The Final Costa Rica Covid Update

I am pleased to announce this is the final Costa Rica Covid update blog! As we head into this upcoming high season, we hope to enjoy Costa Rica as we did pre pandemic. 

Covid-19 cases continue to drop in Costa Rica. Although we will never be completely rid of Covid-19, this country has done an incredible job to protect its people. Costa Rica owed its success to a strong universal healthcare system, a large network of primary health care clinics and vaccination sites. As well as greatly promoting the simple, cost effective methods of washing your hands, using a mask, and making your health your priority. 

Sunny Costa Rica was the place to brave the pandemic with plenty of outdoor social distancing activities, outdoor dining, beautiful unpopulated beaches, and fresh air. In general, life expectancy in Costa Rica approaches 81 years while the US is at 76 years and dropping sharply! 

April 1st, 2022 Costa Rica repealed all Covid related travel restrictions. This eliminated the requirement to complete the form known as the Health Pass and the requirement of medical insurance for unvaccinated foreigners. All commercial establishments, activities, and events can operate at 100% capacity. Masks, hand washing, and temperature taking is no longer required.

As high season approaches both Ticos and expats alike are anxious to start fully enjoying all the festivities the coming months have to offer. As well as the beautiful sunny and hot dry season weather! 

All Covid information will be removed from my costarican-american-connection.com website but you can still watch Covid update videos on my youtube www.youtube.com/c/JosephEmanuelli.  If you have any questions, you can always feel free to send me an email or give me a call. 

It’s time to book your flight and come on down! Costa Rica is fully open and ready for you to start your adventure. Pura Vida is calling. 

Slang & Sayings In Costa Rica

Sometimes Spanish class just isn’t enough, especially when it comes to learning these Costa Rica slang & sayings. Each Spanish speaking country has a slight variation when it comes to their language. Similar to the differences in British English and English spoken in the United States.

Here is a list of all the most common slang words & sayings Costa Ricans use so that way you are never out of the loop! Plus you will sound like a local.

Pura Vida – The literal translation is “Pura Life” but for the Costa Rican people it is an all encompassing phrase. For instance someone asks “How are you?” you can respond “Pura Vida” or if someone says “See you later” you can say “Pura Vida”. You are late to an appointment? Pura Vida. Enjoying the beach? Pura Vida. It is essentially a way of life here!

Tico/Tica – means Costa Rican. A Tico is a Costa Rican man and a Tica is a Costa Rican woman. Ticos have a tendency to make things diminutive with the suffix -tico or -tica, so much so they were named after it! Ticos created words like pequeñitica, chiquitico, or azulitico. It’s very endearing!

Mae – pronounced like “my” it means “bro”,”dude”, or ”man”. Costa Ricans, especially surfers will frequently use it in a sentence. Actually it may be the most often said word in Costa Rica next to Pura Vida of course!

Tuanis – pronounced like “too-a-knees” and may have originated from a misheard mispronunciation of “too nice”. Tuanis means cool and is mainly used by the younger generations.

A Cachete – Cachete literally means a cheek but “A Cachete” means everything is going great! You are out enjoying life, the sun is shining, the waves are crashing and you can shout “A Cachete”!

Chunche/Chunches – means a thing or stuff. It is a word you use when you can’t find the proper name for an item right away. Or it’s a chunche when you forgot the name altogether or if you can’t pronounce the word. Similar to a whatchamacallit.

Por Dicha – The literal translation for Dicha is bliss. Por Dicha means fortunately, thankfully or luckily. It is an expression of gratitude and thankfulness.

Zaguate – my personal favorite, Zaguate means street dog. But not just any street dog, a Costa Rican street dog! A zaguate is the perfect mix of so many dog breeds you can’t even tell the origin anymore. A zaguate is the bestest friend you will ever have. Interested in learning more about these lovable pups? Check out one of my older blogs (https://blog.costarican-american-connection.com/costa-rican-zaguates/)

Birra – pronounced like beer-a… you guessed it, means beer! No need to use the word cerveza here, Costa Ricans will understand if you order a nice cold birra.

