Sunday, March 09, 2008

12 keys, 5 bank accounts

I don't know why, but some things in Costa Rica you end up with far more of than you really need. For example, I have 12 keys to this house. 12. It's not a big, giant house, either: 2 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms -- I mean, granted, it's a nice size house, the biggest house I've ever lived in, but not one that should require 12 keys. There is a different key to each door, and another key to the gate out front. Three sliding doors, a front door, a door to the garage, a back door, and a door from the washroom to the garage. That's 7 keys right there, plus the gate key is 8. Oh yeah, then there's a security door with a deadbolt from the house to the garage, so that's another key, bringing our total to 9. I guess the other remaining 3 keys fit the interior doors. Is that weird? It seems weird. Though every house I've lived in in Costa Rica is pretty much the same: a big handful of keys for one small house.

And I also have too many bank accounts. The oldest is with Banco Cuscatlan, which I opened years ago when we first moved here, because the company that I worked for also had an account there, and it was easy to get an account as a foreigner at that time. Then I wanted to get an international debit card, so I opened an account at Banex (now HSBC); if you don't remember my Banex saga, feel free to read all about it. I'm only keeping HSBC because... well... honestly I don't know why I'm keeping that account open, actually! Oh yeah, okay, it is quick with international direct transfers (within 24 hours as opposed to Cusc, which can take up to 3 days). I really never use it, though. Lately, when the need arises, I've been doing wire transfers via Cusc, and just sucking up the extra couple of days in order not to have to deal with the morons at HSBC nee Banex. I deposit international checks at Cusc, though, because they have the shortest wait time on any bank I've found so far (10-14 days, depending on which teller you get). If you know of another bank with a shorter time, please let me know! Banco Nacional has about a 30-day wait time. Ouch! Hope you don't need that money any time soon! Oh, I'm getting on esposo's account at Nacional, which he only has because of work, otherwise we both really despise Nacional and wonder why anyone would actually choose that bank. They're terrible, and slow, and have had some problems with people's accounts having money taken from them without the account holders' knowledge. Yeah, that makes you feel secure! Ok, so bank #4 is BAC, which I opened in order to get the international debit card when I was having all of those problems with Banex. Now, for some weird reason, they don't let foreigners deposit international checks in their own accounts until a year has passed, so I haven't really used BAC as much as I thought I would. I'll tell you, though, they are a top-notch bank with great customer service. Other than the minor fact that the woman who "opened" my account there was completely clueless and kept waiting for paperwork I'd already provided, I've been very happy with them (a tip: use the Santa Ana/Lindora branch rather than the Escazu/Paco branch). Bank #5 is Promerica, where I have the loan for my car. I don't really know why they opened a bank account for me. Something about being able to transfer funds online to pay my loan. However, I'd still have to go to the bank to deposit funds into the account, so why wouldn't I just pay the loan instead? It doesn't really make sense, and I doubt I'll ever use that particular account.

There you have it. Five bank accounts, 12 keys. Go figure.



  1. Interesting blog! A couple of thoughts on your latest post:

    a key for every door is probably a good idea. i was burgled a few years ago and the police said that locked internal doors often deter thieves who have managed to get through the first line of defence. Seems they don't like to be around for too long and the prospect of forcing door after door sends them looking for easier prey.
    But don't let thses thoughts worry you too much - like Rick, I have read a few posts on costa rica hq and the message there (and on a couple other blogs) is to take reasonabvle precautiona as you would anywhere else - CR is no better or worse in respect of criminals than most other places.
    Bank accounts. i always like to have multiple bank accounts. Since your bank will always screw uop sooner or later, it's good to be able to dump it and start uasing an alternative without the hassle of waiting weeks to transfer everything. i think I've had accounts with most of the banks here in the UK at one time or another.
    Be happy.

  2. Thanks for your comments! I think that here, though, if the thieves have made it through the exterior door locks they'll just pop open the interior doors, since they're pretty flimsy in comparison. I don't really mind the locks, but it would be nice to have one or two keys to open everything. I even have two extra keys to my car, and I have NO idea what they go to! Maybe one locks the tire, I don't know...

    As far as worrying about a home invasion, that's already taken care of, since I was held up at gunpoint in my own home 10 days after moving here. (I wrote about that earlier, so I won't go into great detail here.) Every night I go to bed wondering if this will be the night my home gets broken into again, and now that I have a young son to worry about, the rising crime rate (I *do* think it is worse here than many places I'd choose to live if I had a choice at this point, and that home invasions are definitely on the increase) is even more worrisome. I think I've taken as many precautions as I can without having a gun in the house (which I refuse to do), but honestly I wish I didn't have to take all of these precautions at all, you know? I would never have had to have bars on my windows or 9 guard dogs back home. Sigh. Oh well. I'm here now, trying to make the best of it before we leave Costa Rica for good.