Open the Airports in Costa Rica!

Liberia Airport in Guanacaste Costa RicaShould the international airports in Costa Rica be opened? Well after almost four months of airports being closed in Costa Rica because of COVID-19, It is time to start allowing foreign visitors in. This blog might raise some arguments, but that is not my intent. My intent is to bring awareness to the suffering of the local Ticos in Guanacaste, not the Ex-pats living here.
Daniel Salas, Minister of Health in Costa RicaI am not in any way slamming the government of Costa Rica.  Actually, I am very proud of the way the Minister of Health, Daniel Salas, and the President, Carlos Alvarado, have handled the situation – putting restrictions in place to help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Being a full-time permanent resident and tax-paying contributor, I have the right to speak my mind. Not that my opinion is right or wrong, it is just my opinion.
Some people reading this will say, “this guy is nuts”, or “he does not know what he is talking about, have you seen the news?”, “Has he read the science?” “Oh, he is realtor all he cares about is making a sale”! I have read lots of the “science” being these decisions and it is contradictory, to say the least. One week they say to use a mask the next week don’t use a mask.  Cancel all social gatherings, but allow people to congregate and protest? Or quarantine in your house, but it is ok to get on a packed bus to go to the doctor. Where is the science in that?
a group of poor children in Costa RicaI am not writing this to cause an uproar, I am actually writing this for the many poor locals in Guanacaste that are suffering beyond belief because of the lack of economic activity in the area. I have many local friends that are out of work because the hotel they work at is closed.  Other friends work for tour operators, and others are cooks in restaurants, all of which are closed.  If you happen to find it in your heart, there are many associations in the Guanacaste area that are helping raise funds to purchase food and basic supplies for those in need. Please email me at and I will put you in direct contact with them.
People zip lining in Costa RicaTourism is the number one contributor to the local economy in most of Guanacaste.  When you cut off tourism you might as well cut off people’s heads. Sounds extreme right? Well, think about going to bed hungry every night because you can’t make a buck to put food in your kids’ mouth – can’t even pay your rent – then where may you end up? On the streets? Stop and think about that for a minute while you read this on your laptop in the comfort of your home, or on your expensive smartphone!
Having said that, it is time to open the airports and let foreign visitors arrive. Allow those that are property owners, that are paying taxes to arrive and enjoy Costa Rica. Allow first-time visitors to come and see the wonders of Costa Rica and the beautiful warm and welcoming people. Of course, all of this with strict protocols that must be in place to prevent the ongoing spread of the virus.  For example: have all those that want to come to Costa Rica prove they are virus-free by having certified test results before even getting on a plane. Make this a requirement, just like the need to have a passport. It is not that hard. The airlines are already checking for many things before you get on the plane so why not one more thing.
Airport in San Jose Costa RicaA lot of people say, “well opening up the airports will bring more cases of COVID-19 to Costa Rica, we need to protect the older population”. True the older population is at risk – I know, I fall into that category – but do these older persons still work? No. 90% of the time it is the younger Ticos working, being the breadwinner for the family – including putting food on the table for the elderly. So, when you take away the younger person’s ability to work guess who else suffers; or dies from potentially catching the virus, or dies from starvation? Which would you choose?
I’ve read a lot of posts on social media saying it is time to open the airports and then there are those that are opposed as to it well. Usually, the ones that are opposed are older, more financially secure ex-pats who have retired in Costa Rica or local Ticos that have government jobs and have not missed a paycheck. I am going to touch on one thing that not one person can argue with; once a person is born, they are going to die someday.  Unfortunately, it is part of the life cycle. So, let’s not have more people die unnecessarily from something that can be controlled.  Open the airports!

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Plantains a Costa Rica Favorite

Plantains, Costa RicaWhen I first came to Costa Rica in 1999, I saw what I now know to be plantains in the fruit and vegetable stand and I thought, “Wow! Those are the biggest bananas I have ever seen!” Even though I had been working as a sous chef in the Midwest of the US, plantains were nowhere to be found.

I wasn’t completely wrong, upon returning back home I started doing some research and plantains do belong to the banana family. The banana family is divided into 2 main categories: Dessert and Plantains. So, plantains actually ARE bananas, or “bananos”, as they are called in Costa Rica. Though cooking bananas and plantains is a matter of custom rather than a necessity, there are notable differences. Eating a raw banana is a sweet treat, but raw green plantains are not sweet at all and will set your teeth on edge if you try to eat them, although that could also be said for a green banana.

