Close

6 months here

Hello Everyone!
I moved to Coco from Columbus, Georgia because I am older (yes, I will admit it) and the public schools were becoming too stressful to work in.  I have over 30 years working as both a special education teacher and a school psychologist.  I truly researched Costa Rica for months before making the decision to move and, being offered a teaching position, sealed the deal.  I know the grass is not greener but I wanted to continue to work in schools and just could not handle the 80 hour school weeks.  I purchased a home putting half down because I needed a place I could bring my dogs.  I knew it was not in the best shape but I had spent months trying to find a place and I needed to get moved-big mistake.  I also shipped items, another big mistake.  In the six months, I have battled banks, shipping, the attorney and the real estate people because my home has a major problem every month.  We finally received our shipment in March after being threatened of fines and paying around 5,000 for twenty boxes.  The car we had purchased has been in the shop for over two months and I walk two miles every morning to the bus stop.  I have a huge crack in my ceiling from one end of my bedroom to the other and am unable to procure a contractor to fix it.  Meanwhile, I also have a huge leak in my bathroom.  I am really trying to make this work and love my class and my students but crying every night is not reducing the stress.  I am not sure if this is just a transition period or if it means I need to devise another game plan.  I have even looked into Panama because it is a little cheaper and the homes looked less expensive and better built.  I am sorry, I am not trying to whine, I am just frustrated because I do not speak Spanish and am not finding too much support here.  I knew things were slower but I am not seeing a lot of care for others.  I love my teaching position, love, love, love working with my students but I am literally sitting at my desk with chunks of my ceiling occasionally falling down.  Did anyone else go through such a transition?

Sorry to hear what you have gone through, these past few months...but I doubt this is part of the 'usual' transition period.

I hardly know where to start in try to 'help' you.

First, did your school provide you with a work visa and have you asked the staff to assist you with your complaints? Have you applied for residency? Not that either of these will fix your problems...

If you read past posts, most of us who live here, advise to rent until you are sure the area is what you want before you pay out for something/somewhere you are not happy in, but again this won't fix your ceiling.  Is it a cement ceiling and were the 'cracks' in your home visible when you purchased it? Or is it 'just' cracks where the gyproc or fibreboard has separated?

Going after the real estate company probably won't help... Are the previous owners carrying a mortgage and have you explained/complained to them about the house conditions? Have you threatened to withhold payments until they can help you arrange for a contractor?

There are many well built homes here, but price will determine what you will get  or as some say, 'what you pay for'. I know this area well and there are many hundreds of beautiful homes...but there are also many substandard residences and shacks.

Why were you being threaten by fines by the moving company?

Did you have a recommended mechanic check out your vehicle before purchasing it? Know that waiting for specific vehicle parts can take a long time as they may have to be imported.

Regarding moving to Panama, certain professional positions are not open to foreigners to be employed, so checking this in advance is advised.

Hopefully things will improve.

Thank-you for your reply..yes, I am kicking myself for a lot of things including purchasing the home.  I thought of rental but no one will allow us to have three dogs!  My school is working on a working visa but not in a rush.  I put half down on the house and am paying the rest in monthly installments.  My attorney will help but only for $100 an hour which is not realistic.  I am planning on a visit to the owner but not sure how to go about it since he speaks Spanish only.  Hey, I just appreciate knowing someone is out there that I can knock around ideas.  I think I will work towards talking with the owner.  Right now I am collecting invoices from the fumigation, repairing the gate, repairing the ceiling in one bedroom and will keep collecting to go back to the owner.  I made so many stupid mistakes that cost me and I can only blame myself.  Thanks again!

Are you reliant on receiving  a salary to live here? Has the school asked you to provide the necessary paperwork to apply for a work visa? These are very difficult to obtain, so check here to see what is required,  especially where it mentions 'Proof that the employer is up-to-date with its CCSS (Caja) payments' as many employers fail to do so.

