—Vida y tiempo—
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.
Featured house this week
Paradisus Condos / Rohrmoser
Each of the units consists of two bedrooms / two bathrooms, and a large living/dining/kitchen area. The floor plan of each of these units has eliminated the optional "den / office" divider. The result is a larger area offering more flexible furniture arrangements while still maintaining the option of including an office area. At 105m2 plus two parking spots each and storage locker, they offer a great opportunity for someone seeking views, security, central location, and first class, all round living...
Semi furnished unit: For sale: $235,000
Fully furnished unit: For sale: $245,000
Floor 12 -west view
Paradisus / UNIT FOR RENT
Paradisus unit for rent: $1,400 mo.
FORECLOSURE, Tres Ríos
Condominio Santa Lucía, Tres Ríos
$549,000 (Appraised - $800,000)
610 m2 (6,500 sf)
2 Car garage
Furnished 2 bdrm - $750 - Paco / Escazú
24/7 armed gated security
$750 mo. year rental contract
Walking distance to Mas x Menos supermarket, fresh market, world gym, Multiplaza, off the main road on quiet street but only 100 meters to bus line 1st and 2nd floor units available.
Residencias Los Jardines
Property Management, Rentals, Re-Sales
Sales: One inquiry -did not show up
Rentals: Paradisus: one two bedrm unit, $1,400 fully furnished. UNFURNISHED 2 bdrm $950 mo. Los Jardines #112: FURNISHED, $1350 mo.
Unit #106A: $165,000 / See Unit
Unit #107: $205,000 /See Unit
Unit #104: $950 mo. / UNFURNISHED / See Unit
Unit #112: $1350 mo. / See Unit
HOUSES FOR SALE
Total Area (Sq Ft): 1250
Total area (Sq M): 120
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.
Total Area (Sq Ft): 1716
Total area (Sq M): 158
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.
HOUSES FOR RENT
$950 mo. UNFURNISHED
Total Area (Sq Ft): 1140
Total area (Sq M): 106
Floor(s): Single floor
Detached, single story, two bathrooms, two bedroom, with covered terrace. Cedro cabinetry throughout including kitchen, bedroom and bathroom built in closets / cupboards. Granite counters (kitchen / bathroom), vaulted ceiling, ceramic floors through out. Two parking spaces. On-site internet, cable TV. Laundry. Electricity if desired. UNFURNISHED.
Total Area (Sq Ft): 1290
Total area (Sq M): 120
Floor(s): 1 story
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.
WEATHER: we had horrific tropical storm pass through Thursday... thunder, lightening, rain was horizontal -lasted about 10 min. WOW!! in addition, we have had rains (much more moderate) about every other day... gardens are greening up.
Quality of Renters Drops! this continues to be the case as it has been for the past several years. Lately, however, I've been hit with two unscrupulous tenants... there is no way to make a more informed decision since there is no way to get historical information; you can only charge so much in deposits. When they decide, for whatever reasons, to breach the contract... there is virtually nothing that can be done. I had agreed, against my better judgement, to create a third bedroom in one Paradisus unit -Friday I was nearly finished and was bringing in the furniture... bed, bedding, wardrobe... that day I received a notice saying they were leaving today... I am out about $3,500... these guys really need to be taken for a walk in the jungle to straighten out their little minds...
Car: Surprise, surprise. The car still "sits"! now going on 18 mo. -yes, this is what I wrote last week, and the weeks before that... nothing has changed!!
Friends: In the 80's I rented to a couple in Canada... we became friends, I went to their wedding and we have remained friends ever since. They found their way to CR via a family member's wedding and spent an extra week with us... it has been great catching up... it has made up (almost) for the disappointment of having to deal with unethical tenants.
Masarati dealership: it will be located across from McDonald's on Lindora Blvd.
Hospital: a new "hospital" as it is calling itself... probably a clinic with some extended capabilities... just opened up less than a block from Los Jardines.
News Items of the Week
1. Informal economy: the same happens, to some extent, in N. Am. I remember paying tradesmen cash... I am sure it was never reported. But what they could have cited here is the number of professionals who do not report income... lawyers, architects, engineers, doctors, whomever...
2. Wage Proposal: this is not likely to pass but it is indicative of social unrest in the country... this is being submitted and organized by the Communist party leader.
3. Nicaragua and tanks: how stupid... no one wants to invade the poorest country in Central America which is surrounded by equally poor and problem plagued countries... It has to either be to transfer money to someone's pocket and / or for internal control of the restless Nicaraguans.
4. Route 32: after Chinchilla's government approved this, then put on review / cancelled by Solis, it is now back on... My guess is that this will be as big as or bigger mess than the San Jose - Caldera highway with the Spaniards.
1. 62% of entrepreneurs are informal
Currently almost six in 10 business entrepreneurs do not pay taxes, are not registered with the Costa Rican Social Security, nor to the municipalities.
