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!

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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.


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.

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Guanacaste, Home to Costa Rica’s Largest Solar Park

Coopeguanacaste is the rural electric distributor in for most of the province of Guanacaste and they are very close to completing constructing the largest solar panel plant in all of Costa Rica with an installed capacity of 5 Megawatts (MW) and generating 9 Gigawatts (GWh) of energy per year.

The solar park is located in Belen de Carrillo, Santa Cruz, about a 40-minute drive down rt. 21 from the Liberia International airport. The main reason for picking Guanacaste is the abundance of sunshine. With Costa Rica’s goal of reducing its carbon footprint and working towards being fossil fuel free for the generation of electricity, is hoping to reduce about 1,500 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. This equates to roughly planting over 5000 trees to achieve the same thing.

According to data supplied by Panasonic, the company in charge of project design and construction, the solar park has 15,456 photovoltaic panels with high-efficiency HIT technology of 325 Watts each.

The park costs an estimated $8.6 million USD, funds came from the MGM Sustainable Energy Fund (MSEF), a private equity fund that promotes energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in Latin America.

If Green energy is a big thing for you there are some great options here in Costa Rica to add them to any home.

Thanks for reading my blog and be sure to visit my main site:


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Yes! Costa Rica Has Great Chocolate

When I first came to this country in 1999 I was looking for locally made, Costa Rica chocolate as I had read that there is a large cocoa-growing region in the country. What I found was a bit of a disappointment, but that has all changed.

Recently I came upon Chocolate Sibö. found it at a local tourist trinket shop. At first, I was thinking “ok I will spend the cash and hope it is at least ok”. I just had this craving for chocolate so what the heck, let’s give it try. I’ve wasted money on other stupid things in my life and well if good it would be a win-win for me. Well, I have to be honest with you, I am not a true connoisseur of fine chocolates but I have enjoyed some pretty good chocolates from all over the world in my time and Hershey Bars are not one of them. I was pleasantly surprised at how good the bar was and really enjoyed the rich flavor as it was sweet but not overly sweet. So I did a bit of looking online to find out more about this Costa Rica homegrown chocolate.  Julio Fernández, owner of Chocolate Sibö started the company with a clear business vision: to make world-class chocolate from Costa Rica utilizing exclusively organic cocoa grown in Costa Rica while trying to bring Costa Rica to the forefront of the cocoa industry.

Last month at the International Chocolate Awards, Sibö was awarded the silver medal for an apple and lemon-covered milk chocolate that contained 55% cocoa. There were over 650 competitors and Sibö was the only one from Central America that won an award for its chocolate.

However, when you are in Guanacaste, you need to stop by Cata Chocolate in Playa Del Coco, on the main road close to the beach located upstairs from the souvenir shop “Sussy”. You will be quiet impressed with the homegrown fresh chocolate made here. Lots to chose and I have never been disappointed with anything I purchased there. They use cocoa grown in the Bijagua Valley that is nestled between 2 volcanoes, Mirravales and Tenorio in Guanacaste and sit at an average of close to 1500 feet above sea level. Here is the website for Cata Chocolate, check it out you won’t be sorry.  https://www.catachocolate.com/

So next time you come to Costa Rica, just don’t think of coffee, tropical fruits, great beaches and the list can on and on, stop and get some Costa Rica chocolate and enjoy.

Take a look at some of my great Costa Rica lots for sale; they go great with the local chocolate and coffee


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Guanacaste Getting a Bio-Fertilizer Plant

Well here we go again, the Costa Rican Electricity Institute (ICE) along with the Ministries of Agriculture and Livestock, Environment and Energy, and Economic Planning and Development are working to improve the environment. Well, I hope so.

A common occurrence once any government agency gets involved, and I don’t care what country you may be talking about, there always seems to be a delay or overrun of projected costs. Hopefully sometime by the end of this year, if completed on time and no hold ups, operations will start at the new bio-fertilizer plant in Upala, Guanacaste that will convert leftovers from pineapple production into bio-fertilizers.