Plantains over ice creamRipe bananas are not generally cooked (exceptions being banana bread and Bananas Foster and a few other dishes), whereas ripe plantains are always cooked. You actually COULD eat a ripe plantain raw since their starches are converted to sugar in the ripening process similar to a banana but it is not recommended. And as you will see, there are much tastier ways to enjoy a maduro, or ripe plantain.

Plantains are a staple food in the tropical regions of the world, ranking as the tenth most important staple food in the world, and they can be a tasty, starchy addition to your diet. The nutritional value of plantains is similar to potatoes with 2 exceptions: plantains have 500 times as much Vitamin A and Beta-carotene. Additionally, the price of potatoes varies wildly in Costa Rica, whereas plantains are available and inexpensive all year round.

fried plantains in Costa RicaThese fit perfectly in any breakfast, lunch, or dinner menu and are also a delicious snack. If you order Gallo Pinto for breakfast, there will be a couple of slices of sweet, ripe fried plantain on the side. The same is true for the ubiquitous lunch special, the casado–fried plantains always accompany your meat, rice, beans, and picadillo. Savory fried green plantains called patacones are often offered as appetizers or accompaniments on dinner menus.

plantain chipsMany Costa Ricans have a plantain tree on their property and it is common for a neighbor to offer you a few plantains or even a whole racimo, or bunch. At times you will be offered guineos or cuadrados, which are plantains that are shorter and fatter with a slightly different texture and not as sweet. You cannot eat a guineo raw–it has to be cooked, usually by boiling. It has a blander flavor than the larger, longer plantain.

Green or ripe plantains can also be boiled, baked, microwaved, or grilled, either peeled or unpeeled.

fried plantainsA ripe plantain is peeled like a banana before processing, but the pulp of green plantain is hard and the peel is stiff and cannot be removed by “peeling.” It has to be scored lengthwise with a knife and pried off. When removing the peel of green plantains, you will encounter a stickiness on the inside of the skin that does not wash off easily and leaves a brown stain. To avoid this, you can use gloves, or rub your hands with oil before working with plantains, or wash your hands with lime juice afterward.

Would you like to introduce plantains into your diet? Here I will tell you how to prepare plantains the two most common ways.

Patacones with Guacamole in Costa RicaLet’s start with green plantains and make patacones. Patacones are twice-fried green plantain patties. To prepare them, cut a peeled green plantain in 1 1/2” long pieces and give the pieces a quick fry in oil just to soften them. Remove the pieces from the oil and smash them one by one with the bottom of a bottle or with a cutting board until the piece is about 1/2” thick. Fry the patties a second time until crispy. Season with salt and enjoy! Or you can top them with refried beans, crumbled queso fresco, salsa, guacamole, or really whatever you like! When the oil is fresh patacones are really quite good.

Strips of fried green plantains (plantain chips) are an excellent stand-in for potato chips and are sold anywhere snacks are.

Now for the ripe plantains, or maduros. When a banana goes from yellow to black, it is no longer any good. However, when a plantain gets black, it is perfect! A yellow plantain may be ready to prepare also–give it a squeeze and check for softness. After removing the skin, the ripe plantain is sliced and pan-fried in oil or butter until golden brown and caramelized. Put a dollop of sour cream (natilla) on each slice and enjoy. Buen provecho!

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ZONA CATASTRADA, Costa Rica Land Survey

