Wednesday, May 30, 2007

I guess I'm not quite ready yet

Charles Zellar, from Ship to Costa Rica , called the other day to discuss our moving plans. He said that shipments to Costa Rica are delayed right now so we should expect the shipment to take 6 weeks. Given that we would like our things by Azure's first day of school at the latest, he said he would have a container at our house within a week! After a huge gasp, I asked if we could push it back a week. Charles said he couldn't guarantee that we would have everything by July 31st but since I couldn't bear to part with everything (especially our new Sleep Comfort bed), he would arrange for the container (FCL) to be at our house on the 13th or 14th (of June)!!

We have been concerned about packing our huge projection screen TV and some other items we want to ensure don't break during shipment. Charles suggested we hire a local company for the day the container arrives and they can help us load the container and pack anything we don't have already packed. He said that a local company possibly even college students would help us save some money. Right on!

He also gave us some tips for the packing list. He said that it is important to number everything that goes into the container then match the number to a list that describes the item. I specifically asked how detailed to describe the items (for example does a plastic container full of books need to say "35 books" or each title written out separately or what)? The answer is better than I expected! All that needs to be on the plastic container is the number and the word "books" (for example "#1 books") and then the same on the packing list ("#1 books"). As far as mixed boxes, he said pick the item that takes up the most space (ornaments, knickknacks, photos, etc). But make sure if you throw a single item in (something like a broom), you also write a number on it and a matching number on the packing list.

I like this photo of Patrick and Azure, but Azure doesn't want me to post it...

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Finally more pictures of our new property

Our family and friends continue to ask us to post more pictures of our property in Costa Rica. So, Patrick threw them up on Photobucket. He did it quickly so some of the pictures are labeled wrong but you will get the gist of the place.

When I'm done with all the work here in Big Lake (I'm currently staining all the cabinets and doors in the house-YUCK!), I'll get more of the pictures organized on a different site.

click here to see the "preview pictures" (oh yeah, most of the pictures show Patrick goofing off since I didn't consider the fact that others would want to see the property -duh!).

I also promise to post really nice pictures after we move into the place in July.

This photo is of the "jungle" in the backyard.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Azure's new school

Azure has officially been added to the 2007/2008 roster at the European School. Yeah! We just loved the school and are happy that she will be attending a private school close to home. The drive shouldn't take more than 10 minutes. But there is a slight problem since the bus from San Rafael is full - it only seats 14 students. Patrick and I will be making the drive to San Pablo twice a day so I guess we are lucky that it is only 7 miles away. It should be fun trying to figure out the shortcut, though, since we know there is one but we aren't quite sure where to take it. I guess we aren't 100% sure how to get to our house from San Rafael, for that matter! What an adventure!

In case you are interested in the school, classes starts on July 31st and Azure will attend school year round. There is a two week break in October, 6 weeks for Christmas, another 2 weeks off in March, and then 6 more weeks in June/July before the start of the next school year. We are all really excited about this schedule. Azure loves school and hates going back after summer break only because she has to "start all over again since the rest of the kids forgot everything". This way there should be no "review" time. Plus, each year they study a particular theme. Azure will be in 6th grade so she will be studying Africa. We looked at the books she will be reading and they look wonderful - I have not seen any of them before so it means we can all share in the learning! I am confident she will receive a much broader education than she is currently used to even with all our travels to help.

My pictures of the school are terrible since they were taken quickly as an after-thought. Please check out the school website for more info and better photos.
photos from top: lunch room, class rooms, and drop off/pick up area

Friday, May 25, 2007

Can't wait to move!

I know I promised to provide the name of our lawyer so I want everyone to know that Grettel S. Caldera provided us with exceptional service. She called and emailed frequently which helped immensely! Plus, after the home was purchased our property was registered with the Costa Rica government within one week which surprised everyone even Grettel! Grettel was recommended to us by our realtor, Colin Miller, since she works with his company, Buyer's Agents of Costa Rica. I am unsure if she works with them exclusively or not but if anyone is interested in her email address, please ask.

So, we have been working hard to get our Big Lake house on the market. The neighbors never came by to look at the place but we have received a call from a woman who saw our ad on Craig's List... If we don't have anyone interested by Wednesday, we have decided to officially list as a For Sale By Owner on the MLS. We hope to at least have an offer by the end of June but the market in this area is very tough right now...

I know a lot of people are wondering how they will contact us once we move. Since we don't speak Spanish very well, we have heard that receiving mail at the local post office may be difficult (remember there are no addresses in Costa Rica only locations). We plan to set up a Post Office box in Miami via the ARCR for important mail since they charge by weight. Otherwise, the computer will be our main form of communication. I suppose it's possible we may receive mail using the local post office so here is our "official" location:
Concepcion de San Rafael de Heredia, 50 meters east from Rio Turales

I guess we will go to the Post Office and introduce ourselves. Then, if someone wants to send a post card or something as a test, we'll stop by once a week or so and see if it arrives. I'll follow up on the blog and let everyone know how it goes. I have also heard that packages may never arrive since they are thoroughly "investigated" by customs officials and if they like what they see they will just keep it. Sounds interesting to say the least...