One of the good aspects of this new Bio-fertilizer product is that it will be dedicated and used for the cultivation of organic pineapples. Most people do not know that there is a lot of natural by-product in the production of pineapples. If you have been in the Upala area of Guanacaste and for that matter a lot of other areas of Costa Rica, you will be amazed at the size of the plant that produces only one fruit at a time most of the time.

This operation, when completed, will help eliminate and make good use of the more than 220 tons of cut plant stubble- a term used to describe surplus from the pineapple harvest. The byproduct of pineapple production is over 440,000 pounds per 2.5 acres of pineapple farms. Considering that Costa Rica alone is in the top 10 pineapple producers in the world, that’s a lot of by-products and why not uses it to make a bio-fertilizer? It only makes sense!

Want to have your own small-time farm or just a garden to grow your own pineapples? Check out some opportunities to buy a farm or some land near Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica.


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Avoid Mistakes When Considering Living in Costa Rica

Well after living in this beautiful country of Costa Rica for over nine years now, I think I have a pretty good perspective of things to do and not do to make life totally enjoyable. So here is a short list of important things to consider before moving to Costa Rica.  If you have read of few of my previous posts you will notice that I strive to give good, honest information, not just stories of what a great life it is to live in Costa Rica and the exploits that can happen. I hope you find this information useful

This list can go on forever but I do not want to write a book so I am going to keep it short if I can.

  • This is not Kansas Dorothy: Sure you can always go back to where you’re from if living in Costa Rica is not right for you. However many people come to Costa Rica with unrealistic expectations. If you’re running from problems back home trust me they will follow you here. So don’t make a rash decision while on a vacation that you want to live in Costa Rica. Is it a great place to live? Of course, it is or I would not be here for over nine years already with no plans of ever returning to New York, that’s for sure.
  • Do your homework: This item could go on for a long time but if you are really interested in making the move then do it. Like any life changing experience, moving to Costa Rica is huge steep in most people lives. It can be extremely rewarding and beneficial; it can also be extremely frustrating as well. So read and ask a lot of question and don’t always believe everything you read on the internet. Sure there are a lot of great articles and blogs talking about how wonderful Costa Rica is and for the most part they are right, but there is a lot more to just the Pura Vida life style and running around having fun all the time, I call it fluff writing and you find a lot of that especially from someone trying to sell you something. Just think about it for a minute, if it was so fantastic the whole world would move here and then what? The MOST IMPORTANT thing, in my opinion, is to know and always remember, this is Central America; learn the culture, language and local traditions and how things work and you will be well prepared to live a great life in Costa Rica.
  • Visit more than once: Even though Costa Rica is a small country there are many different types of climates, terrains, and availability of services all over the country, from pristine beach towns to out of the way off the grid locations in the jungle, to cool mountainous areas to the hustle and bustle of the capital San Jose. Everyone’s idea of paradise is different. For me, it is the laid back beach town of Playa Hermosa, Guanacaste. Very close to, within twenty minutes, many amenities as in the Liberia international airport, modern well-equipped hospitals, full blown grocery stores, night life and great restaurants and best of all a beautiful beach to swim and enjoy. Now if I want to visit another beach they are many within that twenty-minute drive range as well. If I want to head to the mountains it just under an hours drive, really close for day adventures.
  • Find the right location for you: You know the old real estate adage: Location, Location, Location. Well, it is used often but what it really means is; where a home is located is the most important factor in its value, both now and in the future. Here is the key “The Future” as in if you decide to sell. Unless you really plan on spending the rest of your entire life in Costa Rica then I guess this does not hold up. As mentioned above Costa Rica is very diverse, so spend time traveling the country, be adventurous, enjoy the trip and find the best location that meets your needs now and in the future. If you find a location that you like, go back during the “rainy season” to see what it is like, you may have visited during the “Dry Season” and the two can be very different depending on location. This could be a real eye opener for you.
  • Work with a real professional: I see people making this mistake all the time. They would rather trust the taxi driver or the bar manager from the hotel they are staying in then working with a true professional. “Hey mister my brother has a great house for sale and you can get a great deal on it if you work with me”. Have you ever experienced this? It always makes me laugh when these same people think they will get a better deal on a property than if they worked with a professional. In the long run, for the most part, it ends up costing them a whole lot more and, guess what Dorothy? they head back home! Also, there are a lot of smooth fast talking real estate brokers here and in reality, all they really want is a sale. So see if they are there for you after the sale to offer assistance that you will need, offering to connect you with moving companies, doctors, home repair men and things like that. Do not let them talk you into a location just because the price is right or the beauty of the area you are in. Find out first if they are even legally allowed to work in Costa Rica! Just because he speaks your language does not mean all is good. If you find someone you are comfortable with, ask for references and check them out, if they can’t produce any this it is a sign to run in the other direction.
  • Learn some of the laws and responsibilities you will have: this is very important, you are coming to a foreign country, what may be acceptable by the laws of your home country may not be here in Costa Rica. It blows my mind sometimes when I hear people say “property taxes what property taxes”. As an example knowing that your property taxes are due in the first quarter of the year for the present year, or that you can pay them quarterly here in Costa Rica or how about this one, you can be sued for calling someone a liar in a non-heated argument even if was just a passing comment. Another good one to know that is very important is that in order to get a Costa Rica Driver’s License, you first need to be a resident. Or do you want to own a gun? Well, you can’t until you have full residency without restrictions and the list goes on from there.
  • Leave your type “A” personality behind: Just because you come from a more developed country or a big city or feel because of your education you may be smarter than most, leave that attitude and way of thinking behind when you come to Costa Rica. You have heard the term Pura Vida, It literal translation is Pure Life, but it has so many meanings that I could write another article just about that. But the reality is staying calm, if you raise your voice and act like your better than the person you’re talking to, they will just shut down and you won’t get anywhere or get what you need. It is always best to remember you are a guest in Costa Rica and respect the people of Costa Rica and you will be amazed at the way someone will help you and of course, things will go way better than you think. As is often said here in Costa Rica “Tranquilo Amigo”.

