Updated COVID Requirements Costa Rica October 23

Updated COVID requirememts CRThe Costa Rican government along with the Minister of tourism, Gustavo Segura, announced on Thursday October 22, 2020, the updated requirements to enter Costa Rica as a tourist and a resident.
updated Costa Rica Requirements

The great news with the updated requirements is that starting October 26, 2020 tourist arriving no longer a need for a negative Covid-19 PCR to enter Costa Rica. Having said this some of the other requirements are still in place. Here is a refresher if you have been keeping track or are planning a trip to Costa Rica soon.
A) All people entering Costa Rica must complete the digital epidemiological form. This is known as the “Health Pass” or “Pase de Salud.” https://salud.go.cr/

B) Tourists must purchase travel insurance that covers accommodation in case of quarantine and medical expenses due to COVID-19. This policy can be international or purchased from Costa Rican insurers. The Minimum is $50,000 USD health and $2,000.00 for lodging and needs to cover you for the total time you are in the country:
Here are links to 2 Costa Rican companies that offer the required insurance. Instituto Nacional de Seguros) https://www.grupoins.com/seguroparaviajeros , or Sagicor https://tiendasagicor.com/en You can use a foreign policy but it must cover COVID-19 medical expenses and extended lodging as listed above.

 

Starting November 1, 2020, the Costa Rican Government updated the countries that are allowed to visit Costa Rica. They basically opened up to all countries around the word, so come and enjoy the Costa Rica Pura Vida!
In addition, the requirements for citizens of Costa Rica “Ticos” to return home have been updated. As of October 26, Costa Rican citizens returning to the country via a flight will not be required to quarantine for 14 days as previously. Unfortunately, there was nothing stated or mentioned about for those foreigners that have temporary or permanent residency, if they would need to quarantine? Hopefully, that will be updated as well in the coming days.

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Mistakes to avoid when visiting Costa Rica

Costa Rica MistakesThose of us who have lived for years in Costa Rica would like to help those of you who are just arriving not to make some of the mistakes we made! Maybe I am being helpful; maybe humble; maybe I just do not wish my old “lack of local knowledge” on anyone. Whatever the reasons, here I go with basic mistakes to avoid!

 

Map of Costa Rica - Costa Rica is not an islandFirst of all, Costa Rica is not an island. If you are thinking of visiting or moving here, study a map of Central America first and familiarize yourself with the geographical locations of the region. Our Caribbean cousin Puerto Rico is an island, of course, and many get the names mixed up. Now you don’t have to.

 

Rainbow over the Pacific in Costa RicaCosta Rica is intoxicatingly beautiful.  But just like other intoxicating substances, don’t let it dull your senses and lull you into a false sense of security. Petty theft happens here, and you can never think something will “be all right for just a little bit.” Never leave your car unlocked or valuables in sight (even if locked). Always have one of your group stay by your things on the beach. Mistakes like these can ruin your trip.

 

 

Night driving in Costa RicaAvoid driving at night unless you are really adventurous. Driving during daylight hours in Costa Rica is an adventure in itself depending where you are. but driving at night can be downright dangerous if you are not comfortable doing so. Poor road conditions in a lot of rural areas, unmarked roads (i.e. non-distinguishable lines or guard rails) and non-existent signage, at least the type that can assist you.  Also, heavy rain and/or fog – depending on the season – makes it a smart decision to arrive at your destination before nightfall.

Image of many cell phonesDon’t think that your phone plan from back home will provide you with cell coverage and data service here (even if you checked with them and they said they would). Some say the exception is T-Mobile, which they say offers a good international plan. AT&T network is good as well. That said, most visitors find that they end up paying a lot for extras when they get their bill. Instead, make sure your cellphone is unlocked to international service, and after you arrive in Costa Rica stop at any corner store, buy a local SIM card ($2), and insert it in your phone. Download both Waze (for directions) and WhatsApp (to communicate) on your device.

