>Moving to a completely new place (or part of the world for that matter) will always be full of surprises, otherwise what’s the point of moving? Apprehension usually sets in as the time draws near to make that change, am I doing the right thing? Will I like it there (hope so it’s too late now)? Basically I guess all I want to do is survive (sobrevivir) but survive in a place that has life to it, people, plants, animals, things! The main thing I guess when you reach this age is health, if you have that life is good. By not working and lowering the stress level health should be easier to maintain, that’s my theorem anyway. It is probably completely unfounded but at this point in the game I can live with it. The other big thing is the change in diet; you are what you eat after all!!! I expect to lose a lot of weight once we make this change, it is hotter, more humid and I plan on walking a great deal, to the beach, to the store, to town and will probably even get bicycles to motor around on.
Other people who have made the leap seem to like it ok. There are some who never adjust get frustrated and move somewhere else, usually back to a comfort zone. I am not sure if there are people who just tolerate it I am sure there are but I don’t know of any right now. I read an article in La Nacion or some guide book one time talking about two expats having a shoot out on main street back around 2000 and I thought that was a kind of place I would not want to visit, it painted a lawless frontier kind of place. I think once you go there and see the nature and beauty of the country all that goes away.
I remember the first time I had my interest peak with Costa Rica, a co-worker said one day that he had just returned from Costa Rica and found it absolutely incredible. He talked about the monkeys, the rain forests, and the beaches and the people. He said he liked it so much he was planning on going back. I guess that was a testament I could use and so when I met Jana and she asked me where I wanted to go I said “Costa Rica!” loud and clear. Not ever having been there we made our plans to go and the rest as they say “is history”.
So our next trip down we will be picking up our new Costa Rican car (coche) and then heading out to spend time in our new house. From the email reports we have heard that the landscaping has grown considerable since we were there last June. The former owners/builders are living there and taking care of the house while we are (still) here so that arrangement is working well, especially since they love living there. They will have to teach us about how the house works; water system, what to do with any garbage, composting, critters and any strange creatures that might come around. We won’t be in Kansas anymore and things just work differently here.
We hope to be able to meet some of the neighbors living around us. You never know when you will need the assistance of others and it is best to know as many people as possible when it comes to questions on how things work. Everyone seems to know someone who knows someone who knows someone, that’s just how things work. Basically no different than the living here in the states, the only difference is nothing gets done unless you know who to talk to. With this being such a small community it really is important to have connections. A couple of guys we meet on our last trip (and have left since) knew everyone and really knew who to talk to and get things done. They even had a bed and appliances delivered to them from the store in BriBri all without knowing that much Spanish. Since there are no addresses having something delivered can be challenging to say the least. Also, if you have any work done on your phone you need to mark the trail from the main road for them to find you otherwise they won’t show up.
Sure there are going to be things that piss you off (especially Americans who are used to having things resolved immediately), but so what, who cares, just do it tomorrow. One thing you have to remember is that Ticos cannot say no, even though they know they can’t do it on such a day they will lie to you to avoid any confrontation.
It is interesting reading what other people think of this little town, some really enjoy it and others are really turned off. I guess it depends if you are showing up with 5 bucks in your pocket expecting a real good time. There are many places that are cheap to stay no frills kind of stuff and when you are 18 or so that probably really works. You look at it as an adventure. I know when I was growing up in Brazil we would spend many nights just sleeping on the beach, basically we had no other choice, but it was an adventure none the less.
With any big move like this comes baggage and we definitely have that. Our biggest albatross is our house. We need to sell it before we can make the move. Of course the in thing now a day is just walking away and letting the bank take it. Always an option although we would much rather leave on a high note instead of a low note. When we first started looking into putting it on the market we were going to wait until after we came back from out trip. Then we started to wonder “How many days does it take to sell a house in MOSCOW (pronounced Mossco)?” Panic started to sink in after we talked with a local realtor and found out that houses usually are on the market for about 180 to 260 days. What if we wanted to leave before that? So like any rational kind of folks we decided to throw it out there and see what sort of bites we might get. In less than a week we had an offer, contingent upon their house selling. OK not good but an offer none the less. Now we have another (lowball) offer without the contingency. So if we sell then we will have to move and rent, better that than still having a house to sell.
Jumping off into retirement hopefully will not be full of too many potholes.
After returning from our trip to escape the rigors of work and the friggin cold, we could only reconfirm to ourselves that we are doing the right thing and on the right track. The whole time we were there we just could not believe that this was ours and how lucky we were to be there. Even though the house has a few quirks all are easily fixable. Sure, we have lots of huddlers ahead of us but most of that is like no other, shoot even if you moved to a new place here in the states it would take time to get used to the new surrounds and figure out where everything was located, after all you are out of your comfort zone regardless.
But making new friends and overcoming all of the challenges ahead make for an interesting trail. Just think how boring it would be having nothing to look forward to?
I have been reading up on the main things we need to get out of the way besides filing our application for residency. Getting a drivers license may be a bit of a challenge from the readings, which reminds me I need to get my own renewed so it does expire while we are down there. That would be a big no-no . I don’t think I could take a written test in Spanish yet or a driver test in Spanish. Maybe one of these days but not yet. The other big deal is opening a banking account and get that up and running so we can pay bills on line. There is no mail delivery in CR so it’s not like you get a bill every month in the mail and you send back a check. If you don’t pay within 7 days of having the bill posted they will turn off your power, so it’s not like you have a lot of time to get things done. Before the internet, you stood in long lines to pay your bills, you would show up to the bank, stand in line and pay your bill. Now with the wonders of technology some of those pains have been eased a bit (maybe).
