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Hello again world..
In these troubled times, we are very conscience of our problems and perils, but often not so focused on our blessings… I have heard “experts” say that in troubled economic times, one way to reduce stress and the negative impact the economic crisis may have on your life is to spend more time with family. Family is a constant in everyone’s life, and will not come and go such as business relationships, or money.
Anyway, being a new mom, I take this particularly to heart and really cherish this time right now with my family. I urge you to do the same!
But onto my choice real estate topic this Thanksgiving week, misnomers.
I get very upset, irrationally so, when I read the word “luxury” on every single residential property being advertised in Jaco and Costa Rica for that fact. Why? What is a characteristic that qualifies something as “luxury”?
With real estate a fashionable industry in the past 15 years, the word luxury has become increasingly common. To the point where nowk, when I read a “luxury” condo, it really means nothing to me unless I know the property myself and can assure that it is indeed luxury. People assume that if you throw a granite countertop onto a three bedroom / one bath residence a short walk from the beach on a paved road, you all of a sudden have a “luxury” property. Well, not so my friends. It takes alot more than a few key bullet points (like granite counter tops and 24 hour security) to be luxury.
Buyer beware, just because that condo for $450k on the beach in Jaco says that it is a luxury property, you’ve really only got about a 50/50 chance of truly being a luxury product by international and luxury property specialists standards.
But the misnomers don’t end with the incessant bastardization of “luxury,” the newest and trendiest misnomer is “eco-friendly” and any array of “green” products on the market. Wow, this is a never ending leaky faucet of misleading representations flowing into a vast sea of consumerism designed to make you feel better about your purchasing.
Well, if you’ve met me, you probably knew very quickly that I have been an avid “eco-warrier” as my friend Ron would say it. Although I’m not really an eco-warrier, I do fully sympathize with the cause and promote it as much as possible and addmittingly convenient for my on-the-go lifestyle. So obviously, I am very enthusiastic about the new consciousness that our society has developed for living a lower carbon foot print lifestyle and using less. I grew up on Recycle, Reduce and Reuse, and often remind myself of that everytime I go to throw away a plastic bottle. It may take a little more effort in the long run, but recycling has a world of benefits for our children (literally).
But eco-estates and eco-friendly development in Costa Rica and world wide is fashionable, and unfortunately more often than not, simply a catchy adjective that the marketing team concocted to reach a new earth friendly demographic.
I am not going to discount all real estate developments in Costa Rica that claim to be eco friendly, but I am going to propose that you do some research before buying into a property for its eco-friendliness.
When researching “eco construction” here are some things to look out for:
1. What kind of materials, especially wood, are being used. Although Teak is a fast growing hard wood, it is also a destructive crop to the top soil of the natural tropical forest, and seriously disrupts the previous ecosystem. Bamboo is a much preferable alternative.
Don’t buy an eco-friendly home and stuff it with rustic wood furniture! If you’ve visted our area in Playa Hermosa or Jaco, you probably know what I’m talking about. Like oversized dining tables with a massive top made of a 6 inch solid piece of beautiful wood. Although striking, this furniture is made of 200-400 year old trees. You connect the dots.
2. When possible, add a water filtration system to your home. This will reduce water bottle waste as you consume many plastic bottles of water. Water that does not come from a plastic bottle is also better for you too!
3. Research water treatment systems available to you in your area. Many homes in our area are on septic tanks, all of which, are not created equal. Be sure that your tank is the appropriate size for your home and that it is not near any watersheds.
4. Don’t cut down the trees! And don’t purchase a lot that will require many trees to be cut! Many MANY MANY Costa Rican based developers are offering lots with fantastic ocean views in the forest, but you will have to cut down the trees to do so. Not only is it illegal, but it is also very irresponsible. Trees cut down on erosion, and on any mountain property, this is the most threatening aspect to development.
5. Plant native species to Costa Rica in your garden. Many tropical plants here were imported from Asia and other parts of the world. By planting native species, you help out the local ecosystem.
6. If you are building on a mountain property, or trying to sell a mountain property, or looking to buy a mountain property BEWARE OF EXCAVATION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! This is just as important for the ecosystem as it is YOUR INVESTMENT. Many (if not most) of the mountain developments in the Jaco and surrounding areas were excavated without proper permits and/or engineering design. Therefore, when water slides down the mountain in a new path, it often takes down parts of the mountain with it. Be very careful of who you depend on to do excavation. You can lose your farm, literally, and destroy water shed ecosystems at the bottom of the mountain in the process.
I’ll continue my eco-building and buying tips in part two of Misnomers.
Have a happy Thanksgiving everyone!