Utilities in Costa Rica, Changing is easy!



Utilities in Costa ricaHow do I go about changing the utilities in Costa Rica, as in water, electricity and internet service, for my new Costa Rica property? This, is a question I get asked on every property I have sold and I am sure it will come up again, so I decided to do a short writeup about it.
When you purchase a property, part of the due diligence is to make sure that the utilities, like electric, water, cable and internet, that are servicing the property are first legal and second up to date. Let me explain item 1 first.
1) Believe it or not, there are some unscrupulous people in this world, even in Costa Rica, they will do just about anything to save a buck and pass the cost on to others. I ran into this situation with a property I was helping a client purchase. We had asked for the past 6 months of electric bills as a contingency of the offer. The client just wanted to make sure all was good.
Once we got the information, we noticed the first month of 6 seemed ok and reasonable, but the next 5 months were just out of control and almost 4 times higher. Even the seller could not explain it as he was not even living in the property but back in Europe. We contacted the electric provider to give a breakdown of month by month for the last year. Again, all looked fine except for the last 5 months.
To cut to the short of it, when the home inspections was being doing the inspector started checking the electric main on the street and noticed something funny about it, there was a wire coming out of the back of the meter box. Out of curiosity he tracked it. Low and behold the wire that was leading to the house next door. Basically, they were stealing the electric off of another person’s meter. Needless to say, that was rectified very fast.
Once the due diligence is being perform by the reputable legal team, all utilities are checked with the service provider to make sure A) the property has service and B) they are up to date on bills.
2) Up to Date utilities. When the due diligence is performed the buyers, legal team will request the utility account/contract numbers from the sellers or their representatives. With this information the legal team will then contact each service provider to ensure that the sellers are not delinquent with their bills.

Here in Costa Rica, the utility providers do not go out the day of closing to read the meters and give a final bill, like in most of North America. Instead every deal I do I always endure there is a hold back of money from the seller to cover any utility bills that come due after the closing. This prevents the buyers getting stuck with the bills of the sellers.

3) When we start talking about cable/ internet service which in today’s world is a necessity, it is a different ball game. The legal team will check to see if service is provided, but rarely do they do transfer the service. This is because the service provider requires new contracts for new clients. This is not a hard thing to get. Just going in to one of the service providers retail stores, show your passport and sign a contract and you are good to go. Of course, you need to pay the first set up.
Most good law firms will offer the service of changing the utilities to the buyer name or their Costa Rica corporation whichever way the buyer decided to hold the property. The law firm will require in most cases a special power of attorney to represent you in front of the utility provider. This is required when changing utilities if you are not present. Some folks say well I can do it myself! Yes, you can, if you speak great Spanish and have all the proper paperwork for changing it.

When you are purchasing a property, it is advisable to ask the legal team that is helping with the transfer of title if they will transfer the utilities as well.
Take it from me, when changing the utilities of your new Costa Rica property it is easier and faster if you just let the legal team do it, the cost is not much and save all sorts of frustrations.

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Help the local community, Please

help the communityDuring these crazy times of Covid, it is very important to help out the local community. No matter where you live. For me and the all the agents of Tres Amigos Realty it hits home stronger. I am asking you to open your heart help as well.
Some may ask what are you doing to help out? Well, I can honestly say that I have been donating to many different food drives to help feed people of the area every month and will continue to do so. I have also committed to sponsor an entire food drive in December. I am fortunate enough to have sold a property that allows me to give over 10% of my earnings. But it won’t stop there.

We have a strong commitment to our lovely area, many Costa Ricans in this area of Playa Hermosa, Playas Del Coco, Sardinal, Playa Ocotal and other nearby towns, are still struggling to make ends meet and are unemployed. Yes, there are some tourist arriving, but with lockdowns happening in many areas of the world, it is going to be a long time before our neighbors and friends are back to “normal” whatever that is now. These warm and dear people have graciously allowed us to call Costa Rica home and it is only fitting that we help out our neighbors and friends.
Please find it in your heart to help out. If you have been to Costa Rica or own a property in this area you know how wonderful the people are, any amount can help!