Logo of the Registro Nacional in Costa Rica - the land registryWhat is a Zona Catastrada you ask? Well, it is a county or district in Costa Rica that has been surveyed by the government to ensure that all properties registered have accurate land boundaries and are properly registered.
In a continuing effort to help educate my readers about Costa Rica property purchasing and ownership, I have not been just sitting around during the COVID-19 shutdown here in Costa Rica. I spent a good amount of time with my trusted legal advisors learning and understanding some new regulations pertaining to real estate in the district of Sardinal, located in the canton of Carrillo in province Guanacaste, especially the Playa Hermosa area.
This information is freely shared and in no way is it meant to represent any legal advice. It is highly recommended that you speak with a licensed registered “Notario” or a lawyer that is registered as a notary in Costa Rica.
Costa Rica Plano CatastralI am going to do my best to explain some past history and what is happing now so that you can be fully aware before deciding to purchase a beautiful Costa Rica property, or if you are planning on selling your Costa Rica property.
Over the years the “Registro Nacional” or national registry division of Costa Rica and the “Registro Catastral” or cadastral registry division (official property surveys) of the country did not automatically link together. It was discovered many years ago that there is actually more land registered than there is actual land in Costa Rica. They are now linked and are working all over Costa Rica to correct any discrepancies.
Image of the land registry website in Costa RicaSome properties may have been registered under ownership but no lot survey was done, then there were lot surveys done with multiple registrations, some properties were surveyed overlapping other properties or the survey showed the property lines flowing into the street. These are just a few examples. The central government has been working on correcting this issue for years now. There have been many areas in the country that have already gone through the process. Now it has come to the district of Sardinal where I often assist folks with buying and selling property and it is the same area that my home is located. It is called “ZONA CATASTRADA”. The entire district or county of Sardinal has been resurveyed by the government.
Playa del Coco Certificado CatasralUnder the new regulations all lawyers that are notaries, who are responsible for transferring property, are required by law to ensure the property being transferred is “Certificado Catastral” if the property is located in a “ZONA CATASTRADA”. Here is a translated explanation of “Certificado Catastral” as it is called in Spanish or Certified Cadastral in English.

A map or survey showing the extent, value, and ownership of land, especially for taxation purposes. First, territoriality consists of commonly accepted spatial concepts and methods of area delineation, from oral traditions and place-naming practices to cadastral registers backed by state power.

Costa Rica property registry reportThis new “Certificado Catastral” replaces the original “Plano Catastral” and the “Informe Registrado” and will indicate if there is a variance or discrepancy on any property within Zona Catastrada. If not, all is good to go. If there is a discrepancy, most of these can be easily fixed. For example, it is possible that the registry report shows that no lot survey has been registered, or the registry report shows one amount of actual land, while the survey report shows another amount of land.
So, what does this mean for you? First, if you are thinking of purchasing a piece of property you should ask your local, Costa Rican notary if the “Certificado Catastral” is clean.
If you are selling property it would be wise to get this done before you receive any serious offers. If an offer comes and your land does not have a clean Certificado Catastral it could delay the closing and potentially result in a loss of sale – something you certainly would not want to happen.
Second, it is recommended you contact the legal team that helped you purchase your property in the first place to have them start work on getting a Certificado Catastral for you. It is not very hard to obtain. At the time of writing this, this report is not available online, unlike some other registry reports.
Third, if there is an issue with your property please remember that when you purchased the property this was not a requirement. Your property was transferred and due diligence was done correctly.
If you have questions or have not been in touch with your legal team in a while, I can recommend a very good legal firm that can assist you with this process. Just send an email to

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Registered, Is Your Costa Rica Real Estate Agent ?

There are two questions you need to ask any real estate agent in Costa Rica before starting to work with them. The very first question you should ask them is, “Are you registered with SUGEF?” The second is to ask if they are a registered active member in good standing with either of the only two government recognized real estate associations, CRGAR (Costa Rica Global Association of Realtors) or CCCBR (Cámara de Corredores de Bienes Raices).
Now you might be asking what is “SUGEF” and why does a real estate agent need to be registered? Well, let me start with this then move on to the associations.
SUGEF logoSUGEF” is the Spanish acronym for “Superintendencia General de Entidades Financieras” in English it is the General Superintendent of Financial Institutions. This is the Costa Rica government agency that oversees all the banking and any company in Costa Rica that receives third party funds from abroad. For example, escrow agencies, and property managers. The main reason SUGEF is placing more types of businesses under their umbrella is to help prevent money laundering, drug trafficking, and funding of terrorists.
REMAX balloon logoStarting roughly last year, SUGEF starting adding different types of companies and occupations to the list of those that need to be registered with them. Real estate agents were one of the professions, along with lawyers and others. The requirements to register are quite detailed. I had to disclose every real estate transaction I was involved in from April 2019 until March 2020. The items to disclose were:
Real Estate agent registered with SUGEF1) Do I do real estate in my own name or the name of Costa Rican Corporation
2) The number of transactions that closed from April 1, 2019, to March 31, 2020.
3) Was the buyer a foreign entity or a Costa Rica entity?
4) Was the buyer using a Costa Rican Corporation or their personal name?
5) How many employees does my company have that are receiving benefits of the social security system?
6) What bank accounts and IBAN numbers are associated with my company?
7) How many vendors do I utilize to operate my business?
All this information had to be entered into their web platform utilizing a digital signature, which thankfully I already have.
CRGAR logoThe second question you need to ask is if the agent you are considering using is registered with one of the two legal real estate associations. “Why?” you ask? Well, would you get real estate advice from the cashier at the local grocery store? Or maybe your favorite bartender? Or the one I like the most, the tour guide with whom you spent the entire day doing zip lining, mud baths, and nature tours. I am not knocking these folks/  They have a service they provide and may do it extremely well, but real estate is not one of them.
Example of a Costa Rica cedula given to legal foreign residentsUse a proven real estate professional, one that legally can work in Costa Rica and can prove it by showing you their residency card that says “Libre Condicion” (Free of Conditions) or their citizenship card called a “Cedula”. The real estate agent should own property in Costa Rica.  It shows two things: permanence and that they have the knowledge of how to close a real estate deal in Costa Rica so they can help you do the same.

