Costa Rica Real Estate Blog

Living in Costa Rica and you miss the traditions from your home country?

by Ivo Henfling

Living in Costa Rica and you miss the traditions from your home country? When you are living in Costa Rica, you soon might miss your countrymen, your own traditions and to be able to speak your own language. Some nationalities are well presented in Costa Rica and some are not. There might be certain specialty foods from the homeland that you cannot purchase here or don’t know where to go. Bouillabaisse, Italian antipasto, Frikandel speciaal, Smörgåsbord, Moussaka, Shoarma and so many typical food specialties that you will start missing after a while if you don’t know how to cook it or you can’t get the ingredients in Costa Rica. Let's try to find home away from home for you in this blog today.

There are several clubs of different nationalities in Costa Rica, with and without a clubhouse. Most gather only when there are special occasions or typical local holidays and are mainly organized by their embassies. I usually try to keep my blogs short and powerful but since there are so many nationalities living in Costa Rica, I felt I had to touch base with the largest groups at least.

TicoNuevo figures out how to pay his Costa Rica utility bills

by guest blogger TicoNuevo

TicoNuevo figures out how to pay his Costa Rica utility billsI’ll start this blog with a disclaimer. My chosen topic for today’s blog, paying utility bills in Costa Rica, is a bit like an unfinished symphony: the final stanza has yet to be written. It also reflects my own personal experience and may be nothing, at all, like the experiences of others. With that said, let me begin.

The Costa Rican utilities at our casa consist of one pay-in-advance cell phone, one cell phone on a fixed-rate account, a landline phone, three electric meters, a domestic municipal water account (our twice-weekly trash service is coupled with the water bill), a local WiFi Internet service and a satellite TV service. All but the pay-in-advance cell phone are paid monthly. So far, pretty normal—just like back in the States. Well, sadly that’s just about where the similarity ends. It seems that here in Costa Rica you typically don’t get monthly statements. However, the WiFi service is paid annually to take advantage of a pre-payment discount and the satellite service, which is headquartered in Mexico City, is billed monthly to our Stateside credit card, and the fixed-rate cell phone does generate an invoice sent monthly to me via email.

What is needed for a Costa Rica housewarming party?

by Ivo Henfling

What is needed for a Costa Rica housewarming party?When you purchase a house in Costa Rica, you have to organize a housewarming party. A couple of months ago, TicoNuevo was planning his housewarming party and asked me where to find musicians to turn this into a real happening. Who else to ask than your Costa Rica real estate agents? Well, I didn’t have a clue and since I thought everything is available online now, I started searching on Google, coming up with nothing.

In Costa Rica, private parties are a big happening and live music is really important. You have a huge choice of solistas (one musician), dúo’s (two musicians), trío’s (three musicians), mariachis, organists, DJ's and many other ways of making music.

Usually, when you are looking for a musician or anything related to entertainment, you’ll have a hard time finding what you are looking for. That was what happened when TicoNuevo asked me to help. He lives in a totally different area of the Central Valley than I do, which makes the search a lot harder. My son Andres came up with some musicians who were charging an arm and a leg to go out there to play for a couple of hours.

My 90 day perpetual tourist visa stamp for Costa Rica

by guest blogger TicoNuevo

My 90 day perpetual tourist visa stamp for Costa Rica Our 90-day visa was expiring and we needed to leave Costa Rica and re-enter to re-new our visa in order to keep our U.S. driver’s license and Costa Rican driver’s insurance in force. We couldn’t afford the time and expense to fly out to some airport in the States. And other than the visa issue, we had no pressing reason to go there in the first place.

As I said last week, Costa Rica’s only bordering nations, Panama and Nicaragua, are the closest exit points. You can fly, take a bus, take a tour bus (complete with lodging and meals) or get yourself to the border and either walk across or take a water taxi at a number of border crossings. In most cases, a trip to Nicaragua will be far less expensive in time and money. At the moment, it may also be much less risky than heading southeast to Panama due issues some folks have experienced at the border upon attempting to return to Costa Rica. You can even make an inexpensive mini-vacation out of it if you decide to visit large cities like Managua or Grenada.

Winter in the US and Canada vs Winter in Costa Rica

by Ivo Henfling

Winter in the US and Canada versus Winter in Costa RicaIt seems to never stop being cold up north, even the realtors on Google+ complain about it almost every day and we’re almost in May!  It never rains in Southern California is a lie because it does. Though we get hail once every 15 years or so, it never snows in Costa Rica and that’s the truth.

Some call me a lucky guy and yes, I am. But most of the time, we choose our own luck. I did, in 1979. That was when I took the decision to move to Costa Rica and not to put up with the cold anymore and the weather in Costa Rica is almost always nice. My wife believes she needs to go feel the snow for herself and see if she likes it.  She gets cold at 55ºF. I have told her many times, she is free to go to check it out, but I'll stay nice and warm in Costa Rica.

I have written about 500 blogs between the Easy Times, Ivo’s blog and some other websites about everything from moving to Costa Rica, Costa Rica real estate and living in Costa Rica and this is going to be the shortest blog of all.