Wacala – means yuck! When you eat something that isn’t tasty or step into something unsavory you can shout “wacala”!

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to tiquismos or Costa Rican slang/sayings. Ticos are always creating new words. Thankfully Ticos love to share their culture and will happily teach you as much slang as you can remember. Pura vida mae, time to grab a birra with my zaguate!

Gardening In The Guanacaste Region

Rumor has it that if you plant a stick in the ground in Costa Rica it will grow! The soil here is rich and fertile. Gardening in the Guanacaste region is satisfying but still a labor of love, no matter how rich the soil.

Flowers in Guanacaste

For those who love flowers, I have great news…You can have blooms all year long! In my own garden, I have a plethora of different heliconia species. Many of these heliconias came from cuttings I collected off the side of the road and simply stuck in the ground. Torch ginger and canna lilies flowers burst open from the tops of tall stalks. Ixora flowers line my sidewalks and driveway. Bougainvillea bushes create vibrant pops of color throughout the yard.

Gardening in Guanacaste Costa RicaBut keep in mind that just because these flowers grow well, doesn’t mean they don’t need some maintenance. Here in the Guanacaste region, we have 6 months of no rain. It is important to make sure you water these tropical flowers regularly or have an automated irrigation system. Also a “full sun” loving plant may not necessarily be tolerant of the full sun strength in this region.

 

Hanging plant with flowersAside from flowers growing in my garden, I have a variety of fruit trees. The mango and avocado trees I planted from seeds 3 years ago are already taller than me! You only need to wait 5 to 8 years for fruit on a mango tree planted from seed. Avocado trees will start to fruit after just 5 years. The 3 year old lime trees are full of fruit and the orange trees are starting to blossom. Bananas and plantains grow wild with enough water. I get so many bananas, I often give them away.

If you plan on growing fruit, make sure you learn about each one. The mango or lime tree may grow tall and wide but they don’t always give fruit depending on their conditions. It’s important to make sure these plants are well fertilized and cut back in order to provide delicious fruits. Also keep an eye out for pests and critters that want to make a meal out of your fruits. Some fruits must be protected, bagged or picked early to insure that you will be able to enjoy them.

Tree

The best resource for those looking to start their own garden is taking a trip to a local viviero (plant nursery) and talking to the jardinero (gardener)! These folks know everything there is to know about gardening the local plants in our region and how to best take care of them. If you prefer a low maintenance garden they will point you in the direction of plants you can practically forget about. If you love flowers, they will help you so that your garden is in bloom year round. They are happy to accommodate every type of gardener.

Landscape gardening - flowers in a landscaped garden

Gardening is a great hobby for those interested in moving to Guanacaste, or anywhere in Costa Rica.  It’s an easy way to stay fit and grow enough limes for endless margaritas! Be sure to check out the photo album I added to my website (https://www.costarican-american-connection.com/Costa_Rica_Photo_Album/page_2711979.html) Many of these photos were taken in my garden.

DEKRA The New Vehicle Inspection Company

Out with the old and in with the new. After 20 years of doing vehicle inspections for Costa Rica, the Spanish company Riteve will be replaced by DEKRA, a German company. 

Dekra logo

Every year all vehicles (cars, trucks, motorcycles, golf carts, atvs etc) must pass an annual inspection in order to be legally driven on the roads here in Costa Rica. This annual inspection tests the safety of your vehicle such as the breaks, headlights, windows, windshield wipers, seat belts, suspension and so on. As well as the pollution levels coming from the exhaust. The month that your inspection is due corresponds with the last number of your license plate. 

Riteve had signed a contract in 2002 for an initial term of 10 years and only one possibility of extending it with an equal period. So on July 15th, 2022 at 4PM Riteve stopped providing their services and handed the land, stations, and equipment back to the government. The Costa Rican government now had to quickly close contracts with Riteve and decide on a new operator to provide the vehicle inspection service. 