Well, it's time I do some more cleaning and packing. I'll try to write again soon. By the way, don't forget to bid for my items on Ebay !

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I need to book a flight soon

Nothing exciting to report except that I found cheap flights on Spirit Airlines. We should be able to fly from Chicago to San Jose for $324 one way but Patrick says he doesn't think they will actually allow us to fly one way since we are leaving the country. I think since we will have sent in our paperwork to get residency, we should be able to fly one way. I guess we will wait and see. Our other option appears to be Taca Airlines for $414 as a multi-destination package from Chicago to San Jose in July and then return to Miami in October when Azure has her fall break. We should actually have our residency by then so we won't have to leave the country but in case we decide to use the flight to Miami, we will be able to get another inexpensive flight from there back to San Jose.

Things are still up in the air regarding our departure date so I will do some more searches for flights. If anyone has a good suggestion, please let me know.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

I now reveal our realtor and his company

We finally have our entire Big Lake house painted and new hardwood floors installed in the kitchen, dining room, foyer. We installed new lights throughout the house (instead of the cheap ones that were here when the house was first built). Plus, we ordered new appliances which arrive tomorrow. So, all in all, we should be able to get our house on the market this week! The good news is that during our garage sale yesterday, one of the neighbors said that their brother may be interested so he may be coming by today to look at the place! We don't have all the furniture put back yet but we trust he will look past that... It would be great to sell this place before putting it on the market but I don't want to get to excited yet.

Anyway, I know I promised information regarding our realtor in Costa Rica, but given all the work I have been doing (did I mention I planted flowers in the garden and they are already dying due to high winds?) I haven't had the chance. So, here is the information I know some of you have been waiting for: Colin Miller realtor with Buyer's Agents of Costa Rica in conjunction with Vacation City. Patrick and I both highly recommend Colin. He helped us with everything we asked of him and as a matter of fact he is still emailing us information even though our transaction with him is complete. Shortly after we met him last November, he started working out of the Jaco office (Pacific Coast) but he still took the time to show us the homes we were interested in when we returned in March. So, he made the 90 minute drive back to San Jose just so he could meet with us personally instead of handing us off to someone else in his office. We really appreciate all the help he has provided and wish him the best of luck in Jaco. If anyone is looking for property in the Jaco area, please give Colin a call and tell him we say "hi!".

Here is part of a recent email I received from Colin's broker, George Bradbury, with Buyer's Agents of Costa Rica:

We felt we had to open an office in Jaco - on the Central Pacific Coast. This area has been growing for a dozen years now, and it has a large concentration of ex-pats. The attraction is easy to see - a variety of beaches, lots of hotels, restaurants and condos, great sport fishing, golf and more. Residents are less than 2 hours to San Jose, the International Airport, and Manuel Antonio National Park. Our new Buyer's Agents of Costa Rica office is managed by Colin Miller, the happy fisherman on the left with a recent home buyer! Most of the time, you will find him
and his agents covering their territory which includes all of Jaco, the Los Suenos Resort by Marriot, Puntarenas to the north and heading south to the beautiful beaches of Esterillos, Manuel Antonio and Quepos
.Click Here to See All of Our Listings Near Jaco

I would like to tell you about our lawyer as well but I leave that for the next post.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Oh, Happy Days!

Yes, we finalized the purchase today! We now own a property in Costa Rica! Woo Hoo!

I realize I haven't written much in a while and I hope you understand that we have been busy with a capital B. Monday we wired the money to Costa Rica and visited the duplex to look at last minute fix ups. Later that night, we found out that the buyer we had lined up to purchase the duplex decided against it. So, Tuesday I updated Craig's list and immediately had someone interested! (how could we lose with a title "practically giving this duplex away!") Wednesday, Patrick met with a gentleman and his realtor and wrote up a purchase agreement. He came home and convinced me it was a good deal and we both signed. Yesterday he met with the gentleman again and received an earnest money check. In the afternoon, our realtor called from Costa Rica and said they received the wire and were setting up the closing for Friday (today). This morning we took the title paperwork to the title company for the duplex. When we returned home, we had an email from our lawyer stating the owner of the property was there to sign paperwork and receive payment. She also attached a copy of our corporation information.

Oh, plus, we have had the painter at our house so we have been busy packing more and moving furniture. We picked dreamy white for the entire house which looks somewhat pink but should highlight our new Tiffany-esque light fixtures. I know it sounds weird but it looks better than the old off white/yellow walls we used to have (you should see the difference!).