Similarly they remain as ghosts before the law because they lack a legal certificate of the National Registry. Under this state are 279 thousand businesses.
This was revealed by a report issued yesterday by the National Institute of Statistics and Census, which states that only 37% of Costa Rican households ventures are up to date with the formality.
Access to loans is the main need pointing entrepreneurs to stay in the market or to grow. Lack of funding is mentioned 48%.
Second is the lack of training, followed by the lack of product diversification and 29.7% believe that the procedures in the institutions should be simpler.
Data were collected on a sample of 2,562 households between September 1 and October 2, 2015.
As part of the study found that among entrepreneurs predominantly low education. Almost 50% just finished school and only 18% have studies at school.
Additionally it transpired that 89% of people working alone or with occasional assistance or self-employed. Only 10% use permanently.
Most small businesses are one-person predominates and where only 12% have more than three employees including the owner of the company.
As for sectors, like services in the formal economy where the greatest number of businesses, followed by commerce and industry.
Men are the ones who mostly have ventures, as women represent only 34%. The largest group is located in people over 35 years of age.
2. Signatures to be sought to double minimum salary
By Rommel Téllez
Special to A.M. Costa Rica
Trade unions will be collecting signatures to allow voters to approve a new minimum wage of about $900 a month for unskilled workers. That is more than double the current legal minimum wage.
The Tribunal Supremo de Elecciones approved the request, which is the initial step toward a referendum.
The request was filed in October by Didier Leitón, a union leader in the banana industry. He sought the approval of bill No. 19.312 through popular vote. Frente Amplio lawmaker José María Villalta introduced that bill, which remains pending in the Asamblea Legislativa.
The initiative would force the Consejo Nacional de Salarios to approve wages that guarantee workers enough income for housing, bills, food, education and recreational activities for a family, according to a union description.
The new minimum wage would only apply to unskilled workers in the private sector and would go into effect over five years, so that companies will have time to adjust to the new rules, according to the proposal.
The election tribunal said that the referendum would be legal since it does not modify the Constitution or address any subject that is in the exclusive domain of legislators.
Union members and supporters must collect at least 160,000 signatures, which represents 5 percent of the latest electoral roll, once the resolution is published in the official daily La Gaceta.
The signatures must be collected in the following 10 months. If the objective is reached, the election tribunal has the obligation to organize the countrywide vote no later than six months before the next presidential elections, according to the electoral code.
“We've met with experts from TSE and members of the main unions in the country. We are designing the ballots and waiting for the resolution to be published in La Gaceta to fully start the campaign.” said Albino Vargas, president of the Asociación Nacional de Empleados Públicos y Privados, one of the biggest workers unions in the country.
The referendum would be the second in the history of Costa Rica. The first one took place in 2007 to determine whether Costa Rica would join the Central American Free Trade Agreement with U.S and Dominican Republic. Voters approved the agreement then.
In Costa Rica, minimum salaries for private industry are updated every six months and they vary according to the job category and education level of workers. The daily income for a trabajador no calificado is a bit less than 10,000 colons a day and a bit more than $18, based on the current rate of exchange. The Spanish term means an unskilled worker.
The basic income right now is about $437 for a full month’s work, according to data from Ministerio de Trabajo.
The job categories involved include gardeners, construction workers, dishwashers, supermarket demonstrators, pool cleaners and even disc jockeys. Each now has the same daily wage of 9,663.04 colons a day or $437 for a normal month with six-day weeks.
If the law were put into place today, the minimum salary would be close to $900, according to methodology proposed in the bill.
“Employers will say that it will force companies to go to cheaper countries,” said Vargas. “However, we believe it will strengthen the internal production and accelerate the economy by increasing the purchasing power of the people. Most important, it creates dignified labor relationships, which is the essence of this proposal.”
Employers also would face double the cost of social charges, such as monthly payments to the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social and worker insurance premiums. Both are based on salaries paid.
Current minimum wages that are lower than the proposed amount but higher than what is paid a trabajador no calificado today also most likely would increase.
Several U.S. states have raised the minimum wage including California where a successful ballot initiative sets a $15 hourly minimum wage by 2021. Labor advocates also are pushing for a federal minimum wage of that amount.
3. Nicaragua drops $80 million on Russian tanks
News Monday that Russia had shipped the first 20 of 50 battle tanks to Nicaragua rattled Costa Rican officials and left others scratching their heads.
The $80 million T-72B tanks are a significant purchase for the hemisphere’s second-poorest country, which spent $71.6 million total on its military in 2015, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, an organization that tracks global military spending.
Nicaragua has significantly increased its military budget during the last five years, a move that foreign relations experts see as rooted in Nicaraguan domestic politics and Russia’s international ambitions.
