Saturday, April 6, 2013

Our Most Educational & Exhausting Week YET!!

Amazing what we've learned this week!!

After an exhaustive search through our local insurance agents in the US, many an internet search, calls to Progressive, Geico, and several other companies, plus reaching out on all of my expat blogs and Facebook sites, we thought there was no way for us to get a Stand Alone Liability Policy for our car rentals.  BUT, alas, finally, we made one last call to a local agent in our community and sure enough we found it!!!

To back track and run through the scenario again so that this all makes sense, we own nothing. So, therefore, we have no insurance of any kind. To rent a car and pay their exorbitant rates for liability and collision is not cost effective.  The cost of insurance can increase the rate by as much as 100%, which is totally unacceptable!!

We did find collision insurance through our American Express card that is only $25 per car we rent. So, since we'll be renting a car in Spokane, CA, Chicago and CT, the cost for the 2 months will be only $100. 

For Liability insurance the cost per day for a rental car with only minimal coverage, it's about $14/day. So for 62 days, that alone is $868!! However, there is a product called a Broad Form Named Driver policy.  The price for a 6 month policy for 2 drivers is only $435!!  Do the math! That's why we were so adamant about finding this type of coverage! Goal accomplished on Monday!!

Nothing about making this kind of move is easy or for the faint of heart!! It takes perseverance and tenacity for it to work on a budget.  If money isn't an issue for you, then you should probably read someone else's blog.

Monday was also a final trip to the dentist for me and Mike had one more on Tuesday morning to whiten his natural teeth a bit more to reduce the definition between new teeth and old teeth.  Mission accomplished there!  They're beautiful!

We had planned on catching the bus to Tamarindo on Tuesday morning early but because of a glitch with our landlord and Mike wanting to have another whitening treatment, it made more sense to go in the afternoon.  Thankfully, there was no problem in doing that.

So Roberto, our trusted taxi driver, picked us up at 2:30pm and got us to the Holiday Inn Express in plenty of time for our 4:00pm departure on Grayline.  As it turned out, we were the only passengers for half the trip. A wonderfully comfortable small bus with AC and WiFi.  The drive was beautiful and we saw a part of the country we hadn't seen yet, so that was truly enjoyable. 

We arrived in Tamarindo and our bus driver gladly took us to our doorstep arriving about 9pm.  The keys were in their hidden place and our new adventure in Tamarindo began!

After almost falling right into the pool with luggage because it was dark and not knowing the layout, which is not walking friendly, we entered our "cottage". Oh boy....I blew it on this one!! It all sounded good on paper but it was postage stamp size with a horrible rudimentary "efficient" kitchen. An ok place for a night or two but definitely not for a month of living.  The monthly rent was $695, all inclusive of utilities and WiFi but ....

At this time of night, all Mike and I wanted to do was eat and then sleep. So we headed down to the very first restaurant from "our place" and, of course, stumbled into a very higher end place - Dragonfly.  As it turned out, the meal was very good (better be!) and we were immediately $57 into our eating out budget. Not a great way to start.

I must say, I slept beautifully for the first time in ages! And, that certainly helped my disposition and energy. In Grecia, there were many mosquitos all night long and they'd buzz into your ear all night long. Awful!

Wednesday morning I had my coffee out by the pool being very careful to balance the upright chair so as not to fall into the pool.  The pool had been sandwiched into the property between 5 cottages leaving no room for real chairs or good walking.  OSHA would have a fit!!

Mike approached me about going into town and finding another place, if possible.  Since we had only put down a $150 deposit, I was up and ready in minutes. A great idea!! So off we went and began a true House Hunters International search!!

There is no "one stop shopping" with any agency in town.  They all represent the same rentals but give you different quotes based on their own fee.  They push your limit on everything!  We started by giving them our "wish list" including price, which wasn't the highest we would go.  We wanted to see what they would bring to our attention.

After 4 agencies and 7 properties viewed, we were exhausted!!  This is the HOT season and it's 97 degrees with humidity out there! The properties were all over town some of which we had to hike up a huge hill to get to. The agent said we looked healthy enough to handle it. A compliment, I think!!

Anyway, we decided to go sit and have an afternoon libation at the beach bar Nibbana to discuss our findings. As it turns out, this bar/restaurant was where House Hunters International had sat with the parties to discuss their property search.  So, how appropriate!!

The properties that we looked at were all over the board from really poor condition to really luxurious.  Of course, the really luxurious came with a hefty price tag and was up on the hill, so it wasn't a slam dunk and the poor condition apartment had a good price tag and a better location but it was smelly and the building in really bad condition.  All the same pros and cons you go through as a buyer when you are doing your comparisons.