Exotic bug in Costa RicaI hope this doesn’t come as too much of a shock to you, but there are insects in paradise. Don’t come here expecting to have a bug-free experience. Most of Costa Rica is a rainforest. Even the most expensive hotels are going to have insects. In many areas of Costa Rica the nights are cool enough at night to not need AC, but that means you will likely want your windows or sliding doors open. It may surprise you to learn that screens are not a given like they are in north America. If bugs are a big thing to you, do not make the same mistakes I did 20 years ago.  Do your due diligence before arriving. Those of us who have lived here for years have learned to coexist with the insects. Well, not some of the really strange ones but they are still cool to look at!

Don’t base travel times on distance and think that just because something is “close” you can cram it into a day trip. Travel time is measured in minutes and hours, not miles (or kilometers). Roads may be in poor condition or traffic could be heavy and it will often take you longer to travel to a destination than you anticipated. A map may indicate it is only 10 miles from point A to point B, but that trip can take an hour and you may need a 4-wheel drive vehicle. In place of a map, use the Waze app.  In my opinion Waze is better than google maps in Costa Rica. It accurately reports traffic conditions and estimates travel times.

On a related note, do not try to see the whole country in 3 days! Driving here is not like driving on a freeway in the US with the cruise control on and one finger on the steering wheel. It can be a draining, white-knuckle experience; it may feel like you are dodging and weaving among obstacles like in a video game. So, take your time and do not overbook your schedule. This is one of the many mistakes I made the first time I visited Costa Rica.

Thunderstorm forming over Costa RicaDon’t believe that it won’t rain in the ‘dry’ season. There are varied weather patterns all over the country, this all depends on what part of the country you are in. That said, you’ll never suffer weeks on end of drizzly, gray skies. It rarely remains overcast for more than two days in a row. When it rains, it POURS here, and a tropical downpour complete with thunder and lightning is a wonderful experience itself. Enjoy it!

Don’t leave all your reservations until the last minute. Rooms fills up fast the same with rental cars. So, if you have your heart set on one particular place, book online but call to confirm your reservation. Ticos like to do business in person. The same goes for tour operators.

If you want to carry the local currency, which I recommend, go to any bank but you will need to show your passport to exchange money. You can pay in US dollars but the exchange rate is best at the banks.

So, I hope you find my friendly advice helpful, so when you visit Costa Rica for the first time you won’t make some of the same mistakes I made years ago. And make sure you say Hello to everyone you meet.  You will be surprised at how nice and friendly the people of Costa Rica are.

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Interested in owning a property in Costa Rica, checkout some great options here

Germany Comes to Costa Rica

German flagA lot of people are emailing me about how hard is it to meet the requirements to get into Costa Rica? Well, today I am with my friend Stephan from Muenster Germany. Stephan just arrived in Costa Rica 2 days ago on a direct flight from Frankfurt Germany to San Jose, Costa Rica.

Costa Rica Flag After spending the night in an area hotel in San Jose, Stephan drove to Playas del Coco. Why? You must be thinking how come he did not fly in to Liberia. Well, unfortunately there are no flights from Germany directly to the Liberia International Airport (LIR is the code), which is just 25 minutes away from his condo.

I helped Stephan purchase his beautiful condo about a year and half ago and we are sitting at the community pool. I asked Stephan if he would do this video with me on his experience of traveling to Costa Rica from Germany with the COVID requirements that are in place. Click the link below and see for yourself what Stephan had to say.

Stephan explained all that was needed, the information is below along with link. He also said, if you were paying attention to the video, that he would have to quarantine for 14 days back in Germany if he could not get a PCR Covid test, showing negative results.  Many countries are like that. But have no fears good news about this below.

I believe that the Coco Medical and Dental Clinic offers them. So, after we finished filming this short video, I called Dr. Hanzel Larios of the Coco Medical and Dental Clinic Dr. Larios immediately responded with a YES!! The PCR test is available in their lab at the clinic, right here in Playas Del Coco. If you need it a negative PCR test to prevent having to be quarantined upon your arrival back to you home country, I recommend making an appointment (make sure you know your countries requirements) Here is a link to the clinic. https://www.cocomedicalanddentalcenter.com/

So here are the requirements related to COVID-19 for tourists visiting Costa Rica:

A) All people entering Costa Rica must complete the digital epidemiological form. This is known as the “Health Pass” or “Pase de Salud.” https://salud.go.cr/

B) Tourists must obtain a negative PCR-RT coronavirus test. The sample for this test must have been taken at most 72 hours before the flight to Costa Rica. (This was extended to 72 hours on September 1.) If you have a layover you are not allowed to leave the airport and it can only be for 18 hours.