I want to share a letter my partner of Tres Amigos Realty Group, sent out to all of his friends and clients. Please read it and donate! It is easy see below.
Thanks for your generosity and may you always be safe and well with lots of love in your heart.
Hi Everyone
I hope you are safe and healthy in these crazy times.
Normally this would be the invitation to my annual BIG BASH AT CASA PILA. It would have been unlucky number 13, which fits, since everything about this year has been turned upside down.
I cannot justify celebrating when so many people are struggling. Nothing would be worse than for thousands of unemployed Costa Ricans to see photos of people partying and eating, when they are struggling to live on beans and rice.
I spend on average about $15,000 each year throwing my party and I feel it is the best interest of everyone in our area of Costa Rica for me to spend that money continuing our weekly food drives, as so many people are still going to be needing our help for months to come.
I want to thank everyone who has donated and continues to donate, the generosity has been overwhelming THANK YOU FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART. Please continue to donate, no amount is too small. You can PAYPAL or ZELLE at michael@tanktopsflipflops.com and put FOOD DRIVE in the subject.
Every year we always support the TOYS FOR TOTS organized by the Guanacaste Veterans Association as well as the TOY DRIVE by Patas y Manos and this year we will be collecting them again. I feel it is more needed now than ever, as so many children have suffered drastically due to the economic shut downs. Nothing puts a smile on the face of a child like a toy for Christmas.
Please find it in your heart to buy a toy, or 40, or as many as your pocket book will allow. We will have collection boxes at two of my TRES AMIGOS OFFICES.
Playas del Coco at the PACIFICO retail village.
Playa Hermosa at the original TRES AMIGOS office.
Please do NOT wrap the toys. Just bring it to my office. We are collecting NEW toys for CHILDREN 8 YEARS OLD AND YOUNGER ONLY.
If you cannot physically drop off a toy, you can send me money via PAYPAL or ZELLE to michael@tanktopsflipflops.com put TOYS FOR TOTS in the subject. I will then personally go shopping on behalf of all of your amazing donations. NO AMOUNT IS TOO SMALL.
Thanks again for your generosity. I look forward to seeing you all very soon. Please stay safe.
God Bless

I want to personally thank many of my friends and clients that have already donated to help the community. Your care and generosity is tremendously appreciated. THANK YOU!!

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Learning Spanish for Costa Rica

Learning Spanish for Costa RicaLearning to speak Spanish while living in Costa Rica is extremely important. It will increase your enjoyment of life, decrease feelings of frustration and loneliness, save you money, and you will even be safer if you can communicate effectively.

In my humble opinion, I think it is just plain rude not to try to talk to the people in whose country you are a guest. That said, there is no getting away from the fact that it can take a lot of time and dedication to learn a new language. Anyone who says you can be fluent in Spanish in just a few months is lying. I have lived here Thirteen years and I am far from fluent but do pretty good. However, living in Costa Rica and learning Spanish does not mean you have to study every waking minute either. Here are a few pointers to get you going on your journey learning to be a Spanish speaker.

1. Learn a few words (please, thank you, have a nice day) and start using them from Day One. Before you run an errand, practice a phrase you might need and look for a chance to use it.

2. If possible, spend an hour each day learning either with a textbook or an online course. Websites such as duolingo.com, babbel.com, fluentu.com, rosettastone.com all offer courses for every level of learner. If a daily goal is unreachable, try to study at least once a week. If you let months go by without learning, you start to backslide.

3. Better yet, take a course at a local language school. This has the dual benefit of making friends while you learn.

4. Watch Spanish TV and movies with English subtitles or the other way around. It helps you get an ear for the pronunciation and cadence of the language. For the same reason, listen to podcasts and audio courses.

5. Volunteer in your community. You will be immersed in the language and the culture, and you will also accomplish something good.

6. Find a language partner–someone who wants to learn English as much as you want to learn Spanish.

7. the cheapest way to learn is by using a translator as in Google translate. Start texting with a Spanish speaking friend. Don’t know what to write? Type what you want to say in English in the translator, then read the Spanish so you start learning the words, then copy and paste in the text message. It is not the most grammatically correct but it is a start.

Fortunately for us, Spanish pronunciation rules are few and very consistent, unlike English. The vowels have one sound each, and there are no exceptions. Almost all consonants have only one sound. There is only one silent letter (H). The accent is always on the last syllable except when the word ends in n, s, or a vowel or there is a written accent present elsewhere. That’s about it!

Did you know you already know hundreds of words in Spanish? That is because of Spanish cognates–words that are the same in both languages. Since Spanish and English both have Latin roots there are hundreds of words that are the same or very close. They may not be pronounced exactly the same, but once you have the rules down for Spanish pronunciation (see above) you have a huge, instant vocabulary.

The website realfastspanish.com lists hundreds of these words. Here is a sampling: actor, admirable, agenda, alcohol, animal, area, auto, bar, cable, central, cheque, chocolate, club, collar, confusion, decision, doctor, extension, familiar, festival, final, gas, hobby, hospital, hotel, idea, individual, invisible, legal, local, material, menu, metal, multiple, musical, natural, normal, original, pasta, perfume, personal, popular, region, religion, rural, sexual, social, solo, superficial, taxi, television, terrible, total, tropical, universal, and visible.