CCCBR logoAgain, the same question: is the agent an active member of a real estate association? A true professional will have taken the time and expense to learn the real estate laws of Costa Rica. As agents, we have taken courses and are required to take “continuing education” courses from these associations so we can properly guide you through the entire buying process.

Now you know the two main things you should ask a Costa Rica real estate agent before you decide to work with them.  Being registered with SUGEF and at least one of the two major real estate organizations is a minimum to protect yourself.

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Is it difficult to start a business in Costa Rica?

How do you start a business in Costa Rica? Is it possible for a non-citizen to do so? These questions are commonly asked by those who would like to move to Costa Rica but need some additional income in order to make it work. Or, maybe you have the entrepreneurial spirit, and your idea of an enjoyable retirement is to watch your idea grow into a profitable enterprise. A motive for others is to give back to the community by starting a business that will provide quality jobs that support their neighbors.

Restaurant on the beach as a businessWhatever your circumstances, you’ll be glad to know that it is possible to legally start your own business in Costa Rica. And you don’t have to be a permanent resident of Costa Rica to do so. Even those visiting as tourists can start a business. However, you need to be aware of the requirements that the government imposes. Costa Rica welcomes foreign investment but, like most countries, it is protective of its labor force. In other words, the government wants you to start a business or invest capital in an existing business, especially if it creates jobs for Ticos. On the other hand, it doesn’t want foreigners to fill jobs that Costa Ricans can perform. So while you are allowed to own and manage a business, you may not be able to perform the work yourself. Those are the underlying principles for many of the rules regarding foreigners and commerce.

The key to a successful startup is finding the right people. In Costa Rica.  The first person you will need on your team is a knowledgeable lawyer. Your attorney will guide you through the process of legally registering your company. The most common business structure is the Sociedad Anónima, often referred to by its initials SA. It is popular because it protects the personal income and assets of its shareholders from liability. The other option is the Sociedad de Responsabilidad Limitada (SRL). It can be composed of just one member, so it’s even simpler than the SA which requires at least four persons to make up the board of directors (junta directiva). You may also need a permit, or license, depending on the nature of the business. Attorneys fees and registration is typically between $800 and $1200 depending on the Law firm.

After registering your business, you will need a competent accountant. Costa Rican tax laws and accounting practices are very different than in North America, so a local accountant is essential to ensure that you are in compliance. Costa Rican businesses are responsible for the following taxes: Social Security for employees (14.5% of salary), corporate income tax (10-30% depending on gross revenue), property tax (0.25% of the appraised value), and annual corporation fee (around $250). A qualified account will not only keep your books balanced but will also keep you on the right side of the law.

Starting a business in Costa RicaYou might think your profits will be substantial in Costa Rica because wages are lower than you would pay employees in the US, but Costa Rican employees have a lot of rights and benefits that may cut into your bottom line. It is very important to look into that before hiring employees. Your lawyer and accountant will be excellent resources.

Another important step for your startup is to open a bank account. Banco de Costa Rica, a state-owned bank, allows non-residents to open an account using their passport as identification. The minimum initial deposit is ¢50,000 colones, $500 dollars or €100 euros. Another bank requirement is a minimum monthly income of $1000. The bank may require documentation–bank statements or certified accounting reports–to verify the amount and source of income. Once your bank account is opened and funded, you’ll be able to do most transactions online from wherever you are.

