Thursday, 13 October 2011

As not seen on the Web

View of San José from the Museum of JadeImage via WikipediaWe have done rural for years...countryside England, la campagne Francaise and now el campo de Costa Rica...and it has always been a delight to have space around us, to watch the colours of trees change under the shifting light, to listen to the birds and to grub around in the garden.

But, once again within reach of a capital city after so long away from London, the old Adam is resurgent.

There are theatres, cinemas, museums, art galleries.

There are demonstrations!
Last Sunday we could have 'done' two of them...petition against animal cruelty first, from the Parque Central up to the Legislature, followed by OAPs against violence to the elderly once we'd got there.
The OAPs aren't's a sharp climb up to the Legislature from the to get the bus and start the demo at the top.

Last time I went shopping there the municipal parks department tried to give me a tree to plant in my garden to bring back greenery to San Jose and I had to decline, not having a house there.
Walking along to the shops from the parks department stand I became aware of numbers of ladies carrying not only shopping bags but also if Burnham Wood was come to San Jose.

But it all started us thinking...the upshot of which was that we decided to buy a small house  in the capital so that we could stay overnight, or for a few days, when there were things we wanted to see or do, not to speak of being able to regard with equanimity hospital appointments which can take place at 6.30 am.

So...househunting! Where to start?

It strikes me that if you are not looking for a particular location, for proximity to work, to schools, to family, then the housing market is a vast disorganised souk.

You want to move to France? You look on the agents' websites and find regions....some of which you've never heard of...and then departments in same with similar problem......
Where what you want is a site which gives you choices based on climate, shopping and airports offering cheap flights.
Or whatever else is important to you.

One day some enterprising estate agent will come forth with a site which gives you the information you really want....
Vineyards....colour of wine on offer....
British expat presence, ranging from zero (peaceful) to ten (smart work with chair and whip necessary to keep them at bay).... out for Mme Machin in the sub prefecture... has been sighted at...
Shopping....from IKEA to Noz...
And helpful hints....those thinking of moving to Deux Sevres  (two river Sevres) might find it significant that neighbouring departments refer to it as Deux Chevres (two goats).....

But thinking out of the box never characterised an estate agent and that goes for Costa Rica too.

Most sites offer you the choice of the seven provinces...some, daringly, offer you the choice of beach or mountain, but that's about as far as it goes.
Detailed research is down to you.

Places to avoid.....
Barrio Leon XIII where no one can have an internet line because the technicians are too frightened to go in there to install anything.
Gated communities where the main occupation is bickering over the height of cut on your neighbour's lawnmower.
Yoga communities.

Unless you like watching accidents, nowhere near a railway crossing because there are no barriers and the only warning is the train hooting as it arrives.
Mark you, there aren't many railway lines so it's not a big bother...
Bus routes and buses. While in theory every bus has passed its annual vehicle inspection the black clouds issuing from some bus exhausts leave you wondering how this bus escaped the you don't want a house directly opposite the bus stop.

Barrio Aranjuez is quiet and cooler than the dead centre of town....but since you nearly kill yourself struggling up the hill to get home with your shopping it's a good thing that the hospital Calderon Garcia is sited there....
Barrio Amon is smart and stylish....but since you risk going base over apex getting back down the hill with your shopping it is a pity that no hospital is sited nearby...not to speak of its proximity to Gringo Gulch where men with antediluvian attitudes to women cluster in the hotels and casinos that cater to their tastes.

Little neighbourhood shops for everything from plantains to plantains....
Huge shopping malls where the mushrooms are inevitably mouldy and the food halls have fifty different names for fried chicken...
Specialist shops...
Farmers' markets
Proper markets...
Flea markets....
Men selling things of doubtful provenance on the kerbside...

And all this before you even get to thinking about the house itself....

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  1. It's the expats hub that has always scared me away. Even on short holidays.

  2. dinahmow, yes, me too.
    One sight of the Brit male in sunhat, sandals and black socks and that was me out of the Dordogne before you could blink...

  3. I think Kirsty and Phil could have an opening here for a new spin on Location Location Location.

  4. One thing not on your list is "not near a pedestrian crossing". Of course, they may be silent (or non-existent)in San José, but I pity the people here in Spain who live within hearing distance of loud, continuous peeps every five or ten minutes, day and night.

    Good luck with the house hunting!