Costa Rica’s goal was to find a company who would agree to lower the price of the vehicle inspection yet maintain the inspection quality. On August 24th, the government announced that DEKRA would be taking over the operation for the next 2 years. DEKRA promises to offer inspections at half the price as well as not charging for re-inspections for minor defects. The new rates will be between ¢7,318 – ¢8,125  (+IVA) for light passenger vehicles and between ¢4,822 – ¢5,354 (+IVA) for motorcycles. 

DEKRA hopes to be operational by the end of October. This is especially important since the Marchamo payment collection starts November 1st. (Marchamo is the vehicle registration or right of movement permit which is identified by a sticker that is placed on the windshield of your vehicle) But Marchamo can only be paid IF you pass your vehicle inspection. 

Due to the fact Riteve has not been operational since the middle of July, many vehicles have not been able to receive an inspection. To accommodate this, INS is granting amnesty to the following plate numbers (​​6, 7, 8, 9 and 0). INS confirmed that those plate numbers will be able to pay the 2023 Marchamo and get a sticker even though they did not pass a vehicle inspection.

Once DEKRA becomes operational, MOPT has outlined a specific time frame for accomplishing your vehicle inspection. For example plate numbers 5 & 6 will have one month after the restart of the service to schedule and pass the inspection. Vehicles with plates ending 7 & 8 will have two months, and three months for 9 & 0. 

Already off to a great start by lowering the cost of inspection, let’s hope DEKRA is also able to ease the anxiety of this annual chore. Please feel free to reach out to me if you have any additional questions! I would be happy to assist you. 

Market Update For The Papagayo Region

Before you know it the high season will be upon us once again so I wanted to share a general real estate market update for the Papagayo Region. A lot has changed over the past two years and our market definitely reflects that. 

Sunset in Papagayo Costa Rica

The COVID pandemic was a big factor in changing mindsets and lifestyles. Costa Rica became a destination for those looking for a healthier, easier, and more positive life. Those who can now work from home prefer to have a view of the ocean. Others decided to change their careers completely and start new businesses in paradise. Some realized it was time to retire and relax. Whatever the reason may be, Costa Rica became the perfect option.

Although the market has slowed down just a little bit, properties are still selling at listing price or very close to it. Inventory is low and well priced properties sell rather quickly.

If you are interested in purchasing a lot to build your dream home, options are becoming limited. In the last two years many of the available lots in the Playa Hermosa, Playas del Coco, and Playa Panama have been bought up and new homes have been built. For a decent ocean view, lot prices are starting at $150,000-$200,000 and for a spectacular view prices start at $300,000-$350,000.

Image showing a top quality ocean view lot

Condos have also been a big hit! The ease and convenience of condo living has made available condos scarce. A 2 bedroom/1.5 bath condo, walk to the beach can start around $200,000 while an ocean view condo starts around $350,000. Those looking for a good deal or steal will realize that many of the “fixer upper” condos have been purchased and beautifully renovated.

Aerial view of a home being constructed in Costa Rica

Construction has been booming, for those who are familiar with the Playa Hermosa and Playas del Coco area, you know that homes have been popping up overnight. So many have decided to build their dream home or make some extra money by building a spec home. Homes vary in prices greatly. You can still find a nice 2 or 3 bedroom home without a view starting at $300,000 but an ocean view home will start around $700,000. 

In this market update I also wanted to share another big piece of news! The Papagayo Region is getting 4 new luxury hotels. On the Cacique Peninsula (located between Playa Hermosa and Playas del Coco) land movement has already started for the Waldorf Astoria. On the other side of Playa Hermosa, next to Condovac, the Only and Only (a seven star hotel) will be constructed. Out on the Four Seasons Peninsula the Ritz Carlton and Six Senses are already in motion! This area is really starting to see a lot of action! 

Don’t miss your opportunity to live and own in paradise. Please contact me if you have any questions about purchasing property or if you would like to schedule a time to chat. Just in case you missed my previous blog, financing is now available in Costa Rica to foreigners (click here to read). Hope to see you here soon! 

New Flights Coming To And From Costa Rica

High season is quickly approaching and airlines are preparing by offering new flights to Costa Rica! This is fabulous news for travelers hoping to spend some time in the sun. 