C) Tourists must purchase travel insurance that covers accommodation in case of quarantine and medical expenses due to COVID-19. This policy can be international or purchased from Costa Rican insurers. The Minimum is $50,000 USD health and $2,000.00 for lodging.
Costa Rica Welcomes Germany
Costa Rica is now open!! No matter if you live in Germany, Canada, Italy or the United States of America (only certain States in the US, until November 1, 2020) , you can come to enjoy the “Pura Vida” Lifestyle you have heard about or seen first-hand from your past trips. Starting November 1, 2020 all US residents, no matter what U.S. state you live in, are allowed to come. Here is a link to a complete list of approved countries and States.

https://www.twoweeksincostarica.com/traveling-costa-rica-during-covid-19-entry-requirements-protocols/

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Interested in owning a property in Costa Rica, checkout some great options here

 

News Alert! Costa Rica is Opening!

Great News, the Costa Rica government has opened the borders to travelers from the States of Texas, Florida and Georgia to the list of places that are allowed to visit Costa Rica, effective October 15th.

Costa Rica signEven better news! is that effective November 1, 2020, residents from all US States and Washington D.C. are allowed to enter Costa Rica.

As a reminder: if you are coming to visit you are still required to meet the health standards and protocols that were implemented by the Ministry of Health of Costa Rica. They are listed below.
Seal of the US Embassy in Costa Rica
Here is a link and the latest news from the US Embassy in Costa Rica detailing all the requirements for tourists and US residents of Costa Rica https://cr.usembassy.gov/covid-19-information/

Requirements for tourists and returning residents from approved departure locations prior to October 16th and then those areas after November 1, 2020, are as follows:

A) All people entering Costa Rica must complete the digital epidemiological form. This is known as the “Health Pass” or “Pase de Salud.” https://salud.go.cr/

B) Tourists must obtain a negative PCR-RT coronavirus test. The sample for this test must have been taken at most 72 hours before the flight to Costa Rica. If you have a layover you are not allowed to leave the airport and it can only be for 18 hours.

C) Tourists must purchase travel insurance that covers accommodation in case of quarantine and medical expenses due to COVID-19. This policy can be international or purchased from Costa Rican insurers. The Minimum is $50,000 USD health and $2,000.00 for lodging.

D) Tourists from the United States must demonstrate they live in one of the authorized States, via their driver’s license or State ID.

If traveling with Children click the link below for the details as this is important as well.
Person sitting in SJO airport
Accompanying minors are not required to have a driver’s license or State ID card. The Costa Rica Tourism Board (ICT) has an English-language website detailing news with entry requirements: https://www.visitcostarica.com/en/costa-rica/planning-your-trip/entry-requirements
News about Costa Rica opening up for travelers from the US
Many people have been inquiring already about this breaking news and asking, “is it safe to come to Costa Rica during this COVID mess”? Well, in my opinion YES! The number of active cases as of October 3rd are just over 32 thousand, there are roughly 5 million people in Costa Rica, that is approximately .006% of the population. Thats pretty low!

In the county of Carrillo, where Playa Hermosa, Playas del Coco, Ocotal and surrounding areas are, total active cases = 53.  With a population of roughly 46,000 people in Carrillo, that equates to approximately .001% of the population.  So, your chance of contracting COVID while in the Playa Hermosa area is very, very low. Proper social distancing is required as well as face masks in all closed environments, such as retail stores and restaurants.
Beach in Costa RicaThe Beaches are open until 2:30 in the afternoon.  All the national parks are open. Beaches and parks are only two of the many reasons people come to Costa Rica.

The borders are open!  Come on down and enjoy Costa Rica with us!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Want to keep up with everything that is happening here in Costa Rica?  Join my email list!

