Archive for May 19, 2017

How much are HOA Fees in Costa Rica

Written by Michael Simons on . Posted in Buying and Selling Property in Costa Rica, Condominiums, FAQ's, Homes

How much are HOA fees in Costa Rica?

Most properties are located in a gated community, with a formal and legal Home Owners Association. The HOA provides the necessary services to run the community; security, administrator, landscaping, garbage pickup, water and sewage systems, accounting, insurance and maintenance of the common areas and amenities (if applied). This of course costs money that must be shared by the property owners in the development, whether it is a condominium or lot / home development.

HOA Fees Costa Rica

Most of these are fixed costs. In other words, items like security are the same price per hour or price for 24 hour period in any development. The difference is, if that guard service is being divided by 12 owners or 24 owners, determines many times, the difference in fees between one development and another. Also, developments with multiple swimming pools, larger landscaping to maintain, and other amenities like gym or beach club, will also be the difference in price between one community and another.

Small condo developments with only one amenity, like a community pool, usually run about $200 per month.

Fancier condo developments, with multiple pools, gyms, beach club etc, run around $500 per month.

These fees usually cover EVERYTHING outside of your condo; maintenance of the building and roof; insurance; common areas etc and all items listed above.

Residential home subdivisions, usually run around $150-275 per month, depending again on how many properties are in the project, and what type of amenities are offered. These fees cover everything that is common in the development. In this type of project, the home owner maintains their own personal properties, paying for their owner landscaping, pool service, and maintenance of the house.

Fortunately, we have no snow removal fees.

Compared to North America, HOA FEES are very reasonable. A nice condominium building in a first class city like Toronto or Miami, can easily run $1500-2000 per month.

Many of my clients come from single family house communities in North America where there are NO HOA fees. Everything is paid for and maintained by the government. But in reality, you are paying for these services in the form of property taxes. Take Boca Raton Florida for example. My property taxes when I lived there were 2% of the house value. So a $500,000 home was $10,000 a year in taxes. For these fees, the city of Boca Raton would supply all the necessary services for the area. When the road needed to be fixed, they did it. They would pick up trees that feel down and make sure the street lights were working. So as an owner, I never had to do anything except pay my taxes.

In Costa Rica, property taxes are VERY low. They are .25% of the value. So that same home would only be $1250 per year! This also means that the local municipalities don’t have a lot of extra money. So they use it to maintain the major thoroughfares, schools, hospitals, fire trucks, police etc; the important things. Smaller roads, inside our subdivisions, we have to look after ourselves. So the HOA fees help to maintain the infrastructure within our communities.

When there is a pot hole in the road, we fill it ourselves. We maintain our own water systems, street lights and do upgrades to the internet cables ourselves. And if a cat is stuck in a tree, we just get our own ladder to help the little dude down. We don’t call the fire department.

So if my HOA fees for my house are $250 per month that equates to $3000 per year. Add that to the $1250 and my grand total for maintaining my development and my taxes are $4250. So it is best to just look at HOA fees as a portion of your property taxes. Compared to the $10,000 you would be paying, you are still substantially lower than if you stayed in North America.

Is there Begging in Costa Rica

Written by Michael Simons on . Posted in Costa Rica Living, EX PATS in Costa Rica, FAQ's, Guanacaste Tourism, Papagayo Region, Vacation in Costa Rica

Is there any begging in Costa Rica?

I have traveled more than most people, and all over Latin America. One of the things that always bothered me the most was how much poverty there is in all of these countries; you almost felt sorry for being successful in life and having money. When you step off the plane in countries like Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Belize, you immediately realize you are in a different world. The very first person you see is a soldier, carrying an automatic weapon, and this instantly puts you on high alert. It is very intimidating when the customs officer is wearing a camouflage uniform. As you walk through the airport, you see dozens of them with weapons, and they are usually NOT smiling or friendly. The army patrols these countries. Not in Costa Rica; they abolished their military in 1948. The customs officers at the airport don’t even carry handguns, and you MIGHT see one or two policeman with pistols. You are immediately put at ease and feel relaxed. Everyone is smiling and very friendly. WELCOME TO COSTA RICA.

As you travel throughout most of Central America and much of the Caribbean, you are bombarded with the sights and sounds of poverty. Entire villages are shanty towns; shacks made of sheet metal and boards, with no access to running water or electricity. Every corner you are approached by a beggar, with a cup, pleading for money to feed their children. You see homeless people strewn out across the sidewalks, sleeping anywhere they can find room to lay a cardboard box. As you try to relax in front of your hotel on the beach, you are constantly harassed by every kind of solicitor, hundreds of them, they seem to never stop. They are selling jewelry, tours, clothing and trinkets, and they don’t take NO for an answer. You cannot even enjoy the vacation it is so overwhelming. Most of these countries post big signs at the entrance to the hotels, warning you NOT to walk around the town at night, and to be VERY careful of strangers. Many of these places also have huge territories controlled by the Drug Cartels and gangs, so you can’t just jump in your rental car and travel where you want. You are very limited to where you can safely go and enjoy the scenery.

Costa Rica is an Eden in the midst of all this craziness. They call it the Switzerland of Latin America. You can travel anywhere in this country, and not ever once feel threatened. Like anywhere in the world, use common sense. There are no gangs or Cartel and you will never be stopped by a man in a tank, pointing an M-16 in your face. The police are very friendly and other than on the National Highways, you probably won’t even see one. But what sets Costa Rica apart from the rest of the world, is that there is almost NO extreme poverty. This little paradise has one of the highest percentages of Middle Class in the world. You see beautiful little homes, meticulously maintained, with satellite dishes on the roofs, and new scooters in the driveway. You see very little trash on the side of the road as the Ticos are very proud people. They love their country, and take very good care of it. They NEVER beg, they don’t have welfare of unemployment benefits, and everyone works. Very, very rarely do you ever see a beggar, I can count on one hand how many I have seen in a decade, and even the beach solicitors are scarce compared to other places. You might have one or two an hour come by, and when you say NO, they thank you, smile, wish you a nice day, and continue down the beach. Like everywhere, there is the occasional annoying Time Share sales guy, trying to convince you that it is NOT a time share, but a vacation club, and that their program is different from all the others. The best way to get rid of these guys is to just tell them I LIVE HERE, and they will wander off quietly.

Selling pipas

What you do see here, instead of begging, are small entrepreneurs trying to make a buck to take care of their families. Young girls set up on the side of the road, with big boards loaded with handmade jewelry, waiting for a client. As you walk by they smile, but NEVER push you to buy. Young men, have coolers full of Ceviche or Pipas (small Coconuts) and hustle their refreshments on a hot day. At night you will see street vendors selling some of the best fajitas on a stick, that you have ever eaten; but again, they never pressure you to stop.

The guys I like the most are the “parking attendants.” As you park on the public roads, near the center of town or by the entrance to the beach, you will find people wearing glow in the dark vests, offering to watch your car. They are not employed by anyone, but have chosen to work, instead of beg or steal. Always say YES, but don’t pay them until you leave. They will keep an eye on your vehicle and your belongings, and then when it is time to go, they will help you back out into traffic, so you can be on your way. Tip them 200 Colones, which is the equivalent of about 50 cents, and they will be very thankful.

What you will find in Costa Rica is that everyone is very helpful. They work hard, play hard, and are the friendliest people in the world. PURA VIDA.

 

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