Restaurant for sale in Costa RicaMany that have made the move have decided to become legal residents of Costa Rica. One of the ways to obtain residency is by means of an investment of $200,000 or more in a business or property. So starting your own business in Costa Rica can produce multiple benefits: income, supporting the economy of the community, and permanent residency status.

Costa Rica RealtorI know this because I have been through the whole process of starting a business in Costa Rica. Can it be trying? Of course, any startup is, but the rewards are unending, and what a great place to be.

With the onset of COVID-19, unfortunately there will be many small businesses that won’t make it through the crisis. It is a sad situation.  However, on the other hand it can be a great opportunity for the person that wants to move to Costa Rica and start a business. Take a look at some of the businesses for sale in our area.

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Work from Your Costa Rica Home

Can I work from home in Costa Rica? Well the answer is yes and no. I will explain it further on in this article. Now that more and more companies, due to the COVID-19 situation, are telling their employees to work from home, Costa Rica is a great location to do it from.
Laptop computerPersonally, I have clients that have purchased properties in Costa Rica, and they love it so much they decided to live here full time and made the move – but they continue to work for the same company back in North America via the internet. Internet service in Costa Rica is very good.  They have broadband service up to 100 megabytes.  Not fast enough?  Then there is a screaming fast fiber optic option with 500-megabytes of service.  The service is only available in select areas at this time but the footprint is growing quickly.
Tourist passport stamp from Costa RicaSo how do others successfully work from home in Costa Rica? Well, after they found the right property in paradise and moved here full time, these folks started the residency process. You cannot legally stay in Costa Rica past the 90-day stamp in your passport, hence, starting the process to become a legal resident is important.  For assistance with this contact me and I will help guide you to the right people to obtain your Costa Rican residency.
Now, because of COVID-19 the world is changing.  We all see it.  Social distancing, wearing masks, and the list goes on. Many companies started work from home programs a few years ago, as there is no real need for a worker to come in and sit in a cubical all day or behind a computer all day in an office environment when in reality the employee does not really need to be there. Companies that do value their employees are making it easier now by having more work from home.
The National Association of Realtors (NAR) took a flash poll of its members worldwide, of which I am proud to be a member, to find out what members are seeing with their clients and local markets relating to real estate.
Costa Rica NAR memberFrom the National Association of Realtors:
On May 10th and 11th, NAR conducted a flash survey of members on the impact of the coronavirus on their market. 61% of members have donated to or volunteered with non-profits helping with COVID-19. 75% of members overall said that none of their past clients have asked them about mortgage forbearance. Half (49%) of members expect that, when state and local economies reopen, employers will continue to allow workers to work from home for the near future, or beyond reducing the need for office space. 
work from home in Costa RicaAs you just read above, “reducing the need for office space” basically means more people will be working from home. Why not work from your Costa Rican home? I do. I have a home office with everything – printer, laptop, etc.  Heck, it is where I am writing this blog from! There is no better place to be right now during this COVID-19 pandemic. I cannot tell you how happy I am that I made the move over 12 years ago to live here.
Would you like information on how you can work from your own Costa Rica home? Just drop me an email at

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Work from home in Costa Rica

High-Speed Internet, Costa Rica

High Speed Internet in Costa RicaIs high-speed Internet available in Costa Rica? It’s an important question because we live in a connected world. If we lose that connection, even in a beautiful place like Costa Rica, we feel isolated and uninformed. While it’s great to unplug and get away from it all once in a while – and Costa Rica is the place to do that – before long we feel the need to be in touch with our friends and family. We want to know what’s going on around us or back home. Moreover, many depend on a reliable high-speed Internet connection to make a living or accomplish other essential tasks.

Keyboard with Internet and Costa Rica flag buttonsSo, does Costa Rica have high-speed Internet? In a word, yes. The days of sluggish, spotty dial-up Internet are a thing of the past. In the early days, the state-owned ICE (Institute of Costarican Electricity) enjoyed a telecommunications monopoly. That all changed when the Central American Free Trade Agreement went into effect in 2010. ICE’s monopoly was broken, and international telecommunications giants quickly established a foothold. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been invested in fiber optics networks, towers, and other infrastructures. As a result, high speed Internet coverage reached more and more regions of Costa Rica. Today, a higher percentage (85.5%) of Costa Rica’s population has access to Internet than in any other country in Central America. That’s good news if you want to stay connected while visiting or living here.

