Here are some of the frequently asked questions regarding life in Florestral. If you find you still have questions, feel free to ask them here or in any of the more specific threads.
Q: I’m wondering if you all can share what you’ve learned about owning land in Costa Rica, legally. How does this play out tax-wise in CR and your country of origin, and what will your plans be regarding visa/residency for the long term? I’m from the USA if that matters.
A: Other than an annual property tax and company tax (if the property is owned by a company) there are no other expenses and it's very easy to do, legally.
In regards to law and tax in the country of origin, that can change and we recommend each to research in their country.
By buying a lot in Florestral, you will not officially own property in Costa Rica, you will own shares in the company that owns the property. There is a more detailed explanation of this in the contract.
Q: Does non-violence toward all living beings mean that while on Florestral land, all must be vegetarian?
A: No. it means you cannot slaughter animals for commerce within Florestral. Communal kitchens will be vegetarian. Within your home, you are free to eat and cook whatever you wish.
Q: We have a 5 year old son, what is the current school situation?
A: We currently have 3 children in the community ages 10, 12, and 16. They all go to a very good bilingual school in Uvita, about an hour away. There are also other international options in Uvita as far as schools and preschools go. In the valley there is a growing number of young kids and we hope to initiate an educational facility. The young ones also have the option to attend a local school in the Valley (in Spanish) and there may be other options with local expat community members.
Q: No amount is stated in “Florestral Members receive a discount on all SOL circle activities.” What is the base discount amount? What assurance do members have that the discount will not be trimmed to 5% at some point?
A: Florestral members enjoy 30% discount on all SOL services or products. This has been the practice in the past 6 years and we do not intend to change it. Members who wish can get further discounts by doing barter with SOL upon demand (for catering medicine plants, art, media etc).
Q: “no serving of any medicine...” does this include San Pedro? Aspirin? Mushrooms? By medicine, do you mean Ayahuasca exclusively? Can I share San Pedro or mushrooms or aspirin with a friend on my property?
A: This sentence is out of context. The full sentence is: “There is no serving of any medicine to guests of Florestral hosting center”
So yes, the guests of the hosting center who come to retreats should not be given any medicine (aspirin is ok) without a special permission from the hosting center management. These people come for retreats and have a special program which SOL is responsible for. We had cases in the past where Residents gave mushrooms to people in process during a retreat and it did not end in a well, actually it is lucky that it did not end in an injury.
You can share medicine with a friend or a few in your house without limit as long as it is safe and responsible. If you facilitate ceremonies, receive people from the outside or charge money, we ask that SOL will be consulted to ensure safety. This does not mean that others will be prevented from conducting public ceremonies, we think of it more as an air tower in an airport, ensuring the right container and, again, that ever-important safety for all.
Q: Squatter's rights - If I am away from the property for more than 3 months, it appears that someone could squat on the land and take full legal possession. How do I prevent this from happening? It looks like you have addressed this in the New Member Agreement mentioning the security of living in a community of like-minded people. Are there any recommendations of how often at minimum I would need to visit the property to ensure that I would maintain possession?
Q: Will the community accept people who would live there only part of the time and possibly share their land with another family/friends?
Q: Is there a minimum amount of time required for me to be at Florestral per year? Can I stay at Florestral for 10 months of the year but be somewhere else for the other two months?
A: Our wish & hope is that the community members will spend as much time present and involved in the community as possible... the more we are present the more we can create and grow together. Florestral is a closed community, which means that your house will always be protected against any kind of external threats. You can leave your lot or house alone for any period of time.
Florestral community members have no obligation to be present in the community and can be absent as long as they wish. Of course, the community will not be responsible for small theft or loss of valuables, things should be kept secured (in the last 5 years we have had no problem of theft at all, not in the hosting center nor in private houses). The community will only be responsible for the maintenance of the road and utilities to the lot, so if one chooses to be absent for long time they should make sure to have some sort of maintenance on their property as the forest is always alive and the climate is tropical and very wet.
FLORESTRAL COUNCIL AND DECISION MAKING:
Q: How are decisions being made in future?
A: Our hope and wish is that our new community members will get involved, take part and eventually manage the community themselves. Until we reach this stage SOL will continue to manage the project with complete transparency and full financial reports. We would like to offer a decision making system of a semi-consensus where we need 90% vote for a major decisions. We will choose a committee that will manage day to day decisions.
Q: What can I have a say about as a member ?
A: As a lot owner in Florestral, you are a part of the community council and have a vote in any matter or issue that is discussed.
Q: Which community decisions are made by the elected resident committee and which decisions are made by Florestral elders?
A: There are no ‘Florestral Elders’. Florestral committee & council will decide about Florestral development and ongoing community life. SOL will develop projects and work alongside the committee.
Q: If there are 7 lots, does that mean that the committee has 7 voting members, or are there members of SOL also in the committee? and if so, how many?
A: The new members will join the existing members (12 lot owners) to form the Florestral Village council . Every lot has a vote.
Q: “This is a proposed set of terms, however, each issue may be addressed by individuals to allow for specific necessities. Some are absolutely binding and some may be adapted.” – Please note which terms are absolutely binding and which may be adapted?
A: This sentence comes to declare that we as a community will show respect and flexibility to the needs of the individual and allow issues to be addressed. We cannot anticipate now which are the issues that will rise and need that attention. Generally speaking, the main Mottos of the community which are sustainable life, respect , spiritual growth and harmony with nature will bind us all and we can discuss as a community about the path and manifestations.