After making a "decision", we called the agent only to find out that it was no longer available...just like some of my clients when they waited too long to make a decision.  As it turned out, it was the best thing that could have happened! 

We decided to walk down the street further and see what another company had.  As it was way past 4pm, the unit he wanted to show us couldn't be seen until the next morning. We decided it was worth waiting for so we headed back to Nibbana for Happy Hour, to watch the sun set and have dinner on the beach.  A welcome and well deserved ending to the day!

The next morning, I had my coffee out by the pool and enjoyed it but knew that Thursday was definitely moving day!!  A decision WOULD be made!

We met Murray, the agent, at 10am to go see this gem he gushed about hoping he could get the price we were willing to pay.  A short walk and we entered a simply stunning complex!!  We knew immediately that if he could get us a place here in our price range, we were going to take it.  Alas, the rate they quoted was no where near what was doable for us - $2,000!!!

So, our agent kept pressing for a better rate. He DID work hard for us!! We went back to his office and he placed a call to the actual owner to see if he could a better answer.  Since the owner wasn't available, we decided to give it an hour or so.

So off we went yet again.  We walked up to another high rise only to find that they would only quote a large nightly rate, then over to some cabinas that were also only being offered on a nightly rate.  Mike wanted to keep walking down this road that lead out of town towards Langosta Beach and I relented even though I thought there was nothing more there. Ha, was I wrong!!  But, I was also tired of the whole process, hot and cranky again.

There just a few more steps ahead was MANGO, rentals & condos for sale.  We walked up to the door that said to call Julius at blah, blah number, which I did with no answer. So since the door was open, hey, in we went.  We came into this most beautiful old world courtyard with lush plantings, a more than adequate pool, and fountain.  But, since no one appeared, we walked out thinking it was not to be.


However, a friendly man, Paul, came running out to see what he could help us with as we were walking away. It turns out he's one of the owners and he most certainly had an apartment for rent.  We negotiated a price but told him we were still waiting on a response from the other place but would let him know within a couple of hours.

We walked across the street and saw a shop that had bathing suits sold by the piece, which I had been looking for.  We met Tony, the owner of both the shop and a small little cafĂ©, and began a conversation with him about our travels.  Turns out he's a wealth of information and someone we want to get to know more.  He recommended that we just go door to door from one place to the other to get the best pricing. 

So off we went walking up and down this one street.  After talking to and seeing more units that just didn't measure up to the others, we decided to just go have lunch and wait for the text from Murray.  When it did come through they did offer us the gorgeous unit for $1,500 but that was too high for us so we made the decision to call Paul and let him know we would be there soon to move in.

So once lunch, a visit to the bank, a taxi ride up the hill to pick up our luggage, and a trip down the hill to MANGO, we were finally "HOME"!!  We know it's above our monthly budget but since we'd saved on rent in other locations, it averaged out where we set the budget.  We are paying $1,150 for a 2bedroom, 1 bath, huge beautiful apartment that is in a perfect location! 



We celebrated by first taking a dip in the pool then going to El Esquino wood fired oven pizza for dinner (and running into Murray) and then off to The Beach Club to listen to the Three Amigos, a wonderful group that we fell in love with the last time we were in Tamarindo in February with our friends, Donna and Randy.  A perfect ending to a perfect day!!

Video of Jesse Bishop singing Over The Rainbow.

Just as a side issue, to those of you out there that believe House Hunters is all "fake", please make sure that you understand the process for finding a place can take lots of time and effort on everyone's part.  So try to put together a half hour show that takes you through "only" 3 properties and then they make a decision and you see the results.  Tell me how you think they might do that if not preplanned and organized to condense the process??  Nothing "fake" about it! They do the editing so you just don't see the grueling hours spent finding and looking at property, the intense negotiations, the stressful thought and decision process, and the volumes of paperwork that go into a transaction.

After a glorious night's sleep in our huge California King bed, we spent Friday getting settled in.  Mike did the big grocery shopping because I was having a tummy issue (that now seems fine).  A beautiful walk on the beach (our first since we got here!), another dip in the pool, a home cooked meal of spaghetti Bolognese, and out to The Langosta Beach Club just down the road a short walk for after dinner drinks while listening to....yup, yet again, the Three Amigos!!  We are their new "groupies"!

Today is kick back day. Catching up on the blog, a little more grocery shopping in another store, a dip in the pool, a walk on the beach, dinner at home, and Happy Hour with the sunset back at Nibbana.  I think a beautiful beach life pattern is developing!!


Suzi and Bob said...

You certainly are tenacious. Sounds like the effort paid off. Enjoy!!

Allison said...

Gorgeous place to call home for a while, and thanks for information about insurance. I will save that in my files, definitely. The photos are all so beautiful by the way!