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Interested in owning a property in Costa Rica, check out some great options here

Interested in Coming to Costa Rica? What you need to know

Ever since this COVID-19 mess started, and spread like wild fire throughout our world, more and more people from North America are interested in traveling to Costa Rica, either to invest as a hedge against a recession or live a much slower and relaxed lifestyle.

Logo for Ministerio de SaludThe Costa Rican government has worked very hard to re-establish tourism and re-open the country, through efforts by the Ministry of Health as well as the ICT (the Spanish acronym for Costa Rica Tourism Institute). Every two weeks government agencies review statistics from countries and individual states in the US for the number of new (the key here is NEW) coronavirus cases per 100,000 residents in each location.

If you are interested in traveling to Costa Rica, for which I can’t blame you, here is a list of the approved US States you can arrive from.  Requirements to meet before departure are listed below.

List of US States approved for travel to Costa Rica as of September 28, 2020

  • Arizona
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • New Mexico
  • Vermont
  • Virginia
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania
  • Rhode Island
  • Washington
  • Wyoming
  • District of Colombia (Washington, D.C.)

Additional States approved as of October 1, 2020

  • California
  • Ohio

Click here for a complete list of countries allowed to come to Costa Rica.
Countries allowed to travel to Costa Rica

Personally, I wish they would just open up to everyone so I don’t have to do this Covid-19 update any longer.  However, I agree and support the efforts the Costa Rican government to protect their people from this illness. In the near future, residents interested in coming to “Pura Vida” land from states like Hawaii, West Virginia, Delaware, Louisiana and Alaska may be allowed because the numbers of new cases in these States are dropping below the 100 new cases per 100,000 threshold.  Let’s hope so!
Face masks in Costa Rica

The requirements for tourists that are coming to Costa Rica and reside in an approved area is as follows:

  1. All people entering Costa Rica must complete the digital epidemiological form. This is known as the “Health Pass” or  click “Pase de Salud.”
  2. Tourists must obtain a negative PCR-RT coronavirus test. The sample for this test must have been taken at most 72 hours before the flight to Costa Rica.  It used to be 24 hours but the time was extended to 72 hours on September 1st. If you have a layover you are not allowed to leave the airport and it can only be for a maximum of 18 hours.
  3. Tourists must purchase travel insurance that covers accommodation in case of quarantine and medical expenses due to COVID-19. This policy can be international or purchased from Costa Rican insurers. The Minimum is $50,000 USD health and $2,000.00 for lodging.
  4. Tourists from the United States must demonstrate they reside in one of the approved States, via their driver’s license or State ID.
  5. You will be required to use a face mask on the flight, throughout out the airport upon arrival, and in all enclosed areas, as in taxis, buses, stores, malls, museums to name a few.
    Playa Hermosa Monkeys

Enjoy the natural beauty of Costa Rica in the national parks, with volcanos, waterfalls, tropical birds and of course, Monkeys. If you are interested in visiting Costa Rica, come on down! You won’t be sorry!

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Want more information about Costa Rica in general?  Visit  my Costa Rica information page at https://www.costarican-american-connection.com/Costa_Rica_FAQs/page_2575549.html

Interested in owning a property in Costa Rica, checkout some great options here

Pandemic, Costa Rica Managing the Covid-19

Pandemic in Costa RicaI have written a few articles as well as posted many YouTube videos concerning this. Like the rest of the world, Costa Rica’s primary concern in 2020 has been controlling the Covid-19 pandemic. How has it fared? The answer is not simple. In some areas, like the Papagayo region of the Guanacaste province, the spread of the pandemic virus has been substantially contained and its effects have been largely mitigated. However, the densely populated Central Valley surrounding the capital has had an entirely different experience. How did we get to where we are today?

pandemic In Costa ricaThe first case of Covid-19 in Costa Rica was confirmed on March 6. Having seen the outbreaks and mortality rates that had occurred in other countries, the government quickly took steps to curb the spread of the contagion. Within ten days of the first case, mass gatherings were prohibited, and employees were directed to work from home if at all possible. In-person school classes were suspended, and the border was closed to visitors who were not citizens and shortly thereafter to permanent residents also. The next week additional restrictions were imposed on nighttime driving, church gatherings, and beaches. Even greater travel restrictions were in effect during Semana Santa, the popular vacation period during the Easter week. Many businesses considered to be non-essential were forced to close their doors temporarily. Restaurants were limited to takeout or delivery. The measures were so effective that a full two months after the first reported case, Costa Rica had accumulated just 761 cases, and only six people had died after contracting the disease. During the early months of the pandemic, the number of daily new cases was in the single digits or low double digits.