Airplane on the tarmac in Costa Rica

First let’s talk about the U.S. carrier Frontier Airlines. Frontier has announced new non-stop flights from Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to the two main airports in Costa Rica.  There will be one weekly flight into Liberia International Airport starting December 17th and Juan Santamaría International Airport in San Jose will have flights twice weekly starting November 17th.

Carry-on luggage with tagFrontier is hoping to help boost tourism by offering new routes to preferred destinations. Costa Rica is a very sought after destination for many U.S. travelers due to the country’s numerous outdoor activities, welcoming culture, and commitment to environmental preservation. 

Best part is, Frontier is known for offering ultra-low fares that allow travelers more affordable access to countries such as Costa Rica. Travelers with a love for nature can come and truly experience everything this beautiful country has to offer. 

Another airline increasing flights into Costa Rica is the Swiss airline, Edelweiss. Starting November 2nd, Edelweiss will have an Airbus A340-300 fly into the Liberia airport in Guanacaste from Zurich twice a week – on Wednesdays and Sundays. Costa Rica has become a very popular holiday destination among the Swiss and there is definitely an increase in demand!

Edelweiss’ increasing the frequency of flights to Guanacaste shows that Costa Rica is growing as a destination worldwide. This is a big deal for Costa Rica’s tourism sector as well as for property owners here in Guanacaste. More tourists means more rentals and more business! 

For those living here, Arajet, Dominican Republic’s low-cost airline, announced that it will begin operations in Costa Rica! Arajet offers flights to the Dominican Republic, the United States, Cuba, Colombia, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, Curaçao, Mexico, Panama, Aruba, Guadeloupe, Guatemala, Peru, Haiti, Trinidad & Tobago, Canada, El Salvador, and Jamaica from Costa Rica.

beautiful beach in Costa Rica

Arajet has already begun offering and selling tickets for direct and convenient flights to many of these destinations starting in October.  The airline anticipates flying 5 times a week. Arajet also plans to offer ticket prices 30% to 60% lower than the market average. 

Costa Rica hopes to start this high season with an influx of new travelers as well as affordable prices for those who visit every year or who have made Costa Rica their home. Keep an eye out, other airlines are sure to increase flights into Guanacaste. Come and enjoy everything this beautiful country has to offer!

Recreational Marijuana In Costa Rica?

image of recreational marijuana

Costa Rica is working towards the legalization of recreational marijuana. During the commemoration of President Rodrigo Chaves’ first 100 days in office, Chaves announced a bill that would do just that! This bill for legalizing recreational marijuana will be presented to the Legislative Assembly by November 1st at the latest. 

Earlier this year in March, as soon as the Legislative Assembly approved a bill legalizing medical marijuana and hemp, former President Carlos Alvarado signed the bill into law. Both former President Carlos Alvarado and current President Rodrigo Chaves believe cannabis will be a great benefit for the country.

Hemp received a warm welcome by the agricultural and business sectors. Hemp’s legalization will help farmers generate a new form of income by taking advantage of this growing international market. Improving Costa Rica’s current economy and providing high quality exports.

A hemp plant in Costa Rica

Recreational marijuana may have a more difficult time getting approved by Congress. The proposal has already generated a few negative reactions in certain political sectors and some politicians are saying they will oppose the bill. The Costa Rican people are divided. Some believe legalization can lead the youth to turn into addicts or that marijuana can affect brain development.

Marijuana leaf over a dollar bill

President Chaves feels that legalizing marijuana would hinder criminal groups’ economic activity. The Ministry of Finance could start collecting taxes from the commercialization of marijuana, instead of the criminal groups lining their pockets. It is no secret that marijuana is being consumed in this country so why not have the government benefit off of it instead of the criminals?

Legalizing recreational marijuana would also make it a regulated activity, thus helping the Costa Rican government to have better control over the population’s consumption. Many other countries have already decriminalized recreational marijuana and have obtained great results. Decriminalization can lead to a more transparent use of cannabis.