Logo of Cable Tica, a high-speed Internet providerWant to know who are the Internet service providers in Costa Rica? The forerunner, ICE, is still in the telecommunications business, but now they market their cell phone and Internet service under the brand name Kolbi. ICE’s biggest competitors in the cell phone service market are Claro and Movistar. In addition to cell service, both offer wireless residential Internet packages. Cable television operators have also entered the Internet service provider market. They include Cabletica, Tigo, and Telecable, and all offer packages that include high speed Internet, cable television channels, and a fixed VoIP phone.Logo of Tigo, Costa Rica internet provider



Logo of Kolbi, Costa Rica internet provider





I can attest first hand to the quality if high-speed internet in Costa Rica. I need the internet for my business and well, posting blogs like this. My provider is Cable Tica. I purchased a package with 100 megabytes of download speed including over 180 channels of digital TV. This entire package is only $80 USD per month. The service provided is pretty good as well, placed the order and 2 days later I had 2 different tech’s at the house setting it all up.

What Internet speeds are available, and how much do they cost? As of this writing the top speeds offered and their corresponding monthly rates (for Internet only) are as follows:

Internet service provider Download speed Monthly fee
Cabletica 100 megabytes $43
Cabletica 200 megabytes $60
Kolbi 50 megabytes $49
Telecable 100 megabytes $45
Telecable 300 megabytes $125
Tigo 100 megabytes $60
Claro 4G (14 megabytes) $49*

*Includes downloads of up to 150 Gigabytes per month

Logo of Claro, a high speed internet provider in Costa RicaClaro uses its network of cell phone towers in conjunction with a residential receiver to provide Internet in homes. Unlike the other Internet service providers, Claro is wireless. Although it has slower download speeds than the others, it may be the only option in areas beyond the reach of cable networks. Satellite Internet service is another wireless option, but expect monthly fees to be several times that of cabled Internet service providers. All Internet service providers routinely offer speed upgrades at no additional cost. As their technology advances, they try to stay competitive. Commercial Internet service, offering greater speeds at a greater cost, is available in some areas. Speeds, prices, and coverage are constantly changing, so check for the latest offers in your area when you are ready to sign up.

Internet Costa RicaIs the Internet reliable in Costa Rica? Blazing download speeds aren’t worth much if you constantly lose your connection. Fortunately, most users in Costa Rica report that their Internet is stable. Yes, just like everywhere else in the world, sometimes the internet goes down,  it happens. Some even say it is a better–higher speed and more reliable connection– than they had back home and I can agree totally with that. So, rest assured that you can stay connected on high-speed Internet as you enjoy the wonders of Costa Rica.

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Building a Home in Costa Rica

Home building in Costa RicaSounds like a far-fetched idea? The truth is, building a home in Costa Rica is not as hard as you may think. Actually, it is rewarding.  I know because I have built two in the Playa Hermosa area. It is a great feeling that once you are finished building your home, you can step back and say “See what I did”!
All the photos in this blog are of the last house I built in Costa Rica, it is almost time to move in.

Ok, let’s start with the process, shall we! First things first:
View from my property in Costa Rica

Step 1: Find the right property for you

You need to acquire the land that works best for you. Do you want the big ocean view that is expansive with the sun setting on over the water every day.? Maybe, your preference is a country-style property with lots of land around the house and area to put fruit trees and a vegetable garden. Some folks prefer to be close to their neighbors. Everybody has a different idea of the perfect location. This is where I can assist.  Check out some of the many different residential building lots in the Playa Hermosa area. See something you like, email me.  I will give you the information you are looking for.
Home is almost finished

Step 2: Choose a Builder

Now that you have purchased your lot or land to build a home, you need to choose a builder. We have many good builders and tradesmen here in Costa Rica. I can recommend at least six, most speak English. I have used both a Costa Rican builder and a foreigner that is a legal resident here that speaks perfect English.
Front elevation of my home in Playa HermosaStep 3: Design Your Home

Now comes the fun part, designing the house you want to build. I have seen homes in the area from very traditional Spanish colonial design to ultra-modern contemporary. It all depends on your preference. Designing your home can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months and, again, it depends on you.

Step 4: Finalize, or Localize your Plans

All the builders have architects and engineers on their staff that work with them directly and will coordinate the entire process for you. There is no need to go find one of each on your own unless of course you already have preferred plans from an architect from where you live; then the plans only need to be localized to local building codes.