As a new requirement for having the privilege to live in CR, one must sign up for CAJA which is the costarricense de seguro social, medical insurance, and show proof of payment before the application will be accepted. This is kind of confusing since only residents of CR can sign up for CAJA, have to love the system.
Given enough time most of these things will be like every day types of things to do.
Since we are starting our moving process in the middle of new enacted laws, there is much debate about how these laws really work. A prime example is the Ley de Transito which passed many new driving regulations that involve anywhere from small fines to jail time (4 years in the making). The Legislature is in the process of re-writing this new law and has caused lots of confusion amongst everyone including the police officers.
The other more important law is the Migration and Alien law that changed some of the requirements for obtaining residency, since we are going to retire it basically ups the ante into the game from $600 to $1000 a month required income. That is the least of the problems when it comes to actually migrating thru this maze of words. Obviously what this law was intended to do was to limit the time the perpetual tourist could spend in country without applying for residency.
The problem, as I see it, is that it really affects the people who are trying to get legal residency by applying the same rules and hoops to them which can be very confusing depending upon who you talk to. Please be reminded that a Costa Ricans will tell you anything, even if they don’t know because that is their nature, which is OK, you just have to know this going in. So say you leave the country the day you visa expires and you want to return the next day. Even though you have followed the rules and regulations it is all up to the person at the border crossing whether or not to grant you another 90 day visa and may only give you 30 days or worse refuse you entry into the country.
I am afraid we will be face with the same issue before we can get all of our paperwork accepted. Once the paperwork has been accepted and has issued you a file number then you’re in and the 90 day rule does not apply. Also this 90 day rule only applies to certain countries (one of which is the USA), others will be granted 30 day visas.
GROUP ONE. Those countries designated as Group One may enter Costa Rica without an entry Visa and may remain in Costa Rica for up to 90 days.
Example: United States Canada, European Union, Australia, Brasil,
GROUP TWO: Citizens of Group Two countries may enter Costa Rica without an entry Visa and may remain in Costa Rica for up to 30 days.
Example: Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Venezuela
GROUP THREE: If you are a citizen of a Group Three country you need to obtain an entry VISA from a Costa Rican Embassy or Consulate abroad before you enter Costa Rica. If granted it is for a period of 30 days.
Example: Colombia, Ecuador, India, Nicaragua, Peru
GROUP FOUR: This is the most restrictive category. This means that citizens of Category Three Countries must have an entry visa BEFORE they are allowed to enter Costa Rica. The visa must be reviewed by the Director of Immigration before it can be granted. If granted the visa is for a period of 30 days.
Example: Cuba, Jamaica, China, Iran, Iraq.
Since they are trying to encourage migration of Boomers to come and retire, they sure do have a strange way of doing it, they want to make them a priority. For Baby Boomers interested in Costa Rica this means that you will be offered tax breaks and incentives for settling in Costa Rica. Another benefit which is surely welcome is that Retirees will have a special processing window at the Department of Immigration to handle their immigration applications. We won’t know the extent of those incentives until the Executive Decree is signed and published.
As we move down this twisting trail we always seem to be running into some new things. We have now moved all of our stuff out of the old house and into the new smaller house. Even though we sold most of our stuff I have still taken numerous trips to the dump and goodwill. To that end we still have BOXES of crap that I don’t know what to do with. We have one whole room filled with boxes. I am sure that by the time we are ready to leave, we will have gotten the number of boxes down to a manageable number.
The funny thing about this move is that it will prepare us for what’s ahead, no dishwasher and no garbage disposal. The bad thing is that there is no cell phone service in this town, go figure VERIZON!!! Even in the rainforest of Costa Rica we have 3G coverage and DSL, what’s up with America????
For the last couple of days I have been trying to find out as much information as possible on the document processing process, redundant yes, but necessary none the less. I feel much better about our chances to get all of our requirements done and have everything ready to immigration before everything expires. The only wild card is the SS letter and whether or not they can provide that to me on my 62nd birthday or will I have to wait until I am 62 and one month. If it is the later then we might have to leave the country and renew our visas.
Our local CAJA office is right in Hone Creek which is just 4 Km up the road so that will hopefully make that not quite as horrible as driving back and forth to SJ. Once we get an account number then we might have to go to SJ in order to get our very own card.
I am going to start ordering our documents the first week of June so they should issue then the second week of June which puts us into December as far as expiration of the documents which should provide us with enough time to get everything submitted to immigration for approval.
We are closing on our house today which means we will be mostly out of debt, any little bit of money we make from the sale will pay off some other debt and provide for a down payment on the lot next to us in Playa Negra, so eventually our lot will be 1800 sq meters and allow for maybe building a little casita for guests; if anyone comes down to visit. I am thinking almost no one came here to visit us so why would they want to come down here to Costa Rica, it’s so far away in a whole different country. The weather here is supposed to be crappy for the next 2 or 3 weeks. Cold ,rainy/snowy and windy, got to love it. So tomorrow we tell them at work when we plan on leaving at the end of July, that should be fun.