue charges against Araya, she would ask the Comptroller to take action on the matter, based on the audits.

From: https://insidecostarica.com

Costa Rica ratifies Association Agreement with European Union

July 2nd, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) With 43 votes in favor and five against, lawmakers ratified on second reading the Association Agreement between Central America and the European Union (E.U.) last night.

Minister of Foreign Trade, Anabel González, said via a press release that the agreement would enter into force on August 1st.

“This is an important step for Costa Rica because it manages to consolidate and improve the conditions of the Generalized System of Preferences which has allowed the entry of many Central American products to the Eurozone without tariffs,” González said.

European lawmakers approved the agreement in December. In Central America, lawmakers in Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, and Guatemala have all ratified the agreement, leaving only El Salvador, where the agreement is still passing through legislative procedures.

The European Union is Costa Rica’s second-largest trading partner. Exports to the E.U. reached more than $2 billion last year, consisting in large part of pineapple, coffee, bananas, melons, and medical devices.

President of the Chamber of Exporters of Costa Rica, Monica Segnini, expressed her satisfaction at the adoption of the international treaty, but said work still remains, including customs integration and defining quotas on sugar, rice, and meat.

Alonso Elizondo, executive director of the Chamber of Commerce of Costa Rica, said the agreement opens the doors to a huge market, but work remains to integrate the Central American countries.

“Without a doubt, ratifying an international treaty of this type involves agreeing on a lot of commitments and we have to make up for lost time,” Elizondo said.

From: https://insidecostarica.com

Company says it could lower electric rates if ICE stops stalling

July 2nd, 2013 (InsideCostaRica.com) Companies which plan to produce wind energy are discrediting statements made by the president of the Costa Rica Electricity Institute (ICE), in which the executive stated it would take two to three years to bring the projects online, and that they would no affect energy costs.

The companies include Tila Wind, in Tilarán, which was one of the companies chosen in December 2012 along with other providers, to produce a total of 140 megawatts of wind energy.

“We’ve been sitting down with ICE for the past three weeks, with its legal department, with don Martin Vindas and Electrical Planning, demanding that [ICE] proceeds with the signing of the contract because our project is ready to be built this year and inaugurated in December, giving the national energy system electricity at $0.0865 per kilowatt hour. That’s half the price per KWh which is generated at the Central Valley wind project, which generates at $0.22 per Kwh,” said Carlos Graffigna, a spokesperson for Tila Wind.

Graffigna does not agree with the statement by the president of ICE that the projects would take another three years to reach generation and that they would not affect consumer prices. “Our project, if I had the signature of ICE last week, would be launched in December of this year,” Graffigna said.

“ICE has a signed letter of intent with us in which they are required to sign a contract with our company the moment the project is ready to be built,” Graffigna added.

From: https://insidecostarica.com

Investment of ¢67 billion fails to improve roads

Full Article Published in La Nacion on Jul 4, 2013

National road conditions have failed to improve in the past two years, despite expenditures by the National Roads Authority (Conavi) of ¢67 billion ($135 million). The findings were revealed in the fifth report of the National Laboratory of Materials and Structural Models (LANAMME), which also found much of the work was superficial and ineffective.

From: https://costaricareport.com/

Space-based Internet service from satellites prepares to go into service

Two systems of satellites could bring high-speed Internet to the tropics from space. The first network is due to go into service later this year.

The system went into orbit last week in French Guiana. The system involves eight satellites that will be in low earth orbit. It is the O3B or Other 3 Billion satellite system called that because one of its goals is bringing Internet to many remote areas that are not now served.

Rival Inmarsat will launch a satellite Internet system called Global Xpress later this year.

The O3b satellites will provide Internet coverage anywhere within 45 degrees of latitude north and south of the equator. The firm said that the satellites will be placed within two weeks and that testing will follow.

The company is promising Internet speed similar to fiber optic cables and says the service will be cheaper than the current cable technology.

Its backers include Google and the Development Bank of Southern Africa, among others.

Costa Rica, of course, is well within the range of the satellite coverage. The firm said that its satellites will carry voice and data, too.

The service by O3B appears to replace undersea cables and not the local Internet or cell telephone provider. Undersea cables are vulnerable to damage. But so, too, are satellites.

From: https://InsideCostaRica.com


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

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