Costa Rica’s national health care system prepared for the pandemic before it developed locally. On March 31, a hospital dedicated to the treatment of coronavirus was inaugurated. This former rehabilitation center was equipped with the ventilators and other ICU supplies and personnel that would be needed. As the virus spread in San Jose and the surrounding metropolitan area, sections of other hospitals were conditioned to receive and treat Covid patients. In the more rural parts of the country, there were few changes in the health care system. More capacity was not needed as the number of cases continued to be very low.

Motivated by the early containment of the disease as well as pressure to reactivate the economy, the government began to ease restrictions. In June and July, national parks, hotels, stores, and dine-in restaurants were allowed to fill to 50% capacity. The authorities applied a method they called “the hammer and the dance”. A period of tight restrictions (the hammer) was followed by a period of eased restrictions (the dance). Plans were made to reinitiate in-person classes after the mid-year break in July, but these plans were later scrapped. Beginning in August, the borders were reopened to tourists from Canada, the European Union, and the U.K. who had tested negative for the virus and had insurance. The same opportunity was given to tourists from selected states in the U.S. effective September 1. Beaches have reopened but you can only stay until 2:30 p.m.

The reopening of Costa Rica’s airports to tourists from some countries and states has moved many to ask, “Is it safe to visit Costa Rica now? What has happened to the pandemic in recent months?” Sadly, the transmission rate has increased dramatically since June. On June 19, 119 new cases were reported. It was the first time more than 100 persons were infected in a day. By July, the number of daily new cases was in the hundreds, and since September started the daily average has been more than a thousand. While those nationwide numbers are concerning, other factors should also be considered. The great majority of the infections have occurred in the Central Valley. Most outlying areas have had very few cases. For example, the Sardinal District–home to Playas del Coco, Playa Hermosa, and Playa Panama–reports just 9 active cases at present and the entire county of Carrillo has had only 103 cases, most already recuperated. Another factor to analyze is that a recent study reveals that of the thousands of cases in Costa Rica, more than half can be traced to social gatherings. The second most common place to contract the virus is the workplace. So for tourists who won’t be engaging in either of those activities, the risk is greatly reduced.

While there are no guarantees, there are ways to minimize your chances of getting coronavirus. Costa Rica has enacted a mask mandate that requires that a mouth covering be worn when inside a public building or while using public transportation. That protects all of us. In addition, the Papagayo region has so many beautiful places you can enjoy outdoors without a mask. I recently visited the gorgeous, uncrowded beaches in the area, and Covid was the last thing on my mind.

Want to keep up with everything that is happening here in Costa Rica?  Join my email list!

Want more information about Costa Rica in general visit https://www.costarican-american-connection.com/Costa_Rica_FAQs/page_2575549.html

Interested in owning a property in Costa Rica, checkout some great options here

Costa Rican Oxcarts

Brightly painted Costa Rican OxcartFew objects are as iconic as a Costa Rican Oxcart. With its brightly painted wooden wheels and matching ox yoke, “la Carreta” is the quintessential symbol of Costa Rica’s past. It played an important role in Costa Rica’s history since it made the of export of coffee and other goods possible. Fittingly the Oxcart is considered one of the country’s national symbols.