Tennis outfits in Grecia perfect for active retirement in Costa Rica

by Ivo Henfling

Tennis outfits in Grecia perfect for active retirement in Costa RicaWhen showing property with clients a while ago, I saw a couple of tennis rackets and a basket full of tennis balls in the garage of the Grecia home for sale. We were way up in the mountains of Grecia and it didn’t need much imagination to figure out that the property didn’t have its own tennis court unless the owner liked to hit tennis balls into the valley for the fun of it.

Thanks to the owners of that property, I can give you the good news about another great amenity in Grecia: tennis courts. I always thought that the Costa Rica Tennis Club in Sabana, San Jose was the only club with decent tennis courts in the Central Valley, not counting the various country clubs like the Cariari Country Club, the Costa Rica Country Club and the Los Reyes Country Club, which are all membership clubs.

I wasn’t aware that there are quite a few expats who retired in Grecia because they play tennis, the reason for this small blog about it. For those who are looking for an active retirement, living in Grecia can be a great option. If you plan to move to Costa Rica and tennis is your sport, Grecia might possibly be a good choice.

Living in Costa Rica on a pending residency and legally drive your car

by guest blogger TicoNuevo

Living in Costa Rica on a pending residency and legally drive your car If you decide to settle down in Costa Rica or are giving it an extended tryout, you’re going to have to leave the country every 90 days for a bit of time. I previously mentioned this awhile ago, that within any government, sometimes the left hand and the right hand don’t always agree. The Costa Rican immigration department says once your application for legal residency has been accepted it is your right to stay without leaving for as long as it takes to get your “cedula de residencia” (the official legal residency card).

Very true, but with the other hand, the Costa Rican transit authority says that your visa stamp on your passport validates your driver’s license, which in turn also keeps your Costa Rican automobile insurance valid. Costa Rican visa stamps are good for only 90 days and are renewed upon each re-entry to Costa Rica. Therefore, you’ll need to exit every 90 days so that you can return through immigration, get your visa renewed and continue to drive and be insured here legally. (If you plan to walk or only take taxis and buses, you’ll never have to leave once your residency application is in process.)

TicoNuevo dodging obstacles at the horse parade

by guest blogger TicoNuevo

TicoNuevo dodging obstacles at the horse parade in Costa RicaA little-known fact for novice “topegoers”: you can actually rent a horse and join the riders in most Costa Rican topes. We had this offering at our parade and some of the renters, to be delicate, “detracted somewhat” from the aura surrounding my vision of participating in a horse parade. Some topes have also gotten a bit of a bad reputation for public drunkenness among both “topegoers” and riding participants—a few of them were from the horse rental crowd, I’m sure—thankfully there was very little blatant insobriety.

However, I had been warned to watch out for obstacles: other horses that were not as well-mannered as Bronco, potholes and obstructions that your mount might stumble into or onto. I was to also keep my distance from one of the other horses on our team, Junior (Bronco’s grandson) as the two did not get along. (I guess family squabbles are even present in the horse community.) There was a bit of a challenge in keeping my distance from Junior as this was the first time I’d ridden with this team: the first time in 50 years that I’d ridden with other horses; and the first time ever on a public street crowded with people.   

How to dissolve your Costa Rican corporation

by guest blogger Roger Petersen

 How to dissolve your Costa Rican corporation As many of you are aware, or certainly should be aware by now, the Costa Rica government imposed an annual corporation tax on all Costa Rican corporations by way of Law No. 9204 in 2012.   The date the law was implemented is important for two provisions that I will discuss in detail in this article.  (1) The permission for the legal representative of the corporation to unilaterally resign from the Board of Directors and (2) The Dissolution of the corporation for non-payment of the corporation tax.  

1.    The Resignation of the Legal Representative

Since the Corporation Tax Law holds the legal representative personally liable for the corporation tax the law allowed a period of 2 years for the legal representative to resign from the corporation.   The period to unilaterally resign expires on April 1, 2014.   

For purposes of this law the legal representative can be the President or any other officer or non-officer of the corporation that holds a Power of Attorney (Apoderados).   

Is Daylight Savings Time used in Costa Rica?

by Ivo Henfling

Is Daylight Savings Time used in Costa Rica?In the United States, Daylight Savings Time (DST) 2014 is on Sunday March Nine and in most European countries on March 30.

In Costa Rica Daylight Savings Time was used for the first time in the summer of 1979, once in 1980 (from February until May) and in 1991 from January until June. The last time DST was used during the Calderon Government in 1992 from January until March.

In Costa Rica, life starts a lot earlier than in most countries in the northern hemisphere. Constructions, factories and public schools start at 7:00 am and most offices start at 7:30 or 8:00 am. You will find a bustling activity anywhere in Costa Rica at 6:00 am, something that takes a while to get used to. All that early activity does make a lot of sense because daylight in Costa Rica starts at 6:00 am and it is generally dark by 5:30 pm.

To move the clock forward one hour in Costa Rica means that schools would have to start at 6:00 am so kids would have to go to school in the dark. I remember that was the main complaint everyone during that last daylight savings. Besides the fact that nobody every set their watches to the daylight savings time, so they would always keep an eye on the Central Standard Time and not on DST. It would just give them an additional excuse for being late because they would still be on the old clock. I suppose that’s where the word Tico Time came from.