Only time will tell if Costa Rica will approve recreational marijuana. When the Legislative Assembly is presented the bill later this year, they will be responsible for deciding what is best for the country.

Financing In Costa Rica With LAFISE

Financing options for foreigners were always very limited in Costa Rica but now Banco LAFISE  is making mortgage loans available for USA and Canadian citizens. Loan availability will now make buying your dream home in paradise a possibility!

Founded in 1985, LAFISE is a modern and diversified business holding company. LAFISE has established itself as the regional financial leader in specialized services such as banking, brokerage houses, investment banking, insurance, investments and management of venture capital funds. LAFISE operates in the markets of Central America, the United States, Mexico, Panama, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and Colombia.

Currently, LAFISE has conditions for mortgage loans for home purchase, lot purchase, construction on own lot and transfer of mortgages or the purchase of a current mortgage in another bank. The maximum term is 30 years for a house or condo, and 15 years for a lot.

Now let’s talk about the requirements for USA and Canadian citizens interested in getting a mortgage loan through Banco LAFISE.

  • Copy of passport
  • Income tax of the last 3 years
  • 6 months of statements and certification of income by public accountant (required for self-employed)
  • Last 4 pay stubs with salary constance and 3 months of statements (required for salaried employee)
  • 3 credit references or score (for example: Equifax, TransUnion, Credit Solutions, Karma Credit, Borrowell, Experian, etc.)
  • KYC form, credit application form, and SUGEF form, all must be completed by the client and signed
  • Proof of pension (required in case of being pensioned)
  • Value of the property you wish to acquire
  • Contract of purchase and sale or reservation

LAFISE requires each client requesting a loan to have a life insurance policy with LAFISE. In the case that a client has a preexisting life insurance policy, that policy can be used as long as LAFISE is named the beneficiary. 

The interest rate in dollars today is 6.75% fixed for 2 years and from the 3rd year the rate is variable with a TRI-merge credit report of 12 months + 4%. Depending on the property, LAFISE can lend from 50% to 80% of the value of the property according to the appraisal.

If the property is near a beach (for example located in Playas del Coco or Playa Hermosa) the client needs to put a 30% premium. Although if the value of the condo or house is high the client may need to put up to a 40% or 50% premium. Also if the property will be used as a rental or vacation home, the premium starts at 35% or higher depending on the value and location of the property.

If the property is far from a beach, such as a city like Liberia, the premium can start as low as 20% but if the value of the condo or home is high, LAFISE will require a higher premium percentage.  Each individual case is different.

LAFISE has an office in Miami, Florida, which is in charge of reviewing these documents. These documents can be submitted digitally to a loan agent who will carry out  a credit study. Once approved, the client must be present in Costa Rica for the signing of the mortgage protocol at the LAFISE office in Liberia. 

Loan availability with reasonable interest rates in Costa Rica is a game changer! So many more people will be able to make their dreams a reality. Interested in more details or getting in touch with an agent at LAFISE? Please reach out and I would be happy to assist you!

Masala – Indian Food In Playas Del Coco

Don’t get me wrong, I love gallo pinto and a fresh grilled garlic Mahi Mahi, but every once in a while it’s nice to have some new flavors. That’s why I was thrilled to find out Masala has opened up in Playas del Coco!

Masala is a truly authentic Indian restaurant. Currently, Masala has three locations. The first restaurant opened in Liberia in 2019 and was the only place that offered Indian food in the area. Then in 2021, Masala opened another location in Brasilito. Finally, July 29th 2022, Masala arrived in Playas del Coco. Seems like there is quite the demand for delicious Indian cuisine!

The restaurant is located right in the heart of Playas del Coco, across the street from Coopeguancaste. Masala has a clean, colorful, and inviting interior. You have the option of sitting in their air conditioned indoor space, at the bar, or enjoying the outdoor terrace that looks out onto main street Coco.

You will be blown away by the exceptional cuisine! Masala serves traditional & modern Indian food. Meals and beverages are served in imported hammered copper bowls and cups. Even the gorgeous utensils are all imported from India. Spices are hand ground and they use a real tandoori oven. Since the chefs are from India, they know exactly the taste expected in every meal.