Step 5: Get all your Building Permits

Once you have finally decided on the final design, the process of getting permits to build a home here in Costa Rica may seem daunting.  However, most builders will handle the whole process for you. Having said that I am still going to give you a list of what is required.

What you will need to get your building permits in Costa Rica

A) Copy of the Plano Catastro for legally registered land survey.
B) Proof you are the owner of the property, “certificacion literal” This is basically a form from the government saying you are the owner of the property.
C) Original “Carte de Aqua Disponible” a Water availability letter from the local supply of water.
D) Original blueprints signed off by the “Colegio de Ingenieros” or College of engineers showing that the planes and construction meet all the structural, electrical, plumbing and sanitary building codes. Your builder architect will take care of this part.
E) A signed letter from the electric provider that there is legal electricity at the property.
F) Proof from “Hacienda” this is the local tax authority that you are up to date on all your personal taxes in Costa Rica.

Step 6: Get Approval from your local Municipality

Now that you and your builder have all your permits and paperwork in order, it is time to present everything to the local municipality department of engineering for their approval. This process can take around 2-4 weeks depending on how busy they are. KEY POINT: make sure you have everything in order and all the paperwork required by the municipality.  It is best to check with the builder first to make sure.

Step 7: Build Your New Home in Costa Rica

Now you received your building permits, Great Job you are on your way to building your new home in Costa Rica.

Now the real fun part begins. Even if you are not “on the ground” in Costa Rica when the building begins most, if not all of the builders, will send progress photos to you every week. If you happen to be here in Costa Rica while the home is under construction, even better – but it is not completely necessary.

One thing I have experienced after building a home here, as well as two others in the United States, is: if you have a budget in mind of what you can afford, always add at least 15%-20% on top of that. Now, you may be thinking yeah that’s right – builders like to add extras and hidden fees. Well, although that does happen from time to time, honestly that’s not really the issue.  What really happens is that when the building process starts there are always changes you want to be made.  That is where the extra percentage comes into play.

When you are thinking of building a home in Costa Rica, don’t be afraid of the idea.  It is actually pretty easy.  Feel free to contact me and I will be happy to point you in the right direction.

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Financing Property in Costa Rica

Title image about financing property in Costa RicaHow about financing property in Costa Rica? That’s the question on the minds of many who would like to own a piece of paradise. They’ve visited this beautiful tropical Shangri-la, fallen in love with it, and now want to start a life together. But how do you buy a property if you don’t have the cash? Financing seems the obvious answer. But is financing property in Costa Rica an option? There’s good news and bad news. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.

Getting a Costa Rica Mortgage

Obtaining a mortgage from a Costa Rican lending institution is a long shot. If you’re not a Costa Rican citizen or legal resident, your chances of being approved for a loan are next to nothing. If you become a legal resident, it’s possible to get a loan, but the odds are still against you. You may have an excellent credit score in your home country, but it may not satisfy the Costa Rican banks. They may have no way to verify your financial information–income, assets, liabilities, and credit history—because all the financial records are kept in another country where they have no access. For that reason, the local credit unions are reluctant to lend.

Even if you do qualify for financing, you may choose not to borrow from a Costa Rican bank. The interest rates are notoriously high, often double the mortgage interest rates in North America. And to make matters worse, you’ll have to fill out a mountain of paperwork.

Does that mean that you should give up on the hope of financing property in Costa Rica? Not at all. The good news is that there are many other options.

Owner Financing

Some buyers have taken advantage of owner financing to purchase a home or land in Costa Rica. It’s an option worth investigating if the seller is a reputable developer. As always, be sure to enlist the services of a trustworthy real estate agent and lawyer. Some sellers are willing to carry the note for qualified buyers for many years. Other owners might offer a payment plan for a few years with a balloon payment scheduled at the end. The latter arrangement allows time for the buyer to sell another property or take the proceeds from another investment in order to make the large final payment. Well-established escrow companies can protect your interests until the purchase is finalized.

Graphic about bridge financing property in Costa Rica

Home Equity Loan

A second viable option, if you still own your home in North America, is a home equity loan or home equity line of credit. If you’ve built equity in your residence over the years, you have a great source of cash at your fingertips. How much will lenders allow you to borrow? Depending on your income and credit status, as much as 75-90 percent of your available equity. And interest rates are often favorable since your original home serves as collateral.