  5. I like them better in shorts and office shoes and socks and of course their skin has never seen the light of day :-)

    I think the advice for France applies - rent somewhere for 6 months first.

  6. Wow, sounds like you've got your work cut out finding a nice little pad in a decent location which won't kill you or give you views of death and destruction.

    Good luck! But you'll at least have somewhere to plant that tree.

  7. Also, sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but new CRC posts still don't show up on my Blogger dashboard or my blog :(

  8. It's a great idea for you to look for a house in the city to save on transport when you need to be there. And good luck with the search. I hope you find what you're looking for.

    I'm in agreement about avoiding expat areas. Been trying to do that for 13 thank goodness for this village where I'm the only foreigner for miles around.

  9. I'm glad you got the blog working again. I thought you posted a story about a house in San Jose you passed on buying. You two sound adventurous to me, I will probably spend my whole life in New Hampshire. But we have a stunning spot here in the mountains.

  10. Steve, with your new found and well deserved influence on Aiming Low I trust I can rely on your good offices...

    Pueblo girl...curses! Just as I thought I had it sorted! I'll start fiddling with the thing again...and probably lose it!
    Pedestrian crossings...noo, not seen one yet but same problem at traffic lights.

    Rosie, true, there's nothing like actually going to a place and deciding it's not for you!

    Ayak, we think we've found it...our lawyer is investigating the title which so far states that the house...built in registered as building land! A tax fiddle, surely...but it will be useful for early hospital appointments as getting up for the 5.00 am bus can be a bit offputting!

    Sarah, we've walked most of central San Jose and think we've found it...we've seen some super houses but have had to be quite firm about criteria...on the flat, on a bus route and within walking distance of the centre.
    And I'll be first in the queue next year for my tree!

    Sharyn, well, the finca is lovely and we're not planning to abandon it, but just to have a pied a terre in town will be so handy,
    We went to see the house we fell has been a wonderful place in its time but is now divided between five families who have each carved out their own space...five kitchens...and built a huge concrete extension on the back which will be the very devil to get rid of as the house has a 'heritage' classification.
    It would cost a fortune to put right...even if we could get permission to get rid of the bunker!
    Blast! But it explains the price...each family wants its money out of it...

  11. Brilliant idea.

    You never know when the whim will overtake you and you need a good dollop of bright lights.

    Have your dancing shoes, (and feet) at the ready.


  12. SP, after the desert of rural France the lure of San Jose is almost irresistible.

    Buffing up the feet, looking for dancing shoes...

  13. I think dancing shoes need to come BEFORE the house. You'll need to work out your frustrations. Fly, you never cease to amaze me!

  14. I have never been able to make up my mind about whether I liked town or country best - how wonderful to do both. I am inspired to go looking for a tree house in Shropshire now xx

  15. Delana, without a house, where would I change into dancing shoes?
    Do not quite see self clinging to municipal waste bin with one hand while changing shoes with other ..well, not without imminent disaster, anyway.

    Lulu LaBonne, thinking about it, when working I lived in the country and worked..and town.
    Tree houses are at least. Monkeys live in them. I do not like monkeys.

  16. Ok, so I signed to the new site - hope it works better than the old

    Antediluvian - new word for me; oh I like it.

  17. Mark, yes I have fingers crossed too.
    Lines just restored after a week of rains and landslips, so it will be ion with the motley again shortly.

  18. I'm late coming to this, Fly as I put the new blog address into my blog roll but forgot to change it in the list of blogs I'm following, so that new posts weren't popping up in my reader! Doh!

    Good luck with the search for the town house. The forest of problems which seems to surround your efforts makes our house-hunting foray to Normandy look like a walk in the park.

  19. Perpetua....I just like to moan, take no notice!
    But it has to be getting all excited about lovely places on top of hills, and more than two blocks away from a bus!

  20. You could always do what some people near here did - buy a property based on a photograph on a website without ever actually visiting it, or indeed France. But then again, maybe no. I seem to recall her sobbing hysterically the moment she set eyes on it in the real world.

  21. Had to pop over and find out where that dream sofa will be going! Another excellent adventure for you, how exciting to have some city life to look forward to.

  22. nodamnblog, just shows what the magic of propaganda about France will do...

  23. Amy,I am looking forward to it...we're starting work by removing a huge concrete sink like the fuehrerbunker...