This is just a basic list of things to think about if you are considering a move to Costa Rica, if you would like the opportunity to ask me specific more questions I would be happy to answer them for you and If I do not know the answer I promise you I will not give you a line of Bull.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to hearing from you.

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Having fun buying a used and new car in Costa Rica

Well, I have to be 100% honest with you. The experience of looking for a car was a pretty good experience. However getting the lease approved was another story which I will get to, and buying the used one was a real treat!

First, let me tell you about my present car, it is a 2006 Hyundai Terracan, I purchased used off of an expat that was heading back to the states, guess he did not do his homework well enough to stick it out, but that’s his problem. That’s was back in 2010 and there was an ad in the local advertising email program called Info El Coco. It is a great way to advertise selling anything. So I called the number and spoke with the owner. We set up a time so I could see the car and hopefully take it for a test drive. I got to the guy’s house and I am not sure why but he was in a pretty foul mood. I mean what the heck buddy you are living in paradise.  If life is so bad here in Costa Rica, where did he think it was going to be better, New York City?!!  So after trying to be friendly and looking at the car, I asked if I could take it for a drive. The guy seemed a bit hesitant. So I said to him “If you don’t let me drive it I just wasted your time and mine” so he finally said ok” but I will drive”. See a pattern here with this guy; I wondered who pissed him off that day. “Now wait a minute buddy I am the one with the cash and what good does it do me with you taking me for a ride” So he caved. The car actually drove pretty well, at first I was thinking whats wrong with this car that he wanted to drive?  When we got back to his house he asked me “well are you going to buy it, I want $23,000 for it”. I said I was very interested but I would like to bring it to my mechanic to give it a once over just to make sure there is nothing majorly wrong that would end up costing me more in a short time. There are some great mechanics here in Costa Rica and I can’t believe how inexpensive it is to get things fixed here. Back to the seller, well you would have thought I asked him for his first born child. This guy went ballistic, at this poin, I just looked at him and said “have a great day and hope you sell your car *^%T head” and started walking away.