Masala’s extensive menu has something for everyone! The menu indicates whether dishes are lactose free, gluten free, vegetarian, etc. With so many options, you can eat there for a week straight and never order the same thing twice! This is a perfect restaurant to go with a group of friends or family because the meals are meant to be shared.

Never had Indian food? Well this is definitely the place to try it, you won’t be disappointed! Interested in other dining options in the area? Check out my restaurant guide on my website (https://www.costarican-american-connection.com/Playa_Hermosa_Area_Restaurants/page_2639415.html). Hope to see you around town enjoying all the flavors that Playas del Coco has to offer!

Nya – An All Encompassing Community

Something huge is coming to the Guanacaste area, over 900 hectares of huge to be exact (that’s 2,223 football fields!). Nya is breaking ground just minutes from the Liberia International airport.

What is Nya?

Nya is an expansive real estate project that will be an all encompassing community. Residential, retail, health, recreation, green spaces, sport, education, hospitality, and a trade free zone will all make up Nya. 

What does Nya offer? 

Over 60 amenities will be offered! The biggest amenity will be the Crystal Lagoon with white sand beaches, more on that later…. There will be a retail village with plenty of shopping. Numerous dining options such as fancy rooftop restaurants, little cafes, smoothie shops, wine lounges, bars, mini markets, as well as just casual lunch spots. You can enjoy the various entertainment spots including a playground, marina, or concert pavilion. Interested in getting work done? There will be office buildings and a co-working center you can make use of. If you like sports and wellness, Nya will offer a gym, wellness spa, pickle ball, soccer, basketball, tennis, and a yoga center. Nya means tree in the Chorotega language so nature will play a large part in this development. There will be an Eco Canyon that will have an incredible assortment of flora and fauna. As well as a mile-long canyon, river, cliffs, waterfalls and endless trails to enjoy. Feel free to hike, horseback ride, atv or bike all 19 magnificent miles of trails nestled in nature. 

Crystal Lagoon

Nya has partnered with Crystal Lagoons to create a 8.6 acre clear turquoise lagoon. This lagoon will have 7 white sand beaches, some private and others public. So much will be offered at this lagoon. You will be able to kayak, paddle board, jet board, sail, enjoy an inflatable water park or simply just relax in the luxurious cabanas and lounge chairs. If you are hungry food service will be available and you can also make use of the wet bar! There will be restroom facilities, shaded areas and handicap friendly beach entry. 

Beachfront Condominiums

The beachfront condominiums will be the first residential project within Nya. These condominiums will be located right in front of the beautiful Crystal Lagoon. You have the options of a 1 bedroom, 1 bedroom + flex room, 2 bedroom, 2 bedroom + flex room, and a 3 bedroom (a flex room is an extra room that can be used as an office or a small bedroom). All units will have family sized balconies, floor to ceiling windows, views of the volcanoes/lagoon, cabinetry with quartz countertops, central AC, and hookups for a dishwasher, dryer, and washing machine. Aside from the Nya amenities, the condos will offer additional amenities such as beach volley courts, a dog park, BBQ ranchos with horseshoe pits, kids playground, 24 hour security and HOA fees averaging only $350. Prices start at only $199,000!

 

Sustainability

This massive project is also taking many steps towards being environmentally conscious and sustainable. Solar panels will be installed over parking spaces and provide renewable energy not only for Nya but for nearby communities as well. There will be recycling and composting programs as well as an initiative to reduce river contamination in the Liberia river. 100 hectares will be reserved for green areas, dedicated to reforestation and preservation of local wildlife. All waste water will be treated and used for landscaping. Even the Crystal Lagoon is innovative! The lagoon will use only 2% electricity compared to traditional swimming pools and uses 100x less chemicals! Nya has definitely taken into consideration Costa Rica’s green ideology! 

Nya is truly an all encompassing community with everything you need to live, work, and enjoy life to the fullest. Please contact me if you are Interested in more information or purchasing a condominium. Nya also offers financing! Don’t miss out on this incredible opportunity coming December 2023.