Two bulls pulling a Costa Rican OxcartThe idea of the oxcart was bought to Costa Rica by the Spanish colonizers, but the original design had  spoke wheels that kept getting stuck and breaking on the country’s rough terrain and muddy roads. During the 19th century the oxcart, as we know it, was born. The spoke wheels were replaced by solid wood wheels bound by a metal ring that held up much better on rutted, muddy roads. The side and back panels were made removable in order to accommodate different types of cargo–walls for coffee and corn, none for sugar cane. Some carts had a front bench where the driver and a passenger could sit, but usually there was just the cargo area and the driver and his passengers rode in the box when empty, or walked alongside when loaded. The oxcart was the only means of transportation for many families and became a vital part of their lives.

Oxcart loaded with coffee in Costa RicaThe first exports of coffee were transported from coffee plantations in the Central Valley to the ports by oxcarts in the mid-1800’s, and this continued for almost 100 years, making the oxcart a key player in the economic development of Costa Rica.

Traditional Oxcart on a mountain path in Costa RicaThe first oxcarts were plain and functional. Painting and decorating the oxcarts started early in the 20th century, predominantly by Joaquin Chaverri, founder of his namesake Oxcart Factory in Sarchi. He first painted his family’s cart orange, and then painted decorations on it for family outings. To this day, orange and red are the traditional backgound colors. As time went on, each region developed its own unique design allowing for identification from afar and in crowded markets. Soon, each farmer created designs distinctive to his family. They used bright colors, geometric designs, stars, flowers, birds, animals and even portraits and landscapes to decorate the entire cart–including the wheels. The quality and intricacy of the painting indicated the social and economic status of a family.

Painted oxcart wheel, a national symbol of Costa RicaNo two oxcarts are painted the same, and, in time, contests were held to reward the most creative and inspiring designs. Some oxcarts even had their own song–a chime created when a metal ring struck the hub nut of the wheel as it turned. Though oxcarts are used all over Central America, only Costa Rica decorated their carts, making them unique.

Closeup of a painted oxcart wheel in Costa RicaSince oxcart painting originated in Sarchi, it is the cultural home of the oxcart. There is a museum, and in the town’s central park you can see the “World’s Largest Oxcart” built in 2006.

 

 

 

Replaced by trucks and tractors, nowadays the colorful oxcart is mostly seen in parades and festivals and on display as a work of art. But in rural areas, it is not uncommon to see an old farmer walking alongside his loaded cart, prodding along his pair of oxen. There are still muddy, rutted roads barely wider than a path that only an oxcart and its team can navigate.

In his book La Carreta Pintada (The Painted Oxcart), Michael Sims wrote: “It is not an exaggeration to say that the Republic of Costa Rica was built on the strong tenacity of the oxcart. In each aspect of agricultural labor, the countrymen relied on the strength of their oxen, plowing the earth, hauling harvests, and bringing sugar cane to the mills. As a mode of transportation. it took products to and from the market, transported travelers, was an ambulance for the sick and a hearse for the dead.”

In fact, in 1988, the vibrantly painted, traditional oxcart was designated the National Labor Symbol for Costa Rica, and UNESCO declared it an Intangible World Cultural Heritage in 2005.

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Welcome to TRES AMIGOS REALTY GROUP!

In case you haven’t heard yet, let me be the first to tell you – and put your mind at ease – RE/MAX Tres Amigos along with RE/MAX Prestige Properties and RE/MAX Ocean Village have all merged together to become TRES AMIGOS REALTY GROUP. The ownership along with all the agents had agreed that it was time to move in a new direction.

Costa Rica Global Association of Realtors Logo (CRGAR)What is important for you to know is that I am still with the same group of seasoned professionals as always. Although we are not flying the “Balloon” we are still the same group of over 15 people that you have known for the last 17 years.

National Association of Realtors LogoOur three offices will remain open and staffed with same agents and support folks to always take care of your real estate and other needs while you enjoy owning your own property and living in Costa Rica. We are committed to bring you honest, dependable and reliable service with your best interest in heart, as we always have and will continue to do.

