A Personal Thank You from Me

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you, all my past and present clients, whether a buyer or a seller. Let me explain why and I hope it is not too long winded.

I came to Costa Rica almost 10 years ago as a fresh new real estate agent in a new country. I was generously offered the opportunity by my two broker owners Michael Simons and Chris Simmons. I actually met Chris first on a return flight from Costa Rica heading back to my home in Arkansas, after purchasing another property in Costa Rica as I just loved it here.  Just by sheer luck we were seated next to each other on that flight. We chatted all the way and Chris was asking me questions that made me think “am I on a job interview?”, but he seemed like a nice guy so no skin off my teeth, as the saying goes, I think?

Anyway, just as we are ready to land he hands me his business card and says I want you to be on our team. I looked at the card and kind of chuckled and said RE/MAX, I am not a Realtor. He replied “I know that’s perfect, I prefer hiring ambitious friendly, outgoing people, you can learn about real estate”. So, I tucked the card in my pocket we shook hands and parted ways.

After purchasing my first property in Costa Rice years earlier, I always knew I wanted to move here, but being a chef and working in the tropics did not jazz me all that much and the process to be sponsored by a large hotel chain is arduous.   When I had moved to Arkansas, I had changed professions and went into hotel /restaurant equipment sales, a natural fit for a chef.  However, I always wanted to try to find a way I could make the move to Costa Rica and still make a living, as I was too young, well not that young and let’s be honest; not independently wealthy enough to retire, so I needed to work – and I like to work anyway.

One day sitting in my home office in Arkansas after a long week of business travel I thought “you know what? Where is that business card that broker gave me?”.  I thought “if I can sell complete restaurant packages upwards of a couple hundred thousand dollars, I could take my passion for Costa Rica and help others find their piece of paradise as well”. After I hunted the business card down I sent Chris an email.

Now this is no bull, with in about 2 hours of hitting the send button on the email to Chris my cell phone rings. It was my present broker Michael Simons, calling me. First words out of his mouth, “Hi, is this Joe?, My name is Michael Simons , I am the Broker owners of RE/MAX Tres Amigos in Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste, and my partner Chris says I need to hire you”.

WOW was I blown away. We talked for a good time and to make a long story short, as I did promise at the beginning of this, not to be too long winded, I resigned my position from my job, went back to school to get my license as a realtor in Arkansas, got on a plane to Costa Rica and never looked back.

I know, so what does this have to do with saying Thank You? I am honored to have joined an elite group of only 6 RE/MAX Realtors out of 91  RE/MAX agents in the entire country of Costa Rica.  I am now part of the RE/MAX HALL of FAME. This award is bestowed on any RE/MAX agent achieving over $1,000,000.00 Dollars in commissions.

So, the Big Thank you goes out to all of my past sellers and buyers because without your trust in me I could never have achieved this milestone in my career here in Costa Rica.

THANK YOU and again THANK YOU. Pura Vida!

Guanacaste, Costa Rica Rainy Season Almost Over

Thank God, we are finally heading in to November and the rainy season in Costa Rica is nearing it’s end.  This year has actually, been a good rainy season.  Yes, rain is good.  The liquid of life. As you may or not may know we had a pretty bad drought for the last 3.5 years, and the rain has been a blessing.

Hillside road near Playa Hermosa Costa Rica

Normally we receive between 40 and 60 inches of rain a year all coming from June thru Mid-November, with October usually being the heaviest rainfall. Some years a bit less, some years more. Well, to hold true to form, as of writing this Playa Hermosa has received 28.9 inches of rain, and there are a few days to go. Year to date in Playa Hermosa we have received 81.3 inches of rain.

This year we had the unfortunate low-pressure weather pattern that turned in to Tropical Storm NATE, that really hit this part, and many other parts, of Costa Rica hard. Many local folks in low lying areas were flooded out and lost most if not all of their belongings. In a 72-hour period from October 3rd to October 5th, I measured 16.8 inches of rain just in Playa Hermosa. Playas Del Coco received over 22 inches of rain in the same period of time and the distance between the two beach town is just a mere 3 miles.

Many people may have seen on national weather reports, Facebook or the internet, accounts of the river of water flowing down the main boulevard of Playa Del Coco to the ocean. In the Bay of Coco, many boats cut free of their moorings due to the high and very unusual tide and ended up on the beach.

Costa Rica rainy season brings flooding to Playas del Coco

Massive efforts by the expat community and locals alike all chipped in to help those that were in need. Many donated clothes, bedding toiletries, bottle water and of course food for those that were living in shelters to stay dry and out of dangerous situations. There were even a couple of organized beach clean ups to remove the debris that was washed up on shore. I even have clients that saw this and emailed me what can we do to help. Many sent funds to the Costa Rica Red Cross.  Others who were flying down to visit, and a few more to still arrive, have suitcases filled with items as some people are still not back to 100%, and may not be for a while. To those of you that did help out and are on this mailing list, I send you a BIG PERSONAL THANK YOU for opening up your hearts.

