Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Container Homes in Costa Rica

With the mortgage crisis in the USA, the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, and a runaway consumer culture…. It is time once again to appreciate that “small is beautiful,” simplicity is a virtue, and living within or below one’s means helps keep life peaceful.

Costa Ricans tend to live in much smaller spaces with many generations together. You don't see baby sitters for kids or senior living for old folks, mostly just families sticking together and taking care of each other. Being alone for long periods of time or living alone is not the ideal.

Last month, The New York Times published an article about small homes gaining popularity in the USA. ("The Next Little Thing")The age of the McMansion requires a lot of $$$$ for heat or air conditioning, maintenance, taxes, mortgage etc. They interviewed some people who had achieved this American Dream and now have simpler aspirations. One of the consequences of having a large home is the isolation in a family as people spend a lot of time in their own spaces with their high tech toys.

My friend Jimmy has an interesting new project that addresses the “small is beautiful” concept. He has taken shipping containers, recycled them and retrofitted the inside as a beautiful, functional home with all the necessary amenities. Jimmy’s container homes have a practical aspect in Costa Rica where many foreigners buy land without homes. It often takes a long time before building and of course you need a place to live before and during construction. Also, there is a lot to learn about your land in a foreign country before you build that can avoid big expensive mistakes later.

Jimmy was my first ex-pat friend in San Ramon and really helped me. When I didn’t speak a word of Spanish and didn’t know the lay of the land, his friendship meant a lot to this stranger in a strange land. We went every weekend to different beaches and he opened his home to me as a place to hang out. We have both seen lots of foreigners come with big dreams yet return to their country of origin when things became tough. We have helped each other over and over to find the humor in situations that could make one crazy and frustrated. Sometimes we let each other rant and rave and sometimes we party until we forget what got us stressed.

To learn more about Jimmy’s container homes look at the property page on our website. (