Over the past 17 years the group has dominated the region of Playa Hermosa, Playas del Coco, Playa Ocotal and the surrounding areas.  We have more transactions thank all of the other agencies combined. Many of our agents, including me, have been RE/MAX top performers the entire time and will continue to meet or exceed that level of performance. You may be asking yourself: “how without the Balloon?” Well, let me tell you real estates is a people business.  You don’t list or buy a property because of a logo; it is the people you meet and trust that will put your best interests first.
Certified Luxury Home Market Specialist

TRES AMIGOS REALTY GROUP holds the most NAR designations of any real estate group in the area. Personally, I hold the following NAR Real Estate Designations: Certified International Property Specialist, Certified Luxury Home Market Specialist, International Real Estate Specialist, Resort Second Home Property Specialist. As well as being a legal certified SUGEF realtor and member of the Costa Rica Global Association of Realtors.

Certified International Property SpecialistResort and Second-Home Property Specialist logo

 

 

 

 

 

For those that have listed property with us, rest assured, the reality  is that we will actually be doing even more heavy marketing than before. We still have all our websites that are top rated, along with our worldwide network of buyers and real estate agents, with whom we have built strong relationships over the years.

If you have any questions at all please feel free to email me at Jaaechef@gmail.com, call me on my direct number 011-506-8385 or 1-877-661-6074 or visit my personal website often to keep up with the latest news and details of what is happening with Tres Amigos Realty and the Playa Hermosa region of Costa Rica.  www.costarican-american-connection.com

As always, I am looking forward to hearing from you and seeing you in person here in Playa Hermosa.

Want to keep up with everything that is happening here in Costa Rica?  Join my email list!

Want more information about Costa Rica in general visit https://www.costarican-american-connection.com/Costa_Rica_FAQs/page_2575549.html

Interested in owning a property in Costa Rica?  Checkout some great options here.

Recession and Real Estate

Image of Mark TwainAuthor Mark Twain once said, “Buy land. They’re not making it anymore.” There is a lot of wisdom and truth in that humorous statement by the renowned American writer. The middle of a recession is one of the best times to invest in real estate. Why is that?

 

Aerial view of a Costa Rica luxury home

Financial advisors tell us that real estate has many advantages over other kinds of investments. It is less volatile than stocks. It offers a better return than bonds and, as a result, provides a more stable income. The worst-case scenario? You have a place to live. Of course, that is not true of every property in every location but, if you study the market and make a sound investment, parts of the real estate sector can offer insulation against economic downturns like a recession.

Recessions cause Fire Sales in Costa Rica

When you study a real estate market that interests you, you may find prices have gone down because some property owners were unprepared for the recession and need to liquidate some assets. It is also possible that prices are steady but sellers are more willing to negotiate. Deep discounts and “fire sales” may give you an opportunity to pick up a property at a rock-bottom price. When there is a true fire sale, that’s the time to invest. If you start over thinking it, someone else will get in before you. Don’t think of it as taking advantage of another’s misfortune.  Think of it as an opportunity to help someone get out from under a financial burden and put cash in their pocket!

Trend line going down, indicating recession

Interest rates in the United States are at historic lows and expected to remain low for some time. So, credit that was not previously available may now be offered through your lending institution. Here in Costa Rica most, if not all, banks do not offer financing to foreigners. Your best option is to bring the financing with you.

Graphic of coronavirus causing recession

If you invest in real estate during a recession, as the economy rebounds your property will increase in value as buyers feel more confident to spend money. How long will the current recession last? The fact this economic downturn results from the COVID-19 pandemic rather than a financial crisis of another sort makes it unique and difficult to predict. This is uncharted territory for the financial industry. Most business leaders and financial experts believe it will take many months—or even years—for the economy to recover, and there may be an extended period of virtually no growth before it rises again. Unfortunately, only hindsight is 20/20, but what we know is that real estate prices are lower at the bottom of a recession.

RE/MAX Balloon

As mentioned, it is important not to assume any property purchase is a slam-dunk “nothing-but-net”. You should consult local real estate experts and study the market thoroughly. As in most places, real estate value is based on three things: location, location, location. This is especially true in Costa Rica. So, it is important to consult local realtors about which areas are likely to appreciate in value.