When I got into my car and started to back up, this fool was blocking my way. So I asked is there a problem here? He looked at me and said “ok ok you can take the car to your mechanic to check it out, but I want the keys to your car in case you steal mine”. Really steal his car, he must of thought this was South East LA or something, and my car has real estate marketing magnets on it with my name and number, How many car thieves do you know that advertises on their car, I could not believe what I heard, but this just goes along with this guy’ personality and hatred of life, it is a good thing he was leaving Costa Rica as this is exactly the type of person Costa Rica does not want!

Fast forward I was back at his place within an hour or so and said it passed inspection and haggled price with him for quite a while and to shorten this already long drawn out story, I got the car for $14,000. Plus I paid all the closing and transfer fees. Turns out he was leaving for the States in 3 days and I was the only one with cash money that approached him ready to buy, his loss my gain. It has been a great car for the last 5 years and I just sold it for almost what I paid for it, not too badIMG_3808

Fast Forward 5 years before I sold the Terracan I had to make sure I had something else to drive so off to Liberia I went to visit the Toyota, Ford, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Kia and Hyundai dealers.  It is great that there are this many options here in Guanacaste. When I first moved here 8 years ago the only options was Toyota and a bunch of used car lots. If I wanted to look at Audis or Land Rover, Mercedes or even Jaguar, I would have to head to San Jose for those and honestly they are out of my price range and not my style. Beside who wants to really drive one of them in Costa Rica? For me it would kind of be like going to Morton of Chicago and ordering a Big Mac. Not happening.

I spent all day looking at cars. One thing I really loved about this experience was the fact that there was no typical CAR SALESMAN, you know the type pouncing on you as soon as I walked on the lot. You know what I mean it happens all the time back in North America the pushy sales guy that after saying hello, says “so are you ready to drive this baby off the lot today”.  I have to say that the process was kind of funny here and not what I was really expecting. There I was, a prospective buyer walking around looking at cars and no one approached me not one.  The funniest of all was at the Nissan dealer, I practically had to beg to ask a question about price and availability of what I was looking for and the “sales” person could barely even look at me when asked a about some of cars, guess he did not want to deal with a gringo? So I left and headed up the road to the next dealership.

At the Ford dealership all they keep trying to sell me was old used cars, I kept saying I don’t want a used car tell me about this one, the guy said “Ah you don’t want that car it is a lemon” well I did not stick around there too long but I was treated respectfully and they even offered me something to drink. Besides you know what FORD stands for right “Fix Or Repair Daily” which is what My ford was like back in the sates or the other meaning “Found On Road Dead”

ford ford 2

The Hyundai dealership in Liberia was great; the sale person did come up to me after a bit of time with a big smile and asked if I had any questions and if he could assist me with any questions I might have. When I asked him if he spoke any English he said “how can I help you”. David was very accommodation and offered me the opportunity to test drive any one I wanted. Not bad.

The Toyota dealership was almost like the Nissan deal, at first at least. I walked in and the few people sitting behinds desks looking at their cell phones almost could not be bothered. One gentleman Gustavo, actually got up came over to me and asked if he could help. I asked him if he happened to speak a bit of English as my Spanish is not as god as it should be, especially for negotiating for a new car and he responded, “Of Course, how can I help you”! So we sat down and I told him what I was looking for. Within minutes Gustavo was presenting me with different options, color choices and warranty information. I was very pleased with the service. So I asked him “Gustavo, if I was to pay cash cash, “efectivo” what type of a discount can you offer. I was totally shocked he said if and only if I was to buy the car cash I would also have to buy the extended service plan, which costs another $1500.00 and then he could give me a $1,000.00 discount. Hum, did not sound like a deal to me and after Gustavo must of saw the look on my face he said “do you want to test drive a car first to see if you like it” sure is said, let’s try the Fortuner. Gustavo explained to me that there is only one test drive vehicle for each model and the Fortuner was in San Jose. San Jose!! You mean I have to drive 4 hours to go test drive a car, can you believe it! Gustavo laughed out loud and said “no sir I will have the car here in 2 days for you, is that ok? Now that’s what I call service. As promised 2 days later I get a call from Gustavo saying the car is here and when would I be by to take it for a spin.