Patrick let me buy a turntable with USB connection so I am currently recording Devo New Traditionalist! I haven't heard this album in ages! The plan is record all my vinyl before we leave and then I can sell or donate the collection so we don't have to pack the whole thing. I have quite a large collection so hopefully I can get the majority done...

I expect to have our Big Lake house on Craig's List next week and possibly on the market with a For Sale By Owner company the following week (if we don't have anyone interested before then). The painting and new kitchen/dining room floor will be in by end of next week. We would like to have a closing before mid-July if possible so we will need to "practically giving this house away" also!

My Mom and Phil are coming to help us with our big garage sale this weekend. And of course we will make Phil help move furniture and my Mom will need to help put new shelf paper down. I hate doing shelf paper! Anyway, I will post information regarding our realtor and his company plus our lawyer later this weekend (or Monday if I am swamped as usual!)
I know I posted these photos before, but this is now officially "our house" (even though there are two houses). We'll live in the upper one and rent the lower one -or have friends and family use it!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Done deal?

The closing was yesterday and the owner of the property signed the purchase option. Our lawyer presented him with a down payment check and we wired the balance to our realtor's account in Costa Rica. The wire should appear in the account within 5 days (hopefully). At that time, our lawyer will again meet with the owner of the property and have him sign the final paperwork. Then, he is obligated to stay in the house until July 1st. We should arrive in Costa Rica mid-July. We will sign paperwork transferring the property to a corporation we are setting up specifically for this purpose and then we will be given the keys. Currently, the house is in a corporation set up by our realtor's company but we are the sole share holders.

So, I guess we are almost the owners of 4 houses (two in Minnesota and two in Costa Rica)! Wow! Hopefully we can sell our homes here before we leave but that is turning into a longer process than I imagined...

Now we need to concentrate on getting Azure's school set up. Classes begin on July 30th so we need to get her registered by the end of this month. We also need to start the process of becoming legal residents of Costa Rica because we want to make sure we do it legit. The ARCR will help us with this lengthy process.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Help save internet radio!

I know this is off topic, but music is my passion and internet radio means a lot to me. I am not sure if you've heard but the Copyright Office has raised the royalty rates for internet radio which means most stations can't afford to stay in business! This doesn't seem fair since most independent internet radio stations are just trying to help bands by promoting their music. The internet stations I tend to listen to the most only play music that major radio stations never get around to playing since they focus on the mainstream. Some of my favorite bands were discovered when listening to an internet radio station so I really don't want to lose them.

This message can be found on my favorite site for internet radio (discoverRadio):
We have been forced to close our doors
The US Copyright Office has released their new set of rates for the payment of royalties by Internet Radio -- royalty rates so high that they will put discoverRadio and every other independent US webcaster out of business.

I recently received this email from
Dear Live365 Listener,

The Copyright Royalty Board (CRB) recently denied webcasters' requests for a rehearing on its ruling of unfairly high new royalty rates -- a stunning 300 to 1200 percent increase -- for Internet radio for period 2006-2010.

Internet radio is singled out from all other radio, burdened with fees not paid by AM or FM stations, and at rates at least 3-4 times paid by satellite and cable radio. The ruling even included absurd minimum of $500 per station per year to penalize the smallest webcasters with the highest rates.

Should this ruling stand, many of your favorite stations will be silenced. You will find Live365's 260 genres reduced to the same meager, homogenized list carried on AM/FM radio, because the unfair rates would drive webcasters in niche genres with unique content unavailable elsewhere out of business.

You can, however, help protect your favorite tunes of your favorite DJs from being silenced.

The Internet Radio Equality Act (HR 2060) has been introduced in Congress by Representative Jay Inslee (D-WA). A simple phone call to your Representative to ask for their support on this Bill will go a long way toward ensuring your right to diversity and choice in radio. Better yet, please also write and fax to show how serious you are. They need to know how much your music means to you.

Click here for the number of your Representative. Call NOW!

Mark Lam CEO, Live365
To learn how your single call can make the difference, visit, and the SaveNetRadio Coalition we formed with listeners, webcasters, artists, and labels:

Please help!

Thursday, May 3, 2007

finally signed a contract

So, we finally received and signed a purchase option for "our house" as I have been calling the property we hope to own some day soon. Since the other couple's option doesn't end until Saturday, we officially can not sign the final purchase agreement so it is technically only an option to purchase. But, from the discussions with our lawyer and realtor, it has become apparent that the house will be ours since the other couple still haven't gotten their financing. We will sign final paperwork next week.

As I promised earlier, I will share the name of our realtor and even our lawyer's name after all paperwork is finalized. I want everyone to benefit from the wonderful treatment we have received especially since Patrick has been reading about so many bad experiences others have dealt with in Costa Rica.

For now, Patrick has decided we should show close ups of pictures. Can anyone guess what this is a picture of (just leave a comment) -we're starting with an easy one. If people enjoy this game, we'll make them harder!