Prices for real estate in Costa Rica tanked in 2009-10 following the crisis in the United States. But prices are steadily rising again and have a long record of growth. You may come across an opportunity to “flip” a property, or you could hang onto it to realize its long-term potential. Investing in a rental property during a recession could give you a vacation home that pays for itself when you are not there. Win, win! The Playas del Coco and Playa Hermosa communities are home to several property management companies that can ease your worries about renting and caring for your property while you are away. When you reach retirement age, you can live in a home that has paid for itself by the time you retire, and give you a place in paradise to enjoy your “golden years.”

Recession and real estate may seem like strange bedfellows, but they can be “a match made in heaven” in Costa Rica!

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Opening of Costa Rica

Finally, the opening of Costa Rica is taking place, slowly but at least happening. Here is the most updated information I could get my hands on as of August 23, 2020. Opening the Airports is a major first step to getting back to some kind of normalcy in Costa Rica and is a welcome relief for many, not just the people of Costa Rica.
Liberia International Airport
The Costa Rican government has been evaluating each week how to restart the economy, as well as how to best protect the people of Costa Rica.  As tourism is a major economic factor for this country, the Government recognized the need to start allowing more tourists in the Country. It can feel like a moving target at times as their plan changes almost every day. However, with the opening of the Juan Santamaría International Airport (SJO) near San Jose, and by September 5th the Liberia International Airport (LIR), it is a good start. The first flights in to Guanacaste (LIR) will be operated by United Airlines, starting September 5, while Air Canada will follow with flights in October.

In early August the government declared that tourists from Canada, the EU, Great Britain, and a few other countries are allowed to visit but there will be strict protocols to follow and hence there was a lot of confusion. Then in mid-August, the opening of Costa Rica was expanded to 44 more countries. But the United States was not included. Restrictions for temporary residents as well as permanent residents was also changed to allow these people to come back home to Costa Rica.
Map of 6 US states approved for travel with the opening of Costa Rica
On August 19th the announcement was made that residents of 6 US states; New York, New Jersey, New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and Connecticut will now be allowed to travel to Costa Rica. There are additional requirements for US citizens.  Here is the most recent information:
A) All people entering Costa Rica must complete the digital epidemiological form. This is known as the “Health Pass” or “Pase de Salud.” Here is the link to the form: https://salud.go.cr/

B) Everyone arriving to Costa Rica must obtain a negative PCR-RT coronavirus test. The sample for this test must have been taken within 48 hours of your flight to Costa Rica. Best to have the form in hand upon arrival.

C) Everyone must purchase travel insurance that covers accommodation in case of quarantine and medical expenses due to COVID-19 for the duration of the stay. The insurance policy can be international or purchased from Costa Rican insurance companies that offer the required coverage, such as The National Insurance Institute (INS) https://www.ins-cr.com/ and Sagicor https://www.sagicor.cr/ .  It is important to know that if you choose a foreign insurance policy it must demonstrate proof (in English or Spanish) that their policy is valid during the entire planned trip to Costa Rica. The Insurance must cover medical expenses in cases of COVID-19 while in Costa Rica, for a minimum of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000.00 USD). The policy must also include a minimum coverage of two thousand dollars ($2,000.00 USD) for expenses of extended lodging due to the pandemic.
If you happen to be a property owner in Costa Rica but do not have residency, you are still required to have the insurance coverage.

D) All persons from the United States must prove by showing their driver’s license, that they live and reside in one of the states that are allowed to come.

In the coming weeks the Costa Rica government will continue to evaluate which tourists from areas in the United States and other countries will be allowed in to the country. The opening is slow and cautious, but continuing.

Starting August 22, to the 30th, most establishments with sanitary permits are allowed to operate nationwide. This opening of business is a welcome relief for locals as well as expats living here. Basically, any retail company like auto repair shop, a barber shop or salon can legally now open if they have a up to date health certificate.
Medical worker wearing a face mask in Costa Rica
Please note with the opening of the country to tourists, masks, face coverings or face shields are required to enter any indoor establishment that is open for business.

So, if you have been planning a trip to Costa Rica, keep those plans open and be patient, your time will come. As my mom used to tell me when I was a kid, “it is well worth waiting for something you really want than to just give up your dreams”.