Retirement Fund

A retirement fund is another useful resource. You may be able to withdraw enough to invest in property in Costa Rica. If you’re from the United States, your 401k or IRA (individual retirement account) can be converted into a self-directed IRA which, in turn, can be used to make your purchase. However, the rules are restrictive, so be sure to consult an expert if you’re considering this option. I can offer companies for you to contact if this is an avenue you want to pursue. I personally have helped over 30 people use a self-directed IRA to purchase property in Costa Rica.

Private Lenders

A less common but still workable alternative is to borrow from a private lender. Each lender has its own list of requirements, and the interest rate may be higher than that charged by traditional lending institutions. But if it makes the difference between getting the home of your dreams and missing out, it’s worth considering.
Just remember one thing, 95% of the time there is a solution to any roadblock, financing the purchase of a property in Costa Rica is possible. Contact me to learn more. These are just some of the many options for financing property in Costa Rica. So what are you waiting for?

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Helping Playa Hermosa Community

During times of crisis, like this COVID-19 epidemic the world is facing, it is important to remember to help those in the community that needs it the most. A group of local business owners and ex-pats are helping Playa Hermosa.
Playa Hermosa GuanacasteHere in Playa Hermosa ex-pats who have made Costa Rica their home are helping families that depend on tourism for sustenance.  Helping everyone from fishing and diving tour operators to cooks and maids in the hotels.  From restaurants to landscapers, to tour guides and the list goes on. Helping the community is a good thing, so I am asking you to open your hearts and your wallets.
Sign showing Costa Rica's borders are closedWith the borders closed to foreigners from March 18th until at least May 15, 2020, many of the local families of Playa Hermosa are suffering as there are no people coming to the area to enjoy all the wonderful things that Costa Rica has to offer. These are my neighbors, my friends.  I know many of these families. It is terrible to know that some children may be going to bed hungry with nothing in their bellies. Join me in helping Playa Hermosa.
Bank transfer to help the community of Playa HermosaSome may say, “well that’s great Joe, but what about you”. Well below is the confirmation from my bank of the funds that I sent from my business for the first drive to help the community of Playa Hermosa.
Playa Hermosa Food Drive helpersBelow is the email I received from Pamela Lewis and Bernal Mata, detailing how the efforts to help the community of Playa Hermosa is going and requesting your support as well.
Thanks to all who have helped, and will help, our great little community. Please remember to contact Bernal or Pamela for the Pay Pal information or contact me, and I will put you in direct contact with them.

Email Received from Pamela and Bernal

Hello All,

This provides you a quick update of the successful FOOD for HERMOSA distribution.
Packages of food for local relief in Playa HermosaMany of you have donated money and/or food — Thank you very much! We need to keep this up for many more weeks. Please continue to donate. Our next food distribution is April 30, 2020. Without additional food donations, we would not have been able to accommodate everybody yesterday, but we did. Continue to add to the bin in Super Luperon Hermosa, this is very important.
Last Friday, Bernal Mata, Tico Tours GTE, delivered 10 donated food packages to the 1st priority families.
Volunteers helping Playa HermosaOn Tuesday, April 14, we planned to feed 50 families with comprehensive packages of dry goods, a few personal care items, eggs & fresh vegetables. Instead of 50 families, we actually provided food for 87 families – All in Hermosa. These are housekeepers, fishermen, massage therapists, gardeners, etc. On that note, we also implemented an application and screening process. We are asking important questions: do you live in Hermosa, are you working, is anybody else in your house receiving aid, etc. If you own a hotel, restaurant, or business in Hermosa and are feeding your staff, please let us know, so we can review names on our list. Our process is thorough and organized and will be even more-so for April 30.
Packages of supplies for the Playa Hermosa food driveThe cost to feed a family of four is c25,000 – or basically $50.00 USD. What was distributed on Tuesday the 14th, is sufficient for two weeks, the next Food Distribution is April 30, Escuela Hermosa. PLEASE FORWARD THIS TO YOUR FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS, RELATIVES ANYONE THAT WOULD CONSIDER HELPING OUT!
How TO HELP the Playa Hermosa Community:
– Pay Pal – Contact or
– Food – place in the designated bin in Super Luperon (local grocery store) Hermosa, or in Coco, designate FOOD for HERMOSA
Pamela Lewis & Bernal Mata

Please join us in helping Playa Hermosa!

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