The next day I was at the dealer and Gustavo was ready with the Fortuner and off we went. Of course he said turn here and then head up the highway. Of course the highway was newly paved through Liberia, I looked at him and said, “Ok this is great but let’s try some traditional Costa Rica roads and he laughed again. I found one up the inter-Americana highway and you want to talk about rough, heck a horse would be tip toeing down this road. The vehicle handled great, good suspension and sounded tight not like a tin cup. As we were on this horse path of a road I saw another dirt road to the side with lots of puddles and what looked like mud so I quickly made a left before Gustavo could say a thing.

This was the perfect road to test the four wheel drive. Gustavo was very knowledgeable about the car and proceeded to explain how to engage the 4×4. Once in gear I proceeded right to the mud doing about 35 Kilometers per hour. I wish to you could have seen the look on Gustavo face when the mud splashed up all over the car, it was priceless. I know he was thinking “this crazy gringo is trying to get me fired by destroying the test drive car.” I hit the brakes hard to see how it would react on the wet and muddy surface and low and behold I was extremely happy. Not sure if Gustavo was.  I took the car out of 4×4 while still in the middle of the water and mud and proceeded to give it gas trying to bury the rear tires in the mud, this way I could really check the 4×4 low. At this point poor Gustavo was three shades of white with fear of losing his job. I looked at him and said No fears my friend if this car is as good as you say we should have no problems, ad true to word it was a piece of cake, the car came right out of the mud hole as if it was on dry pavement.  We left this area and started to go back to the dealership when I saw a car wash and turned in just to have the mud dirt hosed off before we brought it back. Gustavo just smiled at me and said thanks.

muddy car

Once we got back to the dealer I said OK I want to buy it. That’s when the real negotiations started. I looked at Gustavo and said look, no one pays full price especially in Costa Rica, and just because I am a gringo do not think I do not know the way of the land. He started to laugh and said ok  Mr. Joseph if you agree to buy the car and are willing to put a deposit down today I will see what I can do.

Of course I agreed and off he went to speak to the boss I guess. A few minutes later Gustavo returned with a big smile on his face and said they the dealership was willing to give a $2000.00 discount. Then I started laughing. Really only $2K off of a $60K car give me a break, well after about 15 minutes of back and forth I got them down another couple of thousand, not too bad, and gave them my credit card to make the deposit. Once he came back with the card slip for me to sign, which I did, we then filled out all the paperwork and final price to buy the car. Then Gustavo said I will make sure the car you drove is good and clean for when you come to pick it up. Oh No I said I don’t want that car it is used now and I do not want a black car, if you are willing to give me another $5,000 off I will buy it and drive it off today. I tried but this did not fly to well, I mean what the heck you do get anything unless you ask. That’s when I thru the curve ball at Gustavo when I said, “this is great now I will go to my bank to get a lease.”

Poor Gustavo, you would have thought I stuck a knife in him. He looked like he was going to cry. I said have no fears if the bank does not finance the car I have the cash to buy it outright, this is strictly a business decision to lease it as the tax benefits for leasing here in Costa Rica are very good.

On my way out Gustavo asked me who long I thought it was going to take, I said that all depends on my bank. But if within two weeks they do nothing or do not approve the lease, I will just wire the balance to you and come and get the car.


I immediately left the dealership and drove straight to my bank. I sat down with the branch manager and told him my plans. I wanted to lease the car thru them as I know they do that and I want an answer in two weeks or less. I have to tell I am not usually a pushy person but when it comes to business and dealing with purveyors and vendors, I go for it.  The branch manager, Sergio, said “well Mr. Emanuelli, you need to supply us with the criteria and information we need to decide if we will grant the lease.” That’s when I reached down into my brief case and pulled out everything they would need. Sergio looked completely shocked; I handed him three years of CPA certified financials of my corporation, corporate shareholders certification of my corporation, deposit slip for the car, full cost breakdown for the car, make model VIN number, motor number and copies of my full without restriction residency card, everything they would need. Sergio took all the info and reviewed it quickly, said it looked good, but asked “how did you know what to bring”. I smiled and said “I called the main branch in San Jose and asked them to send me all the requirements to apply for a lease.” So I was ready.

