Welcome to our RetireForLessInCostaRica.com Newsletter!
In this issue:
• ‘Tis the Season…for Mold and Mildew
• Simplicity – A Shower in Costa Rica
• Crime Stats in Costa Rica
• Featured Property: Lovely 2.5 Bedroom Home
While we love living in the tropics, there are challenges, especially during the rainy season, when we get about 80 inches of rain each year. While the moisture in the air is great for our skin, it can lead to mold and mildew in our home. Because we love having our door and windows wide open, and because we want to minimize our usage of electricity, we’ve chosen not to run a dehumidifier, though others do. Instead, here are some of the actions we’ve taken to minimize the problem in our cabina.
- Paint the walls with an anti-fungus paint. We picked the colors and bought the paint, and Cesar, the manager of the cabinas, painted all of the interior walls of our cabina with “anti-hongo” (anti-fungus) paint. The result was a brighter cabina that’s more resistant to mold and mildew.
- Improve drainage and coat the foundation and tiles with a sealant. Our cabina is at the bottom of a hill, so when heavy rains would fall, water would seep in through the foundation. The property manager here at the cabinas improved the drainage and applied a sealant to both the outside and inside of the back of our cabina where we were having the problem. Since then, no water seepage and a drier cabina.
- Increase air flow. We keep our door and windows open most of the day for good cross-ventilation. You can also run fans to increase air flow.
- Buy anti-mildew mattress and pillow covers. This was important for us because we were both breaking out in hives due to mildew. I found a great source online at National Allergy Supply.
- Install lights in your closets. We bought a few inexpensive lights and either put them directly into our closets or clamped them on the closet doors. This small step goes a long way to prevent mildew from taking hold on your clothes.
- Hang out your clothes on sunny mornings. The combo of sun and gentle breezes combine to stop mildew in its tracks before it becomes a problem. Otherwise, you have no other choice but to launder them.
- Keep a supply of white vinegar on hand in a spray bottle. If you see the beginnings of mold on leather chairs, belts, and other surfaces, spray them with straight white vinegar and wipe them down with a soft cloth or paper towels. Once you’ve removed all the mold, treat leather surfaces with a leather conditioner.
- To minimize waste, buy items like flour, salt, sugar, spices, etc. in small packages and, as much as possible, store them in your refrigerator. Don’t store items in cardboard boxes (pasta, oatmeal, etc.) in your cupboards for long periods, even if they are in plastic zipper bags. It’s amazing how easily moisture can get into sealed plastic containers.
There has been a lot written about fighting mold and mildew as well as dealing with allergic reactions. Here are some links that we found helpful:
Okay, okay, it rains a lot in Costa Rica! In the rainy season, many areas get well over 100 inches, and a few get over 200 inches per year. But I’m not talking about rain here! I’m referring to another type of shower, usually located in the bathroom.
Why would I write about my shower? Because it’s one of life’s little pleasures, and showers are better here. Showers in Latin America tend to be very large — great for two people (at the same time) and they sometimes seem like little rooms. Our shower, in our small bathroom is no exception. I love it. It’s beautiful, with off-white floor tile, tan tile on the lower walls, and contrasting green walls to the ceiling. Another thing that makes it so special is the large window in the shower. Three feet by two feet, with a great green foliage view of banana plants and the forest beyond. It’s a spectacular view of which I never tire.
Yes, our little cabina – 620 sf. under roof – has a very large shower and we love it. If this is simplicity, may it last forever.
Crime Stats in Costa Rica
People often ask, “Why did you choose Costa Rica?” In answer, we often cite the following:
- Stable democracy
- Can drink water in 95% of the country
- Energy self-sufficient (85% hydroelectric, plus wind and geo-thermal energy)
- Improving infrastructure (roads, communications, etc.)
- High literacy rate (97%)
- Excellent and cheap transportation system
- No Army so defense funds go to other areas
- Freedom without major restrictions
- Good national universal healthcare system and affordable private healthcare
- Costa Rica is SAFER, and has a lower crime rate, than its neighbors.
There were fewer murders in Costa Rica in 2011 than in 2010. There were 474 murders in Costa Rica last year, down by 53 from the year before. Remember, Costa Rica has a population of 4.5 million, so the murder rate in 2011 was 10.3 per 100,000 inhabitants. You can reduce this rate even further by paying attention to where you decide to live. (Note: We live in a region of Costa Rica that has only 0-5 murders per 100,000.) For example:
- Province of Limon had 24.6 per 100,000 inhabitants
- Province of San Jose had 171 murders with a much higher population
- Of the 474 total murders:
- 378 were Costa Ricans
- 55 were Nicaraguans
- 14 were Columbians
So if you’re an Expat from elsewhere in the world (ie. Canada, United States, Europe or Asia) and you’re not involved with gangs or the drug trade, you are pretty safe. Matter of fact, Costa Rica has the lowest homicide rate in the region. According to the World Health Organization, a “violence epidemic” exists in Central America. Many reports cite Central America as perhaps the most violent region in the world. Here are some of the stats:
- Nicaragua: 14 per 100,000
- Panama: 19 per 100,000
- El Salvador: 71 per 100,000
- Honduras: 82 per 100,000
- In 2011, Costa Rica was 10.3 per 100,000 and, according to the Public Security Ministry, based on the first 5 months, 2012 will be even lower.
Increased security is a major goal in Costa Rica, but it comes with a price tag. Last year the Public Security Ministry spent almost $300 million to purchase new uniforms, bullet-proof vests, 280 police cars, radios, and other essential equipment, along with hiring new officers for increased police presence. Plus, police officers in Nicaragua earn $120 a month compared to an entry-level salary of $697 a month for police officers in Costa Rica. (Note: $697 is approximately $100 more per month than the average Costa Rican worker’s salary.)
As another point of comparison, the murder rate in the United States as a whole is 5 per 100,000. But, of course, this varies dramatically with location. Our home town of Baltimore’s murder rate is over 30 per 100,000. But if you were a white male, over 50, and not involved in the drug trade, statistically, it was 0 per 100,000. This would probably hold true in many major metropolitan areas.
“Homicide rate drops to lowest in region,” Tico Times, June 8, 2012
“Judicial statistics show a 10 percent drop in murders,” AM Costa Rica, June 1, 2012
Featured Property: Lovely 2.5 Bedroom Home on 1.5 landscaped acres – US$150,000
This private home on 1.5 beautifully landscaped fenced-in acres has convenient entrance from main lake road and views of Lake Arenal and Volcano Arenal.
It has handsome woodcrafted interiors with carved doors showing images of tropical flora and fauna, and tile floors throughout. There is a loft upstairs which can be used for grandchildren or a studio area. It has an eco-friendly, recycled plastic roof which keeps it quiet. The house is secured by window bars that can open in front, and an alarm system which is especially helpful for people who will not live here full time.
There are many trees on property for protection from the wind, and a clear-water stream gurgling in front. This is a wonderful retirement home or vacation spot. It’s located only 4 miles from the town of Nuevo Arenal and on the main lake road to Tilaran. Many activities and restaurants nearby. A dream home ready to move into. Only US$150,000.
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That’s all for this month, but we’ll be back in touch soon! If you enjoy our newsletter, please share it with your friends. We hope to see you online!
Gloria & Paul Yeatman
San Ramon de Alajuela, Costa Rica