Some people may say wow that’s an incredible amount of rain.  In reality yes, it is a lot of rain, but it is all good. It is only when a massive tropical storm hits that it is a problem for a short period of time. As I sit here front of this laptop writing this I can look out of my office door and thru the conference room windows of the Tres Amigos office and see sunny blue skies and not a trace of rain.  Hope it stays this way, but the averages say we will get some more rain before the Costa Rica rainy season is over.

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Costa Rica Business Ideas for Expats

Thinking of throwing in the towel, tired of being bossed around and underappreciated by your boss or the company you work for? The Team at RE/MAX Tres Amigos in Playa Hermosa, came up with a list of Costa Rica business ideas we think would be profitable for the owner and good for the area as well.

RE/MAX Logo

We hear all the time from people that want a new adventure and a life in Costa Rica, “what can I do to make a buck”? Now I am not recommending you start a business that you know nothing about and I am not saying you are going to make a fortune, but that all depends on you and your work ethic. Most of us in the group have lived and worked in the area for an average of 10+ years, we see the opportunities that are needed.

Of course, there are a lot of legalities working in a foreign country and setting up a business. The most important thing I can tell you is you need good legal advice to help you do things correctly and legally. As an example, here in Costa Rica a foreigner cannot legally work until they have their full permanent residency, without restrictions or they must be sponsored by a corporation and can prove your skill set is something that cannot be filled by locals.  However, you are legally allowed to be the owner of a business, you just cannot take away the job of a local, that is until you have your full residency.

Below is the list of ideas we came up with and I placed a few comments after some of them

  1. Salad bar with all the fixings:

Fresh produce is abundant in Costa Rica and with great farmers market in Liberia this would do really well so long as you also promote to locals as a way of eating healthy.

  1. Home Inspection Company:

Being in the Real estate industry we do have 2 options we offer our clients but would really like more.

  1. Pet Sitting Service:

I know many expats that adopt loving Tico dogs and cats but they like to travel back to their home country and if you’re an animal lover this could be a great option for you

  1. Traveling Food Truck, road coach as it used to be called years ago:

With the big trend of food truck in the US and Canada, it is making its way here, someone serving original, different and fresh foods will surely be popular. Think about going from beach to beach while serving great food.

  1. Official Translator that is fluent in both English and Spanish:

I know many times I am in need of this service and so are others. If you 100% fluent in Spanish the gringo expats will be knocking down your door.

  1. Appliance Repair:

We utilize one guy who is great and does a really good job. The problem is he lives an hour away and you have to wait till he is in the area. Imagine no refrigerator for a week and half?

  1. Boat Mechanic:

This is a no brainer, we are on the Pacific coast and to find someone that really knows what they are doing, without taking the boat to Puntarenas (about 2.5 hour away by car) would be a God send.

  1. Senior Care Giver (in Home):

This is an important one especially since we have many retirees that move to the area and well we all will get old and sometimes need some help.

  1. Any Online Based Business:

Now that we will have fiber optic lines being laid throughout the Playa Hermosa, and Playas Del Coco areas providing much better highspeed internet.

  1. Plumbers:

I mean a real plumber, not just a guy that can do some basic stuff.

  1. Home Security Systems:

We have a few companies here but the follow up is much to be desired and of course there is the communication issue.

  1. Electricians:

See Plumbers above same thing.

  1. Golf Cart Rentals and Especially Repairs:

Being a small area, a lot of people own them here, and vacation renters like to use them as well. But most are electric, gas would be so much better and people that are certified or trained on how to repair them properly.

  1. Activity Equipment Rentals:

You know, items like bicycles, or scooters, kayaks, beach stuff, fishing gear, stand up paddle boards. Since we are right on the ocean these would be great to have that maybe even deliver and then pick them up after you are done.

  1. Home Decor Store:

No explanation needed here, Heck when I wanted new pillows for my sofa it was a chore to find nice ones and I had to go to San Jose just to get new lamp shades.

  1. Exterior Window Washing:

If you start this type of business, your hired, I live on the third floor, you won’t see me trying to clean the outside windows

  1. Real Delicatessen with Smoked Meats:

This is probable the best one on the list as far as I am concerned. I miss this the most from the US

  1. Sporting Goods Store:

And not just Soccer supplies.

  1. Real Asian Food:

Yes, there are sushi joints around and so called Chinese restaurants and they are ok, but I would die for some real Thai food, or even north American style Chinese food. It is really easy to turn Arroz con Pollo (rice and chicken) in to Chicken fried rice. Just add soy sauce, and stir. HAHAHA.  Indian cuisine would be great, different curries, Tandoor cooked meats and fish and let’s not forget naan. Yummy, I’m getting hungry.

So, if you’re thinking of making a move and want to start a new life in the tropics, there are many options to consider that can keep you busy and make you money. Do you have a specialty you’re good at? Want to know if it is needed here? Just send me a note and let’s discuss.