Teachers deported for not having a work visa

I would presume that you have continued to leave the country to keep your drivers license valid and to renew your tourist visa, just to protect yourself.

ssmith338 :

Thank-you for your reply..yes, I am kicking myself for a lot of things including purchasing the home.  I thought of rental but no one will allow us to have three dogs!  My school is working on a working visa but not in a rush.  I put half down on the house and am paying the rest in monthly installments.  My attorney will help but only for $100 an hour which is not realistic.  I am planning on a visit to the owner but not sure how to go about it since he speaks Spanish only.  Hey, I just appreciate knowing someone is out there that I can knock around ideas.  I think I will work towards talking with the owner.  Right now I am collecting invoices from the fumigation, repairing the gate, repairing the ceiling in one bedroom and will keep collecting to go back to the owner.  I made so many stupid mistakes that cost me and I can only blame myself.  Thanks again!

Hola Ms. Smith,

Very sorry to hear of all your issues.  First, DUMP THAT ATTORNEY!  That is 100% Gringo pricing.  Attorney here do not make anywhere near that.  I have two attorneys that I use for various things and neither charge me more than $10-$12 per hour.  It's usually by a set price for whatever I'm asking for.  Two, six page wills cost $50 total.

House - Is this a Tico style house?  I hate to say it but I'm pretty sure you've already figured it out, you're getting cheated by a number of people.  For work being done on your house, you should not be paying more than ¢2,500 per hour.  And that's if they know what they're doing.  DO NOT accept "contract pricing."  Meaning a set price.  Pay by the hour and if they don't work fast enough, fire them and find someone who wants to work.

I'm actually contracting for another Gringa that's moving into this area to help her with the repairs on her house.  i have a Tico that works for me that does good work.  At the same time I still have to watch every single thing that he does.  Their work ethic is not that of North Americans.  You need to find someone that you can trust, pay him a fair wage and watch everything he does.  If you're not familiar with the work or repair, look it up on Youtube so that you can oversee the project.  Never assume they know what they're doing.  Even if they say the know how to do something, it may very well not be the case.

Not speaking espanol is an issue but can be overcome using Google Translator.  They can speak into your phone and it will translate somewhat efficiently for you and vice-versa.   Is there a Tica in the area that speaks English?  If so, offer to pay her/him ¢2,000 per hour to translate when you need to meet with someone.  Just be sure that it's someone you trust.

If you want to send me a PM, I can give you my phone number and you can then send me pics of issues your having with the house, etc. and I can hopefully at least tell you what the issue is.  If this is an old Tico house, you may want to tear it down and start over.

Re the dogs and rentals (for others in this situation), offer them an extra $50 per month and most Ticos will jump at the opportunity.

PM me as I am happy to help in anyway that I can.

- Expat Dave

P.S.  Welcome to Expat.com!!

:) Thank-you so much!  I really love being this close to nature and would love to enjoy it even more if I can overcome the issues.  This is a 4 bedroom, 3 bath home that could be a very nice home if the bathroom did not smell like raw sewage and we did not have wires hanging out of boxes!  I would absolutely take any advice you can give me.  Right now I have two Ticos cleaning my backyard which was a disaster and they are charging me 50 dollars which I believe is fair since the yard has not been properly cared for since we moved in.  I never knew how much a machete and rake could transform a yard!   My email is *** and I am also on messenger and Whats app.  I would love to find the type of attorney you are talking about because I just might could get something negotiated.  I am absolutely grateful just for some feedback.  God bless you!

Moderated by Bhavna 2 months ago
Reason : Please do not post your contact details on the forum. You should exchange them through the private messaging system.Thank you
We invite you to read the forum code of conduct

I recommend a female lawyer, Marilyn Jiménez Duran, 2666 1850 who speaks excellent English and is very trustworthy, although I realize that it would be more convenient for you, to have one that has an office in Playas del Coco.

Forgot to mention she is located in Liberia and I eventually found her [url=marelynjd[at]yahoo.es]email address[/url]

That is great, I will have to check her out.  I am so tired of being taken advantage of; however, I guess that is part of being a newbie.  Thank-you for the referral.
Star

Hello. I live in Coco for near 9 years so I know my way around. Before I go on, I do not trust nor like lawyers (and I know a couple of good ones in Coco). I got my residence doing the work myself instead of using one (I've heard many stories of expats having to wait years for their residence when using a lawyer). I started to build a five condo unit in Coco and did not use a lawyer to obtain the permits, did them myself, and got them. There are places in Coco that accept animals, I do not understand why you did not find one. My kids went to GreenLife Academy (I believe it closed down), where are you teaching at? If you need help finding a contractor, let me know, I may be able to help.