Sergio looked at me in disbelief and was a bit dumfounded, he said he would submit all the paperwork to the credit department and it should not be more than a week to get an answer. We shook hands and off I went.

Fast forward another two weeks, I promise this article is almost over, trust me it pains me as much to write this as it must be for you reading it, HAHAHA. So two weeks pass I called the dealership and spoke to Gustavo telling him I am still waiting for the bank to decide and I should know any day now. Gustavo said no problem the actual car you want is here waiting from you. Gustavo really is a good guy once he warms up to you and I highly recommend him if you getting a new Toyota in the Liberia dealership.

Well the two week deadline passed and I sent an email to Sergio the branch manager asking what the status is of the lease. Sergio was quick to reply and said he had heard nothing to this point, than he New Yorker in me came out. Polite but very strongly I replied, “Hello Sergio, thanks for the fast reply, however if the bank does not want my business I understand to some degree, so If I do not hear from them or you by end of the business day today I will just buy the car outright myself, then I will lease it to my corporation and I will make the interest and profits instead of the bank. No hard feeling but I have waited long enough and it is just a simple lease. Oh and by the way if this is the case that I have to do all this I will then close all of my accounts and move all my money over to a different bank, Have a great day Gustavo, and feel free to send this note to whomever at the bank.

It is kind of funny how sometimes living here in Costa Rica you have to be politically forceful to get some things done and if you do it right you will be quite surprised of the results. Well it was amazing, twenty minutes after hitting send, my phone rings and it was Sergio the branch manager. “Hello Mr. Emanuelli, This is Sergio, I have good news, you have been approved for the lease, I just need to know where you are now, so I can come to you with the paperwork you need to sign and then we will wire the funds to the dealership.”

Amazing how that worked Huh?? Well I am happy to say that the next day a friend dropped me off in Liberia and Gustavo was there waiting with the rest of the paperwork to sign off on. Gustavo did a great job again going over every detail of the car from filling the windshield whipper solution tank to the location of where you put the jack in the event of flat. From top to bottom he went over the car.


So buying a car in Costa Rica can be a fun and rewarding task, just don’t let emotions get in the way, have a bit of patience and never, I mean never, fold at the first price.  Just be polite, respectful and you can get I done.

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Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica, a Very Dry Rainy Season

I can remember the first time I was in Playa Hermosa during the rainy season back in 2003 on a vacation. I knew it was the rainy season but with the warm weather, who cared? Not I, as I could still enjoy all the beauty of the area even if I got wet. I remember the day I decided to take a hike around town, it was early in the morning about 7:30 the sun was out and I really enjoyed the quietness of the area, seeing many different tropical birds and the occasional howler calling the troupe and iguanas scurrying for cover. About 2 hours into the hike it started getting cloudy, then a few drops started falling. So what I thought, I am not that far from the hotel, right! Well within 5 minutes those few drops turned into a torrential downpour.  I was soaked thru and thru but it did not matter, I loved it. It reminded me of when I was a kid growing up in New York and a summer rainstorm happened and loved playing in the puddles while splashing and kicking water on my friends and vice versa.

partly cloudy day  Playing in the rain

However, due to the conditions of an El Nino effect in the Pacific Ocean the Guanacaste area of Costa Rica; especially Playa Hermosa has been experiencing a drought for the last 2 years. Normally in September and October the area averages close to 25- 35 inches of rain. So far this year, as of October 13th, the area has received only 10 inches of rain, well over 50%, below normal years.  You may be thinking, what is this guy a realtor or a weatherman? Well, I have a hobby of measuring rain with real rain gauges.  It’s just something I like to do.


Reports from the local meteorologists state that the rainy season for Guanacaste is most likely going to end much earlier this year than normal. Not a great thing to hear. Their predictions are the third week of October for the rainy season to come to an end, this is about a month early. I hope not, because the more rain we get the longer the “Green Season” sticks around; meaning the grasses, trees, and shrubs stay full and of green.