Carlos Cascante, director of the National University’s International Relations Department, said that the tanks are part of President Daniel Ortega’s plan to strengthen the army as a political force inside Nicaragua. During the 1990s, the country’s military budget was cut following the Contra War and the weakened public institution lost some of its clout.
He said the purchase of the tanks was a sign that the military is becoming more influential politically, but he did not see it as a bellicose gesture to Nicaragua’s neighbors, including Costa Rica.
University of Costa Rica political scientist Carlos Zamora agreed that the tanks were part of a domestic agenda. He said that between the large, regular demonstrations against the Nicaraguan Canal and former Contra fighters taking up weapons again in the northern part of Nicaragua, the government may be trying to bolster its ability to respond to a potentially violent protest.
During a news conference Wednesday, President Luis Guillermo Solís said the tanks were “unnecessary” and that there was no justification for such an investment in Central America.
“More than a concern or a threat, it constitutes a feeling of sadness because these are people who still lack much in terms of human development,” he said. Solís added that Costa Rica is a major destination for migrants fleeing the country’s poverty.
The tanks might actually have more to do with Russia than Ortega’s military ambitions. Zamora pointed out that weapons exports make up an important part of Russia’s GDP, and the country may be looking to entice new buyers with the sale to Nicaragua.
As erstwhile buyers of Russian materiel, like Venezuela or Brazil, have fallen on hard times economically, the sale to Nicaragua was “oxygen” to Russia’s markets in Latin America, he said.
Paola Solano, head of the International Relations Department at the Latin American University of Science and Technology, said that the weapon sales give Russia a chance to expand its sphere of influence in Latin America, where it has few beachheads. Along with the sale of fighter planes, naval ships, partnerships for civilian aerospace facilities and intelligence assistance with patrolling Nicaragua’s coastline for drug runners, Russia has a unique relationship with Nicaragua compared to other Central American countries.
Central American military spending
Create line charts
But despite Nicaragua’s increase in military spending, the country remains a minor player compared to the rest of Latin America. Just in Central America, Nicaragua’s military spending trails far behind its neighbors in the so-called Northern Triangle: Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. And the Dominican Republic outspent the rest of the isthmus by nearly $100 million in 2015, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Costa Rica’s foreign minister, Manuel González, said that tanks and weapons of war were ill-suited to the problems Central America faces: poverty, organized crime, human trafficking and drug trafficking. Instead of weapons, González said the region needs to “combat poverty with education, healthcare, technology and infrastructure.”
4. Comptroller General's Office approves contract to expand Route 32
The expansion from two to four lanes of a 107-kilometer stretch of Route 32, the main road to the Caribbean region, is finally moving forward after the Comptroller General’s Office approved the project’s contract.
The Public Works and Transport Ministry (MOPT) in October submitted the contract for review and the Comptroller’s office on Tuesday issued its approval to the $495 million contract signed between MOPT’s National Roadway Council and China Harbour Engineering Company (CHEC).
The Chinese government will fund $395 million and Costa Rica will add $100.5 million.
The approved contract stipulates that CHEC will be responsible for both the design and the construction stages of the expansion.
Costa Rica will be in charge of outlining all supervising mechanisms for the project estimated to last 42 months, eight for design and 34 for construction.
The new stretch of highway also includes the construction of 26 kilometers of bike paths, 26 kilometers of secondary routes and five intersections at Río Frío, Guápiles, Siquirres, and two connecting to the Moín cargo dock.
It also includes the expansion and reinforcing of the route’s 36 bridges, the construction of 13 overpasses, 11 exits and 176 bus bays.
A long road
President Luis Guillermo Solís said the Comptroller’s office approval is great news for the country as it puts and end to a long and complex process. He said is also a response to those who are criticizing his administration for not showing significant progress on public infrastructure projects.
“We’re putting a lot of effort into these public infrastructure projects and trying to finish them on time, so that people regain faith that Costa Rica isn’t stagnant,” Solís said.
The approval of the contract with CHEC had to overcome several obstacles, most of them at the Legislative Assembly.
Various lawmakers who opposed the contract in 2013 objected to the Chinese company and raised concerns from news reports about problems with CHEC contracts in Bangladesh, Jamaica, Philippines, Grand Cayman and Guyana.
Lawmakers also critized the contractor’s delay in setting the final cost of the project and several requests to change the original plans.
The Legislative Assembly finally approved the bill authorizing the contract in February 2015, following several street demonstrations from residents of Limón province, truck drivers and business chambers.
The expansion of Route 32 is a long-awaited project, mainly by the business sector, as currently some 80 percent of Costa Rica’s exports leave the country via Caribbean docks.
According to MOPT, an average of 14,000 vehicles transit the route everyday, many of them cargo trucks carrying export and import products, but also a large number of tourists.
Brian, Lita, the Late Hugo IV, irreverent Vicka, the pigeon toed parrot, Chico II and Chica II