Q: Is there a monthly cost for living in the community? Q: Can you estimate property tax and annual membership fees? Q: In the new member agreement I see: "There is a residential annual fee which includes maintenance for roads, pathways, water and electricity, garbage and recycling disposal, other expenses (lawyers etc), and miscellaneous expenses. The annual fee is addressed in the pricing package." but I don't see where this annual fee is listed. Q: In the member agreement it says "[...]agrees to pay and share the cost of the maintenance of the community by paying an annual fee every year." How much will that be? That should be set before.
A: The annual fee is needed for the maintenance of public areas and infrastructure. Any other expense will be discussed and agreed upon communally. The current annual fee is $625. It is not supposed to go up significantly in the next years. Since a few people expressed a worry that it will raise too high, we have decided to cap it for the first 3 years for a maximum amount of $900 a year. We will collect real time records and a community coordinator will be managing a transparent expense list so we know where we are. In the longer run, income will arrive to Florestral also from other sources (small businesses, tours, local market, etc) and that will help to reduce the annual fee. In the future we wish for the community to self manage itself including the expenses and gathering of funds, until we reach that point it will be managed by SOL as it is until now.
Q: How are funds paid?
A: Funds can be paid in cash, bank transfer or PayPal.
Q: Do I have to have a bank account set up in Costa Rica
A: You do not have to have a bank account set up in Costa Rica.
Q: Does the annual fee depend on the size of the lot?
A: The annual fee doesn’t depend on lot size as the maintenance cost of pathways, water and electricity stays the same.
Q: Does this committee set the annual fee or is that done by SOL foundation? Who makes new rules, guidelines, and amendments?
A: The annual fee is set by the maintenance budget. It will be limited to what we can all afford and will be planned in advance as much as possible by estimating expenses for our budget. We will have to balance between the amount we want to pay (as little as possible) with the amount that the land maintenance actually needs. Knowing how it works in the Forest, we will take into consideration maintainability while constructing new projects.
Annual fee coverage:
Clearing the bush from communal areas
Clearing the water ways
Maintaining communal structures
Q: When will there be a power grid in the expansion and who’s paying for that?
A: The power grid is a part of the main infrastructure and the cost is included in the lot price. The power grid will be constructed in 2 main phases:
1. Connecting to Florestral 1's electric system and doubling the panels and batteries (cost: 10k$, covered in lot price). This will give enough electricity for the next few houses and can be further expanded. This will happen just after we make the road and decide upon the final lot locations, within a couple of months of the start of development.
2. A hydro electric solution and a smart grid that will give abundance and connectivity to the whole village. It will include the solar system. We will start this as soon as it will be possible, once the purchase of 2nd phase is complete. It is also covered in the lot cost.
Q: What are the building obligations of SOL to the community? What should I expect to be developed/built by SOL and what not?
A: SOL will first build the basic infrastructure which is roads, power & water. After that, SOL & Florestral council or a chosen committee will decide on the priorities and will manifest them according to the incoming budget. Right now those are: 1. Food forest and gardens. 2. Paths to power spots and water attractions. 3. Village center. 4. Preparing access and infrastructure 5. Wood storage and processing facility 6. Temple 7. Yoga platform
Q: How much will development cost?
A: Development cost is very difficult to asses. Let’s try anyway.
Roads part 1: 18k$
Roads part 2: 25k$
Water part 1: 4k$
Water part 2: 12k$
Electricity part 1: 12k$ (including new wire lines to new lots)
Electricity part 2: 60k$
Village center: 100k$
Yoga deck: 40k$
Food forest: 80k$ over 5 years
Wood storage and process facility: 50k$
Logistics, topography and administration: 20k$
Community vehicles, power tools, etc: 60k$ It comes to around 500k$ that will be invested in the village as budget arrives.
Q: Is there a difference between the development flow of the first part of Florestral and the expansion?
A: The expansion project is very fortunate to be able to use all the existing infrastructure of Florestral (water, electricity etc.) to which it will be connected from day one. As we expand the system, the community as whole will enjoy the benefits.The flow in both parts of Florestral will be the same, as they will be treated as one in the social and practical essence and will share the infrastructure. Residents of both parts will have access to all of Florestral’s communal areas and will hold one committee of Florestral development and social aspects. It is worth mentioning that until now SOL was the one that did all of the developing and caring for baby Florestral. It is our intension that the next phase will include more of the resident’s motivation. Hence all the encouragement to start a project and be involved.
Q: On average how much does a home cost to build? Can you give me a minimum price for a home with 1 room, 2 room, etc?
Q: Also, what the prices include, are estimated building costs included in a lot price?
A: You receive your lot clean and ready to built, with a road to it and water and electricity provided by the community. Then it's up to you, you can start with a simple livable structure with 6000-10,000 US$ and grow slowly from there.... You can build a decent sized good quality home for a family around 30,000-60,000 US$ and above, it depends on style and size. It's really dependent on what kind of house you’re looking for. Being a part of our community, you will get all the support you need, finding contractors/workers/materials etc. We can also build your house for you by your design (accepted according to our building code), using our construction team.
We have prepared a building presentation which shows the different structures already built in Florestral, their materials, cost and time spent. You can find it in the 'buildings and construction' thread here on the forum.
Q: Can I use the trees outside of my lot for building? Or will the community provide me with building materials?
A: The Teak wood will be harvested over time and will be used for owners, community projects and SOL projects. So the answer is yes, you can use the teak wood in coordination with SOL and with paying a small amount for the processing of it. We have an abundance of wood!
Q: Are you open to other building techniques such as earth building as opposed to concrete?
A: Yes, we are absolutely open to any building technique that is ecological and in harmony with the CR building code and our community values (including safety and environmental sustainability).