DSC00223 waterfalls

One thing that I need to say is, even though we have been experiencing a drought, the Playa Hermosa area has not had any issues of water shortages or rationing like other parts of the country.

So all I have to say is let it rain, let it rain, let it rain.

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Guanacaste, Costa Rica. Tons of Fun!

From surfing to canopy zip line tours, howler monkeys to luxurious spas, spectacular water falls to sunset cruises. Now that the low season is here there are many good deals to be had. Here is my list of what not to miss when you visit Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

Playa Del Coco – The closest happening beach town to the Liberia International Airport, in the Guanacaste Region. Coco as it is called for short by many locals and expats offer many restaurants, nightlife, casino and beach scenes that draw travelers and locals looking for fun in the sun.


Sport Fishing – In Costa Rica it is legendary, and many fishing charters operate from Playa del Coco and many of the other beach towns along the coast in Guanacaste.

foto 4

Sunset Ocean Cruise A great way to enjoy the ocean breezes, coastline scenery and sunsets over the Pacific, is on a sailing excursion with a stop or two for snorkeling. Some sailing trips visit deserted beaches or linger at sea watching whales and schools of dolphins as the pass by.

Fun in the Costa Rica Sun

Santa Rosa National Park – For travelers who want to get away from it all, the beaches of Santa Rosa National Park are the place to go. In fact, the only time it gets crowded here is in the fall, when thousands of sea turtles storm the beach to lay eggs. This park teems with flora and fauna in immense forests that give way to virgin white-sand beaches.  Be warned it is not an easy trek but worth it if your adventurous.

Santa Rosa National Park Costa Rica

Rincon de la Vieja National Park – Only 1 hour and 20 minutes from Playa Hermosa, this bountiful parkland is famous for its volcanic craters, diverse wild life, thermal mud pots, lush vegetation and hidden waterfalls. Keep your eyes open and you will see some amazing animals.

rincon de la vieja National Park

Adventure Tours– Take a zip line tour through the canopy or go horseback riding to towering waterfalls, take a tubing run down a river and hang out and relax in nature’s natural hot tub, the thermal springs from the volcano. My recommendation is to visit Hacienda Guachipelin at the base of the Parque Nacional Rincon de la Vieja

Hacienda Guachepelin River Tubing

Palo Verde National Park – This is a must-see for all bird-watchers.  Palo Verde National Park is one of Costa Rica’s best-kept secrets. The Tempisque River lowlands are the place where of thousands of waterfowl and forest bird species abound. Best way to view this wonderful location is by boat, there are many operators that you can choice from. Be ready with your camera as you will see howler monkeys, scarlet macaws and crocodiles.

barra Honda National Park

Barra Honda National Park – This is not for the week at heart. Close to Palo Verde, this underground national park features limestone caves that were part of a coral reef millions of years ago. Strap on a headlamp and climbing gear and descend into an underworld filled with dazzling stalactite and stalagmite formations.

Palo Verdr National Park

River Tours – Take a rafting tour of the exciting rapids of the Tenorio River, again there are many tour operators that can line this up for you. For those that want it a bit calmer, the Corobici River is excellent for families looking to float down a gorgeous jungle river, surrounded by nature and wildlife.

River Rafting Costa Rica

Surfing If you are interested in and always wanted to surf, there is no better place than going to Tamarindo.  The Surf break is perfect for the beginner and the experience, with many options of for instructions and rentals. Tamarindo is also a hoping mecca of great restaurant, clubs and shopping. Head a Bit further south and there are many great surfing beaches without the crowds. Playa del Coco has no surf; however it is a prime jumping-off point for boat trips for surfers that want to head to the popular surf breaks of Witches Rock and Ollie’s Point.

surfing Tamarindo

World Class Spas – Many of Guanacaste’s world-class spas are located along the beachfront. After all these exciting outdoor adventures, soothe tired muscles with a massage, while watching a glorious sunset over the Pacific.


For the Do It Yourself person you can find all these location on line. For those that would rather have a tour guide, feel free to contact me and I will give you recommendations of my favorite tour operator that will treat you like gold.

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