Here is another interesting fact about Spanish words that will help you express yourself. Most nouns ending in ’tion’ in English can be coverted to Spanish by replacing with ’cion’. Words ending in ’ary’ can be converted to Spanish by replacing with a ’ario’. Examples: anniversary=aniversario, temporary=temporario, and so on. English adjectives ending in ‘ic’ can be converted to Spanish by adding an ‘o’–authentic=autentico, basic=basico, electronic=electronico and so on. And finally, English adjectives ending in ‘ous’ can be converted to Spanish by replacing the ending with a ‘oso’. For example, delicious is delicioso, and precious is precioso. Got it, it is not that hard learning Spanish
When learning Spanish or any other language the important to try to remember is to stay humble. But TRY to talk Spanish, this is the most important part. Your humility invites other to help you and their support, in turn, sustains you to stay motivated even when you think it is hopeless.

You may be embarrassed to stumble on your words, but Ticos love for you to try to speak their language. They will never make fun of you; rather they will encourage you to keep trying. So, stay humble and motivated, learning Spanish is a great way to make new friends!

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

Shopping Options in Playas del Coco

The Playa Hermosa and Playa del Coco area of Costa Rica has so many great restaurants, and grocery stores for shopping because sooner or later you just need to stock the refrigerator with items. Where do you go for the staples? What if you need to buy something larger like appliances, housewares, or electronics? In recent years, the infrastructure has expanded rapidly in the area and so have the shopping options. Here is a list of grocery stores and other shopping options

shopping in Playas del Coco AutoMercado
Conveniently located in downtown Playas del Coco, AutoMercado has the widest selection of any grocery store chain in Costa Rica. You’ll find a wide variety of imported wine and cheese as well as an array of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables. The meat department includes a deli and a seafood section, and there’s a bakery with specialty loaves and pastries. Because of its wide selection, Automercado may be the only place to find that special taste you miss from back home. The prices are higher than other shopping opportunities, but the quality and service are second to none.

Luperon supermarket in Playas del Coco Luperon
This is a family run grocery store that has been a landmark in Playas Del Coco for over 30 years. The selection is good and you will be surprised at the selection. Luperon is a full-service grocery store for all your food shopping needs with butcher and deli section, bakery, fresh produce and of course dairy and dry good. They also have a great selection of wines and liquor if that is your desire. The staff is very friendly and willing to assist. This is where I do most of my shopping

Super Cpmpro supermarket in Playas del Coco Mega Super and Super Compro
These are 2 other national brands in Playa Del coco. Both stores cater more towards the local market, however that are full-service grocery store.

Walmart in Costa Rica

Yes, I wrote Walmart! Some hate it some love it. The first time you step into a Walmart in Costa Rica, it will seem both familiar and strange at the same time. That’s because it’s basically a hybrid–part North American Walmart and part Costa Rican supermarket. It offers local products as well as some of the brands that you’re used to seeing in North America. The Walmart brand “Great Value” has arrived! The local and international foods are side by side on the shelves much like the Ticos and Gringos happily coexist around the Gulf of Papagayo. The grocery section of the store has a produce department, meat counter, and deli. Like Supercenters in North America, Walmart in Costa Rica sells clothing, housewares, sporting goods, electronics, home appliances, and more. The presence of Walmart in the country has lowered the price of many items including cheese, chips, and canned goods. Walmart is located just 5 miles east of the Liberia International Airport and only a half-hour drive from the beach.

Image of PriceSmart in Costa RicaPriceSmart
PriceSmart is Costa Rica’s shopping answer to Costco and Sam’s Club. Like them, it requires a membership to shop. Presently, the annual fee is $35 and includes cards for two family members. Also like Costco and Sam’s, almost everything is sized extra large. The big packages can translate into big savings on things like pickles, peanut butter, and mayonnaise if you have room to store them. PriceSmart is also a good source for pet food and supplies. Its inventory includes many items to outfit a household: appliances, mattresses, linens, and the like. There is a tire and battery shop, a selection of tools, and furniture. Did I mention clothing and electronics? You can find almost anything in PriceSmart. And don’t forget to pick up a pizza or roasted chicken while you’re there–they’re made fresh every day right in the store. You’ll find the newly opened PriceSmart right in front of the Liberia airport.

Importadora Monge in Costa Rica Importada Monge and Gallo  

These 2 stores, located right in Playas Del Coco, are basically appliance stores. Need a new coffee maker? How about a new washer/dryer or rice cooker? Don’t be surprised when you pull into their parking lot and see motorcycles or scooters for sale, they sell these as well – along with computers, cell phones and everything electronic for the house. This could be a one stop shopping experience for your electronic needs

When making Playas del Coco your home base, rest assured there are good shopping opportunities to be had without the hassle of having to drive to the capital, San Jose.

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