Thank-you so much for your reply.  I actually teach at Lakeside and love my students!  I push for higher order thinking and creativity and they just want more information.  Most of my students are Spanish speakers but clearly want to know English as well which is understandable.  I am thinking of selling this home and either buying a much smaller one or moving on.  I hate to leave because of my students and the school but it has been pretty tough trying to settle in.  I do need to negotiate with the owner to see if I can reduce the amount so I can make necessary repairs.  I am good at painting but not sure what would be best since the walls are concrete and not drywall.  I have landscaped the front, cleaned the back except for the side alley which I want to get some rock put in.  Again, I don't know where to find things and I am concerned that I will be taken advantage of .  Thank-goodness, the owner of the school is helping me with the car repairs so I can get a fair price but I hate to keep bugging him.

I've heard that the German mechanic who has his shop 200 mts down the road ending at the post office is very good, a bit expensive but trustworthy. There's another mechanic named Manfred (tico), with his garage about 300 meters down the road to Coco from the Hermosa turn. I like him, he had done small work on my car, no problem. BTW, I lived in Coco, not anymore though. If you need to sell your house and/or get another one, look for Mary Brenes at Las Palmas Real Estate in las Palmas subdivision, she's good and trustworthy. Lakeside is probably the best school left in the Coco area, a bit far for my likes and needs to push English some more.

I am pretty much done here.  I thought I would see a little more compassion but I feel so isolated and hated.  Every morning for the past month, I tell the bus driver where I need to be dropped off for work.  The first time, I accidentally got off two miles too soon.  When I realized what had happened I turned around (I was on the bottom step) and the driver motioned me off, closed the door and drove off.  Now, if my coworker is not with me, I will pull the cord, stand up, pull the cord again and am lucky if he stops at the far end of the school.  My coworker does not say anything, he stops right at the entrance!  I had to get some groceries the other day and went to a taxi by Auto Mercado with 4 bags of groceries, my backpack, my bag of papers to grade and my lunchbag.  The driver was not in his car so I put all my bags down.  Five minutes later he comes around with his phone to his ear, motions to me, and then gets in the car!  He does not even help open the door.  I agree that Lakeside needs more English and, as hard as I try to learn Spanish, I find myself lost in the middle of so many conversations.  I try to Google translate but it sometimes comes out weird.  This is a beautiful country and this afternoon I did enjoy watching a large flock of parrots flitting in and out of the trees.  I love nature, love the water and really, really want to feel good about living here but just am tired of being taken advantage of.  Do you hear this often?  Any suggestions?  I am actually a very nice person but not sure if there is a "Gringo book of ethics" I should be reading up on.

Sorry to hear about the bad times you've had. There's a bus stop right across the road from Lakeside, bus drivers are usually "amables", you just found a SOB that time he left you far from the school. Taxi drivers are another story and that's why Uber is here to stay. what do you think about opening an all English school here in Palmares where I live. It isn't easy but possible. I have a lady friend who opened a school in Orotina, by the Panamanian border, she got married and closed it but she still has the permits for a school to be opened anywhere in CR, so she said. She lives in Hawai now.  I would think you can start a school for first graders and grow on from there, that's how Grrenllife started.

Trust me, I have toyed with the idea.  I have 35 years in education so that would not be the difficult task.  I also have my doctorate in leadership.  The difficult part would be the business side and deciding on the best location.  I would not want to cause any loss of business for Lakeside, Rob has been awesome but I would like to look more at an English speaking school.  I know one of my student's dad during an open house asked if he could record his daughter speaking English because he was so excited at her new English skills.   I have tried to visit as much of Costa Rica as possible but there are so many neat areas it will take time.  Thanks for the idea; now if I could just find someone with good business sense with the same interest!

New topic

Expatriate health insurance in Costa Rica

Free advice and quotation service to choose an expat health insurance in Costa Rica

Moving to Costa Rica

Find tips from professionals about moving to Costa Rica

Travel insurance in Costa Rica

Enjoy stress-free travel to Costa Rica