Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Costa Rica - Real Estate Heaven? or Hell?

Long time, no post. Been back to the U.S., down to Costa Rica with a little visit in NYC for some VAT exempt shopping.

While in Costa Rica I went out a couple of days and looked at property. My initial impression? Fantastic value, great climate, blah blah blah. After a little investigation about their real estate laws, which make the wild west look like an anal rentitive Swiss banker, my enthusiasm was dampened considerably. For instance, let's say you find a great property of 1,000 acres, and there are certainly some of them out there. If someone decides to 'squat' on your land, you will lose some, or all of it to them. Yes, they must be there more than three months for the initial title challenge, but if they manage to evade detection for a year, you're most likely up the proverbial creek.

A shame really, the country is very pretty, relatively safe, and did I mention the climate? If they were to reform their laws to provide land owners a bit more safety, FDI would jump I'm sure. But with a myriad of legal trapdoors awaiting a casual investor, it is buyer beware in very serious way.

OK, enough soapbox action, enjoy the photos. One more locale that earns the "a nice place to visit, but I wouldn't want to live there" prize.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Magnificent Morning

Yesterday as I was getting ready to drive the kids to school I was greeted by this amazing sunrise. This of course required my racing back to the house for the camera and then spending far too much time fiddling with exposure setting to have the picture "look" like the sunrise. In the end, a satisfying result.

Pity that it is so darned cold. We got close to a foot of snow in the past few days. Certainly makes driving more interesting.

On an related note, we had been having problems with our print subscription to the Financial Times aka "Tim's English Lifeline". About ten days ago I was on a mission and mailed the letters editor since I was getting a load of "can't be done" from customer service. (Interesting how folks can behave so contrary to the name of the department they inhabit). In any event delivery was reinstated, though I was told the reason delivery had been halted was that the delivery person had gotten stuck trying to get back up the hill from our house. This was a bit strange to me since both we and a neighbor traverse that hill multiple times daily without event.

Thus, it was with guilty amusement that I noted this morning that this same delivery person had slid into a ditch just up the road from us. How he managed it is beyond me since the plows had been through and dropped sand as well. The only thing I can come up with is that he is freaked out that he'll get stuck, so he did exactly what you shouldn't do, panic. Needless to say, I think an online only subscription is in my immediate future.

Shouldn't a delivery person in Sweden be able to drive in snowy conditions? Its been over twenty years since I drove in this sort of weather, but it isn't much more than an annoyance. Ah well, the beat goes on.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Happy (Chinese) New Year!

Was in London on January 29th, and went out in the morning for a bit of breakfast and a walk. Much to my surprise I walked right up on the Chinese New Year's parade. It was, frankly, not the most organized parade I've ever seen (that honor probably goes to Macy's) but it was good fun nonetheless. Perhaps in the spirit of inclusion they also had a few folks in Caribbean Carnival attire (see the person in the white costume above).

Why London? Well after staring at snow-covered ground in Stockholm for four weeks straight, I thought it was time to go "snow free". Yep, that's right, cold turkey. Oddly, I experienced no withdrawal symptoms. Even stranger, London had sunny blue skies the entire weekend. People give you a look of disbelief when, in response to their query about your tan face, you reply "Got it over the weekend in London."

Not much else to report from our northern post. Stay tuned.